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Guns and the American Church

Tim Wright sends me an interesting story of a Baptist church in Oklahoma City that promised to give away a $800 semi-automatic assault rifle to a lucky teenager who attended their youth event. Really. I can think of ways to grow a youth group that are far better and will probably not backfire.

Gun-1I never did understand Americans' fascination with guns. As a kid growing up in New Zealand, I was told on good authority (my friend Paul) that all Americans were going to hell because they were violent and carried guns. All except one Christian who came to speak at a NZ youth camp and apparently was going to heaven. Funny how the only American he thought wasn't going to hell was the same one he had met.

My theology changed as I got older and met more Americans who did not fit the description. Heck - I even married one and lived in USA for ten years. Our kids are all American. And I can say on good authority that there is more than one American who is not going to hell. But the gun thing still amuses me. Its a religious debate, actually. I was reading a book on the Scottish civil war and the dissenting Presbyterians in Scotland, whom were forbidden to have guns at their outdoor religious services which was a bummer because some of them were getting shot at by British soldiers under orders by the ecclesiastical hierarchies down south.

My daughter asked me about guns yesterday. And no, I have never owned one and don't plan to. So I really don't want to start a debate here, and neither do I want to start a list of blog comments about redneck youth groups and the GUN-RACKS in their buses. Plenty of righteous people have a rifle under their bed and plenty more don't. But I do think its interesting to look at the history of why the early emerging church in USA in the 1600's saw fit to include the right to bear arms as part of their ecclesiology.

Good resource for those who look on with bewilderment at American Christians and their beloved weapons is a PDF called "The Scottish and English Religious Roots of the American Right to Arms: Buchanan, Rutherford, Locke, Sidney, and the Duty to Overthrow Tyranny" by David B. Kopel