One of the few bright moments at the AGCA show this past weekend was the chance to meet Greg Hopkins, author of A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism.
As the Amazon blurb explains:
This book is about decisions. Not the everyday kind such as "What should I wear today?" or "Where shall we eat tonight?" but decisions that deal with life, death, and protecting the innocent. Self defense is not only about individual survival; self defense can also decide the fate of a nation and all its citizens. "A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism" answers questions such as: Do federal, state, and local laws allow citizens to defend themselves against criminal attack? What means are available for self defense? What strategies should one use to avoid potential conflict. Can Christians defend themselves against Islamic extremists? Is pacifism in the Bible? Do the Gospels say Jesus was a pacifist? What if God commands us to use deadly force to defend the innocent? How do Jesus and the New Testament writers feel about the military? What does the Bible say about the death penalty? Can Christians sit on juries and vote for the death penalty? Can Jesus' teachings help soldiers with combat-induced PTSD? Does the Bible have a consistent message about self-defense from the Old Testament to the New?”
After picking up a copy from Greg and retreating to my table, I began to read. (Here is Greg's Facebook page.) The Preface alone contains nuggets such as these:
Since God shows us the difference between good and evil, between life and death, we can make decisions in a godly manner. So why are so many Christians unsure about self defense? There has always been a vague notion of pacifism in Christianity, centered on what I believe to be a misconception of Jesus' words and actions. Sincere, well-intentioned, loving Christians take that misconception and the Bible's clear commands to take care of and show kindness to others and convince themselves that they cannot justifiably take a life under any circumstances. Taking the Bible's admonitions to preserve innocent life and some of Jesus' statements, they extrapolate that to an aversion to take the life of the guilty as well. Their intentions are noble and they mean well, but their understanding of Scripture on the subject is lacking, and the results can be tragic. Despite their intent to hold life precious, their stance amounts to a refusal protect innocent life. . . Despite the good intentions of many, pacifism kills. -- Preface, page xiii.
Hopkins continues, "It is all about stewardship."
Whether we are concealed-carry permit holders, police or soldiers, we have accepted the same obligation as shepherds: to protect, preserve, grow, and defend the good in this world. A shepherd is a kind of steward. Steward is an Old English/Scottish term for one who stands responsible to care for the belongings and/or family of another. Placed in a Biblical context, stewardship is responsible caretaking based on the idea that I own nothing -- I just manage it for God. -- Preface, page xv.
Hopkins further expounds in clear, concise prose on the concept of Christian stewardship:
So stewardship is the basis for self-defense. The steward's job is to be conscious of a duty to preserve and increase what is good and what is God's. As a husband and father, it is clearly my duty to first preserve my life so I am available to my family as long as possible, and then to love and nurture my wife and children and preserve their lives. If necessary, it means I will give up my life to save theirs. Not only that, but the longer I am here, the more good I can do and the more people I can introduce to Jesus. -- Preface, page xvi.
I have been recuperating since the show and have not had time to do more than skim the contents presented after the Preface and Introduction, but I highly recommend this volume to all who would like to understand and, more importantly, pass along to others, the Biblical basis of armed self-defense.