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Putting the Christ Back In Christmas With Handguns

It’s the holly jolly season, the time when people go around day after day, admonishing each other to remember the real meaning of Christmas. Since the advent of social media, this tiresome holiday habit has become even more prevalent, as people tweet and post Facebook messages about the right way and the wrong way to express the holiday spirit.

One of the current manifestations of this true meaning of Christmas meme being sent around is a photograph of a newspaper advertisement representing a gun shop in Fort Worth, Texas. Shown below, the ad features images of a carbine rifle and two pistols, along with the message, “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas!”

fort worth texas christmas gun advertisementThe message is that, by gum, some people just don’t seem to understand the true message of Christmas, which is that Jesus Christ brought us peace on Earth, and would never have supported the spread of guns in his name. How could people misunderstand the message of Christianity to such an extent that they would sell guns in the name of Jesus?

Actually, there’s good reason to supposed that Jesus would have been perfectly okay with the selling of guns in his name. There are parts of the New Testament that can be interpreted as promoting nonviolence, to be sure, but there are also other parts of the text that seem to be promoting violence, and the possession of weapons of violence.

Of course, two thousand years ago, there were no such things as firearms, so the New Testament never mentions rifles or handguns. The New Testament does, however, mention other weapons quite a bit. It’s a violent book, in which swords in particular are given prominent attention. In fact, the sword is one of the central symbols of Jesus. It’s fair to presume that what the New Testament says about swords, it would also have said about handguns and rifles.

In the Gospel of Mark, the followers of Jesus are described as carrying weapons, including swords, and using them in violence against their religious rivals. The earliest Christians seem to have been heavily armed, and ready for a fight.

Jesus was often threatening to those who did not follow his commands. He attacked money lenders in the temple, and warned that, after he ascended to Heaven, he would soon be back, and would be prepared to get tough. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promised “vengeance”. In Thessalonians, this threat of revenge is expressed as ” vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall be punished with everlasting destruction”.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers, “Never think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. No, I have not come to bring peace but a sword!”

In the Book of Revelations, we are given a vision of what Jesus is going to look like when he returns to the Earth. He’ll have not just a sword in his own hand, but an entire supernatural army carrying weapons, and soaked in blood. “He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in Heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

For those who doubt that a gun shop could sell weapons in the name of Christmas and Christianity, there is the New Testament verse in which Jesus specifically commands his followers to buy weapons, even if they have to sell their clothing to do so: “he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one”.

Selling guns seems like a perfect way to put the Christ back in Christmas. For those preachy people who insist that guns are by nature incompatible with the real meaning of Christmas, I have some understanding and sympathy, recognizing that religious texts like the New Testament are open to a great deal of creative reinterpretation to suit the desires of particular religious followers. I do suggest, however, that advocates of non-violence recognize that there is much in Christianity that supports violence and weapons ownership, rather than repudiating. Perhaps the Christmas holiday, which tells a story prefiguring terrible torture, execution and vengeance, isn’t really the best foundation for a message of peace.

10 thoughts on “Putting the Christ Back In Christmas With Handguns”

  1. jacob says:

    What happened to your review of William Craig Lanes book? I only saw 1 post about it, but maybe I missed it. I havent been around as much lately.

    Have you picked up “Reasonable Faith” yet? I still think it is the best book on the subject.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      That post, from September of this year, was a review of William Craig Lane’s book, albeit just the first chapter. I don’t see any reason to lay down money for another of his books if the first one was so poor in its use of logic.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      You want another comment on Craig’s book, A Debate…? Fine, here’s one: Craig, speaking about himself in the plural, makes the following claim to try to “prove” God on page 5:

      “We can summarize our argument thus far as follows:
      1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
      2. The universe began to exist.
      3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.”

      He shows no proof that the universe began to exist (as opposed to existing without a defined beginning in the dimension of time) — a claim that is not agreed upon. He assumes that the universe universally operates on the basis of causality, something that not only is not known but is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, a scientific theory that explains a great deal of the structure of the universe.

      In his next paragraph, he supposes that the thing that caused the universe must not have a cause, because if it did then it wouldn’t make sense to him, and so the alternative must be true, even if that alternative doesn’t make sense according to his three standards above. He labels this alternative “God” because, well, “sausage” was already taken.

      Craig’s argument here is a confused jumble that asserts if some circumstance he thinks is incompatible with Christianity doesn’t make sense to William Lane Craig (a universe without a beginning), it can’t possibly be true, therefore necessitating the truth of some alternative that he thinks IS compatible with Christianity, even if it is also a real head-scratcher (a universe with a beginning that was started by something else without a beginning). That’s not satisfactory. It’s just a trip through William Lane Craig’s confusion.

      Like William Lane Craig, I’m confused about a lot of things having to do with the world. Unlike William Lane Craig, I see no reason to stamp my confusions with the word “God” and start sending checks to a bunch of people in robes who are fussy about men touching each other.

  2. Tom says:

    According to What The “Bleep” Do We Know the universe is its own cause and we’re all it – there is no separateness. Like asking a fish to take a drink of water or asking what the marital status of the number 5 is, questions regarding the universe’s origin, meaning, etc. make no sense, since it’s always in the process of becoming.

    Meanwhile, if you’re lucky enough to have a clear night sky tonight – there’s a rare occurance you can view:

    1. F.G. Fitzer says:

      Of course, according to What the Bleep Do We Know, we can change the structure of ice crystals just by thinking at them really, really hard. Sigh.

  3. Tom says:

    Here’s a link to the video i referred to above. Great 2.5 hrs, very enlightening.

  4. Tom says:

    Ah, see FG – we can’t do any of it if we aren’t enlightened (which, to my way of thinking, will require humanity to become eusapient, wise, as opposed to what we are now, sapient or just “clever” – probably in many generations after the collapse of what we’re doing now). The video speaks of our potential, which is far from our present gutter mentality.

    As a species we’ve totally gone down the wrong road and are now lost and mired in quicksand. There’s no way out except to start over with a lot less of us and hope that the next time they get it right. Chances are we won’t be around for it.

    1. F.G. Fitzer says:

      Tom, I’m silly, and so I know silly, and it’s silly to say that the only way out is through massive destruction. People are not cannibalizing each other in the streets yet, you know.

      1. theotherjimmyolson says:

        I don’t believe for a minute that his statement was “silly”. His prediction may turn out to be incorrect, but given what we already know about the way things work, I think it’s likely he may be correct.

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