Falwell, Muslims & the Offense of the Cross

Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, an evangelical Christian institution, ignited a firestorm in his comments about carrying guns and killing Muslims:

“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause while he said, “and killed them.”

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

Some Christians may feel that comments like these are acceptable. Others who wouldn’t say such things aloud may share the sentiment.

We see a world in chaos. We see mass murder and violence. We hear of plans for domination in the name of Islam and our fears are ignited. We grow suspicious of others and can only think of protecting ourselves.

In such times, talk about forgiveness seems irresponsible. Loving and praying for enemies sounds foolish.

Jerry-Falwell-Jr

I would argue that it is unacceptable for Christians to speak as Jerry Falwell, Jr. did. Put more strongly, this is an instance of a Christian being offended by the cross.

And this shouldn’t surprise us. While we may think that the cross is an offense to an unbelieving world, in Scripture the cross is an offense to the people of God.

In the first century God’s people were under the thumb of foreign oppressors. They were mistreated. The presence of Roman soldiers in Israel and Jerusalem was a daily reminder of the nation’s existential crisis.

They wanted Rome out. They were tired of being kicked around and wanted vengeance. They cried out for justice, God’s justice, and they longed for salvation, which they understood as the purifying of God’s land of their pagan oppressors and the liberation of God’s people. Their songs of praise envisioned freedom from enemies and from fear (Luke 1).

When Jesus arrived on the scene, they were primed for a militaristic Messiah who would rally the nation, take up the cause of liberation and bring about a glorious triumph. They longed for someone in the image of their most recent nationalistic hero, Judas Maccabeus (John 6:15).

Into this situation of unrest, Jesus came as a cross-shaped Messiah to form a cross-oriented kingdom. He preached repentance from quests for revenge on Rome and called God’s people to forgive their enemies and to pray for the ones persecuting them (Matt. 5:44).

This wasn’t a popular message.

He told his hometown that God’s long-expected salvation had arrived, which thrilled them (Luke 4:14-22)! But then he said that this salvation would include Syrians and other ethnic groups they had come to despise (vv. 23-27).

They were offended and tried to kill him (vv. 28-29).

He told his disciples that he was headed to Jerusalem to die on a cross (Mark 8:31-32) and called on his followers to take up their crosses and follow him (vv. 34-35).

Peter had had enough. What script is Jesus reading from!? How is any of this going to work!?

Is he serious about “taking up the cross,” the central symbol of violent Roman oppression of our people? Crucifixion was Rome’s method of terrorizing the imaginations of a conquered people. Jewish bodies displayed on crosses served as billboards, crushing hopes for freedom and warning against insurrection.

Peter was offended by the cross and began to rebuke Jesus (Mark 8:32). “Are you insane!? Do you have any idea that this is the worst possible way to liberate God’s people? How is this going to solve the pressing problem of our people being terrorized!?”

For Jesus’ disciples to go the way of the cross meant embracing God’s upside-down way of working, crucifying their desires for vengeance and retaliation. They were to form communities of hospitality and care for one another and others (including their enemies) while giving up guarantees of personal safety and learning to see all things through a cross-shaped lens, even during times of cultural upheaval.

The gospel reveals that God accomplishes his purposes through the cross, which is “foolishness” in terms of this world’s way of doing things. It is a scandal to God’s people because it calls for the crucifixion of all other loyalties. It crucifies us to the world (Gal. 6:14), including our hopes, longings, prejudices, assumptions, fears, our desires to determine the course of events and for security. It demands absolute allegiance.

God’s way of working is a scandal and it was God’s people who were scandalized (1 Cor. 1:23).

The same impulses that led to God’s people being offended are the ones that shaped Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s comments about Muslims.

Just let them come on our campus. We would “end those Muslims!” Looking at “those people” through the lens of the cross is out of the question. What good would it do? They want to kill us!

The cross is not a personal and private matter between me and God. The cross determines everything for God’s people. It claims our bodies, our communities, our loves and longings, and secures an eternal future for those who cling to it.

As in Jesus’ day, some who identify as God’s people are offended by the cross. It seems an impossible option in an intense cultural climate of unrest.


45 responses to “Falwell, Muslims & the Offense of the Cross

  • Jackie Whyte

    Thank you for saying this so clearly Tim.

    We are living in difficult days which are filled with fear, tension and trouble, as did Jesus, as has the church for most of her history. The cruciform life is the normal life for disciples of Jesus, and the life of Jesus in us and the communities of reconciliation He forms us into are the only hope for our world.

    • timgombis

      Great to hear from you, Jackie! Indeed, anxious times stir our passions and drive us to consider how to gain leverage against pain, suffering and harm. But for those claimed by the cross, we have to see these as opportunities to clarify our cross-oriented identities.

  • michaeljgorman

    Well said, Tim.

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  • Michael Strawser

    Thank you for the helpful reminder Tim, hope you are well.

  • Sherri

    I have been hearing these same words, That he who desires to save his natural life will lose it and he who loses his life for the sake of the Gospel/ “His name’s sake” (John 14-17) will find it and keep it for eternity. This is the test of the genuineness of our faith. We must remember like Peter who boasted of his natural love for Jesus, but could not perform under fire of testing, until he received “the Perfect Love” that was to come from the Father through Christ. After that Perfect love came and cast out Peters fear, he was able to perform the words he had spoken but now his boast was in Christ’s power and not his own because He had received the “Comforter”. That perfect power of Love than he previously knew not of, neither could he have imagined it! His heart and mind had been regenerated to that of Christ. In the words of the wisest man, who came to the knowledge of the truth by personal experience, feeling that he came to the end of his life as a fool. King Solomon remembered the Words spoken to Him by his father David in the Psalms. Solomon finished His book of Ecclesiastes 12 with these wise words…9And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

    11The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

    13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

    In Ecclesiastes 4:1 We see a seed word of prophecy had been implanted in Solomon’s mind but wise Solomon had lacked the increase of understanding, that can only come from God to obtain the “good works” he later desired and this is the implanted word…

    1So I returned, and considered all the oppression’s that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

    We may now all receive by Faith through Grace, this Comforter, who will lead us and teach us, having the identical attributes as Christ, and He will bring to our memory all that Christ has spoken, with Power and Understanding which comes from God, enabling us to perform all that Jesus has said and done; that the Children of God may grow up and mature in the likeness and image of Christ, into the perfect man; thoroughly equipped for every good work!!

  • myfullemptynest

    Reblogged this on myfullemptynest and commented:
    Another beautiful response. #hopeful

  • kevinleroy

    Do you lock your doors at night? What about leave your car doors unlocked and keys in ignition? To what extent are we allowed, in your opinion, to protect ourselves against those who wish to harm us?

    • timgombis

      It seems to me that there is a difference between locking my doors at night and arming myself with the intention of killing someone. Don’t you think?

    • timgombis

      Kevin, I do appreciate the question and I don’t want to dodge it. But I’d want to reframe it and think about it from the perspective of fundamental Christian identity, which is shaped thoroughly by the cross. So, how do people claimed by the cross navigate daily life? Well, in a highly dangerous cultural situation like the first century, Jesus talked about peace-making, non-retaliation and forgiveness, which struck most of his hearers as highly irresponsible, impractical, undesirable, unworkable and just plain foolish. They ended up rejecting him and killing him.

      In a cultural context that is very different and that is characterized by comfort, stability (we often don’t think so if we’re tuned in to the news most of the day), plenty, we need to think about the same question: how do we navigate our daily lives as Christian people claimed by the cross? What makes us think about rejecting through spiritualizing Jesus’ plain teaching?

      Are there other ways of thinking about navigating daily life? Is there a wider range of options on the spectrum that runs from locking doors to defiantly provoking Muslim terrorists?

  • Ron

    What happens when love of neighbor and love of enemy conflict? Is it ok to use deadly force to protect a “neighbor”? I do not think that Mr. Fallwell’s characterizing of protecting others as “teaching them a lesson” is a wise choice of words, however, is using deadly force to protect people is retaliation or vengeance.? What if he had said, “The time may come when you need to protect yourself, your family, or your neighbor from evil people. We have a free course on gun safety that will teach you how to safely use a weapon to protect yourself and others.”? Would you have a problem with that?

    • timgombis

      The issue of using potentially lethal force to protect the innocent is an important one and good Christian ethicists can debate this. It is an entirely different thing to say what Mr. Falwell said in the cultural climate that he said it in. The events we hear about have stoked fears and have provoked anger at Muslims and foreigners, and in that context, he fired up the crowd’s passions by speaking of how they’ll be killed. Now, to exult in violence and relish the thought of killing “those Muslims” seems a far cry from a dispassionate discussion of self-protection.

      Further, it seems to me that this is also a world away from Mr. Falwell fulfilling his role as Christian leader. I would have preferred a discussion of how cultural winds are fanning the flames of anxieties and fears, the same sorts of passions that have given rise to violence against others in the name of tribes and nations. And these passions pull us away from our Christian responsibility to be peacemakers, reconcilers and those that offer hospitality to others.

      • Ron

        Hi Tim. Just got back on-line to check your reply. Thanks for the conversation. I too, do not believe the language the Mr. Falwell used was profitable and it did stoke the wrong kind of response. I also wanted to see if your beef was more with the language or with someone protecting themselves with the possibility of using lethal force. You say keeping the lethal option open as a Christian is wrong. What level of force would you use to love your “neighbor” by protecting them from harm? As long as it is non-lethal force is it ok? Can someone’s heart be oriented towards peacemaking and reconciling with those who hate them, but also have a heart oriented toward protecting the innocent if push comes to shove? I think we are looking at two different commands of Christ that can come into potential conflict. Love your neighbor and love your enemy. I respect individual Christian’s exercise of conscience when they have to decide who to love. I don’t own a gun, haven’t been around guns much, and don’t feel comfortable using one, but I know many people who do. They are not oriented to hate or violence any more than I am and I’m happy to know that when the military or police are not around, they may be able to do good to someone by protecting their life.

    • timgombis

      To answer your question, Ron, I would have a problem with that. Arming yourself to protect yourself and others by potentially killing someone is a different daily approach to others than is appropriate for a Christian. The cross is not the last word, but the first one. It’s our starting point and the reality that dominates our days. Paul carried about daily the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus was manifested in his body (2 Cor. 4). The death-life paradox shaped his outlook, not his readiness to kill to protect himself and others. Further, he was dead to this world and alive in the next one. That’s the reality that is to orient our lives. It’s a vastly different approach to others and daily living than oriented by preparation to kill.

      • Ron

        Tim, above you state that Christian Ethicists can have a debate about using lethal force to protect, but then you say you have a problem with Christians obtaining a permit to carry a gun to protect, if necessary. Can someone follow Jesus and disagree on this point with you? I’ve agreed with you that Mr. Fallwell’s comments come across as oriented more to fear and not love, which is wrong. However, you do not seem to be allowing Christian conscience in how to apply biblical commands to love your neighbor and love your enemies. When you hear stories of citizens who have prevented horrific crimes by use of lethal force, can you thank God for it while understanding that someone went to eternity without Christ?

      • timgombis

        Thanks for this, Ron.

        I’m focusing on the rhetorical force of Falwell’s words which provoked deeply-held emotions of anger and resentment that drive fantasizing about violence. I’m not necessarily addressing the specific issue of whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to register to own a gun and use it for self-protection or protection of a neighbor. Yes, I recognize Christians can hold that this is appropriate.

        What is inappropriate, however, is the church being a micro-culture of resentment and anger toward others so that we crave doing violence.

        Yes, when I hear of someone putting their life on the line to protect another person from violent attack, that strikes as completely laudable and praiseworthy.

        But it’s not merely that Falwell’s tone wasn’t great. It gave voice to a posture toward others that the cross rules out.

  • Daniel

    What Falwell said was in reference to the shooting in California. He was referencing the fact if the people were armed they would have been able to kill the muslim terrorists before the terrorists killed them. Falwell followed up with this, ““Terrorist would have been a good word to use too, I just was referring to those particular people, and they were motivated by their religion, so it was a relevant term for that event,” said Falwell. He was not declaring all muslims should be shot. Perhaps he could have worded it better but perhaps you could have taken more time to to put his words in full context.

    • timgombis

      That is indeed the context in which he said what I quoted. I quoted him and linked to the larger article, so I didn’t misrepresent what he said and I don’t see how the provision of any further context changes what he said or what I wrote.

  • Packing heat in the Lord’s name: Three things Jesus would say | Ben Irwin

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  • Darryl

    As a father, if I was walking along the street with my daughter and a man ripped her from my arms intent on evil purposes, from the flavor of your article, I should let him. For to act to protect my daughter would not be Christian. To save my daughter but in the course hurt the man would be nothing but retaliation and full of vengeance.

    Nonsense. If in 1 Timothy 5:8 we are called to provide for our family, and to not do so is worse than an unbeliever, is not protection a provision?

    Mr. Falwell did not call people to arms to attack, but to ward off an attack; not out of hate for the people attacking, but I would presume out a love for those being attacked–to protect.

    I agree that we should not be hateful. We should be compassionate. We should pray. We should forgive. But I do not agree that the Scriptures you used call us to become a carpet for evil to walk over us.

    Thankfully turning the other cheek was not the course of action in WWII, or many other people would have perished under that evil. There is a time for everything under the sun.

    • timgombis

      I think you have some simplistic false alternatives at work here, Darryl. There’s a massive gulf between ensuring the protection of a community (the responsibility of the university), on one hand, and arming everyone, demonizing Muslim terrorists and gleefully stirring up passions to “teach them a lesson.” What he did is to shape the vision of those university students to imagine that the best way to approach life is to be armed and ready to kill. Not only does Scripture have some things to say about that, but this also leaves completely unexplored the many possibilities available that are consistent with biblical exhortations to peace-making. What about (quietly) hiring extra security to ensure safety on campus while also encouraging students to reach out to peaceful Muslims in the area to find ways to forge relationships so that fewer Muslims are radicalized? Being a Christian community does not mean doing nothing and letting anything at all happen. It does mean being intentional about embodying Christian virtues of self-giving love, and that can take many different forms. It’s too bad that for many the issue is framed in terms of should we or should we not arm ourselves?

      • Darryl

        Just how does someone demonize a “Muslim terrorist?” Don’t they do that themselves? Really? Where do you come up with this stuff. This is not about evangelism. This is about confronting an ATTACK. Absolutely we should put trained professional protection in place. We are called to witness and share the gospel. We are to pray. But when terror walks in the door with a gun to take down your family and friends, what do you do?

        You did not answer the first question posed, so I pose it again this way. Your daughter is in the process of being physically assaulted by a man twice your size. Since I doubt you would have a gun, let’s say you have a wooden baseball bat. He won’t stop. No other help is there. What do YOU do?

        You keep trying to pull back the focus into a much wider situation. That may be your error. This is about terror ATTACKS. What to do THEN.

        In our mission organization, we spend a lot of time training people how to respond to such terror situations. Thankfully, 99% of our staff will never be in that situation. But we still train. Our mission is all about bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to isolated peoples of the world. That’s the big picture.

        Mr. Falwell was focused on that narrow band. You do it a disservice by applying it to the wider situation.

      • timgombis

        The focus of my post was on the impulses and feelings of frustration and resentment generated by a culture of violence. In such a culture of instability, anxiety, and unrest, many Americans grow frustrated, fearful, angry and resentful and begin to imagine solving the problem with violence. Some may feel personally aggrieved and angered and be so stoked with rage that we fantasize about killing. Emotion is involved. We may even make pronouncements boldly and get to the point where we are nearly eager to have a confrontation.

        Mr. Falwell’s comments fanned the flames of these resentments with his statements. They unleashed emotional energy among the students in the form of pent up frustrations and angry defiance. The student cheering was evidence of that.

        This is what I addressed in my blog post.

        Mr. Falwell was not carrying out a dispassionate address about the merits of carrying a gun for self-protection. He did not grievously lament this world’s broken condition and carefully commend the wisdom of being trained and licensed to carry a gun. If he had done this, my comments would be very different, if I would have said anything at all.

        Rather, he gave voice to violent fantasies about what would happen if those Muslims ever came to the campus. His language was loaded with a taste for violence, relishing the opportunity to “teach them a lesson.”

        This is why I am not addressing your hypothetical question. It doesn’t get at the issue.

        His words and tone (and the response of the students) now shape the campus culture as one ready (and eager, if you know college students) to do violence. He has also likely influenced the campus culture to be suspicious of Muslims and has sent the message to Muslims that Christians are their enemies.

        The question is not whether I would use any means possible to protect my daughter. I would. And I personally would use potentially lethal force if someone was attacking and trying to harm my neighbor.

        Again, that’s not the issue.

        A more appropriate question is whether I would be the kind of person who stands on my front lawn with my baseball bat with my daughter by my side, thumping my chest, daring anyone to abduct her so that they could see what I’ll do to them. “Just try it! I’ll show you!”

        My readiness to protect my neighbor is one thing. My eagerness to teach a Muslim terrorist a lesson by killing him is another. Do you see how these each demonstrate an approach to life?

        If Mr. Falwell said, “look, it’s a broken world. Sadly, these things happen. My personal belief is that carrying a weapon, since it’s our national right, is useful to protect myself and my loved ones,” that would be one thing. I might agree or disagree, and recognize that good Christians can differ on this.

        But he did not say this.

        So, yes, I recognize that he made the comments in the context of addressing attacks. But his words were not the dispassionate statement of his personal position. He tapped into ugly resentments and dignified them, ungodly anger toward others that forms into violent fantasies. The cross calls us to put these to death, not to act on them.

  • Warren

    Thank you for your comments here. this is an important topic that will never be discussed in most churches.

    I believe you may be being overly critical of a statement being taken out of context.

    As has been proven over and over, there is an element of evil in this world. I believe it is neither un-Christian or unethical to protect the lives of innocents with lethal force if necessary.

    Your position is one of piety, and I do not doubt your sincerity. I do, however take issue with general premise of a position which seems to purport that protecting the innocent or even protecting my own life means I would be potentially committing a sin. If that is your position, I believe your theology is misplaced.

    I am not interested in an argument with you. I have a different opinion on this than you do. I doubt I would change your mind. Your responses to other’s comments here show a dose of over-reaction or overstatement of “the facts”. Consequently I do not care to get into it with you. I just feel it important to not let your comments go completely unchallenged. Doing so could allow good people to be in a position where they are unable to defend themselves…thinking that doing so is un-Christian. That would be unfortunate.

    1. We live in a world that is increasingly dangerous to Christians.
    2. To pretend otherwise is foolish.
    If we would agree with these two statements, one would be completely irresponsible to believe we should protect ourselves, but to only do so without making any preparations. One of the steps of being prepared is to make the decision ahead of time as to whether or not use lethal force to protect one’s loved ones if the unfortunate situation ever arises.

    Best regards,
    Wcarmn

    • timgombis

      Hi Warren,

      I would disagree with your summary of what I’ve written that “protecting the innocent or even protecting my own life means I would be potentially committing a sin.”

      I also don’t think that our culture is increasingly dangerous for Christians. Keep in mind that the New Testament was written in a context of actual persecution and nowhere do any NT writers speak of self-protection or taking up arms against others. In fact, Jesus condemns this when Peter tries to protect him.

      • Warren

        Tim,

        Again, I sense an over simplification/over reaction regarding what was actually said.

        Just a difference of opinion…

        I stated the world is becoming increasing dangerous for Christians. I am not saying there has never been another time when it was dangerous. I merely said it was getting more dangerous for Christians. I believe this is fact. Denying it will not change it. We have all seen men, even our President try that this and fail. There is nothing Christ-like or Holy, or wise about denying the obvious.

        I do not forget the context of the NT. I believe if one looks at the actual passage, a better understanding of it could be available.


        John 18:7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” ”

        Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, so that he could be tried, found blameless, and crucified for our transgressions.

        I would classify Jesus’ comment to Peter to be one of instruction, not condemnation. I would also point out that your using this passage to make the point AGAINST using lethal force may not be the the best argument. This passage is central to the main theme of scripture. To fulfill God’s plan of redemption, this needed to happen. There is much, much more going on here than simply Jesus’ instructions for Peter to put his sword away.

        I am not looking for a response to this. I just felt that it should be pointed out that no one likes to have what they have said mis-characterized. You don’t. I don’t. And, Jerry Falwell, Jr. doesn’t either. An inflammatory title suggesting the Cross is an offense to an upstanding Christian brother may be good for your blog…but I find it unwise, unfair, and unfounded.

        Again, probably something we will just have to agree to disagree on.

        Best Regards,
        Warren

      • timgombis

        Thanks for this, Warren.

        I’m thinking of the Matthew 26 passage in which Jesus does indicate that God’s larger purposes are going to be accomplished by Jesus being turned over, but he also condemns what Peter has done, saying that the one who takes up the sword will die by the sword. He is noting the dynamic of violence – that it consumes those who engage in it and imagine that good can come from it.

        Now, I don’t think that the world is becoming increasingly dangerous for Christians. We have many Christians in government and a confessing Christian president. You can watch him singing Amazing Grace, a Christian song. Christians are in positions of power and influence around the world. In other parts of the world, Christians are indeed being attacked, but what is interesting is that only American Christians speak of taking up weapons to defend themselves. Other Christians who are being mistreated for their faith feel they are suffering with and for Christ and entrust themselves to the Judge who judges righteously.

        But even if it were true that the world was becoming more dangerous, what would this change?

        Writing to mistreated Christians in the 1st cent., Peter tells Christians not to retaliate. Paul tells the Roman Christians that those who suffer with Christ will be exalted with Christ, and they should not return evil with evil. Much of the NT is a call for Christians to identify with the sufferings of Christ in order to share in his exaltation.

        In light of that, what justifies arming yourself to protect yourself as a Christian?

        It seems to me that the burden of proof is on those who advocate for this position.

        But what is an offense to the cross is to be an agent of encouraging Christians to relish violence, to be glad for opportunities to do violence to others. The people of God are to take on the shape of the cross. And even if we admit that there some areas where we may disagree about how best to protect the innocent, there seems to me to be no doubt that it is out of line for any Christian to encourage the celebration of killing as he did with his words.

    • Darryl

      Although you would disagree with the summary, that is an accurate summary. You may not want that summary, but it’s still there. Mmmm, maybe that’s the same with Mr. Falwell?

      • timgombis

        Hey Darryl, thanks for the engagement, by the way!

        I hope it’s clear why I disagree with Warren’s summary of what I’ve written. To me, it’s not an issue of whether or not we ought to protect the innocent, but an issue of whether our communities should be the kind of communities that get emotionally charged about the possibility of killing Muslim terrorists.

      • timgombis

        Darryl, Warren, and Ron,

        What I’m trying to get at is the same issue as this Liberty University Seminary student is addressing. Not the specific issue of whether or not it is appropriate to be licensed for and to use a gun for self-protection. I’m addressing the underlying issue of the sentiments that relish violence. Check out his very thoughtful article.

    • Darryl

      Well said, Warren!

  • Sherri

    This is why Christ Himself said that we should ask “in Jesus Name” for the Comforter/Advocate, Spirit of Truth that will personally lead us into all truth, even the heavier/weighty things yet to come, with the increased understanding that comes directly from The Father through the Spirit of Grace by Faith in that One and self-same Spirit of Christ. This all sounds like foolishness to the unbeliever; but to those being saved it is the power of God unto Salvation! Man can only go so far, we can lead a horse to water but we cannot make him drink! If we ask the Father in “Jesus Name” He will personally lead us individually into all truth and His perfect will. Jesus said “Come let us reason together”: Come drink of the water of the word and He will lead you in the way of Eternal Life. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death, Psalm 48:14
    (Sounds like Marriage covenant vows to me!!)
    Jesus had so much more to tell His disciples and us, but before they/we received the Comforter, they could not bear it. Before the Spirit of Peace comes, Whom the world cannot receive because it neither hears Him nor knows Him, they could not understand Jesus’s sayings and even so it is today. This mystery spoken in John Chapter 16 which had been laid since the foundations of the earth and hidden in Christ, were spoken through His apostles and prophets and will in these last days be revealed through His bride the church. God’s word is the same yesterday, today and forever and all who ask in Faith shall receive, as God is no respecter of persons.
    The flesh is instinctively bent toward self-preservation and fears what it cannot understand. To be led by the Spirit in the regeneration of your mind is to know and understand the way of God, for He has given us the mind of Christ. Prior to receiving this gift that Jesus gave His life for, our thoughts and ways were not God’s way for His thoughts were higher and the natural man could not understand them. 1 Corinthians 2:16. The flesh wants everything immediately, instant gratification. Tim planted seed, not for debate. Seed grows over time and prayer. Remember the blind man who Jesus prayed for twice. First he saw men like trees, spiritually we recognize an earthly parable but the spiritual application is a little hazy. Then Jesus prayed again and the Father gave the increase of clarity, so it is with Spiritual understanding it grows clearer over time as we grow in the knowledge and admiration of the Lord, All who are near sighted or blind will see clearly if they patiently wait on the Lord with thanksgiving in their heart. For the Lord has changed the curse into a blessing and perfect Love casts out fear!

  • Ruth

    This post reminded me of a few quotes from one of by favorite biographies….

    “Things do exist that are worth standing up for without compromise. To me it seems that peace and social justice are such things, as is Christ himself.”

    and…

    “Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words. They should remain open. Our only comfort is the God of the resurrection, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who also was and is his God.”
    ― Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

    Thanks for your rich words and encouragement. Thanking God.. For the ways he works is never something I could have imagined.
    My best guess would be so far off this incredible reality. Being born as baby, placed in manger, town of Bethlehem, does anyone good ever come from Nazareth?, to a rebellious nation, reveals his coming to shepherds, chooses fisherman and tax collectors as disciples, talks to a women with 7 or so husbands at the well, touches those infected with leprosy, triumphal entries on a donkey, dies on a cursed tree while asking Father to forgive us. This is for real! Do we know this Love? Do we see victory in the “defeat.” Have we experienced the Father’s love? If so, why do we fear? Jesus knew there was no other way.

  • Sherri

    I agree Ruth and I believe those gaps are for our meditation and our conscience conclusion, so that when every man stands before the Lord in the Day of judgement, each can rejoice in his own work when we give an account of our thought and deeds before the Lord.
    2 Corinthians 2:4-6 4For the weapons of our warfare (The Word) are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (gap) 6being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

    When we read the Book of Revelation, we may see our Prince riding in on a white Horse with all His martyred saints following with Him. For vengeance is mine say’s the Lord and He will repay every man according to His word and their deeds; whether they be evil or good. For who can know the thoughts of a man unless the spirit of that man be in him, We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is also what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words; 1 Corinthians 2. In acts 17:11 we practice building up our faith in God’s word like the Bereans did, before the moment that we give our final testimony, so that in the moment of our trial, when we come before earthly magistrates and are questioned and then we hear the words of the Lord being spoken to us by the Holy Spirit, we will recognize them and speak our answer boldly and with confidence as we ought to; for it will not be our own fleshly words but God speaking through us; Mark 3:10-13.

    We really need our Comforter and advocate and to practice listening to his soft gentile voice speaking His thoughts into our mind; learning to recognize them and allow our carnal thoughts to be overridden by His Spiritual ones; then we will walk through the fire but the flames will not hurt us!

  • The Book of Acts (as a blog)Steve Long

    10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

    11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? John 18

    ..”the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Much of the worried discussion above neglects the real possibility that fear and danger are a cup that we must ‘drink’, an examination to see if we will trust God only, or God and Smith and Wesson. That equals no trust in God. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God. That seems pretty direct. The word there is not peacekeepers; it is peacemakers. Followers of Jesus turn swords into plowshares not the other way around. They give up war and take up farming so to speak. Why would they do this? Because when you become a follower of Jesus you become a citizen of the eternal country and become an ambassador of it to the nation where God has put you as a missionary from heaven. Somehow we feel entitled to stay alive when in Syria today our spiritual brothers are losing their heads and gaining eternal life by keeping their testimony to the very end. This reminds me of Revelation 20, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” I have had experiences where I should have died and I cannot tell you how I did not except to say that I am fully confident that God acted. God is in constant action in the activities around us and when we fail to see it or understand what He is doing we resort to fear. Fear might be an indicator that we do not know God as well as we should. Living or dying or the manner of it should not fret us because as children of God we are destined to live forever and that is a pretty long time. The mission Jesus gave us is simple . We are to tell others about him, baptize them and continue to help them know Jesus more. This is the mission that Jesus promised to be with us in “until the end of the age.” If a follower of Jesus is not testifying to others about Jesus wherever they go and they are instead driving certain frightening people away by threats and intimidation they have missed the mission. Jesus did not promise to be with us on the mission as we see it or the mission of our own fearful choosing. I am thankful that The Apostle Paul was willing to put himself at such extreme risk because those of us who follow Jesus of European descent own him a debt of gratitude. Here is what he says about the risk he was willing to take to tell others about Jesus and read carefully what he says. It is full of danger. II Corinthians 11, “24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

    25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

    26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

    27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Paul could have saved himself some agony by carrying a Glock and a couple grenades but he realized that his body was no longer his own to protect and that it fully belonged to Jesus. We accept more than a doctrine when we choose to follow Jesus. We have a new owner who paid a steep price for us. Are we willing to risk a little cost to do the mission that our owner has given us?

  • Warren

    Tim,
    Well it is indeed an interesting debate.

    You are right. The article/blog from the seminary student you cited was thoughtful. Unfortunately, just because someone writes a thoughtful article doesn’t mean it is a scriptural. Just because someone has heartfelt feelings doesn’t mean they are scriptural.

    The referenced article completely misses that it is comparing apples (a fight against the ruling authority in that day-albeit corrupt ruling authority) to oranges (today’s radical jihadists hell bent on killing those who worship and serve Jesus)

    It also completely misses the fact that Jesus was in full control of the entire betrayal/confrontation/arrest. This is clear from several things the Bible communicates through the teaching of this scene from each of the four gospels.
    Jesus was in complete control as he could have call heaven down to help him.
    Jesus was telling Peter to replace his sword…because Jesus had assumed responsibility for the safety of his followers that night. Mark 18:8-9 This passage is all about Jesus freely and fully giving himself as a sacrifice. It is not meant to restrain Christians from using legal means to protect themselves.

    In the article you cited, there were 2 stated scriptures used in the article that jumped out at me. In my opinion, both were misused.

    The writer referred to Mathew 26:52 using a singular verse, when the story is obviously much larger than someone putting their sword away. The guards who came to get Jesus were doing so at the behest of their superiors, the people in legal authority over the populace of the time. When Peter attacked, his attack was against those in authority. In addition, this arrest, trial and crucifixion of a sinless man is the central theme of scripture. Jesus clearly stated why he was allowing it to happen. To use this scripture as the basis of reason for position against using legal, lethal force to protect oneself shows a lack of understanding at best and poor judgement at worst.

    The student used Romans 14:19 completely out of context. This verse is part of a summary of how we are to deal with disagreement IN THE CHURCH between fellow believers. It has nothing to do with how we should respond to evil people with intent to kill.

    I find it very unfortunate and troubling that a seminary student from such a prestigious university would make these two errors. It shows that men are not perfect…especially when judging other Christian brothers as described earlier in the same chapter of Romans (14) the seminary student was quoting from.

    I cannot judge the heart of this man, but I have to wonder if he, like so many before him, has an ideology and then attempted to find scripture to support it. In any event, comparing his article to the scripture is a little like comparing a hostage note with words clipped from various newspaper articles & advertisements to the complete newspaper….not much of a comparison, and certainly not the full story that important decisions should be based upon.

    A reference was also made that only Christians in America speak of taking up weapons to defend themselves…This may well be because in our great country it is legal to bear arms. Not all countries have that right or the tremendous wealth we have to be able to own such weapons.

    I might advise reading the entire 14th chapter of Acts….It kind of sums up this matter of judging other Christians.

    If the argument one has with Jerry Falwell Jr. is that he is gleefully encouraging violence….that is a pretty big stretch. You writing says you believe President Obama is a good Christian, and it appears you feel Jerry Falwell Jr. is a bad Christian who is offended by the cross of Christ.

    If this is really your position….I will wish you well and I will move on.

    God gave us the Bible, He gave us a Brain. He gave us discernment to use them both.

    There are those that will pray and hide. There are those that will pray and shoot… I am one of the latter. It may be that I am lacking faith…I can always use more. It may be that I am lacking something else.

    In any event, I thank God we have had some common sense, God fearing, praying shooters, or we just might all be speaking German or Japanese at this point.
    As for me, I’m prayed up and…locked & loaded.

    Best regards,

    Warren
    P.S. as always, the last word…is yours.

  • Denise L. Smith

    These are difficult times and acting on impulse could be the order of the day. However, as Christians we must always interpret the actions of this world through the lens of the scripture while asking God for his wisdom and guidance in determining what our response might be. For a moment, impulsively I almost made a decision to withdraw from Liberty because of the statement made.

  • Warren

    Here is a link that responds to the unbiblical view that Christians should not defend themselves.

    http://americanvision.org/12837/a-biblical-response-to-john-pipers-denial-of-the-right-to-bear-arms/

  • Biblicism Institute

    You wrote “the presence of Roman soldiers in Israel…” WRONG! Israel did not exist at that point. It was Judah within the Federation of Palestine. See Brief History of the Kingdoms of #Israel & Judah> http://wp.me/p4OZ4v-Bo

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