I started writing this post on Saturday, and left it as I thought it was too early to comment on the Newtown shootings. However, a week on and I feel that I still think the same so wonder if its worth sharing. Its been a week in which I have spent every day with some six and seven year olds. Its been a week in which I have watched head teachers express their pain at the loss of children and staff thousands of miles away. Not one of them mentioned the need to arm more people for protection.
I was hanging out with these young people for Christmas services; ones where I talked about light coming into the world- light that gets lighter and lighter.. If you like a coming Kingdom. In that Kingdom, yes there is suffering, yes it is hard, but there will come a day when Jesus returns and sorts it out. In the meantime the church lives in such a way that we point to this way of living. WE look for signs of good and usher more into being. We seek the positive, weep over the negative, but come against it in love and grace.
In short, our eschatology (well mine, I think the kids were more into the animal noises) is one of hope; one of peace..
Not all eschatologies are the same. It seems to me that if you have an eschatology of battle (things will get worse and worse until the end times when they get even worse and then in a moment it is all sorted out) then the NRA response to the massacre of the innocents makes much more sense. It also seems to me that most of the eschatology of that kind that I have ever encountered has come from the USA- and most famously is popularised in the Left Behind series.
If many of your Christian community believe that the world is getting worse and the Christian duty/ response is to survive the tribulation- well then it begins to seem more logical that its OK to arm oneself. Trusting that we are the good guys we think it is OK to bear arms.. even though the one who we follow laid down his.
So my take- we need a new popular eschatology.. one that reflects more the nature of the one who we follow..