Poll

Christians may

Not defend themselves.
0 (0%)
Defend themselves.
24 (100%)

Total Members Voted: 24

Author Topic: Self Defense  (Read 12799 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Self Defense
« on: June 19, 2021, 06:18:50 PM »
I've been reading "Safety First: Should Christians Bring Guns into Churches?" by Joel Biermann (LF, Winter 2020, 39-46). I find myself pondering Dr Biermann's statement that Christians should not defend themselves. I see some issues with the essay.

For example, he quotes Luther commenting on the Sermon on the Mount regarding turning the other cheek and similar passages. These quotations are from early Luther in the mid-1520s, as near as I can tell. I wonder whether Luther's mature thought on such questions has been considered. For example, Lutheran princes participated in defensive leagues because of the threats from Rome. (If memory serves, the Schmalkald Articles were drafted to facilitate such a league.) How would that factor into one's thinking about the matter of self-defense?

I find myself thinking about Nehemiah chapter 4, where the remnant is rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem while bearing arms. Also, Mordecai's drafted letter on behalf of King Ahasuerus making it legal for the Jewish people to defend themselves against any that might attack them (Esther 8 ). These might be dismissed As Old Testament texts that do not speak to the Christian life. However, these passages deserve some consideration as we simply do not dismiss the Old Testament.

As an inner city pastor, the matter of defense is not an abstract question for me. I wonder what others think.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2021, 06:04:25 AM by Rev. Edward Engelbrecht »
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Coach-Rev

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2021, 08:32:34 PM »
we have armed members at every service, and we have an emergency plan among those who conceal carry.  This would include the pastor.  Passivity is one thing.  allowing oneself to be killed for no reason is another.  The days of American martyrdom meaning anything have long passed.  Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm. 
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2021, 10:36:54 PM »
Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

It is arguable that Divine Law exceeds the Civil law by imposing a Divine obligation:

The Levitical code states "you shall not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake".  Or in another translation (Reformed Judaism's Gates of Prayer "when your neighbor bleeds you shall not stand idly by".

While the civil law provides exoneration the Divine Law requires action.

Jesus did not abolish the Law and the Prophets.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2021, 10:47:22 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2021, 10:04:36 AM »
J. Thomas Shelley,

I certainly do not object to the defense of others. But...

The Levitical code Is Divine law that applies to us?!

Are you Jewish?  (Here come the shrimp!!)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2021, 10:53:35 AM by Donald_Kirchner »
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Charles Austin

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2021, 11:04:11 AM »
I have said this before. Clergy carrying deadly weapons, and churches arming themselves to wound and kill intruders - in my not so humble opinion - just doesnít fit with the words of Jesus. Others, obviously, disagree.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

James S. Rustad

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2021, 11:11:48 AM »
Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

More accurately, civil law recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

Dave Benke

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2021, 12:43:47 PM »
What this "inner city" in Brooklyn does is to keep a very strong relationship with our local police precinct, first of all, so that on days of worship service, our sector knows our schedule and if something is amiss, they're there within several minutes.  In terms of the school, which is in session M-F, the same notifications apply with the same urgency.   There we do have an unarmed security officer to assist with child safety and procedures for shelter in place, etc.  Third, we have surveillance cameras throughout the faciliity, and the ushers are able to see who's coming in before they get to the door.  Fourth, there are specific trainings offered on a regular basis for houses of worship with regard to entrances/exits, policies and procedures, and lines of communication, which several in our congregation take.

During my tenure, there will be no one on site who's armed as a result of our congregational instruction or encouragement.   So off-duty officers attending church normally are armed, but not as an aspect of their congregational duties or instructions.

Dave Benke

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2021, 02:17:14 PM »
For the New Testament, I suppose these passages illustrate the tensions:

Luke 22:35-38, 49-51
Matthew 26:52
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Eugene Crowner

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2021, 02:52:04 PM »

Many years ago on TV in Los Angeles, Dr. Gene Scott, with more than a bit of bluster, said something to the effect that you turn your other three cheeks.  If the guy continues after that, you say "Hallelujah, the Lord has given him into my hand!", and tear his head off.

Finishing with a big grin, it was hard to tell just how much, if any of that he may have believed.  But in any case, he was not the type of man to roll over and play dead.

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Dan Fienen

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2021, 05:08:25 PM »
Our church has installed an armed intruder alarm. If activated it will notify our local police department that we havemanmarmed intruder and they need to respond accordingly. Don't expect we'll ever need to use it. The equipment was supplied to us free of charge by our church insurance company.
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2021, 07:09:29 PM »
Our church has installed an armed intruder alarm. If activated it will notify our local police department that we havemanmarmed intruder and they need to respond accordingly. Don't expect we'll ever need to use it. The equipment was supplied to us free of charge by our church insurance company.

This is helpful to know. Thank you.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2021, 04:11:05 PM »
Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

More accurately, civil law recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.


Our question is whether "divine law" recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself or others from deadly harm. We know that Jesus did not exercise his right to defend himself from deadly harm. He also commanded his followers "to carry your cross," (whatever that might mean).
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2021, 04:13:05 PM »
For the New Testament, I suppose these passages illustrate the tensions:

Luke 22:35-38, 49-51
Matthew 26:52


In addition to those, I'm wondering how much Romans 12:17-21 might inform our discussion.
"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

James S. Rustad

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2021, 07:34:33 PM »
Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

More accurately, civil law recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

Our question is whether "divine law" recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself or others from deadly harm. We know that Jesus did not exercise his right to defend himself from deadly harm. He also commanded his followers "to carry your cross," (whatever that might mean).

The statement about civil law was a mild correction to a common error.  Our civil legal system bases many things on the concept of fundamental rights that individuals have without any grant from civil authority.

If "divine law" does not recognize a right to defensive uses of force, why did Jesus not tell his disciples to get rid of the swords they had?

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2021, 08:18:45 PM »
Civil law gives every citizen the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

More accurately, civil law recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself as well as others from deadly harm.

Our question is whether "divine law" recognizes and protects the right to defend oneself or others from deadly harm. We know that Jesus did not exercise his right to defend himself from deadly harm. He also commanded his followers "to carry your cross," (whatever that might mean).

The statement about civil law was a mild correction to a common error.  Our civil legal system bases many things on the concept of fundamental rights that individuals have without any grant from civil authority.

If "divine law" does not recognize a right to defensive uses of force, why did Jesus not tell his disciples to get rid of the swords they had?

A feature of Dr. Biermann's article that confused me was his statements that human beings do not have rights because they are contingent beings. He holds that there are no human rights (and therefore, no right to self defense or to bear arms). He does hold that a police officer could intervene to defend someone because he is called to do so.
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