Jesus and the Second Amendment: Scripting Jesus from the Roman Empire to America's Christian Gun Culture

Second Annual Forum on Topics in Religious Studies

Tuesday, November 7, 2023 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Fenwick Library, Main Reading Room

Jesus and the Second Amendment: Scripting Jesus from the Roman Empire to America's Christian Gun Culture

The Society for the Study of Religion Presents:

Dr. Tony Keddie, University of Texas at Austin


How did the Son of God become a mascot for guns and violence?

Many of the U.S. Christian Right’s leading influencers claim that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is a “God-given right” and find proof of this in the Bible. One text that often gets singled out—even on t-shirts and bumper stickers—is Luke 22:35–53, where Jesus tells his disciples to buy swords and then one of his disciples uses a sword during his arrest. If Jesus had encouraged the acquisition of swords in his context, gun rights proponents claim, he would surely sanction unrestricted access to guns today. To dispute this interpretation, Christian gun control advocates most often appeal to the New Testament passages where Jesus seems to promote nonviolence (“turn the other cheek!”). But Jesus is not a consistent advocate for nonviolence in the Scriptures, and liberals have not convincingly refuted the Christian Right’s understanding of Luke 22. 

            In this talk, Dr. Tony Keddie shows both how this gun-rights interpretation of Luke 22 emerged in distinctive modern American contexts and how critical analysis of the Gospel of Luke as a product of its Roman imperial context discredits the Christian Right’s ideal of Jesus as a Second Amendment fundamentalist as well as the Christian Left’s visions of Jesus as a model of “nonviolence.”  

 

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