A sure-fire way of starting an argument in the blogosphere is to make a statement which no reasonable person would disagree with. In this case, Phil Johnson upheld the right of self-defense. Here is one response:
Nice straw man you have set up.
Most Christians who are labelled "pacifists" are not radical, but conservative in their application of Rom 13:4, while also being mindful of Mt 5. In a society where gun violence is an epidemic, and where our government feels free to pre-emptively invade other countries, the church needs to speak prophetically that violence is not a suitable response in almost any situation. The fetishizing of weapons and warfare is incompatible with Christian peacemaking - unless of course you live in Florida, where one can now shoot first and ask questions later.
Why this guy calls himself a neopuritan is mystifying. There was nothing notably pacifistic about Puritans like Milton, Cromwell, and John Owen. But I guess that's the difference between neopuritan and paleopuritan, right?
Should we love our enemies? All things being equal, yes, we should. But Jesus also said that we should love little children as well.
Now, Phil used the example of lethal force to prevent child-rape. He used that example because it’s about as morally unambiguous as you can get.
You see, there are situations in which you can’t be equally loving to all parties concerned. You can’t be equally loving to the child and the child molester. If you don’t intervene to protect the child by any means necessary, then you are being unloving to the child by allowing it to be molested.
So which should take precedence—the child or the pedophile? For normal men and women, the question answers itself.
Now, neopuritan doesn’t have a real argument to make against Phil. You can see that because, in place of a real argument, he simply strings together a number of question-begging assertions.
The strategy here is that if you don’t have a real argument, you can fake an argument by piling on a number of fallacies so that the sheer weight of the fallacies will add up to an argument.
i) Is gun violence an epidemic in the US? Short answer: no. It is only an epidemic among the criminal element in certain urban centers and minority groups. But, of course, it would be a sin against political correctness to do a demographic breakdown. Propaganda trumps truth.
ii) Gun violence is also epidemic in England, where they have draconian gun-control laws, the effect of which is to disarm the general public, leaving them defenseless against marauding street gangs who have the police outgunned as well.
iii) On the other hand, you also have a country like Sweden where, due to compulsory military service, most everyone has an Uzi in his closet, and gun-violence is quite low.
iv) Naturally, neopuritan disapproves of preemption. Since preemption is a logical extension of national defense, which is, in turn, a logical extension of self-defense, it is consistent to oppose one and all.
But like the liberal demagogues elsewhere, he also goes out of his way to misrepresent the argument. Certain just-war criteria must be met to justify preemptive action.
v) He then says that “violence is not a suitable response in almost any situation.”
No supporting argument is given for this sweeping assertion.
The obvious rebuttal is that you resort to force when persuasion is insufficient to repel evil.
vi) Again, for someone morally blind like neopuritan, all violence is morally equivalent. The violence of the child-rapist and the violence the policeman in restraining the child-rapist are morally—or, I should say—immorally equivalent.
vii) Presumably this would extend to the violence of an attending physician in the ER who performs invasive surgery, often without the consent of the unconscious patient, to save his life.
viii) One wonders if his abhorrence of violence extends to spraying cockroaches, trapping rats, and consuming a plate of fried chicken.
ix) He talks about peacemaking. Fine. If he can make peace through non-violent means, then there are plenty of hot-spots around the world for him to put his philosophy into action. Why doesn’t he lead through example?
x) Then he lies through his teeth about the Florida law. This is simply a common sense law which allows homeowners to defend themselves on their own property. If they abuse the law, they can be prosecuted. But it does shift the burden from the homeowner to the criminal—which is where it should belong. The criminal should assume the risk, not the homeowner. But that is way too morally transparent for someone like neopuritan.
For someone who disapproves of straw man arguments, neopuritan has a whole factory full of them.