Posted Oct 25, 2017 by Michael L. Brown

Since when did the gospel become associated with guns? Since when did the Christian faith become linked to the right to bear arms?

Lest I be misunderstood, this article is not about gun control, nor is it about the Second Amendment.

I am not asking whether Christians should serve in the military and I am not questioning our right to defend ourselves.

I’m simply asking why conservative Christianity – in particular, American evangelical Christianity – is so strongly linked with a passion for guns. There’s certainly no scriptural connection to be made.

Again, I’m not advocating for new gun control laws, and I’m not saying that we roll over and die when attacked by our enemies. I’m not even questioning to what degree churches should have security in place in their assemblies.

That’s not my focus or issue at all, and I understand clearly: 1) the importance of the Second Amendment in American history; 2) the emphasis many American evangelicals put on holding to our Constitutional rights; and 3) common sense issues of self-defense.

Still, I find it odd that many Americans associate evangelical Christians with guns – and I don’t just mean that some evangelicals enjoy hunting. I mean that “gospel” and “guns” seem to go hand in hand. If ever there was an example of odd bedfellows, it’s here.

It would be one thing if radical Muslims were associated with guns or if white separatists were associated with guns. But conservative followers of Jesus? What’s our specific and unique connection to guns? Frankly, I don’t see it.

In contrast with Muhammad, who was a warrior as well as a spiritual leader, the Founder of our faith was crucified. And in contrast with the early followers of Muhammad, who went to war on his behalf, the early followers of Jesus were put to death as lambs going to the slaughter.

In the words of Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35-37, quoting from Ps 44:11).

This remains the pattern around the world today, where followers of Jesus are the persecuted, not the persecutors. How did this switch so dramatically in American culture?

Again, I’m not questioning whether Christians can serve in the military and fight against our enemies, and I’m not raising the issue of self-defense or security.

My point is that the New Testament faith was not a faith of physical violence or swords or martial confrontation, and Jesus himself said to Peter that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (See Matt. 26:52; for the record, it is quite specious to build a theology of carrying arms based on Luke 22:35-38, as I demonstrate in The Real Kosher Jesus.)

The point of all this is simple: Our debates about gun control and the Second Amendment and the strength of our military should not get in the way of our discussion about Jesus and the gospel. Fundamentally, there is no connection between the two, and there are devoted followers of Jesus who serve in the high echelons of the military and devoted followers of Jesus who are conscientious objectors. (Would anyone question the Christian conviction as well as military valor of the subject of Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge?)

What prompts me to write this article, though, is the increasing connection in our culture between the gospel and guns, and it is as foreign to me as would be a connection between Jesus and roller coasters or Paul and soccer or Peter and airplanes. To repeat: There is no scriptural (or logical) connection between them.

So, while it’s fine to have our uniquely American discussion about these issues, given our roots and the purpose of the Second Amendment, let’s separate the gospel from guns. I can preach the former without carrying the latter.


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Darwyn posted a comment · Oct 30, 2017
manofword posted a comment · Oct 30, 2017
Being a Sr. Pastor for over 33yrs and a Law Enforcement Chaplain for 10yrs, I think I have a unique perspective. I carry concealed but do not advocate that from the pulpit. For me, the issue is not God & guns it is God and freedom. The cross was a violent way to purchase our freedom. Granted, Jesus reacted peacefully to His accusers, but the price for freedom was high. Freedom, in the U.S., at its inception, was paid for with gunpowder. I don't advocate violence or its use in any measure except in the protection of life. As I understand it, the 6th commandment, from a Jewish perspective, is not, "Thou shalt not kill" but it is better rendered, "Thou shalt not murder." Also, from my reading of Jewish theology, it appears that life is of inestimable value. That being the case, for me, if I can save life, even using deadly force, I may be obligated to do so. The absolute last thing I would want to do is to take a life. Could I live with that? Another way think about it is, If I could have saved a life and didn't, could I live with that? These are personal issues to deal with and pray over. So, from my perspective, the God & Guns connection is far more cultural than theological; they really aren't connected. I carry, not out of fear but from preparation or just in case or what if. If it were you or your grandchild or spouse and your life were threatened, would you hope someone intervened? The issue is the value of life, to me. I am a man of peace and have not been in a physical altercation or fight since I got saved (1976) and believe in "following peace with all men", but I haven't forgotten how to fight if needed. This, for me, is NOT connected to the Gospel, but is connected to the most valuable resource God made, and that is human life. And, by the way, my Bible is far more important to me than my Glock!
Deancooper posted a comment · Oct 28, 2017
Dr. Brown, I read in another recent post today where you said, "Can we even articulate the arguments of those who differ with us?" It sure sounds like your answer in this case is "no". Have you tried talking with the Christians who are strongly pro gun rights? You have a talk radio show after all. Maybe you should try it. Anyway, the answer to your question of why American Christians have been so associated with guns is really quite simple. The Left wants to take the guns away from us! And of course the Left is largely anti-Christian, so taking away our guns is commonly seen as a precursor to taking away our freedom of religion. You must have heard this, so I'm guessing the issue here is that you grew up in New York and haven't had this belief hammered into you all your life. Try seeing this issue from the perspective of those who have.
Royce posted a comment · Oct 27, 2017
You're spot on, Dr. Brown. There is NO connections between Americans Constitutional Right to keep & bear arms and the Gospel. NONE! Unfortunately, as you can see by the comments, any denial of that fact is often met with animosity and a fierce rebuttal/resistance to any attempt at putting distance between the two. Don't get me wrong, I love my guns and believe 100% in the 2nd Amendment but having wrestled for some time what the Bible has to say on the issue and asking myself, "What would I do if the Gov't shows up and says I have to turn in my guns because they say the 2nd Amendment doesn't protect individual ownership?"; I have come to the conclusions that God leaves me no wiggle room in Romans 13 other than to give them my guns and try to fight my way thru the Legal System to have them returned. With that said, I have NO doubt that will receive some vehement objections and responses. Which leads me to my final point. I have experienced many who hold to their guns tighter than to their Bibles. My BFF and Dearest BIC is one of those who causes me great concern in this area. Oh, for sure, there are many who are Posers that are self-professed Christians and when asked why they respond with they were raised a Christian or this is America and America is a Christian Nation or a number of other such replies that lend to a pretty safe bet they aren't Christian at all. But there are those that every indication is they were Born Again and yet they put keeping their guns before surrendering and submitting to Christ. It's gonna get REAL interesting when the time comes for the rubber to meet the road.
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Bguptill posted a comment · Oct 27, 2017
Jesus said, Luke 22:36 (NASB) And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. A gun is the modern day sword. Thomas Jefferson said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." The best reason to protect the right to keep & bear arms is to protect religious liberty from tyrannical control. I carry a concealed gun every day for self-defense, but I’ve thought about whether it’s Biblical. Jesus said to respect and adhere to the government’s authority. However, we have a government that is supposedly of, by, and for the people in the USA. So the government is me, and you, and all of us. The 2nd amendment represents a form of civic duty to protect ourselves, our families & our fellow man. So I carry so that I may serve that civic duty... as the scripture says is proper.
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Covenanted posted a comment · Oct 27, 2017
The connection is simple.... the right to keep and bear arms is among those fundamental rights necessary to the Nation's system of ordered liberty most significant to this question, that of religious liberty!
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Glenn Loewen posted a comment · Oct 26, 2017
The example of Christ-filled believers over the last 1000 years who refused to hit back but went to their death giving their lives for love is a sober reality; one not to be mocked. Our Kingdom is not of this world. We cannot fight as thought it were....I too don't know where all the lines are pertaining to pacifism or protection. But the height of example-ship is none other than Christ Jesus, himself and what He spoke when He was on the mount.
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Wafaring Stranger posted a comment · Oct 26, 2017
Yes you can preach it without a sword, but how will you defend it? Sometimes your articles make me wonder if you have ever read the WORD with understanding. Let’s make this real simple: What did Jesus say in Matthew 5:17-18? Did he condemn Elijah for killing 450 Baal prophets (I Kings 18:40, 19:1)? Did Jesus chastise Samuel for slaying Agag (I Samuel 15:33)? It’s getting late in the day and time for many to wake up from their slumber.