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This is a Really Bad Idea

June 4, 2009
The Man Behind the Really Bad Idea

The Man Behind the Really Bad Idea

I am not a fan of guns.  In my opinion, I think they do more harm than good.  The 2nd amendment is as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

So basically because a Militia (or military) is necessary to the security of our country, we all get to carry guns also.  To me, this is a bad idea in 2009.  However, wherever you fall on this issue for the purpose of this blog is irrelevant.  Using the church to celebrate the 2nd amendment and guns is ridiculous.  

However, pastor Ken Pagano of Louisville, Kentucky would not agree with me because he is going to do just that.  He has invited his church to bring them on a Sunday morning (*retraction* – it is actually a Saturday evening service).  I am not making this up.  You can read so for yourself here.  The headline of that article “Gun Loving pastor to his flock: Piece be with you” made its way to the front page of this afternoon, the 2nd most trafficked website in the world.  

Somehow I bet skeptics and non-christians weren’t flooded with positive impressions of Jesus and the Church as they read through the article and saw that picture.  How careless can you be?  He cited recent events such as church shootings and the killing Sunday of a late-term abortion provider in Kansas as justification to promote safe gun ownership in church.  Why not use them as a means to call sinners to repentance and illustrate them as startling reminders of the human condition? Promote safe gun ownership on your personal time all you want.  Church services should be a time to worship, corporately confess sin, sit underneath the preaching of God’s Word, and celebrate sacraments like communion.  What they are not for is to lift your glocks as you sing Amazing Grace or raffles to give away free guns.

Here are John Phillips, an Arkansas Pastor who was shot twice while leading a service at his former church in 1986, thoughts from the article.

A church is designated as a safe haven, it’s a place of worship,” said Phillips, who was shot by a church member’s relative for an unknown reason and still has a bullet lodged in his spine. “It is unconscionable to me to think that a church would be a place that you would even want to bring a weapon.”

Me either, Pastor Phillips.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh H permalink
    June 4, 2009 11:22 PM

    I disagree with you on this one, Nathan. A few points:

    1. According to the article you cite, the handgun event is on a Saturday, not on Sunday during the church’s regular services.

    2. Contextualizing the Gospel looks different in Kentucky than in Seattle. While this event may not play well to skeptics on the coasts, it may be received differently where it’s being held.

    3. The idea of promoting safe gun ownership on “personal time” seems to fall into trap of viewing life as compartmentalized into sacred and secular. I don’t think pastors should use the pulpit to push their political agendas, but I guess I don’t see evidence that this event is that way (it may be, but I don’t think there is evidence enough to conclude that it is).

    Do I think this is a great idea? Not really. Would I attend if I lived in Louisville? Probably not. But I don’t think it’s necessarily as bad as you make it out to be either. All of life is lived before God and if one is into handguns, I think that there is a way for one to pursue that interest in a way that is glorifying to God.

    Would you feel any differently if it were Mark Driscoll and A29 holding this event? Say it was being promoted as a way to get in touch with your manhood.

  2. nbliss16 permalink
    June 5, 2009 9:34 AM

    Thanks for the comments Josh. Keep them coming.

    1. You are correct. I went back a tweaked what I wrote several times. I corrected saying Sunday in my 4th paragraph but not the 3rd. Oversight. My bad.

    2. Louisville, be that it is in Kentucky, is largely an urban area. Connecting Louisville to some precursors we might have about Kentucky would be like someone connecting Omaha to some precursors people might have about Nebraska. This is largely an urbanized area.

    3. I can see what you are saying. I considered that before I wrote it but I guess I just view guns differently. I think that is valid. But I wrote that opening paragraph for a reason. Perhaps I should not have said where you fall on the 2nd amendment is irrelevant then. I am still learning writing and how to do it better. =)

    Now, you said you don’t think that Pastors should use the pulpit to pus a political agenda. However, the idea for this event and how it was born did have political undertones. It was born out of the churches (and Pastors) concern that president Obama was going to legislate firearms differently. Quoting the article:

    “Pagano, 50, said some members of his church were concerned that President Obama’s administration could restrict gun ownership, and they supported the plan for the event when Pagano asked their opinion.”

    So there seems to be a political agenda involved and at work (to me).

    Would I feel differently if this was an A29 or Mark Driscoll event? Not at all. That is not the end all be all to me. I probably would have been more harsh had it been.

    Good thoughts Josh. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

  3. nbliss16 permalink
    June 5, 2009 9:41 AM

    Side note: He was also on CNN doing an interview about the event. You can watch that here:

  4. nbliss16 permalink
    June 5, 2009 9:54 AM

    Another side note (not related to Josh’s comments):

    Studying the etymology of the term “bear arms” is pretty interesting (I say that because I know being true the the original language is something we love to do with studying scripture). You can do so on the wiki page for the 2nd amendment under the heading Meaning of “bear arms”. Here is the link:

    Here is a sample:

    Garry Wills, an author and history professor at Northwestern University, also cites Greek and Latin etymology:

    … “Bear Arms” refers to military service, which is why the plural is used (based on Greek ‘hopla pherein’ and Latin ‘arma ferre’) – one does not bear arm, or bear an arm. The word means, etymologically, ‘equipment’ (from the root ar-* in verbs like ‘ararisko’, to fit out). It refers to the ‘equipage’ of war. Thus ‘bear arms’ can be used of naval as well as artillery warfare, since the “profession of arms” refers to all military callings.

  5. Camille permalink
    June 6, 2009 3:19 PM

    “Contextualizing the Gospel looks different in Kentucky than in Seattle.” I’m in Kentucky, near Louisville – actually I live in a rural area. It’s a bad idea. We’re not a bunch of hicks and we find this idea just as bad an idea as you would in Seattle.

  6. Josh H permalink
    June 6, 2009 5:18 PM

    Despite the fact that Louisville is a metropolitan area of around 1.2 million people, I still think that citizens of Louisville swim in different cultural waters than do citizens of other metropolitan areas. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just different.

    The distinction I was trying to make about the pulpit was that this is a separate event. I know that guns and the Second Amendment are (or can be) can be political issues, and it’s not unlikely that this pastor is pushing an agenda, but I do think it possible for a church to promote safe gun ownership/use without pushing a political agenda per se. I could be wrong.

    Like I said, I don’t think this is a great idea, and I’m not going to go to the mat for this pastor or his idea, but I thought it somewhat uncharitable to characterize it as “really bad idea.”

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