By Doug Newman
November 10, 2007
Hello. I really like your web-site and enjoy reading your posts and comments. But I have a question. You always like to repeat things like "Should Christians always obey their government?" Well, I am a Christian and I know there are some things in the Bible that sort of contradict with what you say.
Consider this: IF indeed the members of the First Continental Congress were all bible-believing, "God-fearing" men, would there ever have been a revolution at all?
"For rebellion as is the sin of witchcraft." 1 Samuel 15:23
Samuel was in rebellion here against God, and not civil government. Hence, he sinned.
The Bible is full of people who have rebelled against earthly kings. See Daniel 3, Daniel 6 and, in the NT, Acts 4:19 and 5:29. Paul, the author of Romans, was a big-time jail bird. Four of his letters – Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians – were written from Roman prisons. Revelation was written in exile. Jesus was crucified for political reasons – Luke 23:2.
Hence, Christians are to obey godly authority and not ungodly authority. Hitler had huge support from German Christians who grossly misapplied Romans 13.
Would they have initiated a rebellion if indeed they thought it was equal to witchcraft (a crime punishable by death)? But that's only the tip of the iceberg. The New Testament gives clear instructions to Christians on how to behave when ruled under a monarchy, as were the Founders.
1 Peter 2:13: "For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right."
The Colonists had no beef with King George III for many years. However, the French and Indian Wars drained the British treasury significantly, and the Brits were looking to replenish their coffers. Hence, they started taxing and harassing the colonists in an arbitrary and capricious fashion.
The American Revolution was a defensive one. If we, as Christians, are to emulate Christ, we are not to initiate force against others. Moreover, we are not to tolerate arbitrary force either. We answer to a Higher Authority than a president, a prime minister or a soulless, ninja-clad, just-obeying-orders goon who just kicked in our door. And when government acts without restraint, we have a duty to resist. Taking a government paycheck does not confer a license to rob, rape, murder and plunder.
Paul wrote in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
Romans 13 is the favorite Scripture of control freaks the world over. All the German pastors who licked Hitler’s jackboots appealed to it. It does not command blind obedience to authority. Indeed, based on the whole of Scripture, it cannot. Contemporary Christians are most confused about this issue. Pastors have done a horrible job teaching in this area – I do believe some of it is deliberate.
Christians draw their ultimate authority from God. Christians’ ultimate citizenship is in heaven, not on earth – Philippians 3:20. Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this earth – John 18:36. Jesus was sent to the cross by people who had no king but Caesar – John 19:15.
In America, the supreme law of our land is the Constitution. If you understand the Christian underpinnings of this document, you realize that we Americans have no king. Rather, power is divided among three coequal branches of government – Isaiah 33:22. None of these branches is supreme. Our Constitution is there to severely restrain the central government. However, it is worthless if we, the people are not willing to support and defend this Constitution.
If they were in fact "good" Christians, there would never have been an American Revolution. Compare the above passages with the Declaration of Independence:
"...when a long train of abuses and usurpations... evinces a design to reduce (the people) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..."
The Declaration of Independence, while not an ostensibly Christian document, appeals to a Higher Authority than any earthly authority. Arbitrary human authority is not of God. Indeed, it is a violation of God’s very First Commandment: “You shall have no other Gods before Me” – Exodus 3:20. Let the state – any state – amass too much power and it will claim godlike status. Look at the official atheism of communist regimes over the last 100 years. Consider the Beast of Revelation 13.
Proverbs 25:26 instructs the righteous not to fall down before the wicked. The American Revolution was not a “violent overthrow” of the British Crown. Indeed, Britain would continue to be the mightiest nation on earth for more than a century after the last shot was fired at Yorktown and King George III would rule for 39 more years. Rather, the American Revolution was a way of saying “we don’t think so” to the recklessness of King George III. (1)
Now, what should I do as a Christian? Follow the Bible or follow the voice of my conscience? Please.
Follow the Bible. Understand the Bible. Understand that
· Authority comes from God.
· God is our Judge, King and Lawgiver. He rules over the rulers of this world.
· As a Christian, your ultimate citizenship is not on this earth and your King has a Kingdom that is not of this world.
· Evil is still evil, even if it emanates from worldly government. Evil is not made good just because its perpetrators where a badge and are paid with dollars extracted from your paycheck.
· You have a duty to resist evil whether it comes from the public or private sector.
I hope this helps!
(1) Please note that the colonists rebelled against a government nowhere near as powerful as our current federal government. King George III only taxed the colonists at about three percent. Contrast this to the 50 percent of our income that we Americans now render unto places like Washington, Denver and Aurora, Colorado -- from whence I write. Moreover, there was no Royal Department of Education or War on Drugs.
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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman