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First off, let me say that this is not a matter that should cause us to break fellowship with one another, or to become polemic. We reserve polemics for the enemy. We should never turn our cannons on ourselves. No friendly fire inside the camp. This is a matter of adiaphora. Personal convictions on this should be arrived at via much study and consideration of scripture.
That being said, recently Dr. John Piper wrote an article on the topic. His view is one of personal pacifism. He does not own a firearm and does not encourage others to own one. He strongly believes that the Bible is clear on how a Christian should respond to evil and violence. Here is the link to his article. Dr. James White wrote an article that expressed an alternative and different position. His article was not polemic, nor was he demonstrating a lack of love or grace. You can read his article here. There have been many knee-jerk emotional responses on both sides of the issue. People are pulling out the, “Depart from me! You are of a different spirit!” phrase and flinging it around. This is an issue we can disagree on. It is not a primary article of faith.
Personally, I’ve always thought it was more loving to defend the victims of evil against evil, even with deadly force. I recently read an article from Dr. John Piper where he explains his convictions about guns, and using them in defense. He seems to be pretty clear that he doesn’t think it is something a Christian should do. I, along with many other Christians disagree with him on this issue. However, I won’t let this become a divisive issue. It is a matter of adiaphora. I happen to agree with Dr. James White’s stance on the use of weapons, and the reasons to employ them.
If I see an elderly person being mugged, I will stop the mugging. If I see two men beheading a person in the street, I will stop them. If I see a group of men gang-raping a woman, I will stop them. If you are the victim of evil men, then you better hope that God, in His providence, directs someone like me to your aid. We are supposed to love people, seek justice, and what is right. I strongly believe it is more loving to defend the victims against the evil of sinful men, than it is to allow those evil men to work out their demonic desires. If it can be stopped without employing lethal force, then I believe that is what we should do. If a person is physically able to pull someone off of their victim and hold them for the police, then they should do so. If they are looking at a situation that requires lethal force to stop the taking of human life, the rape of a person, be they man woman, or child, or the brutalization of a person by a group of thugs, then it is more loving and just to end the evil being wrought. It is actually hateful to allow the evil to continue. It demonstrates contempt for law, justice, and righteousness.
On a larger scale, like the Nazis and Jews, Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to the conclusion that he must act against the Nazis. He could not sit by and watch the genocide of the Jewish people. America couldn’t sit by and watch it either. I believe it is actually a hateful thing to sit by and allow evil men to murder others. I would not feel, or reason myself to be in the will of God, by allowing atrocities to go on around me, while I sat patiently waiting for them to be finished. I wouldn’t act out of a sense of self-preservation, but rather out of self-sacrifice, compassion, and love for the victims.
While Bonhoeffer drew the line at killing. He himself would not directly kill. I would. I would not do it lightly. I don’t come to this conclusion with bravado or some egocentric notion of heroism. I don’t have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate. I am not a seminarian. I am a Christian. God has given me a functioning mind that can reason and think. He has also given us His word and His Spirit. It is our obligation as Christians to think deeply and honestly about this topic. We should not take it lightly, nor should we lack grace for brothers with a different strongly held conviction on this topic.