A Connecticut Shooting in Satan’s Court

lawsuit-chTwenty children, six educators, a mother, and a gunman dead in Newtown, CT.  Across the United States there has been an outpouring of grief.  At our congregation’s inner-city school, with 230 children from infants to 8th grade, the tragedy has struck very close to home.  We have been reflecting on all our lock-down drills and how very real those drills could become one day.

Two nights ago we heard the reaction of the President of the United States: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”  But what does that mean?  The words are powerful and emotional, and in a moment of passion we agree with them.  But reason wants to dig deeper.  What is it, precisely, that we are being asked to tolerate no longer?  What tragedies are we hoping to end?  “Must” is a strong word, implying the need for immediate action.  What action, exactly, and what guarantee that that action will produce the desired – required – result?  Our President does love the word “change” – but change is a notoriously slippery word.  A change of degree, or a change of kind?

Engineers often quote the proverb, “identifying the problem is 90% of the solution.”  So what is the problem?  27 people are dead, many of them young children who should have been allowed to grow up, marry, have children of their own, and die when they’re “too old to die young.”  The tragedy is that this natural state of affairs was curtailed by a gunman for reasons we have not yet fully ascertained.  Is this, in fact, the tragedy?  Is this what we can no longer tolerate?  Who has determined that the deaths of these children was premature, or that the progression of these children’s lives which I just described is, in fact, a “natural state of affairs?”

You do believe in evolution, don’t you?

After all, to deny the dominate meta-narrative of our western world would make you look rather foolish wouldn’t it?  It would make you look like one of those backward hicks who cling to their religion and their guns, the very people who cause these sorts of tragedies.  The tragedies which must end, which we can no longer tolerate.

Yet the dirty secret of the evolutionary meta-narrative is that what happened to those beautiful young children in Connecticut was utterly natural.  After all, wasn’t the gunman a human being, a product himself of millions of years of evolution?  To say what he did was “unnatural” implies that he was some sort of supernatural being – a being outside of nature.  Which of course implies that nature managed to produce something that transcended itself.  But the modern western meta-narrative implicitly denies that anything outside nature exists.

We can’t even allow ourselves the fiction that what he did was “wrong.”  Wrong based on what standard?  Wrong because it causes us pain?  Pain is good for us!  Pain drives the evolution of our species and countless others forward.  Without death, there can be no progress.  Richard Dawkins, the modern Nietzsche willing to stare down the Cerberus standing between us and our ultimate destiny, has put it plainly:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so… In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. (“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, 1995)

Thank the Lord I am a Christian.  I believe that suffering and death are not natural, because God has revealed to me in His Word that this is the case.  Suffering and death are the result of the moral failure of the first two human beings, goaded on by a spiritual being himself twisted by his own moral failure.  I can name the acts of the gunman in Newtown evil, because I have an objective, ultimate standard of good, revealed by my Lord God.  Children should not merely be allowed to grow old and die gracefully; children were never meant to die at all.  The naturalistic materialist cannot speak words like “evil,” “senseless,” or “tragedy” without denying their own presuppositions about the origin of the universe and of life itself.  Of course as a Christian I know why countless atheists and agnostics act morally anyway.  That’s revealed to me in Romans 2:14-15.  But they are being irrational and inconsistent.  I am not.

Dr. William Weinrich wrote this recently on Facebook:

One cannot say that the view of many that the universe is essentially senseless and meaningless, that is without God, caused the massacre of innocents yesterday. But one can say that those who hold that view must say that what happened was not an aberration. When the universe is senseless at its core, then senselessness is normal. To say merely that this murderer was deranged, or some such, is merely to say that that was the manner in his senseless manifested itself. But deranged precisely from what?

The elimination of the religion of naturalistic materialism from our schools will not prevent these tragedies anymore than gun control would.  But both would help, at least in this way.  It would deny to some few tempted by their sinful nature and by Satan a justification for carrying out their acts.  It would create an environment where evil is not eliminated, but where it will have to work harder to accomplish its ends.  It would help foster a culture of life, where now we truly have only a culture of death.

On the same day that this tragedy occurred in Connecticut, 22 children were stabbed in an attack at a Chinese elementary school.  On the same day, hundreds of children under five died from malaria in Africa.  On the same day, close to a hundred people were killed in Syria.  On the same day, countless children died while still in their mother’s wombs.  If you will not tolerate this anymore, if you believe these tragedies must end, there is only one to turn to.  It is not Congress.  It is Christ Jesus. Only the child born of Mary can deliver us from Satan’s Court, and bring the real change that will end evil once and for all.


A Connecticut Shooting in Satan’s Court — 96 Comments

  1. K@Ted #50
    I certainly agree that a Christian should never be the instigater of violence against anyone. However, if a government agent uses violence in order to compel a Christian to sin, in my view that Christian may resist that compulsion. Let me repeat, I don’t advocate violence against anyone but I also don’t think that a Christian is required in every situation to be passive.

  2. @Matthew Mills #46

    Mr. Mills,

    A couple points to bear in mind is that throughout the Book of Concord, Luther and Melancthon describe the governing authority of their day as “tyrannical.” That governing authority was the Roman Catholic Church (e.g. read Luther’s preface to the Small Catechism, “Lastly, since the tyranny of the Pope has been abolished, people are no longer willing to go to the Sacrament and despise it [as something useless and unnecessary]”).

    Keep in mind, too, the following from Luther in the Large Catechism,

    “167] In addition, it would be well to preach to the parents also, and such as bear their office, as to how they should deport themselves toward those who are committed to them for their government. For although this is not expressed in the Ten Commandments, it is nevertheless abundantly enjoined in many places in the Scripture. And God desires to have it embraced in this commandment when He speaks of father and mother. 168] For He does not wish to have in this office and government knaves and tyrants; nor does He assign to them this honor, that is, power and authority to govern, that they should have themselves worshiped; but they should consider that they are under obligations of obedience to God; and that, first of all, they should earnestly and faithfully discharge their office, not only to support and provide for the bodily necessities of their children, servants, subjects, etc., but, most of all, to train them to the honor and praise of God” (LC 4th Commandment, para. 167-168)

    Notice that Luther tells us plainly that God “does not wish to have in this office and government knaves and tyrants…”. Furthermore, as God raises up powers, He also removes them and this He does through earthly means. So, I don’t believe your point about rebellion is nearly as cut and dry as you would like it. There is more for consideration here and I think that our confessions, as I point at above for example, offer us something to think about.

  3. @Jim Pierce #2

    No. The Pope’s tyranny over anyone north of the Alps was purely theological in the 16th century (and Luther was very clear that he was no political scientist.) Luther may have called many people tyrants, but he never called for their violent overthrow. Based on Luther’s early writings, the Imperial Knight, Franz von Sickingen, offered him an army to march on the Pope. Luther turned him down. Even the actions of the Smalcaldic League, of which he very hesitantly approved, were to be defensive only. They were to act as loyal subjects of the Emperor, while using their authority as princes (which we aren’t Jim) to defend their subjects from his attack. You are wrong.

    You let me know when we have a more tyrannical government than Tiberius Caesar’s Italian Army of Occupation, and I’ll reconsider your “Yankee Doodle reduction, redaction and reinterpretation of Romans 13:1.” For my money the text is crystal clear, and solidly backed by the concrete actions of the Apostolic Church. The Christians fled from Jerusalem rather than joining the uprising against Rome. That’s how we escaped the fate of the Jews. God protected His church in 70 AD, and He will continue to do so.

    Like our Liberal Enlightenment Rousseau-loving Founding Fathers, you have made an idol of “Liberty,” and you’re twisting Scripture and our Confessions to give yourself a green light to act in ways the Apostles rejected in word and deed.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  4. Agents of the state (of which I used to be one) have no moral obligation to follow commands that are contrary to their belief or God’s Law or that harm their neighbor. Hence why we must obey God rather than men. To hide behind vocation (as an agent of the gov’t) in the name of making fathers unable to defend their families is as failed an argument as any. Hence why Mr. Mills suggesting that a police officer coming to disarm Jim is good vocation whereas Jim defending is family is bad vocation is simply wrong. It would be akin to a soldier in Herods army or in Hitler’s army claiming their duty of vocation overrides common sense or God’s Law or welfare of their neighbor or any combination of such.
    Mr. Mills mistakes Luther and Jim greatly in assuming the argument is about protecting oneself. It is not a matter of princes vs. popes or state rulers vs. national rulers. It is about our neighbor, of which our family is our first and closest neighbor and greatest gift from God. As Jim has stated it is not wrong to defend them. To suggest a man is a noble martyr who allows his family to be defenseless and possibly subject to further harm or even death at the hands of a secular, godless leader is what is “whack”. Luther did indeed say they may take our goods, fame, child, and wife, but he didn’t say it was something we should roll over for and let them do at will. No, in fact Luther is strongly on Jim’s side: Referencing Luke 22:36 Luther says, “No Christian shall wield or invoke the sword for himself and for his cause; but for another he can and ought to wield and invoke it, so that wickedness may be hindered and godliness defended.” Sounds exactly like what Jim is suggesting.

  5. To Matthew’s point about the Apostles dying for the faith: there is a difference between a martyr’s death and dying while participating in sin. It’s a great thing for a man to die rather than deny the Son. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Rather the question is : should a Christian participate in sin because he is commanded to or should he resist? In my view, it’s the latter. I believe that a father and husband who allows a tyrannical government to relieve him of the tools that he needs to fulfill his vocation of family head rather than resist is sinning. More than that, simply because a law is duly passed doesn’t mean it is a law that a Christian can obey. If the gov’t passed a law that I couldn’t go to church anymore because of the “hate speech ” that is preached, of course I would resist that law.

  6. @Matthew Mills #3

    Mr. Mills,

    Your ad hominem aside, I think that you have a faulty understanding of the political power of the Roman Church at Luther’s time and most certainly, in view of Luther’s explanation of the 4th commandment, he has more in mind than a “purely theological” tyranny. And, as you point out, he does in fact lend approval to the “actions of the Smalcaldic League.” Finally, you are missing the point over Romans 13:1. Or do you think that Christians were obligated to bend the knee in worship of the Emperor? If they didn’t worship the emperor, then they were in open rebellion against his authority which was punishable by death. There in is something for you to ponder.

  7. @Rev. McCall #4
    My undergrad degree is in Reformation History, fight honestly Pastor. Your quote is out of context and you know it. Luther wrote those words describing the vocation of soldier, not the murder of policemen to prevent the government confiscation of his property. It is also clearly absurd to compare the hypothetical confiscation of personal property (mammon?) by the order of all three branches of our Constitutional republic with the murder of children.

    @Jim Hamilton #5
    So all the Christian Martyers pre-Constantine were single? Really? Or did I miss “St. Charles of Branson” who went down in a blaze of glory fighting the Roman soldiers to save his family?

    Lutherans usually don’t go w/ revisionist history. We generally call a thing by its proper name.

  8. @Jim Pierce #6
    To compare the confiscation of a piece of personal property w/ the order to worship a human being is preposterous. God does not command me to keep my Browning at all costs, or you would be right. I fear, the only worship going on here, is your worship of guns and personal liberty.

    (which ad hominem?)

  9. @Rev. McCall #7
    It was Charles V who kept the Pope from granting Henry VIIIs divorce, and therby creating the English Reformation. Charles V sacked Rome. The Pope was a player on the world stage, but he did not rule or reign north of the Alps in the 16th century.
    His “tyranny” was theological.

  10. @Matthew Mills #8
    It is dishonest to suggest the authority of the papacy was merely theological. Yes or no?
    How could a purely theological entity place a death sentence on Luther’s head?

    Luther is not talking to just soldiers nor is Christ. You have no Scriptural or Confessional basis to say that one may not wield the sword in defense of ones neighbor. Luther again: “In this way all the saints wielded the sword from the beginning of the world: Adam and his descendents; Abraham when he rescued Lot, his brothers son, and smote the four kings…and so on.” Did I miss something? Was Abraham a soldier or a king or some other form of gov’t? Or merely a God fearing man defending his neighbor?

    Does three branches of gov’t somehow make it more legit as opposed to simply a king’s edict? The point is, that if a gov’t of any kind makes a law that harms our neighbor it is cowardice and wrong to enforce it and then hide behind the excuse of “Well I was simply carrying out my vocation.”

  11. @Matthew Mills #10
    Did Charles need the Pope’s blessing to become Emperor or not? That was merely a theological matter though right? How can the pope be a player on the world stage without any secular power? Does the pope have armed soldiers and guards? Is that merely theological stuff? If he uses his influence to shape secular events and control people through secular means and rulers that sounds tyrannical to me. The only reason the Pope had any theolgical tyranny was because he also had the secular power and tyranny to back it up and enforce it. Otherwise he would have just been a talking head that no one would have listened to.

  12. @Matthew Mills #8
    You seem to mistake personal insults for effective argumentation. That’s fine. However, you’re not going to convince me that a Christian father and husband is required to participate in the gov’t oppression of his family. I’m required to obey the law so long as it doesn’t command me to sin. In my view, a father and husband who leaves his family in peril because the “law ” orders him to is failing in his vocation and thus sinning.

  13. @Rev. McCall #11
    Dear Pastor,
    Luther’s excommunication was from the Pope, his death sentence was from the Emperor Charles V. That’s just history.

    Your quoted sentence fragment follows this: “In this way, I take it, the word of Christ is reconciled with the passages which establish the sword, so that this is the meaning: …” Your passage is about secular government use of the sword. If there is a Lutheran basis for a private person weilding the sword, you haven’t produced it yet.

    You might want to re-read “That Soldiers too Can be Saved.”

  14. @Jim Hamilton #13
    Which insults Mr. Hamilton? And which command of God are you breaking when you follow God’s direct command to obey the governing authorities by (hypothetically) turning over a piece of metal and wood? I don’t see a direct command of God that you would be breaking.
    It really is a very unlikely scenario, so this might not be “worth the candle.”

  15. The sacking of Rome by Charles occurred in 1527, seven years after Luther was excommunicated and had a death sentence placed on him. After the sacking of Rome, Clement VII agreed to give Charles V the political powers of the bishopric of Ultrecht. This doesn’t mean that the Roman Church ceased all exercise of political power in the world, though.(source).

  16. @Rev. McCall #12
    I’m not saying Clement VII wasn’t a pretty big dude in international politics Pastor, but Charles V’s boys sacked and burned Rome on 6 May 1527, and the Pope steared clear of messing w/ the Holy Roman Emperor for the rest of his life.

    If you’d like I’ll pull Secular Authority off my shelf and give it a read, but Luther had numerous offers from numerous power-brokers to attack the Pope and Emperor, and he never took them. He did not preach personal violence against tyranny period. He didn’t fight back, he hid. He was ready to die for the Gospel, but he was not ready to kill for either the Gospel, or his life.

    I can’t find where I said “the Bull was toothless” (?!), What I said was the Pope Excommunicated Luther, and the Emperor sentenced him to death. That’s just what happened.

  17. @Jim Pierce #16
    I said the Pope “did not rule or reign north of the Alps in the 16th century” and he didn’t.
    (I can’t find where I said “Roman Church ceased all exercise of political power in the world,” but if I did I was wrong.)

  18. @Matthew Mills #19

    Mr. Mills,

    Technically the Pope didn’t “rule or reign” as a sovereign anywhere in the 16th century (except perhaps the Vatican). However, that doesn’t mean that the Pope didn’t wield the powers of Kings during the 16th century as the rise of the Papal States during the 16th century attests to. The “warrior pope” (Julius II) earned that moniker for good reason.

  19. @Jim Pierce #20
    I never said “the Pope didn’t wield the powers of Kings during the 16th century.” You’re the only one who wrote that. (With whom are you arguing?) Politically, Luther was under the Elector of Saxony, who was under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. (Who in-turn was voted into office by the Imperial Electors.) Honestly, you aren’t going to teach me Early Modern Eoropean history out of Wikipedia.

    Luther did say plainly that God “does not wish to have in this office and government knaves and tyrants…”. Although you didn’t score a quote, he also said something to the effect that God raises up powers, and removes them through earthly means. But what you will not find is Luther suggesting that individual Christians are to be the effective force removing tyrants from office, because that he never said. (The only “earthly means” I ever recall him discussing was “the Turk” which hardly helps your point.)

    We don’t need to believe everthing Luther ever said, but for Luther, rebellion is the sin of Satan, and rebels should be killed like rabid dogs. Again, this might not matter to you, but Luther agrees with me. The point that does matter, is that St. Paul also agrees with me.

    Again, my challenge is to let me know when we have a more tyrannical government than Tiberius Caesar’s Italian Army of Occupation, because Paul is crystal clear that the tyranny of Tiberius was an insufficient motive for revolution. How does stealing my property compare to Tiberius’ act?

    I can also find cases of Emperors Vespasian and Titus disarming Hebrews in Josephus’ “The Jewish Wars,” and again, the Christian response in 70 AD wasn’t rebellion to save their swords, but fleeing. (Good choice btw.)

  20. @Matthew Mills #15
    I’ve already answered this, Matthew. When only the government and criminals have weapons, my family is vulnerable. I intend to protect the precious people God has entrusted me with. I’m not going to help them come to harm. I don’t believe God requires me to help those who would harm them.

  21. @Jim Hamilton #22
    I really don’t think you answered my question Jim (where does God in Holy Scriptures order you to keep a gun at all costs?) but fine. So hide a gun, or move to a different country. Don’t shoot cops, that isn’t going to help anyone’s family.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  22. @Matthew Mills #18
    You seemed to be implying by your sentence that the pope had only theological tyranny at the time of Luther. (“His “tyranny” was theological.”) I think you are trying to backpeddle a little on that statement now, but whatever. If I can make a papal bull and know and/or influence the secular authorities to enforce it with the sword that certainly sounds as though that tyranny is not limited to just theology. This secular/religious tandem worked well together from the 15th century through the 18th century during the duration of the Spanish Inquisition also. FWIW I believe the pope is also the only person to this day who continues to hold the titles of both Head of Church and Head of State. The Roman Catholic Church and the pope have always wielded tyranny in both the theological and secular realm whenever possible.

    Blessed Advent and Christmas
    Pr. McCall

  23. @Matthew Mills #23
    God’s Word doesn’t specifically say a lot of things. Your repeated suggestion that I advocate “shooting cops” is really irresponsible. I advocate no such thing as I’ve stated many times. I’ve said only this : my first and greatest responsibility is to care for and protect my family. I will not participate in activities that endanger them simply because the government orders me to. I don’t believe God requires me to do that. Snarky putdowns have not carried the day for you, sir.

  24. @Jim Hamilton #25
    I’m very sorry. I interpreted your “There’s no way in hell the gov’t is taking my guns. You can give up your’s if you want but don’t try to tell me to. I have a constitutional right to bear them and the gov’t cannot lawfully seize them. I have no wish to cause any trouble but I will defend what is mine.” as though you were advocating the use of violence in defense of your guns. I am glad to hear that was not your intent, and again, I am sincerely sorry for misinterpreting you. (I’m ok w/ PVC pipe in the backyard et cetera.)

    @Rev. McCall #24
    Jim referred to Luther’s use of the “Pope’s Tyranny” in the Preface to the SC (q.v.), where it is certainly theological. Again, in this context (guns etc.) the point I’m trying to make is that Luther never advocated, and always strenuously opposed, individual Christians taking up arms to remove tyrants from office. Luther made it clear that the Holy Spirit destroyed the Pope’s tyranny while he and his home-boys were drinking beer.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

    Now, I’m not going to claim to be an enemy of sarcasm, but “snarky putdowns?”

  25. @Matthew Mills #26
    Matthew, with God’s help, I’m going to be the best husband and father I can be. If the gov’t seeks to hurt them, I will defend them to the best of my ability. I’m not ashamed of that position at all. I want to live a quiet life. If the evil of this fallen world makes that impossible, then I’ll do my best to care for my family. I don’t believe allowing the government to disarm the country is safe or right and I won’t help. If an agent of the government tries to take away my guns, then I would have to resist that. I’m sorry you can’t debate without insulting people and intentionally mischaracterizing their views.

  26. @Jim Hamilton #27
    No really:
    It was not intentional misrepresentation, but as you tell me that you were not advocating the use of violence in defense of your guns, I believe you, and am sincerely sorry for misinterpreting you. (Really)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  27. I agree. Words are so vital. President Obama’s deliberately vague portion of his speech is another symptom of our society’s tendency to think it’s OK for each individual to ascribe their own personal meaning to the same set of words. Personally I hope and pray that part of this conversation turns away from gun control and to how we care for people with mental health challenges in our society and in our churches. We need to learn how to best minister to our congregants and their families who struggle with mental illness or other psychological challenges. At least we can still see how interconnected we are during this tragedy – the Body of Christ still feels the pain of one of it’s members. Prayers going to those impacted and for Pastor Morris, who lost a parishioner in this tragedy and is ministering to this relatively new family to their LCMS church in Newtown. He and they deserve our continued support and prayers in a very active sense.

  28. @Matthew Mills #21

    @Matthew Mills #26

    Mr. Mills,

    You are engaged in rhetorical games. You have most certainly given the impression that the Pope had no secular authority through the totality of the 16th century, north of the Alps. I have now provided you with two examples from history demonstrating that is incorrect.

    Furthermore, and as you know, Luther writes in the LC that God “does not wish to have in this office and government knaves and tyrants…”. Plainly the LC is telling us that this isn’t merely a “theological tyranny,” as you wrongly assert. The LC includes the estate of government, not just church government, but all governments.

    Finally, the point I have been making is that your assertions over rebellion aren’t cut and dry, as you would like to think. You are woodenly interpreting Romans 13:1, as I pointed out earlier with my example of the Christian martyrs. There is obviously a time where we Christians must rebel against a government and that is when the government asks us to do something contrary to God’s Holy Word. It is better to obey God and conscience, than it is to obey men.

    As a side note, and for the sake of clarity, I haven’t commented on the second amendment and how a Christian should react, should the government seek to take away their constitutional rights. Indeed, if we can’t agree that “rebellion” against the dictates of government is at times necessary (e.g. worship Cesar), then I think there is no sense in discussing the topic any deeper.

  29. Interesting to me is Roman 12:21, preceding the chapter relating to submission to authorities.

    “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The proper prescription. If I reflect the actions of evil men, I do not reflect Christ and have become one of them. I cannot do good to one I have just killed.

    Followed by Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God.” Sounds pretty inclusive to me. Continuing, “…whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed.”

    Should Isaac have rebelled against “murderous” Abraham? Why was Peter chastised for taking up the sword against the soldiers who arrested Jesus? Shouldn’t Christ have rebelled against Pilate’s unjust sentence? Isn’t that what the world wants us to believe, that Jesus was just another zealot? Why did the one with all authority submit to earthly authority? Because it was his father’s will that he do so. If it was right for Christ, is it not also right for me? This also seems quite plain.

    God does not sanction rebellion against his order. I believe this is called sin.

    My job as husband and father is to provide for the daily needs of my family, and to be sure that my wife and children have faith in their savior. That is my position of authority. After all, my true desire is that they spend eternity with Christ, even if they enter his presence before I do. If this is truly the case, I have no need to fear the actions of any authorities, even if they seek to do us phyical harm – rightly or wrongly.

    Concerning those evil men who may attack us and are NOT in positions of God-given authority, our government has granted to the individual a legal extension of its authority. It is called self-defense.

  30. @Rich #32

    What if the gov’t instituted a one child only policy and required my wife to get an abortion? Should I comply with that law or try to save my child? No matter what law the gov’t passes, a Christian is required to obey? That doesn’t make any sense. I certainly hope that’s not what you’re saying. Nobody disagrees that a Christian should follow the law, unless the law commands him to sin. A law that requires a Christian father and husband to endanger or allow the death of his family is not one that I would obey, nor do I think God requires me to. I worship God, not the secular government (even tough I’m well aware that God has instituted the secular gov’t). When the secular gov’t requires me to behave in ways that are contrary to God’s Word and my vocation of father and husband, there’s just no way in hell that I’m going to go along with that.

  31. @Jim Pierce #31
    Mr. Pierce,

    I’m sorry I don’t have an endless stock of time, because this is a good discussion on a timely subject, but I’ll give this one more shot for now. The big error in your statement: “There is obviously a time where we Christians must rebel against a government and that is when the government asks us to do something contrary to God’s Holy Word. It is better to obey God and conscience, than it is to obey men.” is the word “rebel.” There is no Scriptural or Confessional command to “rebel” against the left-hand kingdom (nor is there an Apostolic, post-Apostolic, or Reformation-era, model of faithful Christian “rebellion”) if by “rebel” you mean violent action against the kingdom of the left by individual Christians. (If by “rebel” you mean refuse to obey, and take the consequences, then I am in complete agreement with you.)

    We do have a lot of positive examples in the Scriptures, the writings of the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Fathers, and the history of the Reformation of what it looks like to live out Acts 5:29 in our fallen and broken world. The Apostles, martyrs and Reformers did not “rebel” and we cannot faithfully “rebel.” Christians are called to do something hard. We can’t worship Caesar, so we boldly make our confession, and we leave the results to God. Historically this means that Christians have been robbed of their possessions and rights, they have gone to prison or exile, and they have been tortured and killed.

    For the whole question of the Pope’s secular authority to be germane to this discussion you need to show me where Luther authorized individual Christians to take up arms against tyranny. So, what have you got? Here’s what I see: there is nothing even slightly nuanced about Luther’s position on violent rebellion against secular rulers. Rebels should be killed like rabid dogs, and anyone who kills a rebel does a good work for God. Luther did not grudgingly approve the Smalcaldic league as a “rebellion” against the Emperor Charles V; he grudgingly approved the Smalcaldic league because the princes convinced him that the Imperial Constitution permitted them, as legitimate princes in their own right, to defend their own territories and citizens with the sword without thereby becoming “rebels.” (Let’s also not forget that they got their butts handed to them at Muhlberg, and that the wars of the Smalcaldic League didn’t exactly help the Lutheran Reformation.)

    I’m glad you haven’t directly commented about how this links up w/ our second amendment, but that is where this whole thing started. Dying or going to jail for my guns would be dying or going to jail for mammon. I believe it would be foolish for the US to repeal the second amendment, but I don’t see any way to make the defense of my very cool possessions into an Acts 5:29 issue.

    Back to my real job,
    -Matt Mills

    @Jim Hamilton #33
    What if the gov’t instituted a one child only policy and required my wife to get an abortion?

    Move somewhere else?

  32. Blog post can be educational in observing the types of arguments (many fallacious) which occur.

    In Page 1, Post #39, Matthew Mills wrote in response to Jim Hamilton: “It’s a very unlikely scenario, but are you really saying that you would kill policemen or military personnel sent to collect your guns were the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government give, sign and approve a version of gun control that led to that?”

    This is the “Hypothesis Contrary to Fact” fallacy (or the “What if” fallacy) put into a rhetorical question of the form:

    “If a highly improbable event A occurs, then action B will follow. Is this not true?”

    What Matthew had asked Jim is: Although it is a very unlikely scenario, if the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government give, sign and approve a version of gun control that led to policemen or military personnel sent to collect your guns, you would kill them. Is that what you are really saying?

    Previously Jim stated his position that repealing the 2nd Amendment is “so completely ridiculous that it truly is not worth even mentioning” and “all hot air anyway,” and Matthew concurred. Yet Jim was asked to accept such an improbable scenario as actually happening and then asked whether he would carry out the action of killing policemen or military personnel, even though he had not mentioned carrying out such action in his previous posts.

    Furthermore, even if the improbable event of attempted gun confiscation by armed government agents on law-abiding citizens were to occur, it would be so drastic and would be associated with or part of many other significant, extreme events in this country, it would make the premise that only event A occurs and everything else remains the same even more improbable, if not simply ludicrous.

    These kinds of questions are often raised in political debates, as when Bernard Shaw asked the Democratic candidate, Gov. Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 Presidential Debate: “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”

  33. @Carl Vehse #35
    “Carl, Carl, Carl,”

    I asked Jim to accept the improbable scenario of gun confiscation based on his own statement: “There’s no way in creation that the government is taking away my guns. I will never give up the ability to defend my wife and daughter. Out of my cold dead hands.”

    If he wasn’t writing about “attempted gun confiscation by armed government agents on law-abiding citizens” then how are his hands going to get “cold” and “dead?”

  34. @Matthew Mills #34

    “What if the gov’t instituted a one child only policy and required my wife to get an abortion?
    Move somewhere else?”

    That would certainly to be a good solution, if possible. You seem to be assuming that my response to everything is to resort to violence. I never said that. The last thing I want is to hurt anyone. I said, I would refuse to comply and try to save my child. I also said that I do not believe God would expect me to comply with such a law. If I could escape the country to a better place, wonderful. If I were trapped in the country, I would resist the law in everyway possible to save my child. Regardless, I would refuse to comply with a law that commanded me to hurt or kill my family. I assume you would as well. Please stop suggesting that I’m a lunatic who is just aching for a chance to shoot someone. I sincerely pray that I never have occasion to fire a weapon in defense of my family.

  35. @Matthew Mills #36 : “If he wasn’t writing about “attempted gun confiscation by armed government agents on law-abiding citizens” then how are his hands going to get “cold” and “dead?”

    Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, one could simply have asked Jim what he meant.

  36. @Jim Hamilton #37
    I don’t think you’re a lunatic who is just aching for a chance to shoot someone. I believe you’re got a blind spot in one small area, and I was just trying to show you that blind spot. I’m not without them myself, so I’m happy to let this fade away, and go back to looking for mine.

    You are absolutely right, I’d certainly never obey a law requiring me to kill my unborn child.

    “Carl” is right about the highly hypothetical nature of this whole discussion, and from my perspective our national house is in greater danger of falling apart from rot than burning up in a fire. Our TVs are a greater threat to our families than anything the government is likely to throw at us.

    Merry Christmas+,
    -Matt Mills

  37. @Jim Hamilton #33

    Certainly we are not commanded to sin in order to comply with earthly authority. The authority that commands one to sin has abrogated its God-given sanction. But in the absence of such sin, it is my Christian responsibility to submit, even if it is something I prefer not to do.

  38. Matthew Mills :
    @Jim Pierce #31
    Mr. Pierce,
    I’m sorry I don’t have an endless stock of time, because this is a good discussion on a timely subject, but I’ll give this one more shot for now. The big error in your statement: “There is obviously a time where we Christians must rebel against a government and that is when the government asks us to do something contrary to God’s Holy Word. It is better to obey God and conscience, than it is to obey men.” is the word “rebel.” There is no Scriptural or Confessional command to “rebel” against the left-hand kingdom (nor is there an Apostolic, post-Apostolic, or Reformation-era, model of faithful Christian “rebellion”) if by “rebel” you mean violent action against the kingdom of the left by individual Christians. (If by “rebel” you mean refuse to obey, and take the consequences, then I am in complete agreement with you.)

    Mr. Mills,

    I do believe that you have answered your own argument as to why I did not make an error in my statement. Yes, thus far I have meant with “rebel” to refuse to obey. Although, we need not put rebel in quotes (I realize my use of quotes around the word, too.), since to disobey the governing authorities for any reason is in fact to defy that authority which is rebellion, violent or not.

    Like you, I don’t have the time to go any further. Although, I am sure the conversation could be a good one.

  39. Matthew Mills :
    “Carl” is right about the highly hypothetical nature of this whole discussion

    I’m not convinced it’s preposterous, though. I wonder if the people of Germany in the 1920s and ’30s thought it was a silly conspiracy theory to imagine the havoc Hitler might wreak…

  40. @Pastor Ted Crandall #44
    If nothing else, fixating on possibilities of government take-overs etc. takes our focus off of the real present damage being done through cultural channels today. Again, our TVs are a greater threat to our families than anything the government is likely to throw at us. American consumerism is the biggest and best funded idol factory that has ever been (ask me about my new bike!) We’re the “slowly boiling frog.”

    Keep Christ in Advent+,
    -Matt Mills

  41. @Matthew Mills #45
    I completely agree with you, but I’m sure you realize I was not advocating for a fixation on either real danger, just an awareness of the threat from both the clear and present one and the one that could very well be using the Connecticut shooting to further its agenda.

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