Picture of Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Jesus Carries An AR-15? God Wrote The Constitution? (What Happens When You Mix Politics & Jesus)

Two of the craziest, and sickest stories I’ve seen in a while wrap out our week here on the blog:

Both of these stories serve to demonstrate what happens when the blending of Christianity and culture go to an extreme. As a missiologist, we call this “syncretism”. Christianity in all cultures has a way of blending with culture over time- some of this can actually be good, a process we call “contextualization”. However, in some cases such an extreme blending occurs that it becomes difficult to call the new belief system “Christian” as it essentially becomes its own, new religion– what we call “syncretism”.

Western missiologists are often able to quickly point this out in other cultures but tend to have a much more difficult time accurately identifying this within our own culture. This week however, we see two prime examples of what it looks like in America when we force Jesus into an arranged marriage with American culture (while these two examples come from the right, they aren’t the only group who does this). These should simply serve as a reminder of the dangerous belief systems that can develop when we lose track of where Jesus ends, and where culture begins.

First, my old friend Tom Delay, who was the former House Majority Leader when I was still involved with right-wing politics. Tom said this week that God was the one who founded America, and that God himself wrote the US Constitution:


What’s scary about this, is that people functionally believe it. Perhaps not many are dumb enough to actually believe that it’s true, but after having it drilled into their heads repeatedly that God is somehow connected with the constitution, people functionally operate as if this document came from God and cannot be questioned. Obviously it’s not– my children are not less of a person because of the color of their skin, God isn’t the one who killed Native Americans in order to set up shop here, God isn’t the one who built our wealth on the backs of slaves… the US constitution did NOT come from God.

Satan, perhaps, but surely not God.

This serves to show the extremes that blending can go– theologies of divine inspiration and inerrancy are no longer left to the Bible, but are now extended to apply to documents particular to our culture. Very dangerous stuff that crosses outside of Christianity and into a new religion.

The second example (via HuffPo) comes from former General Jerry Boykin. While giving a speech on behalf of the hate group called the Family Research Council, he actually told audience members that Christians are supposed to buy assault weapons in order to be like Christ:

“The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 it says when he comes back, he’s coming back as what? A warrior. A mighty warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe … I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies ’cause he’s coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.

And I believe now – I’ve checked this out – I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.

Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? … From the Founding Fathers, it’s in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus when he said to his disciples ‘now, if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’

I know, everybody says that was a metaphor. IT WAS NOT A METAPHOR! He was saying in building my kingdom, you’re going to have to fight at times. You won’t build my kingdom with a sword, but you’re going to have to defend yourself. And that was the beginning of the Second Amendment, that’s where the whole thing came from. I can’t prove that historically and David [Barton] will counsel me when this is over, but I know that’s where it came from. And the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”

You heard it right: Jesus is coming back with an AR-15 in his hands to shoot his enemies, and if you want to be obedient to Christ, you’re supposed to own an AR-15.

This is why Bible scholars, not military commanders, ought be left to do exegetical work– this is the worst interpretation I’ve ever heard of these passages (which I’ve previously addressed here.) Teaching people that Christ-likeness means they are supposed to own an assault weapon is perhaps the most evil teaching I’ve ever heard made in the name of Jesus.

So, herein is the lesson:

As Christians, when our loyalties are divided between Jesus and our nation, Jesus and our culture, eventually the two blend themselves into a new belief system that is not part of the way of Jesus. Often, this happens subtly without us even realizing we’re developing a hybrid religion. As Jesus followers, we must renounce our loyalty to these earthly empires and become willing to enter into the counter-cultural kingdom Jesus began– a kingdom that doesn’t look anything like the empries of this world, including America.

Picture of Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

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71 Responses

  1. It’s about time someone wrote this!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just found your blog and I’m seriously loving it! (side note – You should probably also point out that Jesus wasn’t American, he didn’t speak English, he wasn’t white, and his robe wasn’t red, white, and blue. Because I’m convinced there are people in the US that would argue all those points. *sigh.)

  2. Make sure you get the special “oral” mounting attachment with that. My Bible says the sword is in His mouth. Gotta keep it literal!!

    On a more serious note, His robe is dipped in “the blood of his enemies”!?!? Whoa, I am sure I have never heard that interpretation before. I was always under the impression that was Jesus’ blood. Especially since He is wearing it before the “shooting” begins.

    Erik, please pray for the church in the US. I had the same experience as Benjamin. Sadly, we hear all the “exceptionalism” from the day we are born. I have had my Christianity, sanity and patriotism questioned when any hint to the contrary was even barely mentioned as a possibility. Many otherwise loving and kind people are completely blinded to how unchristlike (dare I say “antichrist”?) this is .

  3. Yet even “Bible Scholars” disagree strongly on interpretations of Jesus. At Wheaton College my course on “Christ and Culture” illustrated how hugely varied Christian positions are — and all of them backed by their own team of “Bible Scholars”.

    Of course this is not just a Christian phenomena. I keep my pulse on Hinduism in India and watch similar manipulations. And for the average savvy Western reader, the machinations of Qur’anic scholars, spawning huge contrary opinions of Allah and Culture is obvious.

    But we don’t see this as much with those who idealize Gandhi or Elvis or Abe Lincoln. And that is because the person was not felt to be divine or have divine revelations. Maybe the things you speak of happen when divinity is attributed to a person or a revelation. Maybe the problem isn’t Jesus, but making Jesus divine and turning him into a religion.

  4. Well said. When politics get in bed with religion, both suffer. What an amazing world it’d be if Christians actually worried about loving people and doing charity instead of trying to control the private lives of people who don’t want or need their input into their private lives.

  5. Thank you for being reasonable and for comprehending the true nature of the constitution (written by human beings for human beings) and for understanding that our diverse nation is not going to be upheld by a “Jesus” with an AR-15. I really wish more Christians were like you!


    The gospel is not dependent on what ‘we do’ politically. Not in any way, shape, or form.

    A Christian can be a rabid conservative…or a whack job liberal.

  7. I know atheist who are for tougher gun control laws, so this is not just a Christian leftist issue. It is purely political and based largely on how gun violence has effected you and your community. Some people will use religion to suit their politics, they have always done this and we as progressives do this as well. I bring my beliefs into politics all the time. I have decided along time ago that I am my brother’s keeper. I can not mind my own business when there is so much suffering being caused by gun violence.

  8. Benjamin, you make a really good point about mixing culture and religion which tends to corrupt both. However your characterization of America is exaggerated and too simplistic. Frankly it is insulting both to Americans and to God who you deem as either too impotent or too unconcerned to have His way in a nation’s affairs (Romans 13:1). I’m sure this type of thing plays well with some crowds but please consider how it plays before God’s throne.

    I don’t know anyone who believes the Constitution is inspired the way the Bible is but it is a pretty amazing document. And the Christians I know do not worship the nation or the Constitution; we see the deep corruption (like ancient Rome) but have learned to be thankful for the gifts that God has given us and the freedoms we enjoy (Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 3:15, 1 Peter 2:13-15, Romans 13:7). We can openly own Bibles and read them, even in public. We can preach the Gospel of grace in our homes, in our buildings and even in the open air, amazing freedoms that are still protected by that Constitution.

    Have a good day.

    1. Can you elaborate? I’m not sure I fully understand your point. I too appreciate many things about our country, and am thankful for my citizenship. I’m simply pointing to what the former Majority Leader said about “God writing” the constitution, and pointed back to the fact that we never were a Christian nation that lived by Christian values.

      1. I agree that Congressman DeLay overstated the point. I also believe you are on the right track with him and many others who idolize the nation. However you go too far to simply divorce the deep Christian values that have shaped this nation and its Constitution and say things like it’s wealth was built on the backs of slaves. That is a kind of buzz-phrase that get’s an emotional reaction but is an extreme exaggeration. I understand your denomination does not believe in government entanglements but I would think it would also avoid this type of anti-government rhetoric.

        What is your understanding of Romans 13:1?

        1. A lot of the South’s economy at one point in time was built on slavery. It was substantial, so that is not an exaggeration.

        2. I respectfully disagree. As the commenter notes below, the US economy relied on slavery– it is how we became a rich nation. So, I don’t think this is an exaggeration. In fact, much of the global economy still relies on slave labor– including here in the US. The only difference is that slavery today is out of sight and out of mind.

          1. The ‘gains’ from slavery were consumed in the Civil War; in fact the South was completely decimated and has never fully recovered.

            We became a prosperous nation in spite of slavery and through the industrialization of the late 19th and 20th centuries. We were the most innovative nation on earth. This is what very bright economists tell us, not anti-government revisionists.

            No take on Romans 13:1?

            1. Again, I disagree. If I were to steal a building, set up a store, and staff it with stolen labor for 100 years before ending the practice, my great great grandchildren who inherited the store many generations later would still be the benefactors for my ill gotten gain. Some things can never be “consumed” such as the benefits we gained from killing the Native Americans and building a country with slave labor.

              Slavery and oppression are not as simple and over as it might be comfortable to think. Again, even today’s global economy relies on slave labor.

              Romans 13? I affirm what the verse says. What is your question behind the question?

              1. Bad example. Nothing left but destruction = no benefit for future generations. The country was hardly built by the 1860s. And the Civil War almost ended the whole country, let alone what it did to the South. You really hang on to a point whether or not you have any ground to stand on, huh?

                It doens’t make me comfortable or uncomfortable, I wasn’t there. Today’s global economy depends on exploitation far more than slavery but some certianly does depend on slavery. But that was not the subject of your USA bashing above. And the truth just isn’t quite as dramatic and emotionally charged, is it?

                Nobody required you to answer the very direct question about Romans 13:1. But blaming my supposed ulterior motives is weak, even if I had some.

                Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” -Romans 13:1-2

                Point 1: God gave us the governments that exist. To blame is to ultimately blame Him.
                Point 2: Resist isn’t just a physical struggle. As Jesus made clear on the Sermon on the Mount, God looks at the heart.

                Good evening, sir.

                  1. Why frame everything in extremes…either bashing or idolizing? Is it possible for you to fit any more choices in there?

                    It seems logically inconsistent that an atheist would have any concern for a group of innocent people being wiped out. By what standard do you object?

                    1. Your argument that only theists could possibly have moral standards or care about innocent people is absurd. Some of my atheists friends have higher moral standards than some of my Christian friends.

                    2. That is not my argument. I do not say they do not care about those things; only that caring is inconsistent with atheism.

                    3. You might be surprised where that converstaion can lead. Truth sometimes comes to people in bits and pieces and then at some point it all just fits. It’s a process. At least I am trying. 🙂

                    4. Both Benjamin and Brett have great points that i am sure Jesus would love to have you on His side when He returns. While i am on Brett’s side when it comes to interpreting Heb9:28 as the Lion (not a lamb as depicted in this post) brandishing the AK-15 should be the government, a world government. For, “the kingdom(s!?) of this earth will become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ”. I am not with Ben when he calls for separation of church and state. I do agree with the unseen slavery part as i see it first hand here in India. Sometimes they even think it fancy to call their company a “captive”. But we see slavery endorsed by the Father Himself when it comes to enemies. And why not when He wants to bless His own “unto a thousand generations” (Ex20:_)? I do agree money is a poor master. But is it not a good slave like tech is WHEN IT IS IN THE RIGHT HANDS? 🙂

                      However after all is said and done, I do see it big time that America today is squandering the blessings.

                    5. My country has separation of church and state, so even if I didn’t agree with it, it is a cultural reality in my context. However, Christ taught that his Kingdom was not of this world, so to marry Jesus to an earthly kingdom would be wrong. Especially violent kingdoms, which are not of God.

                    6. Also, great to hear you bring up slavery! Part of my PhD has included slavery work in India- Delhi, Mumbai, and Assam. I have particularly studied patterns of trafficking and aftercare within the Indian context.

                    7. Atheism has nothing to do with morality. Or humanity. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Nothing else.

                      My morals don’t come from atheism. They don’t have to. I have plenty of other sources to draw from, and I’m a better man for it.

                      For you to suggest that my morality is incompatible with my lack of belief in your deity says much more about your moral standard than mine.

                    8. Atheism has nothing to do with morality.” Exactly.

                      And for those whose overarching world view is that everything came from nothing, (no God or gods) then morality is not qualitatively any better than immorality.

                    9. I have my reasons to discuss these things and a forum to do it. You are free to come and go as you wish. I just cannot figure out why atheists discuss them, for what purpose: there is no good or evil, no moral or immoral, no real reason to discuss and certianly no reason to argue or get angry about anything.

                    10. Sure I do, you put it on the table by posting on a public forum.

                      And I didn’t say your morality wasn’t legitimate, I just said it wasn’t the legitimate child of atheism.

                    11. I told you this way doesn’t work. I’m a missiologist, I might have some valuable advice on the matter.

                      Try loving. Try befriending. And, do it without a motivation to convert or prove someone wrong. Give that one a shot. If you’re really trying to reaching people with Jesus, this isn’t working.

                    12. Benjamin, Benjamin, you are jumping to many conclusions (in order to say “aha”) and some of them are too shallow for a thinking man. And they tend to undermine the cause of Christ.

                      This list is by no means exhaustive but here are a few points off the top of my head:
                      How can you say sharing truth is not loving? By what authority do you say that?

                      Some things take time. Neither you, nor I will know this side of eternity how effective something is. All we can do is use biblical methods.

                      You have a very wrong view of conversion. It is supernatural and it is done thru truth not niceness.

                      Nothing fits in a full cup. The cup must first be emptied.

                      Many of the things I say in a public forum are not only intended for the direct recipient.

                      I used your methods for years and they do not produce anything but people who liked me but are still lost. I am done with those worldly ways. I am not looking for friends who think a lot of me and then die and go to Hell and find out I was really only protecting my own comfort and reputation.

                      Watering down truth does not make it more effective. One compromise leads to the next until you start believing in the method more than the truth. And ultimately the purveyors of truth become your enemies. Am I your enemy, Benjamin?

                    13. That’s the point- you’re not sharing truth, you’re sharing your opinion. You’re not even sharing scripture. You’re simply telling my atheist friends that their apparent concern for people is irrational. That’s not scripture, that’s just your opinion.

                      A cup must be first emptied? Interesting perspective, but not scriptural.

                      However, I do agree with you– we can only use biblical methods. So, do tell me where you studied missiology /theology? Such an institution has installed great confidence in you that you’re completely right and couldn’t possibly need to adjust your modalities.

                    14. Do you keep misrepresenting my position because you don’t understand it or is it part of you’re overall strategy to win me with your biblical methods?

                      If I am in error do you think insulting me is going to win me, or is your point that standing on someone elxe’s nack make u look taller?

                      Still digging for the aha’s, tisk,tisk. You know, it talks about folks like that in Palms and Preverbs.

                      Perhaps you should check again, I have shared Scripture and I have shared truth. How about you?

                      Actually, I am always adjusting and am sure I need to do a lot more. Show me something worth emulating.

                    15. Wow, you are a smug and arrogant ass, aren’t you?

                      Actually it was evolutionary fitness that determined that morality was qualitatively better than immorality so it got hard wired into our brains. This is why all human beings, not just those who believe in G*d, care about it.

                    16. I understand you have a belief in “evolutionary fitness hard wiring”. Please provide some proof for your belief.

                    17. Ah. So I don’t bow down your chosen idol. So my morals are logically inconsistent. You’re quite the charmer.

                      You want the truth? I care about innocent people getting wiped out because when I was a child, hundreds of my people were being raped, enslaved and murdered by your church. I saw some. I knew others. That’s why I care. Because I’m actually a decent human being. Not because I have to latch onto a deity to know right from wrong.

                    18. My church? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my church. My people were slaughtered and driven out of France by Roman Catholics and eventually my family ended up in the USA, a place of religious freedom (or freedom from religion if you so choose).

                      However those atrocities are really only displays of what we would agree is evil. It shows you have moral convictions. It does not show how atheism is consistent with those convictions.

                    19. Atheism is neither consistent nor inconsisent with morality. It is a lack of belief in gods. It does not make a claim to morality nor does it purport to be the source of morality. It also does not give excuse or motivation to be amoral. It is simply a lack of belief in your god or any other.

                      But quite frankly, sir, my morality is none of your gods damned business, nor is that of any other atheist. It’s your claim that I have no reason to care about innocent people that is a good reflection of your morality. Not mine.

                      And if you call yourself a Christian, then yes, I saw the work of your church. Protestant bullets and Catholic bullets will kill you just as dead.

                    20. I didn’t claim you have no reason to be moral. I just said your reasons are inconsistent with your belief that God does not exist. If God does not exist there is no way to judge any one standard of morality as any better than another standard.

                      BTW, I have never shot anyone: Protestant, Catholic, Atheist or other….that I know of.

                    21. Although I agree that making arbitrary (even untrue) accusations is consistent with atheism, how does an atheist judge something to be true or not true? By what standard?

                    22. Ha. You really are a charmer. You lie about your claims, I point it out, you claim that I’m lying because I’m an atheist.

                      This conversation will never go anywhere because we’re operating on two different moral levels. Funny thing is, my opinion of yours is based solely on how you act, not on what you believe.

                    23. I didn’t say you were lying, I said your accusation was arbitrary and untrue, as in missed the mark (not untrue as in you purposely lied). Of course you may have purposely lied but I don’t know that from a one word accusation. But since you gave no supporting evidence for your accusation it was rather arbitrary.

                      I find that people resort to name calling when they run out of substantive things to say.

                    24. This is what you said:

                      “I didn’t claim you have no reason to be moral.”

                      This is the quote to the contrary:

                      “It seems logically inconsistent that an atheist would have any concern for a group of innocent people being wiped out.”

                      Since you clearly made a false claim, I called you out. That is not arbitrary or name calling.

                    25. Calling someone a “Liar” is indeed name calling.

                      And I repeat: You can have many reasons to be moral but none of them are consistent with atheism.

                1. If the government wants gun control, then it is really God who wants it. Same with taxation, higher minimum wage, public healthcare, better environmental regulations, so I take it, your advice to all right wing Christians is they should quit their complaining and fully support the government, because by doing so they are in ordinance with God?

                  1. When they agree with what the government is doing, it’s “of God” and we should submit. When they don’t agree, it is because godless liberals are destroying the country. It’s a very inconsistent argument.

                    1. My argument is not godless liberals OR God, it is not a coin flip, both are responsible (and everyone else). God works through our sin to accomplish His purposes.

                      We can see this in the way God redeems His people. He used the sins of the Pharisees and the Romans to condemn and crucify His Son and thereby accomplish His foreordained purpose.

                  2. Amen, Al. The right wing Christians should stop complaining. But not only them, it applies to everyone.
                    Our laments should be to the only One who can change anything. Perhaps He will have mercy and remove His hand of judgment from us.

                    1. It depends on how you define “fully support”.
                      If you mean we fully submit, then yes.
                      If you mean fully agree, then no.

                    2. The verse you quoted says “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God”. Disagreeing is the foundation of resistance, any level of disagreement. There can be no resistance without first disagreement.

                    3. Yes, Al, I concur with you, disagreement comes before resistance and is a fundamental part of resistance. Therefore I may disagree and yet still not resist.

      2. So interjecting Christian values into American politics is bad?

        National Cathedral, December 16, 2012, The Very Rev. Gary Hall: “…asking God what we should all do next…I can no longer justify a society that allows homosexual agendas…As Christians, we are obligated…The gay lobby is no match for the cross lobby…Let us rededicate ourselves as agents of Jesus’….”

        Actually I changed the 3 underlined words the other sides bigotry to emphasize how similar is the language used by both bigotry factions. The correct words to the sermon are here: nationalcathedral.org/worship/sermonTexts/grh20121216.shtml

    1. I was being facetious in the reference to Satan, and I’m sure you know that. For someone who has a clear disdain for progressives and Anabaptists, I still can’t figure out why you spend to much time commenting on progressive Anabaptist blogs.

      1. I confront bigotry when I see it. The two main strains in the US are anti-gun owner bigotry and anti-gay bigotry. Both sides bang away with their godtalk condemning their neighbors in the foulest of language.

        Although dechurched 20+ years, I still call myself Mennonite, and still have plenty of Brethren/Mennonite relation and friends, so I’m not against Anabaptists in general, just the bigoted busybodies.

        Sunday, we’ll have brunch with, oh, 15-20 folks, dechurched Mennonites, dechurched Catholics, pistol packing mammas, lesbians, all a bunch of sinners in the eyes of the busybody bigots.

        Nobody hassles the gunowners. Nobody hassles the gays. Kind of different than church or a religious blog.

  9. I am a Brit living in UK – the pics of Jesus with a gun make my blood run cold, I find them horrible. I am quite sure that the British constitution wasn’t written by God! But religion and politics become inextricably intertwined.

  10. Both leftwingnut and rightwingnut political factions in the US wrap themselves up in Robes of Christ for political reasons, syncretizing politics and religion to fuel their agendas.

    “But I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.” ~Rev. Gary Hall, National Cathedral

    Progressives and dominionists, trying to immanentize the eschaton (trying to bring about the final heaven-like stage of history) are two sides of the same coin defined by Ambrose Bierce:

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper2/Bierce/bierce.html

    I’m as tired of anti-gun bi-gots (By-Gods!) as I am tired of anti-gay bigots.

    MYOB, busybody churchgoers. Remember that Wall of Separation, ok?

  11. It is nice to hear at least one American (you) that realizes that the US is not the only nation that exists on this planet… nor is the US the only Nation that God cares about. I don’t think most American Christians have any idea of just how alienating to fellow brothers and sisters in faith it is to conflate American Nation worship with Christian faith.

    1. During my years living over seas, it self-corrected the view I grew up with. It helped me to realize how obnoxious the rest of the world experiences us, how arrogant we are, and how we are certainly not a country that is set apart and especially loved by God.

    2. As a New Zealander, I entirely agree with you Erik. Equally with Benjamin’s reply to you (below).

      The troubling thing is, many church leaders down here seem to turn a blind eye to this sort of atrocious crap infiltrating their congregations – probably out of misguided tolerance.

      The most obvious examples of this have of course been new earth creationism (NEC) and scripture-justified homophobia. Once these exotic toxic weeds take root, its hard to rip them out.

      From my vantage point, I cannot for the likes of me understand how these “Christians” can claim God wrote your Constitution, then deliberately persist in attempting, through the gate of your education system, to use NEC as a Trojan horse to breach the state/religion wall enshrined in that same Constitution!

      Doesn’t look like Christianity to me – more like treachery and subversion. In some countries they shoot people for that sort of thing – probably with AR-15s.

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