Friday, November 27, 2015

An intriguing Teddy Roosevelt quote

Recently in the midst of the immigration debate, I saw someone post a quote from Teddy Roosevelt (which I verified via was actually accurate:

In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.
 But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. ...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American flag. We have room but for one language here, and that is the English language....and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.

Now this was shared in respect to the Syrian refugee discussion, but I wish nothing to do with that. Suffice it to say that some argued that the refugees should be left out unless they are assimilated, and others said instead that we should treat them equally and accept them for they can't assimilate from a distance.

I found the quote interesting for a different reason:  because it very correctly raises a problem for us Christians, one that we need to beware not to forget:  most people approach America in a religious way, with a viewpoint that is supposed to be reserved for Christ.

The Christian is in an odd place with American politics and patriotism, as I have pointed out before (see here and here for important discussions).  America wants you to pledge allegiance to her, to see the founding fathers as apostles, to view the Constitution as holy writ, to view her laws and constitutional amendments as moral code, and to view questioning her as apostasy. In short:

Because you see, Roosevelt's speech on behalf of America demands the same things of you that God says are His alone to demand.

Honestly, let's read it again with a slight change...doesn't this sound very Biblical?:

[Salvation] is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet a Christian, and nothing but a Christian. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is a Christian, but something else also, isn't a Christian at all. We have room but for one flag, the cross. We have room but for one language here, and that is the Gospel. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to Jesus Christ.

God and America demand of you the same thing.

So...which one has received your loyalty?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Luke 10--A Modern Retelling

On one occasion, the American church stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," she asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" He replied. "How do you read it?"

She answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself."

"You have answered correctly," Jesus said. "Do this and you will live."

But the American church wanted to justify herself, so she asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply, Jesus said:

"A Syrian Muslim was fleeing from oppression, going from Syria to Europe, and being hunted by jihadists. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and left him poor and starved and half dead.

A fellow Muslim was nearby, and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side, fearing that he might also be hurt.

So, too, an evangelical Christian, when he came to the same place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a German gay man saw the situation, and saw the Muslim and took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. The next day he invited him back to his apartment--where he had previously aided 23 others left beside the road. As he went to work, he told his partner, 'Look after him, and when I return I will handle any extra expense that we may incur.' "

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the Syrian who was driven from his home by jihadists?"

The American Church said, "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him, "Go, and do likewise."

A prayer for the American church today:

"Father, may we who sit in privilege and wealth, hear Your word clearly today. May we not so value our security, our comfort, and our freedoms that we refuse to follow Your word. May we not fear men who can only take our lives, and instead fear the God who is truly in control. May we--as You demand again and again--be the ones who open our arms widely for the hurting, the poor, the refugee... not only helping if we deem it safe, because we know that following You is often not safe, yet it is right.

God, may we remember Your anger in Malachi, which equates "casting aside the foreigner" to occult worship and adultery. May we not forget that our kingdom is Yours, not America, and our allegiance is to doing Your will, not 'protecting our land'.

May we, the American church, fear Your displeasure far, far more than we ever fear for our own safety."

Encouragement for further reading:
  • Luke 10:25-37
  • Luke 12:4-5
  • Matthew 25:35
  • Leviticus 19:33-34
  • Exodus 22:21
  • Malachi 3:5
  • Deuteronomy 27:19
  • Hebrews 13:2
  • Zechariah 7:9-10
  • Ezekiel 47:22
  • Jeremiah 7:5-7
  • Deuteronomy 10:18
  • Deuteronomy 26:5
  • Exodus 23:9
  • Isaiah 16:3-4
  • Psalm 94:3-6

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On Christopher Columbus and Moral Law

I read an interesting article yesterday at VOX regarding some of the horrors of Christopher Columbus, who indeed is not the kind of person whom we should be celebrating. We simply all have the elementary school glossed-over picture of who he was, when in fact we know he was much worse.  (Granted, "In Fourteen-Hundred and Ninety-Two, Columbus kidnapped, enslaved, tortured, and raped" doesn't work well for a fifth-grade assembly.)

I for one fully agree with pointing out that Columbus is one of history's great villains. Not only was he just an immoral person (as shown in the article), but he wrongly gets credit for a major blunder. The common story tells that Columbus knew the world was round while everyone else thought it was flat, but that is demonstrably untrue. Everyone knew it was round--Columbus just thought (wrongly) it was half the size that it was. Spain was foolish to finance him, because he was wrong! If it weren't for the dumb luck of running into a continent he didn't know even existed, then Columbus would be a dead footnote in history, a fool who drowned his crew, a cautionary tale about ignoring scientists. Instead, he got lucky and landed but even then wrongly thought he was in India, hence the naming of Native Americans, "Indians."

So I don't disagree with the villification of Columbus--he deserves it.

What I find fascinating is how few of those doing the villifying think through the implications of their statements.

Many people are very willing to point out that rape, slavery, and the like are wrong--even though Columbus and his men at the time would say that it was fine.

Let's play the game of Five Whys, shall we? This is something we do in engineering and quality management sometimes, to ask "why" five times until we get to the true root of the issue.

You say Columbus should not be celebrated.

1. Why?

Because the things he did were evil.

2. Why do you say they were evil?

Because it is wrong to victimize people (steal, rape, enslave).

3. Why is that wrong? They didn't think so.

(This is where atheists start to get nervous and stop answering.)

Because this violates a universal right of human nature--it is universally wrong, regardless of your opinion.

4. Why is something universally wrong?

You don't even get to the fifth "why" before you run into the problem for naturalists.

In order for something to be morally, universally wrong, then there must be a moral, universal Right. There must be something which is external to human nature but to which all humans intuitively accept as objectively, universally right at all times and in all scenarios.

If you are an atheist/naturalist, then you are in a problem at this point. The closest you can get is to say that evolution has tricked our minds to think some things are morally universal, but in actuality there is nothing outside of our own evolutionary biology. In other words...the only "right" is survival. This survival instinct tricks us into thinking some harmful things are morally wrong. But they aren't actually wrong, they just feel that way. Neitzsche understood this well, even if it is a dirty secret most naturalists don't like to admit.

When you read that article about Columbus, you are forced to make one of two decisions:

1.  It is actually, morally wrong no matter how he was raised.  Therefore:  There is a universal, trans-human moral code which is given to us outside of our physical biological nature, and trumps our own experience. We can say that he was wrong and evil, and now we must explain where we got that moral code from. (Spoiler alert: God.)

2. Columbus wasn't actually wrong, he was just doing actions that most of us agree aren't helpful for the race's overall survival. He wasn't being pragmatic and helping our species.

So make your choice. Was it wrong or not? If wrong, you inevitably are going to find yourself with a Moral Law. Thinking on that will eventually lead you to a Lawmaker. Further reflection will show that you yourself fail to uphold that Law. Further reflection will lead you to the understanding that if life after death is real, you need to find a path to make amends and gain forgiveness for violating that Law. After further reflection, I will see you in church on Sunday. :-)

Monday, October 12, 2015

The One Poem I Understand, and the Nature of the Bible

I am very much your stereotypical engineering brain--I am not a particularly artsy person and generally struggle in fully appreciating them. I can appreciate the mechanics of it (the brushstrokes of a painter, how colors were chosen to represent emotions, etc.), but I generally fail to feel what I am supposed to feel when viewing/hearing/experiencing art. Poetry is the worst of those, because by its nature it avoids mechanical form and instead uses the form to attempt to draw out emotions.

So generally speaking--I'm not a poetry guy.

There is one poem, however, that I find very intriguing. I would go so far as to say it is my favorite poem (not that there is a long list of competition). But I saw it today at another blog that I read, being compared to the Bible's composition. I think the comparison is an apt one, but it wasn't fully explored at the other site and I would like to do that here.

The poem is Emily Dickinson's Tell All the Truth, But Tell It Slant:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--

Here Dickinson is talking about the nature of truth and how to approach it.

She says that you should tell all the truth...but you have to come at it from an angle ("tell it slant"). Truth is too powerful ("The Truth's superb surprise") to be directly approached ("Too bright for our infirm Delight"). As a result, you should come at it roundabout, circling the truth in metaphor and song and allusion ("Success in Circuit lies"). We do this already with our kids, teaching them about scary and powerful things like lightning in kinder, gentler ways ("As Lightning to the Children eased with explanation kind"). In the same way, truth is so powerful and so bright that it must be gradually shown ("The Truth must dazzle gradually") in order to be accepted ("Or every man be blind").

What I find so interesting about the Bible is that it often tells Truth slant, but we miss this--and thereby act differently. If you go to virtually any Christian ministry you can click on a Statement of Faith page and see a long list of core beliefs. They share the Truth, doctrine, in bullet-point format.  I don't think anything's wrong with that (after all, I do the same here on this blog). You see it in apologetics as well--we think that if we can simply prove the truth to people step by step then logically they will accept Jesus as Lord.

But I do find it interesting that you won't find that approached used much in the Bible.

The Bible is instead sharing the Ultimate Truth that ever existed, and "tells it slant." The Bible doesn't have a Statement of Faith chapter, either in the Jewish or Christian scriptures.

Instead what you get are a mixture of different types of literature.

  • Genesis is ten sections of family stories. 
  • Exodus and Numbers are history texts. 
  • Leviticus is a priest's how-to manual. 
  • Deuteronomy is a Suzerain Covenant scroll. 
  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Chronicles, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ester and Ruth are historical memoirs of parts of Israel's development.
  • Psalms is a collection of poetry.
  • Song of Solomon is a (very erotic) song about a wedding night.
  • Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes are weighty reflections on human nature and wisdom.
  • The writings of the prophets are commentaries on the Law and how God will react if they don't clean up their act.

And that is just the Old Testament.

The same continues in the New Testament.

Atheists often argue that Jesus doesn't just say "I am the Messiah and Son of God, Second Member of the Trinity, and I Will Save Your Sins."

He does say it--but He always "tells it slant." He tells parables in which He is the son of God (Matt 20:1-16), He does miracles that only God can do (Mark 4:35-41), He asks leading questions (Matt 16:13-20), He says things that only God should be able to say (John 14:6; Luke 7:48); He uses the names of God for Himself (John 8:58).

When Jesus taught on any subject, in fact, it seems that teaching it slant was His default--He taught through parable and action rather than through a list of logical presuppositions.

And it isn't just Jesus, either. This is the entire New Testament.

  • The Gospels each tell the story about Jesus from their own viewpoint
  • The book of Acts is not a list of beliefs that the apostles implemented when forming churches, but a story of how the Spirit worked in ordinary believers. 
  • The letters of Peter, John, James and Jude are pastoral in nature, advising particular Christian groups how to act in their circumstances
  • Revelation tells it slant in a major way, with people rarely understanding anything it is trying to say at all

Paul is the exception, as he (being educated in Greek philosophy) tends to build logical arguments from beginning to end and engage in traditional apologetics. I think that is why so many modern Bible readers are more comfortable with Paul than with Jesus.

Paul writes like we think--he tells the truth straight, with a bit of a "get on board or go to hell" mentality. Paul's letters also often blind us: we argue unimportant side issues (like Calvinism/Arminianism), and even other Biblical authors found it hard to properly interpret at times (2Pet 3:16).

Paul tells the truth straight, as our culture prefers; but the rest of the Bible tells the truth slant. And we need to understand that both have value.

Evangelism and Telling it Slant

I think that is one of the major failures of modern evangelism. We think that telling it straight is always the answer. And occasionally it does work--there are some people out there who simply need intellectual challenges answered and their heart will follow. (You're reading the blog of one of those now.)

But I would argue that most people find the truth when they experience it circuitously. They learn the stories of Scripture and reflect on them. They experience community with believers and see the hope that they have in their lives. They hear sermons on particular topics or sing songs on particular topics and that reveals to them, bit by bit, the truth.

The full truth of who God is would be blinding. Indeed, read Matt 17:1-13, where Jesus revealed in His glory is described as a bright blinding light which makes the disciples fall to the ground terrified! Paul had a similar experience.

As we evangelize those around us, it is important that we do not simply blast a 25-point statement of faith at them or think that if we just make an argument in a better way that they will be converted.

No, to make disciples we must break bread together. We must tell stories to each other--yes, the stories of the Bible are the main ones. But we must explore those worlds together so that we circle ever closer to the Ultimate Truth. None of us will ever fully see it here anyway: we look as through a dark mirror, but one day will see clearly (1 Cor 13:12).

So when you trying to convert unbelievers (and you should be), remember that "telling it slant" is critical. Art, poetry, metaphor, song, in-context Bible study, public prayer, hanging out, experience life together--these are all parts of telling it slant, and are far more effective than just trying to blast truth through handing out tracts door to door.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gun Control and Ancient Philosophy

One of the big arguments in the gun control debate is about cause--if you eliminate the guns you still have the root causes of murder in place, so people will still use them. It is the same argument used by abortionists to justify abortion--eliminate abortion and you still have rape, incest, etc., so it's not going to eliminate abortions.

The ancient philosophy world did a better job of clarifying, defining "cause" as four subsets:

  • Material Cause:  the material construction which leads to the effects
  • Formal Cause:  the arrangement or shape or appearance which leads to the effects
  • Efficient Cause: the Agency external to the thing
  • Final Cause: the end to which the thing aspires, its purpose

For example, take the table I am writing on. What is its cause? Well, its material cause is the wood that it was made from. The formal cause is that it has two legs and a flat surface and thus is in the shape of a table. The efficient cause is the carpenter who made it. The final cause is that I need a surface to work on.

I often have pointed out the problem with naturalism--that is wants to pretend that material and formal are all that there is, and efficient and final causes simply don't exist.

Take Lennox's example of the kettle of tea boiling. Is it there because of the heating elements (material cause), or because of the construction of the stove to produce thermodynamic energy (formal cause), or because of the person who turned it on (efficient cause), or because Lennox was thirsty (final cause)? It is of course all of those.

I think we need a similar amount of intelligence applied to the gun control debate.

So let's take one specific question: Why do mass shootings happen?

It isn't just one cause, but at least four:

  • The material cause is the existence of gunpowder, brass, steel, copper, lead, primary explosives, and the other raw materials which are in the ammunition and gun. 
  • The formal cause is the design and manufacture of guns and ammunition.
  • The efficient cause is the armed murderer.
  • The final cause is the desire in the murderer's heart to kill children (that desire may take a variety of forms: mental illness, desire for fame, depression, etc.)

Now, root cause analysis is a critical part of my job, it's what I do. And looking at it this way, I would say that we have six choices if we wish to reduce or eliminate mass shootings:

  1. Do Nothing.  It is always a choice to do nothing, to maintain the status quo. However, we must be honest to ourselves that if we choose this, we are choosing to allow the effect to continue. In engineering we call this "accepting the risk"--we make a conscious decision to change nothing and will not be surprised when it continues. If we do nothing, we will continue to have our children killed at our schools. Period.
  2. Reduce/remove the material cause.  We could outlaw or limit the use of gunpowder, brass, copper, etc. However this would also affect the entire economy as these materials are used in a variety of other was. This one I think anyone would agree is impractical.
  3. Reduce/remove the formal cause.  We could limit or change the design of guns. It could require biometrics to ensure only a legal owner has it, for example. Or we could outlaw the making of linked ammunition. Or we could make gun manufacturers responsible legally for misuse of their product. 
  4. Reduce/remove the efficient cause. We can attempt to ensure that those who are probable to commit mass shootings do not have access to guns. This would involve things like closing loopholes so that background checks are required for all gun sales, licensing guns, or (like Israel and Switzerland, who have lots of guns but few murders) doing psychological tests and requiring training for all gun owners.
  5. Reduce/remove the final cause.  We could do something (not sure what) to eliminate mental illness and depression, stop giving fame to the shooters, fixing racial and poverty problems, etc.
  6. Combination of the above.  Almost always in my career in engineering, I have found that you need a layered approach, wherein you do some changes in each area.

Those are the choices, really.

If we keep doing what we've always done, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten--to expect otherwise, as Einstein famously said, is the definition of insanity. If it continues to be harder to buy antihistimines at Kroger than an assault rifle at a gun show, we will continue to have a major problem.

It seems to me impossible to argue that we should do nothing and yet expect a different result; likewise it seems absurd to me to take the radically impractical approaches of the liberals (who would try to eliminate all guns or gun making) or of the conservatives (wishfully think that maybe one day people will wake up and stop wanting to hurt each other).

Me? I would do something like this:
  • Ignore the material causes as we could not practically change anything there, or the final causes because they will do nothing to stop the sinful heart of man.
  • Ignore the formal causes for now. I prefer to follow the Pareto Principle, which is to focus on the 20% of causes which can move the needle 80%. The formal causes to me seem to be very difficult in order to affect meaningful change.
  • Focus heavily on efficient causes. Eliminate the gun show loophole and Cumberland loophole, so that we know everyone who buys a gun is able to pass a background check. That helps stop the bleeding of felons getting them. Require gun owners to get a license in a system similar to cars; nothing too difficult, but they have to pass a basic written exam about safety, demonstrate the ability to use it properly in front of a police officer, and register with the government so we know if guns are stolen, etc. Require a basic psychological exam for mental illness for conceal-carry permits. 
  • That alone would do a great job of reducing the number of guns in the wrong hands. We know it will work, because Israel and Switzerland have had great success.

The point is--if we want to be serious about reducing mass shootings, we need to stop the trivial, thoughtless, meme-focused Facebook sharing of a single idea and admit that there are a variety of causes and focus on the few we can change which are likely to have the biggest impact.

Abortions and Free Gun Access

My lovely wife made an observation the other day that I thought was very profound, and the more I consider it, the more profound it becomes:  the same arguments that Christians are using to defend free access to guns are the exact arguments used by abortionists to defend free access to abortions.

For example:

These are literally the same arguments. 

So if you want to be consistent, then you must either (a) not use ANY of these arguments, (b) support BOTH causes, or (c) support NEITHER cause.

I choose C.

Christians, if you are going to argue for free access, be careful that you aren't justifying the exact same arguments used to justify abortions.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Guns, Rocks, and Christians

I saw the image to the right shared on Facebook today by multiple friends.

A couple of thoughts jumped to mind:

1.  If you misspell your Biblical reference, it makes it hard to take your detailed Biblical ideas seriously.

Cain's brother was ABEL not ABLE.

2.  The context of the verse should really be eye-opening.

In Jeremiah 17:5-9, the prophet is pointing out that when men become idolatrous, they begin trusting in themselves and things other than the Lord in order to obtain their salvation and their security.

What does Jeremiah 17:9 say to conclude the section about why you shouldn't trust in things other than God for salvation? It ends by saying: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."

If I didn't know better, I would think that people picked this passage with subtle satire in mind...because the gun owner has missed the entire point of this passage, which if anything argues AGAINST his case! 

This passage is arguing that we cannot trust in anything other than God, because our hearts are deceitful and this is not something which we can cure. We have an incurable heart problem and therefore, because of this heart problem, we cannot trust our own decisions or our own actions to bring us security/safety/salvation.

Jeremiah is identifying those things which we seek security in--like guns--to be our idols.

As I posted here just the other day, you could argue that guns are our major Christian idol today. We trust in guns to protect us, we trust in guns to give us strength, we refuse to allow people to 'blaspheme' guns, we think the answer to problems with guns is more guns.

Yet we are so immersed in this gun culture that we even use verses that should shame us as defenses.

3.  Finally, this is a ludicrous argument which shouldn't take a lot of thinking to see through.

When is the last time you heard of a child finding a rock at home and accidentally killing themselves? Or of someone being raped or robbed at rock-point? Or do you see the TSA worried about rocks getting past security checkpoints? Name for me the last mass killing at a school that you can attribute to rock-throwing.

Be honest - because when you "share" the image above, you are basically saying that you are just as worried about a crazy person with a rock as you are a crazy person with a gun.

To say we don't have a gun problem is absurd. People in the US are 54.4 times more likely to be murdered by guns than in the next-closest developed country. The only countries that give us a run for our money are those dominated by drug cartels.

Now keep in mind--I'm not arguing whether they should be constitutionally legal or not.

I'm arguing that we clearly have an idol worship problem. That we have made guns an idol in our culture.

Think about it - how do people defend the need for guns? The most common arguments are: (1) it's legal; (2) it is how I guarantee my protection; and (3) I'm a good, law-abiding, trustworthy citizen so it doesn't do any harm.

If someone made these arguments about a goat statue or a magic wand, you would either dismiss them as crazy or occultists, wouldn't you? Nothing has changed here.


Are we really that much better than the worshippers of Molech, burning kids at the altar, whom God saw fit to wipe off the face of the Earth?

Guns are the idol of our day, and we as Christians should be at the forefront of ensuring that they are limited and used wisely if at all. See my past posts about this here and here.

One day, we will all stand before Jesus and give an account for our lives. What argument will you be making?

  • I wasn't sure You would protect me so I thought I had to protect myself
  • I was willing to kill someone You loved if they came into my house and might take my stuff
  • I didn't personally misuse them so why should I give up my fun hobby just because someone else is crazy?
  • I know you said that those who live by the sword die by the sword, but I didn't think you meant me
  • I know you said that peacemakers would be blessed, but I thought that making peace through intimidation and firepower was probably okay
  • I just assumed if you were around today you'd be packing heat too
  • The deist-founded, largely-atheistic, abortion-protecting, war-obsessed, greed-run country I am a part of said it was my right, so I figured that overruled Your desire to live peaceably

You must REALLY love you some guns if you're willing to make one of those arguments to Jesus.

Postscript, because I can predict the question you will all bring up.

When I've had conversations on guns before with Christians, the argument always boils down to one thing. I can prove that just because something a secular American right does not mean that it is approved by God (there are dozens of examples of this). I can get them to agree that the facts are that we have more gun deaths than other countries. I can get them to agree that no, Jesus and the apostles were not likely to be packing heat. I can show them from Scripture that we are supposed to melt down our swords and make them into plows instead (i.e., to give up violence and instead help set things right). I can show the Scriptures that we are to love our enemies instead of kill them, seek peace instead of violence, and that Christian history says the best among us are those who "turn the other cheek" even unto death. I can show them that the first Christians even quit the military and civil jobs and refused to be judges lest they take someone's life with their decisions.

And they always ask one question:  But Michael, if someone broke into your house and was going to rape your wife and kill your kids, wouldn't you kill them?


No, I would not.

And because I would be tempted to do so, it is better that I do not have a gun handy.

I know what awaits on the other side for me and my family. We are all believers. No matter what a criminal wants to do to us, all they can do is hurt our bodies for a short period of time.

You see, I actually believe God protects us.

I actually believe God loves the desperate criminals too.

I actually believe that God will heal us, no matter what bad things happen.

I actually believe that nothing is more important than shaping my life to be more like Jesus. To ensure that I end up with Him forever.

I actually believe that we have a job to do as the image of God, which is to heal the hurting and fix the broken and forgive the sinner...not to kill them.

So no, I would not.

Or at least--I hope I wouldn't. But, as the Scripture above says--the heart is deceitful. If I'm being honest, I probably would kill someone in the heat of the moment in self-defense or family-defense...even though the Bible and my thoughts in the calm say I shouldn't. That is a good reason not to have a gun in the house, for me. Just like it is good not to have access to porn if you might be tempted to use it. (Of course, being the red-blooded 'Merican male that I am, I do have a 100,000 V stun gun, a professional alarm system, deadbolts, and pepper spray. My castle is well-defended.)

But if someone gets through and even puts my wife and kids at risk, I will not kill my enemy.

I hope I can even do more. I hope I could truly forgive them. I hope I could actually HELP them with whatever troubles drove them here. I hope I could LOVE them. I hope I could BECOME FRIENDS with them.

I'm probably not that good. But Jesus would have done this. And Jesus died for them just as much as me and mine.

No, I will not kill.

That really shouldn't be such a shocking statement. It's kind of been our "thing" historically.

We should all be ashamed of the idol-worship of our time. And we as church leaders need to beware that we are not complicit in it. When you teach people that it is okay to idolize and trust guns for your safety instead of Jesus, that it is okay to kill your enemies instead of forgive and love them, go read Luke 17:2, and reflect on the fact Jesus says that you'd rather have a stone tied around your neck and be dropped into the ocean than to face Him after causing others to stumble.