Saturday, February 06, 2010

The American Revolution: Was it Biblical?

Was the American Revolution Biblical? This question was posed to me recently, and in this post I would like to share some thoughts on the matter.
I acknowledge up front that this question is one that has been strongly debated by Christians at times. In fact, there was not consistent agreement among Christians at the time of the Revolution either.

I think that the following assessment by Derek H. Davis, Director of the Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, in an article entitled How Christian Was the American Revolution?, shows the diversity of opinion among Christians at the time:
How Christian was the American Revolution? The answer perhaps depends upon how we understand the question. If we seek to know whether there was an adequate biblical justification for the Revolution, we probably cannot give a very satisfactory answer because while there were many Christian patriots who supported the Independence movement, there were many Christian Tories who supported submission to Great Britain and many Christian pacifists who thought that war under any circumstances was wrong. In other words, Christians disagreed on whether the Revolution was a part of God’s will. If, however, we seek to know whether the Revolutionary movement was sustained by Christian ideals, we can probably come closer to saying that the Revolution was indeed Christian, since so much of the Revolution's ideological underpinnings were theological arguments advanced by Christians.
When we come to Scripture for an answer as to whether or not the American Revolution was, in fact, Biblical, the primary passage has to be found in Romans:
NKJ Romans 13:1-7 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists [ὁ, followed by the present participle of ἀντιτάσσω] the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
Here the key verses are verses 1-2, which appear to be as universal a statement for Christians as one could imagine. These verses clearly assert that “every soul” must be subject to the governing authorities, that there is “no authority” that has not come from God, and that all the “authorities that exist are appointed by God” (vs. 1). They further clearly assert that “whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God” (vs. 2). (For a restatement of the general principle see also Titus 3:1.)

Indeed, this passage appears to be so clear that it has led John MacArthur to declare:
Over the past several centuries, people have mistakenly linked democracy and political freedom to Christianity. That's why many contemporary evangelicals believe the American Revolution was completely justified, both politically and scripturally. They follow the arguments of the Declaration of Independence, which declares that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are divinely endowed rights.

Therefore those believers say such rights are part of a Christian worldview, worth attaining and defending at all cost including military insurrection at times. But such a position is contrary to the clear teachings and commands of Romans 13:1-7. So the United States was actually born out of a violation of New Testament principles, and any blessings God has bestowed on America have come in spite of that disobedience by the Founding Fathers. (Why Government Can't Save You: An Alternative to Political Activism, p. 6)
But, of course, the many Christians who supported the Revolution at the time were not oblivious to the importance of this passage. In fact, it was at the heart of the debate about whether or not they should offer their support to the cause. Historian Derek H. Davis, in the aforementioned article, is again helpful here:
Christians seeking a scriptural perspective on a possible war with England were especially challenged by Romans 13:1: "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." This verse was an obstacle to many Christian colonists. How could a Christian support independence in the face of such a clear statement that God ordains all governmental authority and obedient Christian citizenship requires submission to such authority? Anglican minister Jonathan Boucher of Maryland, for example, concluded in a 1775 sermon that "obedience to government is every man's duty . . . because . . . it is enjoined by the positive commands of God." Loyalists (those who opposed the Revolution) numbered about one-third of the American population and many of them cited Romans 13:1 as the basis of their loyalty to the mother country.

But Romans 13:1 could be interpreted differently. Many patriot preachers taught that the passage did not require unlimited passive obedience unto despotic, evil governments; it rather approved of human government in a broad, generic way in which submission would be the normal practice. Prominent Congregational minister Jonathan Mayhew, for example, held this view, stating that civil magistrates should be obeyed only so long as “they do not grossly abuse their power and trust, but exercise it for the good of those that are governed.” This interpretation of Romans 13:1 became widespread among other colonial preachers, thus removing the verse as an obstacle to revolution.

Patriot ministers regularly preached on the theme of liberty as well. If God's people had "been called to liberty," as Galatians 5:13 promised, meaning liberty in Christ, then it did not seem too much a stretch to believe that this also meant freedom from political tyranny. This theme was further supported by the social contract and natural right theories of such philosophical divines as John Milton, Algernon Sydney, and especially John Locke. Modern researchers have affirmed that outside of the Bible, the writings of John Locke were the most frequently cited source for justifying the Revolution.
The problem with the interpretation of Romans 13:1 offered by Jonathan Mayhew – i.e. that civil magistrates should be obeyed so long as “they do not grossly abuse their power and trust, but exercise it for the good of those that are governed” – is that Paul seems to envision no such qualification. And one would certainly have expected him to offer such a qualification if he agreed with it, especially since at the time he was writing Nero was most likely the Emperor. But whoever the Emperor was at the time, corruption was fairly common in Roman government in the latter half of the first century. Perhaps it would be good, then, to take a look at a couple of other arguments for a different understanding of Romans 13:
1) the argument that we must not overthrow government as an institution, and

2) the argument that we may overthrow the government if in doing so we obey an interpositional authority.
First, some Christians make the argument that we must not overthrow government as an institution and live in anarchy. David Barton (“the Founder and President of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage") argues in an online article entitled The American Revolution: Was it an Act of Biblical Rebellion? that:
Americans embraced two specific theological positions that guided their thinking and conduct in the conflict with Great Britain.

The first was that most Christian denominations during the Founding Era held that while they were forbidden to overthrow the institution of government and live in anarchy, they were not required blindly to submit to every law and policy. Those in the Founding Era understood that the general institution of government was unequivocally ordained by God and was not to be overthrown, but that did not mean that God approved every specific government; God had ordained government in lieu of anarchy – He opposed anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness, and wickedness and wanted civil government in society. Therefore, a crucial determination in the colonists’ Biblical exegesis was whether opposition to authority was simply to resist the general institution of government (an institution ordained by God Himself), or whether it was instead to resist tyrannical leaders who had themselves rebelled against God. (The Scriptural model for this position was repeatedly validated when God Himself raised up leaders such as Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson, and Deborah to throw off tyrannical governments – leaders subsequently praised in Hebrews 11:32 for those acts of faith.)

[And later in the article he says] The second Scriptural viewpoint overwhelmingly embraced by most Americans during the Revolutionary Era was that God would not honor an offensive war, but that He did permit civil self-defense (e.g., Nehemiah 4:13-14 & 20-21, Zechariah 9:8, 2 Samuel 10:12, etc.). The fact that the American Revolution was an act of self-defense and was not an offensive war undertaken by the Americans remained a point of frequent spiritual appeal for the Founding Fathers. After all, Great Britain had attacked America, not vice versa; the Americans had never fired the first shot – not in the Boston Massacre of 1770, the bombing of Boston and burning of Charlestown in 1774, or in the attacks on Williamsburg, Concord, or Lexington in 1775.
Notice that the first argument here must assume that Paul had in mind only that we should not resist the institution of government in general and so opt for anarchy when he said, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God …” (Rom. 13:1-2a). But the problem is that Paul is not speaking in this way. He is quite plainly asserting that any particular authority over us has been placed there by God when he says in explanation of the command to “be subject to the governing authorities” that “there is no authority except from God.” In my opinion, to argue that Paul only has in mind resistance to the establishment of any kind of government at all is to read into the text.

As for Barton's allusion to Old Testament examples of rebellion against a governing authority, I would respond that, in my view, these cases were all instances of God's special revelation that such should be done or of His divine intervention on behalf of a people whose position was that of a national entity under His rule. Can we really apply such cases in the history of national Israel to the Church? I think not. I think this would fail to properly take into account the differences between the nature of the Old Covenant people of God as a nation among nations and the New Covenant people of God as a family of believers from among all nations. Under the Old Covenant the very nature of the case often required rebellion against foreign oppressors or the overthrow of wicked kings, and then only with Divine sanction and guidance. But the New Covenant Church is not such an entity. As Jesus said to Pontius Pilate:
NKJ John 18:36 “Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.'”
As for part two of Barton's argument, I suppose we would have to debate whether or not the Revolution was in reality a war of self defense or whether or not it was the resistance of an authority that had the right to quell opposition by means of force. As I consider this notion in the context of Romans 13, I can't help but wonder why the early Church did not avail herself of such an argument, especially when one considers just how unjust the Roman government could often be in its use of force.

Second, some Christians make the argument that we may overthrow the government if in doing so we obey an interpositional authority. That is, if we are subject to a lesser authority which rebels against a higher authority, then we may obey that lesser authority by joining in the rebellion. And the magistrates in early America, it is argued, constituted just such lesser authorities.

But notice that this argument assumes that it would be right for a lesser authority to seek to overthrow a higher authority in the first place. But what if it isn't right? Does Paul assume in Romans 13 that it would be right? Or does his position indicate that it would be wrong? It appears to me that it would indeed be wrong, because it would in any case entail resistance of a God ordained authority, and such resistance would be considered sin by Paul. In fact, couldn't I argue on the basis of Romans 13 that, when a lesser authority requires me to disobey and resist a higher authority, I must disobey that lesser authority because it is requiring me to sin against God?

Now, I obviously do agree that Paul expects the governing authorities to wield their authority justly, but he does not say that resistance is acceptable if they fail to do so. Not that he wouldn't agree that civil disobedience is permissible at times, for I have no doubt that he would agree with Peter and John and the rest of the Apostles when they practiced civil disobedience. For example:
NKJ Acts 4:18-20 “And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.'”
NKJ Acts 5:27-29 “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, 'Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!' 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: 'We ought to obey God rather than men.'” (For Peter's general point of view, which of course agrees with Paul, see 1 Peter 2:13-14.)
Of course we could add other Scriptural examples of civil disobedience, such as the Hebrew midwives in ancient Egypt (Exod. 1:15-21) or Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in ancient Babylon (otherwise known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Dan. 3:8-18), or Daniel in Persia (Dan. 6:1-23). But the point is that in none of these cases is overthrow of the government involved. They disobeyed only at those points where the governing authority expressly required them to disobey God.

Now, I suppose one could give Old Testament examples where overthrow of the government did take place, such as when Jeroboam the son of Nebat rebelled against Rehoboam, but aside from the problems with directly applying such Old Covenant situations to the New Covenant Church, I would simply observe that in this case (and others like it) there was special revelation from God calling for the rebellion (1 Kings 11:29-39). Kirby Anderson, President of Probe Ministries, cites such examples in an online article entitled Civil Disobedience, and he makes the following helpful observations:
Notice that in each of these examples there are at least two common elements. First, there was a direct, specific conflict between God's law and man's law. Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill male Hebrew babies. Nebuchadnezzar commanded his subjects to bow before the golden image. King Darius ruled that no one could pray. And, in the New Testament, the High Priest and the Council forbade the apostles from proclaiming the gospel.

Second, in choosing to obey God's higher law, believers paid the normal consequence for disobedience. Although most of those previously cited escaped the consequence through supernatural intervention, we know from biblical and secular history that others paid for their disobedience with their lives.
Actually, we may be called upon to carry out such civil disobedience in the near future. As the recently drafted Manhattan Declaration asserts in its final paragraph:
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s. (This document was drafted October 20, 2009 and released November 20, 2009.)
Although I personally could not sign the Manhattan Declaration because of the way it leads to confusion concerning the nature of the Gospel (as I indicated here), I certainly agree with these concluding sentiments. However, these sentiments do not call for a revolution, but only for disobedience of the government at those points where the government would call upon us to disobey God. And this is a crucial distinction.

Readers of this article may also be interested in my post entitled A Memorial Day Reflection on Christian Patriotism. See also Jeff Johnson's article entitled Giving Uncle Sam His Due.

36 comments:

  1. Good article Pastor. I often find that when we are seeking self justification for ourselves we gloss over simple biblical principles. At the same time some will also say that because sin is involved in the founding of the United States that it invalidates our Nation as being a Nation. How would you address that kind of a statement? I have some idea on how I would address it but look forward to know, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story."

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  2. I haven't formed any strong stances in this arena yet but it is a question I have mulled over in the past. I believe there is a limit that can be breached that would call for action in most authority-submission relationships (government, church, marriage, parental, etc.). But I don’t know if I could staunchly define much yet.
    The church authority question seems related too. I don’t think I would even begin to think the reformation was unbiblical. Things are also much different nowadays because we can essentially remove ourselves out from under the authority of a church leadership structure. Obviously this is not often the case with governments. How bad does a church authority have to be in order to be biblically justified in ignoring their directives? Is it a subversion of parental authority to share truth with a teenager when you know their parents are against it? Surely I would still want to share the gospel with a mormon or catholic but how about reformed theology with an arminian young person? These are just some questions I had to deal with lately and this government submission discussion reminded me of how they are all similar yet different.

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  3. Second, some Christians make the argument that we may overthrow the government if in doing so we obey an interpositional authority. That is, if we are subject to a lesser authority which rebels against a higher authority, then we may obey that lesser authority by joining in the rebellion. And the magistrates in early America, it is argued, constituted just such lesser authorities.

    This argument needs to be carefully understood. It is not simply saying that we can vote to create an interpositional power and therefore rebel against authority. It is referring to a legitimately appointed lesser magistrate and to the legal power that it is given.

    The question then must be asked in every particular instance, what legal authority does the lesser magistrate in question have to resist the higher magistrate. This was precisely the question of the American Revolution. I'm looking forward to reading John Philip Reid's work on the Constitutional History of the United States. His work explores the reality that Americans were concerned with the rule of law and about the legality of their separation from England.

    From a review of the book:
    Most important, the ideological historians tended to equate constitutionalism with the fungible concepts of politics rather than recognize it as a principled expression of deep-seated belief in the law. The law, these scholars claimed, had largely failed as a guide in the midst of the Revolution’s constitutional crisis... Moreover, Reid finds that Americans and the inhabitants of Great Britain were animated by a common desire: to live under a rule of law. In this sense, the Americans were not rebelling but instead attempting to restore an understood relationship between government and the governed in which the former owed a duty to the latter based on law. It was, in fact, the arbitrary actions of the English Parliament that stirred resentment and prompted the colonists to demand that they be treated like what they thought they were Englishmen.

    http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=485


    This has some parallels to Acts 22:22-29.

    It may be that the Revolutionary War was still unbiblical, but that conclusion should not be reached without thoroughly studying the legal issue.

    If we want to apply the question to our lives today, then we have to recognize that the Constitution is the authority, not whoever holds office (as opposed to Caesar's rule). Thus if someone holding office is acting unlawfully, they are not acting from an office of authority.

    This article does a good job of illustrating some of the differences between Paul's Rome and our United States:
    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=507

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  4. Beyond the things said so far, I find it interesting that today we are under far more taxation than the colonists ever dreamed of.We face a far more intrusive government than they did and this of our own making.

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  5. I forgot to add that I do think this post is very helpful, especially in critiquing the varying views.

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  6. Puritancovenanter,

    I would note that the Roman government was also founded with a great deal of sin, but that didn't stop Paul from including it as one of the many authorities that had been appointed by God. But here we get into the whole issue of how it is that God's providence relates to evil, and I can think of no better succinct answer that that provided by the 1689 Confession:

    "God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor has fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree." (3.1)

    I thank God that by His sovereign will I am a citizen of the United States of America, and I am glad that in His providence such a place exists on the earth, but I do not by this remove the liberty and responsibility of those second causes involved, nor do I negate their sin in the matter.

    Granted, in the end such a position involves the acceptance of mystery, but it is, I believe, a Biblical position.

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    1. This statement doesn't make any sense: "I thank God that by His sovereign will I am a citizen of the United States of America", yet you declare that what the founders did was a sinful act of rebellion and disobedience to Romans 13:2. So it was God's will that His own law be broken??
      Taken at face value, this would suggest that not only did God ordain a rebellious government to take the place of a righteous and justified one, but that God desired for the men who founded it to commit their sins in establishing it!
      Moreover, due to the lust to dominate and the suggestion on the part of government that their power is absolute and everlasting, there is nearly no new government that is formed that does *not* usurp authority from a prior one, yet Romans 13:1 tells us that ALL government is ordained of God, which necessarily includes the ones which usurp authority from others! Under this given interpretation of this scripture, God has necessarily ordained a system under which His law will be continually broken and sin will be continually committed, and in every case the result is not death but God's total approval of the outcome!
      Now, let's NOT hear this answered by saying that 'all things work together for good', as that doesn't apply here. God is responsible for ordaining, that is to say, designing and approving this system. And every government that is formed is ordained of God as well; that is to say, He intended for their creation to take place. This would have to mean that God intends for sinful acts to be committed in the creation of new governments.
      And even beyond this matter of God contradicting and opposing Himself, there is STILL the issue that vexes fledgling Christians from growing in their faith until this very day: IF God has ordained all government, good or bad, and ALL rulers rule at His behest, has God set up tyrants and murderers to our detriment? God has CERTAINLY created a system under which, if all government is ordained of God irrespective of any other conditions, those who are willing to use force, commit murder, steal, lie, and every other crime kings and politicians OFTEN commit worldwide, more easily rise to power and dominate the peaceful and the righteous who believe they have no right to use force to affect their wishes in society or their desires concerning their neighbors. God would have to then be responsible, since this is the case, for the Third Reich, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Chey’s Cuba, Genghis Khan and Caligula.
      And HOW then, could God, knowing the hearts of men and who would be righteous rulers and who would be evil, ever stand justified to cause the downfall of a ruler for their wickedness? Certainly I don’t believe this is still taking place today, where God plays an active role in passing judgment on nations in the earth. But it VERY certainly DID happen in the first century, because God speaks harshly about the Roman Empire and the judgment, ultimately destruction, He would bring to pass upon them in the book of Revelation! The beast which opposed Heaven and God and the lamb in Revelation WAS the Roman Empire, very clearly. And the destruction God promised the beast in the book of Revelation did ultimately come to fruition. Now let us ask: If God had chosen better more righteous rulers, say even a Christian, to rule Rome, would it have committee the unspeakable horrors that it would go on to commit against Christians and Jews throughout the hundreds of years following the life of Christ before it was completely destroyed? How then could God, having made the mess of the Empire by putting psychotic madmen in charge of it and sponsoring its authority with total approval, then turn and be angry about the consequences?
      In all of these questions we have to ask ourselves: Is a God that would make the world adopt a system that necessarily elevates the wickedness and devices of man worth worshiping? Is this a just and loving God?
      Looking forward to your response,
      -Blake, Arkansas

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    2. Blake,

      You are trying to make sense of what I think is a mystery for us, namely the ultimate relationship between God's sovereignty on the one hand and human responsibility on the other. My own position is that God is indeed sovereign even over evil, but in such a way that He is not responsible for the evil committed through second causes. I suggest you read this post on the subject:

      http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2007/09/god-of-calvinism-is-god-of-bible.html

      It is entitled "Is the 'God of Calvinism' the God of the Bible?" and in it I addressed the issue pretty directly.

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  7. Traever,

    Thanks for the input. I am sorry it took so long to respond, but I have just gotten back from a much needed two-week vacation.

    I am glad that my post was so thought-provoking, and I appreciate your comments. I would only say that I think Paul has governmental authorities particularly in mind in Romans 13, and I would look to other passages for guidance on the matters of church and parental authority (such as Matthew 18, passages that deal with the role of elders, and passages that speak to the role of parents). I think it would become clear fairly quickly that their is a big difference between the Reformation on the one hand and the American Revolution on the other. I would also take note of the significant difference in appealing to the Bible as one's authority versus appealing to any merely man-made document.

    Keith

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  8. Brandon,

    Thanks for your thoughtful input. I have just a few things to say in response.

    "The question then must be asked in every particular instance, what legal authority does the lesser magistrate in question have to resist the higher magistrate. This was precisely the question of the American Revolution."

    My question is "What Biblical authority does the Christian have in joining the lesser magistrate in question in resisting the higher magistrate?" Even if there is a legal right for a lesser magistrate to rebel, it doesn't mean that the law allows a Christian to do so when the Bible says he should not.

    "I'm looking forward to reading John Philip Reid's work on the Constitutional History of the United States. His work explores the reality that Americans were concerned with the rule of law and about the legality of their separation from England."

    Thanks for this recommendation. After reading the review myself, I intend to order the book today.

    "This has some parallels to Acts 22:22-29."

    Actually, I think the issues are different. Yes, Paul did appeal to Roman law to avoid being mistreated by the authorities, but this is not the same thing as rebelling against any of the authorities, which Paul did not advocate. In fact, when he was unjustly and illegally beaten by the authorities in Philippi, he confronted and shamed them for having done so, but he did not advocate rebellion against them, and this is the issue at hand (Acts 16:20-24, 36-39).

    "If we want to apply the question to our lives today, then we have to recognize that the Constitution is the authority, not whoever holds office (as opposed to Caesar's rule). Thus if someone holding office is acting unlawfully, they are not acting from an office of authority."

    But, does the Constitution trump Scripture for the Christian? For example, even if the Constitution itself grants us the "right" to rebel against the government (which it does not, to my knowledge), we are bound as Christians not to do so because Scripture says otherwise. Thus, rebellion might be technically legal, but it doesn't make it right for the Christian.

    Thanks again for the input!

    Keith

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  9. I would agree with one of the men above who brought up the Constitution. I would like to see some analysis of how the Bible views the American idea of subjection basically to a piece of paper rather than a man or men. It seems on one hand to not anticipate that and still regard the man as the governing authority, or on the other to allow that one way men might assert governmental authority would be to place that authority into a legal agreement and to corporately agree to submit themselves to it.

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  10. Well, Jeff, as I see it, the Constitution was adopted by men, and the only authority it possesses is dependent upon men and their willingness to follow it. And when some men are not willing to follow it, then it is other men who seek to enforce it. My point is simply that no one is really subject to a piece of paper in the end; they are subject in one way or another to men. In our case it is a group of men divided into three theoretically co-equal branches of government, but they are men nonetheless.

    In addition, just because we have laws that govern those who govern does not mean that they do not still govern.

    Thus, as I see it, the Bible anticipates what is true of all governments, namely that they are created and run by men. Even if those men are perceived to be the people electing representatives to act on their behalf, it is again still men.

    I fail to see, then, how the Bible does not anticipate it or how the Bible might in any way allow rebelling against it.

    Keith

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    1. Very confused here. If the government is adopted by men and that makes it suspect, yet the authorities are approved and authorized by God are we not at an impasse? What constitutes good government? Where is military service in this mismash?Is not pacifism and a que sara sara mentality enjoined? If we fight within the law but it is only created by men and is therefore suspect where is the authority to fight for the proper interpretation of the law? If the authority for the state is God and He appoints it are we not obligated to fight for the state? If I am confused please unconfuse me. I am not on your level of expertise but it seems to me this is tantamount to passivity and pacifism. If so...it seems we should be uninvolved politically. We sin if we turn left. We sin if we turn right.

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    2. Indeed you are confused, since you have misread or misunderstood some of my basic arguments. For example, I nowhere argued that a government is suspect simply because it has been adopted by men, as you have suggested. And I nowhere assumed that just because God sovereignly ordains all human authorities they are therefore all equally good. Nor do any of my arguments assume that Christians are never allowed to fight in behalf their respective countries, only that they are not allowed to rebel against them and attempt to overthrow them. As for whether or not they should fight in behalf of any particular country, that issue would have to be addressed in a separate discussion, although I can imagine that sometimes Christians will be able to do so and sometimes not. For example, if the Chinese government required a Christian serving in its military to attack and kill other Christians simply for exercising their Christian faith, then he would no doubt want to exercise civil disobedience and refuse to do so, even if it meant his own imprisonment or death. Yet as a member of the Chinese military he may be able to attack and kill pirates who disrupt Chinese shipping and kill his fellow Chinese citizens with no violation of his conscience.

      As for the deeper issue of the mystery concerning how God's sovereignty relates to human responsibility, I suggest you read my past blog post entitled "Is the 'God of Calvinism' the God of the Bible?" here:

      http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2007/09/god-of-calvinism-is-god-of-bible.html

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  11. BTW, sorry to comment so late on this but would having a official removed by legal means (ie through impeachment) be sin?

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  12. No, I do not think this would be a sin, since it is a process by which those who govern may impose a kind of discipline on others who govern, as, for example, when President Clinton was impeached.

    I also obviously do not think it would be a sin to vote someone out of office.

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  13. Would this be sinful rebellion: Suppose you were living in Nazi occupied Europe and you hid Jews from the Nazi party authorities?

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  14. No, I don't think it would be a sin. I think this would fall within the limits of acceptable civil disobedience described in my article.

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  15. This discussion seems to gain currency with each election. I very much appreciate your thoughtful, biblical and reasoned approach.

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  16. Not having read all the comments, I wanted to throw this out there. At some point I was researching this and came across an argument I had not heard before. The original charters were between the King and the Colonists. Parliament imposed its will upon the Colonists with no actual authority to do so according to the charters. Six months prior to the Revolution, King George dissolved the charters he had with the Colonists in a rash decision. In reality, there was no rebellion since the King had annulled his covenant with the Colonists. I will look for that source again, but I did find that interesting as I too have wrestled with this topic.

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    1. I seriously doubt the validity of such an argument, since everything I have read up to this point leads me to believe that the Colonists clearly saw themselves as English subjects who did not doubt, for example, the right of Parliament to levy taxes on them. The issue over taxes was whether or not they were being fairly applied to the Colonists, who felt that they were not being treated with the same rights that other English subjects had. At least that has been my understanding. I would be interested in hearing some good evidence to the contrary.

      At any rate, as the article I have written demonstrates, the debate among Christians leading up to the Revolution was not about whether or not they were actually English citizens, but was about whether or not the Bible allowed them -- as English citizens -- to revolt against their sovereign. And I have concluded that the answer to this question is a resounding, "No!"

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  17. First of all I have to state that I myself am looking for clarity on the issue of submission to government from a Biblical perspective, as the more I research, the more confusing it all seems to become. The only way I can suggest to fing any personal clarity on the matter is to first humble one's self, even to the point of putting aside all self-will, then pray and ask that God would give wisdom, (James 1:5-KJV), then read the whole Bible line upon line, precept upon precept, as the WORD of God. Many things in the Bible--such as when one writer records a commandment but another part of the Bible praises an example of what seems to oppose that command--are viewed by the world and even as Christians as contradictions. I submit that they may in actuallity be contrasts for the sole purpose of preventing a person from taking one side of a debate out of context and to some radical extreme. All that being said we must get our information from the true source. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."-Romans 13:1. This is much different from the penknifed version cited in this and many other such articles, and potentially sheds a whole new light on the issue. First of all, if all power is from God, such as that which establishes individual governments, must we not accept also, (at the very least the possibility) that that which overthrows them also comes from God? And this is no contradiction as one commenter on this site suggested. God used many wicked rulers and nations to punish His people and to bring them back when they had turned away from Him. Many people on the one side cite that Christ and Paul were both praised in the Bible for submitting even to one of the most evil governments ever to rule, while those on the other side cite how Gideon, Samson, and Ehud are praised by the Bible for "rebellion", "insurrection", and even assassinating a ruler. What I have yet to see is anyone citing the actual context of each example. In the case of the Old Testament, the book of Judges and most of the rest of the OT display that the Jews followed a generational pattern. A Godly man led them and everything was good. The Godly man died, the people turned from God, and were thus given over by God to ungodly, tyrannical leaders to be oppressed. It was only when the people in mass recognized their sin, repented, and asked God for deliverance, that God sent deliverers such as Samson, Gideon, and Ehud to free them from oppression by overthrowing the very rulers the He Himself had previously established. Note also that every wicked nation God used to punish Israel were also in due time punished for their own misdeeds. In the case of Christ and Paul submitting to the Romans, the Roman government was established for the fulfillment of prophecy, as the willing, sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ on the cross was His very purpose for coming into the world. And Paul, by submitting to arrest and torture, (even tough as a Roman citizen* he did not have to), was able to witness to several Roman officials and even Ceaser himself, influencing them in a way that possibly made life somewhat easier for other Christians for a time, considering that none of the top rulers found any fault and at least one was almost converted. I am not trying to condemn or justify either view absolutey. As I stated I am seeking clarity myself. One thing I do know with certainty is even if it is right under some circumstances to stand against an oppressive or corrupt government, we should first examine ourselves to see if perhaps we deserve such a government for the way we are choosing to live. It is true that God is the author of life and liberty, but seemingly contrary to the declaration of independence, God does on occassion authorize men, even tyrants, to take one or both, as is His right as God and Creator to do. And before anyone asks in what way we may have turned away from God, ask these questions in my next post.

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  18. Continued from previous post.

    Do you skip church and other God-serving activities to watch sporting events or persue other hobbies? Or even when you're at church, do you talk more about hunting, sports and other hobbies, or about God and His Word? Do you skip church and other God-serving activies to work and provide yourself and your family with food and clothes and water and toys, all but the last of which God has explicitly promised to supply and provide if you put Him first? (Matthew 6:18-34 KJV) Do you delay or withold (in part or in whole) your tithes, which everyone can of us owes to God, for any of the above reasons or anything else that YOU deem necessary and appropriate? (Malachi 3:8 KJV) Do you look at things you shouldn't (like shampoo or weight loss commercials)? (Psalm 101:3 KJV) Do you listen to things you should not (like the commedy channel or certain radio stations, or the dialogue in most tv dramas, talk shows and especially late night shows)? (Proverbs 29:24 KJV) Do you say things that in any way displease God, or poorly represent Him to a lost world? (Ephesians 4:29 KJV) I present all of these above questions (and there are many more which I have not presented) under the presumption that the majority of readers are already professing Christians. "If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." II Chronicles 7:14--KJV
    We cannot expect a lost society understand or obey this message because it is meant for (in modern times) us as Christians. Every person is either a missionary or a mission field. Even if own your life checks out alright against the mirror of God's word (I doubt any do and I know I could stand a lot of improvement), odds are you know at least one fellow Christian who needs THIS message, or a lost person who needs the Gospel. If we who know the truth don't share it or apply it, who will? I do not intend to be harsh, but only to convey this message with the same conviction it stirs in me. I do not know, claim, or pretend to know everything there is to know. I only hope what I have found in my own search helps others come closer to finding the clarity we all seem to be seeking. The answers to Bible questions can only be found in the Bible, not in the writings, opinions, or practices of others past or present. True conviction comes only from God. The most any man can do is merely point us to Christ. All these things being said, I do not yet know which side I would have support had I lived in the colonies. Perhaps that is why I live now instead of then. And as for future decisions, I still cannot say what course of action I would be inclined toward, nor can I advise with any definite Bible authority a certain choice for anyone else. The one thing I can say for certain is that we should always consider and seek to do what is pleasing to God, what is most profitable to His business, even if it is costly to our own, and what is the best way we can represent Christ to a lost world. It may be a bold stand against evil, or humble submission even unto death. Anyone who is faithful could be the next martyr for Christ, or the next deliverer for His penitent people. One is just as honorable as the other. All each of us can do is to seek God's will in our own life, and go where He leads us, no matter who disagrees or opposes.

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  19. On one final note, persecution against Christians is not always divine punishment, nor is it always detrimental to God's plan. It causes some to take a more effective stand and causes others to flee, spreading the Gospel to more places. Compare the faith of early Christians to us today. They allowed themselves, their wives, and their children to be eaten by lions because they would not compromise their faith. Most of us lack the courage to reprove a co-worker or even a fellow Christian when they say or do something wrong. Sometimes what men mean for evil, God means for good, and sometimes adversity is better encouragement than any of the pep talks we get from certain preachers and pastors today.

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  20. Justin, other than to point out that most of what you discuss really hasn't much to do with the issue at hand, I would observe that you seem to miss the point of much of what I have written, and you mischaracterize it as well. For example, you state:

    "All that being said we must get our information from the true source. 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.'-Romans 13:1. This is much different from the penknifed version cited in this and many other such articles, and potentially sheds a whole new light on the issue."

    Exactly how was my discussion of Romans 13:1 a "penknifed version"? What precisely do you mean by this? It seems that you are criticizing my citation of the text as perhaps being improperly reflective of the context ... or something like that, but since you offer no evidence for what you are talking about I cannot be sure. You go on to state:

    "Many people on the one side cite that Christ and Paul were both praised in the Bible for submitting even to one of the most evil governments ever to rule, while those on the other side cite how Gideon, Samson, and Ehud are praised by the Bible for 'rebellion', 'insurrection', and even assassinating a ruler. What I have yet to see is anyone citing the actual context of each example."

    What I have yet to see is your clear citation of the actual context of each example. I also don't see how you could have missed my having dealt with such things in my article, where I pointed out that there is a big difference between God commanding His people -- at that time constituted as a national entity among other nations -- to rebel against a foreign oppressor and our taking it upon ourselves to do so. For example, I dealt with Barton's arguments along this line when I argued, "As for Barton's allusion to Old Testament examples of rebellion against a governing authority, I would respond that, in my view, these cases were all instances of God's special revelation that such should be done or of His divine intervention on behalf of a people whose position was that of a national entity under His rule. Can we really apply such cases in the history of national Israel to the Church? I think not. I think this would fail to properly take into account the differences between the nature of the Old Covenant people of God as a nation among nations and the New Covenant people of God as a family of believers from among all nations. Under the Old Covenant the very nature of the case often required rebellion against foreign oppressors or the overthrow of wicked kings, and then only with Divine sanction and guidance. But the New Covenant Church is not such an entity."

    So, although I allowed your comments to be posted here, I have to say that they don't reflect a very good understanding of what I wrote, nor do they offer much that actually helps clarify the matter at all.

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  21. Kind of a side note: The American Revolution was more a separation/secession than it was a revolution (in the truest sense). They weren't trying to overthrow the government in London, but rather to separate and form their own government after the king and the government in London began depriving them of their rights as Englishmen. If anything, actually, it was a counterrevolution to what the British government was perpetrating on them. After entreating the Brits time and again (seemingly following Matthew 18 in a secular situation) and being treated worse each passing time, the British government initiated war upon them and left them no real choice but to submit or separate. Obviously, they chose the latter.
    Unless self-defense is not allowed under the New Covenant, I don't really see the problem. I would also say that I'm not convinced Romans 13 applies in this situation. Verse 4 tells us that government (as ordained by God) is "a minister of God to you for good." If a government is performing evil actions against its people (like initiating war on them, for instance), by definition that government cannot be defined as "a minister of God to you for good" since the Almighty does not sanction evil nor consider evil to be good. Had the British government been acting justly and in a definitely good manner (as per Romans 13:4), then the American Revolution would have been evil indeed. Seeing as the British government were acting sinfully and against God's intentions for civil government, Romans 13 isn't referring to that kind of government.
    Last point: IF the article is correct on Romans 13, then even civil disobedience is wrong and condemned. Using this logic, there is no middle ground -- we MUST obey the civil magistrate in ALL things -- period -- IF that is what Romans 13 is trying to say. Obviously, there's a problem with that then, since a civil magistrate can hardly order us to follow another religion (for example) and desert the name of Christ and still be considered "a minister of God to you for good."

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    1. I find that I have been making my way through some fairly lengthy comments only to be left with the impression that those writing the comments didn't actually read most of what I wrote in the article. This is true particularly with regard to your second and third arguments, both of which were directly addressed in my post. For example, I dealt with Barton's argument that the revolution was simply self-defense in the article. I also dealt with the issue of civil disobedience, both in the article and in the comments above. I shall not, therefore, repeat my responses again here. I shall simply direct your attention to what I have written and ask that, if you are going to object, perhaps you could actually interact with what I have written instead of simply repeating arguments already addressed.

      As for your first argument, that the revolution wasn't really a revolution, this seems to fly right in the face of just about every history book on the subject I have ever read. As for whether Christians had no choice but to submit or separate along with their fellow countrymen, I guess that depends upon what choices you think the Christians assessing the situation should have seen as legitimate options in the first place. But, then, that is what the whole debate here is about, isn't it? Your point thus begs the question, since it assumes the very position that is seeks to prove. It assumes that they were right to choose to rebel since that was the only choice they had if they didn't want to submit to the government, but the validity of this very choice assumes the rightness of rebelling in the first place. Is this not what needs to be proven? It seems to me that it is, and it also seems to me that you haven't proven it. To be sure, you assumed that the mere fact that a government may be evil warrants such rebellion, but you haven't demonstrated from the Scriptures in question why this would be so.

      In addition, nothing in my article in any way denies that rulers are supposed to be God's ministers for good. I just don't see any indication anywhere in the text of Romans that their failure to be good warrants the Christian's involvement in overthrowing them, even if he must disobey them at any point where they may require him to disobey God. I direct your attention once again to the distinction between overthrow of the government and civil disobedience, a distinction that was clearly established in the article and backed up by Scripture.

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    2. Actually, you didn't deal with Barton's claim that the Revolution was a defensive revolution in nature -- you devoted two sentences to it and said it was up for debate. If Barton was correct (and I say he was), then the argument against the justification of the Revolution gets a lot more difficult.
      Why do I think Barton's claim is correct? Basic to our understanding of the American Revolution is the belief of the American colonists that they were NOT under the supreme authority of the British Parliament, but only owed allegiance to the King of England. The colonial charters were contracts between the founders of the colonies and the King. Parliament was not involved. If these charters had been mere grants and not contracts, then the colonists were deliberately deceived, any legal ties were void, and the colonists were absolved of allegiance to the King the moment they landed in the new world. It must be remembered that (unlike the French and Spanish colonies) 12 of the English colonies were settled by individuals without any aid from the Crown or Parliament. The founders of Georgia had received some aid, and perhaps New York received funds -- but only for overthrowing the Dutch. Because of the actions of the British government, by 1776 the colonists could charge English foreign policy with ingratitude as honestly as England could charge them with being ungrateful. All the charters, particularly those of the New England colonies, granted companies and proprietors full executive, legislative, and judicial authority. Parliament was not involved and the King only had restraining power -- if that, since the Rhode Island and Connecticut charters did not even involve the King.
      In short, the charters of each colony laid down in the written law that the colonies had full (not partial) control over their own executive, legislative, and judicial affairs. When Stephen Hopkins (Baptist governor of Rhode Island during the French and Indian War) said "The King and Parliament had no more right to make laws for us than the Mohawks", he was merely quoting the common written law throughout the colonies. This is significant, because it defines Parliament's actions in levying taxes against the colonies as being definitively illegal, and defeats your argument that the British government was "an authority that had the right to quell opposition by means of force.". Parliament and the King were overthrowing and rebelling against the law, not the Americans. The Americans, then, were merely defending their property against an aggressive thief.

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    3. You say that "this seems to fly right in the face of just about every history book on the subject I have ever read." That speaks more to the rather pitiful level of education that is current in the USA in our day. I take it you've never heard of the Prohibitory Act of 1775, then? That was the de facto declaration of war by the British government against the American colonies at least 6 months before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The "justification" for the Prohibitory Act speaks to the level of misinformation, double-speak, and factual revision that was governing the British Parliament at this time.
      They claimed that:
      1) The colonies were staging a rebellion against the authority of King and Parliament. In reality, the reverse was true. The colonists were defending the written law of their colonies against an overreaching overseas government that had no legal right to interfere.
      2) They had raised an army and engaged his majesty's soldiers. This was true -- yet only after the British military had illegally occupied Boston and was engaged in the theft of private property throughout Massachusetts.
      3) They had illegally taken over the powers of government. This is the most revisionist of all -- the complete opposite was true, as it was the king and Parliament who had taken over the powers which legally belonged to the colonists alone.
      4) They had stopped trade with the mother country. It's worth mentioning that the colonies had every right under their law to do so. It's also worth mentioning that the Act prohibited Britain to engage in trade with the American colonies.
      The Act declared all Americans to be outlaws beyond the king’s protection even while conservative American leaders were working with their British counterparts to craft a settlement to present to the King and Parliament that would end the fighting between colonial and royal forces, protect the colonists from unconstitutional parliamentary legislation while at the same time stopping short of a declaration of independence. The Prohibitory Act effectively ended any chance for reconciliation -- and also de facto declared the Americans to no longer be British subjects, since the Act declared them to be "open enemies".
      Over and over again the Americans sought peace, and over and over again the British government and monarchy flaunted the law to the point of making war upon them I repeat my previous point: Unless the New Covenant denies men the right of self-defense, and/or might makes right and the powers that be can be a law unto themselves, the American colonists were perfectly justified in their resistance to an invasion by an unlawfully-acting British government. John Stott was correct -- if we hold to the theory of a Just War, then by logical extension we must also accept the theory of a Just Revolution under the same principle of self-defense. The American War for Independence easily falls under that category.

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    4. Well, I could have made the connection clearer in my article, but I think I did answer the self-defense the argument as set forth by Barton, since I dealt with the Scriptural claims he made, all of which appealed to Old Testament examples that I argued were not applicable to the Church for the Biblical reasons that I cited. And Paul was, after all, speaking to the Church in Romans 13. And he was speaking in about as universally binding a fashion as one can find for a Biblical command.

      As for your apparent attempts to argue that the charters of the colonies granted them a kind of independence from the laws passed by Parliament, as though they were no longer considered English citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as other English citizens still living in England, I couldn't disagree more. To begin with, when the King of England granted charters, he did so as one who was himself circumscribed in his authority by Parliament in certain respects, and I seriously doubt that you could even begin to prove that he had the right to make a deal with any English citizens that would relieve them of either their rights or responsibilities as English citizens under English law. After all, the King, too, was under English law at least in this regard. As for the specific language contained in the charters, one counterexample will have to suffice, and it comes from the The First Charter of Virginia, April 10, 1606. Here are a couple of pertinent portions:

      "And we do also ordain, establish, and agree, for Us, our Heirs, and Successors, that each of the said Colonies shall have a Council, which shall govern and order all Matters-and Causes, which shall arise, grow, or happen, to or within the same several Colonies, according to such Laws, Ordinances, and Instructions, as shall be, in that behalf, given and signed with Our Hand or Sign Manual, and pass under the Privy Seal of our Realm of England; Each of which Councils shall consist of thirteen Persons, to be ordained, made, and removed, from time to time, according as shall be directed and comprised in the same instructions; And shall have a several Seal, for all Matters that shall pass or concern the same several Councils; Each of which Seals, shall have the King's Arms engraver on the one Side thereof, and his Portraiture on the other; And that the Seal for the Council of the said first Colony shall have engraver round about, on the one Side, these Words; Sigillum Regis Magne Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae; on the other Side this Inscription round about; Pro Concilio primae Coloniae Virginiae. And the Seal for the Council of the said second Colony shall also have engraven, round about the one Side thereof, the aforesaid Words; Sigillum Regis Magne Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae; and on the other Side; Pro Concilio primae Coloniae Virginiae:

      "And that also there shall be a Council, established here in England, which shall, in like manner, consist of thirteen Persons, to be for that Purpose, appointed by Us, our Heirs and Successors, which shall be called our Council of Virginia; And shall, from time to time, have the superior Managing and Direction, only of and for all Matters that shall or may concern the Government, as well of the said several Colonies, as of and for any other Part or Place, within the aforesaid Precincts of four and thirty and five and forty Degrees abovementioned; Which Council shall, in like manner, have a Seal, for matters concerning the Council or Colonies, with the like Arms and Portraiture, as aforesaid, with this inscription, engraver round about on the one Side; Sigillum Regis Magne Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae; and round about on the other Side, Pro Concilio fuo Virginiae."

      (Continued below)

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    5. These prospective colonists were clearly still regarded as a part of "our Realm of England," and they were even required to maintain a council to represent them in England after the colony was established. The charter further states:

      "Also we do, for Us, our Heirs, and Successors, DECLARE, by these Presents, that all and every the Persons being our Subjects, which shall dwell and inhabit within every or any of the said several Colonies and Plantations, and every of their children, which shall happen to be born within any of the Limits and Precincts of the said several Colonies and Plantations, shall HAVE and enjoy all Liberties, Franchises, and Immunities, within any of our other Dominions, to all Intents and Purposes, as if they had been abiding and born, within this our Realm of England, or any other of our said Dominions."

      It couldn't be much clearer that these people were still regarded as English citizens in the very charter to which they agreed to be bound. If anything, the charter seeks to make it clear that, despite their establishment of the colony and a governing body there, they and their descendants were still to be regarded in every way as a part of the Realm of England. So, this important charter, at least, would seem to undermine your entire argument.

      You can read the charter in its entirety here: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/va01.asp

      (Continued below)

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    6. As for your further arguments about the Prohibitory Act of 1775, they are simply beside the point if, in fact, the colonists were still English citizens, which they were. Thus the British government was not a foreign government at all, and, even if this government acted unjustly toward its citizens, the question is still whether or not the Bible allows Christians to rebel against a God ordained government, whether or not that government is just. And the answer to that question must be, "No, it does not allow such rebellion in any case."

      Now, this is not to say that all instances of self defense would be wrong. It is simply to acknowledge that rebellion against a governmental authority would be wrong. As I said in my article, "As I consider this notion in the context of Romans 13, I can't help but wonder why the early Church did not avail herself of such an argument, especially when one considers just how unjust the Roman government could often be in its use of force." The Apostle Paul clearly said, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom. 13:1-2). Paul wrote this to Christians in Rome, Christians who lived under a typically oppressive and unjust government, especially toward those who were not actually awarded the status of Roman citizens even though they lived under Roman rule. But Paul wanted them to know that resisting even such a government as this would be wrong for a Christian. How can we be in doubt about what he would have written to a colonist and citizen of England in the 18th century? Does he not clearly assert that "every soul” must be subject to the governing authorities, that there is “no authority” that has not come from God, and that all the “authorities that exist are appointed by God” (vs. 1). Does he not further clearly assert that “whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God” (vs. 2). How on earth can this be read not to include the governmental authorities over the English people?

      You may think that my position "speaks more to the rather pitiful level of education that is current in the USA in our day," but I think I have demonstrated enough knowledge of the issue to be able to establish that the colonists were indeed English citizens. I can also assure you that I have had a pretty good education in Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, and I will remind you again that my article is about whether or not the American Revolution was Biblical. So, again, I think it behooves you to offer some Biblical arguments for your case, yet you really haven't offered any Biblical argumentation at all.

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  22. Which is why, I might add, virtually no Reformed held to that interpretation of Romans 13.

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    1. Supposing you are correct, which I doubt, this argument would only have any real force if my ultimate authority was "Reformed ... interpretation." I established my arguments on Scripture precisely because Scripture is my ultimate authority.

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    2. Granted. Yet the Reformers (including the Reformed pastors and theologians of the Revolution era) also held to Sola Scriptura, and the vast majority (if not all) of them came to the opposite understanding of Romans 13 that you have. Something has to give.

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    3. Well, I can only say that assertions are not arguments. And good arguments offer supporting evidence for their assertions, especially when those assertions are set forth as such a sweeping generalization. I seriously doubt that you could prove the validity of such a strong generalization as "the vast majority (if not all)" of the "Reformed pastors and theologians of the Revolution era" would argue the way you have said. However, even if you could prove its validity, it still wouldn't amount to a Scriptural argument. And, since the question under discussion in the article is whether or not the American Revolution was Biblical, I think it behooves you make your arguments from the Bible.

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