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John Piper Slams Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Call for Students to Carry Guns: 'Our Weapons Are Not Material, But Spiritual'

( [email protected] ) Dec 23, 2015 01:51 PM EST
In a lengthy blog post shared on the desiringGod website, theologian John Piper issued a harsh condemnation of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s call for students to carry firearms following the San Bernardino, CA shootings.
Christian minister John Piper is seen in this photo shared publicly in 2012 by Desiring God. desiringGod.com

In a lengthy blog post shared on the desiringGod website, theologian John Piper issued a harsh condemnation of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s call for students to carry firearms following the San Bernardino, CA shootings.

Earlier this year, Falwell made headlines following an address to students in which he stated, "If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them." He encouraged students to enroll in the university's gratis certification course and said he was carrying a weapon "in my back pocket right now...Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here."

In his op-ed, Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, first clarified he had contacted Falwell, and that their disagreement was "between Christian brothers who are able to express appreciation for each other's ministries person to person."

However, he goes on to highlight the many reasons he disagrees with Falwell's view: "The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life," he writes. "Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, 'I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don't mess with me'? My answer is, No."

He offers nine considerations for his readers, each meticulously backed by Biblical references.

"When Paul says, 'The ruler does not bear the sword in vain' (Romans 13:4), he does not mean that Christians citizens should all carry swords so the enemy doesn't get any bright ideas," Piper writes, arguing that Christians should learn to accept unjust treatment without seeking revenge.

"If we teach our students that they should carry guns, and then challenge them, 'Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,' do we really think that when the opportunity to lay down their lives comes, they will do what Jim Elliott and his friends did in Ecuador, and refuse to fire their pistols at their killers, while the spears plunged through their chests?"

He continues, "I think I can say with complete confidence that the identification of Christian security with concealed weapons will cause no one to ask a reason for the hope that is in us. They will know perfectly well where our hope is. It's in our pocket."

Piper concludes by stating that his words are directed at Christians, whom the Bible calls "refugees and exiles" on earth.

"It's about the fact that our weapons are not material, but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:4). It is an argument that the overwhelming focus and thrust of the New Testament is that Christians are sent into the world - religious and non-religious - "as lambs in the midst of wolves" (Luke 10:3). And that exhorting the lambs to carry concealed weapons with which to shoot the wolves does not advance the counter-cultural, self-sacrificing, soul-saving cause of Christ."

Piper also weighed in on the Christian's' role in relation to the government in an earlier video message posted on the desiringGod website.

Dwelling on the passage,"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," Piper explained that God did not define the scope of things that belong to Caesar, or the scope of things that belong to God.

However, our submission to Caesar is shaped by the fact that God owns everything, Piper says, adding that we still do render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, we submit for the Lord's sake.

"Therefore, if I render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and he asks: 'Why are you doing this?' I will never say, 'Because you have final authority in my life.' I will never say, 'Because you are God.' I will always say, 'I am rendering allegiance to you, because I have an authority over you,'" the theologian adds.

We do not submit because any human authority claims us, he continues. "They don't. We do it for the Lord's sake. ... Paradoxically, our submission to Caesar is seditious as soon as Caesar claims to be God. We don't ever go beyond the rightful claims of Caesar under God. ... We always do it for Christ's sake, which turns our obedience to human authorities into worship to God."