By Doug Newman
January 28, 2007
Posted at Liberty
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“… as acts 5:29 says we are to obey God rather than men, and when a government such as the Nazi regime comes into power and tells us to report all Jews in hiding, that government has become un-Biblical and may be rebelled against, but what about less extreme examples? Take, for instance, the incremental destruction of our economic liberties, such as the creation of the income tax, and the Federal Reserve. How can we complain about the income tax when Romans 13:7 tells us to pay taxes?”
Thanks for writing. Romans 13:1-7 (1) is the favorite Scripture of control freaks everywhere. However, to read it as demanding total obedience to earthly authorities is absurd. Christianity is an intellectual exercise. We are to love God with our hearts, souls and minds. (Mark 12:30)
No Scripture stands isolated from the rest of God’s Word. Disobedience is a common theme throughout Scripture. To cite just a few examples:
Moreover, while we hear time and again that “America was founded on Christian values”, no one ever tells us what this means. While some Founders were Christian and others were not, their worldview was far more biblical than almost anything we find in the contemporary church. Not only did they say all kinds of nasty things about King George III, many were big time scofflaws! Among them were smugglers, tax resisters and militia members who engaged in shootouts with their own government!
This government was nowhere nearly as large, costly and intrusive as our current government. The people were taxed at less than three percent, there was no war on drugs and no Royal Department of Education. I hope this answers your question about "less extreme examples."
The Declaration of Independence, while not an explicitly Christian document, appeals to a God who takes an active concern in political affairs. When the 56 signers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, they were dead serious. Many paid huge prices so that you and I could live and breathe in freedom.
Consider also the northerners of good conscience who harbored runaway slaves in the 1850s in defiance of the fugitive slave laws. Consider Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Alabama in 1955.
Consider all the people who risked their lives either resisting or fleeing from Nazism and Communism.
Consider the underground churches in many countries throughout the world which exist in direct defiance of their governments. The spirit of the early church lives!
The First Commandment states that “You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) “No other Gods” includes earthly governments.
I am not an expert on various translations of the Bible. However, I invite you to look at Romans 13:1 in the New International Version and then in the King James Version.
The concept of “higher powers” is far stronger than that of “governing authorities”. The governing authorities of this world are not exempt from God’s Judgment. The governors of this world have a Governor. (Psalm 2)
Jesus tells us to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” (Matthew 22:21)
Concerning this passage, a few observations:
There you have it: this idea that Christians should always do as told has no practical or scriptural basis.
Let us now address the issue of paying taxes. Romans 13:7 says, “If you owe taxes, pay taxes.” But do we owe taxes? I caused quite a stir on some message boards recently when I asked: “Please show me the law requiring us to pay income tax.” Click on this link to see the responses I received.
I personally have not had the fortitude yet to test this, but numerous people have. And some have paid dearly. Some have done jail time. (2) This is just a partial list, in no particular order, of people who have either spoken out about the absence of a law requiring us to pay income taxes, questioned the supremacy of the IRS over the church, exposed the fraud of the Sixteenth Amendment or who have challenged the absence of such a law directly by not paying income taxes: Irwin Schiff, Sherry Peel Jackson, Ed and Elaine Brown, Rick Stanley, Devvy Kidd, Robert Schultz, Bill Benson, Joseph Bannister, Larken Rose, Rose Lear, Vernice Kuglin, Whitey Harrell, Marcella Brooks, Larry Becraft, Greg Dixon, Gene Chapman, Kent Hovind, Robert Raymond, Pete Hendrickson, Dr. Ward Dean and – most prominently – Aaron Russo.
If you are not seen Mr. Russo’s phenomenal documentary “America: Freedom to Fascism”, you need to. It chronicles his quest to find out if there is in fact a law requiring Americans to pay taxes on their incomes. No one ever cites the specific law.
When the matter has gone to court, the defendants have almost always had the deck stacked against them. Years ago, a defendant would have the opportunity to a trial by a jury that had far greater power than today’s juries. Jurors had the right to judge not only the facts pertaining to a case, but also the law relevant to that case. If so much as one juror thought the law was unconstitutional, immoral, stupid or even non-existent, the juror could vote to acquit and the defendant would walk.
Again, I have not had the audacity to test this myself. However, I am profoundly convinced of this: some day I will commit some act of civil disobedience. I do not know when or where or what the details will be. However, I see it coming.
In I Corinthians 7:23, Paul exhorts us not to “become slaves of men.” A slave may be described as someone who labors involuntarily for someone else’s benefit. A tax on income is a form of slavery.
In America’s Constitution, the “things that are Caesar’s” are few and defined. Hence, the cost of funding these activities is quite minimal and non-intrusive. The principle of direct taxation on one’s labor was abhorrent to the Founders.
The Founders’ vision of a minimal state was consistent with a worldview that was heavily influenced by the Bible. Even though God ordained civil government – Romans 13 – such government had to be severely limited. Christians have a King, but His Kingdom is not of this earth. (John 18:36) A Christian’s true citizenship is in Heaven, and not on earth. (Philippians 3:20)
Jesus sent His followers out “like sheep among wolves” and instructed them to be “shrewd as serpents.” (Matthew 10:16) The world will be hostile to Christians. This hostility will take many forms. It is your duty as a Christian to navigate through this world wisely, to discern the endless wiles of the enemy and to stand firm until the end in the face of evil. (Matthew 10:22)
(1) Read Romans 13:1-7 in the NIV and KJV.
(2) Please do not construe anything here as legal counsel.
You are certainly right in your essay.
I would quibble with Jesus claiming to be God. If you look at what He said, Jesus always said that He was a son of man. He never said He was God. That was an idea that was sufficiently controversial at the Council of Nicaea that it was put to a vote.
Jesus was executed for treason on several grounds. First, He was a prophet and the Messiah of God, and the God of the Hebrews was not in the official Roman pantheon. So Jesus represented a foreign god to the Romans. Second, Jesus was crucified under the label "Here is the King of the Jews" to show that Roman authority recognized no such kingship. Third, Caesar was regarded as a god by the Romans, and Jesus would not worship Caesar as a god.
As to the important word of Jesus (rather than Paul) it is clear that we are to render unto Caesar only that which is due unto Caesar, and nothing more. We are, Jesus taught, to render unto God what is due unto God. Clearly, the base metal coin with a gold coating which would have been the likely coin for Jesus to hold up in giving this instruction was a sign of fiat money inflation - the debasement of metal currency is always a sign of corrupt government.
In my view, part of the message Jesus was sending to those who could understand (in His time and later) was to render unto Caesar the debased coinage that Caesar creates. Pay taxes in debased coins. But render unto God the true coin, the real value, of your soul. Give yourself heart, mind, and soul to God, in paying what is due unto God. That is the true coin.
In recognizing this matter. Byzantines never debased their gold solidus from AD 480 to 1483. The great Islamic Caliphate never debased the gold dinar from AD 650 to AD 1280 when they were conquered by the Mongols. To this day, some in Islam recognize that alms (zakat) are to be paid in gold or silver coin and not in paper. (You may know that the Koran says that Jesus was the Messiah.)
You're correct that many well-meaning, but ignorant Christians believe they must obey their leaders without question. But our Constitutional Republic is one of laws, not men, and the Scripture repeatedly admonishes us NOT to be "respecters of persons". It is to be assumed that we are only subject to governing authorities as they operate as public servants being subject to"the Supreme Law of the Land" (Article VI, Section 1-3) to which they take an oath. Re: taking an oath the Scripture says:
"If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.--Numbers 30:2
The lack of a law, pursuant to the Constitution, requiring the payment of a direct tax, is a clear violation of their Constitutional oath and those with the courage and fortitude to stand up for the rest of us to resisit that, is obedience to God rather than men.
"Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God" , said Thomas Jefferson. I think he probably paraphrased or borrowed that from William Tyndale who said, "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God" and Tynadale, as you probably know, was executed by the political-religious establishment of his time for having the disobedience and audacious courage to translate and publish the Bible for the people.
You have addressed it well here. I'll forward this on to those who continue to advocate complete submission to tryants.
I too see the day coming when the line will be drawn in the sand for we must obey God rather than men. We can't have it both ways.
May the Lord guide us in the perilous times ahead.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Excellent piece! I think it is easier to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "Render unto Caesar...." when we understand that everything belongs to God the Father and in reality, nothing belongs to any of us! All things are truly gifts from God the father and the Son Jesus Christ!
Here's a couple of things I thought of reading your piece:
1) The D of I is a document that contains quite a bit of "Deist" and "Pantheistic" language which, as we historically know, was written by Freemasons. Many, if not most of the signers were part of this wholly secretive society.
2) King Darius was tricked into placing Daniel in the Lions den. Daniel did not specifically deny him as much as the false decree that those administrators "conned" King Darius into signing. He was duped hence the awful judgment and punishment those administrators and their families faced.
3) If we were to be completely obedient and subservient to "every" whim of government, including having our income taxed 100 percent, how would it be possible for any of us to return to God our 10% token (tithe) that He requires us to return to Him? However, I'm not much of a mind that we have the absolute right to "fight" back against our attackers as much as to lead by the example we were given by the man and our God, Jesus Christ.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
I have some personal experience in this matter if you are interested.
In the early '90's I submitted genuine, certified, legal correspondence to the Internal Revenue Tax and Audit Service, Inc. (IRS). In this I legally revocated every signature on every form I had submitted to them in my lifetime, and then legally challenged their authority and jurisdiction under constitutional law and the Internal Revenue Code. I was very specific and very courteous, allowing them all the legally required time to respond. They defaulted. They did not answer any specific point in regards to their authority and jurisdiction. They did not even respond by certified or registered mail.
I could say many things about this, but I will make one important point.
IN ALL THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE SYSTEMS A PERSON IS LEGALLY COMPELLED TO IDENTIFY HIMSELF WITH THE "SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER" ON PENALTY OF PERJURY.
When someone does this, they waive any and all assumption of Constitutional life, liberty, and property. Now, after all my experience with this I have an honest opinion to offer.
The problem is the genuine Christian church has agreed with the government's definition of the church and failed to agree with GOD'S definition of His church. The government has decided to compel Christian churches with the status of a man-made artificial entity, legally defined as a "501(c)3 non-profit organization". And the Christian church doesn't seem to know any better.
Whether someone wants to fight 'income taxation' is not the real problem. The problem is DENYING THE TRUTH THAT IS GOD'S WORD. Some use a ss#, some don't. But the real authority in my life is God's Word, not any legal document created by man, whether it's the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Internal Revenue Code, the Magna Charta, the Declaration of Proclamation, etc. I know that according to the Constitution I have God-given life, liberty and property, and the government has usurped that. But the government also usurped human life beginning at conception and legalized abortion. So, the problem is between man's government and the true and living Word of God.
Sincerely in Christ,
What did you think of the Mises video, "Money, Banking and the Federal Reserve?"
If you wish to post this or link to it, please let me know and please include a link to this URL. Thanks! -- dfn
Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman