The events of Sunday Morning in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, hit close to home.
And the lessons learned are, for once, better than usual.
The above video capture from the congregation’s live internet feed, broadcasting their worship, shows one of the members of the congregation shooting the killer.
Why did it hit close to home? What does the West Freeway Church of Christ have to do with me? I almost certainly do not personally know any of the 250 people at worship that morning. But I almost equally certainly do know at least some people that they know – fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a close fellowship.
There is no doubt that the brother in the picture shooting the attacker did save the lives of many more people in the assembly. That is NOT what is wanted by the Tranzi hoplophobes and hoploclasts. They want a long butcher’s bill each year to support their agenda.
Sadly, there will be too many religious people who will attack the brother for (a) actually daring to carry in a “sacred place,” (b) killing the attacker without giving him any opportunity to repent, (c) endangering others in the building by shooting, and (d) NOT being a police officer, security guard, or other “authorized guntoter.” (See my later comments below.)
Christ Jesus clearly authorized His followers to defend themselves against criminal actions – telling His disciples to obtain and carry a sword. Turning the other cheek does not require refusing to defend other christians (or yourself) from those who would kill you or others.
The man attacked the congregation in their morning assembly, at 0957 local time. The media and police report that the motive of the now-dead killer is unknown. My opinion is this was probably a robbery attempt and not “persecution.”
I realize that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ will state that we are not to defend ourselves or other brothers and sisters against violence, but I believe that the Lord clearly taught that we are to defend one another – and even ourselves. I believe this is a brother in Christ doing a godly thing in defending his brethren.
It points out the need to be prepared at all times for the physical and spiritual evil which pervades our earthly home. And even more the need to preach the Gospel which can overcome such evil in the hearts of men.
It also shows the importance of training and practice – not just in spiritual matters. The brother, heart racing and adrenaline filling his body, was able to make a good shot with many other brethren close to his line of fire.
A little background:
Churches of Christ are completely independent and have no parishes, dioceses, conferences, conventions, synods or such things, as none of those are found in the Bible. The congregations are totally autonomous and are led by a plurality of elders, also called shepherds, pastors, or bishops – all considered different terms for the same office. Those elders direct both deacons, and also supervise the preacher (evangelist, minister) who therefore works for them and not the other way around. Elders are responsible for their “flock” and that includes both spiritual and physical matters – like defense against attack.
Though some media reported it was a “security guard,” I am fairly certain it was NOT a security guard, but just one of members of the congregation. The first man who was shot by the killer was in the process of drawing his own weapon when the killer fired. The second man the killer shot was actually nearer (and seems to have spoken to the killer before the killer used his weapon). The man who shot the killer was about 10-15 yards away and was able to get an excellent shot despite there being several people close by. But in the video you can see at least five other men in the assembly drawing their weapons and moving towards the killer, while several other people immediately moved to help the two men who had been shot. This congregation had quite a few of their members armed and had a plan of action. Many churches of Christ do so.
The gunfight was reported as happening during communion, but the communion table (at the right, up on the platform) does not have any communion service dishes on it (just the lids). It is common for churches of Christ to immediately follow communion (which is observed weekly) with the collection or contribution. The two men that were shot, and possibly the one who shot the killer, may have been the men who had just collected the contribution, and had it there in the back. (The contribution is usually collected in open plates and not in bags as some other groups use. A congregation of this size would probably have a weekly collection of $3000+.) This is reinforced by the man standing in front of the communion table, perhaps waiting for the collection to be completed.
So it could be that the killer was demanding the money from the nearer man. And was overheard and seen by the second man who drew his weapon and was shot first. Since the killer had his weapon out already at that point, the man drawing his pistol should have done something to distract the attacker, like throwing a songbook off to one side. He failed to do so. The man who shot the killer was farther away, and the killer was distracted: he shot the man he had been talking to before he was hit. It seems that two other people received minor injuries, probably from scattered shotgun pellets.
It could have been much worse if the third and final shot had not been fired. Depending on the type of shotgun, a dozen or more people could have been wounded or even killed.
The lessons to be learned are obvious, perhaps for further discussion later. So I end this with my thanks to God for these men, willing to plan and defend their brothers and sisters. And my prayers for the families of those who died and were wounded, and even for the man who died in committing this act of violent aggression. And yes, I pray for those enemies of liberty who attacked this congregation for the name of the town in which it is located. And even those who claim that disarming those five or more members of that congregation would be better than ensuring that they could respond.