A Time to Kill : The Myth of Christian Pacifism ~ Book Review

A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism
A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism
Firearms Coalition
Firearms Coalition

Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)-  Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, Biblical teachings frequently play into discussions about self-defense and disarmament, and this book provides strong arguments for pushing back against the widespread notion that Jesus would expect his followers to passively accept evil acts.

Although Jesus has often been portrayed as a pacifist who would allow bad things to happen – such as His crucifixion – that image is a misunderstanding of Jesus and of His mission.  Much of the Biblical doctrine of force comes directly from the Old Testament – the Jewish Tanakh – which is the foundation of our Judeo-Christian system of laws.

When and whether a Christian might use deadly force is a debate that goes back to the earliest days of Christianity.  Can a Christian use deadly force in a way that does not violate the tenets of his faith?  When?  Under what circumstance?  The default position for many gun owners in the conservative evangelical tradition has been to hope that Jesus would not condemn defending ourselves and our family, based on Luke 22:36 (“and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one”).  And then we hope for the best, because we aren’t going to stand aside and let our families or our homes be violated by criminals.  If that be sin, make the most of it, and let grace abound.

A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism

In A Time To Kill Greg Hopkins brings biblical backup to that visceral instinct to defend.  That instinct, according to Hopkins, is the biblical position.  One verse that seems to drive Hopkins’ entire narrative is Leviticus 19:16b “You must not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake.” (New English Translation).

The author is well-equipped to serve as a guide to the spiritual aspects of applying deadly force.  A lawyer by training, Hopkins has served as a reserve police officer, a prosecutor, and has trained police officers in legal aspects of the use of force.  He has received firearms training from the FBI Academy and Massad Ayoob.

Add to the legal and firearms knowledge a deep knowledge of scripture which Hopkins displays throughout the book, and it becomes clear that A Time To Kill is an important defense of being an armed Christian.

Hopkins takes the reader on a tour of examples of force being used in the Bible, from Abram in Genesis gathering a posse to rescue his kinsman Lot, to a brief image of Jesus at the head of an Army of God at Armageddon.  He thoroughly explores the idea of Jesus as a pacifist, and shows the problems with that idea.

A Time To Kill is clearly organized with a solid structure.  The first section is devoted to self-defense and begins to establish the idea that self-defense is not only good, but that Christians may be shirking a duty if they passively give in to evil.  He talks about the difference between righteous self-defense, and vengeance.  He also explores alternative self-defense methods, notably pepper spray, a tool for which he holds instructor credentials.

The second major section deals with Christians being in the military and police.  They are the arms of government which is, according to the Bible, ordained by God.  Military and law officers need to discharge their duties in the light of biblical principles.  Hopkins explores the differences between their roles, but also the similarities, and devotes considerable space to recovery from a traumatic experience.

After an intermission consisting of a fictionalized account of Abram preparing to rescue his kinsman Lot, Hopkins next gets into the law – not biblical law, but secular – with particular focus on those who break it – criminals.  In this section Mr. Hopkins draws heavily on Proverbs with its many references to the “fool” and the “rebellious man.”  He hammers the point that a criminal intent on a criminal act is unlikely to be swayed by passive, pacifist non-resistance.

The next section is the meat of the book.  Titled “Jesus, Self Defense, and Pacifism.” In this section he lays out the case that Jesus was not a pacifist and that he would not expect pacifism from his followers.  Reading this section, it becomes clear that the chapters leading up to this one were building a solid foundation for this very important structure.

Finally, the book digs into the death penalty, making a solid case for the ultimate punishment the state can inflict  A Christian facing jury duty in a capital case would be well advised to refer to this section.

Self-defense and deadly force can be a thorny issue, particularly with the waters muddied as they are today by popular notions of what it means to turn the other cheek.  An important part of any defensive firearms training is a focus on mindset – being prepared both mentally and spiritually to do the right thing at the right time and to have confidence in one’s actions.  Armed with knowledge from A Time To Kill, an armed Christian will be better prepared for the very real battle between Good and Evil that is armed self-defense.

Every armed believer needs to learn what Mr. Hopkins has to teach.

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

  • 38 thoughts on “A Time to Kill : The Myth of Christian Pacifism ~ Book Review

      1. @Chuckbone, God and his son, Jesus, hold out their hands more patiently than I can imagine. GFYG has never been in a situation that he felt the need to turn to God and beg for his life. GFYG thinks that it will never happen, and the way he has arranged his life to avoid danger of any sort, he might be right. GFYG thinks that his efforts to disarm everyone is just one more step in ensuring his own safety. Personally, I find GFYG, voluntarily choosing hell, rather entertaining. Is that wrong?

        1. @WB no you are correct in thinking GFYG has chosen hell over liberty. GFYG and his kind are cowards. They would rather be safe slaves than to fight for right and good. God has granted free will to every man to choose his master.

        2. Why do you need pray to God for when you have a gun? If you’re about to be killed by two murderers: one shoot one dead then pray to God to stop the other and see if you’re still alive afterwards.

          1. @Gil the VPC shill, An awful lot of presumptions in your experiment. How would you arrange all that? What makes you think that God wants you alive? Maybe if you are just a little more trouble, God will squash you.

            1. So you believe your god is a goon will stomp others you don’t like? It comes across “wait until I tell my big brother on you then you’ll get it!’

    1. Proverbs does speak early and often of fools and now we know who that is. GFYG! Love this forum and the realistic opinions posted. Helps me keep the faith.

    2. Garryowen,
      Thank you for your open-mindedness in wanting to buy my book and give it a chance. It was published in January, 2013. Jeff is very busy and his writing commitments are spoken for many months ahead. Plus he deals with current news topic commentary rather than book reviews, hence the delay of about 9 months since he agreed to do the review. He does the best he can working for gun rights, as we all do. I have never been involved in a shooting nor been forced to draw on anyone. I have, however, been a reserve police officer, a city prosecutor(7.5 years) who taught legal use-of force to 300 street cops and all their supervisors through the Chief, a City court Judge in 2 towns, criminal defense lawyer for 8 years, and two stints totaling 3.5 years on my state’s Court of Criminal Appeals as a clerk. I am also a court certified expert witness on firearms and self defense cases. If you read the other reviews by former soldiers and cops who have read it, you will see favorable reviews. In fact, the 3 bad reviews (2 stars or less) are from people who did not in fact read ATTK. Doug Richard’s criticism is valid, as far as it goes. Because the theme of the book is the character of the armed Jew or Christian, I couldn’t address every subject in depth, or reader fatigue would have resulted from a 500-plus page tome. My point was that any mercy that can be reasonably (Safely) shown to the bad guy at the scene will begin our opportunity to witness. I certainly did not intend to endanger any of my readers with bad tactical advice. Of course, I have the weaselly-lawyer disclaimer at the front to cover such oversights. However, my advice is mirrored by Massad Ayoob (Whom I took LFI One from in ’99) and other experts I have read. As for the details, my editor constantly cut many details saying, “You’re getting to deep and turning it into a Bible study.” While my wife, with a Master’s in English and 27 years as a Tech Writer kept cutting sections saying, “You’re getting too gun-geeky, nobody cares about this.” I plan to correct this practical/tactical oversight in the second edition, if God is willing. It, along with an audio version, has been delayed by the worsening of my physical disability (Meiniere’s Syndrome) in the past 2 years. Thank you for all you to educate folks in self defense. We need more like you. I hope you find the book useful and that it helps you help others. Romans 15:13.

    3. The Commandment states:” Do not commit murder”, in its proper translation from the Hebrew.
      Moral codes must come from somewhere. If Mr. Gill rejects the Law of Moses and the 2000 year old teaching of Jesus as his moral code, from where does his moral code come? From some newer source? From inside himself? From voices in his head?

      Just curious.

      1. You would be murdering people willy-nilly if it could be proved the Christian God is false? Okay. Apparently it doesn’t occur to you to not murder people just because.

      2. Actually the original Hebrew transition is “Do not shed ‘innocent’ blood.”
        If you ‘dig’ into that you should be able to rationalize self defense.

    4. The USA is an experiment between God and believers in Christ who founded this country. One of the principals such as self defense and defense of the whole is still going on and thanks to people from all walks of life who fought for this country we still stand even with Gils amongst us. Molan Labe and go USA! Praise the Lord and keep your powder dry. We shall overcome until He comes. He said to occupy till he comes which in the Greek means many kinds of defense. I have some great and deep theological thoughts to give: God good – Devil bad I just had to preach some!

      1. God is good all the time. All the time God is good.

        It is good to see some religion brought into this site rather than listen to trolls and opinions of tree huggers.

      2. What a lie! Yea some of the Founders were devout Christians, others weren’t. If all the Founders were devout Christiana there would be no such thing as freedom of religion in the Constitution yet there it is.

    5. Part II:

      Greg Hopkins: We wonder why Ammoland would present an article In review of your book now, when it was actually written (2015?) or surely before the outdated postings on Jeff Knox’s Firearms Coalition website.

      In my attemp to purchase your book, I went to Amazon and found the first commenter there named
      Doug Richard, on January, 26, 2016 saying,

      “Convincing argument that self-defense is not contrary to the Bible. The quarrel I have is his assertion that a Christian must render first aid (without qualification) and should visit the surviving criminal in the hospital, jail, or prison. (Pages 84-87, 155) There are only a few places on the human body which, when shot, kills someone instantly. The rest may well eventually result in death, but a determined criminal can do a lot of damage to someone who makes the mistake to approach and bring himself within range of another possible attack before the arrival of the police and an ambulance, i.e. I do not agree that he is “under control” simply because you have wounded him…..”

      The reason I am spending an inordinate amount of my time on this, on this fine Saturday morning (with my Honeydo list in my back pocket), is that I am in fact a Catholic who has been involved, for better or worse, in deadly shootings, and totally agree with Doug Richard’s comments fro Amazon’s book review.

      My question to you Greg Hopkins is this:

      “With all your background, training and legal-minded opinions, have you ever been involved in a shooting? I understand and appreciate the ‘Corporal Works of Mercy’, wherein we should visit the sick and imprisoned;
      but, as Doug Richard points out, not at the foolish cost of your own safety. If you only have ‘book knowledge’ of what it is like to be involved in a shooting, or you may have read somewhere or interviewed the wrong survivors, where I believe (from Doug’s comment as a reader of your book stating the actaul page numbers) that you are simply not qualified to recommend to others how to act in the immediate aftermath of a shooting.”

      Disregarding the ‘immediate aftermath’ for a moment, we Christians never forget the long-term-aftermath either,
      as witnessed by the fact that I tell you this today of an incident which will have happened 43 years ago this coming October…

      We will still buy your book, for purposes posted above, and because Doug Richard, in spite of his ‘quarreling’ review, gave your book – Four Stars…;)

    6. OK, here’s my 2-cents:

      1. Jeff Knox: Well written article and yes, Greg Hopkins, I will purchase a copy in support of these issues raised at my ‘Refuse To Be A Victim’ seminars.

      But having said that, Jeff, it was misguided to include a link to your ‘Firearms Coalition’ website for the sake of credibility(?), when on your home page heading you state that the site has not been updated since August 9, 2016, and then show a number of 275 day old linked stories, while asking a visitor to ‘Stay Current’ with breaking news. As PDJT would succinctly say – BAD!

      2. Greg Hopkins: We are not sure if you visit and/or comment here at Ammoland often, or only stopped by in the hopes of reviewing a few positive thoughts about your book, posted by some of the sincere readers here.

      I am a strong believer in our First Amendment and would therefore never ask that this website block or silence any of the paid trolls who come here not to communicate, but to instigate. It would be better to shun or ignore them possibly with a sign saying, “Don’t feed the animals!.”

      So, Greg Hopkins and other commenters here at Ammoland, in the future please ignore him, and STOP feeding the animal(s).

      3. paid ‘animal’ troll: Phew! What a relief!

    7. Gil,
      If you read my preface, you will find that I began this study 35 years ago with the purpose of discovering God’s will and OBEYING it, whether it pleased me or not. I found that few people had actually devoted themselves to a detailed study of this issue, in the past 2 millennia as I have done. I deal head on with as many objections to my thesis as I could find. Please read the book before you condemn me for simply serving my own foregone conclusion.

      1. Au Contraire, pacifist Christians cite the “don’t even fight back” verses, Christians such as you will note the “fight back only in defense” lines while violent Christians will look for violent verses. A history of the Christian West shows no lack of violence and imperialism.

        1. Yeah, whatever. And, would the Bible tell followers that they shouldn’t do everything necessary, including killing, to stop the Muslim who chooses the version of his religion that tells him to blow up little girls at a pop concert??!!! See how your argument goes round and round in a circle? But hey, isn’t that what you progressive pukes excel at?

          1. The West has shown no special restraint relative to other religions. There are plenty of Muslims who can feel good about themselves because they have never been violent.

    8. Well it does allow you to spew your totally moronic stupidity and idiocy.
      Never forget that JESUS told his Disciples to sell their cloaks and goods and go buy SWORDS to defend themselves from evil doers.
      Now back to your potty room safe space Gil.

      1. Well it does allow you to spew your totally moronic stupidity and idiocy.
        Never forget that JESUS told his Disciples to sell their cloaks and goods and go buy SWORDS to defend themselves from evil doers.
        Now back to your potty room safe space Gil.

        1. So you adhere to a version of a particular religion that allows you do what you always wanted to do? I would argue I will determine if I am need of weapons of self-defense than worry about someone’s view 2,000 years ago.

          1. Humans have always had the right of self defense. It’s nothing new. It’s not a religious thing, really, just a human right. You might need to broaden your thoughts beyond apparently being anti-religion. Someone attacks you, Gil, do you defend yourself? What about your family or friends? If the answer is no, I sure don’t want to be near you when the SHTF.

      2. @Gil, professional shill, And your rejection of God and his son, Jesus, liberates you from the burden of showing mercy to the less fortunate. You need only take care of yourself. You can be the center of all things. Phew, what a relief.

      3. gill you got it backwards. I always wanted to do what is right according to God’s Word…..something of which it is fairly obvious you know little.

        Here are a couple of verses you might consider… the one that talks about the FACT that I AM my brother’s keeper.. that means, protector, helper, caretaker. WHen HE is in trouble, and I know it, and have means to help, if I withhold that from him I have STOLEN it from him.

        FUrther, you need to study up a bit on the hell that falls upon any individual who uses a gun in defense of self or another. We who have studied seriously the use of defensive lethal force are well aware of the probable aftermath of using our tools of defense as intended. Even being eventually found innocent often does not repair the damage…. your simple minded naif willful ignorance is telling…… and disqualifying.

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