Jerry Falwell Jr, the President of Liberty University (a large and influential Christian institution), spoke the following words during the school’s recent convocation:
If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know…
I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.
His words received a cheerful reception from the crowd, and a subsequent social media defense from other believers. But I think his statements and their reception illustrate just how far some in American Christianity have drifted from where our faith should be. I also think there is a sad irony when the loudest, most brazen gun advocates, are those whose religious tradition is said to rest on the shoulders of someone who allowed himself to be unjustly beaten, tortured, and executed; who never used his power to do anything but heal and deliver those who were in spiritual, emotional, and physical bondage.
If we can no longer see this as a profound disconnect, then we are worshipping a Jesus made in our own image — and most certainly not the one in the Gospels.
But on the other side of the coin, there are the pathetic words coming out of the White House about what took place in San Bernardino, cautioning us on Islamophobia. First it was homophobia as a label to control the population and silence everyone over the president’s agenda regarding same-sex marriage, now it is Islamophobia. The White House has become expert in trying to shame everyone into submission, as well as the White House news media puppets.
Let’s be real, had there been citizens who were armed in San Bernardino, the most likely scenario would have been the shooters being stopped sooner. We know this from previous incidents around the country. The ridiculous rhetoric about gun control following the shooting, when California is one of the most limiting states regarding weapons, is just foolish.
But when Christians say things like Falwell did at the convocation, we misrepresent Jesus to the world, and I think Jesus deserves better than this. He deserves to be accurately represented before a hurting world. While Christians are speaking like this in America, missionaries are working tirelessly in Syrian refugee camps all over the Middle East bringing aid and support to Muslims who are running in fear. Because of this compassion displayed by Christian missionaries, Muslims are coming to faith in Christ every day because of what they see ISIS doing, and what they have experienced first-hand. So as we do our saber-rattling and sound like ISIS, how does that make the gospel accessible to the Muslim world?
Those of you who know me, know I am an advocate of personal self-defense. But when our rhetoric sounds as bad as ISIS, I think we risk misrepresenting the Jesus of the Bible.