The LA Times had a story recently about a pastor who carries heat: “He shows others how to put their trust in God and take their security into their own hands.”
From the story:
BEAUMONT, Texas — Two years ago on Super Bowl Sunday, Pentecostal preacher James McAbee was getting into his car after services when he heard a commotion. He saw two men break a window and enter a church hall that was being renovated.
McAbee called 911. The dispatcher said it would take officers at least 11 minutes to respond.
He lingered outside for a moment, frustrated.
“I could hear them snapping the lumber and carrying the sheet rock,” McAbee said.
The pastor drew a .380 pistol he wore in an ankle holster and burst into the hall — only to find two adolescents.
McAbee, who’d had a troubled youth, saw himself in the pair. He lowered his gun to offer some fatherly advice, but the older one, a 17-year-old with two outstanding drug warrants, rushed the pastor with the pointy end of a broken 2-by-4.
“I got my gun back out in time,” McAbee said. “He froze in his tracks. I said, ‘Son, you better not move or I’ll put one right in your watermelon!’”
The pastor held them until police arrived.
Some laud this pastor as exemplary, and he’s become known as Triple-P: “Pistol-Packing Pastor.” He began teaching gun classes shortly after he earned his nickname, and cites Scripture that he says justifies the classes: Psalm 144:1, “The Lord has trained me for battle”; and Luke 22:36, in which Jesus instructs the disciples to arm themselves.
I actually posted Luke 22:38 earlier today on Facebook:
So they said, “Lord, look! Here are two swords.”
He answered them, “Enough of that!”
Typical translations will have Jesus reply: “That is enough,” but I like this version. It’s as if Jesus is dismissing such talk. Yet in either case, Jesus is noting that his disciples are not to be about aggression and violence. Two swords would be laughed at in the face of even the smallest contingent of Roman or Herodian soldiers. He would face their worst, and was not about to respond in kind.
But back to our pistol-packing pastor:
He was expecting more than 100 people to attend his latest class, mandated by the state for concealed handgun licenses. The class costs $50, and in recent months, McAbee’s business has tripled and he’s trained more than 1,000 people.
What do you think? Is he doing a good thing? Is it possible to teach someone to trust in God and take security matters into their own hands? My own sense is that the need to carry the gun points to the opposite of trust in God. “Sure, I’ll trust you, God, up until the point I actually need to trust you. At that point, I’ll take care of things myself, thank you.”
There’s more to the story:
Guns were a normal part of McAbee’s life. He was raised in the small town of Clover, S.C., where his grandfather took him hunting. His mother worked in law enforcement and carried a gun.
One day at the range, his mother accidentally shot and partially paralyzed herself. McAbee was 9.
He grew up caring for his mother, and the stress took a toll. As a teenager he started using drugs and stealing to feed his habit.
When he was 18, McAbee was caught breaking into an elderly neighbor’s house. He was convicted of burglary, aggravated assault and battery, and served 21/2 years in a maximum-security prison.
There, McAbee felt called to preach.
This is a fascinating story. This guy spends over twenty years in prison because his mother shot herself with her own gun, yet he’s still enamored with them. Amazing. In prison he finds God. You’d think perhaps he would turn over a new leaf in regard to guns. The story continues (you’re not even going to believe this part):
In 2008, his mother again wounded herself with her own gun. Weakened by the shooting, she died later that year.
Seriously? She does this twice?! And she worked in law enforcement. You’d think this would be it for McAbee and guns. There’s no way he can look at one and say, “Hey, this is a good thing, more people ought to have these…” Except he does.
McAbee’s attitude about guns was unchanged: “Don’t blame the tool.”
Don’t blame the tool. Indeed.
MacAbee was hired three years ago at his present church, which is in a low-income neighborhood where gun crimes and celebratory gunfire is not uncommon. The day after Obama was re-elected, he bought an AR-15 assault rifle for nearly $1,000. He noted: “If the thugs are going to have one, I’m going to have one too.” If he insists on referring to people in his neighborhood as thugs, people who need the kind of help and life his church can offer, he might as well be armed. And apparently he is.
On occasion, the article notes, McAbee wears two guns to church — the .40 on his hip and the .380 in the ankle holster. His wife also carries a concealed gun. Neither has a safety on the guns they carry, and they like to keep a bullet chambered.
“People think I’m a gun nut and gun crazy, but I’m not. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I believe the Bible teaches peace. But that doesn’t mean I should let them hurt me,” he said.
That’s like saying: “I believe the Bible teaches peace. But I don’t actually believe in trying it for myself.”
Imagine if Jesus had said, “My way is peace, and how dare you lay a finger on me, Pilate! I’m locked and loaded, baby!”
I invite you to read the rest of the story and draw your own conclusions.There’s been obviously tons of talk about guns of late, beginning with the Newtown tragedy and recent attempts at gun legislation. There are differing perspectives as to what the second amendment should mean today (or even meant originally).
Personally, I am amazed that someone who spent most of his adult life in prison and lost his own mother due to guns would have such a perspective. My own sense is that a ‘pistol-packing pastor’ is an oxymoron, and such an example doesn’t teach people anything about trusting in God, or about the way of Christ.
But I could be wrong about that.