Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Word for Tuesday, May 4

I thought I'd go early this week, for semester-end business with the evening job seems likely to consume that portion of Wednesday that the day job doesn't eat up. Wednesday looks to be pretty thoroughly subscribed this week.

I don't have a "weapons" passage to quote this week, having come to the end of the New Testament. So, rather than consider a specific passage, I believe I'll think out loud here, a little, on what I've read.

Why not, one might ask, start in on the Old Testament? For one thing, there's the magnitude of the task. There's a lot of Old Testament there. For another, I think I can reasonably well sum up the evidence to be found there: yes, there's tons and tons of swords and spears in the Old Testament. To read it is to wade a whole ocean of gore. And it seems to me that a fair summary of the interpersonal violence in the Old Testament is this: when God tells you to do it, it's the thing to do, and it works out well. And when He doesn't, it works out very badly indeed. So, if God sends an angel, or a vision, telling me to arm myself and slay, that's what I'll be doing. (Such a message will need to be highly explicit, and probably repeated a few times.) Otherwise, I think I'll pass.

In the meantime, He hasn't given me any specific, individual instruction. What I have instead are the believer's usual and customary decision-making tools: the inner witness of the Spirit; the testimony of scripture; the counsel of the godly; and reason, informed by and subsidiary to faith.

I think, too, that there are contextual questions to be answered. Clearly, I'm thinking of firearms here; while there are other weapons (and potent ones, too), I have no skill in their use ... and, truth to tell, no very advanced firearms skills, either. Assuming that one concludes that interpersonal violence without special divine direction is condemned by the scriptures, does this mean that firearms ownership is not permissible? Or are recreational shooting (range work) and hunting acceptable? Although I'm thinking of firearms, why should we not consider other weapons, and potential weapons, as well? (That could get tricky -- it's hard to run a kitchen without some large, sharp knives.) How about axes and shovels and baseball bats, all of which are horrendous close-quarters weapons, as well as being very handy for woodcutting and digging and playing ball.

I have yet to seek the counsel of the godly, in any systematic way. (Note that comments can be left here.) So that remains to be done. And then there's the Spirit, who will help me to pray as I should, and may perhaps give me the answer as well.

When I reach some conclusions, I'll no doubt blog about them here. Meanwhile, I'll "move on" in WFW posts in the near-term future. And click here for more Words for Wednesday.

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