Monday, May 04, 2009

Now pastors carrying machine guns?

Sam Childers working as a pastor in Sudan, saving and protecting the children from being murdered, raped, and tortured by the cultic LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) soldiers. In an interview with Christian Post, Sam was, expectantly, questioned about his method in doing mission work:

Q: It’s understandable that most Christians feel uncomfortable supporting violence. How do you explain the work of your ministry in terms of the many machine guns, ammo and other weapons employed by the staff? How do you explain a pastor toting a machine gun that is enthusiastic about killing LRA soldiers?

A: Well, I don’t condone violence at all. So that is one thing. I don’t believe in violence but at the same time I don’t believe that children should be raped, murdered, or cut up. I would have to ask the American people that you take a person that cuts up a child, or kill a child, or rape a child, if you catch a person doing that do you think that person would just stop if you just say stop? Or do you think you are going to have to fight that person? You would definitely need to fight that person or else they are going to kill you.

I look at it as a self-defense and I look at it as I’m helping God’s children. I’m not a person out to murder. It’s not that I like hurting anybody. But at the same time these people need to be stopped.

As far as a pastor with a gun, what would you call David? What would you call all the prophets in the Bible that were soldiers? A lot of people want to say that’s in the Old Testament. Well, if we are not supposed to go by the Old Testament then why do we keep reading it? And what did Jesus mean when he told his disciples when he sent them out that he doesn’t want them to take an extra coat, an extra traveler’s bag, but now I’m telling you to take an extra pair of sandals, and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. What was that all about?

Childers suggests that Luke 22.35-37 justifies the violent means as a necessary evil in his mission work. He is right that Jesus asked his disciples to arm themselves when the time for Jesus' arrest was near.

However Childers is wrong to stop there. If we read till the end of the same chapter, we find that Luke recorded the following:

When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. (Luke 22.49-51. Emphasis added)

We find a more explicit statement in Matthew's account:

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26.50-54)

I'm not saying that I have better ways to protect the Sudan children. I don't. But domesticating Jesus to justify a certain method is not exemplary and it's an evil theology. Hence it's not about Childers' military means that I have issue with, but how he justifies it.

Childers said that he view the violent means as 'self-defense'. Does he really think that Jesus didn't thought along that line when he was being arrested?

If Jesus didn't, he wouldn't had shouted, "No more of this!"


M SIBAT said...

This is an interesting post; it gives a lot to think about and yet ... I don't know how to put it ... but yet, ...

Sze Zeng said...

Hi M Sibat,

Understand your sentiment... I also "yet..but yet.."