Jerry Fallwell Jr. said some of the most disappointing things I have ever had the misfortune of hearing a Christian put forward this week. He encouraged students at Liberty University, a conservative evangelical Christian university, to carry handguns because, as he said, “I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.”
I cannot even express the anger, outrage, and utter disappointment I feel in the face of those comments. That any so-called Christian anywhere would harbor such thoughts and feelings is utterly shocking to me. On a superficial level, it is an embarrassment to my faith. But on a level far more significant than my own sense of propriety, it is an absolute affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ. An absolute affront. It is staggering that someone, ostensibly intelligent as the president of a university must be, could read the Bible and come to the conclusion that the Christian thing to do in the face of violence is to respond by preparing oneself for carrying out life-ending violence.
Mr. Falwell, I well hope that you somehow come across this measly little blog post. I hope that you do, because I am desperately curious to hear how you might stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Slaughtered Lamb of Revelation 5 who has conquered by his sacrificial death, the Alpha and the Omega who explicitly commanded his followers to turn the other cheek in the face of persecution (Matt 5:39, Luke 6:29); who told his disciples to put their swords away because those who live by the sword die by the sword (Matt 26:52); who prayed for his enemies as they drove nails through his limbs and raised him up on the most brutal instrument of torture known to Rome, and proclaim this gospel of fear and violence.
I want to hear what you would say to him, when standing before the Lord of glory you are asked to give an account of why you called for retaliation in the face of religious persecution. I want to hear what you would say to that great cloud of witnesses who unilaterally refused all forms of violence even in the face of the most gruesome persecutions imaginable for the church’s first 300 years of existence. I want to know how you would stand before the Risen Lamb, the Prince of Peace, who tells us that his is already the victory and calls us to live accordingly, why you incited violence among his people.
And Fox News’s Todd Starnes, author of this article, I hope you read this post as well. I hope you read this because I want to call you to accountability on your comment that: “I only wish the Washington Post had named the lunatic theologians who believe that Christians should gladly offer themselves to the Islamic radicals as sacrificial lambs.”
That was no Washington Post commentary, Mr. Starnes. That was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega who is worthy of all praise and all glory and all honor, before whom every knee will bow. That is his gospel. He is the slaughtered lamb who tells his followers very explicitly to be ready to “take up their cross” and follow him. Because it is obvious that you are entirely unfamiliar with the New Testament, allow me to explain that the cross was a specific instrument of torture reserved for political revolutionaries. The kind of people who refused to worship the god of the state and were wiling to die, but never kill, for the Lord whom they followed.
I cannot condemn you for the specks in your eyes, Mr. Falwell and Mr. Starnes, because the Lord knows that mine are full of planks. But I can sure as hell stand on the foundation of the New Testament and the Risen Lord to whom it witnesses and declare with all of the life in me that you are wrong. Your words are the opposite of everything lived, breathed, and proclaimed by God Incarnate, and you bring shame on all of those who stand under the banner of the Slaughtered Lamb.
Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Teach us to love as you did, and to refuse the hate that is aroused by fear.