Michael Leon, writing in Veterans Today, pulls together an interesting read on the latest obtrusion from the extreme-right Dominionist movement, “Christian Reconstuctionism.” Dominionists have been working to replace secular government and society with a government and society defined by their rigid understanding of Biblical law. Now we have the “Christian Reconstuctionists,” adding their flavor to that roiling, boiling, Tea Party soup.
Herb Titus, a lawyer for the far-right Gun Owners of America, is jubilant over last week’s Supreme Court decision in the case McDonald v. City of Chicago, finding that state and local regulation of gun ownership must comport with the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The decision has also pleased the National Rifle Association, which sees it as ammunition for challenging gun control laws across the country. But for Titus, who thinks the NRA “compromises” on gun rights, the Second Amendment isn’t solely about “firepower,” he says. “You have to see it in its spiritual and providential perspective.”
The militia movement and Christian Reconstructionism both contend that our current civil government, most especially the federal government, is illegitimate: that it has overreached the limits of its divinely ordained authority, and that it continues to do so. At this intersection of the religious right and the militia movement, gun ownership is portrayed as a religious issue. “When we’re talking about firearms,” GOA executive director Larry Pratt told RD, “we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.”
The view that gun ownership is a Christian duty, rooted in the overlap between Reconstructionism and the survivalist/militia movement, has become common in both. In his “Bring Your Pieces to Church” Sunday event, Reconstructionist Joel McDurmon makes this point, suggesting that believers should organize target practice after church:
Christians should be aware that the use of force in preservation of life is a biblical doctrine (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. John 15:13–14). Likewise, those who possessed weapons in Scripture are often said to be well skilled in the use of them (Judg. 20:15–16; 1 Chron. 12:1–2, 21–22). We can only surmise that 1) God gave them talent in this regard, and that 2) they engaged in target practice regularly. Further, under biblical law, to be disarmed was to be enslaved and led to a disruption of the economic order due to government regulations and monopolies (1 Sam 13:19–22).
So what is a sensible sort of Christian to make of all this? Is this another reason to hide one’s Christian identity, for fear that it will brand you as a similar whack-a-nut? In the words of former football coach-turned entertainer Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!”
A sensible Christian alternative to all this American Neo-Calvinism shows up quite a few places in that part of the Bible we tend to call “The New Testament,” the part of the Bible that speaks to living under the New Covenant made by Jesus through his life, death and resurrection.
This New Covenant doesn’t say a whole lot about taking over the government in order to apply ancient Jewish law codes. It does speak quite a bit about how one lives in the awareness that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” The books and letters written under the New Covenant also describe a life where those ancient Levitical codes are re-interpreted by the codes of daily life set forth by Jesus in the gospels. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)
And then there is this: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13:34-35)
Lutheran theology recognizes that throughout the 66 books that make up the canonical Protestant Bible, there exists a “canon within the canon.”
This little canon contains the essential message of God’s gracious love as revealed in the Crucified and Risen Christ. This is the canon that sets the benchmark by which all other scripture is measured. It says absolutely nothing about the value of target practice immediately after church.