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Thanks everyone for your responses!
| 2013/10/10 17:53||Profile|
Tennessee, but my home's in Alabama
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I posted this about 2-3 years ago on another forum that I've been part of for about 10 years. It is something that not a lot of folks would agree with. I can only say it is my honest understanding:
Let's get to the core of the Bible debate. Get a bible and go to Romans 13, but be ready to look at chapter 12 and to flip to parts of Isaiah. Okay, so some trot out Romans 13 and say, "See? Obey the civil laws! Then, you can be 'right' with the law and then it'll be okay for you to receive/do ministry." Here's why that reliance on Romans 13 is misplaced. I concede that my view is a minority view, here, by the way. But, the passage is constantly wretched out of the larger context and used to mean the opposite of Paul's teaching, as I understand him. Let me explain.
Of course, what we're dealing with is the infamous passage in Romans 13 about civil authorities, etc.
"Be subject to" in Rom. 13:1 is used by Paul after he has already laid down a theme of "loving your enemies" in the sense that Jesus described. That is the bed in which Paul lays this pillow in Rom. 13:1. We must begin understanding Paul's point in 13:1 by going back to Rom. 12:14. In fact, as Paul rolls into his "be subject to" statement in 13:1, he assumes that the powers-that-be are evil at the core in the preceding sentence at 12:21 -- "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." That very sentence is also embedded in a very Sermon-on-the-Mount, didactic and imperative type of instruction in how Christians are to live. It is interesting that those instructions include loving enemies, feeding the hungry and helping those who are both needy and opposed to us. THAT is the backdrop of 13:1 and the "be subject to" instruction.
So, in no way does Romans 13:1 teach that "Hey, the government is a legitimate force to be obeyed. Acknowledge it, submit to it, because it is the government." On the contrary, Paul uses the government as Exhibit #1 of who the enemy of Christians really is and instructs us to do the very thing that is most counter-intuitive but is the epitome of losing-life-for-the-sake-of-Jesus'-name: let the enemy rail. Don't resist. Don't counter. Don't try and pull a power play back on it.
Now, as to the part of Romans 13 about government being instituted by God. Here's the deal. We must keep the backdrop in mind and not peel the words out and stick them on present circumstances and make them something they weren't when Paul wrote them.
Paul is an Old Testament scholar. There was no "New Testament" canon yet; in fact, Paul was writing part of the NT in this letter. He knows the lesson Israel learned (or failed to) in 1 Samuel 8 and thereafter -- that God accepts human, civil government as an accomplished fact. He does not establish or ordain in any sense of "approval" or "legitimization" any civil government; the only government now recognized as "legitimate" by God is the church, the body of Christ, ruled over by its Head, Jesus, who is described elsewhere by Paul as the one and only King. (See, 1 Timothy 6:15, wherein Paul says of Jesus that He is "the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords"). Civil, human government is the rejection of the government of God, as illustrated in 1 Sam. 8 and by every government thereafter. If Paul means to say that God legitimizes and approves civil government in Romans 13, then he is lying about Jesus to Timothy and admits of more than one sovereign. But, just as hard-heartedness of humanity lead to the "acceptance" of divorce by God (see, Matthew 19), God has "accepted" or "allowed" human government -- but both are sinful and both are objects of God's scorn, and both (along with everything else) will face a final extinction in the day of wrath. But, that's another topic.
What of these government folks being called "servants of God"? In Isaiah 13, God calls pagan warriors who exercise His judgment on Israel the same thing. Yet, God, through Isaiah, makes plain that even their evil will meet an end: when God is finished using them to do His work in exacting judgment on Israel, He will destroy those pagan warriors, too! (And, that did, in fact, happen. Read Isaiah 10:5-7, 12-13.)
The Assyrian 'government' in Isaiah 10 acted as the Alabama Legislature -- and voters supporting it -- act now: "I have acted in my own might and I have laid my schemes using my own wisdom" -- and that is precisely what God judged of the Assyrians.
Let's look also at Isaiah 45, where God speaks of Cyrus of Persia as God's "Messiah"! That's right. He uses that very lofty word to describe His servant Cyrus whom He would use to allow Israel to return to Jerusalem from captivity in Persia. Paul's use of "servants of God" in Romans 13 is highly informed by these prophetic mentors of his. Government, to Paul, is not a legitimate, God-approved entity. Rather, it is an enemy of the true faith, but one who must be loved in the way Jesus commands to love enemies, and one who is allowed by God (because that's what humans have chosen and keep on choosing, which has huge implications eschatologically, by the way) to deliver the world up to him until that point in time where every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (See, Philippians 2).
What we owe to those in government is love. They are people. But, we are not to obey and follow their folly when they act in ways that are, in truth and in fact, anti-Christ. ... [text omitted, specific to context of the thread this was posted on and irrelevant here]
I would extend that rationale of government's inherent opposition to Christ to every action it makes. I have never been more skeptical of the ability of anyone to be a Christian and an elected politician because, at bottom of it, selfishness as a candidate and then the actual support by the office holder of the government that is inherently opposed to Christ must happen. In fact, I am seriously shaky on whether a sworn officer of the court who has to give an oath of support and allegiance to that government can continue to be and do both if he calls himself Christian. [That last remark was meant to be self-deprecating humor: I'm a lawyer.]
My .02 ----- on steroids.
| 2013/10/10 18:54||Profile|
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I second that: thanks everyone for the responses! I love the diversity in Christ's body (i.e., the church). KM
| 2013/10/10 22:57|
| Re: Just a couple thoughts|
No need to re-write the Federalist papers here, though those writings should be in the mind and heart of everyone who loves living in freedom. It was the Christian thought foundation that produced first these writings, then the Constitution that followed. What these men knew, whatever their personal belief systems were, was that human law always needs to be subject to God's devine law if a society is to live in freedom.
For example, you cannot make a law allowing the murder of unborn children, there is no authority for that. Laws from abortion down to the legal size of a Big Gulp from a convenience store are just baseless human laws of tyranny and hinder God given freedom. As is obvious, we just live with a great deal of local tyranny, they sometimes call it "soft tyranny." But there comes a point...
As Paul notes in Timothy, governments are instituted among men to praise those who do good and punish those who do evil. We indeed need to be in proper submission to such government. But when the tide turns and the government is praising those who do evil and punishing those who do good, what do we do then?
Freedom is a golden treasure that has not been a big part of human experience throughout the ages. But when it has happened, it was because righteous men fought for it. Not only that, but in the fighting many men gave up their lives that others might enjoy that freedom later.
As an American, I never forget the price paid for the freedom I enjoy. I have also been a combatant in the fight for freedom, and I don't forget that either. I have war stories.
I guess in short, I believe in submission to government, and the right to rebel against evil and corrupt government.
We'll see where this goes, for sure wars and rumors of wars will continue to the end. Governments like the one in North Korea just plain need to be overthrown.
| 2013/10/13 15:19||Profile|
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Sidewalk, you write..........
" God given freedom," in relation to the political freedoms we have here in America. Can you give me an example of this kind of freedom in the NT? Where are we exhorted to fight for this? I could make a strong argument, using the sermon on the mount and other Scripture against it, but I am wondering what Scriptures you base this opinion on? ..........bro Frank
| 2013/10/13 16:53|
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brother what is your obsession with challenging everyone that Gives God the glory for the religious freedoms that we and you have always been blessed with ?
RE: " God given freedom," in relation to the political freedoms we have here in America. Can you give me an example of this kind of freedom in the NT?
I would be very willing to give you atleast $1,500 towards a trip for you to go to North Korea find a mount or area of large crowds of people and start open air preaching.
| 2013/10/13 18:41||Profile|
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Perhaps it is you brother that has the obsession ? Perhaps obsession lies in the eyes of the beholder?
I have not always been blessed by " religious freedoms" brother. You also offered another brother money to go to North Korea not knowing that the brother you offered the money to is blind and spends five nights a week praying for that country and others.
It is always helpful to simply " play the ball," rather than personalizing issues brother and " playing the man." The question still remains, and remains unanswered " what is NT Biblical grounds for stating that the political freedoms enjoyed in America are of God?" ...........bro Frank
| 2013/10/13 19:49|
| Re: Freedom|
I gather, Appolus, that you have yet to connect yourself to Obamacare? If you want an example of losing your freedom, and thus being awakened to just how precious it is- go ahead and entangle yourself in that sulfur infused legislation from The Pit.
If I have to defend the notion of what it means to fight for freedom from the Bible, I will be wasting breath and causing millions of electrons to be unnecessarily inconvenienced. It is just a reality of humankind that some will rule over others, depriving them of freedom out a large catalog of reasons. I know this, I compensate for it by remaining cheerfully free in Christ, and live my life without complaining.
By all rights I should have been killed in Vietnam a long time ago, this life I now live by the faith of the Son of God- is all just extra anyway!
I also know that freedom can lull people to sleep, give them time and resources to find their way into moral ruin, and cause pain for others. But freedom is still preferable to bondage, and worth the effort to have it in my mind. The New Testament treatment of freedom is centered around being free in Christ, free from sin, free to proclaim the gospel. It is not a handbook on guerrilla warfare and toppling regimes.
Paul at one point while counselling that slaves should serve their masters as unto the Lord, suggests that if they get an opportunity to become a freedman they should take it. Well, duh!
The New testament does not replace the Old Testament, and my bible actually has both volumes in one binding. In Timothy, Paul exhorts his young protege that all scripture is valuable for presenting the Word of God to his hearers. That would be Old Testament material. And there is some pretty intense fighting you can read about there, when the oppressed rise up against their oppressors in the desire to live free. The Midianites come to mind.
A very specific Word came to me on October 13th 1967, as I crouched in the jungle with the roar of a gun battle whizzing past my ears. The young sergeant's radio man was hit and lying about 40 feet in front of us with Viet Cong not far in front of him. Sergeant Doug wanted to crawl out there to pull him back and asked me, the conscientious objector, to hold his rifle in defense of all three of us. There was no hesitation. I slammed the rifle into full-auto, and trained it on the enemy bunker. Doug was able to extract the wounded soldier, and I handed him back his rifle- it had not been fired.
The battle raged on after that incident, many more men were hit, and several died right there. I was the medic, running around helping as many as I could. My ears were deafened by the roar of the guns, my mind racing as I worked on the wounded- that unforgettable smell that comes with fresh battle wounds. I cannot tell you how long it went on- 20 minutes or 3 hours.
But I could not shake the searing memory of holding that rifle prepared to kill. The Word was clear, "There is a time to heal and a time to kill." I had experienced what that second part of the verse feels like.
Submission to government took me 13,000 miles from home to a war I didn't understand then, and apparently no one understands now.
My love for freedom was created in a cauldron of blood, noise and fear. Very different from paging though Bible passages at a Starbucks with a buddy and a couple of lattes.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but once one leaves academia, real life does its own teaching. We don't all end up with the same ideas or even the same exact values.
So... Here we are with a great forum to talk to each other about it all!
| 2013/10/13 23:15||Profile|
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appolus wrote : ///Perhaps it is you brother that has the obsession ? Perhaps obsession lies in the eyes of the beholder?///
appolus wrote ///I have not always been blessed by " religious freedoms" brother.///
I did not say that you was blessed "by" I said we have been blessed "with" !
There is without a doubt a great temptation that comes with religious freedoms as what Thieleman J. van Braght correctly asserts, but that does not deny the fact that we give God thanks and give him Glory for our religious Freedoms.
appolus wrote : /// The question still remains, and remains unanswered " what is NT Biblical grounds for stating that the political freedoms enjoyed in America are of God?" ...........bro Frank ///
Are you implying that the religious freedoms that We are blessed with are not from God ?
As far as the NT Biblical grounds for stating that the political (religious)freedoms enjoyed in America are of God :
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Does your doctrine's cause you to speak evil of the minister for its usage of the sword ?
| 2013/10/13 23:22||Profile|
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Sidewalk, you write..........
"A very specific Word came to me on October 13th 1967, as I crouched in the jungle with the roar of a gun battle whizzing past my ears. The young sergeant's radio man was hit and lying about 40 feet in front of us with Viet Cong not far in front of him. Sergeant Doug wanted to crawl out there to pull him back and asked me, the conscientious objector, to hold his rifle in defense of all three of us. There was no hesitation. I slammed the rifle into full-auto, and trained it on the enemy bunker. Doug was able to extract the wounded soldier, and I handed him back his rifle- it had not been fired."
I am not sure why laying down your objections ( you say you were a conscientious objector) and picking up a gun proves anything brother? Your experiences do not change the word of God.
"My love for freedom was created in a cauldron of blood, noise and fear. Very different from paging though Bible passages at a Starbucks with a buddy and a couple of lattes.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, but once one leaves academia, real life does its own teaching. We don't all end up with the same ideas or even the same exact values."
Does your experiences over-ride the truth of Scripture brother? My love of freedom was born at the foot of a bloody battle-field, the bloody battle-field of Calvary.......bro Frank
| 2013/10/13 23:34|