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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Should Christians Be Pro-Gun? (III)

Pro-Life or Pro-Glock at a Deeper Level

It’s time to close off the writing of Rev. Lance Lewis, a P.C.A. pastor in the Philadelphia area. Rev. Lewis wants to know how evangelicals can continue to claim to be both pro-life and pro-Glock. Pro-Glock? Well, what pro-Glock means, I think, is pro-gun or pro-handgun. It is clear from Rev. Lance’s description of Saturday Night Specials, that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

Rather than laying out a cogent case why the Second Amendment no longer applies to Christians, Rev. Lewis wants to take his question to a “deeper” level. Without a doubt, we are taken to a “new” level, but I’m not entirely convinced that it proves to be a “deeper” one. For instance, Rev. Lewis asks, “What rights do we enjoy as American citizens that are worth taking someone’s life over?” The short answer is: life itself. As an American citizen I have the right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is to say, if an assailant wishes to take my life or the life of a loved one, I have the right to defend myself and them. And, I might add, I don’t need Rev. Lewis, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer to tell me how, when, and where I can defend myself as a free American.

To make his point, however, Rev. Lewis creates a hypothetical case—don’t you just love those? Here’s the scenario: The government decides that we can no longer own property for the express reason of congregating as a church. “For that matter they decide that it’s illegal for Christians to gather anywhere for the purpose of worship in any sense of the term and will confiscate immediately any building whether public or private (including homes) used for that purpose and sell it to someone else. Would we take up arms with the intent of shooting and killing the police who came to seize our property?”

So here’s my answer: I will worship the God who saved me by his grace. If the government tells me I cannot worship him, I will defy it (Acts 5:29). If the government confiscates our place of worship, I’ll search for another one. If they take my home for worshiping God, I will worship him still. If they sell my home, I’ll look for another one. The point is, of course, that the Church has been persecuted before and did quite well thank you very much. I just finished writing an English biography of Dr. Herman Bavinck. Bavinck’s father’s family (as well as Geerhardus Vos’s family; they were in the same congregation in Bentheim, Germany!) experienced horrible persecution from the State Church and met in barns and wherever they could. Therefore, if the police showed up merely to take my house and I could leave with my family and guns, I’d walk away and start all over.

But there are other scenarios. Think, for example, about Waco, TX and David Koresh. I personally think that Koresh was theologically way off base. Nevertheless, that was no excuse for Janet Reno and BATF to go onto their compound and do what they did. Look, Koresh might have been a loon, but what specifically did he do to have such a stand-off and loss of life? If Rev. Lewis is searching for scenarios that would justify the taking of human life, they are legion. Just ask the folks in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, or Hussein’s Iraq, just to name a few. Apparently, Rev. Lewis has an aversion to ever taking a human life for any reason. I suggest that he re-read Genesis 9:5-6 for starters.

But in Rev. Lewis’s world, the question of shooting back is a moot issue. If you are totally unarmed, what do you intend to do if the police show up unlawfully to confiscate your property? Throw spitballs at them? Negotiate? If we’re unarmed, it really isn’t a question of shooting back, is it? Historically, property has been confiscated and Christians have still survived. In case Rev. Lewis hasn’t figured it out yet, violence is the last resort. Those unfamiliar with guns seem to think that gun owners will start shooting at the drop of a hat or at the least provocation. Someone’s been watching too much TV and too many Hollywood movies. Here’s the reality: an armed society is a polite society. I would add to that that an armed society notices precipitous drops in crime.

Listen to what economist John Lott, Jr. says. He writes, “While higher arrest and conviction rates, longer prison sentences, and the death penalty all reduce murders generally, none of these measures had a consistent impact on mass public shootings. Nor did any of the restrictive gun laws. Only one single policy was found to effectively reduce these attacks: the passage of right-to-carry laws, which permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.”[1]

Reverend Lance the Riddler

In a paragraph entitled “Ok Lance riddle me this,” Rev. Lewis expounds his point in more detail—sort of. We are confronted with more hypothetical scenarios, so let’s play along. He writes, “It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, you hear a commotion in your house and are convinced that someone has broken in and intends to rape and murder your family. Do you just sit back and let them do so just to preserve their life? Good question.” (Please note: at 3:00a.m., Hillary Clinton is waiting anxiously for that international crisis call that will never come now, thanks to Barack Obama.) Indeed. How to answer this difficult riddle? A decent start would have been for Rev. Lewis to cite Scripture and comment what the Lord thought about the whole matter (Comp. Ex. 22:2). According to this text, an answer to Rev. Lewis’s question is: breaking and entering; burglary.

Well, I’ll begin by asking a question. If someone arbitrarily, randomly breaks into your house early in the morning hours, how do you become convinced that they are there to rape and murder your family? You wake up from a deep sleep, you hear a commotion, the adrenalin gushes, taking your fine motor abilities to near zero, but somehow, upon awakening, you have discerned the purpose of the intruder. You’re a genius! A clairvoyant! You should open up a psychic reading room—a Christian psychic reading room, of course. Why, you could even set it up in your church and give readings immediately following the Christian yoga classes.

Of great import in Rev. Lewis’s question is that he doesn’t answer it. So what do you do? If you sit back and do nothing you are the sleaziest coward on the planet. You’re not spiritual, but highly irresponsible, unbiblical, and nauseating. Who in his or her right mind would sit back and listen to the screams of terror and horror from a wife or children and do nothing? Here’s what you do, in case you’re at a loss: you (the man) get up and take care of business. You put an end to the carnage or die trying. You might call 9-1-1 knowing that the fastest they’ll get there is about 10 minutes—on a good day—and the whole thing will be over by then. I’m sorry, folks, but I really struggle with someone who sets up a scenario like this one and makes it sound spiritual to be a sniveling pacifist. Any man worthy of the name “man,” will take decisive action.

Here’s Rev. Lewis’s non-solution solution. He tells us that he’s going to “present a couple of possible solutions,” but does nothing of the sort. Instead, we get more questions that he doesn’t answer. I cannot begin to tell you how helpful all this is. “If the issue is that owning a gun is necessary to protect my family then why stop at just having one gun in my home?” Aha! A point of agreement! Indeed, why stop at one? Didn’t God give us two hands? One 12-gauge shotgun would do the trick on an intruder, but that tends to mess up the carpet and wallpaper badly and makes the wife grouchy. Seriously, does Rev. Lewis now intend to dictate how many guns are enough? There’s an easy answer to the question of how many guns are enough: just one more. In reality, who does Rev. Lewis thinks needs to decide this question? Should we have a government agency that dictates to free men and women how many guns they may own? Is there a quota?

But I do agree that you shouldn’t have just one gun. That’s why in our household everyone has their own. I also have two big signs in my front yard. The first one reads, “The owner of this property is armed and prepared to protect life, liberty, and property from criminal attack. There is nothing inside worth risking your life for!” The second one reads, “The two houses to the right also contain armed citizens; the two to the left don’t.” My neighbor on the left, who hates guns, didn’t like the sign. I asked her why. She said, “Well, then the burglars will automatically come to my house because they know I’m not armed!” Bingo. Actually, I just made all that up, but it does make a point, doesn’t it?

Next (non-solution) question: “Why shouldn’t I arm myself and family in case we’re attacked while out? Is it more likely that I’ll be attacked at three in (the) morning while in my home or at 9p.m. while walking home?” Yes. Both are possibilities that we need to be prepared for, but 80% of crimes against innocent citizens take place outside the home. There was a case recently when a man was returning home from a picnic with his two sons and they were all murdered by an illegal thug, who should have been in prison or deported or both. If they had been armed, they could have defended themselves. Now they’re all dead and the bleeding heart liberals are trying to figure out how to rehabilitate the MS-13 gang member who murdered them. I have a suggestion. Again, however, Rev. Lewis offers no answer, but he does ask yet another question.

Next slide: “But let’s say I do feel the need for a gun to protect my family and possessions. How many do I need?” Is this a rhetorical question? Does Rev. Lewis really not know? I’ve got a headache. This man is the pastor of a congregation and he cannot decide how many guns would be sufficient? The answer is: it’s up to you. None or a hundred. It really doesn’t matter. Each person; each family will be different. Good grief!

Next slide: (they just keep on getting better) “Why must I demand that the government protect my right to own multiple firearms one or more of which might fall into the wrong hands?” See how enlightening this is? In the first place, I don’t demand that the government protect my right. I have individual freedoms and the only power the government has, according to the Constitution, is the power that “We the People” grant it. The Second Amendment guarantees my individual right to keep and bear arms—plural—and that right shall not be infringed. What is so difficult about that? But even if the Second Amendment had not been written, the Founding Fathers believed that every free man and woman had a God-ordained right to protect their life. The Second Amendment merely put in writing what the Framers believed was granted by the Creator.

Finally—whew! I’m getting worn out by all these solutions!—, Rev. Lewis asks, “Why would the NRA stand against a proposed law in the Commonwealth of PA that would require me to report if my gun is lost or stolen?” Conventional wisdom might answer, “I don’t know.” One of the best ways for Rev. Lewis to get an answer to his question is to call or email the NRA and ask them. One “solution” might be that the NRA believes that the government interferes too much in our lives already. This would be in keeping with the views of economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell along with a host of others who believe that less government is a better solution than more government.

Perhaps Rev. Lewis is unaware that historically when governments have required such close tabs and registration, bad things have happened, i.e., they know exactly where you and your guns are located. Free men and women don’t need or desire that type of government intrusion. On the other hand, doesn’t common sense dictate that if a registered firearm is stolen from a law-abiding citizen’s house that the citizen will, voluntarily and without coercion, report this to the authorities? Underlying Rev. Lewis’s article is a basic distrust of law-abiding citizens to do the right thing without government coercion; intervention. In other words, Rev. Lewis favors the criminal and suspects the law-abiding citizen who has passed a comprehensive background check to obtain the firearm. The rules of engagement are already loopy enough without adding to the problem.

Our dear social engineers in California have decided that no semi-automatic handgun magazine may contain more than 10 rounds. A handgun purchased illegally may have a dual-stack magazine holding up to 20 rounds. The social engineers want the homeowner to call out in the night, “I’m armed! I have a gun.” Unfortunately, no such legislation has been passed requiring the intruder to announce that he has a gun. You may only shoot the intruder if he is in your house. If he’s outside, peering in the window, you may not shoot him. Of course, he can shoot you if you come outside. The whole politically correct thing is just dopey. And it’s worsened by articles like Rev. Lewis wrote that are biased and based on ignorance rather than fact.

Non-Lethal One More Time

I’ll end by returning to the notion of non-lethal assault prevention. I do this because Rev. Lewis does it at the end of his article. Under ideal circumstances, non-lethal weapons can be very helpful—if the victim is alone and accosted by only one person. If I’m with my family and my wife and children cannot run fast, non-lethal force is less of a viable option. If I’m in my home, I might have only 1.5-2 minutes to evacuate my house, wake the neighbors, and call 911 before my assailant is back on his feet. If I live in a rural area, flight, taser, or pepper spray may be a very poor choice. Viewing the carnage of dead bodies, the investigating officer might say, “He chose poorly.”

Rev. Lewis forgets two major considerations in his Polly Anna-esque article: adrenalin and the will to live. If I awake from a deep sleep because of a noise and believe there is an intruder in my home, I’m going to get an enormous adrenalin rush that will almost completely shut down my fine motor abilities. If Rev. Lewis wants to go hand-to-hand with someone who might be armed, that is his call. In such a hand-to-hand scenario, I don’t want a 23-22 squeaker in the last two seconds. That might be fun to watch in the NFL, but in this scenario I want to win 100-0. What Rev. Lewis is really doing is irresponsibly suggesting that Christians put themselves at great risk for the sake of the bad guy. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

The article would have been greatly enhanced if Rev. Lewis had merely stated that he is anti-gun and a pacifist. I wonder if he’s for women in combat too? Once again, the PCA label is attached to an article whose author is uninformed on basically every point he raises. He poses questions, but never answers them directly. It’s my hope that Rev. Lewis will retract this article and apologize to his congregation for such a poorly thought out piece. It’s still a free country—at least until America foolishly elects a Marxist and the whole country embraces Socialism—and Rev. Lewis is free to express his thoughts, but maybe next time he’ll engage his mind before his fingers move across the keyboard.

[1] John Lott, Jr., The Bias Against Guns, Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard about Gun Control is Wrong, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2003), p. 30. See also, by the same author, More Guns Less Crime, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 200o).



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