Self-Defense And The Christian -- By: Rodney J. Decker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 18:1 (Spring 2014)
Article: Self-Defense And The Christian
Author: Rodney J. Decker

Self-Defense And The Christian

Rodney J. Decker

Professor of Greek and New Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

An Explanation

For several years I have been becoming increasingly uneasy regarding the violence in our country that has been expressed in terroristic attacks in public settings, especially in schools and churches.1 The Virginia Tech shooting was the first specific situation that raised these questions in my mind, and it culminated with the theater shooting in Colorado the summer of 2012.2 I began to consider whether it was wise and prudent for Christians to prepare themselves for self-defense in terms of both training and equipment, for their own protection, yes, but also for the protection of family and those with and among whom they might minister and fellowship on a regular basis. The questions that arose were not the sort that are typically bandied about on the web, but rather were theological. Does a

Christian have the right to carry some means of lethal force and to use such to defend himself or others in the face of an attack?3

I was aware of little discussion at this very personal level. I was familiar with the theological/ethical questions at the national level—the questions revolving around just war versus pacifism—but little dealing with personal self-defense. Kevin Bauder’s essay4 following the Colorado shooting finally nudged me to decide that I must address these questions for myself. As a result, I began reading whatever I could find in print on the subject. The more I read, the more I realized that there was a wide spectrum of credibility in what has already been written. There was much that was sensational, belligerent, and poorly informed. There was also a substantial gap in credible biblical perspectives. As I continued to read the self-defense literature, I began to identify credible authorities (persons, organizations, books) on the legal and pragmatic issues involved,5 but found

nothing substantive of a theological nature.6 Although as I initially wrote this long introductory paragraph, I had not yet completed my study (indeed, it had hardly begun), I realized that this was far more complex a subject with far greater ramifications than I had ever suspected. The legal impli...

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