Offending the Conscience

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Offending the Conscience

Post by Sir Moose » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:12 am

Cleon wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:31 am
Sir Moose wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:23 pm
Cleon wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:44 am
Anyone here carry at church? I've had little kids crawling on my lap for the past 18 years so it's been a no for me. My youngest is now 5 so those days are about to end. I'll have to work through the theology of it all but...
It probably shouldn't be in this particular thread (just to keep the lines clean), but I'm curious where you find the theology challenging.
It's the offending the conscience of others. I know there are a few people, one Elder included, that is opposed to carrying in church.

I'd rather carry, though, than lock the doors before the service starts.
I thought it would be appropriate to take this discussion over here to the Theology board. (Just to warn you in advance, I tend to ramble--I apologize up front for that.)

I presume that when you say that you are concerned with offending the conscience of others, you are referring to 1 Corinthians 8 where Paul talks about weaker brothers, stumbling blocks, etc. and the other similar passages. I believe that you have fallen into a common misunderstanding of what Paul is saying. This discussion often comes up in reference to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, we're dealing with much the same problem here.

Paul encourages us in 1 Cor 8:9 to "take heed lest by any means this liberty of [ours] become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." Often people take this to mean that we should not do anything that another, weaker Christian might think is sinful, even if we know it is permissible, because it will be a stumbling block to that person. However, it is only a stumbling block if, by our engaging in the activity, we encourage a person who believes it to be sinful to also engage in it. In Paul's example, a Christian may get a piece of meat that had been offered to an idol. The strong Christian knows that the idol is just a hunk of rock and that the meat is meat. But a weaker Christian who believes eating such meat is sinful sees the stronger Christian eating, the weaker Christian might eat the meat even though they inwardly believe it sinful. In that case, the weaker Christian has sinned (not by eating meat, but by violating their conscience) and they did so because of the actions of the stronger Christian, so in that case, the stronger Christian's actions have become a stumbling block to the weaker Christian. If the weaker Christian were to see the stronger Christian eating meat and his response is to think the stronger Christian's action is sinful, but that's as far as it goes, then the weaker Christian has not stumbled.

As a brief aside, when a weaker Christian objects to a permissible act, one of our responsibilities to them is to help them become stronger which will eventually remove their objection. So for example, if the weaker brother thinks eating meat is sinful, I will certainly not try to tempt them to eat meat (which would be wrong), but I will help them to grow in their faith so that eventually they will realize that "...meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse." (1 Cor 8:8)

Now I don't know the specific objections that the people in your church have to guns in church (i.e. I don't know if they consider it sinful or if they simply object based on their personal preferences/politics/etc.), but the only way that you can offend their conscience in this matter is if, when you carry a gun to church, it encourages them to carry a gun also, even though they believe doing so is sinful. It does not sound like that's what is likely to happen.

It sounds like the real problem is that it might offend them, not that it might offend their conscience. That is an entirely different issue. It sounds like your liberty is being restricted by their personal preferences. There is no biblical prohibition against doing something that another Christian objects to based on their personal preferences.

Much of this topic is also discussed in 1 Cor 10, but there is a nice little phrase in there that I think is appropriate to highlight here:
If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
1 Corinthians 10:27-29 (emphasis added)
In this example, the reason that Paul gives for not eating is that the person offering the meat made a point of saying that it had been offered to idols--in other words, the host felt it was significant that it was offered to idols. So, in that case, by eating the meat, you would be doing something that your host has made of point of saying that he believes is spiritually significant to a false religion and that by participating, you would be encouraging him in his idolatry. Paul makes it clear that eating meat offered to idols is no big deal...unless the person you are with believes it to be a big deal and would be encouraged to continue in their idolatry by you eating it. In that case, your sin is not in eating the meat, but in encouraging your host's idolatry.

I love that little phrase at the end of the quoted passage though--the one that I bolded. "For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" I don't have to forsake an activity that I know is permissible just because somebody else believes it is wrong.

It's also worth noting that in 1 Cor 8:13, where Paul says "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend," he is using hyperbole. Paul does not actually intend never to eat meat again. He would do so if it were necessary to help a brother avoid sin, but that is not actually needed. This is similar to Jesus admonishing us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes if it will help us not to sin. He does not actually intend us to mutilate ourselves--he wants us to take sin seriously.

For another look at this from a respected (at least in some circles) theologian, here is an article about the Tyranny of the Weaker Brother by R.C. Sproul.

As one last, non-theological point: presumably if you carry your gun to church, you'll be carrying it concealed rather than open carrying. If you're doing it correctly, those people who find it objectionable will never know you have it unless there is an incident. As one trainer that I know says, "Concealed is concealed."
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by Del » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:13 am

Wait.... Is there something wrong with rambling?


Concerning the issue at hand: There is nothing sinful about carrying a weapon, peacefully and responsibly. Just as there is nothing sinful about enjoying a smoke or a drink responsibly. The loving thing to do for people with overly tender consciences is to offer them some mature spiritual formation.

Specific to concealed carry: We live in difficult times, and it is getting worse. Churches are now seen as easy targets for disturbed persons bent on murder and causing terror. A priest who often assists at our parish knows the guys who practice concealment, and he appreciates how they place themselves near entrances and exits as a habit of protection.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by UncleBob » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:18 am

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." - Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by Jocose » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:41 am

UncleBob wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:18 am
I think many folks fear something like this: 2 accidentally shot at East Tenn. church during church shooting discussion
OMG

WTH?!

Someone doesn't/didn't understand Gun safety practice.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:44 am

Stop this country, please. I'd like to get off.
Etiam mihi opinio anserem perirent.

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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by JMG » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:54 am

Never be a slave to someone else's scruples.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:07 am

Nope. Make sure to beat your plowshares into pistols.
Etiam mihi opinio anserem perirent.

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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by JMG » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:19 am

hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:07 am
Nope. Make sure to beat your plowshares into pistols.
I wish I could. I have a lot of old ones laying around the barn back home.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:29 am

JMG wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:19 am
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:07 am
Nope. Make sure to beat your plowshares into pistols.
I wish I could. I have a lot of old ones laying around the barn back home.
Heh. Define "a lot". Too bad scrap iron is so low right now.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by JMG » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:33 am

hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:29 am
JMG wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:19 am
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:07 am
Nope. Make sure to beat your plowshares into pistols.
I wish I could. I have a lot of old ones laying around the barn back home.
Heh. Define "a lot". Too bad scrap iron is so low right now.
Fo realz. That's how I made my money when I was a youngen.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am

Sir Moose wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:12 am
Cleon wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:31 am
Sir Moose wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:23 pm
Cleon wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:44 am
Anyone here carry at church? I've had little kids crawling on my lap for the past 18 years so it's been a no for me. My youngest is now 5 so those days are about to end. I'll have to work through the theology of it all but...
It probably shouldn't be in this particular thread (just to keep the lines clean), but I'm curious where you find the theology challenging.
It's the offending the conscience of others. I know there are a few people, one Elder included, that is opposed to carrying in church.

I'd rather carry, though, than lock the doors before the service starts.
I thought it would be appropriate to take this discussion over here to the Theology board. (Just to warn you in advance, I tend to ramble--I apologize up front for that.)

I presume that when you say that you are concerned with offending the conscience of others, you are referring to 1 Corinthians 8 where Paul talks about weaker brothers, stumbling blocks, etc. and the other similar passages. I believe that you have fallen into a common misunderstanding of what Paul is saying. This discussion often comes up in reference to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, we're dealing with much the same problem here.

Paul encourages us in 1 Cor 8:9 to "take heed lest by any means this liberty of [ours] become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." Often people take this to mean that we should not do anything that another, weaker Christian might think is sinful, even if we know it is permissible, because it will be a stumbling block to that person. However, it is only a stumbling block if, by our engaging in the activity, we encourage a person who believes it to be sinful to also engage in it. In Paul's example, a Christian may get a piece of meat that had been offered to an idol. The strong Christian knows that the idol is just a hunk of rock and that the meat is meat. But a weaker Christian who believes eating such meat is sinful sees the stronger Christian eating, the weaker Christian might eat the meat even though they inwardly believe it sinful. In that case, the weaker Christian has sinned (not by eating meat, but by violating their conscience) and they did so because of the actions of the stronger Christian, so in that case, the stronger Christian's actions have become a stumbling block to the weaker Christian. If the weaker Christian were to see the stronger Christian eating meat and his response is to think the stronger Christian's action is sinful, but that's as far as it goes, then the weaker Christian has not stumbled.

As a brief aside, when a weaker Christian objects to a permissible act, one of our responsibilities to them is to help them become stronger which will eventually remove their objection. So for example, if the weaker brother thinks eating meat is sinful, I will certainly not try to tempt them to eat meat (which would be wrong), but I will help them to grow in their faith so that eventually they will realize that "...meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse." (1 Cor 8:8)

Now I don't know the specific objections that the people in your church have to guns in church (i.e. I don't know if they consider it sinful or if they simply object based on their personal preferences/politics/etc.), but the only way that you can offend their conscience in this matter is if, when you carry a gun to church, it encourages them to carry a gun also, even though they believe doing so is sinful. It does not sound like that's what is likely to happen.

It sounds like the real problem is that it might offend them, not that it might offend their conscience. That is an entirely different issue. It sounds like your liberty is being restricted by their personal preferences. There is no biblical prohibition against doing something that another Christian objects to based on their personal preferences.

Much of this topic is also discussed in 1 Cor 10, but there is a nice little phrase in there that I think is appropriate to highlight here:
If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
1 Corinthians 10:27-29 (emphasis added)
In this example, the reason that Paul gives for not eating is that the person offering the meat made a point of saying that it had been offered to idols--in other words, the host felt it was significant that it was offered to idols. So, in that case, by eating the meat, you would be doing something that your host has made of point of saying that he believes is spiritually significant to a false religion and that by participating, you would be encouraging him in his idolatry. Paul makes it clear that eating meat offered to idols is no big deal...unless the person you are with believes it to be a big deal and would be encouraged to continue in their idolatry by you eating it. In that case, your sin is not in eating the meat, but in encouraging your host's idolatry.

I love that little phrase at the end of the quoted passage though--the one that I bolded. "For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" I don't have to forsake an activity that I know is permissible just because somebody else believes it is wrong.

It's also worth noting that in 1 Cor 8:13, where Paul says "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend," he is using hyperbole. Paul does not actually intend never to eat meat again. He would do so if it were necessary to help a brother avoid sin, but that is not actually needed. This is similar to Jesus admonishing us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes if it will help us not to sin. He does not actually intend us to mutilate ourselves--he wants us to take sin seriously.

For another look at this from a respected (at least in some circles) theologian, here is an article about the Tyranny of the Weaker Brother by R.C. Sproul.

As one last, non-theological point: presumably if you carry your gun to church, you'll be carrying it concealed rather than open carrying. If you're doing it correctly, those people who find it objectionable will never know you have it unless there is an incident. As one trainer that I know says, "Concealed is concealed."
I think we might be jumping the gun in assuming it's theologically permissible to be armed in church. I'm having a hard time coming to any conclusion on the matter. Of course a Christian may defend himself. But we were also called to be men of peace. St. Peter was not praised for cutting off Malchus' ear at Gethsemene. Churches have traditionally been seen as sanctuaries. The big difference between us and the heathen is we don't kill there, and when we have, it's been seen as unconscionable.

I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by wosbald » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am

+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.




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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:33 am

wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
Keep the grenades in the tabernacle?

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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by Del » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:03 pm

wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
The Irish Catholics would have stationed armed guards to protect their worship from the organized persecution during the centuries after the Reformation -- but the British had already disarmed them, so they just kept watch.

Armed guards would not stop or prevent the random acts of hated and violence that threaten our peaceful worship. They would just find other ways to terrorize us, such as suicide bombs.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:13 pm

Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:03 pm
wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
The Irish Catholics would have stationed armed guards to protect their worship from the organized persecution during the centuries after the Reformation -- but the British had already disarmed them, so they just kept watch.

Armed guards would not stop or prevent the random acts of hated and violence that threaten our peaceful worship. They would just find other ways to terrorize us, such as suicide bombs.
Source?
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by Del » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:30 pm

hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:13 pm
Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:03 pm
wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
The Irish Catholics would have stationed armed guards to protect their worship from the organized persecution during the centuries after the Reformation -- but the British had already disarmed them, so they just kept watch.

Armed guards would not stop or prevent the random acts of hated and violence that threaten our peaceful worship. They would just find other ways to terrorize us, such as suicide bombs.
Source?
Everything you need to know is in the Bible. No other source has authority.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by hugodrax » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:39 pm

Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:30 pm
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:13 pm
Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:03 pm
wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
The Irish Catholics would have stationed armed guards to protect their worship from the organized persecution during the centuries after the Reformation -- but the British had already disarmed them, so they just kept watch.

Armed guards would not stop or prevent the random acts of hated and violence that threaten our peaceful worship. They would just find other ways to terrorize us, such as suicide bombs.
Source?
Everything you need to know is in the Bible. No other source has authority.
Remember, "mud" spelled backwards is dumb.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by Del » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:36 am

hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:39 pm
Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:30 pm
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:13 pm
Del wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:03 pm
wosbald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:11 am
+JMJ+
hugodrax wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:46 am
I think I'd have a lot less problems if the guns were in the corridor and not in the sanctuary.
Howzabout machine-guns mounted in the iconostasis? Add some motion-sensors and facial-recognition software, and Bob's yer uncle.
The Irish Catholics would have stationed armed guards to protect their worship from the organized persecution during the centuries after the Reformation -- but the British had already disarmed them, so they just kept watch.

Armed guards would not stop or prevent the random acts of hated and violence that threaten our peaceful worship. They would just find other ways to terrorize us, such as suicide bombs.
Source?
Everything you need to know is in the Bible. No other source has authority.
Remember, "mud" spelled backwards is dumb.
Obviously!
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"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." - Eph 4

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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by FredS » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:07 am

I don't like it on the surface, but then I don't carry and don't feel the need to carry. That said, I'm quite sure there are guys at my local church who do. But the sanctuary is a place set apart. There are many things I don't/won't do there.

Also, the article UB posted is more about an idiot with a gun than it is about carrying a gun.
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Re: Offending the Conscience

Post by UncleBob » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:51 am

FredS wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:07 am
I don't like it on the surface, but then I don't carry and don't feel the need to carry. That said, I'm quite sure there are guys at my local church who do. But the sanctuary is a place set apart. There are many things I don't/won't do there.

Also, the article UB posted is more about an idiot with a gun than it is about carrying a gun.
That's the problem, though. If everyone comes armed, you are only as safe in church as the dumbest idiot with a gun. Grandma isn't going to like that.
"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." - Robert A. Heinlein

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