Churches Beef Up Security

MSNBC Article – Churches Beef Up Security

In light of the recent church shootings in Colorado, the discussion has been raised concerning whether or not churches should have armed security to patrol Sunday services.  The armed woman in the Colorado church this week was able to shoot and deter the gunman from killing more churchgoers, yet the thought of having armed security in churches is shocking to others.  As the article states, with churches growing into mega-churches filling stadium sized buildings, there seems to be a need for this discussion in America today – yet the questions we pose in light of this is how does this relate to the Kingdom ethics of Jesus, the founder of the church?

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19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JohnO on December 11, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Wow that is really shocking. I missed the news on the Colorado Church shooting, and amazed that a church-goer brought a gun to a service!

    It seems to remind me that the apostles were glad to partake in suffering as their lord suffered.

    Reply

  2. A few years ago there was an incident at a church that I was at- a very young couple tried to come into the nursery and take one of the kids out with them. Unfortunately, the nursery program was well equipped to make sure the kids went home with the right people. They quickly figured out that this couple didn’t belong there and called the cops. But if that couple had really wanted a kid and had brought their own gun…it is disturbing to think that we have to deal with situations like this in our world.

    Reply

  3. I think you meant to say “fortunately.” I understood what you were saying though. I think there has to be safe and serious ways to ensure that things like you have experienced can be stopped – all the while without the Christian using violence or returning evil for evil.

    Many places in the world the things that we are talking about happening are possibilities each week. The churches there call is persecution and rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for the Messiah.

    Reply

  4. Who said that God cannot use lunatic gunmen to execute his wrath? God used the Babylonians to do the same.

    Just speculating.

    It is sad that it has come to this. I remember Paul Washer saying something along the lines of “What would it take to Revive the church in America….

    guns and bulldozers.”

    Dustin Martyr

    Reply

  5. Thanks for catching that- yes- it should say fortunately.
    I also agree that violence, or even the ability to have use violence- such as armed guards at church- is not in keeping with the teaching of Christ. At the same time- don’t try to tell that to those who were protected this week because of that protection. Many times we know the truths presented by Christ, but it becomes hard to apply them consistently in our lives.

    Reply

  6. There’s a time to turn the other cheek, and a time to use the sword. The scripture does say that those that live by the sword will die by the sword, but I’d rather die by the sword defending the weak or innocent, than stand by and watch them killed. If there’s any way to avoid violence or taking a life in self defense – then we should do so.

    But I don’t believe we have an unalterable mandate from the Lord that prevents us from defending someone under our protection such as a child in grave danger. It would seem to me that many are insisting on a strict literal interpretation of Jesus sayings regarding non-violence, but Jesus also said there was a time to take the sword.

    ” Defending yourself is not among the sins listed in the New Testament. Defending one’s family is not only proper but expected. Defending one’s spiritual brothers and sisters is proper by the same token. Defending one’s neighbor should be an expression of “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27); this applies to a person in need, regardless of their spiritual condition or even whether you know them. How can you love someone as yourself if you offer him no assistance in an emergency? To stand by or walk away would be similar to the ways of the Pharisees, whom Jesus rebuked in the parable of the good Samaritan. ”

    http://www.foxven.com/s-self.html#deadly

    Reply

  7. Posted by sean on December 12, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Steve,

    Romans 12:9-21 9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another….14 Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Reply

  8. Posted by JohnO on December 12, 2007 at 11:12 am

    No one here is suggesting doing nothing, that is a common misconception. Steve, please reply with a verse where Jesus said it was ok and expected to use violence.

    Reply

  9. John and Sean,

    You say no one is suggesting doing nothing. If we do “something”, anything at all to thwart an attack, it seems to me that that could be construed as “resisting evil”. So it doesn’t matter if it’s with our fists or a firearm, according to some views here, no resistance is permitted. Even just wrestling an evildoer to the ground is resisting evil according to that definition.

    Regarding a verse where Jesus said it was Ok to use violence, didn’t he overthrow the tables of the moneychangers in the temple? Didn’t he drive them (or their animals) out with a whip? Didn’t he at one point tell his disciples in Luke 22:36 to sell their coats and buy a sword?

    I’m open to changing my mind on this. My position isn ‘t carved in stone. I’m learning as I go to found my faith on Jesus and not as much on doctrine. We get our souls tied to doctrine and then after preaching or publically proclaiming our position, our pride and ego gets in the way when a different viewpoint is offered. All of us are guilty of that. But anything founded on Jesus won’t crumble when God soons rises to shake everything that can be shaken.

    If given the option, then we should flee rather than resist evil, since Jesus told us that (Matthew 24:16). If not given that option and especially if the lives of others are threatened, then my position is that we’re called to defend the weak or helpless and not stand by while they’re slaughtered. If you say that’s resisting evil, then I challenge you or anyone here to just stand by and watch your wife or child killed and then tell the Lord you were obeying his commandments.

    Let’s be in peace with all men as much as possible, but let’s not be afraid to defend our homes or families if the need arises. That day is soon approaching.

    Peace,

    Steve

    Reply

  10. Posted by JohnO on December 12, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    We don’t found our position on “do not resist evil”. We found our position on “love your enemies”. To love them, I’m not going to kill them. To love the person being taken advantage of means I’m going to get involved. I’m going to try to stop the offense, without violence, and if I get killed, so be it. I maintain that a Christian should have no fear of death, if we are truly saved.

    Secondly, Jesus in the temple is quite clearly Jesus acting in a prophetic role as “the new Jeremiah”. He didn’t whip or beat tax collectors for using violence to procure a rich living out of the poor.

    Reply

  11. I think Christians need to realize that we must stay true to our Lord’s principles and teachings even when we become uncomfortable, taken advantage of, it causes us pain or loss. Let the Spirit direct and lead you if you are in a trying situation rather than premeditating your compromise.

    Christianity calls us to die to self, so when faced with even death itself we do not have to be afraid to stay faithful to the end for we have already died. And those who have died are promised to live and reign with him.

    Reply

  12. Imagine you were one of the eleven disciples present when Jesus was betrayed. You had a few swords. Two of your group were former zealots. Your leader, Peter, pulled one out and struck one of them.

    Is this what Jesus wanted them to respond with? Was this correct Christian behavior?

    Did Jesus OK their actions?

    Jesus told them to put away the sword when they tried to use it, even in a life/death situation.

    We should learn from history.

    Dustin

    Reply

  13. Posted by JohnO on December 21, 2007 at 12:57 am

    We’ve been dealing with a lot of these comments over here as well:

    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/12/deck-malls-with-guns-and-gory_12.html

    Steve,

    That article has basically zero scriptural support whatsoever. If you want to lower crime by threatening criminals with death – go ahead. Just don’t claim to be doing it because Jesus said to.

    Reply

  14. John,

    I don’t pretend to understand everything Jesus said, and I understand the need for self sacrifice and to go to the Cross. For the suffering of the cross is the power of salvation to all who will believe, and it’s through the cross that we will be made perfect. I hope I never have to make the decision that woman faced. It’s one thing to decide to lay down my own life, it’s another to stand by and watch innocent people killed.

    By the way, you and I had quite a discussion on my blog a week or two ago regarding whether or not the United States is in scripture. If you check out the article I posted “Who in the World is the House of Israel” it will shed some more light on who we really are (hint – we’re not Gentiles) and why these judgments are falling on us.

    Blessings –

    Steve

    Reply

  15. Steve saidIt’s one thing to decide to lay down my own life, it’s another to stand by and watch innocent people killed.

    There’s a time to turn the other cheek, and a time to use the sword. The scripture does say that those that live by the sword will die by the sword, but I’d rather die by the sword defending the weak or innocent, than stand by and watch them killed.

    Steve, this is a common misconception of Jesus’ command to love your enemies. Many mistake the words “pacifism” with “passiveness.” The pacifist is made out to be a coward who for fear does not engage with intense situations of life and death. Pacifists are seen as pushovers who lack courage to do what’s right when times get tough. Pacifists are those who make an over-literal interpretation of Jesus’ commands in order to justify their own spinelessness and condemn the brave who risk their lives to earn the freedoms that allow the pacifist to even question these matters. The pacifist is a gutless, weakling who may be nice to have over for dinner but certainly should not be trusted with watching other’s children or bearing any responsibility for others.

    However, the command of Jesus, “to love your enemies” is the antithesis of this description. In fact, the very wording of this command defies all notions of passiveness by its very affirmative nature. Jesus did not say, “don’t fight back;” he didn’t say, “don’t hate your enemies;” he didn’t say, “don’t stand your ground against your enemies;” he said, “love your enemies.” He is calling for action not passiveness. Which is harder: to hate one’s enemy or to love one’s enemy? Which did Jesus do? He is calling his followers to radical, self-sacrificial love. He is calling his followers to do what’s right especially when it is hardest. The command, “to love your enemies” means that we should be actively involved in extreme forms of love.

    If there is a fight, it should be the follower of Jesus who gets involved, seeks peace, and if necessary risks his own wellbeing for the sake of others. If there is an attack it is the follower of Jesus who not only loves his own but seeks to demonstrate love to the attacker. If there is a war, it is the follower of Jesus who prays even for the enemies of his nation. If there is a plague it is the follower of Jesus who risks his own health to nurse his enemy back to health.

    The one who takes seriously the command of our Lord to love the unlovable is the courageous one. He is the one who sets aside vengeance, self-preservation, and selfishness to step out in absolute faith on the simple instruction of our Lord. With childlike obedience and trust the disciple of Christ seeks to do the impossible, to defer vengeance to God, to love the hateful, to return blessing for cursing, to refuse to render evil for evil but instead overcome evil with good.

    To say that there are only two options (1) use violence or (2) do nothing is to completely cut God out of the situation. May I suggest that when spirit filled followers of Jesus are faced with an intruder that there should be a difference than when a pagan is attacked? Surely, God is faithful and will provide a way out so that we are not tempted beyond we can bear. If God truly wants us to love our enemies and love our families then it is God’s responsibility to makes this possible. It is our responsibility to have faith and walk by the spirit in the midst of impossible situations. There are many stories of when someone attacked a non-violent follower of Jesus and a word, a song, or some other action resolved the whole situation.

    Where is our faith? By commiting ourselves to violence we are tacitly saying, “Jesus, I know YOU said to love my enemies, but if times get really tough, I’M going to take matters into my own hands.”

    Luke 6:46
    “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

    1 Peter 3:8-9
    8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

    Romans 12:19-21
    19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    grace & peace
    ~sean

    Reply

  16. Posted by JohnO on December 24, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Steve,

    I’m pretty confident that I am a Gentile. Neither of my parents, nor their parents, nor theirs parents parents were Jewish. And I can make that claim about my entire family tree (they like doing that sort of research). If you want to say that you are Jewish – go ahead, but prove it with your tree. That is how the Jews prove they are Jews.

    As for the issue at hand, I have but one awesome quote that I read recently:

    Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies until they threaten you, until it seems justified to resort to violence, or until it seems impractical to do so.” Enemies are enemies precisely because they threaten us on some level, and it always seems justified and practically expedient to resist them, if not harm them when necessary.
    Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation pg 164

    Reply

  17. Thanks Sean, for expanding on your views. It’s helpful to understand that you don’t view this as being passive, and I will give your position some more thought and consideration. God has been very gracious in dealing with me on this subject.

    I do wish you and your whole family a very happy holiday.

    Blessings,

    Steve

    Reply

  18. John,

    Actually if you read the article I posted (by Larry Meguiar) he’s arguing that the 10 northern tribes were entitled to the name Israel, while the 2 southern tribes were called Jews. The northern tribes received the right to Israel’s name when he conferred it on Joseph’s younger son – Ephraim.

    What Larry is saying is that the 10 northern tribes migrated north after their release from Assyrian captivity and were lost to history. In fact they were lost to themselves, no longer even remembering who they were. We are descended from these 10 northern tribes, and are Israelites, not Jews.

    Read the entire article (Who in the world is the house of Israel) at my blog if you’re still interested. I really can’t do it justice here and we’d be getting off topic.

    Blessings,

    Steve

    Reply

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