Good Christian? Bad Christian? It all depends on who’s doing the evaluating. The reaction to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s comments on encouraging students at Liberty University to be armed in case there is an ISIS attack at the school has led to a great deal of theological and political angst.
Brian D. McLaren, described as “one of the most influential Christian leaders in America and . . . recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America in 2005” has written a long article condemning Falwell’s comments.
There have been others. Peter Enns has written a muddled article for the Boston Globe. I’m not sure if Enns is supporting the Bible or condemning it.
Jonathan Merritt, writing for The Atlantic, has also condemned Falwell’s comments. He at least uses the Bible to make his case but does so selectively.
McLaren’s long article about Falwell’s gun-arming message didn’t spend much time actually quoting the Bible and arguing for his opinion based on engagement with specific passages:
“For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, just and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.”
“Authentic Christianity” includes the whole Bible. Being loving, peaceful, just and generous, and self-giving do not nullify our responsibility to be prepared with a good “self-defense” strategy if we are ever confronted with a San Bernardino type situation. Being armed and willing to defend ourselves, our family, and our neighbors is not being unchristian or even unloving. Self-defense can go a long way to protect the innocent from people who are intent on murder for whatever reason.
How “self-giving” should Christians in Paris or San Bernardino have been when confronted with the worst kind of human evil? Would it have been more “self-giving” by dying at the hands of murderers or would it have been more loving to stop those who were pumping bullets into people?
McLaren’s article is devoid of any actual biblical argument…
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