The Second Amendment and Built-in Revolution

This entry is part 30 of 42 in the series Christian Theology of Public Policy Course

This essay continues the Christian Theology and Public Policy Course by John Cobin, author of the books Bible and Government and Christian Theology of Public Policy. This column is the first segment of a three-part series dealing with application of the Second Amendment for Christians.

The Second Amendment to the American Constitution is familiar to many of us: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Along with the other nine initial amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment was ratified by ten of the original thirteen States on December 15, 1791. (1)

The words “well regulated” mean well-equipped in terms of uniform and armament. The militia’s armament should be fully manned, sighted-in and ready. According to the U.S. Code, the word “Militia” means what is now called the “unorganized militia”, i.e., “all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and… under 45 years of age… who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.” (2) During Virginia’s ratification convention in 1788, Founding Father George Mason said: “I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” (3) Similar statements were made by Founders James Madison and Richard Henry Lee. Mason worried that someday only a privileged class of men would bear arms, resulting in tyranny. Mason also said: “the best and most effectual way to enslave” a nation is “to disarm the people.” (4)

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What do we do about slavery now?

This entry is part 29 of 42 in the series Christian Theology of Public Policy Course

This essay continues the Christian Theology and Public Policy Course by John Cobin, author of the books Bible and Government and Christian Theology of Public Policy. This column is the third segment of a three-part series dealing with Christian perspectives on slavery to the state.

The New Testament gives us some clues about dealing with slavery—including the part-time slavery of modern Americans. For instance, the Apostle Paul informs us that Onesimus, once enslaved for unknown reasons, “departed for a while” from his master Philemon (Philemon 1:15), a Christian slaveholder living in Asia Minor (probably Colosse). He had been an “unprofitable” servant to Philemon (Philemon 1:10). We do not know if Onesimus became free of bondage legally or illegally. Paul simply stated that he was “sending him back” (Philemon 1:12) from Rome, and we do not know the reason why. The most common understanding of the event is that Paul confronted Onesimus about his rebellion and, after repenting, he was being returned to his lawful master and owner. Accordingly, Paul and Onesimus were glorifying God by obeying Roman law. Yet Paul was hoping all along that Philemon would do a good deed and free his dear friend Onesimus, thus granting permission for him to work further with Paul.

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