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By Paul McCain

Over the past few months I’ve noticed a sort of pattern. TTAG finds and quotes a guy or gal wearing preacher-duds and inevitably it’s some left-winger spouting off on gun control, demonizing firearms and firearm owners, and excoriating the right to keep and bear arms. Worst of all recently was a so-called “Lutheran” bishop honking off about how churches should be places where guns aren’t necessary, they are bad, bad, bad and blah, blah, blah. At that point I decided I’ve had enough and decided to write up this little piece . . .

Allow me to respond not as simply a firearms enthusiast but a man who also happens to be a Lutheran pastor. I’ve been one coming up on twenty-five years now. I can stomach all the anti-Christian rants that these kinds of posts engender in the comments, but for the record and in the interest of fair play, I’d like to offer a different perspective from the clergy-persons highlighted by TTAG.

I won’t try to go into all the theology and interpretation involved in discussing particular texts in the Bible regarding self-defense and turning the other cheek. Needless to say, there are horrendous distortions of the meaning and intention of various Bible passages commonly quoted and while I could sustain a long, detailed conversation on these points, it would only bore most to tears. Let’s just put it this way: there is no valid argument on the basis of the Biblical text — either Old or New Testament — to justify a pacifist opposition to self-defense and consequently the use of firearms to defend oneself and one’s family, neighbors or community.

I’ll simply reflect my own particular faith-tradition, that of conservative orthodox Lutheranism and cite our core text for explaining the whole Bible: Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. In the Small Catechism, Luther has beautiful, short, memorable explanations for each of the Ten Commandments.

And here is where I take my stand.

Luther explains the meaning of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” this way, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every need and danger of life and body.”

So, let’s keep this simple. If this is what “Thou Shalt Not Kill” entails — and note that in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word here for “kill” is “murder” — then it’s very plain that if in fact I am to do what I can, not merely to avoid hurting or harming my neighbor, but to act to help him in every need and danger of life and body. This means that yes, as a Christian, it’s not merely a right but a duty to protect and defend those whom I love, and even those in my community, if and when their life and body is being threatened with harm. A firearm is one tool that can be used to accomplish this.

Clear? Simple? You bet it is.

But let’s also take a look at how Luther explains the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” Here he says, “We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business, so that his means are preserved and his condition is improved.” Again, quite simple. A firearm may be used to help my neighbor to preserve his condition and protect his property.

So, when you see or hear a cleric spouting off on social issues with a leftie bent, please be aware  that there are a lot of conservative, more orthodox Christians, like me and others, who quite thoroughly disagree with them. People who thoroughly reject the “theological” arguments underlying their positions. Carry on.

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    • +2
      Hasn’t it always been that the people who fail to grasp this simple concept have always had control issues? Not being a devout Bible-thumper, myself, but certainly well appreciating the learned text in that much revered tome, I am aware of the Bible referring to even the “coveting” of other’s belongings, suggesting, I would think, that the mere energy of thinking about violating other people’s space is a sin. It is, as it should be, because underlying the coveting is one ego overtaking any sense of another person’s boundaries.

      All of our politicians, save for half a handful, are despicable, deceitful, lying, irreligious, treasonous, POS hypocrites. They swear an oath of service, over a Bible no less, and once in those hallowed halls then say to themselves, “I made it, I really made it.”

      What has really taken this country down is laws; not merely that they exist, but that men seeking more power would intentionally use the sheer volume of them to acquire more power instead of showing the people how to better manage their own power. In a sense, it’s like a sick parent who continually sabotages his own child because, should that child go to school and learn something more, he might accidentally dwarf his father’s limited accomplishments. He may have never laid one finger on the child, but repeatedly stabbed him every day simply in defense of his own fragile ego. And that is what we have for politicians.

  1. Wanna bet $20 whose church will get more tithes and offerings over the next decade?

  2. My aggravation comes not from a clergyman giving his opinion but abusing his position and twisting scripture to push a purely political agenda. Your short article here has shown others in ministry have noticed this as well and are not all in agreement and that puts me somewhat at ease.

    It is difficult to not stereotype our opponents, but their logic is consistent. They know the facts about scripture and figures of this world don’t back their position without some mental gymnastics so they use catch-phrases and keep people willfully ignorant, much like other groups on their side of the fence.

    Off on a tangent, I recently watched a portion of the production “Blackfish” with my wife on a couples retreat and we were both shocked the “facts” Seaworld employees shared were all objectively wrong yet they believed them because the “experts” told them they were true. That is the same as when clergymen abuse their position and lead their congregation astray for political motivations.

    • Hence the Reformation. It is no accident that Gutenberg and Luther came about at the same time. (but yes, clergy have a heavy burden to preach the Word faithfully.)

  3. AMEN…”let it be so”. My older brother has a doctor of divinity degree. I bought my 1st gun from him. Millions of believers believe as we do. And we’re NOT “bitter clingers”.

  4. I have some sympathy for the notion that churches shouldn’t be places where guns are necessary — if we put appropriate emphasis on “shouldn’t” and “necessary.” My home should also be a place where guns aren’t necessary. Downtown Boston should be a place where guns aren’t necessary. Central Park at night should be a place where guns aren’t necessary.

    I don’t, however, have much sympathy for the idea that we should behave as though the world is as we would like it to be, rather than as it is. God may have told us “thou shalt not steal”, but He didn’t stop us from inventing locks.

    • I agree 100%. If we could only live in a society where guns shouldn’t be necessary, what a wonderful world that would be. But even if we all could do as the great philosopher Rodney King once asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” there would still be dog attacks, rabid animals, angry, hungry bears and moose wandering into town.

    • “shouldn”t be necessary” is right, but the world we live in, unfortunately, makes it necessary.

      • I’ll let someone else say it better…

        “In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need guns. This is not a perfect world.” — Sheriff Ben Johnson, Volusia County, Florida

  5. “…churches should be places where guns aren’t necessary” I’d like that to be true, I’d like that quote to be true for the rest of the world. But people are idiots to think that bad things cant happen to them just because i’m in “x” place.

    Sad to say it: but no where, not even in a church, is my safety guaranteed, thats why we carry.

  6. Amen. As the son of a preacherman who was an avid sportsman and gun owner, thanks for the words, Pastor.

  7. Oh boy when you started with “Thou shalt not kill” I started to think you were a numbskull but I was relieved when you rightly brought up the original Hebrew. There are different words for kill and murder in Hebrew and God is not a dummy.

    Roman Catholic boy…. Methodist man…. Receiving Judeo-Christianity lessons daily by Dennis Prager radio.

  8. I didn’t need to resort to Google to know the firearms critic was from the heretical ELCA, and this pastor was not. But I confirmed it anyway.

    Writing as someone baptized in an ELCA predecessor church, confirmed in an ELCA church, degreed at an ELCA college, married by an ELCA pastor, I can confirm to you all that they no longer preach:
    -the faith of my fathers
    -the faith in which I was baptized
    -the faith of my Sunday School
    -the faith to which I was confirmed
    -the faith I studied in my religion classes in an ELCA college taught by rostered ELCA pastors
    -the faith professed by Martin Luther

    The corrupt teaching that Christian morality is the sole province of “a bound conscience” has led these “bishops” (God help us for ever letting them call themselves that) far astray into error.

    The ELCA wants reformation.

  9. There is a lot of overlap between religious Americans and the political right, which also supports gun rights (in broad terms). And that’s all well and good, I’ve banged on at some length in support of the broadest tent possible to support the 2A. We’re happy to have you and your support.

    However, while I no longer subscribe to the belief, I was raised in the church, my parents were missionaries, and I have a pretty strong grasp of the theology of violence. And here’s the thing, the good Reverend has an argument about the Ten Commandments, but they are not what govern modern christianity. That is based on the New Testament, and a very select, tiny percentage of the Old. And what Jesus said was “Do good to those who spitefully use you”, “Turn the other cheek”, “If someone takes your goods, do not demand their return” and “If a man demands your coat, give him your cloak as well”. The teachings of Jesus are strictly non-violent and pacifistic, one of the many reasons I reject them.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m glad so many christians don’t have any more regard for their scripture than they do.

    • I know pacifism is the online reputation for Jesus, but it’s no more honest or informed than most online discussions.

      Take, for example, Jesus crafting a weapon and attacking sinners (John 2:13-17)

      Or Jesus tells his disciples to buy swords to be ready for the future (Luke 22:36-38). Note that the disciples had 2 swords among them… which were the “assault weapons” of their day. Strange that a pacifist would allow his disciples to carry…

      As is often the case, what Jesus teaches us is more complicated than our modern labels.

      • Not on the internet mate. What I learned at the feet of one Doctor Hobart Freeman, and during sixteen years of church, three to five times a week. I have over ten thousand hours of theology training. I’ve read the entire bible, cover to cover, nine times. I use the internet for pron and gun arguments, and the bible for questions about christian theology. Solomon teaches us there is a time for everything!

        Do note the “weapon” Jesus crafted was a whip, and he scolded his disciple the only time he actually used a sword. And refused to be defended. Your analysis is lacking.

        • A whip is a weapon, whether you find them as something else or not.

          And why was the disciple chastised? Was it for using a sword Jesus allowed him to carry, or was it for going against God’s will that Jesus be taken at that time?

        • [edit: on the same wavelength as Al, one minute later…]

          A whip still qualifies as a weapon, albeit not a lethal one. The real point is that Jesus himself was willing to use violence (even down to making his own weapon) when it became necessary to protect the sacred precinct of the temple — which undercuts the “violence is always evil” belief of the misguided pacifists.

          And in context, Jesus only explicitly refused to allow his disciples to defend him when the soldiers came to drag him off to the crucifixion — not because good people shouldn’t use violence, but because he had to die in order to be resurrected.

          At least those are the two big Jesus-teaching-by-example moments that I remember. I won’t say my memory is perfect, either; it’s been a while since I’ve done the religion and bible-reading thing.

        • I’m not sure fleecing the flock is exactly a Christian teaching. Paul advised his ministers to support themselves, as he did, and not live off their congregations. I think Jesus’s brother said that breaking one point of the law made you guilty of breaking them all.

        • Tarrou, let me invite you to read my book, “A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism.” I discuss the subject of self-defense in the whole Bible, and I think , show conclusively that Jesus was not a pacifist. Taken in context, “turn the other cheek” is a response to insult, not physical attack intending bodily harm. Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in the Garden was for using his weapon at the wrong place and time, not for having it or to later use in proper circumstances. He told Peter to re-holster it, not throw it away. Please take a look at my book. It’s available at Amazon under my name, Greg Hopkins.

        • Well Tarrou; You are entitled to your beliefs. Thank G-d, we live in a country where we are mostly free to believe differently.

        • I will not be wronged. I will not be insulted. I will not be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same of them. – John Wayne

    • Context is everything. Jesus preached pacifism in personal relationships to a people who under the legal authority of the Romans. The Jews and certainly early Christians were not responsible for the maintenance of public order and security. Pacifism is easy to practice when you do not have these responsibilities. However, once Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire, Christians had to assume the responsibility for things that require the use of force. The question became “do we leave the exercise of the sword to the Turk” to roughly quote Martin Luther.
      Pacifism is a luxury for those who feel that they can afford to rely on others to protect themselves and society in general. Shortly after Pearl Harbor 50 year old Professor Paul H. Douglas (Later a US Senator from Illinois) abandoned his Quaker rejection of the use of force and joined the Marines because he felt that it was a Christian’s responsibility to resist tyranny even by force of arms if necessary. During the Battle for Pelieu he received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He received a second Purple Heart during the Battle for Okinawa.

    • As a Christian who did a fair amount of research before getting licensed and trained in using a gun as a self defense tool, I have to disagree. Pope John Paul II addresses self defense in Evangelium Vitae (1995). Passificism denies the sanctity of life. Jesus didn’t tell Peter to not carry a sword. He just didn’t need him to protect Jesus (who had legions of angels to protect him). Jesus, as God, didn’t need self defense. Violence should be avoided and as a way of life it leads to death. The ability to protect yourself and your loved ones is not violence. Not allowing a heroin addict to stick a knife in you and take your wallet is not living by violence it is protecting innocent life.

  10. One of the my favorite quotes from “The Patriot”

    A shepherd must tend his flock. And at times… fight off the wolves.

      • My first thought was “I heard that in a movie somewhere…”

        Can’t for the life of me remember where.

  11. I always thought the purpose of covering anti-2A left-leaning religious types was to point out something that was outside the norm. It may not be the case on this site alone but as a whole it seems like more often than not God and guns go hand in hand.

  12. This guy is definitely an OFWG, and probably hetero. Why should anybody pay attention to him? /sarc

  13. Pastor McCain’s point is a good one.

    I have found that the gun issue is almost “orthogonal” to belief (or lack of belief) in god. I know many pro-gun atheists and of course most anti-gun people must be believers in one form or another. (That has to be true because only about 5 percent of the population has no belief whatsoever in a higher power–though the percentage of those who profess to believe nothing in particular is closer to 20 percent–and far more than five percent of the population tends to be anti-gun.)

    Though an atheist myself I don’t blame the anti-gun stance of (some) Christians on their Christianity, nor do I credit their Christianity when they are on the side of the angels (so to speak) on this issue. It’s pretty clear that the bible can be interpreted either way. (It’s clear that it can be because it has been. I will leave it to those who think it is authoritative to argue which way it should be interpreted; I don’t think it is authoritative and therefore have no dog in that fight.)

    • And to the shock and amazement of a lot of people there are conservative atheists out here.

      • Really? I thought they were like a Jackalope or a big foot; often reported out in the wild, but never photographed or captured.

  14. As a fellow Christian and a Church of Christ deacon, I say “Amen Brother!”

  15. why should anyone need a book of fairy tales to tell them that it is okay to defend themselves?

        • That was about the most straw-grasping, eye-bleeding article I’ve ever read. Thanks for that.

      • I dunno, but there are bears:
        “2 Kings 2:23-24
        King James Version (KJV)

        23 And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

        24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

        So remember, it’s for the children!

        • Forty-two smart aleck kids taken out of the gene pool? Life was hard in olden days.

          I not going to look it up, but I think the kids exact words were “Allah, Baldy! Allah, Baldy!” Mocking God, in those time, was a dying offense. Maybe even using it as word-play about Elijah’s whirlwind.

  16. That’s interesting. I didn’t realize there was a nuanced difference in translation, kill vis-a-vis murder, from the original Hebrew. That alone is hugely important. Nevertheless, Luther doesn’t appear simply to interpret the Commandments, but to extend them. I can’t accept that at face value.

    It isn’t that I disagree with there being Biblical justification for defense of self, others or property, just that I’m not seeing it here. Luther’s short, memorable explanations may be too short, after all, if they’re predicated on a much fuller understanding than could be conveyed in brief. I’d have to become more familiar, myself, with both the Bible’s teachings with regard to defense, as well as with Luther’s interpretations, before I could weigh in.

    Even then, it’s an extremely large and complex body and lends itself to varied interpretations. This is par for the course with the Bible and, to the pastor’s point, contributes to it likely being referenced the most by those who’ve read it the least.

  17. Rev. McCain, thanks for that! Often, I think in our zeal to prevent the government from doing so, we Christian conservatives forget the “building up our neighbor” that is implicit (and sometimes explicit) in Jesus’s commands.

  18. Historically, it was common for war, bloodshed and even torture to have religious blessing. If it was important to reconcile religious beliefs with desired actions, a way was usually found.

    • yes, a way was usually found, as ways outside of religions were also found. anytime we humans get involved, the potential to twist anything to, and in support of, our particular cause, action, or predudice oftentimes exists. a look at the antis shows this quite well.

  19. FWIW, I interpret “turn the other cheek” not as “thank you sir may I have another” but “roll with the punches.” (i.e., deflect the blow to minimize the damage.)

      • Wow, that’s a lot of rationalization. I’m not sure how I feel about it; I’ll have to think on it a bit. I understand the underlying principle, but based on my first reading I feel like the section about turning the other cheek and backhand vs fist was a little bit of a reach.

      • When you apply the context in which it was spoken (the way things were in that culture at that time in history), then you can see a completely different meaning for what was said. Jesus was talking about ways for non-violent revolution. When facing overwhelming force (the Roman Army), violence is foolhardy, but there are several ways to cause changes in your oppressors without resorting to suicidal violence.

        Jesus was not espousing a pacifist philosophy. He was merely being pragmatic. He was admitting that violent opposition would be fruitless against the Roman Army, but also giving the people another way to resist their oppressors.

        There were other events in the New Testament that demonstrated that Jesus was NOT a pacifist; that he believed that there was a time and a place when violence (and even lethal violence) was acceptable. Being the son of God, Jesus never needed to resort to lethal violence to protect himself. However, since humans are not all-powerful beings, there are times when violence is the only answer for us.

        • Unless I read it wrong, that’s pretty much the argument made in the paper in that link….

    • You’re supposed to surprise your enemy by showing kindness and compassion instead of retaliating in kind. I do not interpret that to mean you should instruct and aid your enemy to double their assault on you. When you show kindness and compassion instead of retaliation you may stir them to change their ways and defuse violence instead of escalate.

  20. PTMc God and machine guns, what a combo 🙂

    As a self professed heathen for damn near my entire life (forcing religion and church is not the way to teach someone, or anyone anything for that matter), it has taken me almost to the age of 30 to even want to step inside a house of worship and actually talk to someone. Its good to know that there are still patriots giving sermons. Every one of these crazy clergy quotes lately has been a little unnerving.

  21. Can I get a hallelujah!!! I have met many ministers who support the right to keep and bear arms.

  22. Your church, sir, would have my attendance. Where might it be?

    And, if as an orthodox Lutheran you can stomach someone raised in the LC-MS…

    • The only requirement for coming to a Christian church is that you must be a sinner seeking God’s mercy. And there is always room for more.

      If you are not sinner, Jesus doesn’t want you to begin with.

      “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

      Luke 5:32

      • not quite the right interpretation. God will ALWAYS want you, Jesus was after the lost, as he had no need to seek out those already found. (those actually serving God faithfully)

        • Wrong: Christ is condemning those who thought they were “righteous” by their own works and efforts, and he was speaking to condemn these feelings of self-satisfaction and pride. Only sinners are welcomed by Jesus.

    • The Lutheran Church MIssouri Synod defines orthodoxy in American Lutheranism. Only the small Wisconsin Synod can claim to be more orthodox and I believe Wisconsin, despite [they would say because of] its orthodox beliefs, is a “peace church.”

      • I am from the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) and to be sure we do recognize that Christ was not a pacifist, and that it is just fine to use guns, assault fists, assault knives, etc., for self-defense. A brief explanation can be found on the FAQ portion of the website here:

        Paul – have you referenced this site at all?

        I have found it to be very scriptural in it’s explanations.

        • Wisconsin does not send Pastors to the Military as Chaplains because they don’t think it is appropriate. I have that on the authority of our Assisstant Pastor who retired as a Colonel in the US Army. He was VII Corps chaplain during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

        • “Wisconsin does not send Pastors to the Military as Chaplains because they don’t think it is appropriate. I have that on the authority of our Assistant Pastor who retired as a Colonel in the US Army. He was VII Corps chaplain during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.”

          He is correct in saying that the Wisconsin Synod does not participate in the chaplaincy. It is incorrect to infer that it is due to an idea of pacifism or any sort of “peace” movement. The distinction lies within the principles of how fellowship is defined, and the separation of church and state. The Wisconsin Synod does have an active ministry to our soldiers stationed on domestic bases and international bases, information can be found here:

          The LCMS and WELS used to be in fellowship, but views on the doctrine of fellowship helped cause the separation back in the early 60s. The Military Chaplaincy was amongst the chief of these issues (under the umbrella of fellowship). As a high school student I had considered the chaplaincy as a means by which to serve God and country simultaneously, but then learned why it wasn’t practiced. Bummer. And I do understand why we do not participate, and instead have a civilian chaplaincy program. If you’re interested in leaning more on the LMCS/WELS split and the highly debated/contested principles of fellowship that prevent the Wisconsin Synod from participating, wade through some of these essays from our Seminary’s Essay file:

  23. Man has distorted the Bible for evil purposes at times much the same as the Constitution has been. Both are sacrosanct and their truth is undiminished by perverters.

  24. Well, as a catholic I trust in the authority of the Church to teach and to have determined which books constitute scripture (aka the Bible) in the first place. I rely on that teaching and authority when it states:

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

  25. I believe it is not only a God given right, but a duty to protect as well. Thanks for your words and service.

  26. Wow, Paul-I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a picture of you in uniform. You clean up real nice!

    All snark aside, that was well done. Thanks for putting it out there.

  27. You can tell Farago didn’t write this, he isn’t being referred to as a “Jesus Freak”

    • Or this:

      A final message left by the perpetrator:
      “I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the …teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. …God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

  28. Look at 1st Timothy 5:8…But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Pretty clear admonition to feed,clothe,shelter,PROTECT TO THE DEATH my family. If your conscious won’t allow you to defend life & limb us gun totin’ Christians will step up. Without 10000 hours of theological instruction.

  29. As someone who is not a Lutheran, I read this post and thought — and while I may be wrong, I believe that provoking thought was the purpose behind it.

    Thank you. Nicely done.

  30. As the worship pastor of my church (Southern Baptist if anyone is interested in the flavor), I carry during services along with one of my deacons (MS enhanced carry permit which we both have allows church concealed carry: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 KJV). Our pastor, a Vietnam vet, is a 1911 guy from way back. So we’re pretty insistent about self-defense rights. Just because we need to be vulnerable to the needs of others in no way means we should make ourselves vulnerable to the predation of criminals.

    Speaking of my carrying brother in Christ, he and I shoot in the local range competition every month, where one of the best competitors is a church music director. At least half the rest of the shooters in the competitions are members of other area churches. It’s not quite a “praise God and pass the ammo” affair, but it’s nice to have so much in common with fellow shooters.

  31. Years ago I read an essay on resisting government tyranny vis a vis gun control for example versus the biblical teaching to obey the civil authorities. Does anyone have a link to such an essay?

  32. Heres the best quote for you that NONE can refute.

    • Of course. It behooves each of us to manage our property responsibly.

      But I’m here to tell you, I’m a Human Being, not some kind of sheep in some shepherd’s flock. No human has the authority to dictate another human’s actions, not even those who proclaim themselves to be God’s Own Holy Enforcers. And, within the Constitutional Republic called America, especially not those who proclaim themselves to be God’s Own Holy Enforcers.

  33. In the ancient Hebrew, the 6th Commandment reads: “You shall not murder” (ra-tshahh), but was falsely translated by the King James translators as “You shall not kill” (ha-rag). Was there a political motive in this? King James was new to the crown, a foreigner, and wanted above all to ensure a peaceful reign.

    This is similar to their frequent mistranslation of references to “The Grave” as “Hell”, and was inspired by early Greek Church fathers who injected a considerable portion of Platonic Paganism into their Christianity. There was no “Hell” in ancient Judaism. Hell was a Pagan concept to describe where the “eternal” souls of the damned were to be punished forever. Reading of the Bible clearly shows that a soul “nephesh” is a body inhabited by the breath of God, and when this breath goes out, the soul dies, or is “asleep in death”. Destruction in the everlasting flames is a means of destroying the bodies of the wicked, not a further punishment.

    The injunction “you shall not murder” does not prevent armed protection of the self or those in your care, or your neighbors. Turning the other cheek means show patience with authority, go the extra mile if necessary, but by no means let a petty slight create murderous intent within your heart.

    But if your life is in danger from attack, and you have no choice but to defend yourself or others with deadly force, nothing in the Bible prevents or accuses anyone who does this.

    • I’ve heard that “thou shalt not murder” crap as justification for all kinds of illegal, immoral, undeclared unconstitutional wars.

      War is evil. People who condone war are evil people. But you can’t fight evil by killing bad people – it is the killing itself that is the evil.

        • We defended ourselves (and incidentally helped pull a bunch of Europeans’ fat out of the fire, you’re welcome) when we were attacked militarily and war was declared against us. Self-Defense is moral, as long as you only use however much force is needed to stop the threat to life and limb.

          That’s the last time there was any legal or moral justification for the USA to make war, but the Warrior class knows nothing else, and is in cahoots with the more equal animals (the ruling elite, see Orwell) to maintain their position in the catbird seat. Like fire, they’re a useful servant, but a really horrendous master.

  34. TiborasaurusRex did a good video on this subject: Why the Bible is Not for WUSSIES – Being Well Trained and Armed in the Scriptures?

    “Thou shall not murder“, etc. I can’t take seriously the Biblical scholarship of anyone who bases their theological arguments and exegesis upon the King James Version. By modern standards it is a very poor translation of the original languages. It should be clear to anyone at all discerning that the Bible instructs against nonviolence. I’d argue it generally promotes non-aggression, but violence is commanded when appropriate, and fighting against evil is righteous. God and Jesus themselves righteously applied violence. God slays and violently punishes sinners repeatedly throughout scripture, and of course we should all remember Jesus’s violent actions toward the moneylenders in the temple. Other biblical patriarchs, heroes, and role models demonstrate biblically moral applications of violence and self-defense.

  35. Very nicely written. I only wish I could find a pastor with your stance in my local, liberal, college-worshiping town.

  36. If this is what “Thou Shalt Not Kill” entails — and note that in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word here for “kill” is “murder” …

    No. Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic do not have a specific word for murder, and to convey that meaning they have to use some word for “kill” (“qatala” = “he was killing” in Arabic), with a context that makes it clear that “murder” is meant. We get that context for “Thou Shalt Not Kill” from other parts of the Old Testament in which certain killing is sanctioned, but not from the passage containing the Ten Commandments itself.

        • Actually, he is overstating his case. I am preparing a fuller reply to Bob by going over the rabbi’s material and analysis carefully (that’s sound as far as I have got, but the English rendering is wrong, e.g. “accidental murderer” is a contradiction in terms just as “unintended murder” would be since murder requires mens rea, and that rendering is leading to a misrepresentation in the conclusion, no doubt in order to over-emphasise how the word is being used there over its broader sense). Pending my fuller reply, Jdb’s comment at has the better insight on the specific point of the meaning of the word.

          You should always look at Shammai after looking at Hillel, and vice versa, or you are more likely to miss something.

      • Sorry for the delay replying.

        The rabbi’s material and basic analysis actually support my position, but the he stretches it to support a faulty conclusion by straining understanding of how the language gets specific.

        First, he actually presents the moral variations between killing of different sorts, depending on circumstances and intentions, and correctly brings out that not all killing is murder.

        Then he correctly observes that:-

        To understand the Biblical words for “killing” requires first understanding a grammatical point. Hebrew words all contain three-letter roots that provide the core meaning of a word; these three consonants are then vocalized by adding in vowels and attaching prefixes, suffixes, or infixes.

        The vowels and attachments are added in specific patterns that determine part of speech, declension, tense, gender, and often specific meaning as well.

        One such Hebrew root is R-Tz-Ch; it appears in twenty one passages in the Hebrew Scripture. Two of these are in the Ten Commandments (here in Exodus 20:13 and again in Deuteronomy 5) where no context is given. We are twice told that R-Tz-Ch is something we are not to do, but without any context, it is impossible to discern the precise meaning of the term.

        “[W]ithout any context, it is impossible to discern the precise meaning of the term” is just precisely what I pointed out about the passage in Deuteronomy.

        The next part is where, in my view, he goes wrong: “Indeed, we find that by far the most common use of R-Tz-Ch is to describe a murderer who kills pre-meditated or with malice“. My reason for asserting that is that he left something out: nearly all Semitic language usage, with few exceptions, starts with loose usages that can be used poetically or metaphorically or can be firmed up with context. So, we would expect “R-Tz-Ch” (like the Arabic “q-t-l”) to be more generic and only to mean more specifically “a murderer who kills pre-meditated or with malice” if it has been firmed up by context – unless it is one of those exceptions, which the rabbi has not shown. The only uses of this root are for bad killing and other roots are used for even less culpable killings, as the rabbi accurately showed, but this root clearly is used for killings that are less culpable than murder, so it encompasses more than murder. The proper reading, then, is “bad killing” unless and until it is firmed up into “murder”. His “When used in this way, the root R-Tz-Ch need not be modified with an adjective or adverb to clarify willful intent; the principle [sic] meaning of the word R-Tz-Ch is murder of at least the second degree, possibly first degree” is accurate but misleading, since the passages he cites are indeed not rendering the meaning “murder” from adjectives or adverbs, but they are doing that a different way: from the context of the passages.

        But that is also just precisely what I pointed out: that the meaning of the word in the Ten Commandments, as used there, is indeed telling people not to murder. It is just that it is not because the word specifically means murder; if it did, it could never be used to mean “accidental murderer” when qualified that way, as that would be a contradiction in terms just as it is in English.

        So we agree that that one of the Ten Commandments is telling people not to murder, and that context from other passages is needed to clarify the meaning of the word as used there, but the rabbi is going too far in boldly concluding that the word does mean murder, in and of itself, and that we need context and modification to take its meaning away from murder to merely bad killing, rather than needing context to get to murder from bad killing. I suspect he is doing that to labour the point that we are being told not to murder, but nevertheless it is no service to truth and understanding to make out that the passage is using a specific word for murder; Hebrew, like other Semitic languages, simply does not have any such word, which I accurately pointed out. You need context to get there, which I also accurately pointed out.

  37. Well said. That’s a very sound summary of God’s mind (as I understand it) on individual responsibility and use of force.
    I do however posit that “kill” does not mean “murder” as the word (ratsach) is used to refer to accidental killings also, as in Deuteronomy 4:42. “Unjustified killing” might be a more accurate term than either “kill” or “murder”. /quibble
    But good work and stand fast in the faith!

  38. Sometimes the greatest tragedy in why many are leaning to the passifictic side is that they lack the conviction to execute the “love my neighbor” principle. Virulent dispositions against tyranny and apathy are required in the spirit of those who desire true freedom.

  39. The concept of “means”, mentioned often by Luther (“/mitteln/”), helps, I think, in this discussion. God does help and protect people, but like in many areas, He usually does not intervene using HIs supernatural power (i.e., miracles). Instead, He accomplishes this through physical and “natural” means.

    For example, God feeds people, but He usually does this through the means of farmers, ranchers, fishermen, rain, seeds growing, cattle eating, etc. When He does it supernaturally, such as in the feeding of the 5,000, we acknowledge it as a miracle.

    Similarly, God protects people from evildoers, usually through “means” that He has given, in part for that purpose. These means include muscles, walls, sticks, and firearms — as well as a host of other things, including police, army, courts, etc. Sure, He can and does intervene at times supernaturally, but He usually avoids using miracles.

    The upshot is that God has entrusted to people — including you — the responsibility for protecting others and yourself. That’s how He works.

  40. “Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.”

    Psalm 144: 1 (NIV)

  41. I’ve never held with the relatively recent “Thou shall not kill” wording used in modern Bibles, as there is no foundation for this change from the original “Thou shall not commit murder”.
    Pacifism is not & never has been a sensible way to resist violence.

      • Um, he’s referring to the original Hebrew version. See other posts referring to cites discussing what the original text actually said.

    • I guess we have different definitions of “pacifist.” I thought it means, one who prefers peace. I’ll certainly resist a fight, and if it’s absolutely unavoidable, I must win, quickly and decisively, such that it’s not even a fight, merely an attack met by equal and opposite counterforce. When you punch a wall, you might break your fist, but the wall will never punch back.

      You might be thinking of “passive,” which means letting people walk all over you. That’s not a pacifist, that’s a professional victim.

      • In my book “pacifist” refers to someone who supports peace at ANY price, which is a futile stance that only serves those who use force for evil.
        Any right thinking person wants peace but its preservation rests on a willingness to protect it; with force if necessary.
        “Peace through the threat of violence” might be an oxymoron but tell me of another way.

        • Assertive counterforce isn’t violence. The condition to seek is to prevent harm without killing. You can’t stop evil by killing people, not even bad ones, because it is the killing itself, by either side, that is the evil we’re all trying to oust from Creation.

          You can neutralize an amazing amount of force without killing anyone, if you know WTF you’re doing.

          • “Assertive counterforce” IS violence, unless you’re delusional & saving a life by taking that of an evil person isn’t evil, unless you’re marching to a different tune to almost anyone else.

            • Depends on how pedantic you want to be. If you accept this dictionary definition of “violence”:

              violence |ˈvī(ə)ləns|
              behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
              • strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force: the violence of her own feelings.
              • Law the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

              specifically the second bullet, and you accept that self defense is “lawful”, then no, “assertive counterforce” is NOT “violence”.

              • ” intended to hurt, damage, or kill/”

                That would be the distinguishing factor. Is your intent to kill the bad guy or to save the good guy?

                I once saw a photo of some freedom-fighters showing off their guns, captioned, “We don’t shoot to kill, we shoot to live.”

                I hope people can tell the difference.

              • The legal definition is typical lawyer interpreted BS & as such weasel words at their worst.

                Lawyers are one of society’s biggest problems.

              • “Lawyers are one of society’s biggest problems.”

                I beg to differ here. I think it’s more the need for lawyers or the broad range of opportunities for lawyering caused by excessive government regulation that’s the bigger problem. I think it might be similar to the mistake so many people make, who say “Money is the root of all evil,” when the original saying is “The Love of money is the root of all evil.”

                But I could be arguing semantics here. If you’re talking about unethical, corrupt, self-serving, sociopathic lawyers, then I’m with you 100%. 😉

  42. If you want your site to remain credible, You need to break all contact with his guy. He is trouble, lies constantly, boasts up humped up firearms as true collectables, and has been kicked off just about every gun forum on the web.

    • Bill, which guy are you writing about? What are some of the forums he’s been kicked out of? Do you have any links to some of his objectionable posts?

    • So, are you or “Paul Timothy” going to back up your allegations or are you all hat & no cattle?

      • Seems like more of a beanie than a real hat.
        I’m in Pr. McCain’s denomination, and more-often-than-not find myself on a different side than he is on when it comes to our internecine squabbles. That said, I’ve appreciated his comments on firearms over the years. Sure, people have different preferences, but McCain seems be on the “good guys” side when it comes to civil rights.

  43. Yup. The good pastor is definitely a fraud when it comes to firearms. Although he does talk a good game.

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