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.)Cleon wrote: ↑Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:31 amIt's the offending the conscience of others. I know there are a few people, one Elder included, that is opposed to carrying in church.Sir Moose wrote: ↑Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:23 pmIt probably shouldn't be in this particular thread (just to keep the lines clean), but I'm curious where you find the theology challenging.
I'd rather carry, though, than lock the doors before the service starts.
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:
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.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)
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."