Give the Sword It’s Place

“Live by the Lord, not by the sword – but give the sword it’s place.”

Once again we should consider looking back into our history in order to see how to navigate the dangers of the present. With the current fervor over the horrible shootings that we read about and hear about in the news and the constant drumbeat from the globalist left in nearly every nation it seems, I’m reminded of our own history here in United States.

In the early portion of the 19th century there were a series of revivals across America, on the frontier as well as in the states. This led, in time, to what would become known as the Second Great Awakening. A great difference between revivals and awakenings are that awakenings have the effect of social reform. One of the greatest known reformers associated with the Second Great Awakening is Charles Finney. Finney by training was a lawyer, but was quite a preacher, and in time the president of Oberlin College and Theological seminary in Ohio. Finney along with others preached that it was a Christian’s duty to be involved in society and in the institutions of society.

“[T]he time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them… Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently… Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take [in political matters].”

He put great weight on the shoulders of the pastors and preachers of the day going to their conscience for their responsibility in influencing the flock in ways to influence society.

“If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.
If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.
Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

Christians of the day were involved in many reforms, not the least of which was the abolitionist movement to end slavery. Many call slavery the Original Sin of America, and so it was but it was not a unique institution to America and it continues to this day in Islamic nations. The Constitution allowed for the southern states to increase the number of representatives they could have in the Federal Government by one third immediately upon freeing their slaves and granting them citizenship. This issue was passed down from generation to generation without permanent resolution. As the United States expanded westward there was a continual compromise on allowing pro-slavery states and no-slavery states into the union in a balance to keep the pro-slavery Democratic-South satisfied. The Democratic Party was then, as it is now, associated with slavery in America. The Republican Party was birthed in total to end slavery, out of a response to the ineffectiveness of other parties to end the institution.

Christians were encouraged to move west to what would become known as the states of Kansas and Nebraska in order to form states that would be free from slavery. There were bloody battles fought between citizens of these territories and pro-slavery states and territories such as Missouri.

Most of us know the name Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was the daughter of the well-known preacher Lyman Beecher, and the brother of the man once known as “The Most Famous Man in America”, Henry Ward Beecher. Her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin pricked the hearts of the nation to the sin of slavery and how the black race was treated under this institution. States such as Massachusetts had never barred black citizens from full participation in civic discourse including running for public office and voting. Moves to reform and disband slavery increased. At one point slavery was almost abolished but was retained by only one vote in Congress. How much bloodshed could have been avoided had that vote gone the other way? At any rate, upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe President Abraham Lincoln purportedly said “so you’re the little woman that wrote the book that started this great war?”

As I mentioned, her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was a great and well-known preacher and reformer of the period. A biography written about him at the time was entitled “The Most Famous Man in America”. He foresaw that the pro-slavery Democrats in the West would not allow the Christian reformers to set up non-slavery states without endangering their lives and freedom. He was known at the time for an article he wrote which was published in the New York Tribune in 1856 that recommended those people arm themselves with the Sharps rifle as an effective weapon to defend themselves from pro-slavery Democrats. In the article he wrote –

“… believed that the Sharps Rifle was a truly moral agency, and that there was more moral power in one of those instruments, so far as the slaveholders of Kansas were concerned, than in a hundred Bibles …”

“… You might just as well … read the Bible to Buffaloes as to those fellows who follow [pro-slavery Democrats]; but they have a supreme respect for the logic that is embodied in Sharp’s rifle.”

We get the term “sharpshooter” from this rifle and the accuracy and speed with which it could be fired and reloaded. It was a breech-loading firearm, and a time when the militaries of the world were still using muzzle loading, single -shot rifles which could take up to a minute to load and fire. The Sharps rifle, on the other hand, was loaded from the rear with paper cartridges (and eventually metallic cartridges) and could be reloaded and fired at a much faster rate than the common military arms of the time. In time Rev. Beecher received donations in order to purchase Sharps rifles to send in support of the settlers, which became known as “Beecher’s Bibles”. This, not only because he as a preacher was encouraging the anti-slavery Christians to arm themselves to protect their families, but also because some of the cases of rifles that were shipped out West in defiance of Federal law were stamped with the words “books” or “Bibles” on the cases.

His warnings were somewhat prophetic in that anti-slavery Christians were persecuted and murdered in the Western territories and states by the pro-slavery Democrats, many later to become Confederate soldiers and guerillas. America was birthed when Christian citizens took up arms to protect themselves and their families from a tyrannical government on the day that British soldiers were sent to disarm the civilian population. The anti-slavery Christians were placed in jeopardy by the fervent and extreme beliefs of the pro-slavery Democrats. Kansas, in time, received the nickname “Bloody Kansas” because of these attacks and murders.

Today we see Christians being slaughtered around the globe in numbers never seen in history. From Cairo to the Congo, Islamic terrorists slaughter innocent and unarmed Christians and sell many into slavery and even more young women into the sex trades. While the recent horrific murders carried out in the New Zealand mosques have been promoted widely in the Western press, little is reported on the thousands of Christians murdered each year around the world. The cries to disarm the honest people who had nothing to do with any murder are the loudest – to take advantage of these situations. In fact one of the goals stated in the manifesto of the murderer in New Zealand was to promote gun control. So why are elected officials so quick to give a mad man what he desires? How many groups of unarmed people must be slaughtered before people and governments learn that creating still more disarmed groups is no deterrent to evil?

Place yourself for a moment in the position of some simple Christian believers in a village in remote Nigeria. Wouldn’t you want a weapon to protect your family from terrorists and murderers? The threat is very real. Would you want your friends and neighbors also to be able to protect themselves from thugs and terrorists and evil regimes?

There’s a great revival currently going on in Indonesia, the most populated Muslim country in the world. In that nation no one but the military and police can legally have any weapon, even pellet guns are regulated in that nation. Yet consistently Islamic militants obtain arms and use them against Christians, in accordance with their beliefs taught in the Quran. Currently in Western New Guinea the Indonesian military itself is terrorizing and murdering Christians who refuse to convert to Islam. Wouldn’t it be logical for the citizens of these nations to be able to protect themselves and their families from terrorists who want to, and often do them harm? Currently in Indonesia Christian churches must hire Muslim security guards to protect their congregations from potential terrorist attacks when they meet to worship. To their credit many of these guards have shown bravery and courage in the face of terror and some have even given their lives to protect the Christians they were paid to guard.

But what have we learned about disarming populations? Disarmed groups of citizens is never a deterrent to a madman thug or terrorist that is determined to do them harm – in fact they pose a low risk invitation. Even in New Zealand the shooting was only ended by a good guy with a gun. That’s always the case, a mass shooting lasts as long as it takes for a good guy with a gun to show up on the scene.

In America we find more and more examples of citizens using arms such as the AR 15 semi automatic carbine to end threats posed by numerous assailants, or well armed assailants. The press almost never reports on these “good guys with guns.” Yet, with the Internet it’s not that difficult to locate such reports. Like the incident at the Baptist Church in Southerland Springs, Texas where former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford stopped the rampage of a madman who martyred twenty-six Christians and injured 20 others. Willeford was at his home when his daughter said she heard rifle shots coming from the church across the street. Willeford grabbed his personally owned AR 15 with regular 30 round magazine and confronted the man – who fired at him and ran. When Willeford returned fire a chase ensued and the gunmen was found dead at the scene with two bullet wounds to his body and one self inflicted shot to the head. This is only one example of a private citizen using an AR 15 to protect himself or others and ending or averting a much greater horror.

Tyrants have disarmed those that they desired to subjugate for eons. The British disarmed the Scots the Irish the Indians and attempted to do so with the Americans. The Nazis disarmed the Jews first, then others. The Communists, disarmed everyone but their police and military and were responsible for more than 100 million deaths in the twentieth century. We see this playing out currently in socialist Venezuela where the population was recently disarmed an now find themselves helpless before a tragical regime. In the ancient days of Israel it was a high priority of their overlords, the Philistines, to be sure the Hebrews could not arm themselves.

1 Samuel 13:19 Now there was no blacksmith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:

Being disarmed the Hebrews were pillaged at every harvest time and were left with very little for their families. But from time to time men would rise up. A great example was at a time when the Philistines came durng harvest time and most men ran, but a man named Shammah decided “enough”, and refused to run away with the others and with the help of God and his sword he was able to defeat the tyrants and save the harvest.

2 Samuel 23:11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines.
12 But he stood in the middle of the field, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD brought about a great victory.

In his book An Autobiography Gandhi wrote “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest … if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity.” Yet when the new Indian government was established to take over after British rule, they chose to leave all the British restrictions on civilian ownership of arms in place. It is rare that those in authority will grant rights, they must be procured by the people who will benefit from exercising them.

At the time of his passion, Jesus warned his disciples to arm themselves if they were not already so armed (Luke 22:36). Later He warned Peter not to rely on the sword, “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”, but also instructed him that the sword has “it’s place” (Matthew 26:52). We aught to live by the Lord not by the sword, but also believe that the sword has its place, as Jesus stated.

The fact that most governments do not recognize the God-given right to freedom of speech does not make it any less a right. Rights come from God, not from governments. Governments may secure or violate those rights, but they are God-given none-the-less. Because a Government is hostile to the freedom of religion does not remove the right, nor is the God-given right of self defense less valid because so many people are deprived of it globally.

If the critics of citizens arming themselves for defense were honest in their rhetoric about saving lives then they would promote those policies with actually save lives. Creating more disarmed groups of citizens only creates more soft targets for evil – and violence actually escalates. The apostle Paul told his disciple Timothy that a person who would not provide what is necessary for their family was worse than an non-believer (1 Timothy 5:8). Anyone who is not willing to take the responsibility and necessary action to protect and defend their family and community should consider that.

Our Christian founders understood human nature was corrupt (Jeremiah 17:9) without the transforming grace of Christ. They also understood that governments are made up of people and all governments in time experience corruption and decay and will be in need for reform. They were mindful of how they had cast off the chains of tyranny in their generation and wanted their progeny to have every opportunity to maintain their freedom against all threats, foreign or domestic.

George Washington understood that the “sword” had its honored place in a peaceful society.

“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

Rather than spending so much time and energy promoting the disarmament of good people, we should be promoting the disarming of evil people, and the best way to nullify their power is to see that good people can be armed and protect themselves.

Lloyd C. Phillips, PhD, Director
The Fellow Laborer’s International Network (FLInt Net)
P.O. Box 113Missoula, MT 59806
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