The text of this declaration was written on Sunday, November 5, 2017 in response to the deadly mass church shooting in Texas. St. Genevieve (Fr. Sainte Geneviève) is the patron saint of Paris, and of disasters and catastrophes. This declaration invokes her memory to bring to mind the disaster that is the gun crisis in the United States.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. – Psalm 126:5-6
Today: Sutherland Springs
Earlier: Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Newton, San Bernardino, and many more
The time has come for struggle and difficulty. The time has come for the Church to stand up and to call for discipline and a return to formation, discipleship, and the ethics of the Cross. The Church must begin the process of teaching the body that owning guns in our current cultural moment is a procedure of selfishness and runs against the grain of the Gospel.
Decisive action must be taken to call the selfish and the narcissistic to repentance. If the world shall know us by our love, we must be the first to model biblical peace in our own communities. This means forsaking the idols of security and the cultural modality which allows guns to propagate.
We must reject the weapons of war and violence. We must utter the shadowy “No!” of God to all weapons, regardless of intended use. We must not be like the German Evangelical Church of the 1930s, which stood against Barth, Bonhoeffer, the Confessing Church, and Jesus himself, in its embrace of the Swastika and Hitler’s supremacy over the Revelation of the Word of God.
The Church must not capitulate to the American fetish for weapons of terrorism and catastrophe.
The decisive contradiction of the kingdom of God against all concealed or blatant kingdoms of force is to be seen quite simply in the fact that it invalidates the whole friend-foe relationship between one human and another…. The disciples are told: ‘Love your enemies!’ (Matt. 5:44). This is the end of the whole friend-foe relationship, for when we love our enemy he ceases to be our enemy. It thus abolishes the whole exercise of force, which presupposes this relationship, and has no meaning apart from it. – Barth, CD IV/2, pp. 549-50
True Christian freedom is directed towards the other-in-relation. One can not follow Christ and be self-centered. Freedom is the choice to defer—to put one’s needs second in order of preference before the needs of the Church and the other-in-relation, all in preference of the not-self.
In this spirit, and in the name of the triune God of love and grace, the church must implore and exhort all those who bear the name of brother and sister in Christ – including myself – to repent of all bigotry, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, intolerance, and gun-fetishism.
The atmosphere grows heavy with the tears of mourners, as we are increasingly touched by gun violence. Yes, we offer our thoughts and prayers, but we must begin the serious task of theological reflection; the serious task of calling the Church to be the prophetic voice that it must be. We must sound the death knell to cultural Christianity. This is the first step.
We invoke the memory of St. Genevieve, who prophesied for the protection and defense of Paris under siege. She is patron saint against disaster and catastrophe. This declaration is dedicated to her relentless devotion to God and to hearing His voice.