a-time-to-kill-book

I was an agnostic/practicing atheist for 40 years. For a little over four years, I’ve been an active Christian. So when Greg Hopkins approached me at the Gun Rights Policy conference in Tampa, Florida to review his book A Time to Kill, The Myth of Christian Pacifism, I was intrigued.

A Time to Kill is a deep level study of the biblical perspective on the use of deadly force, both individually and collectively in war. As the blurb points out, it’s an enquiry into the nature, meaning and application of deadly force.

“A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism” answers questions such as: Do federal, state, and local laws allow citizens to defend themselves against criminal attack? What means are available for self defense? What strategies should one use to avoid potential conflict. Can Christians defend themselves against Islamic extremists? Is pacifism in the Bible? Do the Gospels say Jesus was a pacifist?

What if God commands us to use deadly force to defend the innocent? How do Jesus and the New Testament writers feel about the military? What does the Bible say about the death penalty? Can Christians sit on juries and vote for the death penalty? Can Jesus’ teachings help soldiers with combat-induced PTSD? Does the Bible have a consistent message about self-defense from the Old Testament to the New?”

I particularly enjoyed Greg’s account of how two Roman centurions were treated. (Centurions were Roman military officers. As a former U.S. Army officer, I could relate.)  The first centurion mentioned in the Bible has a conversation directly with Jesus. Jesus praises him for his faith. The second centurion and his household were chosen as the first Gentiles to become Christians. Neither was commanded to give up their profession of arms.

Greg has been a lawyer for most of his adult life. He uses his everyday experience to illustrate Christian and legal doctrine. He shows the biblical basis for most of the law on the use of force in the United States. He gives sound advice on both the use of force and how to avoid having to use force.

Greg’s tome uses fictionalization and embellishment of biblical accounts as a literary device, to make and emphasize particular points. These snippets were easy reading, but they’re a small part of the book. In fact, A Time to Kill is a dense, well-argued text — not a book you can read over a weekend. I recommend it to anyone who wants more than a superficial look at biblical teaching of Christian morality on the use of deadly force.

A Time to Kill didn’t change my views as a Christian, but it provided sound reasoning and a Biblical basis for my decision to remain armed in defense of myself and other innocent life.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

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91 Responses to Book Review: A Time to Kill, The Myth of Christian Pacifism

  1. Looks like something I need to pick up. The truth about Christian pacifism is simply communist-socialists who have sought to castrate Christians into becoming incapable of resisting their Marxist goals.

    • Quakers were pacifists long before Marx. Before that the unsettled debate among Christians about warfare and personal pacifism can be traced back at least as far as St. Augustine’s writings in the fourth century. Right or wrong, pacifism is not just a pack of communist lies.

      • True, but now your getting into a academic/theological debate. I think that clearly the Church has been on the side of Christian armaments.

      • Great point about St. Augustine. However, St. Thomas Aquinas settled the self defense issue his principle of double effect. Aquinas suggests that killing in self-defense may be moral, does so only insofar as the individuals performing such action intend the preservation of their own lives, which is good, not the death of their attackers, which is evil.

    • Jesus was irreligious – remember, he is the only one (and he wouldn’t want you to die like him).

    • From Wikipedia:

      St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) laid out the conditions under which war is justified . . .

      First, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state. (Proper Authority is first: represents the common good: which is peace for the sake of man’s true end—God.)
      Second, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain (for example, “in the nation’s interest” is not just) or as an exercise of power. (Just Cause: for the sake of restoring some good that has been denied. i.e., lost territory, lost goods, punishment for an evil perpetrated by a government, army, or even the civilian populace.)
      Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.[16] (Right Intention: an authority must fight for the just reasons it has expressly claimed for declaring war in the first place. Soldiers must also fight for this intention.)

  2. There are a couple of bits of commentary in the Talmud (the rabbis discussion of passages in the Torah) on using deadly force. From my memory:

    If someone comes to murder you, arise and kill him first.

    If someone murders your neighbor and you do nothing to prevent it, his blood is on your hands.

    • Not only your neighbor’s blood, but the blood of every future victim of the murderer you did not stop when you had the opportunity.

      • ^^ Exactly. Most people who commit violent crimes do not say “Well, that was neat but I’ll never do that again!” For the vast majority, it is likely not their first rodeo – or their last, if they have anything to say about it.

    • …or more colloquially, if somebody says he is going to kill you in the morning, wake up early and kill him first.

  3. I found some Christmas presents! I’m going to order a couple during a break in my 90 – 95 hour work week.

    I’ve long since argued that Christianity, both New and Old Testament, supports both the military and armed self defense. Even disciples with Jesus had swords. Not tiny little daggers, but real battlefield “weapons of war” swords.

    I’m also considering applying the federal Sergeant at Arms position in the Trump
    cabinet.

    • Only a small minded person would think Christian’s must justify every thought and opinion with a footnote showing book, chapter and verse from our cannon of scripture and which translation was used to form that particular viewpoint.

      The logical extension of such thinking would conclude all Christians must have identical norms and standards with the ability to express those views with absolute biblical authority.

      If those views were presented in the formal setting of a classroom and the one expressing those views was recognized as a person who had the spiritual gifts of pastor-teacher then, not only would he be expected, he would be required to justify exactly how he formed those conclusions not only by citing which book, chapter and verse of the Bible were used but must also have supporting scriptures to justify those views.

      The Christian experience can not be lived out in constant defense to those who have no personal history with each other. Each believer is the sum of his Christian education and the parts of that education that became much more than academic knowledge but become daily living.

      The way the Christian thinks, the way the Christian acts, the way he lives out his life and the way the Christian treats others WITHOUT having to refer to a book of rules, regulations and resulting penalties if those rules and regulations are broken is truly living the Christian way of life as the believer in Jesus Christ best understands.

      • Fair enough. If your religion helps you be a better person, I won’t argue with that. The world needs more good people.

        What it doesn’t need is more like Mack Bolan. Use the Bible as a platform for personal nastiness, expect to get called out on it.

        • Repudiating “pacifism, diversity, and inclusiveness” is Nastiness? So we should “welcome” our enemies, idolaters, heathens into our midst, confidant that our Lord will protect us from our actions, without ANY action on our part? I’d have to say I haven’t read that in MY Bible. Which version tells you that, lng?

        • It’s nastiness coming from Mack Bolan, because nastiness is what that racist does.

          The parts of the Bible that actually feature Christ himself are (for their time) radically inclusive. Christianity is inclusive, not exclusive. Diversity — the actual thing, not the Left’s political dogma — is a good thing in a free society.

          I’ll concede pacifism (which, like the rest of you, I think is insane), but that’s all.

        • Christianity’s fundamental purpose is to stand directly against and combat evil, both physical and spiritual. It is the core concept of the faith. Thus pacifism, diversity, inclusiveness and Christianity are mutually exclusive.

          Lucifer on the other hand welcomes everyone, tolerance, diversity, and inclusiveness are his tools.

          Christians were warned by the man himself that the biggest threat to the faith, would come from within. Those within the faith that preach pacifism, diversity, and inclusiveness are that threat, and therefor not Christian in the slightest.

          Judgement awaits all men, Heaven is an exclusive club.

        • Mack, that’s what I thought you meant. That’s what I understood when I read your post, but I can see where people could read it another way. Christ welcomes everyone, so in that sense He is inclusive, but if you reject Him then you are excluded.

          I agree with your clarification.

        • Mack Bolan has previously written that black people are feral animals and should be “gotten rid of”, that women should not have the right to vote, and that America is only for White Christians. He has said that all immigrants and children and grandchildren of immigrants should be sent back to their country of origin in boxcars. That’s what he means by shunning diversity.

        • In the context of some of the more…er…deplorable things Bolan has said, I read that very differently.

    • Christianity’s fundamental purpose is to stand directly against and combat evil, both physical and spiritual. It is the core concept of the faith. Thus pacifism, diversity, inclusiveness and Christianity are mutually exclusive.

      Lucifer on the other hand welcomes everyone, tolerance, diversity, and inclusiveness are his tools.

      Christians were warned by the man himself that the biggest threat to the faith, would come from within. Those within the faith that preach pacifism, diversity, and inclusiveness are that threat, and therefor not Christian in the slightest.

      Judgement awaits all men, Heaven is an exclusive club.

  4. Thanks for the review. I’ve had this one on my radar for a while but just hadn’t gotten around to pulling the trigger. (Pun intended).

    Need to see about pricing from iBooks and Amazon.

  5. I’m going to get this. A few years ago I published an article titled Should Christians Carry Guns? Hint: the answer is yes. This should go into much greater depth than I was able to.

  6. Nice review Dean. Nowhere is pacifism taught in the Bible. We are not to be aggressors but we can defend ourselves. Interesting phrasing though…”active atheist”. How does one “practice” unbelief? And when was your literal “come to JESUS “moment?

    • One practices atheism by acting as if God does not exist. My “Come to Jesus” moment was about 4 and a half years ago. I was climbing a mountain. I was coming to terms with my inability to meet my own standards. I needed help. I asked for it. I got it.

      • I climbed a mountain as well and wondered what held me back. Faith was a yoke, once released, the restraint was be a moral man. It’s not what we find at the top of our mountains, the measure is to get there.

        As for pacifist, they are liars and cowards. Living off blood, treasure and sacrifice of good men. Our country is unique in that once we gained our liberty we’ve always fought to keep it. Fail to participate in maintaining it relays one is not worthy of it.

  7. “Neither was commanded to give up their profession of arms.”

    Judea/Roman Syria was a Roman province for 70 years by the time of Jesus. The two centurions were part of peacetime garrisons. Perhaps Jesus might have something different to say to them if those centurions were actively participating in wars of aggression like today’s US military.

    • Nonsense troll. Judea was boiling over. And destroyed by Titus within 40 years. Mortal enemy to the Jewish people…

      • “within 40 years”

        As in, 40 years later? Thank you for confirming the actual timeline, in the time of Jesus, Roman Syria was calm.

        It is ludicrous to relate individual self-defense to the willful dispensation of violence on behalf of the government.

        • So you think a people with a nearly 4000 year history can’t fathom 40 years? JESUS was basically executed for sedition-comrmon in 30 AD. PAX Romana was a myth…at least you acknowledge the historical JESUS. Unusual for a lowly leftwing troll.

        • “So you think a people with a nearly 4000 year history can’t fathom 40 years”

          Moving them goalposts, as usual. The relevant point here are the two centurions were members of peacetime garrisons. In fact, their unit was mostly filled with Syrians, led by a small contingent of Roman citizens. As such, interpreting the stories of the two centurions as a biblical approval of militarism is laughable. Especially in the context of defending contemporary American militarism from a biblical context.

        • Right. The Jews did not know that the Romans dominated everything that was important in Jewish religion, culture and history. The Romans were nice guys don’t you know??
          I dub you trollus maximus, looking for something to argue about from your Howard Zinn view of history. Try and resist responding troll. I dare and doubt you.

        • So, MDS, you seem slightly more literate than our usual Trolls. How about a link to your scholarly text on Amazon?

        • “Howard Zinn view of history”

          Because Howard Zinn delved into antiquity. Right.

          By parity of the “logic” of the supposedly militarist Jesus, one can construe the lack of condemnation of the centurions’ profession by Jesus as approval of the Jewish submission to a foreign conquering power. 🙂

        • “How about a link to your scholarly text on Amazon?”

          Because one needs to link amazon to prove that the Roman-Jewish war took place well after the death of Jesus, and preceding tensions in Roman Syria were largely due to tension between the Greeks and Jews.

          Try wikipedia, or introductory text on Roman history. 🙂

        • Don’t feed the troll. Extend the middle finger of greeting and move on. MDS has well established his dumbassedness.

        • Translation: when you have no logical response, scream “dumb troll” and cry onto your keyboard. 🙂

        • The Howard Zinn version of history is revisionism which you are an obvious flag bearer of. He may not have spoken about it but the lack of depth, the factual inaccuracies, the mass group think, once you have seen a fraud you always recognize one. I have read your rants against America. All of them are dead wrong, but just because you troll away does not make you even 1% correct in your analysis on anything. Do you even think your own thoughts? Everything you spew comes directly from the Marxist Alinsky Zinn school.
          If the Jews loved the Romans explain the Jewish revolts some 33 years after Christ? (Which he predicted btw) Stop trying to muck up the arguments troll. Your a gadfly who likes to land on the potato salad and then take off.

        • The irony of you ranting about how I am wrong, and yet you pose a question which proves my point: that Roman Syria was calm at the time of Christ.

          Also the hilarity of you accusing me of “lack of depth”, but opting for a simplistic (and incorrect) argument of Jewish resistance (at the wrong time) and ignoring the complex relation between Greeks, Jews and Romans at the root of the Jewish-Roman war. 🙂

  8. Interesting. I have struggled for a long time with my decision to carry a gun from a Christian perspective. I’ll have to check this out to add to my research of the subject.

    • You may find comfort in biblical text, however the reason one carries is selfishness. I’m selfish in keeping my life until choosing to leave this world.

      • I’d call it stewardship. If you believe in a benevolent god who gives life to all, then life is a divine gift. The greatest gift of all, actually. You should have enough respect for God to protect it.

    • If this helps, when the King James version of The Bible was compiled, the authors misquoted the ancient Hebrew in the 6th Commandment. The actual Hebrew word was “murder”, not “kill”. Otherwise the whole Bible would make no sense, and the Jewish nation would have been destroyed before they left Egypt, and army service would be immoral. The Bible does not contradict itself, only man’s misinterpretation makes it appear so. Also, self-defense is categorically endorsed in several passages, many in Jesus’ own words. You are not wrong to carry arms for your own protection or the protection of others. And current law is capable of deciding whether self-defense is justified or not. You are a good man.

    • WTF is a “practicing Christian”? And how is it different from a “practicing muslim” or a “practicing atheist”? When you follow some superstition, laughing at someone else’s superstition welcomes laughter in return.

    • There’s a pretty big difference between believing in God, and being a member of an organized religion. The two aren’t incompatible, but they’re definitely not the same thing.

      • I agree. When I found my way back to my faith, I did it without the church, just the bible. I am a religious man, but not a church goer. I don’t believe this makes me any less a Christian.

        • Crowbar,

          Nevertheless, I encourage you to find a church and attend as regularly as possible. I say this for four reasons:
          (1) Encouragement — you can encourage others in their faith and vice-versa.
          (2) Accountability — you can help hold others accountable and vice-versa.
          (3) Accomplishment — as part of a larger group, the group can accomplish a lot more than an individual.
          (4) Growth — everyone’s knowledge and faith grows faster in a group where all the members share knowledge and insights.

          Think of yourself and others at church like hot coals in a fire. When they are in a pile together, their heat and combustion combines to sustain a hot burning fire. Take out one coal and place it on a hard metal surface and it slowly begins to cool and die out.

          If you had a bad experience in a previous church, keep searching for a great church!

          Note: see what I did there? I offered encouragement and growth (in knowledge with the parable of fire and coals).

      • So long as you do not stop asking questions/seeking truth upon regaining your faith.

        Faith is the belief that what you feel is truth. Truth is proof that what you have faith in is actual fact. Keep your faith, if that comforts you, but never stop seeking for the truth, for the facts.

        For another Christian’s view of personal and national defense I recommend “Of Civil Government” by John Locke. A sometimes difficult read, but very enlightening.

    • You are correct. God does not want forced worship. He wants everyone to find Jesus and to be saved. The prophetic parts of the Bible are written in symbolic language that requires understanding. All prophecy has come true so far. We have little time left to decide our fate. This verse tells you who will come through – Rev 12:17 – “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandment and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
      The woman is the Church, and believers are her offspring. There are two simple requirements for a Christian – obeying the Commandments and believing every word from Jesus’ mouth. Even if you only hear you will believe and be saved.
      God allowed His beloved Son to die a horrible death because he truly loves you and wants you as His son. It is entirely your choice. But sadly our modern world prevents knowledge of the wisdom and blessings from the Bible from spreading among most people. If you are interested, please find a Church which will guide you and let you know more.

  9. I will take it to another level. Throughout the Bible – weapons, force, and hurting (even killing) certain people are glorified. Protagonists in the Bible (including God) brag about killing and hurting and “warring” in general. Violence is even (often) prescribed and not just described – let the reader decide if it is for a limited time and place or if there are any present day applications.

    Christian pacifism is so cherry-picked in terms of its textual support I wonder how it ever got started. It is definitely something one puts on the Bible and not something one gets from it.

    • “Christian pacifism is so cherry-picked in terms of its textual support I wonder how it ever got started.”

      Because “Turn the other cheek” as a pull quote is easier to remember than all that other stuff. And if God is a pacifist, what is all that about Sodom and Gamorrha and the flood, etc.

  10. It’s a great book… I’ve recommended it – and the book Facing Violence by Rory Miller – to friends and family that can’t seem to understand there is a time to use violence and if need be, to kill to protect others or ourselves. We rarely have a choice when violence comes to us or our loved ones,but when it does, what do we do?… roll over and allow our loved ones to be harmed or killed?… or do we use all the tools available to us to defend/protect them? I choose the later!

  11. I consider myself both a Christian and a pacifist. And I carry a gun. As far as possible I believe in being peaceable among all men (Romans 12:18).

    • Catholic prayer during Mass was amended (there are small clarifications to cannon brought about (albeit rarely) by the Catholic Church when it is deemed fit to do so.).

      We used to recite a prayer that stated “and Peace to all Men. . .” it was changed to recite “and Peace to People of good will”.

      • And among other things, that pretty much covers the “Islam issue”. Or if you wish to dance around it, the “radical Islam issue”

    • Exactly Governor.

      Romans 12:18 — “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

      That verse does not say live at peace with others at all costs.

  12. “Howard Zinn view of history”

    Because Howard Zinn delved into antiquity. Right. 🙂

    By parity of the “logic” of the supposedly militarist Jesus, one can construe the lack of condemnation of the centurions’ profession by Jesus as approval of the Jewish submission to a foreign conquering power.

  13. Catholics have a patron Saint of “guns”.
    http://www.gunsaint.com/stagnaro.asp

    “sic. Luke 22: 36-38 [KJV] JESUS said “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” “The Author here prays, in shrinking awe of his LORD, that in all the Author does, he causes not even your shadow to fall one stray footfall from that where GOD directs you. The Author claims to NOT be a biblical scholar, but the Author believes, that JESUS directed HIS apostles, and by them – us, to travel ‘armed’. Not in the manner in which to facilitate the use of force to master any domain. Instead, HE directs (all of us) to carry ourselves, in our current mortal form, as the children of GOD, on this earth, into tomorrow, with dignity, sovereignty and security. That we are each entitled “UNDER GOD,” life, liberty, and the
    pursuit of happiness, provided by GOD as HE provides for the bees in the flower, but that we are entitled, when necessary, to obtain or extract our own security, where necessary, and forthrightly, under GOD. By further reference, it is also logical here to cite the translation of the words of JESUS in Matthew 26:52 speaking to his apostle Peter, in the garden at Gethsemane, after Peter’s cutting off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest’s with a sword, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” While the latter of that bible passage is most used (cited), it should be noted that Peter had the sword, that he had it with him, that he was OBVIOUSLY not unfamiliar with its swift employment, and that the LORD had to still-him from further
    carnage after drawing blood. The Author posits that it should be well noted too, that JESUS did not tell Peter to throw the sword away, or even to lay it on the ground. JESUS merely told Peter to store it on his person from where it was drawn.” J.M. Thomas R., TERMS, pg. 51, 2012

  14. The myth of Christian pacifism serves us. We are actually a vicious and ruthless lot, willing to reintroduce you to our GOD with you still thinking you’re going to see yours. We like it. Tell your friends, tell your great grandkids, tell all who will listen.

    F with us, and you might be a runny red patch on a rock when JESUS comes back and asks us why.

  15. If you are always looking for a fight, you will always be able to find one. If you live your life honorably and graciously, and defend yourself or innocents only when absolutely necessary, you will be held blameless, both in this life and the next.

    • “you will be held blameless, both in this life and the next.” Christians being murdered by ISIS, the martyred apostles, and Jesus Christ himself may disagree with you there.

  16. At least as a heathen, I have no internal fight over somewhat ambiguous doctrine – so I carry with a peaceful mind. 🙂

  17. It would be interesting to see an overview of philosophical positions on deadly-force self-defense. I doubt that many religious or secular moral philosophies would come out against it. Secular liberal philosophy, for example, argues for the primacy of the individual over the group, so I doubt that many interpretations could come out against self-defense.

    Even amongst religious and political factions that seem to be against gun ownership, I think that most of those people are under the impressions that by better restricting guns in society there will be much less need for people to defend themselves, not that the right to defend yourself is morally wrong.

  18. “I was an agnostic/practicing atheist for 40 years. For a little over four years, I’ve been an active Christian.”

    Backslider! 😉 What exactly is a “practicing atheist?”

  19. “A Time to Kill didn’t change my views as a Christian, but it provided sound reasoning and a Biblical basis for my decision to remain armed in defense of myself and other innocent life.”

    It sounds like you went out searching for support for your own convictions rather than searching for the answer to a question. It would be interesting to see what actual theologians think about this issue.

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