How can we reduce the carnage tolls when people are driven to mass murder by political or religious fanaticism or psychological disorders?
There is common-sense, tried-and-true biblical and constitutional prescription.
It’s found in a one-of-a-kind book written by an extraordinary man who found himself in the unenviable position of being caught up in the largest and bloodiest terrorist attack ever perpetrated on a church.
The simple answer is provided in the title of the book by Charl Van Wyk – “Shooting Back.”
But there’s much more to the story than armed self-defense. “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense” is a book about bring prepared for the crisis – spiritually as well as physically.
Charl Van Wyk, a South African missionary, implores Americans to recognize that it is time for such preparedness here.
Van Wyk’s close encounter came in 1993 when he found himself in the midst of what became known as the St. James Massacre – a packed Sunday evening church service in South Africa attacked by Islamic terrorists.
“Grenades were exploding in flashes of light,” he wrote. ” Pews shattered under the blasts, sending splinters flying through the air. An automatic assault rifle was being fired and was fast ripping the pews – and whoever, whatever was in its trajectory – to pieces. We were being attacked!”
Some of the attackers later confessed their aim was to wipe out everyone in the church that night – about 1,000 worshippers.
They assumed they would be met with no armed resistance.
But Van Wyk, a trained military man as well as a Christian pastor, was carrying a .38 revolver that night. And when he had the opportunity to secure his own safety in the mayhem, he began returning fire.
While he was outgunned and outmanned, the surprised terrorists fled the scene, pursued only by one armed Christian with a handgun.
While 11 churchgoers were killed in the attack and 53 others wounded, most of congregation was saved from what would have been near-certain death had one man not been prepared to defend himself and others.
“When last did you hear of a multiple-victim shooting taking place on a firearm range, in a police station or at a gun show, or wherever many firearms are found anywhere in the world?” asks Van Wyk. “You haven’t. That’s because criminals prefer unarmed victims, or soft targets. No wonder they love gun control – it makes their work so much easier and their working environment much safer.”
In Christian circles, van Wyk concludes, there is an additional imperative to be armed for self-defense.
“The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy, ‘But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially of those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,’” notes Van Wyk. “Provision includes providing security. In fact our Lord Jesus taught, ‘If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’”
Quoting Jesus again, Van Wyk added, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself,’” he said. “Are we loving our neighbor when we stand by and do nothing when he is being murdered or a woman is being raped?”
In his book “Shooting Back” van Wyk not only documents the notorious and bloody attack, but offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical case for armed self-defense.