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In light of recent tragic church shootings, should churches consider having members carry concealed weapons to church?

Practically, I strongly counsel churches to first consult law enforcement for expert advice and training before making any such decisions. For instance, Classis Muskegon in Michigan had a police chief train them in civilian response to active shooter events. Law enforcement experts can help churches create safety protocols and prevention procedures.

Theologically, I need to warn churches away from our culture’s faith in guns and violence for protection and security. A recent Pew survey reported that two-thirds of American gun owners cite protection as the major reason they own guns.

A classic pattern of idolatry is evident when we rely on the idol for solutions to its own problems. For instance, when dealing with social problems caused by technology, our culture often resorts to more or improved technology rather than to lifestyle changes that may use less technology. Let us beware of falling into a similar idolatry with guns.

When Old Testament Israel was facing a pending war with Assyria, they were tempted to rely on their ally Egypt’s military might for deliverance. But the prophet Isaiah admonished them: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Isa. 31:1). If we rely on having more potential shooters as the solution to active shooters, we need to seriously examine our hearts to ensure we have not misplaced our faith.

This does not mean Christians must never resort to violence. If we apply Christian just war theory correctly, we require both just causes for violence and just means of violence to use that last resort.

Only after spiritually examining their hearts and after consulting with law enforcement authorities can local churches arrive at informed decisions with spiritual integrity on this question.

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