Recently Agent X shared some thoughts on the Texas Church Shooting. Afterwards I added some thoughts. Please feel free to comment on errors in our thinking.
Agent X says:
In light of the recent church shooting here in Texas last weekend (and that being a sister congregation of the communion I partake in), I am feeling compelled to talk, to explore, to discuss Jesus vis-à-vis return fire at the worship service ESP.
I don’t have clear conclusions. I have some very strong ideas, but not clear conclusions. I am exploring that.
Below I have cut and pasted two emails I broadcast among friends and family for discussion. However, feedback here and/or further exploration here on this blog seem pertinent to me. I am sharing this here to see if you feel the same and/or want to talk these things out with me.
THE CHURCH THAT RETURNS FIRE I
I am, like others, still absorbing the impact of that video and subsequent talking heads.
SOME of my thoughts keep gravitating to at least one (maybe two) interviews with eyewitnesses from the scene who speak of having seen the gunman when he came in and having a “funny” feeling about him.
I find it odd the guy sat in the back ALONE. A stranger in a church service allowed to be un-greeted. Oh sure, someone may have offered him a bulletin at the door and offered a cliché greeting to him, but no one asked him to join them on their pew. And he gravitated to the back, like so many do.
When he stood up to start killing, he immediately turned to the brothers behind him.
To my way of thinking, there is something almost tactical about that. Something paranoid about it. At that moment, the moment he pulls out his weapon, he has maybe three people facing him. In a church house full of praying Jesus people, literally everyone else has their back to him. He takes out those facing him (except a speaker at the podium who is too far away to be his first target, and who is not intimately close anyway). The others are in close quarters behind him, and must be neutralized first before he can start blasting away at the sheep.
I haven’t even got to the part where the sheep shoot back yet.
I think we have some Jesus level problems going on here even before we get that far.
I always think of the church, not so much as a group of pilgrims gathered for prayer (though that is true too) as I do the manifestation of THE BODY of CHRIST. THIS is the same body that walks dusty Galilean trails, that walks on water, that stands in a boat to teach on the water while the pilgrims gather safely on the shore. (Btw, take a look at that last bit in an apocalyptic lens. In Apoc lit, water is the source of evil. Daniel’s monsters come up from the water and so forth. So in THAT scene, Jesus is the ONE standing in a boat on the MONSTER water teaching the flock that is safely ashore. Later, Jesus will be on the shore in the middle of the night and can see his disciples in the boat straining against the storm before he walks on the water to greet them!)
Okay… THAT BODY.
The body that walks through market places with multitudes thronging to him. Needy people pushing and shoving trying to see him, to touch him. Short people running ahead and climbing trees to get a look. Blind people screaming for his attention. And amid all the pushing and pulling, and jostling of bodies crushing him like a Rockstar back stage, a woman touches, not his body, but the hem of his shirt! And HE FEELS it!
These eyewitnesses FELT it. They had a FUNNY feeling about this man. But they let him be greeted bulletin style. He came to Jesus, but from his seat, it didn’t appear Jesus felt anything.
When Jesus goes to synagogue (church) the demons cry out that they know who he is!
After this guy is killed, the shepherd of this flock, the one who returned fire, claims he stopped evil.
That’s not a proud and arrogant statement.
Yes. it is.
If this man had been greeted at the door by Nurse Joan Black, he would have got a hug. She would have said, she saw someone who needed a hug. And she would have discovered a gun under the coat.
Hugs do that.
And THAT may have precipitated a shooting too, actually, but the story would be entirely different, that is for sure. And it is quite possible that the hug would have stopped evil before anyone was shot.
But let’s not give Nurse Joan Black too much credit either. After all, we are talking about the BODY of CHRIST here, and I might accidently blaspheme, if I am not careful.
What if Jesus was there in that worship service? Would this man have been sitting in the back of the room like that? What would the greeting he got been like?
Where is that BODY that FEELS the power go out when the shirt is touched in a Rockstar shoving match just to get the autograph?
NOW, let’s talk about return fire.
Obviously, THIS “body of christ” did some planning ahead for an active shooter. They have a security staff, AND several armed sheep.
THIS “body of christ” wants you to be able to come into their worship service and sit in the back ungreeted or barely greeted where you can just live in whatever little HELL your head and heart swim in and where they and theirs can be protected from your gun.
They preplanned for this.
This is how they LIKE it. And damn it, they will return fire in order to keep it that way.
FEEL me now?
I’m having a funny feeling too. A funny feeling about that “body of christ” that wants it like that, that is willing to kill tormented souls in order to keep it that way.
THE CHURCH THAT RETURNS FIRE II
I keep thinking about the church shooting. I am drawn to the testimony of the young mother who said she and her family sat just in front of the stranger.
As we observed in the initial video, the shooting took place during the communion service. The heart of worship. The meal Jesus gave us.
The man stood up, turned around facing those behind him, drew his weapon and blasted two souls to Jesus before the security shepherd, who was already riled up by the stranger’s appearance trained his weapon on the stranger and ended his life with a single, well-aimed squeeze of the trigger. All in less than 6 seconds.
A lot of preplanning and preparing went into that moment of communion last Sunday. None of it honoring Jesus. None of it liturgical in nature. Hearts and minds were prepared ahead of time for something else, but not for meeting Jesus at the Table of the Lord, and not for sharing as equals at that meal.
Listen to that young mother describe how uneasy she was about the stranger from the moment she saw him. As the worship hour unfolded, she made a decision to move away from him. She was only waiting for the communion part of the worship to end before she made her move.
Moving away from strangers in worship, separating ourselves from others AT THE TABLE of the LORD. These were the exact demons plaguing this church, not unlike the church in Corinth at that level, when the flock gathered to eat the body and drink the blood. These were the demons ravaging this young mother AS SHE ATE the Body!
So, by her own admission, we have a woman telling us where her heart and mind were as she ate. By his own admission, we have the shepherd telling us where his heart and mind were as he ate.
The stranger did in fact provoke the disturbance during the meal, but I must say that even with, and maybe especially with, after thought, I cant help but note the shepherd took a man’s life AT THE TABLE of the LORD!
I am not rushing to judgment here, really I am not. If I had been there, I might well thank that man myself. I cannot rush to judge a man who stopped the hemorrhage, especially when he reacted with instinct, saved lives, and was forced into split second decisions.
However, I am starting to be too kind to him too. His hand was in fact forced, but he had prepared for this IN THIS WAY a long time before, and so saying split second decision is a stretch. It was a split second commitment he made.
But as a man of faith, I can say that after a life of study and of following Jesus, as the dust settles, the thought that a man’s life was so marginalized and then ended AT THE TABLE of the LORD like this is just a thing that should not be! In the big scheme of eternity, of the Kingdom of God, a creation of God in which resurrection is assured, the danger this stranger presented last Sunday pales in comparison to the danger return fire has presented.
YET, I find NO ONE talking about this. I find NO OXYGEN for this conversation in the culture.
I find only fears stoked and praise for the return fire!
That is wrong. That does not honor Jesus. But it reveals the state of the church today.
I think it is up to those of us with the eyes to see and the ears to hear to point this out to God’s people.
They will hate us for it.
By Jon Kauffman
Agent X, you certainly bring up many excellent points. You have experience with a similar situation when you offered coffee to a home invader and later went to his wedding. I think we can have great respect for what you say about this situation. I have never been in a similar situation. I know intellectually the right thing to do but I have not been tested.
When Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus healed his enemies’ ear. Earlier he had said two swords, enough.
The follower’s of “The Way” did not send sharp shooters to take out the men stoning Stephen. 3000 had been converted by Peter’s first sermon, if Jesus had taught that we should use violence to protect ourselves, surely member’s of “The Way” could have protected Stephen?
Some may say Jesus was required to die on the cross so that he could conquer death. We don’t need to follow his example, but Jesus said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus was killed by a Rome governor egged on by a crazed crowd. Surely this man was less crazed than the crowd who condemned Jesus.
Jack Wilson said he was not shooting a human being, he was shooting evil. No! Jack Wilson was shooting a human being made in the image of God. Every man needs salvation in Jesus every bit as much as Keith Kinnunen needed salvation.
Does Jack Wilson’s church teach that when one dies if he is not saved, then at that moment all hope of salvation is gone. If this is true, surely it would be better for every heaven-bound person in the church to sacrifice their lives rather than to kill the hell-bound killer, therefor giving the killer a chance to repent at some later time?
Jack Wilson mentions that he has a weapon because of the large number of robberies taking place in that area.
North Dakota offers training to employers and employees in workplace violence prevention. Their training offers many nonviolent methods for preventing violence. Surely a church who follows the teaching of Jesus would prefer nonviolent means of preventing violence to violent was of preventing violence?
One woman said she knew something was wrong because she didn’t recognize him. Only our well-known friends can worship with us?
The Salvation Army requires staff and some volunteers to take “Safe from Harm” training. In this training many methods are discussed which can lead to less violence and a safer facility for homeless and others who come to eat and warm up in the Salvation Army dining area.
What can be done to prevent the violence without sending the perpetrators to hell?
How can churches protect their people and follow the teaching of Jesus.
- Millions of martyrs demonstrate that following Jesus is dangerous business.
- Jack Wilson mentions robberies. Many churches collect money and leave it lying around. Some churches keep a safe with an envelope door so that members can give in secret without their left hand knowing what their right hand is doing. Churches could encourage electronic giving.
- Perhaps the security guards could have had weapons that momentarily disable instead of kill. Such as Tasers? With all of America’s smart Christian engineers, surely better non-lethal weapons are waiting to be developed?
- The security staff was aware of the man and suspicious. Why wasn’t someone sitting next to him. What’s he going to do with a security guard sitting next to him?
- Keith Kinnunen had been to the church numerous times before. He was in great need. Does the church have a social service counselor to help out the needy? Or do we let the state do all the hard stuff?
- Agent X makes some excellent points about reaching out to visitors and making them feel welcome.
Who do we need to keep in our prayers?
- We need to pray for the victims of the shooting and their families.
- Perhaps there is a Catholic purgatory that the killer entered, if so we certainly need to pray for his soul.
- We need to pray for the soul of Jack Wilson that he can see the humanity of Keith Kinnunen so that he can forgive Keith and receive forgiveness from Jesus.
- We need to pray for the church board who allowed violence that went so strongly against the teaching of Jesus.
- We need to pray especially for the pastor who taught that violence.
- We need to pray for a church structure that would allow such violence.
- We need to pray for soul of St. Augustine for teaching “Just War” and starting it all.
In the same vein we need to pray for our own souls that we can forgive the killer and the security guard. We need to pray that if we are ever in that situation we will follow the teaching of Jesus.