First, allow me to say that nothing in the Bible justifies having a “Christian” militia. Quite the contrary, when Peter assaulted the Jewish temple guardsman who came to arrest Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ rebuked Peter, healed the man whose ear Peter cut off, and told Peter “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” The early church faced severe persecution, with the Roman Empire killing millions of Christians over 300 years, yet never at any time was there an armed resistance against the persecution. Those people took the words of Jesus Christ literally when He said that those who would be persecuted for His sake would be considered blessed, and followed the example of Peter and John who considered it a blessing and honor to be counted worthy to suffer mistreatment for Jesus Christ’s Name.
And it goes without saying that threatening violence against a Muslim or anyone else is – as this Hutaree “Christian” militia allegedly did – clearly incontrovertibly a sin. People like this have to realize that Jesus Christ began His ministry during the time of armed uprisings by Jews against a very evil, tyrannical Roman government. (However, it should be noted that had the Jews not taken up arms against the Romans, the Romans would have generally left them alone.) The Jews were looking for a political messiah to defeat the Romans and re-establish a sovereign, Davidic kingdom. Many false messiahs promising just that came, and many followed Jesus Christ hoping that He was a messiah of that sort. They even mistook the miracles that Jesus Christ performed as evidence that He would use power from God to defeat the Romans.
However, when Jesus Christ made it known that His mission was not to establish an earthly kingdom, many lost interest and followed others, the ones who Jesus Christ referred to as “thieves and robbers”, which in the vernacular of the day referred to the seditious false messiahs leading rebellions. Jesus Christ repeatedly and consistently told His followers that it was wrong to rebel against Rome (especially violently) and that was what the significance of issues like paying taxes to Rome were all about. Later, Paul wrote Romans 13 about submitting to Rome as opposed to rebelling against them, and Peter wrote that Christians should pray for their leaders rather than rebel against them. And in the Olivet discourse, Jesus Christ told His followers not to defend Jerusalem from the attacking Romans, but instead to flee.
Needless to say, Jesus Christ’s words were rejected. He who came in the Name of God they did not follow, but those who came in their own name, including the false messiahs, they followed. This pattern of rejection of the true Messiah and His spiritual message and their embrace of false messiahs who offered a message of this world (i.e. political liberation, which included many economic benefits as well) was best symbolized when the Jews demanded that Pontius Pilate release the seditious murderer Barabbas – one of those involved in the violent liberation movements – in the place of Jesus Christ. By continuing to reject Jesus Christ and follow such people in their violent uprisings against Rome (they failed to listen to not only Jesus Christ but to even secular and Jewish leaders like Josephus and Yochanan ben Zakkai), the Jews brought the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD upon their nation, which resulted in the death of over 1 million Jews and the destruction of the temple (which fulfilled the near term “this generation” prophecies of the Olivet discourse). And in 132 AD, still following false messiahs like Simeon bar Kochba who promised that God would use them to defeat the Roman Empire, the Jewish liberation movement suffered their final defeat by the Romans, who burned what was left of Jerusalem to the ground, renamed it, and made it a capital crime for any Jew to re-enter the city. So, no Jewish liberation projects would exist for over 1700 years until 1897 when Theodor Herzl formally created the Zionist movement (although pre-Zionist movements had existed since at least the French Revolution).
So, by forming “militias” and certainly by threatening Muslims, these people do nothing but reject anything resembling the true literally interpreted teachings of the New Testament. By doing so, they reject Jesus Christ for Barabbas, and for that matter Jesus Christ for the Jews who delivered Christ to the Romans to be killed, and had Barabbas released in His stead. So let it be clear … the teachings of the New Testament and the unfolding of history (not only Jewish history, but the violent, failed “revolutions” of certain Anabaptist and Donatist Christian groups, as well as the violent death of the very vicious Ulrich Zwingli) supports nothing of the kind.
Still, we must wonder why it took mere threats against Muslims to bring the FBI down against these people. Unless, of course, they had evidence that these groups were going to act on their threats. So far, the FBI has everything sealed. Right now, a lot of LEGITIMATE Christians and a lot of conservatives are wondering about the double standards … why were these “Christians” arrested when other groups – including Muslims – who make similar threats all the time go free? I do not deny that there is not some element of this going on, or that the Obama administration does not have a propaganda motive to do this shortly after the passage of health care legislation and during the rise of the Tea Party movement and things of that nature. So, this is as good a time to go after conservative anti-government groups as any, and this provides fodder for anti-Christians who have long wanted the government to start ramping up their activities against Christians, starting with illegitimate Christian movements but only until going after their real targets – legitimate Christians – can be justified.
However, we must have the ability to acknowledge that in general, if armed groups make threats, the government shouldn’t just sit around and wait for them to act on their threats. (For instance, “making terroristic threats” is indeed a crime.) So, the issue should be whether the threats against Muslims made by these groups were legitimate. If the government doesn’t reveal the nature of these threats the way that they did with the many Muslim terror suspects that they have arrested, then that is indeed a cause for concern. Especially since “making terroristic threats” is a common offense, so common that a lot of people don’t even know that it is illegal.
Now as a Christian, my position is always going to be not to make terroristic threats. It is not only a sin in and of itself, and it is also against a legal code that does not cause Christians to violate scripture, which makes it also a sin by violating Romans 13. However, Paul according to the Acts narrative asserted not only his Christianity, but also asserted his Roman citizenship when it was in the interests of the gospel of Jesus Christ to do so. Now again, though this Hutaree group is not a legitimate Christian outfit, as a law abiding citizen of this country I am curious as to precisely what it was that made the FBI go after this group of people making terroristic threats while ignoring the many others. We do have a right to know precisely such a thing, and it is in our interests to pursue these rights to their fullest extent. The reason is that Jesus Christ commanded us to discern the times, and if these charges against the non-Christian Hutaree militia are spurious or are evidence of clear double standards, legitimate Christians can use it to take note of the times that we are entering.
P.S. I purposefully resisted making an issue of the Hutaree militia’s premillennial dispensational beliefs. The reason is that I am 100% certain that there are very many legitimate Christians who are dispensationalists. The Hutaree group is not a legitimate Christian group. So, associating legitimate Christian dispensationalists with people like the Hutaree militia that have rejected the true teachings of Jesus Christ while adopting some themes or ideas … how is that different from associating Christians with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or, say, Muslims who affirm the virgin birth? Now though I am no longer a dispensationalist, I am not going to use this as an excuse to go after Christians who are.
Now so-called Christians who use their dispensationalist beliefs in a manner like John Hagee (who demanded that George W. Bush attack Iran to “defend Israel”, and gave one of his many failed prophecies that the attack would happen before the end of Bush’s presidency with the rapture to occur soon after) and to whip up a fearful frenzy and hatred against Muslims that may lead to threats and violence … THOSE associations (between one false Christian who rejects the Bible but finds dispensationalism useful like Hagee and another) I can countenance, though I will not pursue them myself at this time. The issue is not differing views on eschatology, but those who accept the teachings of the New Testament versus those who reject it. Using premillennial dispensationalism to have your feet in both camps (meaning the church and the world) is what leads to stuff like this. However, this is by no means limited to premillennial dispensationalism. After all, Ulrich Zwingli, who massacred members of his own Bible study because they refused to join his church-state, was an amillennialist.
Update: Confederate Yankee says that the FBI claims that the militia was plotting to kill police officers. That angle is repeated here. Confederate Yankee is skeptical, but his reasoning for being skeptical – that police officers represent the local and not federal government – is wanting.