It’s just days after the worst mass shooting in American history on a church property. As CT reported earlier this week:
At least 26 worshipers, ranging in ages from 5 to 72, have died from First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, according to Texas authorities. Another 20 worshipers were injured.
Increasingly, the aftermath of these shootings has devolved into a furious national debate over guns, with little consensus or resolution in sight. Christians need to step up and moderate the rhetoric, says Bart Barber, who pastors a Baptist church in Texas and holds a PhD in church history from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The more that those calling for gun control legislation mock those calling for prayer, the less likely constructive dialogue is,” said Barber. “The more people calling for Second Amendment protection bristle at taking common-sense measures and castigate people as out-of-touch, unrealistic, wild-eyed liberals, the less likely we are to have a constructive conversation.”
Barber’s church includes many gun owners, including those who bring their weapons to church. While he doesn’t directly preach about guns, he has taught on passages of the Bible that discuss revenge, the role of authority, and Christ’s teaching on how to treat one’s enemies.
“There will be people all over the country this week that go to church Sunday carrying a concealed weapon, telling themselves, ‘If this comes to my congregation, protecting my children is going to be more than lying on top of them. If this comes to my congregation, the people sitting next to me in the pews, I’m going to do something to try to save them,’” said Barber. “In the back of the mind they may be saying, ‘and save me too,’ but this is the way the theological conversation takes place.”
Barber recently joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss the United States’ historical relationship with guns, the role that Quakers played in passing the Second Amendment, and why evangelicals continue to own guns today.
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