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“Bring Your Pieces to Church” Su nday

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  • suesarkis@aol.com
    _“Bring Your Pieces to Church” Sunday_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/“ bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/)
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2012
      _“Bring Your Pieces to Church” Sunday_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c

      Imagine the following scenario: At church this Sunday, while reviewing the
      list of announcements and upcoming events for your church, your pastor
      added, “Oh, and don’t forget: on Sundays we have our regular target practice.
      Make sure to bring your rifles. Make sure to bring your pieces to church.”
      Absurd, right? Not so. It used to be the American way. For example, a 1631
      law in Virginia required citizens to own firearms, to engage in practice
      with them, and to do so publicly on holy days. It demanded that the people “
      bring their pieces to the church.” Somewhere along the line we have lost
      this mindset. Today the ideas of church and arms are assumed to be at odds, as
      if loving your neighbor has nothing to do with the preservation and
      defense of life and property.
      But the idea of Christian society and an armed, skilled populace actually
      have deep historical roots. Alfred the Great codified the laws of England in
      the 9th Century, often resorting to biblical law in order to do so (where
      he departed from biblical law, the integrity of his famous law code is
      quite poor). Alfred applied the Deuteronomic laws of kings that forbad a
      standing army (Deut. 17), and as a result developed a national defense based on
      By the Saxon laws, every freeman of an age capable of bearing arms, and not
      incapacitated by any bodily infirmity, was in case of a foreign invasion,
      internal insurrection, or other emergency, obliged to join the army.…[_1_
      -sunday/#footnote_0_2342) ]
      This required and encouraged an armed citizenry:
      Every landholder was obliged to keep armor and weapons according to his
      rank and possessions; these he might neither sell, lend, nor pledge, nor even
      alienate from his heirs. In order to instruct them in the use of arms, they
      had their stated times for performing their military exercise; and once in
      a year, usually in the spring, there was a general review of arms,
      throughout each county.[_2_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#footnote_1_2342) ]
      Imagine! Imagine the government poking its nose in every year not to
      register and license weapons for possible future confiscation, but to ensure that
      each house indeed possessed weapons. Imagine that instead of imposing fees
      for licensing schemes, the government levied fines for not owning a
      firearm. This was the case in Massachusetts in 1644. The state required that “
      every freeman or other inhabitant of this colony provide for himself and each
      under him able bear arms a sufficient musket and other serviceable piece”
      as well as “two pounds of powder and ten pounds of bullets.”[_3_
      -sunday/#footnote_2_2342) ] Those who neglected this duty could receive fines up to ten shillings
      (for laborers, roughly a day’s wages).
      In 1623, Virginia statute forbade anyone to travel unless they were “well
      armed,” and required that all men working in fields likewise be armed.[_4_
      -sunday/#footnote_3_2342) ] 1631 laws repeated the same requirements and added to them:
      all able men should bear arms and engage in practice with their arms. The law
      specifically required “All men that are fitting to bear arms,” and to “
      bring their pieces to the church upon pain of every offence.”[_5_
      ] (Equally shocking to most modern evangelicals is the fine for not
      obeying these laws: landowners who did not so arm their laborers and workers were
      required “to pay 2 lbs. of tobacco,” and this fine in tobacco was “to be
      disposed by the church-wardens, who shall levy it by distress.…”[_6_
      -sunday/#footnote_5_2342) ]
      Imagine that: the government desiring, commanding that every able citizen
      own weapons and be skilled in using them! And to do so on “holy days” and
      at Church.[_7_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9cbring-your-pieces-to-church%e2%80%9d
      -sunday/#footnote_6_2342) ] (It’s even more unbelievable that the
      government assumed all men were going to church every Sunday. Perhaps we could
      increase their numbers if we could reinstate target practice fellowship.)
      The legacy of arms and freedom as Christian virtues continued into American
      Revolution. The Lutheran pastor John Peter Muhlenberg is perhaps the most
      famous of the “fighting parsons.” He answered George Washington’s personal
      call to raise troops using his own pulpit and Ecclesiastes 3 to do so.
      Other ministers of the gospel were well known to preach with loaded guns in
      the pulpit with them. Pennsylvania preacher John Elder provides a great
      example: “Commissioned a captain by the Pennsylvania government, he led a
      company of rangers and was accustomed to preach with his loaded musket across the
      pulpit.”[_8_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9cbring-your-pieces-to-church%e2%80%9d
      -sunday/#footnote_7_2342) ] Likewise, Rev. Thomas Allen, a later
      collaborator in writing the Massachusetts State Constitution, himself fired the first
      shot at the Battle of Bennington. In the context of the War for
      Independence, ministers saw guns as tools of liberty and defense against tyranny.
      In a later context, some ministers saw the continued usefulness of
      firearms. A former cowboy and confederate soldier turned Methodist circuit rider,
      Rev. Andrew Jackson Potter, preached among tough neighborhoods in the old
      West. He would regularly walk up, lay his two colt revolvers across the
      pulpit, and begin to preach. He retained order and security, and encouraged an
      atmosphere of respect. In this scenario, arms served less as tools of
      national liberty and more as tools of preservation of life and individual liberty
      and property.
      This same scenario goes on today, by the way. As recently as last fall,
      _pastors in the Detroit area_
      (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2009/10/01/growing-number-detroit-pastors-wear-handguns-pulpit/) have begun to arms themselves
      in the pulpit and while on church property. Rises in Detroit crime in
      general as well as attacks in church buildings in particular have awakened the
      attention of many Christians. While it is illegal in most states to carry
      guns on church property, Michigan allows it for the pastor and those he
      Christians should be aware that the use of force in preservation of life is
      a biblical doctrine (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp.
      John 15:13–14). Likewise, those who possessed weapons in Scripture are often
      said to be well skilled in the use of them (Judg. 20:15–16; 1 Chron. 12:1–
      2, 21–22). We can only surmise that 1) God gave them talent in this regard,
      and that 2) they engaged in target practice regularly. Further, under
      biblical law, to be disarmed was to be enslaved and led to a disruption of the
      economic order due to government regulations and monopolies (1 Sam 13:19–
      22). But the mere presence of a couple weapons had psychological effects that
      put criminals to flight (1 Sam 13). There is a reason why Scripture tells
      these stories: they illustrate the defense of life, liberty, and property
      in the midst of a fallen world (and fallen governments).
      The American Second Amendment did not spring into existence from nowhere.
      It had a long pedigree. The Christian society emerging from the old laws of
      Alfred continued to include the ideal of an armed populace as a means of
      securing human liberties. The Founders, many of them lawyers, had studied
      that legal tradition and would have read William Blackstone’s Commentaries on
      the Laws of England (1765–1769). The first part of the first volume
      elaborates on the subject of our “principal absolute rights… of personal
      security, personal liberty, and private property [i.e. life, liberty, and property].
      ” It then covers five means of securing and protecting these rights “
      The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present
      mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their
      condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by
      the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance,
      under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and
      self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to
      restrain the violence of oppression.[_9_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#footnote_8_2342) ]
      Within that same legal tradition, and more than a generation earlier, the
      English philosopher John Locke voiced the sanctity of life, liberty, and
      property as well as our duty even to use force to preserve it:
      Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself… so by the like reason, when
      his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he
      can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice
      on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the
      preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.
      Locke elaborated these views within the context of belief in God’s ultimate
      sovereignty, ownership, and law-order over all of creation:
      being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life,
      health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one
      omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign
      master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are
      his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one
      another’s pleasure…[_10_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#footnote_9_2342) ]
      Thomas Jefferson clearly took his phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of
      happiness” from Locke, likely via Blackstone. It is no irony that
      Jefferson kept a portrait of Locke on his parlor wall. Both hated tyranny, and saw
      freedom as requiring the defense of person and property via use of force if
      necessary. Both derived this from the Christian legal tradition they
      Today Christians are so brainwashed and affected by progressive propaganda
      that we have an uneasy feeling even broaching the subject of guns. Constant
      liberalism in the media and years of government-school indoctrination have
      eroded the foundations of liberty in this nation. Today Christians think
      themselves conservative when they back everything the military does.
      Conservatives think that to oppose the military is to be a leftist. They have no
      idea that 1) the tradition of imperialistic war grows out of liberal, not
      conservative, ideology, and 2) the Bible forbids nations to have standing
      armies or stockpile offensive weapons. The Bible calls for national defense
      through an armed populace and militia upon necessity. A standing army is an
      affront to God. But for some reason, alleged conservative politicians easily
      persuade Christian voters that the next military maneuver is of necessity
      an expression of conservative values, and the Christians cheer.
      We are further brainwashed into thinking (and feeling) that guns are
      somehow dirty and evil, and that Christians should have nothing to do with them.
      In this view, we have departed from the Scriptures, Christian legal
      history, as well as America’s Christian history.
      As a remedy for the situation, we should both learn and exercise our gun
      rights. This article provides merely a beginning of the necessary education.
      We need much more. Every Christian should read and understand the laws of
      their particular state. Good places to start are _www.handgunlaw.us_
      (http://www.handgunlaw.us/) and _opencarry.org_ (http://opencarry.org/maps.html)
      (the former site includes coverage of concealed carry laws; the latter
      deals mainly with open carry). Not only should you know about laws pertaining
      directly to carrying, but also to those pertaining to the use of deadly
      force. These vary per state, and Christians should be aware.
      But we should also begin to exercise our inviolable rights. Every able
      Christian should own a firearm, and each should seek instruction and training
      in how to use them. This includes handguns, shotguns, and rifles, each of
      which has a particular strength in self- and home-defense. Elders and pastors
      should teach on the topic and its history, and should help aid church
      members in obtaining fitting pieces and proper training in legal settings.
      One great expression of both education and practice, I have recently
      learned, appears in the _Appleseed Project_ (http://appleseedinfo.org/) . These
      yearly training camps are steeped in American history and wish to advance
      the forgotten legacy of the American rifleman. Using focused and professional
      training events across the country, this project teaches and hones
      shooting skills toward the goal of making you accurate at 500 yards.
      In addition to that great project, I recommend taking classes in handgun
      defense. These are offered by small gun shops and firing ranges around the
      country. Make use of them.
      In states that oppress the inviolable right to bear arms, the best we can
      do is to organize politically and locally to change the laws. This is not
      easy, of course, but Christian society demands it as a measure to stop the
      tyranny of governments and the advance of individual crime. To allow unjust
      gun laws to continue unchallenged is to fail in loving your neighbor and to
      vote in favor of Egyptian and Philistine-style servitude. This, of course,
      demands its own article, but deserves at least mentioning here.
      Christians need to understand and act upon these biblical ideals. While
      this article hardly provides the last word on the subject, we ignore the
      lessons of the Bible and history to the peril of our freedoms. Evil ever
      advances upon our families, churches, and states. Evil seeks positions of power,
      such as government, and from there seeks to eliminate the avenues of power
      that threaten it (an armed people). Thus tyrannical government seek to pass
      gun control laws. Wise Christians see past the propaganda and stand for
      With relentless expression of our rights through education, publication,
      exercising the right, and challenging unjust laws, Christians can at least
      create a society hungrier for freedom. At best we may roll back the various
      infringements upon those freedoms. If we change the laws well enough, we may
      indeed once again hear pastor say, “Oh, and don’t forget: on Sundays we
      have our regular target practice. Make sure to bring your pieces to church.”
      1. Francis Grose, Military Antiquities Respecting a History of the
      British Army, from the Conquest to the Present Time, 2 vol. (London: Egerton
      and Kearsley, 1801), 1:1. [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#identifier_0_2342) ]
      2. Francis Grose, Military Antiquities, 1:2. [_↩_
      (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9cbring-your-pieces-to-church%e2%80%9d-sunday/#identifier_1_2342) ]
      3. William Brigham, ed., The Compact with the Charter and Laws of the
      Colony of New Plymouth (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1836), 31. [_↩_
      -sunday/#identifier_2_2342) ]
      4. William Hening, The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All
      the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in 1619, (New
      York, 1823), 173–174, _http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm_
      (http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm) (accessed April 22, 2010); I have
      modernized the English taken from this work. [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#identifier_3_2342) ]
      5. William Hening, The Statutes at Large, 174,
      _http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm_ (http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm) (accessed
      April 22, 2010). [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#identifier_4_2342) ]
      6. William Hening, The Statutes at Large, 174,
      _http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm_ (http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm) (accessed
      April 22, 2010). [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#identifier_5_2342) ]
      7. William Hening, The Statutes at Large, 174–175,
      _http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm_ (http://vagenweb.org/hening/vol01-07.htm)
      (accessed April 22, 2010). [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9c
      bring-your-pieces-to-church”-sunday/#identifier_6_2342) ]
      8. Louis B. Wright, “The Westward Advance of the Atlantic Frontier,”
      The Huntingdon Library Quarterly 11/3 (May 1948): 271 [_↩_
      9. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vol.,
      1:139. [_↩_ (http://americanvision.org/2342/%e2%80%9cbring-your-pieces-to-church%e2%80%9d
      -sunday/#identifier_8_2342) ]
      10. Two Treatises on Civil Government, Book II, Chapter II, Sec. 6.
      [1689], _http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/locke/loc-202.htm_
      (http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/locke/loc-202.htm) (accessed April 22, 2010). [_↩_
      -sunday/#identifier_9_2342) ]

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