Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Frazer Responds to King of Ireland on Romans 13

At American Creation Dr. Gregg Frazer left a comment responding to a commenter named King of Ireland on Romans 13 and whether the story of Moses and Egypt is an example that justifies "rebellion to tyrants." Frazer's position, which he can justify throughout the biblical record, is "rebellion to tyrants is ALWAYS disobedience to God." The larger point I take from Frazer's fervent insistence on this point -- that rebellion against government is always wrong according to the Bible -- is that just because some folks called themselves "Christians" a few hundred years ago and attached "God" to their pet ideas doesn't necessarily mean the text of the Bible alone properly justifies such theological claims. I see this especially apt with the Declaration of Independence which, though it invokes God, attaches all sorts of ideas to God that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with what's written in the Bible.

Frazer's method at the very least cautions against using Sola Scriptura (i.e., the Bible alone) to vet our pet theological causes in which we would like to believe, like God grants men unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and to revolt against tyrants. The "Sola Scriptura" that led Luther to break away from the Roman Catholic Church or that is used to argue against Mormonism, also, arguably shoots down the theological claims of the Declaration of Independence.

King of Ireland:

God did NOT tell Moses to "break away from Pharaoh" -- where? What verse? He told Moses to go to Pharaoh (not organize a rebellion) and repeat to him God's demand that he let the Israelites go. When Pharaoh refused, Moses still did not organize rebellion -- he just kept repeating God's words to Pharaoh. Revolution is always wrong and God is not a liar.

[It's best to be accurate in what you say before casually throwing around an accusation against God]

As for rulers going down, God uses the sinful activity of men for His purposes and makes it work to fulfill His plan -- but that does not change the fact that the action was sinful/wrong [the end does not justify the means].

Where does the Bible say that God sent Moses to revolt -- what verse?

What is the connection between killing an individual Egyptian and revolution against the government of Egypt? FORTY YEARS elapsed between the killing of the Egyptian and Moses' return to Egypt to confront Pharaoh.

Where does the Bible say that Moses (or the Israelites) took up arms against the Egyptian government -- what verse?

On the contrary, Moses presented GOD'S demands (not his) and then merely obeyed Pharaoh's command to leave Egypt in Exodus 12:31-32 -- they didn't fight their way out or try to overthrow the government of Pharaoh. All of the attacks on Pharaoh's people and all of the deaths were done by God Himself -- not by Moses or the Israelites.

Jesus did NOT tell his disciples to "get their swords" when they came for Him -- what's the verse? BEFORE they came for Him, He told his disciples to CARRY swords in order to fulfill prophecy (Luke 22:37). When they said they had two swords (for 12 men), He said that was enough -- because they weren't to be USED. He rebuked Peter for USING a sword, which was never the intent (John 18:36).

There is a difference between "disobedience" and "resistance." Authorities should be "disobeyed" when they command disobedience to God, but "resistance" is never justified.

I am sorry that you will not worship a God Who says something you disagree with (in your infinite/infallible wisdom), but Who took on human flesh, came to earth, and died to provide a means of forgiving your disbelief and sins in order to make eternal life available to you.

I disagree with your assessment: I think most people have a problem with Christianity because "men love the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds are evil." [John 3:19] You complain about lack of choice, but when men have a choice, they reject God.

As for bad translations, I am basing what I say on the original manuscripts (original Greek & Hebrew).


Tom Van Dyke said...

Ugh. You love setting these theological johnny-come-latelys at each other's throats, don't you Jon? Hehe.

Although as a result of the discussions at this blog I've developed a healthy appreciation for the effect of Protestantism on the Founding, Christianity didn't start with Martin Luther or John Calvin. In fact, Calvin was already effectively on the outs by the time of the Founding, as the Puritans mutated into Congregationalists.

Pre-Reformation Christian thinkers like John of Salisbury [c. 1150] and Thomas Aquinas [c.1250] had already set the ball rolling in Christian thought that tyrants who disobeyed the natural law had no rightful claim to sovereignty before God or man.

This discussion between The King and Dr. Frazer is like listening to a debate on whether Alex Gonzalez or Albert Pujols is the greatest baseball player of all time. By the time of the Founding, the Calvinistic view of Romans 13 was a mere revanchism, a return to a dead end: Christianity and the Western World was irrevocably on the way toward consent of the governed---under natural law---as the only legitimizing principle for a political regime.

John of Salisbury and Aquinas had already cleared the road some 500 years before.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I have understood that the early Christians "rebelled" against the "Ceasar cult" because of their abohorrence of certain practices in the "world". They did not submit to Ceasar and were called "atheists". There understanding was that God was their "ruler".

Many throughout history have dissented because of certain convictions of conscience. How we understand God, the world and God's interaction in the world are various, as we are the interpretors of experience, text, God, and history.

God's control of history and events has come into question in most thinking segments of Christondom. This is where the scholar understands that "god's salvation history" is a theological "frame" that imposes itself upon the text. And this understanding has come to represent "Chrsitian understanding and faith".

As to God's "control", leaders are those who are responsible for what transpires, not God. This does not say that God does or does not exist, it just questions how "god rules", or works within history.

The Founders wanted men to be "self governing", not ruled from the outside. (This was also a promise of a New Covenant in Ezekial and Jeremiah, which was later interpreted by the writers of the NT as "the Christ", but some have understood it to be those "with the spirit".)

So, where Christians would speak of "the spirit" guiding a life, the Founders would believe reason would guide that life. The question then becomes, is reason and spirit (faith) in opposition to each other, or are they the same? If different, then how do they interact...these questions are not ones that can be found in test tubes, unless one believes that man is only boiled down to the chemicals in his brain/body, or only a reactionary "being" that is held captive to his past experience(s)...

Rational choice theory would be based on a reasoned way of understanding "life", not an irrational "faith" that "jumps in the dark".

As to the Biblical text and Moses, there were reasons why the writers of Scripture wrote what they did. It was not just because of eye witness experience, but a social construction, and control. We cannot know the "whole story" as we don't even have all the information to "put together" the whole situation, much less the "minds of the scribes" and why they wrote. There are only theories as to why they wrote what they did.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

As to reformation and revolution, I think that reformation happens as a result of one believing that there can be "redemption" of a certain government or leader. Whereas, revolution happens as a reaction to oppressive means of control by the leader (or leadership)which does no allow dissent or difference of opinion. This is the basis of our Bill of Rights! And it is also the basis of human rights. We must allow dissent and a right to choose differently and be self-governing, as this is what being human is about.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think it is much more probable that the progression of history is based on a cyclical view of the human experience. Wisdom helps us to know that there is nothing new under the sun, whereas, science makes one think that one can conquer the world with the "new understanding"...

This is where the Founders understood man's need for a balance of power in accountability. No one is beyond corruption or despotism and this was why citzenship was of importance and value, as it helped to develop man into something more than a product, commodity, that was the result of class stratification, and the issue of slavery.

jimmiraybob said... a debate on whether Alex Gonzalez or Albert Pujols is the greatest baseball player of all time.Alex who? It is of course Albert. Although there is no supporting evidence, but George Washington probably would have thought so too.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Rational choice theory would be based on a reasoned way of understanding "life", not an irrational "faith" that "jumps in the dark".Ms. VDM, The Founders believed in Providence---and none more than George Washington himself!---which your "most thinking segments of Christendom" would be obliged to call "an irrational 'faith' that 'jumps in the dark'.

Neither is it clear that "'rational choice theory' [that] would be based on a reasoned way of understanding 'life'" can ever be up to the task of discerning the core philosophical question, What is Good?

Further it's unclear that mosern rationalism is or even can be "rational."

"According to the positivistic interpretation of relativism which prevails in present-day social science . . . reason can tell us which means are conducive to which ends; it cannot tell us which attainable ends are to be preferred to other attainable ends. Reason cannot tell us that we ought to choose attainable ends; if someone 'loves him who desires the impossible,' reason may tell him that he acts irrationally, but it cannot tell him that he ought to act rationally, or that acting irrationally is acting badly or basely. If rational conduct consists in choosing the right means for the right end, relativism teaches in effect that rational conduct is impossible."---L. Strauss

One need not be a religionist to, as you put it, "jump in the dark. Subjectivity can be just as clueless---Providentialism may be in error, but those errors are limited. But subjectivity's errors are without bounds.

Tom Van Dyke said...

JRB, I agree. Washington was much more the 1B type than a SS, and never would have taken steroids.

Gregg Frazer said...


I'm sorry, but I can't help being more interested in what God says about what's right and wrong than what Aquinas or John of Salisbury or any other mere man says about it.

I consider Him a more reliable source.

As for "Calvin was already effectively on the outs by the time of the Founding" -- that's just factually incorrect and I wonder what evidence you could provide to substantiate such an astounding (albeit convenient) claim.

The reason that Adams and Robert Treat Paine, for example, gave Jonathan Mayhew so much credit for the Revolution is that he provided a way around the prevailing view (Calvin's) in the churches against revolution.

Finally: when either Pujols or Gonzalez pitches a World Series shutout or leads the league in ERA (as Ruth did in 1916) in ADDITION to excelling at the bat -- then I'll rank them ahead of Babe Ruth as the greatest baseball player of all time. Until then, you may argue (incorrectly) that one of them is the best HITTER -- but best PLAYER? I don't think so.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Although I do believe that "no man is an island", I also believe that the "social contract" is a reasoned way of living life in a reasoned way to attain one's ends.

You, Tom, seem to speak in "group language", as if means are those that are decided beforehand. People do have plans, and the means to accomplish plans or attainable ends. I agree that no one can judge another as to their "choice of ends", unless it is unlawful. Therefore, rational choice does not mean that one does not have "faith", but that one may have a reasoned faith about life, n(which is a view of providence), and not a belief that is anti-thetical to rationale, as if reason is an enemy to faith.

A reasoned faith about life means that man has been gifted with the means of attainable ends, which is determined by the individual and their understanding of life commitment to that end. Faith in the fact that what one has been gifted with is useful to pursue.

Faith is not about the specificities of "god" so much as belief that life teaches.

As to the "good" and the choice of the "good", indeed "good" is defined by the one who defines it and as long as it does not obstruct justice, then, the pursuit of the "good" is "right".

Gregg Frazer said...

Ms. VDM:

Obviously, I disagree with almost everything you said, but it's pointless to reply because our presuppositions and what we accept as evidence and authority are so much at variance, that we are essentially speaking different languages.

Gregg Frazer said...


One more comment -- as for my being a "theological johnny-come-lately," the last time I checked, Moses came several thousand years before Aquinas or John of Salisbury -- and Jesus and the apostles more than a thousand years before them. So, who's theology is "johnny-come-lately?"

I'm not relying on Calvin or Luther; I'm simply arguing for what Paul and Moses actually said. Calvin's view comes into the picture because he was important during the Founding era -- but he's not the basis of my argument.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, I seem to have been caught squarely between Ms. VDM and Dr. Frazer.

Where to start?

Dr, Frazer, what the correct interpretation of Romans 13 is, is beyond my---and this blog's---poor power to add or detract. The matter was settled for practical purposes by the Founders [as you accurately note, via Mayhew, and as I accurately note, as early as 1150].

Ms. VDM, as I'm bilingual, both religious and "rationalist," I do understand your language. Per the L.Strauss quote above, I believe you have your ends and means reversed. The ends are objective---What is Good---the means are what we need our reason to arrive at.

And certainly per Aquinas---and key Founders like Supreme Court justice and legal theorist James Wilson---faith does not require we park our brains at the door. On the contrary, it's understood by your "most thinking segments of Christendom" that God gave us our brains for good reason.

Right reason, they called it in the Founding era, and in the hundreds of years of Christian thought before that.

Not to mention Aristotle [ho orthos logos], wherein you can see the roots of the words "orthodoxy" and "logic."


Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I understand the Moses & Paul bit, Gregg, and hope I explained that the Romans 13 toothpaste is well out of the tube and so remains on the theological sidelines until we start the next revolution.

My baseball allusion was indeed about Calvin, as Babe Ruth was indeed the Thomas Aquinas of baseball, for the reasons you give.

Gregg Frazer said...

I have a PhD in political philosophy, so I, too, UNDERSTAND your language, Ms. VDM. However, answering your arguments appropriately would require more translation than I have time to perform -- and I seriously doubt that you would be interested in the result. We would be talking past each other because you would not accept my presuppositions and I do not accept yours.

Very nice "baseball allusion" comment, Tom.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

As to "natural law", which is based on "cause and effect" doesn't have any rights if they disobey "natural law"? We cannot agree to an individual's right to sovereignty, if there are presuppositions that are biased as to what is expected, and one is convicted of breaking "natural law", without even understanding that they have. It is guilt by association, or guilt until proven innocent, which is unjust.
This is what Guatanamo Bay wss about. Was it "right" to torture these who were "identified as enemies" without a fair trial? That has been debated.
As to ends and means... each person should be free to pursue their own ends, if one believes in freedom and justice for all, because each individual is an "end". Our military upholds these values, just as the President is to uphold the Constitution. But the way of getting to the end of "freedom and justice for all" may mean different things to different people, as there is not one way to "get there". And the means are not always smooth and striaghtforward, but messy and complex.
And, yes, I am basically ignorant, when it comes to many academic disciplines, but that doesn't mean that I do not have the right to be free to speak, to explore, and to evaluate and commit to those things that are found to be of value.
I recognize that there are those who think that scripture, and holiness are the right "goal", but that is debatable, as what is "holy", as to its meaning? Providence is something that one chooses to believe, as there is no proof of providence (predestination,or forknowledge). People like to make themselves feel better about choices that are made that affect others negatively by scape-goating theological providence.

Brad Hart said...

TVD writes:

***John of Salisbury and Aquinas had already cleared the road some 500 years before.***

I am in agreement. I think their works are invaluable and did "pave the road" in many respects.

In addition, I would recommend that you check out the works of Peter (Pierre, Petrus) Abelard. John of Salisbury was actually one of Abelard's students. His writings are extremely interesting, and if you like Salisbury you're sure to like Abelard.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx, Brad. Apparently 1150 isn't early enough to trace back the history of these ideas. [I suspected as much, but John of Salisbury is as far as I'd made it back.] Abelard shoots to the top of my learning list.


Ms. VDM, of course you have the "right" to speak. [An interesting choice of word.] You're not disruptive. You're very nice.

The point would be that what you're saying was already part of the discussion between 1600-1800, which is why we return to these thinkers, where we can examine their ideas---our foundation---without dragging in Bush and Obama and have this blog turn into a partisan grenade-toss like the rest of the internet. [So let's trip back together 250 years before Guantanamo.]

It's clear that you've begun to reject the churchmen and their dogmas, and that's great. Your residual hostility, not so much, but the Founders had it too.

That's a first step, a "means" if you will, but brings us no closer to the end, the truth.

When you write:

As to ends and means... each person should be free to pursue their own ends, if one believes in freedom and justice for all, because each individual is an "end"...

This does not follow as a syllogism. They are 3 unrelated assertions.

Let's return to the core point, and a well-posed question, one we discuss here often: doesn't have any rights if they disobey "natural law"?

"Rights" becomes problematic. Does one have the "right" to disobey "natural law?"

In the Founders' view, I argue, no. John Locke, by many accounts a major influence on the Founding, says:

"But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence", and the distinction between liberty and license is made throughout the Founding era.

In fact the entire Locke quote limits "individual's right to sovereignty" [as you put it, and put it well], and puts it subject to natural law.

Here, #6.As for the rest of your very good note, yes, "providence" is something we rather laugh at in the 21st century, as well as the idea of a "natural law," I suppose. Again we return your assertion that "each person should be free to pursue their own ends."

This was not the Founding dynamic. They agreed on the ends---on What is Good---and not just in a Christian sense, but in a "Stoic"/pagan sense too, if you'll take a look at our discussion of George Washington below.

Eudaimonia, Aristotle called it. But eudaimonia is impossible outside the natural law. It's a vibe, not an opinion.

You write:

"The means are not always smooth and straightforward, but messy and complex."

You got that damn right, Angie. On this, you, I and the Founders all agree.

King of Ireland said...

Mr. Fraser,

"'m sorry, but I can't help being more interested in what God says about what's right and wrong than what Aquinas or John of Salisbury or any other mere man says about it."

Are you the infallible source of what God says? As far as all of your questions this blog is not the place to answer them in the detail that such good and thoughtful questions deserve. I have started a blog and will post a response and email it to you if you would like. Or maybe I can link it to this blog.

It would seem your are a Calvinist. Is that true? I will try to do this in the next several weeks. One question: Were the Jews right to resist Hitler or should they have just sat there and took it? From that logical foundation are interpretation of the Bible should flow. I have seen too many self-proclaimed jerks quote Romans 13 not to see a logical fallacy to your contentions. More later....

King of Ireland said...

"You complain about lack of choice, but when men have a choice, they reject God."

So how is anyone saved? I did not see this comment you most certainly are a Calvinist. This should be interesting. Another question to think about: What kind of Father chooses for no apparent reason who is forsaken and who makes it? Is this logical? You sound like the woman in the movie Unbreakable who tells her son that if God wills is he will fall and break all his bones. That boy grows up to be a man who thinks that he has to do evil to see good. Fatalism kills the soul. If their is no choice then how can love exist?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Hmmm. This is interesting. Gregg---Dr. Frazer---you did open this door to His Highness the King of Ireland by advancing your theological reading of Romans 13 as gospel truth, 200+ years after the Founding generation rejected it.

I can't help being more interested in what God says about what's right and wrong than what Aquinas or John of Salisbury or any other mere man says about it...

Not that I'm sure this is the proper forum for such theological---biblical---discussions, Gregg, but Jonathan Rowe seems to get a kick out of setting y'all at the mercy of each other's maws.

[Naughty, Naughty Jonathan.]

The King, intentionally or unintentionally, or as an admixture of both, cites Mohandas K. Gandhi here:

Were the Jews right to resist Hitler or should they have just sat there and took it?[The entire context is here. Make of it what we will, and must...]

“Hitler,” Gandhi said, “killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.” A very interesting discussion, nonetheless. An essential discussion.

jimmiraybob said...

...when either Pujols or Gonzalez pitches a World Series shutout or leads the league in ERA...Pujols is young. There is time.

Gonzalez is...., wait a minute, who is this Gonzales character everyone keeps mentioning? And who cares? :)

TVD - I did not know that Washington was a 1st baseman at heart. Makes sense. (no offense to Ozzie Smith, all hail the Oz - obligatory since I'm posting from the epicenter of Cardinal Nation.)

Our Founding Truth said...

K of I:Were the Jews right to resist Hitler or should they have just sat there and took it? From that logical foundation are interpretation of the Bible should flow.

I agree with you completely; a good point against the points of

If their is no choice then how can love exist?>

Here is the basis from I John 3, why Calvinism is wrong. You hit it K of I.

The foundation of Love is choice, and that destroys Calvinism.

Although, I will say, Calvinism seems correct on Original Sin, as Paul links imputed death with imputed righteousness. How can they be separated if Paul linked them in the same verse?

Gregg Frazer said...

King of Ireland:

I do not consider myself infallible or "the infallible source of what God says" -- the Bible is that. I can read, however, and I take the Bible as the infallible source of what God says. So, when I say that I am more interested in what God says, I mean that I am more interested in what the biblical text says. If some philosopher down the road wants it to say something else and tries to make it do so, that does not hold as much weight with me as what the text (God) actually says.

The passage we're talking about is very straightforward -- not at all complex or ambiguous. Only when someone brings in outside assumptions (because they don't LIKE what it says) does it become cloudy. Only when someone is uncomfortable with the clear sense of what it says and then tries to make it comport with their own biases does it become difficult.

I disagree profoundly with your suggestion that our interpretation of the Bible should flow from our position vis a vis the Jews under Hitler. How could someone in Paul's day (the immediate audience) interpret it based on that standard? The Hitler situation did not yet exist!

We should interpret the text literally in historical grammatical context and decide about the Jews under Hitler situation BASED ON THE INTERPRETATION -- not the other way around!

You're advocating (it appears) situational ethics -- the tail wagging the dog.

As to that situation, as I've said many times in this blog: subjection to authority is absolute and there are no exceptions. Obedience, however, is not absolute; there is one (and only one) exception -- when the authority asks you to disobey God. So, in the case of the Jews under Hitler: since the authority was asking them to participate in mass murder, they should disobey, refuse to cooperate, try to escape, etc. They must remain in subjection, however, so REBELLION is not an option (Romans 13:2).

As to whether I'm a Calvinist, I don't think it a relevant question, but I'm willing to answer it anyway. My beliefs comport with what would be called a four-point Calvinist. I am not a five-point Calvinist because the Bible does not teach the fifth point and I'm not fundamentally a slave to a system. I believe the Bible teaches four of Calvin's points, so I identify with his system to that extent. Not because it's Calvin -- but because that's what the Bible teaches. I am NOT a Calvinist in the sense that some are -- i.e. whatever Calvin says must be right.

I'm not at all interested in defending Calvinism as a system. I am VERY interested in defending what the Word of God teaches.

You've used the term "fatalism" several times -- but there is no "fate" involved. What happens is part of the sovereign God's plan -- not random chance or capricious acts by a pagan deity.

I don't think this is designed to be a theological site, but I'll gladly take the opportunity to answer your critical question: "how is anyone saved?"

Everyone who is saved is saved by God's grace. Romans 3 (especially verses 10-12) is crystal clear that no one seeks God and no one earns salvation. Further: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23-24).

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

"But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were DEAD in our transgressions, MADE US ALIVE together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) ... FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE MAY BOAST" (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9).

On another note: Ms. VDM said that there is no proof of providence, but the biblical record includes literally hundreds of fulfilled prophecies (made hundreds of years before) with zero misses. For a rational person who has not arbitrarily disqualified such evidence, that's pretty persuasive proof.

It strikes me that most people who claim to be rationalists or to decide questions rationally arbitrarily dismiss categories of evidence (in this case, historical). I consider that to be irrational.

As we well know, the Founding generation -- as brilliant as they were -- were not infallible, either. For example, many of them believed blacks to be inferior and relegated them to the level of property. So, I think I'll trust what the words of Scripture clearly, unambiguously say in Romans 13 (which comports with the rest of the biblical record) over the opinions of fallible men with an agenda incompatible with the biblical text. They had a reason to reject the text -- they weren't exactly disinterested analysts.

And I would call my reading "literal" -- not "theological" (your term would imply that I'm interjecting some system into the passage -- which I'm not).

I apologize for the length of this -- but numerous questions and ideas were advanced and I don't often have time to respond.

King of Ireland said...

"but because that's what the Bible teaches"

How do you know? You are equating your opinion with what is says to being infallibly what it says. I have talked about God both here and abroad with well over 500,000 people and came to one certainty:

When someone says with confidence "This is what the Bible says" they are full of it. It is your opinion of what it says. It is this type of arrogance that leads to a rejection of the warped system not God. I asked a church kid two years ago to go out and ask 100 people if they wanted to go to church. How many wanted too go? Zero. The same number I told him would based on my own experiences. Is this God's will? Or is the arrogance of the church driving people away?

I am sure you are a smart and educated man. But you need to preface what you say with the fact that it is your opinion. God taught situational ethics when he said there is a time for everything. If it is so clear then why do we need him?

Anyway, I will respond to your questions where can I send it? I need a few weeks to put it together. I am not saying that I am infallible either by the way. Let's both be humble to admit it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Aw, Gregg, I leave you and the King to have at it. But I think you hoist yrself on your own petard of biblical fundamentalism.

To wit:

Slavery in the US was defended on biblical grounds, Paul the Epistlist's tacit acceptance of it. "Slaves obey your masters," etc.

It's hardly profound for you to diss the Founding Fathers as slavemasters, and especially since the theologicians---the Jonathan Mayhews, etc.---were New Englanders, and opposed to slavery.

In fact, it was a unitarian Christian named William Ellery Channing who presented the best argument I've seen---a theological one---against slavery, that if Jesus had made it all about political liberty, Christianity as a spiritual, salvific teaching would have been lost.

Channing argued that the political would have to wait, via theology, the bringing out of the truths of the Bible via reason and mere practicality to end slavery. But still, slavery must end.

So I think you shouldn't even go there, dissing the Founders or theology. Leviticus says we should kill our drunken and disobedient sons. Geez, I'd be dead by now, how 'bout you? Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed across history...

This is the short version. If you want to explore all this, you better hang around this blog for awhile. We love when you kick it around with us here. Me, I learn something every day.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

You said that my syllogism was wrong as it concerned ends and means.
People are ends in themselves, so government is to protect their right to pursue their own ends. The individual is the "ideal" that the Founders protected, not society.

C.S. Lewis said,"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be saitiated; but, those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of thier own conscience." How true this is when it concerns those who think it their duty to teach others about "virtue". When these attempt to undermine the individual's right to his own life (moral choice), they undermine their own virtue and moral influence as far as I am concerned!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

May I add, that some would not agree that the Founders would underline the individual, as they were to create a "more perfect union"....but what is Federalism, except individual states that agreed..and States sought to underwrite their own interests, individuals could "move West" to pursue "other interests", if they so chose....and isn't the Bill of Rights a defense of individual rights?
Certainly, in the past, people were more accustomed to be identified with their "groups". And group identification benefitted society, as the group "stood for something" other than the individual's own self interest (which has underwritten our free market system...and this is the "problem" according to the socialist, as there is vast inequality of resources...which is unfair...etc. etc...)

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, re our previous conversation, which you touch on here with "people are ends in themselves," that is the modern view. However, an overarching "natural law," which the founding era believed in, puts the brakes on what was called in another context "crypto-Hobbesian hedonism." Think Amsterdam, I guess.

Your syllogism simply didn't flow; the 3 assertions were un related. I didn't want to call it a "non-sequitur" as that's kid of insulting, but "it does not follow," x.y.z was accurate. And I thought what you wrote about "ends" was more apllicable to "means" and vice-versa. Liberty is a means toward eudaemonia, the liberation of the human potential being more conducive to it than top-down commands, but is not an end in itself.

You touch on some areas of genuine controversy for which I have no definite opinion. Pinky's reading a book by a scholar named Barry Shain, that submits that groups were more important at the Founding than individuals. perhaps Pinky will share.

Certainly you're correct in quoting CS Lewis that certain brutes under color of religious authority do tyrannize their congregations. But I think Lewis wouldn't stop just there, and would acknowledge the role of some sort of overarching moral law, and knowing Lewis, it would have a ton of God in it too.

As for federalism, it actually means that each state reserved many of the powers of government to themselves, which was the purpose of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, inviting the central [federal] government to butt out of many or most things.

"The individual is the "ideal" that the Founders protected, not society."

Well, "society" could be read as the states, and under federalism, they could preserve themselves as they saw fit. Yes, there's certainly a streak of individualism, in no small part the individual religious conscience, but I'm not sure that we can say the individual was the be-all and end-all. That would be "crypto-Hobbesian hedonism."

Neither am I sure that any society can survive with 300 million versions of reality. We have a consensus reality, and for better or worse, a consensus on moral law. For instance, we don't torture animals, an example I like to use to prove that we "legislate morality" all the time.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't know why most people "hear" license, or hedonism, when I argue for indivudual "rights". Without individualism, there is no liberty. That does not mean that liberty is anti-thetical to "law". Law is the basis of liberty, if one is law-abiding. Otherwise, one is a criminal. Laws, though are to protect "freedom" in a liberal society. This is why the Founders wanted to limit government...wasn't it?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, we're all in favor of rights.

When you write

As to the "good" and the choice of the "good", indeed "good" is defined by the one who defines it and as long as it does not obstruct justice, then, the pursuit of the "good" is "right".

you seem to say that "good" is subjective, and we can have 300 million definitions of it. I argue that on the whole, the Founders didn't think so. "Crypto-Hobbsian hedonism" [and some scholars accuse John Locke himself of it] sounds pejorative, but absent an overarching natural law, that's precisely what liberty is.

Jonathan Rowe said...

For instance, we don't torture animals, an example I like to use to prove that we "legislate morality" all the time.All law is a legislation of morality. The idea that people should have a "right" to be free (meaning government exist to protect me from, at the least, being kidnapped from my neighbor who may wish to rob, steal, enslave or kill me) is itself a moral notion.

The problem is just because government can and does legislate morality doesn't make it a good or wise thing to legislate any kind of comprehensive view of morality.

Don't rob, steal, enslave, defraud your fellow man. Don't torture animals. Pay your just debts. Make folks internal the harm they intentionally or negligently cause to others. These are moral rules that equate to legal rules about which we should all agree. Richard Epstein calls them the "simple rules for a complex society" that form the basis of our law. However, the elephant in the room is we disagree on overall notions of "the good." Trying to legislate any kind of morlity that goes beyond those simple rules is just a terribly unwise idea in my opinion because it sets the basis for a "culture war" where different factions vie for govt power to legislate their comprehensive moral worldview.

If folks can agree to those above basics and want to set up their own voluntary Amsterdam, that's fine with me. Other than some of the radical Muslims who want to rock the boat there, Amsterdam as I understand, is a very civilized place with all of its hedonism.

That also gives religious conservatives the freedom to form their own voluntary communties. The Amish have been doing it for years. But, to use a more real world example, the town that Thomas S. Monaghan is building in Florida. As long as people are free to enter and leave and make contracts, that's how to solve the problem of culture war and dispute over "the good."

You don't even need to build your own town. We can get rid of almost all "morals" legislation, except for the above mentioned baseline, and those who want to live by the Bible and the natural law can leave regulation entirely in the hands of churches or other private entities. There are some fundamentalist churches who will expell members for getting divorced, which is exactly what happened to Randall Terry (he's now a Roman Catholic; their gain, your loss Tom).

I listened to a sermon by John MacArthur where he noted a transsexual once joined his church (one who must have been convincing because MacArthur et al. didn't know until he was told; the tranny must have been Asian). MacArthur basically said you have to start living as a man or else you are out of this church. And eventually he had to kick the person out.

THAT'S how to legislate morality; that's how to settle disputes over "the good."

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Thank you Jonathan and Tom,
I was just going to respond to Tom's hedonism argument, as I don't believe that "good" is defined in one way. People can choose to benefit society in different ways, which is not about "rules and regulations", which define a certain lifestyle, but about personal values. Values will differ from person to person, and it doesn't have to do with hedonism (as if pleasure, in and of itself is "sinful")..

Someone may choose to value their family and take a less stressful and demanding position career wise. But, another may think that to fulfill one's duty to society (or God) one must fulfill all personal potential and put family and personal time to the side. Which one has done "good"? That judgment will depend on who evaluates it and if they have a certain agenda for the individual that demands that they fulfill all of their potential. If this is a job situation where the boss demands certain behavior then there should be room for negotiation, or there is the choice to leave.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom might say if you don't think the "good" is defined one way -- if it's just a matter of values to which each individual person has -- you are a "relativist."

I might respond, even IF "the good" is objective -- there is only one "good" -- it's still something over which we argue in a pluralistic nation. And because of that the state MUST grant lots of space under the rubric of "rights" for individuals and groups to pursue the good for themselves or as the Founders put it, the right to pursue happiness.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Good" under the definition of virtue, is that that benefits society. But, as mentioned above, there are many ways that that virtue can play itself out and, as you say, the State MUST allow. Otherwise, the State itself has overstepped the moral boundary of limiting itself for "human flourishing". The State does not teach real virtue by overbearing authoriatarianism.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, we're getting on the same page here. But there are two arguments here---one of the ideal of the "good," and one of prudence, as in how much "good" can a socity take, aanyway?

But in either case, I don't agree that a minimalist definition of "good" will suffice for a society whether in the ideal or as a matter of pruddence.

"Crypto-Hobbesian hedonism" could be applied to the current Wall Street mess. Even if nobody did anything illegal, obviously something didn't work.

This is at the center of the tension between classical philosophy [which built on man as a "social animal"] vs. the modern [which puts the individual first], or even our current conservative vs. liberal tensions.

The "classical liberal," those of the Founding era [and in no small part the Irish/British Edmund Burke, who supported the American Revolution but opposed the French] desires "ordered liberty," admitting the tension, as "ordered liberty" is a bit of an oxymoron.

Is a minimalist understanding of "the good" a "low but solid gound" on which America was founded? Some say so. I disagree. In the modern sense, the minimalist understanding of "the good" becomes liberty as an end in itself. I don't think this will suffice, but I suppose the only way to find out is to let it all hang loose and go to hell.

Which is what Edmund Burke said would happen in France, and it did.

King of Ireland said...

"Thomas S. Monaghan is building in Florida"

I saw this place. It is in the middle of nowhere and kind of creepy but if that is what they want to do then more power to them. I think the ACLU was after them for something though.

Tom Van Dyke said...

It's an interesting conflict in Christianity, to be in this world but not of it. Or is faith without good works in vain? See also Luther and the slaughter of the Anabaptists.

The ACLU doesn't like Monaghan's Puritan Paradise [actually, Catholic, if I recall]? This door swings both ways, apparently, hitting each and everyone in the bollocks when their turn comes.

Our Founding Truth said...

Gregg:For example, many of them believed blacks to be inferior and relegated them to the level of property.>

In the South maybe.

So, I think I'll trust what the words of Scripture clearly, unambiguously say in Romans 13 (which comports with the rest of the biblical record) over the opinions of fallible men with an agenda incompatible with the biblical text.>

It's clear what Romans 13 says, in the context of I Cor 9: 7-9, and 14: 8-10. I don't doubt Jon can find quotes from the theologians(Unitarians too) referencing I Cor, and the Epistles.

It's clear the text says "good govt." which Rome was not. Furthermore, your interpretation contradicts that of the Old Testament Church; the current Church, replacing the Old for a time, should be consistent, which it isn't if your view is the correct one. If you're a Calvinist, then you know Dr. Robert Morey, a leading figure on Calvinism, along with Francis Shaeffer, says, "When a state no longer functions according to Rom. 13: 1-5, that government is no longer ordained by God."

-Morey, Practical Christianity, 2003.

Jon, can you find "When Is It Right To Fight" by Morey online? He may not have it available, but you find a lot of good material on here.

Clearly the framers understood their right to rebel against corrupt governments, first, from the the Scriptures, second, the Christian Philosophers, and third, in seminaries, such as: Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Penn, Rutgers, and King's College.

John Jay's understanding of Romans 13, was what he learned, most likely at King's College. Hamilton, attending the same, no doubt, learned the same interpretation.

To them, Britain's government was no longer ordained by God, requireing obedience. Ehud's assassination of Eglon the King in Judges 3, is another example of God affirming rebellion to a govt. that persecutes The Church, or has lost its authority to govern; God having strengthened Eglon in the first place to punish Israel, and get them to repent and turn back to their God.

"Gregg:but because that's what the Bible teaches"

K of I:How do you know? You are equating your opinion with what is says to being infallibly what it says.>

Now, you're getting off track. If you are shown what the text explicitly says, in context of the entire revelation; fundamentals, etc. you should not reject those.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Founding Father, Irregardless of whether a person believes that the text is "special revelation" and how that is understood, there is also natural revelation, which history has borne out in Church history.

Natural revelation is not based on some spiritual understanding, but is based on reason, which all men have. Science has 'proven" that there is much to be re-considered when it comes to the text...for instance, the earth is not flat, and yet, scriptures attest to "the four corners of the earth". Any literal reading will become hard to maintain, when one really understands how the text is written within a particular historical (unscientific) and contextual (ancient Middle East) way. Just try to consider....

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not bad, OFT, although a bit incoherent because you're in such a rush. You've mebbe been doing some reading, which would be cool.

But surely you understand that THIS BLOG doesn't give a good goddam about intramural theological squabbles inside fundamentalism. Whether or not Jonathan Mayhew had the correct interpretation of Romans 13, the Founders agreed he did, and now we have a US of A.

Not that the occasional comment isn't welcome, but please do tread gently and sparingly on this stuff and not bore the pants off our readership. It's not that kind of party.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Tom, I agree that man is a social animal and I wrote about the process of how our sociality has "worn thin" in hisorical context of American history on my blog site.

While I agree that man is a social animal, he is also a developmental one, that should come to terms with his own life and "own it". This is what the Founders understood as "self governance". Moral development has been understood and studied to be best within a democratic context, where each individual can come to individuality, which is based on reason and the understanding of justice.

Where it concerns moral degradation, the Founders agreed to a limitation of the power of government, and a balance within the government so that the individual could pursue his own life goals. So, I don't think that anything is learned through co-cercive means. Even leadership principles understand that the leader must influence, but does not control another. If you want to create an atmosphere of rebellion in man then put him under a Louis XVIII, or a government that taxes them to death so that are limited in their choices, while the elite rulers are living in luxury.

Corrupt governments maintain their control by limiting the monetary means to those 'under their power", so that they have to work long hard hours to make ends meet and have little time, and energy left to even question the propaganda given to them from their media...

Our revolution began as a result of over-taxation, and limiting the voice of the common man. Surely, our Bill of Rights should still be upheld by our government officials, and the American people should be watching daily to hold their government officials to account by using these freedoms.

If human rights means anything, it must mean that the individual is the epitome of "god's image", not the Church. An individual(s) is suffering under bad government. But, these individuals are seen as individuals and not as groups, first and foremost, otherwise, they cease to be considered as human, first and foremost, but something other (Japanese, "Woks", Mexicans, etc.). Although there are political situations that call for there to be a "group undestanding" such as the Serbs and Croatians, there is still the human situation that is individually understood and cannot be rectified other than understanding the particularity of the particular...

Tom Van Dyke said...

Angie, I understand you're still mad at cementhead fundamentalist churchmen. That's not what we're talking about here. It's a shame you missed our discussion of natural law, because the Founders didn't believe natural law "develops." Let's pick this up at some future date because now we're going backwards---it's not about Louis XVI, it's about what came after.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yes, I have a LOT to learn and I, too, am sorry I missed the conversation on "natural law".

I had understood that understanding to be the Roman Catholic view, based on cause and effect thinking, which although still holds in certain sitations, is a simplistic understanding of life as understood today with its immense complexity.

Although "self governance" can be understood as "self-control", and "taking responsibility for oneself", it does not hold others accountable for their part in a situation. It is the state of "turning the other cheek" (while they walk all over you...).

The real world works on other standards, and shrewdness is understood to be good "business practice" even if it takes advantage of someone else...some think that as long as one has "permission" from the one "left in the dark", then it is okay with their conscience, because it is "legal", but is it "ethical"...NO! This is where the indiviudal must live with his own conscience. I knew a businessman that walked away from a "deal" for that very reason...

Our Founding Truth said...

Angie:Science has 'proven" that there is much to be re-considered when it comes to the text...for instance, the earth is not flat, and yet, scriptures attest to "the four corners of the earth".>

When someone makes a comment like this, I have to reply. This blog is not a critique of the Bible's text. However, please post the chapter and verse, or do not write such things that aren't in the text.

Any literal reading will become hard to maintain, when one really understands how the text is written within a particular historical (unscientific) and contextual (ancient Middle East) way.>

What? Rather, the events in the Bible are real events in space, time history, supported by archeology, geography, etc.

The Natural Law you refer to was written at least 1000 BC, hundreds of years before the Greeks.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I had understood that understanding to be the Roman Catholic view, based on cause and effect thinking, which although still holds in certain sitations, is a simplistic understanding of life as understood today with its immense complexity.Actually, Angie, the concept of natural law goes back to the Greeks and Romans, was advanced by medieval Catholic thinkers, further refined by Protestants like Pufendorf and Grotius, acknowledged by Locke and the Founders and was their understanding of how the world works.


Perhaps it is, but it's what the Founding era believed, which is the focus of this blog. Perhaps today we are more "complex" and wiser than they.

Perhaps rights just "are" and have no origin in the creator and in the natural law. Many say that.

Our Founding Truth said...

One more thing on Romans 13. In Judges 3, God orders a hit on a King! How about that for rebellion!

Ehud(the deliverer) escapes to Ephraim, gathers the troops, goes back to Moab, and kills ten thousand of their best men, and the text says, "not one man escaped." If that isn't God ordering righteous rebellion, then nothing is.

Mr. Frazer, in an earlier post, referred to the rebellion of Abram in Gen 12 was different than Romans 13 because he wasn't under the authority. Well, I could be wrong, but that doesn't seem right, because Israel was under Eglon, King of Moab for several years when God ordered the hit, and Israel wiped out Moab.

All authority is delegated authority, which means it's not absolute and permanent. That tells me, it shouldn't matter if a people are under that authority.

Christian Salafia, on an earlier post, referred to 1 Cor 9:7-9, having nothing to do with defensive warfare, but it certainly does have everything to do with defensive warfare.

Paul says the allusions he uses is apart of Divine Law, which means, they actually happened. Granted, Paul is making a point, but the Divine Law is eternal, and Jesus affirmed it in Mat 5:17-18.

God's consistency is important in this interpretation.

Gregg Frazer said...

King of Ireland:

OK, I beg your forgiveness -- I did not intend to put forward my opinion as infallible. My ASSUMPTION was that when we express opinions in this forum that it is understood that it is our opinion -- unless we cite another authority. It seems rather cumbersome to preface every non-substantiated statement with "in my opinion."

The people we're talking about in this forum (the Founders) generally simply directly said what they believed without prefacing the remarks with "I believe" or "in my opinion" -- it was understood to be their opinion if it was disputable and they said it. That's the context in which I've written.

That's why I distinguished "what the text says" at the beginning of my remarks about "what God says" from my later comment about Calvin's doctrinal opinion (what Calvin says). Since that context was opinion, I expressed mine and assumed that it would be taken as my opinion. I guess I should not have made such an assumption.

Actually, though, in looking back at it, I prefaced that section with the qualifiers "my beliefs" and "I believe" -- so can we get past this and to the real issue?


I don't see how pointing out something that they would affirm -- that they're not infallible -- is "dissing" them. I've admitted I'm not infallible, either -- am I "dissing" myself or simply acknowledging reality? Especially when I prefaced the remark by calling them "brilliant!"

And while we're quibbling, I did not criticize them for being slave owners -- I criticized them for believing blacks to be inferior and for relegating them to the level of property.

Paul taught neither of these ideas and neither did the Old Testament Mosaic law (which allowed a certain kind of slavery).

It's funny that you'd bring up Paul's instruction to slaves to obey their masters because Paul's point was not to affirm slavery.


The verses to which you're referring (Col. 3:22 or Eph. 6:5) are in the context of subjection to various authorities and they support what I've said about Romans 13. Paul is exhorting people in various circumstances to submit to the authorities over them. In Ephesians, it starts in 5:22 and continues through 6:9. Wives, the church, husbands, children, and slaves are ALL instructed to be subject to the authorities over them and likewise in Colossians 3:18-3:25.

Importantly for my comments [OPINION] about some of the Founders -- in both passages, Paul follows the instruction to the slaves with instruction to the masters and warnings to the masters as to their treatment of their slaves and reminders that there is no partiality with God and that He will punish those who treat their slaves harshly.

Both here and in the Mosaic law, God was crystal clear that slaves were people -- not property; and that they were not inferior people. Paul emphasizes in Galatians 3:28 that in Christ "there is neither slave nor free man ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The issue is differences in ROLES, not differences in essence.

[FACT]: The brand of slavery practiced in the American colonies was expressly forbidden in the Mosaic law -- see Exodus 21:16. [I could go into much more detail on this, but I hope it's not necessary]

[OPINION] Be all that as it may, the point of the passage you cite is to be subject to authority -- even if you are, literally, a slave (as opposed to the figurative sense invoked by the Founders).

Finally, in this regard, my aim was to single out one way in which we could all agree that the Founders were not infallible -- not to camp on that issue -- just to make a simple point and move on.

IT SEEMS TO ME [OPINION] that what you and the King of Ireland have done is to focus all of your attention on nitpicky, ultimately insignificant throw-away comments I've made in order to avoid dealing with the bulk and substance of the argument.

I find that disappointing because:

a) I devote my attention to the substance of your arguments and try to answer (or concede) every point and

b) I don't have much time to engage in this forum and it's frustrating to spend it on trivial "points of order" or parsing throw-away lines.

Tom, you suggest that I spend more time here -- but what's the motivation?

You said something about responding to my questions somewhere other than here. I don't know exactly what questions you mean, but you can get my email address from Jon if you want to respond outside of this forum.

Our Founding Truth said...

Paul says the allusions he uses is apart of Divine Law>

At least the parts of the Law of Moses that Paul includes in the New Testament text.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom, you suggest that I spend more time here -- but what's the motivation? To roadtest your ideas, Gregg, which is why I'm here.

For instance, I think the end of slavery comes from theology and not from a literal reading of the Bible, for the reasons I gave. So too, there is much to be learned from unitarians like William Ellery Channing, who although not a Trinitarian, read the Bible as closely as you do.

And third, I think you'll find that a lot of attitudes and sentiments you take for granted will turn out to be the products of theology, i.e., reason applied to scripture.

I'm a sympathetic audience for your POV; although I'm not a fundamentalist/literalist meself, I take great pains to defend people who are, to secure them space and respect for their thoughts and beliefs on this blog and elsewhere, in that good ol' American pluralistic way.

[So too for the other side, if they bring respect, courtesy and most of all, facts.]

Gregg Frazer said...


I wouldn't necessarily say that the end of slavery came from a literal (by which I mean historical/grammatical) reading of the Bible (by which I mean faithful translations of the original languages) in America.

The fight against it in England, though, was led by evangelical Christian William Wilberforce. So a literal reading CAN lead to its end.

A literal reading of the Old Testament Mosaic law reveals that slavery in that system was designed as a provision for the poor. It was set up for their advantage. It was voluntary and had set term lengths. There was no social stigma attached to it.

A literal reading of the New Testament reveals that in Christ "there is neither slave nor free man ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Col. 3:28) and that Christians, at least, should treat slaves as brothers (Philemon 16) with justice and fairness and without partiality (Eph. 6:9)(Col. 4:1).

A literal reading does not provide ANY support or justification for abusive treatment or considering someone as inherently inferior or as mere property. Only a self-interested reading corrupted by a pre-determined result could support anything like the slavery which existed in America.

Did slave owners quote the Bible in support of their system? Yes. Did they do so legitimately? No. Was it a literal reading in the sense that I'm referring to a literal reading? No. A true literal reading takes account of context.

People often quote the Bible out of context for their own purposes. They come to it with an agenda and -- surprise! -- find it to say what they wanted it to say. Satan himself quotes Scripture -- but not honestly.

Bottom line: is it possible for people to come to proper conclusions about an issue despite [OPINION] a faulty view of Scripture? Yes. Is a faulty view of Scripture as reliable a source for proper views/conclusions as a proper view? No.

As is often said, a broken clock is right twice a day -- but a working clock is almost always a better source of the correct time.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT).

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

Gregg Frazer said...

Re Eph. 6:5: "with deep respect and fear" ("with fear and trembling" in NAS) is a phrase in the Greek which means respect for authority. It does not mean "fear" in the sense that we use the word. One can see that even in the English in the comparison drawn to serving Christ -- we don't "fear" Him in the sense of being afraid; we have reverent respect for Him.

Re Ex. 21:20-21: "property" is an unfortunate translation. The Hebrew is "investment" or "money." The idea here is that a slave owner had the right to punish slaves, but not to do them violence. So, if the slave died immediately, intent to kill was established. If the slave lived for a while, it was evidence that the owner had no intent to kill. The same is true between two free men (see vs. 18-19). The lack of "vengeance" in that circumstance is not due to the slave being less than a person, but rather that the loss of one's investment was considered sufficient punishment when there was no intent to do permanent damage. If the slave suffered permanent damage, he/she was to be set free (vs. 26) -- once again, the owner would lose his investment.

If you don't like these clarifications -- fine. I have already stipulated that some biblical passages can be read as a support for slavery if one wants to see them as such.

Whether we agree on what the Bible says about slavery or not, let's finally agree that the Founders were fallible (which was all I was trying to illustrate) and get back to the main issue.

Is there some reason IN THE CONTEXT of Romans 13:1 to believe that "every person" does not mean EVERY PERSON?

Is there some reason IN THE CONTEXT of Rom. 13:1 to believe that "there is no authority except from God" does not mean just that?

Is there some reason IN THE CONTEXT of Rom. 13:1 to believe that "those which exist are established by God" does not mean just that?

Is there some reason IN THE CONTEXT of Rom. 13:2 to believe that "whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God" does not mean that?

Verses 3 & 4 say that governments restrain evil by praising good behavior and punishing bad behavior and that governments ARE ministers of God for good. Verse 6 says that rulers ARE servants of God who restrain evil. Is there some reason IN THE CONTEXT of Rom. 13 to believe that Paul did not mean just what he said?

Of course, we know from experience that while some do it better than others and none do it perfectly (because all are run by fallen men) all governments do restrain evil. Because they are run by sinful men, every government commits evil in addition to restraining evil [e.g. the U.S. government allowing and, at times, supporting abortion]. But that does not change the fact that it restrains evil and that anarchy would be much worse.

It may be helpful to look at a parallel passage in I Peter, chapter 2. Peter (under inspiration from the same Holy Spirit) says much the same as did Paul in Romans 13. In verses 13 & 14, he says to submit to "EVERY human institution" and that government's purpose and role is to restrain evil by praising good behavior and punishing bad.

In the very next paragraph, starting in verse 18, he continues with the theme of submission to authority by applying it to servants vis a vis their masters. And he adds -- so there will be no misunderstanding -- "not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable." So, we are to be subject to authority whether or not it is reasonable/fair/just/etc.

He then appeals to Christ as an example of suffering unjustly and says Christ left "an example for you to follow" -- i.e. suffering unjustly, but remaining in submission. Christ, of course, suffered unjustly at the hands of the government -- not a master -- so Peter's example links the two as part of his explication of the concept of submission/subjection.

Anyone reading the passage in context could see this, but Peter makes sure that we draw the proper conclusion and make the proper application.