Coming, perhaps, to a sanctuary near your home is a new version of the Bible, one released by the National Rifle Association. It has a camouflaged cover, quotations from some of America’s great patriots at the beginning of each book of the Bible, and a bookmark that contains the Second Amendment in bold red letters.
More importantly, the NRA Bible updates some time-honored texts in words more reasonable for today’s Christian gun owners and offers helpful commentary related to passages that are often misused by those who would strike the Second Amendment.
For example, Luke 11:21 reads, “When a man is strong, he is fully armed. He guards his own home and his goods are safe.”
Christian gun owners couldn’t have a better proof text from Jesus than this one in the new NRA Bible.
Or take Luke 22:36, where Jesus gave his disciples their instructions at the Last Supper before the crucifixion. The NRA text reads: “And let him who has no gun sell his overcoat and buy one.”
Again, the modern American Bible for gun owners is clear: Jesus told Christians to bear arms. It is an act of obedience.
Matthew 26:47-52 is a more difficult passage that requires interpretive commentary. Here is the story about Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the action of a disciple, probably Peter, who sliced off the ear of one of the arresting attendees. The text rightly translates that Jesus told his disciple to put up his sword. The accompanying textual commentary points out that Jesus didn’t tell his disciple either to register his sword with the Roman government or to surrender his sword to the authorities. The commentary notes Jesus’ instructions to his followers to be armed always: “Put the sword back into its place.”
Again, the NRA Bible provides a supportive text for always having a sidearm. If one substitutes the word sword for gun, then it’s unmistakably clear. Jesus affirmed the right for his followers to be armed, not to disarm voluntarily or surrender their weapons to the federal government. Jesus told one of his closest followers to pack heat.
Since the Constitution is based on the Bible, the Second Amendment rests securely on a biblical foundation in Matthew 26.
One text, however, goes a tad too far in updating the words of Jesus. Rather than “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34), the NRA text reads: “If any want to become my followers, let them arm themselves, take up their Second Amendment and follow me.”
But so far, patriot pastors have not complained about the NRA’s rewording of the passage in Mark.
As one patriot preacher said this summer on an NRA broadcast: “In history and Scripture, the patriot and Christian go hand in hand.”
Now, why is this make-believe column about the absurd fusion of God, the Gospels and guns so completely believable?
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.