In the next few entries I hope to provide rebuttal to the link below as written by Baptist, Dr. John Piper,
In his introduction Dr. Piper writes,
“My main concern in this article is with the appeal to students that stirs them up to have the mindset: Let’s all get guns and teach them a lesson if they come here. The concern is the forging of a disposition in Christians to use lethal force, not as policemen or soldiers, but as ordinary Christians in relation to harmful adversaries.
The issue is not primarily about when and if a Christian may ever use force in self-defense, or the defense of one’s family or friends. There are significant situational ambiguities in the answer to that question. The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life. 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.”
Dr. John Piper
First, in terms of the quote above, we should note that the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that the type of pacifism that Dr. Piper is advocating is forbidden by the 6th commandment. We will see WCF Larger Catechism, Questions 135-136 again as I pick apart Dr. Piper’s Anabaptist convictions.
Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent.
Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
Also we note the Heidleberg catechism
- 1. Gen 9:6; Lev 19:17, 18; Mt 5:21, 22; 26:52.
- 2. Prov 25:21, 22; Mt 18:35; Rom 12:19; Eph 4:26.
- 3. Mt 4:7; 26:52; Rom 13:11-14.
- 4. Gen 9:6; Ex 21:14; Rom 13:4.
The great Puritan commentator on the Bible, Thomas Ridgeley (1667-1734), in his commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism quotes the Catechism itself as I have above and then in his commentary on Sixth Commandment duties, Ridgeley says,
“We should use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others [because]…. man is the subject of the divine image…. We are also to defend those who are in imminent danger of death…. Moreover, in some instances, a person may kill another in his own defence, without being guilty of the breach of this commandment….”
Ridgeley goes on to comment that if we cannot disarm an enemy threatening our life, or flee from him, “we do not incur the least guilt, or break this commandment, if we take away his life to preserve our own; especially if we were not first in the quarrel, nor gave occasion to it by any injurious or unlawful practices.”
The Heidelberg Catechism insists that the keeping of the Sixth commandment means that I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself. It doesn’t take much to argue that we are living in times when not carrying a weapon on us for self defense and the protection of the judicially innocent most definitely constitutes a reckless endangering of ourselves and others.
Dr. Piper is just flat out in error when he offers that the New Testament (and why are we restricting ourselves to only the New Testament Dr. Piper?) does not encourage an attitude that says that, “I will honor God by esteeming the Sixth commandment and so protect my life and the life of the judicially innocent against harmful intent of people who intend to kill and maim with abandon.”
And, to be perfectly honest, we are doing future would be assassins a kindness by teaching present would be assassins a lesson when their intent is to go on Allah exalting killing sprees. Perhaps, it was the case that Dr. Falwell’s phraseology was a bit John Wayne but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it is a loving thing unto future would be assassins for present would be assassins to have Sixth commandment duties enforced against them by private individuals in harm’s way. There is no sin in using lethal force as a private citizen in defense of life. In point of fact, God is magnificently glorified by ordinary Christians using lethal force as consistent with the Sixth commandment and to the contrary when Dr. Piper’s, non Sixth commandment esteeming position is maintained, the reputation of God is sullied and His Glory is tarnished and diminished.