Packing Heat?

In Harm’s Way

Pastor Danny Kirk, Sr., and family.

This week another pastor died. But he didn’t die from a heart attack, cancer, or just plain old age. He didn’t even die in an accident on some busy highway. No, Danny Kirk was beaten to death with an electric guitar in the sanctuary of the church he founded 18 years ago. (Click here for the full story)

Of course, this wasn’t the first pastor to die at the hands of an assailant. This wasn’t the first to die in a church building, either. No, there have been others. They have been shot, beaten, and stabbed. One was even found naked and spread-eagle in front of the altar, mutilated.

I’ve Seen It

When I was only in second grade (1973) my dad, a pastor, was threatened by those who wanted to physically remove him from the pulpit. They were stopped by a Marine who had just returned from Vietnam.

One time a man threatened to come shoot my dad at church. He had already shot at our house. Fortunately, some other men of the church found out. They stood around the church, armed with pistols under their coats. He came…and he left.

But it seems like attacks on ministers are becoming more frequent here in America. In other countries Christians are regularly mistreated, assaulted, and even killed. But here in this country, it is pastors that are being targeted. Why that is happening is up for debate. The question I am posing is whether or not a pastor should carry a weapon.

False Expectations

For the longest time people have thought that preachers, pastors, ministers, priests, etc., should be mild and mannerly…peaceful and placid…always turning the other cheek. Somehow, because of the Romantic perception of a wimpy, mamma’s boy of a Jesus, people think that His servants should be softies. They forget it was Jesus who vacated the temple with a whip (not something your average 90 lb. girly-man would do).

And when it comes to being attacked, there is this notion among many that the Christian, especially the minister, should not try to defend himself, just “turn the other cheek.” They think that true faith dictates we lower our hands and let God fight our battles for us.

I actually heard a man defend passivity to the extreme. When asked what he would do if a criminal attacked his wife or children, he said, “If it is God’s will they die, then I am not going to stand in His way. His will be done.” I wanted to beat the guy myself! What kind of insanity is that? To stand and watch your family be molested because you think it is wrong to defend yourself?

God-Given Sense

Friends, God gave us brains. He also gives the believer the Holy Spirit. If you have both, then it should be pretty simple to discern that a man (or woman) has a responsibility to defend his loved ones, as well as himself. Even Jesus understood that there are times when we need to protect what is in our care. He said, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Luke 11:21 NKJV). How much more should we guard our own lives?

And what about the idea of being a good shepherd? What kind of shepherd would have allowed wolves, bears, and lions to come and carry away his sheep? What did David do to the bear and lion (1 Samuel 17:36)? Was it not his duty to protect his sheep?

What if a gunman entered the church? Where does Scripture say that the only option is to stand (or cower under a pew) and pray that he will see the error of his ways, lay down his AK-47, then take communion? What would David do?

My Thoughts

This is how I see it. God is my strong tower (Ps. 61:3) and my shield, my fortress in time of trouble (Ps. 144:2). He is also the One who led Nehemiah to set guards as the wall around Jerusalem was being rebuilt. As a pastor, I believe that God has called me to a “great work” from which “I cannot come down” (Neh. 6:3). Therefore, I will keep in mind the instruction Nehemiah gave those who labored…

“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. … Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” – Nehemiah 4:9, 13-14, 17-18 KJV

I see nothing wrong with a modern-day wall builder having a modern-day weapon “girded” to his side.

What would you do if attacked? Would you defend your loved ones?

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27 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized, wisdom

27 responses to “Packing Heat?

  1. Its real sad.
    I like what you have said. I believe we should be strong to defend ourselves. God bless you for writing it.

  2. Anonymous

    the county offers a class so pastor and other can carry in church if you need help find or training with a wepon let me know

  3. Beat him with a guitar? What a bizarre crime!

    Question: is this incident inside or outside of god’s will for the slain pastor?

    I’m not saying that a pastor carrying a weapon and defending himself couldn’t also be within god’s will, just that in this particular instance, the pastor in Texas wasn’t carrying a weapon.

    So was it not god’s will that he was beat to death with a guitar?

    • Predestination is topic, we need to discuss before we jump into it. Not everything that happens is God’s will.

      • That’s the first time I’ve heard a Christian say not everything that happens is God’s will! I am looking forward to that discussion.

        In the case of the slain pastor…what about Romans 8:28? Should his family find comfort in that?

      • Death is a fact, wether one finds comfort in that or not. Romans 8:28 is a painting a very large picture. It is not individual good which is being taught here, but that from all the suffering and hardships that Christians faced, especially in the time of persecution by the Romans, which fits the context of the letter; Paul is talking about salvation, and justification. Good does not mean here as in “is chocolate good” or ‘is malaria “bad”. Read the next two verses and you will see that Paul is talking about how God even uses which is not perfect, meaning us to conform to the image of his son. So in that way, it is good that God, despite our weaknesses, had a good plan for us. It is not goodness for us in everyday sense but goodness on part of God by which everything turned out to be spiritually good, is what is being discussed here. This is not a verse we can take out and apply everywhere. Sadly a lot of Christians do this too, I am not surprised which non-christian do that too. No verse can be taken out without its context and applied to normal life. Not everything that is written is for such a universal application. This creates the proof-texting problem and I hope to address this on my blog, sometime soon.

      • Thank you, John, for pointing out a common misinterpretation, or even better, a misapplication of that text. The part that says “for them who…” is the qualifier.

      • Well butter my head and call me a dinner roll! Someone who’s never heard of the Calvinism / Arminian debate!

        And with regards to Romans 8:28, absolutely. But you should talk to Elizabeth Elliot about that one.

      • I see, John, thanks for the explanation. I knew throwing Rom 8:28 out was cherry-picking and using a big paint brush but the reason I did so is that the verse itself (and not the surrounding verses) was really overused when I went to church. Even in multiple churches…it seemed to be the catch-all for the things that we can’t understand or at least things that are more difficult to understand.

        But in regards to the pastor killed with the guitar. I want to focus in on that for a moment. Christians believe the God reveals his nature to mankind through his word, no? Thus, we need to rationalize or explain this event in terms Christians can understand. Did God will that a crazy man kill an innocent man…indeed a man who probably brought a lot of comfort to his flock? If he didn’t will it, why did it happen? Could God, if he had decided to, intervene? Why didn’t he if he could? Perhaps he cannot intervene.

        I’ve yet to see a decent explanation for these questions. In fact, what these events do demonstrate very well is the unlikely existence of god. That is, things like hurricanes, floods, miscarriages, starving children, etc etc etc are precisely what we should expect if there is not god. At least not the god of the Bible.

        Sorry if I don’t consider the “Fall” and man’s “sinful nature” an acceptable explanation.

      • Okay so that basically brings us back to ideas like predestination and free will (which I don’t believe are compatible).

        If the God of the Bible is the supreme architect, designer, planner, executor, etc. of the universe, then he does, by definition, have knowledge of all things to come as well as all things that have come to pass, as you identified.

        So, as the designer, God preordained a portion of his Creation (a large portion in fact…a 2/3s majority) to end up in Hell. Or, if there is truly free will he understood at the time of Creation that about 2/3s of mankind would choose poorly and end up in Hell.

        You do agree that He knew this, no?

        And He did all this for the purpose of exacting love and praise from the 1/3 that will end up with Him in Heaven, praising him for millions of years thereafter?

        Do human have free will in Heaven? How are they not automatons in Heaven if they don’t? If they do, can they decide to reject God and then transfer to Hell?

        The point is, the plan sucks. If God loves his Creation like we read in the Bible, he must be a bumbling fool considering the system of salvation he wrought. Which, by the way, is a system designed to circumvent the system of condemnation he engineered in the first place.

        Forgive me if it all sounds ludicrous.

      • Your welcome Anthony, 🙂 hope all is good by you.

      • Well, I haven’t been shot at (today), and all musical instruments are put away. Aside from that, my faith is in Jesus and “my hope is built on nothing less” than His righteousness. As Horatio Spafford said, as he stood over the depths that had swallowed his daughters, “all is well with my soul.”

        Thanks for asking.

      • I’m glad to hear that…and wonderful reference from Spafford…cheers.

        If you find sometime, come over to my blog, could always use some good insights.

    • Well, God can reveal himself without his bible.

      Here is some food for thought though. The date is April 20th 1889, a boy dies, age 1 years. The parents pray but nothing happens, preacher says it is God’s will that he died. The parents can not understand and curse God for his cruelness and lack of empathy, why can’t he interfere and save their boy? May be he can’t, they finally decide and turn atheist.

      The boy’s name is Adolf Hitler.

      Would you still object, in the given scenario?

      • Of course not, knowing what we know now.

        But then I would have to reason that every person who dies young, or is miscarried, or is struck by a hurricane, was on a collision course with evil.

        Right?

      • No, this is one of the reasons we should not wildly speculate. I am not saying that everyone who dies was destined to be evil simply that it is one of the many factors to consider, why if God interferes or he doesn’t. Why the pastor died and God not interfered, we simply do not know the answer to all these questions.

        I wanted the example above to assert that if God would have interfered, everyone would call him evil, if he didn’t everyone calls him impotent or evil again.

        Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. in my opinion.

      • But how many other factors are there to consider for lack of intervention?

        While “we don’t know” is an easy way out or around these questions, I find it decidedly insufficient.

        For example, considering the level of suffering in the world, it is probably safe to assume that God chooses to NOT intervene more often than he chooses to, in fact, intervene. I doubt that he ever does and would love to review some evidence that would make me wrong, but I am not going to hold my breath.

        So we can conclude just a couple of things regarding these events, such as a pastor who dies by guitar beating:

        1) God had a purpose for this event. While it is not readily apparent, and it causes widespread suffering / sorrow for his congregation, God had SOME purpose. I’m not God so whatever “mysterious way” He works is on Him. We must also conclude, then, that every starving child, every murdered pastor, and every wrong in His creation has SOME purpose. We obviously don’t know (at least immediately) what these purposes are but we must agree that it fits into the overall picture of God’s plan / creation.

        2) God did not have a purpose for this event and this event contradicted God’s plan for both the pastor and the congregation. This raises bigger questions about the nature of God considering His inherent / necessary omnipotence, omniscience, etc. But, if it is the case that this event was not within the framework of God’s “plan,” we need a better explanation of what God’s plan actually IS and what does and does not fit within it.

      • The error in the perspective you are choosing is, that God definitely needs to have a plan of strict control on everything that happens. Why?

        Actually there is a much simpler answer. If the world, humanity is truly free to choose then evil is a plausible outcome. If God stops it, then humanity is truly, not free. If he doesn’t then everyone is responsible for their actions. And he remains sovereign, he knows what is going to happen but he will not interfere with choice, because that would make him a dictator. God does not want people to worship him out of duty, but out of heart and that can only happen if they are free to make their choices.

      • Sorry I clicked on the wrong “reply” button:

        Okay so that basically brings us back to ideas like predestination and free will (which I don’t believe are compatible).

        If the God of the Bible is the supreme architect, designer, planner, executor, etc. of the universe, then he does, by definition, have knowledge of all things to come as well as all things that have come to pass, as you identified.

        So, as the designer, God preordained a portion of his Creation (a large portion in fact…a 2/3s majority) to end up in Hell. Or, if there is truly free will he understood at the time of Creation that about 2/3s of mankind would choose poorly and end up in Hell.

        You do agree that He knew this, no?

        And He did all this for the purpose of exacting love and praise from the 1/3 that will end up with Him in Heaven, praising him for millions of years thereafter?

        Do human have free will in Heaven? How are they not automatons in Heaven if they don’t? If they do, can they decide to reject God and then transfer to Hell?

        The point is, the plan sucks. If God loves his Creation like we read in the Bible, he must be a bumbling fool considering the system of salvation he wrought. Which, by the way, is a system designed to circumvent the system of condemnation he engineered in the first place.

        Forgive me if it all sounds ludicrous

      • As I said earlier, damn if you do, damn if you don’t.

        If God gives free will, he is stupid, if he controls everyone, he is evil.

        let me ask you, have you stopped beating your wife yet?
        let me know what you find wrong with this question, and I will tell you what I find wrong with yours. 🙂

        Well to me, it makes sense, Andrew. The answer I gave you satisfies me inside.

      • It doesn’t make God stupid if he gives free will…it just begs the question as to why he designed a system so prone to failure!

        “let me ask you, have you stopped beating your wife yet?
        let me know what you find wrong with this question, and I will tell you what I find wrong with yours.”

        I am confused by this haha. Can you clarify?

        Also, I am really curious…do humans have free will in Heaven?

      • In answer to the “free will in heaven” question, I say yes. But the reason why they will not choose evil in the future has to do with at least two things: a changed nature and the promises of God. Beyond that, I don’t believe it’s worth getting into. I am not going to argue the deep things of God’s word with someone who is only looking for ways to argue against it. The most important answers you are looking for cannot be believed without faith. Until you believe Jesus is the Christ and put your trust in Him, Andrew, isn’t getting into deeper things a waste of time? I mean, any effort to discuss these things is moot to you. You don’t even believe there is a heaven, so why pursue an argument with no point other than to destroy a person’s faith? There is no empirical evidence for free will in heaven, only the promises of a God you make fun of. So, any answer would be pointless and a waste of even more time. I’m sorry, but that’s where this seems to be going.

        Anthony Psalm 57:2

        Sent from iPhone.

      • “I am not going to argue the deep things of God’s word with someone who is only looking for ways to argue against it.”

        So, you’re only going to discuss things with people who fundamentally agree with you already? That doesn’t seem like a very good position for a pastor to take.

        I’ve tried to have faith. It just didn’t work out. I always felt like I was just acting it out because inside, nothing felt different. I can’t just *make* myself believe, right?

        Anyway, I am just curious which is why I keep talking about these things. I am curious by nature. If it makes you mad, blame God for designing me in the womb that way!

        So with that said: what would a heaven with free will look like? I mean, what choices would a heavenly being be making from time to time? What way they’ll spend the “day” praising God that day? Is sin possible for a being in heaven or does the changed nature preclude the possibility of more sin? If Lucifer could sin, is it unreasonable that a spiritual human being could do the same? Or, are we only judged by the choices we make in this realm and not the next?

      • Andrew, if you are seriously “looking,” that’s one thing. But honestly, so many of your comments start out asking a question, to which you follow up with “then why, why, why?” It really reminds me of trying to get my kids to obey, but they keep stalling and stalling by asking, “but why?” No matter how many reasons I gave, they would just keep asking, “but why?” They really didn’t care if the reason was valid, because they had already predetermined they did not want to obey.

        I do believe there are days when you would argue with a person over the validity of his belief that dogs were better pets than cats.

        You are a smart guy, Andrew. In a way I guess I’m honored that you would choose my blog to wage philosophical war against. But with the wealth of information available to you from true Christian scholars, I find it hard to believe that you are really searching that hard for spiritual insight and truth. I mean, you said earlier something to the effect that John was the first Christian you ever heard that believed God didn’t “will” everything. Were you serious? Because if you were, then you’re telling me you have never read of the free will/irresistible grace debate, much less entered the debate. Why not? That debate has been around for centuries.

        I am not a scholar. I don’t even have a book published, much less an article in a peer-reviewed journal. What good is it, then, for you to come here and pose questions which have already been addressed by Oxford grads? If you were really intent on finding solid, biblical answers to the questions you use to try to stump us, then why don’t you go have lunch with Ravi Zacharias? Go have tea with Norman Giesler. Read the writings of Corrie ten Boom. Ask what motivated Elizabeth Elliot to win the ones who butchered her husband to Christ. Go look up Dr. Clay Jones, professor at Biola University. I’m sure he would happily converse with you. If this blog is the best you can do, then you haven’t looked.

      • I’ve studied a lot of those people. I find their explanations and arguments to be largely disingenuous. They’re all very good at arguing the existence of A god, which isn’t that hard to do. Trying to bridge the gap to the god of the Bible is something else entirely. And with Ravi: when he speaks he asserts an authority as if god himself has revealed his true nature to Ravi only and the rest of us should accept it. I find it disconcerting.

        Frankly, I just don’t think most Christians are being honest with themselves. I’m sure the majority of your congregation doesn’t ask most of these questions, do they? So they believe something that makes them feel good because it eases the pain of friends and family passing and it allows people to cope with their own eventual demise, the one great unifier.

        I also find it interesting that it requires the titans of the church to even begin to answer questions from me, an average lay person who is just curious. I’m no genius, I can just look at anything objectively and say, (squints) “now, wait a minute…”

        Don’t knock your own blog. It’s a good blog. It’s certainly less pretentious than many Christian blogs.

        And I may be searching. I don’t know. Maybe one of your church members, or you, or somebody else will answer one of my questions and it will be a light bulb moment. After all, I COULD be wrong. I don’t think I am but don’t have all the answers.

        Enjoy your weekend!

      • Enjoy your weekend, Andrew. I’d invite you to church, but you’d have to MAKE it a weekend.

        You know, the reason the people haven’t asked some of the questions you ask is because they believe the Bible. They consider it God’s word. They don’t sit around and ask if God could create a rock too big to pick up. They just go on with their lives, pain and all, knowing that this life is not all there is. They are mostly simple farm folk, factory workers, and retirees. And most have had a strong faith long before I came along. My job is to shepherd them. But when someone does ask a hard question from time to time, I am honest if I don’t know the answer. However, the questions you tend to ask aren’t usually a problem for those who trust God as Job did.

        I do apologize if I lost my patience. I’ll pray about that. And, of course, I will be praying for you.

  4. Interesting thought, and one I fear we will need to wrestle with more and more in the coming days.

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