Thursday, December 24, 2015

John Piper's Thoughts on Guns Go Beyond Guns

The other day I wrote a post on John Piper's response to Jerry Falwell Jr.'s recent statement on guns. Piper offered nine points from the Bible about how to think about guns.  
I've been thinking about these points and it seems that a lot of them apply not only to guns, but to the way Christians should think about their role in public life generally.  
Here they are again:
1.  The apostle Paul called Christians not to avenge ourselves, but to leave it to the wrath of God, and instead to return good for evil.
2.  The apostle Peter teaches us that Christians will often find themselves in societies where we should expect and accept unjust mistreatment without retaliation.
3. Jesus promised that violent hostility will come; and the whole tenor of his counsel was how to handle it with suffering and testimony, not with armed defense.
4.  Jesus set the stage for a life of sojourning in this world where we bear witness that this world is not our home, and not our kingdom, by renouncing the establishment or the advancement of our Christian cause with the sword.
5.  Jesus strikes the note that the dominant way (not the only) way Christians will show the supreme value of our treasure in heaven is by being freed from the love of this world and so satisfied with the hope of glory that we are able to love our enemies and not return evil for evil, even as we expect to be wronged in this world.
6.  The early church...expected and endured persecution without armed resistance, but rather with joyful suffering, prayer, and the word of God.
7,  When Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword, he was not telling them to use it to escape the very thing he promised they should endure to the death.
8.  A natural instinct is to boil this issue down to the question, 'Can I shoot my wife's assailant?" (he gives seven-fold answer to this question).
9. Even though the Lord ordains for us to use ordinary means of providing for life...nevertheless, the unique calling of the church is to live in such reliance on heavenly protection and heavenly reward that the world will ask about our hope (I Peter 3:15), not about the ingenuity of our armed defenses.

Many evangelicals are fearful these days. I understand this.  But unfortunately evangelical Christians have spent too much time over the past forty years seeking protection from the things that scare them through politics and politicians.  This, I think, is the best explanation for why so many evangelicals are flocking to candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz--candidates who claim to be Christians but who behave, and promote policies, that run contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. 

Trump and Cruz are the natural result of the fusion of evangelicalism and GOP politics that began in the 1970s.  Jerry Falwell and the rest of the so-called Christian Right is to blame, but so are evangelical ministers who have failed to provide the people in their congregations with teaching about how to consistently apply their faith in public life.

Piper's words are worth pondering.