What Kind of Loyalty do we owe the government?

Discussion in 'Family, Relationships, and Single Life' started by bwallac2335, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    I am simply not going to respond to motte-bailey tactics trying to weasel in questioning whether Saint Paul wrote Romans 13:1-7. You don't make an actually affirmative argument and thus I don't have anything to actually respond to.

    I am merely relaying the traditional view and interpretation of how Christians have read Romans 13. I consider this consensus to be smarter than you or I.

    Yes, all earthly authority is instituted by God. There is nothing that happens without His allowance as the Book of Job makes clear. The book of Job and Christ's dominion even over evil spirits, shows that God is not thwarted by spiritual powers but in fact has sovereignty over all. He cannot be thwarted. God has, multiple times, raised up sinful authorities for various reasons. Think of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Assyrians, think of Pilate himself and the Roman empire. They were clearly ungodly and yet the Word explicitly claims they were, for a time, set up to achieve God's purpose. Even Pilate, who participates in the murder of Christ Himself, is told explicitly by Jesus that he has no authority had not Christ allowed it.

    Scripture, as usual, must be interpreted by the context of Scripture. Paul himself is thrown in prison by earthly authorities, only to end his life being executed by this authority. Scripture lays out several times in which God's people are called to disobey earthly authorities. This is because we obey earthly authorities not for their own sake but because we are obedient to God. Which means their authority is subordinate to God's authority, from Whom their authority is derived from.

    You can dislike how Paul sets it, but this really wasn't an issue for Christians before Enlightenment philosophy and Lockean "consent" theories. God ordains authority, some earthly authority is wicked and wicked commands ought not be followed. God throws down some authority, only to replace it with others. In the meantime, our set mode should be peace and obedience, absent those things that are sinful. I can literally craft all of this absent from Romans 13 but rather from the other texts I've supported. For instance;

    Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. (1 Pet 2:13-17)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
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  2. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    The Early Church Fathers line up with this interpretation well: Earthly authority is ordained by God, our standard response should obey, we also ought not sin or be commanded into sin.

    Diodore:

    The book of Proverbs teaches us that kings do not come to rule apart from the dispensation and will of God: “Through me kings reign and princes decree justice.” (Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church)

    Pelagius:

    This is an argument against those who thought they were obliged to use their Christian freedom in such a way that they gave honor or paid taxes to nobody. (Pelagius’ Commentary on Romans)

    Theodoret of Cyr:

    Even priests, bishops, and monks must obey the commands of secular rulers. Of course, they must do so insofar as obedience is consistent with godliness. (Interpretation of the Letter to the Romans)

    Chrysostom:

    In saying this, Paul was more likely to draw civil governors who were unbelievers to accept the Christian faith and to persuade believers to obey them. For it was commonly rumored in those days that the apostles were guilty of plotting sedition and revolution, aiming in all that they did and said at the subversion of the received institutions. However, when we see that Christ’s command is that we should obey the authorities, all rumors of this kind will be shown to be false. (Homilies on Romans 23)

    Basil:

    It is right to submit to authority whenever a command of God is not violated thereby. (The Morals 79.1)

    Ambrosiaster:

    Rulers here are kings who are created in order to correct behavior and prevent bad things from happening. They have the image of God, because everyone else is under one head. (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles)

    Origen:

    Paul tells the church not to do anything against the princes and powers of this world so that it may live in peace and quiet. For if the church rebels…then it will be punished, not because of its faith but because of its crimes, and instead of dying for a worthy cause people will die for an unworthy one. (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans).
     
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  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    So Joe the answer you would presumably give to the thread title question would be something like.

    "Not unquestioning loyalty, nor absolute submission, even though Rom.13 literally suggests exactly that."

    Would I be right in thinking that?
     
  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps you are also able to tell me then exactly how we can be submissive at all times to God ordained authorities and yet refuse to sin when they command us to do so, or kill us if we refuse to sin at their command.

    Does Rom.13 at any point allow dissobedience on any issue, to God ordained authority?

    Don't pretend that this could never happen, has never happened, does never happen or can never happen. It happened in the Colliseum day after day after day, year after year, and continues to happen from the Nazi Regime to the ISIS Caliphate and beyond.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Utilizing your rigid method of hermeneutics, wouldn't we conclude that Jesus says we can have literally anything we desire if we believe we receive it when we pray for it? Mark 11:24 literally suggests exactly that!
    Mar 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
     
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  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Surely the boot is actually on the other foot. It is not I that am utilizing rigid hermeneutics. I hold the opinion that this particular passage in Rom.13 should not be taken seriously in a literal manner, just as much as both you and Joe seem to agree that it should not be tken entirely at face value. The only difference between our positions is that I suspect that it is not actually in line with the rest of Paul's theology, in this letter and elsewhere, concerning the Christian's praxis toward 'The Authorities' which may or may not govern us 'for our good'.

    I contend that there are many 'authorities' which govern very much to our detrement and are very much inclined to terrorise the righteous. I therefore would rather believe those other passages to be truly characteristic of Paul's actual theology, which suggest that the authorities 'in this present age of darkness' are themselves fallen and failing to fulfil faithful servanthood to Christ, who is their legitimate Master, so resistance to some of their demands is inevitable, if we are truly to serve Christ our Master. Eph.6:10-20. Interestingly Paul's words here in the Greek do not specifically or only refer to the spiritual realm. The words used apply equally to earthly authorities throught the entire New Testament. Paul is speaking about ALL authority. It is assumed that earthly authorities are as much agents of 'the devil' as anyone else who opposes Christ and the gospel, and therefore need to be resisted, and enlightened, but only by putting on the whole armour of God. Rebellion is ruled out but so also is meek unquestioning submission.

    The Mark 11:24 text was addressed to disciples of Christ. Disciples firstly must be those who 'know the mind of Christ'. This will therefore influence the kind of thing that they will 'desire, when they pray', for one who knows Christ's mind would not pray for something they know Christ is opposed to in principle. This eliminates the possibility of any true disciple of Christ ever praying for something that Christ would not let them 'have'. So whatever a true disciple prays for, they will receive, if they truly believe they will receive it.

    The key to whether, disciples of Christ, actually receive what they pray for is (1) are they truly a disciple of Christ? (2) Do they truly know what a disciple of Christ should desire. (3) Do they believe they will receive it.

    If we chose to conclude, from the words of Christ that we can have literally anything we desire, as long as we fanatically believe we will get it, that 'belief' is soaked with the ignorance of non-discipleship, ignorance of what a disciple should ask for, and evidencing ignorance of the very nature of 'faith'.
    .
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Ok, sorry I misunderstood your answer to Joe (I thought you were responding with sarcasm, when you apparently were not). "Not unquestioning loyalty, nor absolute submission, even though Rom.13 literally suggests exactly that," is exactly right because the "suggested" meaning is void of necessary surrounding context. Same thing with Mark 11:24, as you have so ably pointed out. :tiphat: We are in agreement. Cheers!
     
  8. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    You would not because Romans 13:1-7 does not preach this. It only preaches this if you divorce it from context and the rest of Scripture and Paul's own life. We ought to obey the earthly powers because their existence is instituted by God (ex. the Old Testament, Christ Himself before Pilate, Second Peter...), which means our obedience is predicated on our obedience to God. You can continue to hurl calumny at it all you'd like but Romans 13 is simply not some apologia for ISIS, Nazism or whatever bugbear you wish to smuggle into the conversation. The notion of absolute obedience to God and thus qualified obedience (obedience stopping at the point of sin) to earthly power because one's authority is subordinate to the other is the political theology of the Scriptures as a whole; Paul, Peter, Christ, and a plethora of texts from the Old Testament. This really isn't all this complicated unless you want to synthesize Christianity with some kind of Lockean political theory.
     
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    So you agree with me and others then that Rom.13 shouldn't be interpreted to mean it demands total submission to all authority then?

    Have I got that right?
     
  10. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    I've literally been consistent in my view. How many times did I literally say that Romans 13 does not command us to sin?


     
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    We seem to be agreed then that Rom.13 cannot be taken literally by corrupt Government to either excuse its own Godless behaviour or compel its subjects to break God's commandments or violate what their subjects know to be the will of Christ.

    It seems that we both have similar views regarding the thread title, "What kind of loyalty do we owe the Government".

    Though 'subject' to higher earthly authority we are not compelled by scripture, (Rom.13 not withstanding), to carry out the orders of ANY earthly authority, if we are convinced that to do so we would be violating a higher directive from God. We are however to obey them in every respect whenever what they require of us aligns with or does not conflict with, the perfect will of God and the Mind of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

    The authorities therefore are not ALWAYS the oracle of God's commands, and not always his 'servants' either. They are quite often his sworn enemies, wicked, unbelieving 'servants' rather of Satan. It is therefore WE and not them that are the servants of God and WE decide whether THEY are requiring of us something that WE decide NOT to 'submit' ourselves to, because to do so would be SIN.

    Servants of God are only those who OBEY his commands.

    Jesus said: "why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Luke 6:45-49.

    Which leaves us wondering just what we might have done if we had Jews, gypsies or homsexuals hiding in our cellar in Nazi Germany.

    Break the law of "God's Servants" the Nazis, who 'carry the sword', or be in submission to the law enforcer and hand them over to the "God Ordained" authority to be gassed and incinerated?

    Read Rom.13 again to see if it gives us any guidance I suppose. I don't think it would be at all helpful in such an eventuality. But that's just my personal opinion.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  12. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    It seems we still have a massive disagreement over Divine Scripture and with that my participation in this thread comes to a close. There is very little point continuing.
     
  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
    but when the wicked rule, the people groan. Prov.29:2.

    When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases;
    but the righteous will look upon their downfall. Prov.29:16.

    And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matt.7:28-29. So did the scribes have authority?

    Matt.20:25-28; Matt.21:23-27;

    And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matt.28:18.

    Does any of these scripture references remotely suggest that ALL authority on earth is legitimate or ALL servants of the living God?

    According to scripture:
    (1) Who has ALL authority?
    (2) When the wicked rule, are they acting under Jesus Christ's Authority, or not?
    (3) Are the wicked servants of God? Will they be overthrown?

    And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written,
    ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.'
    " Luke 4:5-8.

    (4) If ALL authority on earth comes from God, where did Satan's authority come from?
    (5) How did Christ refute Satan's claim to authority?

    i.e How did Christ prove from scripture that not all authority now has God's approval and support? Only the authority invested in Christ now comes from God because ALL authority has been given Him by God and ALL authority is God's to give or remove as God pleases.

    (6) If Satan is not a 'servant of God', what disqualifies him from being so? (In the text Christ gives us the answer).
    (7) Did the average Roman Soldier "Worship the lord his God and serve only Him"? i.e. Did being a servant of the Emperor authomatically make one a servant of God?

    All these and other questions have much bearing on the thread title: "What kind of loyalty do we owe the government"? and whether Rom.13 is actually 'Helpful' in our reaching a sensible conclusion on the matter.

    All Rom.13 actually does is make it abundantly clear that open rebellion is not the Christian way to resist wicked authority. (Just as Christ himself taught), But if that wicked authority is 'Leading us into temptation' then we are right to resist it by any means less than open rebellion. This is what the Prophets of old did, what Christ did, and what he expects his disciples in all ages to do.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I post this, not to argue for or against, but to answer some of the questions posed and to expand on the theme.

    We know that God is the source of all power and authority. (note: the two are not the same)

    In Gen. 1, God gave Adam and Eve dominion (and therefore authority) over all living creatures on the earth. But when they sinned, some say Adam and Eve abdicated their authority to Satan, and by deception Satan gained authority over all living creatures (mankind included) which Satan utilized to kill, steal, and destroy. And when Jesus died and rose, He thereby recovered (took back) authority from Satan. Thus Jesus could then say, All authority is given to Me; go therefore... (words giving certain authority back to believers). This is supported by the fact that Jesus told the disciples that He was giving them the keys of the kingdom: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mat 16:19)

    God is still the source of all power. But we have authority (not power, just authority) to act in His name and to carry out His will. However, not everything we do is within His perfect will. We have been given authority, but sometimes we act outside of that authority. Sometimes we sin and do evil. Sometimes we 'give place to the devil' by believing a lie and acting upon the wrong belief. The same is true of rulers and administrators whom God has set in place and endowed with authority to govern: sometimes they act outside of their authority. Sometimes they do evil things. To sum up: we should not conflate the fact that God sets people in authority over us with the idea that everything those people do somehow has God's authority (let alone His stamp of approval) behind it.

    Just as Adam and Eve yielded up their authority to the adversary by believing and acting upon his lie, so too many human beings in this era yield up some of their authority by believing the lies. Deception is the only way Satan and his demons possess to gain authority, which they then use against mankind toward his destruction.
    1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    1Pe 5:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

    Since Jesus took all authority back from Satan, the only way he can get some back is by deception (roaring his lies).

    I take this to mean that the scribes at that time were teaching in a liberal, non-authoritative manner (much as in today's liberal seminaries). They probably were saying things like, "We can't really know exactly what this means; maybe it's this, but most scholars think it's that, but then there's also a third view which I happen to like..." and also, "We can't be sure who wrote this, and some say it doesn't belong in our scroll of the prophets at all...." :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  15. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    I would say that open rebellion is sometimes need to resist evil authority. It should be the last option and is never the good option but sometimes it is the least bad option. If the USA started openly killing all disabled people or old people and we could not get rid of the government by any other means and our resistance produced no results then open violent rebellion is the last of our bad options to try.
     
  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I gave you a like for everything else you wrote: :laugh::clap:

    Cetainly the scribes tended to argue among themselves as to how the scriptures should be interpreted and applied but I think the thing which marked the ministry of Jesus out as 'authoritative' was his directness, confidence and ability to get at the nub of any matter without prevarication. He corrected faulty views of what scripture stated and added his own comments wherever necessary to get his views across. Whatever he said was direct and to the point, though usually in a figurative, take it or leave it sort of way, that the corrupt authorities found difficult to criticise, deal with or forbid.
    .
     
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  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    So you agree with me and others then that Rom.13 shouldn't be interpreted to mean it demands total submission to all authority then?


    WAS
    , or were instituted by God may be a more strictly accurate way of interpreting the meaning of Rom.13 in the light of the rest of Holy Scripture actually.

    ALL authority is now given by God unto Jesus Christ. That leaves no earthly or heavenly authority in office, except Christ, (unless under obedience to HIS jurisdiction). If there is any other absolute 'authority' under God then Jesus Christ could not possibly now have been given it ALL.

    Paul is in full agreement with this concept, as he states in 1 Cor. 2.

    We do, however speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
    We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our our glory before time began.
    None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

    He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authoritiesall things were created through him and for him. Col.1:15.

    Now, your opinion seems to be that ST. Paul has completely changed his mind by the time he got round to writing Romans chapter 13.

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good.

    The way some 'authorities' wrongly read and try to apply this teaching is that it divinely implies that their authority is 'instituted by God' and therefore all are subject to them in all matters of obedience, so all must be submissive to any governing power, including themselves. And you seem to be agreeing with their understanding of it, because you have to admit that this is exactly what a literal interpretation, out of it's total Biblical context, reveals from what is actually plainly written in Rom.13.

    Rom. 13 may not be some apologia for ISIS or Nazism, but both regimes would seem to interpret what is quite literally written in Rom.13 to legitimate their absolutely untrammelled 'authority', which you seem to, theologically at least, agree with.

    Where we seem to differ is that I am willing to consider the possibility that St. Paul would or should have been less pedantically unequivacal and more circumspect in his wording of this passage, (if it actually was Paul), so as to avoid any misunderstanding of its meaning within the context of everything else he wrote to the churches. Whereas you are convinced that Rom.13 gives clear and obvious directives to Christ's disciples, to submissively obey the earthly authorities, and this represents Paul's whole opinion on how we should relate, 'as Christ's disciples', to all authorities.
    .
     
  18. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Of course Romans 13 was penned some time before Augustine wrote Civitas Dei. In the context in which Romans 13 was written, the prevailing authority was the Roman Empire of the day, and for many this was an invading external authority, however for those living in Rome it was the legitimate domestic authority. There is no doubt that the reality of Empire enabled the spread of the Gospel, and Paul made great use of that, even though it was that same authority that would ultimately end his life.

    Perhaps part of the point of Romans 13 represents the apprehension that the Good News is not a political overthrow (such as Judas Iscariot may have hoped for) but rather the liberation of hearts and minds from the tyranny of sin.
     
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  19. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    You can continue to persist in your crusade against a poor interpretation of Romans 13 but the text is obvious and speaks for itself. I'll let Scripture contend for itself. There is zero point in continuing a conversation on this with someone who maintains their winking at a belief that Romans 13 is not written by Paul.
     
  20. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I had already reached 'the zero point' on the matter, as far as I'm concerned, way back here Joe.
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