From 1980, when I first came into contact with Reformed theology, I also came into contact with theonomists. As a naïve evangelical I took Romans 13 to God’s Word and as part of the New Testament authoritative for believers in a way that the Mosaic ceremonial and civil laws were no longer. The theonomists with whom I talked, however, regularly dismissed Romans 13 almost as if it was not to be regarded as canonical. They did so because it was almost impossible to reconcile it with their view of the civil magistrate and the theory of the abiding validity of the Mosaic civil laws in exhaustive detail. Some of those theonomists were also Libertarians—it was from the theonomists that I first learned about Ron Paul. On the latter’s connections to the Christian Reconstruction movement see Michael J. McVicar, Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
More recently, overt resistance to Romans 13 seems to be coming from what has come to be called the “social justice movement” among left-leaning evangelicals one of whom recently declared on social media, “abolish the police.” Such sentiment is flatly contrary to the Word of God and certainly as contrary to the Reformed confession of the Scriptures. That such rhetoric is being mooted by ostensibly Reformed folk reveals how profoundly some have become alienated from even the most rudimentary knowledge of Scripture.
Romans 13 says:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Rom 13:1–9; NASB95).
1 Peter 2:13–20 also says:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (NASB95) .
These are just two of the places to which one might appeal to establish what the New Testament says about how Christians are to regard the civil magistrate but they are more than sufficient for any reasonable person. Let us begin at the beginning.
Paul says literally, “Every soul (ψυχὴ) be in submission (ὑποτασσέσθω) to the authorities (ἐξουσίαις).” The form of the verb is imperative. It is not even a hortatory subjunctive, i.e., “ideally, every soul ought to be…”. No, the imperative means this is a direct command. Paul goes on to say that there are no authorities in the world which are not ordained by God. As he wrote Romans 13, young Nero was on the throne. He was an ugly little reprobate who disgusted even his fellow pagans. At this stage he was not quite as revolting as he would come to be but neither did Paul revise his instruction. It is not as if Paul thought, “Well, we should submit to Nero since he seems reasonable but if he begins to put on women’s clothing and to engage in gross sexual immorality with other men, all bets are off.” Paul had contact with the Roman authorities for years until a Roman sword had contact with the back of his neck as he knelt on the Appian Way, outside of Rome. He did not revise his teaching in Romans 13 because he was no Pope making up doctrine as he went along. He was an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the Spirit was inspiring God’s holy, inerrant Word.
Paul literally (and I mean this literally, not figuratively) taught that every civil authority was put into place by God. That is what he taught in v. 1 of Romans 13. For Paul, anyone who resists civil authority is resisting the institution of God. Americans will struggle with this of course but Paul did not want the Christians to be revolutionaries. He wanted them to live in peace with the pagans, to obey the civil law, and to pay their taxes. There are exceptions of course. The Apostles were prepared to submit to the pagan and Jewish civil authorities but they drew the line at being asked to disobey God. They said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In such a case, the Christians were prepared to suffer the consequence of their peaceful civil disobedience whether it be prison (as happened) or martyrdom. One certainly did not find the Christians plotting the violent overthrow of the Romans as one found the non-Christian Jews at various times in 1st and 2nd centuries. One certainly did not find them marching in the streets shouting, “No justice, no peace” nor did one find them marching and shouting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” Such conduct is gross sin and should be subject to church discipline in hopes of bringing about repentance.
According to Paul, those who disobey civil authorities ungodly will receive condemnation (v. 2). We are, he implies, in a sort of covenant of works with the civil authorities. If we obey the civil laws we have nothing to fear since the very function of the civil magistrate is to punish those who break the civil laws. If Christians are not breaking the laws, if they are submitting to the authorities, they have no reason to fear the authorities. He even calls the civil authority God’s minister or servant (διάκονός) for our good. We know that he is referring to the civil authorities (and not to ecclesiastical) because he bears the sword (μάχαιραν). This was a figure of speech grounded in a reality.
Nero did not himself “bear the sword” any more than Gov. Brown or President Trump execute the punishments stipulated by law but Nero, Brown, and Trump each have officers sworn to uphold the constitution and the civil laws of the US and the State of California etc. There were soldiers charged with carrying a literal sword and of using that literal sword to enforce peace and to punish law breakers. They policed public order and enforced peace. To say “abolish the police” is to contradict the explicit teaching of the Apostle Paul.
We can see from vv. 8–9 that the law they are actually enforcing is what we call the second table of the decalogue (the ten commandments). Contra the theonomists and theocrats, we have not a shred of evidence that, after the expiration of the civil state of the Jews (See WCF 19.4) the civil magistrate is authorized to enforce only the second table. Thus, he quotes the 5th, 6th 8th, and 10th commandments. No, Paul was not abrogating the 1st table nor was he eliminating the 7th and 9th commandments but he was giving representative examples from the second table.
He knew full well that Rome had a pagan religious orthodoxy and that Christians would suffer under it, as he did and has other believers would. They would suffer and be martyred for failing to denounce Christ and for failing to say “Caesar is Lord” (in place of “Jesus is Lord”). He knew that they would be unjust arrested, tortured, and, in some cases crucified (as Peter was) and burned to death as were Christians in the mid-60s AD in Rome. Nero is still God’s minister ordained to enforce the 2nd table of the moral or natural law. Above all others, Christians ought to recognize God’s authority in Caesar as God’s minister.
It was with this clear teaching in mind that the Apostle Peter could positively chastise the believers in Asia Minor for even considering violating the civil laws and thus bringing the churches and the Christian faith into disrepute. He knew that the Christian slaves suffered abuse at the hands of their pagan masters. He knew that the civil authorities could be arbitrary and unjust but he commanded them to obey the civil authorities and not to bring shame upon the church and the faith by violating the second table. Peter is relatively merciless to those who do stupid things like stealing or murdering or resisting arrest. He distinguished clearly between Christians who violated civil law and received due punishment (e.g., jail and a beating) and those who were persecuted for righteousness.
In fact, the early Christians were known for their submission to civil authorities and for their civil righteousness. The only “crime” of which the Christians were guilty in Asia Minor c. 114 during that persecution under Trajan was that they admitted to being Christians, that they would not denounce Jesus, and that they would not say, “Caesar is Lord” in place of Jesus. For that they were put to death. A few decades later the Christian philosopher-theologian and apologist, Justin Martyr would say to the civil authorities, “Come and investigate us. You will find that our law is higher than your law and we obey both.”
One cannot read either Romans 13 or 1 Peter 2 and think that it is just or proper for a Christian to say “abolish the police” or any other such sentiment. As I acknowledged above, this is difficult for Americans, who have a long history of rebellion against civil authorities. The American Revolution was a violent rebellion against arguably unjust civil authorities. The best defense of which is probably Calvin’s “lesser magistrates” theory (Institutes 4.20). Under this theory, the people themselves may not revolt but “lesser magistrates,” who have authority from God under Romans 13 (and natural law) have a duty to resist tyrants. Arguably, the delegated assembly in the Continental Congress had authority to resist Great Britain but however one comes out on that difficult question, the clear teaching of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 remain and “abolish the police” is entirely inconsistent with it.
What does submitting to the police have to do with abolishing the police?
Sure there are violent, disobedient ways to promote abolishing police, but there are also peaceful, submissive (even constitutional) ways.
When a cop pulls you over, he is God’s minister. He is one of the ways the magistrate bears the sword.
How else is one to understand, “abolish the police” except, “do away with God’s minister for civil justice”?
Civil society will not police itself. We have not yet arrived at the Marxist utopia and I rather doubt that we ever will.
A couple of things. I have some Canadian and English Reformed friends who would take issue with you on whether Romans 13 and our rebellion against England can somehow be reconciled. Consider the wording or Rom.13 “pay your taxes” and the cornerstone of our rebellion, “No Taxation without representation”. Also, a full third of Americans did not support our rebellion at the time. Canadians certainly didn’t either. Consider this also, we rebelled against a democratic parliamentary government, a professed Christian King and a capitalistic economic system. In the end what did we really rebel against? And why? The primary founding fathers were, to the man, followers of the enlightenment. It was enlightenment philosophy and not biblical exegesis that justified our rebellion. Let’s not fool ourselves that the American Revolution was some kind of Christian act.
I somewhat agree with what Rob has above said.
MOST of America’s founding fathers who garnered what little attention OUR TEACHERS BOTHERED to go through and teach about in the (now utterly communist) brainwashing which children get in all USA government public schools, were only taught to us as being “deists” or “enlightenment thought” thinkers.
ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION was made, in my own personal recollection, of the so-called “Black Regiment” black-robed preachers who were ALSO involved in the American Revolution, and who, UNLIKE the “big name” Deists (Jefferson, Adams, etc..) were actually profound CHRISTIAN thinkers of their time. We children received VIRTUALLY NO education or exposure to those men, and I would never have known they existed, had it not been for great Christian pastors and thinkers we have today like pastor Chuck Baldwin.
Nowadays the black robes have come to mean something entirely different (among modern MAGISTRATES whom I am now mostly speaking of — NOT among black robed preachers who i am not able to quantify) and have become a quasi-Saturnian (Satanic) cult. In today’s earthly sense (civil) only, we ARE ruled today by Satanic cults who secretly push “the black cube” as their idol. And it is not just magistrates who are totally failing or are to blame.
This entire world is falling deeper and deeper into Satan’s fatalistic grasp.
But at any rate, I basically agree with almost all of what R. Scott Clark posted.
I run a fan page on Facebook called “Anarchy Is a Lie” and this was a wonderful article!
I would LOVE to share it on the page that I run, but I myself am in Facebook “JAIL” for doing (admittedly) stupid things that Facebook itself considers a “crime”. (and as far as i am concerned, what i did, or rather, what i said, was not unscriptural).
However, I wish your blog had a WordPress plugin button like “Share This” where I could (more easily) share this on MY OWN WordPress blog. Yeah I could paste a link, the title and first paragraph, etc… But I wish there was the actual WP plugin button that I could use instead. Or even any other kind of social media “share this” button. (WordPress makes their own though).
Thank you for being a constant light!
PS: AND I DID find a local church (Winchester RPCNA in Winchester Kansas) and i am starting to be very happy there! Thank you!
Sharing buttons added.
Yay! for the added share buttons! 🙂
My understanding is that the Reformed historically (Turrentino,Gillespie, Rutherford, etc.) have interpreted Romans 13 as “prescriptive,” and not descriptive.
“I lay down this maxime of Divinitie; Tyranny being a worke of Sathan, is not from God, because sinne either habituall or actuall, is not from God; the power that is, must be from God; the Magistrate as Magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsecall end of his office, Rom. 13:4. for he is the Minister of God for thy good; and therefore a power ethicall, politick, or morall, to oppresse, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God, but from sinfull nature, and the old serpent, then a license to sinne.”—Samuel Rutherfurd, Lex Rex (1644).
I don’t believe we should be calling for police to be abolished, but for police to act righteously. That said, (respectfully) I do not see how it could be said that in Romans 13, Paul was declaring every despot in history and in the future who ever referred to themselves as a ruler a legitimate ruler. Christ himself insulted those who set themselves up as rulers (Herod the “fox”) and Pharisaical Rulers and Priests were a den of thieves, whitewashed tombs, brood of vipers etc. Yet through all of this, Christ did not disobey the Mosaic command to not speak ill against a ruler. These “rulers” were no rulers at all but only usurpers and pretenders. Otherwise Christ would be guilty of breaking the law. No, Romans 13 seems to clearly describe rulers as those who actually carry out their God given function of punishing evil doers and praising good, not vice versa. Consider Augustine:
“Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms? A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention.
If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom, which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity.
For it was a witty and truthful rejoinder which was given by a captured pirate to Alexander the Great. The king asked the fellow, “What is your idea, in infesting the sea?” And the pirate answered, with uninhibited insolence, “The same as yours, in infesting the earth! But because I do it with a tiny craft, I’m called a pirate; because you have a mighty navy, you’re called an emperor.”
St. Augustine, Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans (H. Bettenson, Tr.), Book IV, Ch. 4.
The thing is, will the Magistrate stay within the bounds of his God-given authority, or will he like the civil authority in Geneva, burn Servetus. Some Theonomists have said heresy would again be a physically punishable offence under their proposed regime. The two swords must never be in the same hand. Each must do its own God-appointed work, and rebellion against each will invite its due response, whether wielded properly or not, and the personal wielder of the sword will answer to God for the performance of his duties.
Say what you will about the United States, but it has always been very good at myth-making. As soon as the guns of the Revolutionary Wars fell silent it set about constructing a cosy, specious historical narrative in which words like destiny, liberty and providence played a starring role. The yoke of British tyranny had been cast off, the freedom-loving colonists had rallied together to defeat the redcoats, and the great American experiment had begun.
The realisation that much of this narrative is bunkum has made a depressingly tiny dent in the popular historical imagination. No-one could deny that Britain introduced novel and unpopular kinds of legislation during the 1760s and 1770s, but it wasn’t being tyrannous: just avaricious and obtuse. (Crisis of Empire by Jeremy Black).
However, the loss of the American colonies had no impact on British hegemony. It wasn’t until the British cabinet of 1914 decided to declare war against its long standing ally and close friend Germany in alliance with its ancient adversary (and underwriter of American independence) France that we handed the British Empire on a platter to the American colonials. Oh such sinful and pride filled men to launch such industrial scale slaughter.
What’s the lesson? Don’t rebel rather preach. It is the gospel that is the power unto salvation. Cromwell made peace with Holland, a fellow God fearing nation, because it is the Prince of Peace we serve. Let us raise the sword against God’s enemies with the sword of His word.
“One cannot read either Romans 13 or 1 Peter 2 and think that it is just or proper for a Christian to say “abolish the police” or any other such sentiment.”
1 Peter 2 says slaves are to be subject to slavemaster/owners in roughly the same way as victims of imperialist conquest are to be subject to their invaders (Matthew 5:41). Does this mean it was sinful for William Wilberforce to abolish slavetraders? Why is it OK peacefully and lawfully to abolish slavery but not the police?
Would you also write:
“One cannot read 1 Peter 2 and think that it is just or proper for a Christian to say “abolish slavery” or any other such sentiment.”
Our theory of government says “We the People” created the police. How did “We the People” lose our authority to un-do what we once did?
1. Your parallel between colonialism and 1st-century Greco-Roman slavery is anachronistic.
2. Slavery is not a creational institution, i.e., an institution basic to society. The civil magistrate, including law enforcement, is.
3. Scripture is not libertine.
4. The USA is not a direct democracy. It is not governed by mob rule. It is a representative Republic. The argument is that delegated authorities (“lesser magistrates”) formed the USA.
The simple answer to your last part, is: Constitutional Republics with REPRESENTATIVE government … were just a rarely seen thing. Plato got the ball rolling in Greece, but even Rome’s early beginnings with such a thing, did not last very long. “Et tu, Brutus?”
“We, the people” was, I think, a brand new idea when America started it. That is why it was called “The Great Experiment” because ordinarily “ALL government is FORCE” as even America’s Founders did write. I don’t think even early Rome (with their Senate) had such a thing?
1. I wasn’t intending to create a parallel between colonialism (which can exist merely as a form of theft) and slavery (kidnapping is a capital crime [Exodus 21:16]). I agree that the armed American Revolution of 1776 was a violation of Romans 13. But if colonial appeals to Britain to “leave us alone” (laissez-faire) were met with “OK, you’re on your own” by Britain, it would not be sinful for Americans to continue along that path, choosing to build a Christian Theocracy (literally, “God rules”) on 100% pure laissez-faire capitalism, or as Murray Rothbard called it, “anarcho-capitalism.” http://KevinCraig.us/anarcho-capitalism.htm
2. Assuming you’re correct in claiming that the civil magistrate is a “creational institution,” the police are not, any more than a bi-cameral legislature is “creational,” and abolishing it in favor of a unicameral legislature would be sinful.
3. I never hinted that Scripture is “libertine,” where that word is defined as “morally or sexually unrestrained, especially a dissolute man; a profligate; rake.” Interestingly, I looked up the word at Dictionary.com and discovered that “libertine” also is “3. a person freed from slavery in ancient Rome.” http://www.dictionary.com/browse/libertine?s=t That is certainly Scriptural. But the path to “Biblical libertinism” according to 1 Peter 2 and the letter to Philemon is not rebellion on the part of the slave, but repentance on the part of the slavemaster.
4. I never said the USA was a “direct democracy.” I said it is not a sin for “We the People” to elect “representatives” who understand their mandate to be abolishing the police. It would also not be sinful if every policeman, bureaucrat, and politician repented of theft and violence and resigned their political position to become farmers, and Americans chose not to vote any replacements.
1. I’m unsure about what we’re arguing then.
2. Can you state briefly and clearly your disagreement with my main argument?
3. To be clear, as I suggested in the post, I think the American revolution can be defended on Calvin’s “lesser magistrate” grounds.
4. Perhaps it would help to add that I don’t think that either Paul or Peter are addressing the question of the legitimacy of the state. We should ask these passages to answer questions they do not intend to answer. They are addressing how Christians ought to relate to the civil magistrate, whatever form that polity takes.
5. All states have a police function. This is the nature of the thing. It is the most basic function of the state to police the public behavior of its citizens/residents and to punish those who violate natural law as reflected in the civil law. If no police function, then no state. This is the assumption of Romans 13. The state cannot exercise the sword on those it has not arrested and tried. Even the pagan Romans had a careful judicial system, for citizens at least, whom they tried and then executed a penalty upon the convicted.
6. I used the term “libertine” in the broad sense of those who will have no government. I have libertarian sympathies but for too many Libertarianism has simply become a program to license ingulgence (weed etc).
We don’t need to wonder whether it would be a good idea for all police and politicians to suddenly resign. John the Baptist directly answers this question in Luke 3:12-14.
wow those are VERY GOOD and SALIENT points!!!
I am SO SICK and TIRED of all these HERETICS all over Facebook (with whom i have had much debate) who are always claiming that THE KING OF KINGS (which they never use that term), Jesus Christ, “is an anarchist”!!!
I AM SO TIRED of those people’s GROSS IGNORANCE!!
Don, you just hit the nail squarely on the head!
IF GOD had wanted to abolish or end *HIS OWN* INSTITUTION of Human Government or any given political order, then we could have HAD BARABBAS as a savior and NOT Jesus.
It’s SO SICK! The things i see (even my own “friends”) SPEW on Facebook groups and comments! 🙁
1. Peaceful, orderly, and non-violent efforts to abolish the police are not contrary to Romans 13.
2. The command not to resist evil does not mean evil is not evil. The command to be subject to “the powers” is a command to be subject to malevolent demonic forces pulling the strings of monstrous tyrants.
3. Romans 13 says pay your taxes. No “lesser magistrate” can justify murdering the tax collector, even if he wears an unfashionable Red Coat. It was in fact the “Black Regiment” of Clergy that led the Revolution, not “lesser magistrates” of the king.
4. I agree with this point, though I think it is implicit in Paul’s use of “the powers” that Caesar was not morally (Biblically) legitimate.
5. “Police” as we know them today did not exist for centuries after Christ. No “police” in America before 1838
6. I have never used marijuana. Unlike the last three U.S. Presidents (I don’t know with certainty about Trump, but I suspect he joins the club), I have not even been in possession of a controlled substance (but “didn’t inhale”). I do not favor “indulgence.” But the “war on drugs” — which violently locks pathetic dope users in a cage with a psychopath to be sodomized — is completely antithetical to the teachings of Christ, not to mention the U.S. Constitution.
uhhh wow where do i even begin?!?!
To your points, Kevin,
1. You are flabbergasting me with that one. I fail to see how you can even offer or suggest such an … honestly?! … such a … preposterous thing!? Romans 13 says exactly that any civil order (whether they be Roman centurions or police force – whatever form they take) are exactly ministers of God, by inherent principle of the teaching there.
How can you even justify or backup your point #1 ?!
2. I am sorry but i seriously believe that you are outright twisting the Word of God with this point#2!!! Nowhere does God expect anyone to do otherwise than what the historical martyrs had already done for Him, and that is, yes, to suffer for Christ even as Christ suffered for all of us. Read Acts! Read John Foxe! Read William van Braaght, “Martyr’s Mirror”, etc.. Nowhere did i ever read Jesus say, “Resist the tyrants of the people, and they will flee from you!” Instead, our battle is not of the flesh but of the spirit, and Jesus only commanded “Resist Satan and he will flee from you!”, etc. Our savior, the Son of the Living God, is not Barrabbas! The anarchist, Barabbas, whether in drunken stupor or not, may have ordered such things, but not Jesus!
3. I agree about the Black Regiment. I wish that was more taught in schools. But sadly it just isn’t. I never even heard of them until I got into my 40s. Sadly, from what i know, of (either) the leaders or the entirety of the forces in the Revolution, only 30% of them were solid Christian preachers. The “bigger names” of men, like Jefferson and others, were only deists, and those are the only men that Dewey-esque Communist government indoctrination slave camps AKA “Public School”, is willing to teach to children or adults.
4. I have lately understood that, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s” to be more of a teaching rhetoric, and namely that nothing has ever “belonged” to Caesar, and that everything in all of creation has always belonged to God. Therefore, to “pay taxes” (since all taxation literally is theft), which ignorant people somehow “consent” to, whether by default or blind ignorance of the law (and who, of the general populace, the heck even knows what Natural Law, or even Common Law, is, anyway?)
5. While socialized police may not have existed in America before that time (that was news to me, thank you!), the fact is, militias organized only amongst the people, were always a “thing”, and people did self-regulate as far as i am aware. People were also far more moral back then and thus the conditions for “civil freedom” were more likely to flourish. As opposed to the tragedy and idiocy of today where virtually nobody cares about opening dusty bibles anymore, and the grave decline of western civilization is long, far fallen off the edge, with (what many perceive) as “nothing” to hold onto anymore.
So, do not civil and thus people-organized “militias”, constitute another form of the civil order that God still held auspice in, via Romans 13? If, as you say, there were “no police” before 1838. There were volunteer firemen though, and they did serve as a sort of policing (and to some extent, outright private gang violence and selfish rioting, as seen in the movie “The Gangs of New York”, a historical movie based in the 1800s).
6. My understanding, per Dr. Kent Hovind, is that incarceration, in general, was never a principle of corporal punishment, authorized or directly commanded by God, in the entire history of the Bible? Is this a correct premise of his? I heard him say this in an interview with Pastor Steven Anderson, just shortly after Kent Hovind got out of prison himself, as he was unduly convicted and incarcerated under a long long litany of utterly and proposterous false pretenses in the first place! Anyway, Kent Hovind revealed in that interview that he believed that it was never God’s intention for anyone to receive such “inhumane” treatment as the isolation from other people, whether in an ordinary jail cell or in what is called “solitary confinement” and that the only punishment for criminals, apart from any particular guilt deserving of stoning / Capital Punishment or death, was for a criminal man, guilty of lesser charges, to be publicly flogged along his backside, to a limit of 40 times, and then released in remonstrance. Can anyone here verify that for me, or point me to something to read that can back up his stance on that issue?
At any rate, the current “war on drugs” is a huge conspiracy and a satanic ploy, even a psychological mind control operation that works along the communist precepts of deception. It is a widely known fact that our own American CIA has been “in bed” with the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartels, for a very long time! And the only people directly responsible (other than the local dealers) for getting our children hooked on drugs (of any kind!) is our own United States Government! These dirty monies fill the coffers for their precious “black budget operations” which are kept strictly off the accounting books and have, basically, no pervue (sp?) where even Congressional Americans can review what is going on. Clandestine and shadowy “Special Access Programs” (SAPs) like SkunkWorks and other, far more sinister things, are said to be entirely funded by money-laundering operations such as the CIA’s “war on drugs”, as well as how one hand literally feeds and washes the other hand, with other money laundering operations which are done, like HUD housing which i currently live in.
At any rate, marijuana AKA cannabis, may have been used in the Bible under a more primeval or paleo-hebrew? terminology. “Caneh bosem” (is this where the word or term “cannabis”, etymologically or morphologically came from?) is a topic i have seen bandied about these days by some bible researchers that refers to an anointing oil that may have been used by King David that contained elements of distilled cannabis oil? If this naturopathic formulation of ritual anointing oil was ever ordained by God, and if it was ever directly said in the bible to be routinely used as part of their every day religious culture, then i think we have a much more solid argument, beyond all the many plethora of reasons already widely known in this world today, for a solid legalization of the same, even if only to upset the evil “Big Petroleum” industrial lobby which has unjustly resisted such efforts because of all their “Big Money”.
Use of said plants is not a bad thing if God put them here to be used in His ways only. And yes, it seems to me that it is the fleshly tendency of all too many people to “erect idols” of cannabis plant leaves, whereby you see flags or giant posters of the cannabis plant leaf, and it is a direct idolatry of “worshiping the creation” as Romans chapter 1 directly warned. Indulgence is a frailty of the unsaved man, as well as the saved. Bondage to the perpetual usage of such things (even if the plant substances are not addictive in and of themselves) are always a drought of society, just so as Alcohol or Cigarettes (which are no longer just plain tobacco but are entirely loaded with over 100 cancer causing toxic chemicals — some of which are even radioactive! Active Polonium isotopes have been found in them!)
Everything “we like”, whether food or indulgence of other kinds, seems designed to utterly depopulate our planet! 🙁 And to that extent, there are no longer just “instant martyrs” today but maybe in some cases, we have “slow kill martyrs” now, too. We are all dying that much faster, yet slower over time, because of the many many ways we all poison ourselves with either fake food, Big Pharma drugs, or street drugs of questionable content.
PS: To RSC only — this HTML formatting junk (jumping through hoops) nonsense is totally for the birds! What a huge and ridiculously stupid hassle! It is so much easier for me to just simply type in capital letters than to subject myself to having to embrace everything with these insane nested HTML tags every single time I want to emphasize words or parts of sentences!!! It honestly borders on literary sadism for you to insist that i torture myself (and the way i normally communicate), in this way! 🙁 And it is still not = “shouting”!
Don and Ryan,
“Resigning” from the Roman military (going “AWOL”) was punished by death.
John the Baptist did not advocate suicide. Slaves are commanded to stay and serve their masters. That does not mean that Christians (if they have an opportunity) should not advocate or work peacefully for the abolition of both slavery and the military invasion and subjugation of foreign nations.
But John the Baptist did tell the soldiers and tax collectors to repent of violence and be content with their salary, which completely undermines the “tax farming” system Rome imposed on Israel. That’s like asking the salesmen in the boiler room to be content with their salary — when everyone knows the real money is in the commissions that result from manipulating the consumers. In the case of the soldiers, No extortion, no taxes. The soldiers (verse 14) worked in conjunction with the tax collectors (vv. 12-13).
In 2017, we do not live under slavery or military occupation. “We the People” can do better than that. Being under tribute is not a blessing to be protected and preserved. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” Proverbs 12:24
As Luther said; “I sat and drank Wittenberg beer, and left it to the Word.”
Welp. Within the space of a couple of comments, the conversation has gone from “taxation is theft and slavery” to mind control conspiracies.
Next, I fully expect to see comments about gold fringed flags, common law courts, sovereign citizens, etc.
Dr. Clark hits the nail on the head, though, when he observes the similarities between the leftist Christians pushing the SJ agenda today and the far-right Christians pushing their agenda in previous decades. I’ve said for years that these progressives in PCA were nothing more than a different form of fundamentalist, at the core no different than the moral majority of the ‘80’s or teetotalers of prohibition.
I wonder about Nazi Germany, the Reich, the Church, the Resistance, the Underground, Corrie Ten Boom, the silent, in-denial “Christians” who did nothing. How does it all fit in with Romans 13?
Remember, the point of the essay is to address the proposition: “abolish the police,” which was posted by a self-identified evangelical writer and speaker. I did not try to trace out an entire political philosophy.
That said, I did suggest two lines of thought that I have explored in other essays, namely the Protestant resistance theory that developed in the 1540s under the Lutherans and was elaborated by Reformed writers in the 1570s during and in the midst of the French Wars of Religion. The theological basis for this would Acts 5:29 (as quoted above): “We must obey God rather than men.” There are limits to human civil authority.
Here are some resources:
Beza’s Role In Developing Resistance Theory
Here’s a series on Johannes Althusius.
Calvin and the Lex Naturalis.
In Order for Leviathan to Flourish He Must First Kill Natural Law
Resources on Reformed Approaches to Natural Law
I don’t believe this was brought up by others commenting on what you wrote and that is, the civil rights movement. Would the practices involved during that movement been in violation of what is written in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2? I live in a city that’s been in the news lately due to Black Lives Matter protests. Some involved in the protests have leadership roles within my current denomination, PCA. How do we address injustice and honor God? Are civil protests (which many of those here are not) a way of loving our neighbor?
Your insight, and this blog, are much appreciated.
The post was to address the specific question: shall we abolish the police? My argument is that such a proposition is contrary to the Word of God as confessed by the Reformed churches.
In our Republic, citizens have a right to protest injustice in civil law and practice. They have a right to petition for relief and to see redress through the judicial and political branches.
Christians are likely to disagree over when such protest is proper. In this country Christians can ordinarily get a permit to protest. The Civil Rights protests of the 1950s and 60s were made more complicated by the unconstitutional laws adopted by Southern states under “Jim Crow.” Arguably, those peaceful protests were following the principle that there is a natural law underlying civil law. Violent protests (e.g., those led by Antifa and related organizations) and those BLM protests that have advocated violence are obviously contrary to the Word of God.
A peaceful civil protest is certainly a neighborly act. Taking over freeways, blocking traffic, and looting are violations of the 5th commandment.
Here are some resources:
Beza’s Role In Developing Resistance Theory
Here’s a series on Johannes Althusius.
Calvin and the Lex Naturalis.
In Order for Leviathan to Flourish He Must First Kill Natural Law
Resources on Reformed Approaches to Natural Law
I don’t think Dr Clark is over simplifying Romans 13 because Paul is making a simple point. Putting ourselves in the sandles of the 1st century church, we would be taught all authority is now in the hand of Jesus. We are citizens of the new world, the old passing away. So why should we consider ourselves subject to civil authority particularly when we commit crimes like theft, trespass, or assault? Paul is answering that question that authority to protect persons and their property is God given and a restraining means instead of abandoning Creation to licentious anarchy. No political theory is posited. The overthrowing of magistrates that abuse this authority for evil ends is not denied here. I don’t see how Dr Clark is misinformed or over simplifying things here.