The issue of self-defense is a pressing one for Christians today. It is not an issue that we can ignore or sidestep. American Christians view physical persecution as a problem faced by the church in countries like Sudan and the Philippines, but the reality is that violence against Christians is increasing here in the United States as well:
- On December 8 and 9, 2007, a young man killed two people at a Youth With a Mission center and two more at New Life Community Church in Colorado Springs, CO. His stated motive on his MySpace page was “to kill and injure as many of you…as I can especially Christians…”
- On August 12, 2007 a gunman entered First Congregational Church (a Micronesian church), killed three people and injured five others.
- In March 2005 a gunman in Milwaukee murdered seven people attending church services at a hotel before taking his own life.
- On March 8, 2009 a pastor was shot and killed in his pulpit during morning services at First Baptist Church in Maryville, IL. 
These are just a few of the many examples that have made national headlines over the last couple of years. These were attacks on Christians gathered in their places of worship on Sunday mornings and do not include all of the violent acts against individual Christians that are not connected to their worship services. There number of attacks such as these are clearly increasing.
In 2005 Arizona ranked 13th in the nation in violent crimes and first for overall crime in 2003. Clearly this is a major issue for all Arizonans (other states are also included, of course), and as Christians we are not immune to violence simply because of our allegiance to Christ.
Christians have faced the threat of assault from the beginning of the church. Many examples from the New Testament can be shown of Christians being the subject of physical assault, but perhaps none better than the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:25-27:
25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:25-27)
The issue we must consider as Christians is how we should respond to violence done against us. What does the Word of God (our standard for faith and practice) have to say about the subject? Should we adopt a passive stance of non-resistance or preach the gospel of “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”?
This issue is hotly debated among Bible-believing Christians and therefore we must approach the subject with humility and with caution. We must seek to understand the view of other Christians to refrain from making incorrect caricaturizations of their position. In order to interact with Christian pacifism as well as with views that espouse just war and strike first doctrines we must know what they teach.
Over the next several posts I will open this big ol’ can of worms to discuss it. Obviously I am not without bias, but the goal of the next several posts is to encourage discussion of the issue of the proper role of resistance to violence for a Christian.
What are your initial thoughts and ideas? Would you categorize yourself as “kill them all and let God sort them out” type or do you believe in nonresistance at all costs as a matter of discipleship? Is there a particular view of this that you were raised with, or that your background leads you to?
As a mea culpa, perhaps having two USMC grandfathers, 8 years of active duty Navy experience, and growing up around tough guys and construction workers colors my vision more than a little. This is all the more reason to consider the issue biblically, because when we allow our background and biases to guide our understanding of life and Scripture it can lead to disaster.
So post a comment with your thoughts and opinions (remembering to be respectful of others, please!). I will post my understanding of the biblical witness over at least 2, if not 3 more posts over the next several days.
 http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316387,00.html (accessed 10/15/09)
 http://www.yokwe.net/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1882 (accessed 10/15/09)
 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/12/national/main679761.shtml (accessed 10/15/09)
 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/08/national/main4852326.shtml (accessed 10/16/09)
 http://azcjc.gov/pubs/home/Crime_Trends_2005.pdf (accessed 10/16/09) This document was compiled by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission using data from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, making it a valuable statistical tool.