Trijicon, according to wikipedia, an American company, that manufactures and distributes optical sighting devices for firearms, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns, has been bouncing around the news since 2010 for placing biblical verse references in the codes stamped on the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight or ACOG.
This has created some media attention due to various responses. Some by Americans who find this to be a violation of church and state, some who consider the codes to be dangerous for american soldiers should the weapons fall into the hands of the Taliban, some Islamic leaders in America, who are troubled by the suggestion of a crusade mentality.
The responses to these responses are enlightening. A blogger on www.thetruthaboutguns.com writes; ‘Lest we forget, the 9/11 hijackers were told to meditate on the Koran. Specifically, 8.12 (“cast terror into the hearts of those who are bent on denying the truth; strike, then, their necks!”) and 9.5 (“God instructs his Muslim followers to kill unbelievers, to capture them, to ambush them.”).
I say fight fire with fire. Is that Biblical? It should be. And I wouldn’t mind seeing it engraved on the side of an Army rifle either. Or a serial number referring to a violent Old Testament passage. Or, why the hell not, the Koran.’
A Wikipedia article on the issue lists various biblical verse codes reproduced below
|ACOG||ACOG4X32JN8:12||John 8:12||When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.|||
|Reflex II||REFLEX1X242COR4:6||2 Corinthians 4:6||For it is the God who said, ‘Let your light shine out of darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.|||
|RMR||RM01 2PE1:19||2 Peter 1:19||And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.|||
|Trijicon TA11F||ACOG3.5X35MT5:16||Matthew 5:16||In the same way, let your light so shine before other, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.|||
|AccuPoint||RXnn REV21:23||Revelation 21:23||And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.|||
|MCOG||MS07 1Th5:5||1 Thessalonians 5:5||You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.|||
|RX 30||TX42 IS60:1||Isaiah 60:1||Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the Lord shines on you!|||
|ACOG||ACOG6X48PSA27:1||Psalms 27:1||The Lord is my light and my salvation/whom shall I fear?/The Lord is the stronghold of my life/of whom shall I be afraid?|||
Which lead one Christian blogger to reflect; I have no inside knowledge as to why Trijicom chose these passages, but I would note that each passage has the theme of “light”. “I am the light of the world”; “… commanded the light to shine out of darkness”; “the Lord is my light …”. A quick read of the Wikipedia page shows the theme of light in each of the Jesus Rifle codes. Not to get all Dan Brownish or anything, but perhaps an optics company owned by devout Christians whose products use light enhanced technologies was engaged in an inside joke — a Sunday School pun?
My blog started as an ongoing dialogue about how popular American Culture has eroded Christian faith.
What are the implications of placing Bible verses codes on military weapons?
Let’s take Matt 5:16, ‘let your light shine before others,’ above for instance. What exactly is Trijicon trying to communicate by adding this verse to its coding? Is it simply a company owned by evangelical Christians trying to express their support for active military? While it is a virtue to offer prayers and wishes for the safety of those inactive military, my concern is that Matt 5:16 wasn’t intended for that purpose. If we look at the larger context of Matt 5, we find that it is the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the beatitudes, which include ‘blessed are the peacemakers.’ It also contains a blessing for those who are ‘persecuted,’ which at least suggests to me that the followers of Jesus respond to conflict and threat with peace, even if that makes them vulnerable to persecution, to force. In other words, they will not respond to threat with force. Following the verse cited on the scope we find Jesus offering instructions about conflict resolution, in which Jesus warns not only about murder, but anger, calling it a serious and danger sin to carry anger, and in which he then commands reconciliation through dialogue, repentance, and forgiveness.
Matt 5:16 is nestled in a long sermon explaining the unique make-up of those invited into the kingdom of God and living in active anticipation of this Kingdom, in which conflict is resolved through confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. This is the ‘light’ to which the verse quoted refers, the light of peace that Jesus came to live and teach. To be the ‘light’ does not refer to a generic ‘nice-ness.’ This light is not a wish or prayer for safety or protection, as much as we may want it to be. And it is not a blessing of violence even if some feel it is justifiable. As a matter of fact, Jesus refers to his followers as a light in order to empower them to go into a violent and dangerous world empowered to live in and instruct that world of a new, different and God ordained, way of living in diversity and conflict and this, I hope it goes without saying, has no connection with weapons.
What alarms and concerns me more than the fact that Matt 5:16 was ripped from context in order (apparently) market a message in such opposition to the gospel, is this action of making the Bible mean what we want it to mean, smoothing off its rough edges in order to support instead of shape our agendas. And this is vitally important for Christians to be aware of considering the fact that I reframed the original question which inspired this blog, ‘How has Cutlure eroded Christianity,’ to ‘How has Christianity eroded popular american culture. When the message of the gospel, in this case the message of the uniquely revealed instruction from Christ about how those living in Covenant with God would respond to conflict and even threat, is used to support and encourage violence and vengeance, we are forced to face the fact that culture often shapes Christianity more often than the Christianity rescues us from culture.
- 2COR4:6, JN8:12 and other favorite Bible verses to engrave on machine gun sights (tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com)