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