WHAT DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT? — PART 1

In A NEW GOVERNING CONSENSUS, we considered the book Nullifying Tyranny: Creating Moral Communities in an Immoral Society without ever having read it. Since that was so much fun, I decided to read the book.

What started this discussion was the Smash Mouth Politics post, Nullifying Tyranny.  As a result of the discussion there (a debate with a fellow named Steve), I decided to do another post (see here). Steve suggested in his comments Smash Mouth Politics post, Nullifying Tyranny, that an obedient Christian cannot rebel against an oppressive government. In fact, Steve proposes that Christians must adopt a passive role with respect to government (see here).  I think that a foolish overemphasis on a few Bible verses. Nonetheless, such a misperception seems commonplace. Therefore, the authors of Nullifying Tyranny felt compelled to write their book.

Consider the subtitle of Nullifying TyrannyCreating Moral Communities in an Immoral Society.  In a society run by an elite that seeks to theocratically impose Secular Humanism, it is difficult at best for Christians to practice their beliefs. To underscore this point, Nullifying Tyranny begins by quoting 2 Corinthians 6:17. Let’s look at the verse in context.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (Today’s New International Version)

Warning Against Idolatry
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
       “I will live with them
       and walk among them,
       and I will be their God,
       and they will be my people.”
 
       Therefore,
       “Come out from them
       and be separate,
       says the Lord.
       Touch no unclean thing,
       and I will receive you.” 

       And,
       “I will be a Father to you,
       and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Jesus called upon Christians to set an example, to practice His teachings, not the teachings of this world.  Unfortunately, if we allow it to do so, the world will impose itself. That includes using the force of government. Therefore, the authors of Nullifying Tyranny stated their objective.

It is the authors’ desire to demonstrate to God’s people that hope is not lost–“we the people” who hold Christian moral values still have the potential to rise up, throw off the bondage of secular humanist society, and establish moral communities in which our values can be safely passed on to the next generation of Christians.  We wish to demonstrate that moral communities begin with moral individuals and extend to the nuclear family, the extended family, and the community.  The creation of moral communities depends on the ability of “we the people” to control vital social issues at the level of our individual home state which was once known as a sovereign state. This control can become a reality only by dramatic but plausible political action–action taken not to gain political power, but to destroy the system of power, perks, and privileges used by America’s ruling elite to foist a secular humanist agenda upon God’s people.

To get across what Nullifying Tyranny is about, I intend to do three more posts (based upon the outline of the book).

  • Section I: Godly Separation from Evil
  • Section II: Godly Principles of Limited Government
  • Section III: Godly Republic Lost–Godly Republic Regained 
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About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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6 Responses to WHAT DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT? — PART 1

  1. Steve says:

    Hi, Tom:

    Yes, I said an obedient Christian cannot rebel against an oppressive government, with citations and discussion of what scripture teaches about “rebel” (-lion, -liousness, etc.) Your characterization of that statement as “a passive role” misses the mark, unless you equate LACK of rebelliousness with passivity. Do you ?

    Note that I also gave scriptural citations for the POSITIVE actions enjoined on Christians toward their government (whether oppressive or not). Again, these are positive ACTIONS: which fact further disallows the “passive” characterization, does it not ?

    Your mention of “overemphasis on a few Bible verses” is also not accurate. As I mentioned, I looked at every place scripture talks about “rebel” (-lion, liousness), “revolt,” “resist.” Rather than “overemphasis on a few Bible verses,” that’s the totality of what the Bible says about “rebel,” its derivatives and cognates.

    I say an obedient Christian cannot rebel against his government (oppressive or not), because that’s what the Bible says. In the nearly-160 places scripture talks about “rebel” (and etc.), none reference it in any approving way: it’s gross sin (indeed, Satan’s sin), pure and simple.

    If you disagree with my conclusion, I’d urge you to look at the same evidence. There are multiple sites where the full text of the Bible (in whatever version or language you may prefer) is available, with an online search-function for finding every occurrence of any word in scripture. I’ll be interested to hear what you find, and what the total Biblical teaching comes to in your summation.

    Best regards, Steve

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    • Citizen Tom says:

      Steve, whether rebellion is wrong depends upon two things:
      (1) who the rebellion is against.
      (2) the reason for the rebellion.

      The Bible is a book about God’s plan of redemption for us. Why do we need redemption? Adam rebelled against God, and as Adam’s heirs, we continue to do so. To this day, every man and woman, every single one of us, continues to sin. So yes, the Bible frowns upon rebellion against God, and there is no exception. Since God is perfectly good and perfectly holy, we owe Him perfect obediance.

      On the other hand, earthly authorities do not happen to be either perfectly good or perfectly holy. So when earthly authorities demand we do things God does not want us to do, circumstances may require us to resist and even rebel. And in fact, the Bible does provide examples. Here are a few:

      We have already cited the example of Moses and the rebellion he led. However, Hebrews rebelled even before Moses. Otherwise, Moses would not have lived to become an adult.

      Exodus 1:15-20 (Today’s New International Version)
      15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

      19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

      20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.

      Another example is the story of the rebellion against Ahab and Jezebel. Here is how it started:

      2 Kings 9:4-13 (Today’s New International Version)
      4 So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. 5 When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said.
      “For which of us?” asked Jehu.
      “For you, commander,” he replied.

      6 Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. 7 You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel. 8 The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’ ” Then he opened the door and ran.

      11 When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?”
      “You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Jehu replied.

      12 “That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.”
      Jehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ ”

      13 They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

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      • Steve says:

        Hi, Tom:

        I’d disagree: rebellion is wrong when God says it’s wrong. Again, biblically there’s no place He ever says it’s right.

        If I’m understanding you right, by “who the rebellion is against” you mean whether it’s against God or an earthly ruler ?
        That’s what the above scriptures seem to illustrate. Rebellion against God is absolutely wrong: so Jehu and the midwives did right to disobey an earthly ruler because they “feared God.”

        As you say, “earthly authorities demand we do things God does not want us to do.” That’s why I’d urge again that the real question here is the limits of Christian obedience…a vastly different matter than rebellion.

        But as with Moses, it’s stretching it to say the midwives and Jehu exemplified rebellion. They disobeyed earthly rulers, for the absolutely-right reason. What I don’t think those examples illustrate is rebelliousness…defiance…toward earthly kings.

        Far from having an “attitude” about it, the midwives seem to have disobeyed the king entirely quietly. Likewise, scripture goes to some lengths to emphasize that Jehu was minding his own business, with no thought of rebellion, when God told him to kill the king. Like the midwives, Jehu obeyed God rather than man. (Perhaps a technicality; but when God anointed and proclaimed Jehu king, Joram ceased to be king in God’s eyes, didn’t he ?)

        Bottom line, scripture doesn’t call any of your examples…Moses, the midwives, or Jehu…rebellion, or the participants rebels. By that consideration, I’d question characterizing any of those as “rebellion.”

        If you have difficulty conceiving of disobedience EXCEPT as rebellion, here’s a more-modern example. The English Puritans came into conflict with their king, fought with him in Parliament, and finally went to war against him (the English Civil War). When they captured the king, they executed him, and set up their own government (the Protectorate).

        The Quakers, contemporaries of the Puritans, disobeyed the king (after the monarchy was restored) by continuing to hold their worship-services, not paying their taxes to the support of the state church, etc. Their property was seized for taxes, they were hauled into court and fined or jailed, etc. But they kept doing what they did, saying “we must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

        In biblical terms, the Puritans were rebels. The Quakers disobeyed the king…without railing or rebelliousness. I think the difference is illustrative.

        Likewise, Paul’s response in Acts 23:1-5 was initially rebellious (“standing up for his rights” under the law). But when he understood it was the High Priest who had ordered him to be struck, he immediately repented his sass, “because it is written ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

        Check me on this: “Christian conservatives” specialize in speaking evil of the ruler of our people. Unlike Paul, they don’t consider it something they should repent of: but rather, glory in it.

        So what effect do you consider it has to equate such rebelliousness with righteously “obey [-ing] God rather than men.” ? Would the effect be to correct sin…or to confirm sinners in the way that leads to death ? As you note in another post, scripture proclaim “Woe to those who call evil good…”

        A more personal question: is your post “Prayer for Obama” in the spirit of I Timothy 2:1-3, or contrary to it ? Consider too that Psalm 109 is by David…the king: rather than applying TO the king, those judgements are prayed against the king’s “accusers,” aren’t they ? Isn’t it rather more than taking scripture out of context when you turn it to the opposite purpose scripture uses it ?

        Tom, consider and re-think (“repent”) what you’re fostering. Is it God’s will and way that Christians be rebellious and violent…or the enemy’s ?

        Best, Steve

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  2. thatmrgguy says:

    Tom,

    How was the book? I’m thinking of checking the local library for it, unless it’s on the “banned books” list.

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  3. Citizen Tom says:

    It is not bad. I like Senator Demint’s book a bit better, but both are thought provoking.

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  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Steve, I fear you are quibbling, but I will try to address your concerns in my next post. However, you asked a question about my personal conduct I need to deal with now.

    A more personal question: is your post “Prayer for Obama” in the spirit of I Timothy 2:1-3, or contrary to it ? Consider too that Psalm 109 is by David…the king: rather than applying TO the king, those judgements are prayed against the king’s “accusers,” aren’t they ? Isn’t it rather more than taking scripture out of context when you turn it to the opposite purpose scripture uses it ?
    Tom, consider and re-think (“repent”) what you’re fostering. Is it God’s will and way that Christians be rebellious and violent…or the enemy’s ?

    The Bible verse I quoted is this one, and I quoted at the bottom of this post, LEADERSHIP WITH AN AGENDA ALL ITS OWN?.

    Psalm 109:8 (Today’s New International Version)
    May his days be few;
    may another take his place of leadership.

    I did not condone using that Bible verse or call upon anyone to harm the president. What I observed is that Obama is abusing his authority and that some people are getting angry about it. In all my years, I have never seen that Bible verse used with respect to one of our presidents. In fact, I got it from a lifelong Christian in his 80’s. When he got it in an email, he at first thought it a joke. He had to go look it up.

    What I suggested is the following:

    Pity and pray for the poor man’s soul, and hope he will change his tune.

    Whether David was the King when he wrote Psalm 109 I don’t know. Since David spent quite a few years as a fugitive from King Saul….

    The respect we give to authority depends upon the alternatives. When David found himself in opposition to the Lord’s anointed, he ran. As Saul was the legitimate king, David had no other good alternative.

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