Fuller Seminary professor Kutter Callaway has published his opinion on guns in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings. He explains, “Why I Am Renouncing My 2nd Amendment Rights (And Asking My Fellow Christians to Do the Same).”
The sentiment is not only unbiblical and leftist enough to find favor with Huffington Post, it is founded upon a faulty presupposition destructive of liberty. The professor does not seem to realize what Rights are or from whence they come. If he did, he would know you absolutely cannot “renounce” your Rights without renouncing the God who gave them. You can refuse to exercise them, but you still have them. Absent any criminal convictions or legal debt actions, your Rights are unalienable. They follow you wherever you go, and they are attached to you permanently.
The reason for this is as simple as the language Jefferson used in our Declaration of Independence: men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” It’s that simple: our rights are given by our God, not our government. They come from our Creator, not any man or men.
Since our natural, created and unalienable Rights come from God, no man can take them away—and that includes ourselves. Any man who tries is attempting to play God: the one who dictates what Rights are and are not.
Thus you can understand why statements like this one from Callaway are so dangerous to human liberty:
So it is for this very reason that I am compelled to renounce my “right” to bear arms. In doing so, I’m neither suggesting that we do away with the Second Amendment nor am I attempting to radically reinterpret its meaning. As a follower of Jesus, I’m simply rejecting it. I am choosing to no longer accept the rules of the world it has established. And I would encourage you to prayerfully consider doing the same.
Our rights don’t come from the Second Amendment or anyone’s interpretation of it. Our right to bear arms is a deduction from our right to life and liberty. The right to bear arms is a pro-life issue, and to reject it is to reject a pro-life agenda.
Moreover, “rejecting” the right does not make it go away; it merely forfeits the defense of life over to someone else who will fill the void you’ve created by not exercising the rights God gave to you.
In most contexts, this means subjecting your Rights to the state. Our Second Amendment is our recognition that God gave us the right to defend our rights with arms, and that we forbid the government from infringing upon that right. The Second Amendment is a bound upon the government, not us.
But even if the Second Amendment didn’t exist, the Right to bear arms would remain just as Right and lawful in God’s eyes as it ever has been.
When people refuse to exercise or acknowledge their right to bear arms, and request that others do so, they are saying that the State must be the only bearer of arms (in our stead), and thus only the State can be a protector of life, liberty, and property. This is to turn the Second Amendment and the biblical understanding of “Rights” altogether both on their heads.
Here, my previous study in “Bring your Guns to church Sunday” is instructive:
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 “inviolate”:
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
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 hisbusiness; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure…10
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 inherited.
Today, so many Christians are brainwashed or 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. . . . In reality, it is an anti-Christian position to have all arms in possession of the state and the populace dependent (let alone cheering) on the state for protection and defense.
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 and opencarry.org (the former site includes coverage of concealed carry laws and much more; 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.
In addition to knowledge, 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.
That piece goes own to give further practical advice on Christians bearing arms. I still recommend it.
It’s a sad day when Enlightenment figures such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson knew more about the nature, origin, and exercise of rights than some of today’s professing evangelical seminary professors. But the reason they did was because they learned in the tradition of Christian law elaborated by Blackstone, and which stretches all the way back to King Alfred and, in reality, Biblical law.
The short view is this: it’s a sad day when our non-Christian Constitutional framers had more of a Biblical worldview that some Bible teachers today. Thankfully, Christians still have access to the proper resources to recover the Bible’s teachings and leave the unbiblical Bible professors behind.