Poll

Christians may

Not defend themselves.
0 (0%)
Defend themselves.
23 (100%)

Total Members Voted: 23

Author Topic: Self Defense  (Read 6804 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #120 on: June 28, 2021, 09:29:57 PM »
Brian, help me understand what you really think, not some scenario. I have an actual stalker coming to my home and church. He posted on our front door, "I will murder you." If he attacks one of us, that person should:

(A) Offer physical resistance and attempt to escape.
(B) Offer no resistance but try to talk the stalker out of the attack.
(C) Simply accept the attack as part of suffering as a Christian.
(D) Some other response you deem fitting for this very real situation.


When a man attacked me. I took the beating. I didn't hit back. He had threatened more severe injuries, but didn't show any weapons. If he had, I'm not sure what I would have done.

I'm sorry you experienced that. What caused the man to attack you? How did he do so?
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #121 on: June 28, 2021, 09:42:05 PM »
Theologically, we are to perish daily for the sake of Christ. I take this to mean giving up control of my life. More simply, confessing, "I can't." That's the denial of self. That's what a seminary professor used to define repentance. Contrary to "I can't," we often look at repentance as telling God, "I can." "I can do better." "I can try harder." Such confessions are seeking to keep control of one's life, rather than denying or dying to self. Going to a doctor is giving up trying to save my life and turning my salvation (health) over to another. It's confessing, "I can't fix me."

Kind of like the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. Perhaps your professor would have joined me in seeing repentance in that situation, going to Jesus, expressing "I can't. Fix me."

Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice. His friends had the faith that Jesus would heal him and carried him to Jesus and they wouldn't let a crowd nor a roof stop them from bringing their friend before Jesus.

No, I don't remember that. Can you point me to a verse that tells us that the paralytic had no choice?

1. The paralytic is silent throughout the event.
2. The paralytic is carried there by the four friends who have faith. There is nothing said about the paralytics faith.

What evidence do you have that the paralytic orchestrated this whole event?

I don't have to prove anything. You stated:

"Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice."

Prove it.

Thank you.
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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #122 on: June 29, 2021, 02:14:15 AM »
Theologically, we are to perish daily for the sake of Christ. I take this to mean giving up control of my life. More simply, confessing, "I can't." That's the denial of self. That's what a seminary professor used to define repentance. Contrary to "I can't," we often look at repentance as telling God, "I can." "I can do better." "I can try harder." Such confessions are seeking to keep control of one's life, rather than denying or dying to self. Going to a doctor is giving up trying to save my life and turning my salvation (health) over to another. It's confessing, "I can't fix me."

Kind of like the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. Perhaps your professor would have joined me in seeing repentance in that situation, going to Jesus, expressing "I can't. Fix me."

Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice. His friends had the faith that Jesus would heal him and carried him to Jesus and they wouldn't let a crowd nor a roof stop them from bringing their friend before Jesus.

No, I don't remember that. Can you point me to a verse that tells us that the paralytic had no choice?

1. The paralytic is silent throughout the event.
2. The paralytic is carried there by the four friends who have faith. There is nothing said about the paralytics faith.

What evidence do you have that the paralytic orchestrated this whole event?

I don't have to prove anything. You stated:

"Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice."

Prove it.

Thank you.


He couldn't run away from the four guys bringing him to Jesus.
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Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #123 on: June 29, 2021, 07:45:36 AM »
Theologically, we are to perish daily for the sake of Christ. I take this to mean giving up control of my life. More simply, confessing, "I can't." That's the denial of self. That's what a seminary professor used to define repentance. Contrary to "I can't," we often look at repentance as telling God, "I can." "I can do better." "I can try harder." Such confessions are seeking to keep control of one's life, rather than denying or dying to self. Going to a doctor is giving up trying to save my life and turning my salvation (health) over to another. It's confessing, "I can't fix me."

Kind of like the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. Perhaps your professor would have joined me in seeing repentance in that situation, going to Jesus, expressing "I can't. Fix me."

Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice. His friends had the faith that Jesus would heal him and carried him to Jesus and they wouldn't let a crowd nor a roof stop them from bringing their friend before Jesus.

No, I don't remember that. Can you point me to a verse that tells us that the paralytic had no choice?

1. The paralytic is silent throughout the event.
2. The paralytic is carried there by the four friends who have faith. There is nothing said about the paralytics faith.

What evidence do you have that the paralytic orchestrated this whole event?

I don't have to prove anything. You stated:

"Remember, the paralytic wasn't given a choice."

Prove it.

Thank you.


He couldn't run away from the four guys bringing him to Jesus.

Or, he asked the four guys to bring him to Jesus. It certainly appears that they were friends or family. And when Jesus sees "their" faith, it could be the faith of the five of them.

We don't know that the paralytic was silent.When they couldn't get through the crowd, he might have been the one crying, "To the roof!"

So, other than by speculation and assumption, prove that the paralytic wasn't given a choice.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2021, 07:49:36 AM by Donald_Kirchner »
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #124 on: June 29, 2021, 09:18:17 AM »
Brian, help me understand what you really think, not some scenario. I have an actual stalker coming to my home and church. He posted on our front door, "I will murder you." If he attacks one of us, that person should:

(A) Offer physical resistance and attempt to escape.
(B) Offer no resistance but try to talk the stalker out of the attack.
(C) Simply accept the attack as part of suffering as a Christian.
(D) Some other response you deem fitting for this very real situation.


When a man attacked me. I took the beating. I didn't hit back. He had threatened more severe injuries, but didn't show any weapons. If he had, I'm not sure what I would have done.

So I'm assuming you are choosing "C."

By the way, what does one witness in such a situation?  The person is obviously motivated by evil. They care nothing for your life. By beating you up they have the satisfaction of seeing you injured and in pain. Do you truly think this person will be moved by your passivity?


Maybe they would be moved; maybe not. Conversion is not up to us. I believe that by taking the punishment was a better witness of following Christ's example than fighting back. I am certain that had I fought back there were two outcomes: I could win, and made the man even angrier who would likely to return with weapons to do more damage; or I would have lost and suffered more beating than I did.


In terms of responses, Kenneth Haugk's Antagonists in the Church, is a good resource. He basically says that with antagonists, pastors have to throw out all the pastoral training they have received. In extreme cases when the antagonists are mentally ill; one has to do what one can to protect themselves; which primarily involves, if I remember right; avoiding any situations with that person.


https://www.amazon.com/Antagonists-Church-Identify-Destructive-Conflict/dp/0806623101/ref=sr_1_1?crid=22ROIH4IM8ILV&dchild=1&keywords=antagonists+in+the+church&qid=1624918291&sprefix=antagonist%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-1

I have dealt with antagonists in my church.  I did not retaliate. However, it did not involve risk to my physical health and life.  I would hope that if someone had attacked me physically, members concerned for my well being would step in and protect me.

Your approach has much in common with what I would expect from my Mennonite neighbors.  I have not found this approach common among Lutherans.  To see it in creedal perspective, I approach self-defense as a First Article issue, not a Second or Third Article issue.  Similar to my primary work on the fire department where I am usually functioning as a fire fighter (I am also a chaplain).  When I am putting out fires I am functioning in a First Article way.  As Luther explains, God not only creates, He sustains and preserves and protects His creation. And since God works through means, my work and others on fire ground is an extension of how God works to preserve and protect. The Second and Third Article concerns my work as chaplain.  Here I am representing Christ and ministering to people in need. 

When I am defending myself it is assumed that the usual means for defending me are not readily available.  If they were, I would turn to them for immediate help.  Same way with a fire.  When my dishwasher caught on fire a number of years ago I initially used a fire extinguisher.  I could have waited, I suppose, for the fire department to come and put it out themselves, but I would have lost valuable time, and theoretically could have ended up with a worse situation. I don't see where God has removed some of us from First Article responsibilities and given it only to a select few.

But taking this in a related direction - What if my neighbor was being beaten up and was at risk of losing his life.  I can call the authorities, which I probably would do.  But I live at least 8 miles from the safety building where the deputies would normally respond.  If out in the county there are only a few of them and could very possibly be anywhere, even up to 20 or more minutes away.  Should I stand and watch this violent person beat up my neighbor and say that it is a witness of love to not intervene? Or is it love for neighbor that would cause me to intervene and possibly save his life? I suspect that my neighbor would not see it as an act of love to him if I merely stood by and watched.
Pastor Don Engebretson
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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #125 on: June 29, 2021, 10:05:03 AM »
Some of you longtime readers may recall my essay from long ago in the Forum Letter, “Praying for my Killer.”
In it I relate being left for dead in the weeds next to a stone wall after having been attacked with a machete outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Had I a gun that day, I would have shot him.
Nothing personal.


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Dan Fienen

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #126 on: June 29, 2021, 10:46:08 AM »
I am diabetic. I regularly take medications and inject myself with insulin to control my condition which would normally be expected to readily kill me if left untreated. So, in a very real sense, I have undertaken to take my life into my own hands and save my life by treating my diabetes rather than leaving it up to God to preserve my life here or take my life here. Am I showing a lack of faith in God by acting to save my life? Does this fall under the rubric, Luke 9:23-24 (ESV) "23  And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Should I consider my diabetes my cross to bear and by taking it upon myself to obtain treatment, ingesting, and injecting substances thereby refusing that cross, and so by saving my life, lose it?

Rather, I consider that it is God who granted researchers to discover causes and treatments for my condition, the doctor the ability to train so as to diagnose my condition and prescribe effective treatments, and provided pharmaceuticals the insight necessary to produce the medicines needed for my treatment. Every step of the way was done by people, including my purchasing the medicines and administering them, but also every step of the way part of God's providence. To refuse needed medical care because I want to trust God rather than human medicine would be to refuse one way that God uses to meet my needs. That medicine is God working through means rather than directly and miraculously does not mean that medicine is not ultimately from God.

I consider that the miracle of the Wedding at Cana of water into wine is a miracle that God works every year, taking the water from rain and turning it into wine. Usually God does His miracle through means, running the water through a grapevine and then turning some of His yeast loose on it. Jesus, being in a hurry and needing the wine immediately, took a short cut.

God typically works through means. To insist that He work immediately, without means, miraculously is to put Him to the test. Jesus refused to do that, why should we? (Matthew 4:7) Similarly, if God given human ingenuity provides the means for self-defense, would a refusal to use the means available constitute putting God to the test? Shooting someone with the intent to seriously injure, even kill that person is in some ways quite different from me shooting myself with insulin. But the intent is not to simply injure or kill someone but to prevent them from seriously injuring or killing me or someone else. My intent is that of defense in the face of the intent of someone else. Contrary to how some would portray it, those who arm themselves with deadly weapons, practice and train in their use, and go out "packing," do not go out hunting for someone to kill. Or if they do it is no longer a matter self-defense but they become a menace. Anyone who is armed for self defense has taken on a serious responsibility and should be obligated to take that responsibility seriously. To deny others defense because some are irresponsible would be unjust.

Even more so to disdain self-defense because guns and their potential for death and destruction offends ones delicate sensibilities seems foolish. I recommend the short story by Isaac Asimov, "Strikebreaker."
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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #127 on: June 29, 2021, 10:55:07 AM »
A couple of years ago, our church purchased an AED, Automated External Defibrillator, just in case. Did we in doing so betray a lack of trust in God to care for someone in our building having a heart attack? Or did we usurp the authority of a doctor or trained EMT by purchasing and intending to use equipment that anyone can use rather than only designated professionals? Time was that only trained personnel could use a defibrillator.


If someone takes it upon themselves to defend themselves rather than waiting for the police, are they wrong?
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #128 on: June 29, 2021, 11:05:20 AM »
Brian, help me understand what you really think, not some scenario. I have an actual stalker coming to my home and church. He posted on our front door, "I will murder you." If he attacks one of us, that person should:

(A) Offer physical resistance and attempt to escape.
(B) Offer no resistance but try to talk the stalker out of the attack.
(C) Simply accept the attack as part of suffering as a Christian.
(D) Some other response you deem fitting for this very real situation.


When a man attacked me. I took the beating. I didn't hit back. He had threatened more severe injuries, but didn't show any weapons. If he had, I'm not sure what I would have done.

So I'm assuming you are choosing "C."

By the way, what does one witness in such a situation?  The person is obviously motivated by evil. They care nothing for your life. By beating you up they have the satisfaction of seeing you injured and in pain. Do you truly think this person will be moved by your passivity?


Maybe they would be moved; maybe not. Conversion is not up to us. I believe that by taking the punishment was a better witness of following Christ's example than fighting back. I am certain that had I fought back there were two outcomes: I could win, and made the man even angrier who would likely to return with weapons to do more damage; or I would have lost and suffered more beating than I did.


In terms of responses, Kenneth Haugk's Antagonists in the Church, is a good resource. He basically says that with antagonists, pastors have to throw out all the pastoral training they have received. In extreme cases when the antagonists are mentally ill; one has to do what one can to protect themselves; which primarily involves, if I remember right; avoiding any situations with that person.


https://www.amazon.com/Antagonists-Church-Identify-Destructive-Conflict/dp/0806623101/ref=sr_1_1?crid=22ROIH4IM8ILV&dchild=1&keywords=antagonists+in+the+church&qid=1624918291&sprefix=antagonist%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-1

I have dealt with antagonists in my church.  I did not retaliate. However, it did not involve risk to my physical health and life.  I would hope that if someone had attacked me physically, members concerned for my well being would step in and protect me.

Your approach has much in common with what I would expect from my Mennonite neighbors.  I have not found this approach common among Lutherans.  To see it in creedal perspective, I approach self-defense as a First Article issue, not a Second or Third Article issue.  Similar to my primary work on the fire department where I am usually functioning as a fire fighter (I am also a chaplain).  When I am putting out fires I am functioning in a First Article way.  As Luther explains, God not only creates, He sustains and preserves and protects His creation. And since God works through means, my work and others on fire ground is an extension of how God works to preserve and protect. The Second and Third Article concerns my work as chaplain.  Here I am representing Christ and ministering to people in need. 

When I am defending myself it is assumed that the usual means for defending me are not readily available.  If they were, I would turn to them for immediate help.  Same way with a fire.  When my dishwasher caught on fire a number of years ago I initially used a fire extinguisher.  I could have waited, I suppose, for the fire department to come and put it out themselves, but I would have lost valuable time, and theoretically could have ended up with a worse situation. I don't see where God has removed some of us from First Article responsibilities and given it only to a select few.

But taking this in a related direction - What if my neighbor was being beaten up and was at risk of losing his life.  I can call the authorities, which I probably would do.  But I live at least 8 miles from the safety building where the deputies would normally respond.  If out in the county there are only a few of them and could very possibly be anywhere, even up to 20 or more minutes away.  Should I stand and watch this violent person beat up my neighbor and say that it is a witness of love to not intervene? Or is it love for neighbor that would cause me to intervene and possibly save his life? I suspect that my neighbor would not see it as an act of love to him if I merely stood by and watched.

Well put, Don.
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Norman Teigen

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #129 on: June 29, 2021, 11:27:11 AM »
In the 1980s I was a member of a Missouri Synod church on the south side of Des Moines.  I was physically assaulted by the pastor of that congregation.  I didn't call the police.  I didn't resist. I transferred my membership to another Missouri Synod church on the north side of Des Moines.  When I asked the pastor of the north side church to take me in as a transfer, , he asked me why.  When I told him that I had been assaulted he said that non-resistance was the wise thing to do.  He said that he and other pastors in the Iowa-District West knew that this man was a problem and that he would take it up with the District President.
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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #130 on: June 29, 2021, 11:41:00 AM »
In the 1980s I was a member of a Missouri Synod church on the south side of Des Moines.  I was physically assaulted by the pastor of that congregation.  I didn't call the police.  I didn't resist. I transferred my membership to another Missouri Synod church on the north side of Des Moines.  When I asked the pastor of the north side church to take me in as a transfer, , he asked me why.  When I told him that I had been assaulted he said that non-resistance was the wise thing to do.  He said that he and other pastors in the Iowa-District West knew that this man was a problem and that he would take it up with the District President.

Good grief.  Thanks for sticking with the Missouri Synod at that time, Norman; I guess the question is whether anything transpired to get the guy some help, at the very least, and more to the point, to protect the members from their pastor.

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #131 on: June 29, 2021, 12:24:23 PM »
When I am defending myself it is assumed that the usual means for defending me are not readily available.  If they were, I would turn to them for immediate help.  Same way with a fire.  When my dishwasher caught on fire a number of years ago I initially used a fire extinguisher.  I could have waited, I suppose, for the fire department to come and put it out themselves, but I would have lost valuable time, and theoretically could have ended up with a worse situation. I don't see where God has removed some of us from First Article responsibilities and given it only to a select few.


Defending property from fire is not the same as defending the self.

Quote
But taking this in a related direction - What if my neighbor was being beaten up and was at risk of losing his life.  I can call the authorities, which I probably would do.  But I live at least 8 miles from the safety building where the deputies would normally respond.  If out in the county there are only a few of them and could very possibly be anywhere, even up to 20 or more minutes away.  Should I stand and watch this violent person beat up my neighbor and say that it is a witness of love to not intervene? Or is it love for neighbor that would cause me to intervene and possibly save his life? I suspect that my neighbor would not see it as an act of love to him if I merely stood by and watched.


Perhaps related but not the same. Defending the neighbor from harm is not the same as defending the self. The title of this discussion is self defense, not defending the neighbor. Jesus saved/healed others. He would not save himself from the cross and death.


I also don't quite buy the first use argument. Our lives are not separated. When you are fighting fires; you are doing it as a disciple of Jesus Christ. What you say and how you act as a firefighter is a witness to our Lord and Savior; perhaps even more so than when you are preaching the gospel from the pulpit.
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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #132 on: June 29, 2021, 12:46:42 PM »
Jesus saved/healed others. He would not save himself from the cross and death.

Jesus not saving himself is not the same as the issue of defending the self.
Don Kirchner

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #133 on: June 29, 2021, 12:50:27 PM »
I also don't quite buy the first use argument. Our lives are not separated. When you are fighting fires; you are doing it as a disciple of Jesus Christ. What you say and how you act as a firefighter is a witness to our Lord and Savior; perhaps even more so than when you are preaching the gospel from the pulpit.

I guess we approach catechetical theology differently.  But I don't artificially separate myself as a believer from what I am doing.  As a chaplain I am acutely aware that my fellow firefighters are always aware of how I am acting, especially in contrast to the oftentimes crude atmosphere at the fire house and fire scene.  But seeing the work of God through the lens of the various articles of the creed is not foreign to Lutheran theology. In fact, it stems from Luther himself who often talked about our vocations in this way.  He described it as the "masks" of God behind which God operates, but not directly seen.  But God's "first article" work (if you are agreeing with Luther's explanation to the creed) is distinct from His second and third article work.  One of the problems in Luther's day was that the church hierarchy confused their Third Article work (preaching the Gospel) with their assumed First Article work (ruling as magistrates, something that is not rightfully part of their office).  It is a problem that goes back into the medieval church as well.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

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Re: Self Defense
« Reply #134 on: June 29, 2021, 12:54:54 PM »
When I am defending myself it is assumed that the usual means for defending me are not readily available.  If they were, I would turn to them for immediate help.  Same way with a fire.  When my dishwasher caught on fire a number of years ago I initially used a fire extinguisher.  I could have waited, I suppose, for the fire department to come and put it out themselves, but I would have lost valuable time, and theoretically could have ended up with a worse situation. I don't see where God has removed some of us from First Article responsibilities and given it only to a select few.


Defending property from fire is not the same as defending the self.

Okay, forget the fire analogy if you don't like it.  But what about the first part of my statement and the end?  Are we excluded from the work of defending ourselves if those sent to protect us are not available?  I call the authorities.  Good. But my attacker will probably have me killed by the time they arrive 20 minutes later.  I'm guessing, given your line of argument, that you would simply let the attacker kill you rather than defend yourself.  If so, we truly would approach that situation in radically different ways.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI