Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Bible Supports Righteous Rebellion

Hi everyone! I received the following post via email from Dan Atkinson, who requested that I post it here. As most of you already know, Dan is solidly entrenched with the "Christian Nation" supporters. This is his rebuttal of some recent comments on this blog:


I have been reading a lot of negative posts on this blog with respect to the Bible's take on liberty. In particular, I have been amused by the numerous arguments made over Romans chapter 13. From what I glean of the conversation, the "secular nationalists" like Rowe, Hart and Frazer insist that the Bible refutes any type of rebellion against one's government.

This is not so. Such a belief reveals a lack of understanding of the Bible itself.

Proverbs 14:34 states that "Righteousness exalts a nation." Well, righteousness comes from national politics that are enacted. And as Proverbs 29:2 states, "When the righteous rule, the people rejoice...when the wicked rule, the people groan."

For those who have a proper perspective of the Bible, you will easily take note of how David, Joshua, Moses and many others rebelled against their leaders in an effort to secure liberty for their people. Yet, those like Rowe, Hart and Frazer still rely on one single chapter in the Bible to prove their theory. Do the math people. Is one chapter or SEVERAL books provide the conclusive evidence?

If you will note, Paul talks in the earlier chapter (Romans 12) that the followers of Christ were to purify themselves from all evil. Paul exhorts them to become "living sacrifices." Romans 13 is simply an extension of this. Paul is not saying that we should NEVER rebel against a wicked ruler, but to submit ourselves as "living sacrifices." In other words, submitting to the Lord's will. There is a time and a place for rebellion. For Paul and the other followers of Christ, this was not one of those times.

And we should also not forget that Paul could see the impending danger of the time. Christianity was but a small (but fast growing) group. To rebel at that moment would have spelled suicide. There would be other fights to wage.

Jesus himself demonstrated a rebellion to wicked leaders. His ability to put the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin in their place demonstrates that even Jesus refused to heed to a wicked government. As he stated, "My kingdom is not of this earth."

I strongly urge the readers of this blog to do your own homework and not simply heed to those of little to no Bible knowledge. The Bible contains what you need to know, as the founders themselves realized. This is how the true inspiration for this nation was conceived...not by some "theistic rational" nonsense.


Tom Van Dyke said...

"secular nationalists"

Hehe. Turnabout is fair play, although I believe "Christian Nation" is a pretty much self-described position.

Still, I like "the "secular nationalists". Pasting a term on most anybody makes them appear rigid and therefore ideological, and therefore prisoners of their prejudices, not reasonable people atall atall. If you can make the term stick, you've probably already won the PR battle.

Mr. Atkinson, your battle about Romans 13 seems to have been fought during the revolutions of the 1600s in Britain, and to a lesser degree with the minority Tories in the colonies who opposed the American Revolution, and on scriptural grounds at that.

As I'm in the habit of tipping my hand about my future inquiries and therefore posts, I invite you to become an expert on John of Salisbury's Policratus [1159], and don't believe everything you read in the link---read the original for yourself and let me know what you find.

It may indeed lend support to your argument, even on biblical grounds, and if it does, might geometrically increase the force of it.

Because basically, if you thump Bible, it makes the eyes glaze over of everybody who doesn't swallow it. Since that's almost everybody around here, to converse in such a foreign language would be a discourtesy.

Brad Hart said...

Thanks for noting my name here, Dan, but to my recollection I have not participated in any discussions of Romans 13, the Bible supporting/refuting rebellion, etc. To be perfectly honest I am undecided on the issue and have been simply reading along without commenting on this particular issue.

Though I find this topic interesting, I have not joined the "secular nationalists" as of yet, but I do find their "blasphemous" argument quite persuasive.

Keep up the good work, Rowe and infidels!!! =)

Tom Van Dyke said...
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, actually, Brad, it's argued that a literal interpretation of Romans 13 is Calvin, but not necessarily the Calvinism that reached the shores of America, or even the one in Britain, back in the Cromwell days.

The more we can ignore the personalities involved, the better. As for "righteous revolution," the core topic, I invite you also to explore the Policratus written by John of Salisbury, who according to legend was actually there when Thomas Becket was murdered by King Henry II's minions in 1170. Perhaps you saw the movie. History is danged interesting.

Lori Stokes said...

The English Civil War and, of course, the Puritans are my field of study, and I have to say religious justification for rebellion against the king was fourth-fiddle to the political justifications. Parliament had the right to exist, the right to be the sole author of taxation, and the king was not above the law--these are the causes of the ECW, and they are strictly political... almost philosophical.

And the New England Puritans' almost instant rebellion against royal control (or even Parliamentary control) was only tangentially about religion. When the Puritan Parliament was in charge, shouldn't the NE Puritans have been quite happy? But they weren't. In NE, rebellion was again about the right to self-govern in order to control land/property rights, trade, and taxation as much as it was about protecting a chosen religious practice.

I think it was much later, during the early 19th century, that some people living in an age of political rebellion tried to find justification of it in Scripture and applied it retroactively to earlier rebellions.

Kristo Miettinen said...


While I agree that religious motivation for rebellion was a minor ("fourth-fiddle") issue, this does not mean that religious justification was minor.

The founding generation, having determined to rebel on other grounds, still needed to persuade themselves that such rebellion was acceptable to God. God had a potential veto, as it were, and so religious considerations needed to be thought through.

The Reformation produced an extensive literature on the topic of when rebellion against legitimate authority was justified, and the core themes of it are in the DoI.

Brad Hart said...

Thanks for the link to John of Salisbury, Tom. I will give it a read today!

I hope to see more on this topic here at American Creation. Even if I haven't joined a "team" as of yet, I still find the discussion of this topic incredibly interesting. So, PLEASE keep this stuff coming!

Christian Salafia said...

The link was interesting reading. The more I study this subject, the more interesting it becomes.

What I find most interesting is the "side" which attempts to justify rebellion and, in John of Salisbury's case, tyrannicide. From a theological standpoint, it seems somewhat contradictory to endorse this view.

In particular, there are just as many stories where God uses persecution, suffering, and even other nations to either "test" people or as a righteous punishment. In the book of Job, suffering is inflicted to test Job's faith, whether it was because he was blessed or if he truly believed.

In Habakkuk, God tells him he is going to bring the Babylonians to run over Israel to punish them for their wickedness. However, he also says that the Babylonians will eventually be destroyed, too.

The "moral of the story", so to speak, is to trust in God when things are good AND bad, and that includes suffering wicked rulers and tyrants, because true followers submit to God's will in everything, not just when they agree with what's happening.

Dan said...

Christian writes: The "moral of the story", so to speak, is to trust in God when things are good AND bad, and that includes suffering wicked rulers and tyrants, because true followers submit to God's will in everything, not just when they agree with what's happening.

No, no no!! You are missing the point. The Bible does not DEMAND that one submit to wicked rulers. One is only to submit to wicked rulers if and when GOD says so, as in the case with the Book of Habakkuk. This does not insinuate that we are required to bow or subjugate ourselves to EVERY SINGLE EVIL LEADER. If that were the case then why did Moses free the Hebrews? Why did Joshua slaughter the wicked rulers or Jehrico and other places? And the list goes on and on.

Thanks for the link, Tom. I will read it when I get a chance. I do however believe that this goes further back than just John of Salsbury. This is a law that even the early Christians knew. After all it is in the Bible.

Brad, you may not be with the "secular nationalists" on this one, but my guess is that it is only a matter of time. Jon and Frazer are already so far aligned with the "secular nationalists" that they won't look elsewhere. Either way, this argument has to do with understanding the Bible anyway, not knowing your history.

Scott Case said...

I enjoy your blog a great deal. Keep up all the good work!

Mr. Atkinson,

I believe that your interpretation of biblical text is skewed. I don't know your background, but am willing to bet that you are not a Bible scholar. Romans 13 is considered one of the more cut-and-dry chapters of the Bible. It isn't like Psalms and Proverbs, which need to be understood from a symbolic standpoint.

Paul was not afraid of religious persecution or of the possible demise of the growing Christian movement, yet you insinuate in your article that he was. If this was so, why would Paul have beckoned the Christians to continue in their missionary efforts?

Mr. Van Dyke's reference to John of Salisbury is a more interesting argument than any biblical justification for rebellion, and I also urge those who have not read Policratus to do so. What is fascinating about J. of Salisbury is that he was a student of Pierre Abelard, who instilled in his protégé a love of Platonic principles, and more important, a burning passion for the doctrine of Realism.

It was this education that caused J. of Salisbury to question the ethics of the royal class. To make a long story short, J of Salisbury's work is a foreshadowing of the ideals that would be fully embraced in the Reformation.

Again, excellent blog.

Brad Hart said...

Thanks for the praise, Scott.

Abelard is one cool cat to learn about...especially his love affair with Heloise. A secret romance, Abelard's penis getting whacked, etc. When is Hollywood going to make a movie about that?

Christian Salafia said...

Dan said: "The Bible does not DEMAND that one submit to wicked rulers. One is only to submit to wicked rulers if and when GOD says so, as in the case with the Book of Habakkuk.

Nice try, but nowhere did I claim the Bible DEMANDED that.

I think we're more in agreement than when you think. I don't think we are to submit to "EVERY SINGLE EVIL LEADER", again, that's misrepresenting my position.

What my point was, and I'll try to make it clearer, is that I believe it becomes dangerous when one begins attributing OUR feelings, emotions, motivations, etc. to God, and reading/interpreting scripture through those lenses in order to justify actions which may not be theologically supportable.

Hence, that was the point behind the 4th Commandment. It wasn't talking about cussing, it was regarding speaking falsely and using God as your justification.

As a theologian, I think a healthy dose of skepticism whenever anyone invokes scripture as justification is a good thing.

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

Paul had one take on human authority, Peter another: "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29 (KJV).

Whatever the "proper" interpretation of Romans 13, it's clear that New England's urban clergy preached a libertarian gospel, not an authoritarian one of obsequious obedience.

I believe the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, for example, coined the phrase about "taxation without representation" that helped to incite revolution.

Perhaps Jonathan Rowe will answer that Rev. Mayhew wasn't a good Christian?


Jonathan Rowe said...

Heh. Dr. Frazer already has.

Personally I wouldn't say they weren't good Christians because I am not wedded to any particular form of Christianity. However, on orthodox Trinitarian -- the Bible is the infallible Word of God -- grounds, they were not good Christians, arguably not Christians at all. As Dr. Frazer wrote:

In the paragraphs preceding the discussion of John 19:11, Welch taps into the wisdom of Jonathan Mayhew and Samuel West for his support for rebellion – as if, again, their voices were equivalent to scripture, which declares that rebellion is as serious a sin as divination (I Samuel 15:23). Indeed, if He had supported Welch's agenda and promoted rebellion against a much worse regime than George III's, Jesus would not have been the innocent, spotless Lamb when he stood before Pilate, and Pilate would have had a legitimate reason to crucify Him (Luke 23:14). There are 131 references to "rebel" or some form of the word in the Bible, and all state or reflect disapproval. Another verse could not be more clear: "he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God" (Romans 13:2).

This brings us back to Mayhew and West because their perverse, but creative, interpretations of Romans 13 removed the biggest stumbling block to popular support for the American revolutionary cause. By reading their agenda into the text, they interpreted the clearly stated "he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God" to mean "we should resist authority." They interpreted "there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God" to mean "the authority of the government of Great Britain is not from God." It is particularly instructive to note that Paul wrote these words to Romans living under Nero. There is a school of theology which teaches that Nero was the Antichrist! A ruler cannot get much worse. If these verses (somehow) had the meaning ascribed by West and Mayhew (and Welch), what meaning did they have for the people to whom they were originally written?

It is also instructive to point out that Mayhew is not exactly the most reliable authority on what the Bible says. His reputation for unorthodoxy was so pronounced that his ordination had to be rescheduled because not enough ministers attended. He was a unitarian (did not believe in the deity of Christ) and a rationalist who believed that reason was the ultimate determiner of what counts as revelation. He specifically denied the doctrines of imputation, justification by faith, the virgin birth and original sin and held an unorthodox view of the atonement. He denied them because he found them to be unreasonable. Doctrines, which he called "niceties of speculation," were not of particular interest to him, though, because he believed that there were many roads to God and that one walked them through works. He listed Plato, Demosthenes, Cicero, Sidney and Hoadly among his intellectual influences. His quoted remark in the article that a king can "un-king himself" is completely without biblical foundation. Mayhew's view of Romans 13 had nothing to do with what Paul said and everything to do with what Mayhew found reasonable under the circumstances.

The quote from West recounted by Welch is also instructive. In it, West appeals to "the voice of reason" and "natural law" as guides – not scripture. As I say in the chapter on the revolutionary pulpits in my doctoral dissertation: "When reading these sermons carefully, one is struck by the frequency with which passages of Scripture are interpreted in a manner convenient to the argument being made, but unrelated or opposed to their clear sense. …[T]he ministers were little concerned with standard rules of interpretation; such as adherence to context, comparison with similar passages, and fidelity to the clear sense of a passage when the terms are not ambiguous."

Jonathan Rowe said...
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Jonathan Rowe said...

Let me briefly note something about hermeneutics (which may eventually make it to the front page). The Bible appears on the surface to be riddled with contradictions. I've seen one source claim two hundred thousand contradictions. Unitarians like Mr. Isaacson, and some believers in what's come to be known as "liberal" or "cafeteria" Christianity accept the contradictions (thus the fallibility of the Bible).

Others, evangelicals like Mr. Atkinson, OFT, Brian Tubbs and Dr. Frazer argue the Bible is infallible and, in fact, contains NO contradictions (of fact or logic).

The contradictions on the surface appear like wrinkles that need to be ironed out. And good hermeneutics is like taking a logical iron to those wrinkles and explain why in fact they really aren't contradictions.

Here's my problem with this process: Even among those orthodox Trinitarian Protestants who accept the Bible as infallible, they iron out the contradictions in different incompatible ways. Good hermeneuticists resolve the contradictions in incompatible ways. And many ministers aren't even good hermeneuticists! So what I am supposed to believe.

In order to be a good hermeneuticist, you need to be smart in a raw IQ sense and logically learned (as is Dr. Frazer and his minister and college President John MacArthur).

I think Brian is probably pretty good at this process as well. OFT is NOT. Though I'm sure his ministers are.

And I am not impressed with what Dan Atkinson has offered. Dr. Frazer has explained why Peter's "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29 (KJV) does not contradict Paul's Romans 13.

Atkinson has not properly explained why Romans 13 permits rebellion. Babka did a MUCH better job than Atkinson. For instance the following is ENTIRELY unconvincing:

Yet, those like Rowe, Hart and Frazer still rely on one single chapter in the Bible to prove their theory. Do the math people. Is one chapter or SEVERAL books provide the conclusive evidence?

Why yes if you believe the Bible is infallible, every word matters. If certain text say X and others contradict X, you can't simply appeal to the more texts that you think contradict X. Unless of course you are willing to accept a fallible Bible that has contradictions which Mr. Atkinson does not.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Let me give you another example of this dynamic, illustrating as an outsider looking in, when I look to Protestantism all I see is bickering (some might say "reasoning"). And even within that sola-scriptura tradition of orthodoxy, you see them united in "the Bible alone says X and that's all we need" but when it comes to what "the Bible alone" really teaches, you get incompatible claims of truth. Indeed Protestant Sola Scriptura, by its very nature, gives us a schizophrenic Christianity.

And again, as an outsider, I don't mind that schizophrenia. I think the Founders like Madison did a genius of a job offsetting the schizophrenic sects up against one another (the deliberate creation of "political factions" as spoken of in Federalists 10 and 51).

I was involved in a debate with a Christian Nationalist blogger named Invar.

I explained to him why I didn't think Washington was a "Christian" as he understands the concept and further why the teachings of the Declaration of Independence did not come from the Bible. I repeated Robert Kraynak's observation that the Bible is not concerned with political liberty, but spiritual liberty, or as Kraynak put it "freedom from sin." The blogger responded the Bible doesn't teach freedom from sin, but from sin's consequences. And there I realized among "born-again" Christians who accept orthodox Trinitarian doctrines and the Bible as infallible "Sola-Scriptura" they can't agree with what the Bible actually teaches here.

Blogger Hercules Mulligan dropped by and chimed in. Mulligan agrees with Invar about Washington's orthodox Christianity, the Christian Nation thesis, orthodox Trinitarian doctrine as found in Sola Scriptura and the Bible as the infallible Word of God. But Invar ends up getting called a heretic. And then he returns to favor to Mulligan.

Here are some highlights:

Rowe: The Bible teaches the liberty Christ granted was freedom from sin not political liberty.

Invar: Wrong. This is why intellectuals like yourself, who are so proud of your academic acumen, are fools in God’s sight.

Christ did not grant us freedom from sin. Christ granted us the freedom from the PENALTY of sin upon repentance, the penalty of sin being death.

Sin, if you had not noticed - is still very much with us. If Christ set us free from Sin itself, Christians would be perfect people. Alas, we are not. We are free from the penalty of sin, and through Christ we can be free from the bondage of sin. But we are not free from sin itself.

Americans should be suspect of your estimations sir, given the fact of your unscriptural application illustrated above.

Rowe: [I replied that freedom from sin, sin's consequences, the underlying point of spiritual liberty v. political liberty remained the same.]

Hercules Mulligan: [Quoting Invar:] “Christ did not grant us freedom from sin. Christ granted us the freedom from the PENALTY of sin upon repentance, the penalty of sin being death.”

You will not find this doctrine anywhere in Scripture. If anything, the Bible says the EXACT opposite. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 6:

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? CERTAINLY NOT! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

And you can continue reading the rest of that chapter, or the whole New Testament for that matter, to understand how dangerous the heresy is that tells us that we are not freed from sin, only from the penalty of it. Jesus blood CLEANSES us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9); it doesn’t just cover our backsides. God would be unjust if He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die merely to protect us from what we deserve. Rather God sent His Son to rescue us from the REAL problem — our SIN!

We don’t need to participate in sacraments to receive forgiveness every time we sin (read Hebrews 10). That’s not what the sacrament is for. We don’t need a bunch of religious rituals to make us right with God — we only need to repent from our sins, accept Jesus’ atonement, and walk in the love of God.


If we are free from the bondage of sin, that means that we are no longer prone to obey it. Sanctification is a continual process; we do not stop sinning instantaneously.

But if we are free from the bondage of sin, how is that any different than saying we are free from sin itself? In Ephesians 2, Paul says that “by grace we are BEING saved,” (if you accurately translate the literal Greek). God’s command to us is “You shall be perfect, for I am perfect.” Through salvation, and through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, we are being made sinless “so that we may be presented blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22).

If we are free from the bondage of sin, than we are free from sin. We do not have to sin. To say that we just can’t help it is a lie. We are obligated to be holy.

Invar: [Quoting Mulligan] "You will not find this doctrine anywhere in Scripture."

Oh really? Romans 6:23 is pretty plain.

The heresy in doctrine here is one that some mainstream denominations preach, is that once ’saved’, one is no longer capable of sinning. If they are of the mindset they can no longer sin, they adopt simple license to justify any sins they do commit.

I know such people.

There is a big difference in being a slave to sin, and committing sin itself.

Plenty of Spirit-born Christians I know, still sin.

I, still sin. I’m pretty sure YOU still sin.

Pastors and brethren in the church, filled with the Spirit of God, still sin.

We still live IN this world. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden was not that we would be taken out of this world, but only that we would be protected from the Evil One. (John 17:15)

Christ in Revelation 3 tells us and the churches to “overcome” sin.

If Christ has set us free from sin itself, and the ability to commit sin - we have deceived ourselves.

Christ is free from sin. He has overcome it, and this world, and Satan. He has overcome the death penalty for sin for ALL MANKIND.

However, Christ did not abolish sin. We are not free from either temptation, or from committing sins of both omission and commission. There are even hidden sins that we are unawares that Christ must show us, that we might overcome them (See Job).

We are made sinless in the eyes of the Father through Christ’s Passover sacrifice that we must claim, so that none of us can boast, for it is Christ that not only covers our sins, but it is He that gives us the power to overcome.

If we are free from sin, in the context Jon and others would suggest, why is there an admonition to overcome? Why are we told not to let sin reign in our bodies if we are already free from sin?

Clearly we are not free from the ability of sin to again conquer our lives, nor are we free from sin choking off the Spirit of God in us (parable of the seed sower). We have been admonished to take heed of ourselves lest we fall.

We are free from the bondage of sin only because we are not to allow sin to rule over us as it once did, but instead to let Christ rule over us.

Even in that truth however, it is possible for us to allow sin to rule over us for a season. A habit, an unknown sin, a deep lust. We are not automatically made perfect. We are told to BECOME perfect.

It is a dangerous arrogance to assume we are free from ever sinning, and blameless just because we claim to be Christ’s as some do. It is the foothold in the door Satan will use to again try to conquer what he has lost in your life. Pride, arrogance and self-righteousness often follow those that hold to that belief.

And it is those brethren, that live a deceitful life, putting on a ‘church-face’ in the presence of others, but live a wicked life away from church.

All sin and fall short of the glory of God. That understanding should inspire us to be humble, and to assist one another in the job of overcoming and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Personal note: I rarely mention my personal theology, why I reject the Bible as the infallible Word of God. It's in part because of debates like this. On the surface, evangelicals will note something like all you need to do is accept the Bible as God's infallible (meaning without factual or logical contradiction) Word and that's it. But in reality you have to choose from one of limitless schizophrenic hermeneutic understandings of "Sola Scriptura" that guarantees you will make theological enemies (at least in a bickering sense) of your fellow brothers in Christ and end up calling one another heretics as did Invar and Hercules Mulligan.

Sorry I can't buy such a system or believe God gave it to man. He wouldn't have given us something that that. Enough of a rant for now.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Sorry, this should have read:

"Sorry I can't buy such a system or believe God gave it to man. He wouldn't have given us something like that. Enough of a rant for now."

Eric Alan Isaacson said...


It's also possible to read Paul's Epistle to the Romans as a document to be understood in historical context - - written to a specific congregation at a specific time in order to discourage conduct that would have been brutally crushed.

Reading Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, I find him directing "that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing." 1 Tim. 2:9 (KJV).

Does this text present a compelling case that Christian women cannot braid their hair or wear gold or pearls? Does it mean that a Christian people would close their jewelry stores and hair salons, and shutter their malls?

Paul continues: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." 1 Tim. 2:11-14 (KJV).

Now, I know, some read this not merely to bar women from holding public office, but also to prohibit women from teaching men in our colleges and even our high schools. (Some might even read it to mean that women should be barred from posting to blogs read by men.)

But I suspect most Christians believe the passage is better understood as advice from a fallible human being, and as limited by time and social context - - rather than as a command from God for all peoples and all time, that women must be silent, subordinate, and submissive.

bpabbott said...

Christian Salafia wrote: "Hence, that was the point behind the 4th Commandment. It wasn't talking about cussing, it was regarding speaking falsely and using God as your justification."

From the context, I assume you refer to taking the Lord's name in vain? ... and not the day of rest?

Jonathan Rowe said...


Orthodox evangelical Christians who believe the Bible the infallible Word of God could not agree on how those text properly are interpreted re Sarah Palin's VP candidacy. John Lofton, who sometimes comments here, called David Barton and Brannon Howse's biblical defense of Palin's VP candidacy "un-biblical."

The Bible as the infallible Word of God standard leads to contradictory results.

Eric Alan Isaacson said...

Well Jonathan, you know I won't defend the notion that scripture is infallible.

Neither will I defend obsessing over details. As I read the gospels, Jesus blasted the Pharisees for focusing on scriptural details and thereby missing the big picture. Literalists, he said, are "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" Matt. 23:24 (NKJV).

By the way, speaking of human fallibility and inattention to detail, I can't even get my citations right. I just noticed I've been quoting from NKJV, not KJV as my citations have indicated parenthetically. I ought to pay more attention to which of my Bibles I've got open in my lap. Sorry ! ! !

Christian Salafia said...

bpabbot said: From the context, I assume you refer to taking the Lord's name in vain? ... and not the day of rest?

Yes, you are correct, I mean #3, not #4...Exodus 20:7 or Deuteronomy 5:11 in particular.

I stand corrected. :-)


Gregg Frazer said...

The fact that flawed, fallible human beings do not agree on the content of Scripture does not at all impact whether it is, indeed, infallible or not.

Some people come to the Bible with a historical/grammatical approach and try to interpret/understand it in context in the original language. Others use various translations which often obscure what the original says or choose to read it metaphorically or allegorically where it is not meant to be read that way.

Most people read the Bible with an agenda in light of their own biases and preconceptions -- and in light of their culture and its preferences.

None of this changes whether or not the Bible is infallible -- it either is or is not.

People disagree as to whether there is an after-life, but that doesn't change the facts. There either is an after-life or there isn't. Despite the disagreement over it, either God created the world in six days or He didn't. The disagreement does not change reality.

Likewise, the Bible (in the original manuscripts, which is what most of those who say it's infallible are referring to) either is God's Word and, therefore, infallible -- or it's not. Whether one accepts it as such is largely a matter of faith -- although there are plenty of evidences in support of it available for those who are open to the idea.

Although he personally believes that there are contradictions in the Bible, Jon's explanation and illustration about smoothing out seeming contradictions is quite apt.

Gregg Frazer said...

For the record, I completely reject the "secular nationalism" label and resent being identified with it.

How someone who has identified his view as "THEISTIC rationalism" can be lumped in with a "secular" label is beyond me.

My project was, and is, to demonstrate why I think both the Right and the Left are wrong in their assumptions about the religious beliefs of the Founders. That is why I thought a new term was necessary -- the key Founders were neither Christians nor secularists nor deists.

Newcomers to the discussion may be excused for including me within the "secular nationalist" camp -- but some of you know better (or should).

Gregg Frazer said...

I only have time for a couple of brief comments about Mr. Atkinson's remarks.

First, Moses did not rebel against anyone. Read Exodus 12:31-32. Moses obeyed the command of Pharaoh.

Second, David did not rebel against anyone. God removed His blessing from Saul, Saul was jealous of David, and Saul set out to kill David. David evade Saul until he was dead -- then he assumed the throne for which he was anointed. David had two opportunities to kill Saul and take the throne and refused. Read I Samuel 24:11 (in which David specifically denied being part of a rebellion). And I Samuel 26:9-11.

Joshua did not rebel against anyone. He led national forces in warfare, not rebellion.

Regular readers will also note that I have not appealed simply to Romans 13. I have noted that the Bible mentions some form of the words "rebel" or "revolt" more than 100 times -- all in the negative. The focus was on Romans 13 during the recent discussion because that was determined to be the focus at the beginning of the discussion.

Finally, the Proverbs passages have nothing to do with rebellion. To suggest that one could establish righteousness via means condemned by God is more than a bit strange.

I do not appreciate Mr. Atkinson's dismissive implication that I have little or no Bible knowledge. He knows absolutely nothing about my "credentials" and ad hominem attacks are not intellectually honest.

For the record, I have a degree in Bible, I teach college courses in the application of Scripture to politics and political theory, I have led numerous Bible Studies, and I am a deacon in my church.