Friday, May 22, 2009

Frazer Responds to King of Ireland Again

Once again, Gregg Frazer makes a very strong case from Sola Scriptura that rebellion against government is always wrong. This is King of Ireland's post to which he responds. And the following is what Dr. Frazer sent me through email:

There is far too much here for me to address everything, so I’ll have to respond to some of what I consider most important.

You ask from where I get the idea that people reject Christianity because of their sinful condition, but I told you where I get that idea: from the Bible. I quoted directly from John 3:18-19. If you don’t like my view, take it up with Jesus – He’s the one who said it; I merely quoted Him.

Of course, no one you encounter – whether here or on a foreign mission field – would recognize his/her own sin as that which causes him/her to reject Christianity, but that doesn’t change the reality. The issue is not what THEY think, but what God says.

As for your claim that you chose God, Romans 3:10-11 says that NO ONE does. Ephesians 2:1-9 is quite clear as to how someone is saved – and it’s God’s work, not ours. People will, of course, find that offensive – the Bible says they will.

If you think what I said about the two swords fulfilling prophecy is “nonsensical,” then, again, your beef is with Jesus. I merely repeated what He said in Luke 22:36-37.

As for the Judges 3 example, GOD may raise up a deliverer to accomplish His purposes – but the reason that the passage specifies that God raised him up and that the Spirit of the Lord was given to him is BECAUSE WITHOUT SPECIFIC REVELATION FROM GOD, what he did was wrong. It would be wrong for any person not specifically and specially “raised up by God.”

So, if you can point to revelation from God saying that He raised up George Washington and gave His Spirit to him, then I’ll agree that the American Revolution was a case in which it was right for someone to overthrow authority via rebellion.

The difference between the Declaration of Independence and Moses’ dealings with Pharaoh is found in one of your statements. You say that in both cases “people invoked the name of God to be relieved from the oppression of a tyrant” – but in Moses’ case he wasn’t simply “invoking” the name of God – HE HAD ACTUAL DIRECT REVELATION FROM GOD TELLING HIM TO DO WHAT HE DID. If I were to say: “in the name of the King of Ireland, I declare all rebellion to be unbiblical,” I’m invoking a name – but not legitimately! I have no instruction from you to do this – and you wouldn’t like it much, either. Neither does God like it when men make claims in His name that violate His clearly expressed Word.

God sometimes uses people to accomplish His ends, but often He does not. In the case of Moses, GOD sent the plagues which caused Pharaoh to let the people go – not Moses. Moses did not lead a revolutionary army. He spoke God’s words to Pharaoh and watched God work along with everyone else. Ultimately, he didn’t even disobey, but rather obeyed Pharaoh’s command to take the Israelites and leave (Exodus 12:31-32).

The fact that others (e.g. kings centuries ago) abused Scripture, misapplied it, and made false claims by interpreting it conveniently is not a valid reason for us to do the same today! According to your own testimony, you’re willing to reject what the Bible clearly teaches because some have used it to their own advantage. The fact that they’ve done so does not change what the Bible teaches!

You regularly use the term “legitimate authority,” but the Bible doesn’t use that term because ALL authority is legitimate. It would be like saying “canine dog.”

You want to know the difference between “disobedience” and “resistance.” To be in subjection/submission is to recognize the legitimacy of the authority over you – to recognize that they have rightful power over you to command you or make laws concerning you. To “disobey” is to refuse to comply with a particular law/command because it requires you to disobey God. To “resist” is to challenge the authority’s legitimacy, strike at it and attempt to deny and remove it.

Shadrach, Meschach, and Obednego “disobeyed,” but did not “resist.” They recognized the king’s authority and went into the fiery furnace – they didn’t fight back or organize a rebellion. Daniel disobeyed, but did not resist; he took the punishment and went into the lion’s den. To “resist” is to fight back – to deny the legitimacy of the authority.

When one disobeys a particular law but remains in subjection, one says that the law itself cannot be obeyed in contradiction to God’s command, but that the ruler (given authority by God) is not illegitimate and that his authority cannot be abrogated by making an unjust law.

You ask why, if disobedience is sometimes permitted, resistance is not also permitted. The answer is that God’s Word allows the one (under only one specific condition [Acts 5:29]), but explicitly disallows the other [Romans 13:2]. They are different things, so why should one necessitate the other?

As for the Jews under Hitler situation, I’ve addressed this numerous times, but I’ll try again:

Hitler had authority from God, as do all in authority. He sometimes used it for good (lowest crime rate in the world in 1930s) and often used it for great evil (massacring Jews and other well-known examples). ALL GOVERNMENTS DO THIS BECAUSE ALL ARE RUN BY FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS. The level of evil to which they rise varies, of course. The U.S. government today, for example, supports the murder of millions of unborn children and numerous other violations of God’s law. None of this makes the government illegitimate, removes its authority, or negates what Romans 13 clearly says.

[If governments that do evil are illegitmate, then there has never been a legitimate government in world history and Romans 13:1 is exactly the opposite of truth]

Believers living in Nazi Germany should do the same as believers living under any regime: submit to authority (without exception) and obey UNLESS/UNTIL the government asks you to disobey God. Then (and only then) you must disobey that particular law, but remain in subjection (as per Daniel, Shadrach et al, the apostles, etc.).

In the particular case: the government commands that you participate in murdering people – to remain obedient to God, you must disobey that command – but taking the next step to resistance and rebellion is not an option. You must remain in subjection (as per the believers to whom Paul was writing living under NERO!).

If you want to fight against the evil of Hitler, leave the country to get out from under his authority, become a U.S. citizen and return in war under the authority of the United States government.

Despite what you seem to suggest, war and revolution/rebellion are not synonymous! War is battle between two sovereign authorities. Revolution is attempted usurpation of authority by those UNDER an authority. You quote Ecclesiastes (and I, of course, agree with its truth 100%), but it does NOT say that there’s “a time for revolution.” You quote it accurately, but it is irrelevant to this discussion.

You ask how WE CAN KNOW when God is using a nation to judge another. The answer is that we can ONLY know WHEN HE TELLS US: I.E. THROUGH REVELATION (the Bible)! That’s where Peter went wrong at Jesus’ arrest – he THOUGHT he was defending the innocent against an evil aggressor, BUT HE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND GOD’S PLAN (and neither do we) – so HE FOUND HIMSELF FIGHTING AGAINST GOD’S PLAN and was rebuked. He didn’t get any “style points” for thinking he was doing the right thing, either.

You ask why not err on the side of what you perceive to be right. The answer is that we NEED NOT ERR AT ALL. All God asks of us is to obey His revealed Word. So, don’t resist authority and God handles the rest. God just wants us to be obedient to His commands – not to devise some clever plan of our own which violates His clear instruction.

I’m sure it seemed “nonsensical” to Gideon to go up against 135,000 Amalekites with just 300 men carrying pitchers and torches. But he just obeyed God and God took care of the sense of it (Judges 7-8).

I am not offended by your remarks – I’ve had worse said about me for standing up for what God’s Word says. If it is arrogant to present what the Word of God teaches as the truth – to take it seriously as it reads – then I’m guilty. But remember that I’m the one quoting Scripture just as it reads (Rom. 3; Rom. 13; John 3; Exodus 12, etc.). It’s always interesting to me that those of us who simply repeat what GOD says – word for word – are accused of arrogance; but those who devise their OWN system to work around it are, somehow, not arrogant.

I’m also not shocked that many people find what God says to be nonsensical – God said they would (I Corinthians 1:18-27, among other places).


J. P. Schilling said...

Absolutely brilliant! The writer took each notion addressed and using only God's word, the Bible, answered each one accurately and with luminance. I am convinced that everything that confronts us in this world has the corresponding answer in the Bible.

This is also why it must be read and re-read; study materials and the assistance of significant others are an absolute must for understanding. One may attempt to enact 'original intent' of the word; moreover, 'original meaning' inasmuch as indeed the time of its writing, life and times were different. Or were they?

It does appear to me however, that cultures and their subsequent societies that go into decline and being dismantled from within albeit by hedonism, pleasure seeking, eroding standards and cultural norms, with actions and crimes committed by those in government and henceforth those alike in the community – God does honor His promise of always providing a way out – otherwise, it is my belief that if we want to know what happened to the so-called 'advanced' cultures of the past (Mayans, Egyptians, other South American and African) one need only look at their level of desire, lust, and lawlessness.


King of Ireland said...

"s for the Judges 3 example, GOD may raise up a deliverer to accomplish His purposes – but the reason that the passage specifies that God raised him up and that the Spirit of the Lord was given to him is BECAUSE WITHOUT SPECIFIC REVELATION FROM GOD, what he did was wrong. It would be wrong for any person not specifically and specially “raised up by God.”

Bullshit! Who are you to say that the Founders did not have specific revelation from God? Non-Submission is non-submission. Your reading of Romans 13 says that one should submit no matter what. You can all the non-submission rebellion, resistance, or disobedience. It is all under the label NON-SUBMISSION.

As far as responses that say "ask Jesus" that is a cop out. It is your interpretation of what he says. So according to you his witnesses can be complete assholes and this has no bearing on whether someone will choose or reject him? Makes no sense.

I do not have time to respond to all this right now but will either in comments here or in another post.

OurFoundingFarce said...

This is an EXCELLENT example of how the Bible contradicts itself in almost every aspect.

the Bible is nothing more than a cultural epic, not scripture.

King of Ireland said...

Sorry for violating the no profanity rule. I am used to Ed's blog where anything goes.

As far as this showing contradictions in the Bible it is more contradictions with interpretation. No different than when the Supreme Court has different intepretations of the Constitution. It think it is healthy exchange that sharpens arguments and leads to greater understanding.

Gregg Frazer said...


Who am I to say that the Founders did not have specific revelation from God? Theological answer: because God is not giving any direct revelation between the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:18) and Christ's return. Historical answer: did any Founder CLAIM direct revelation from God to justify the Revolution? Once again, the burden of proof would be on the one (you) making the claim.

I have a biblical reason to believe that no such special revelation was given -- do you have a reason to believe that it was?

I distinguish (as did the original language) between "disobedience" and "submission" or "subjection;" so I do not "can" disobedience. I was quite explicit about that in the post to which you refer.

The instruction to be in subjection is given BY GOD on the basis of the fact that HE HAS ORDAINED all authorities. So, when GOD HIMSELF instructs someone to not be in subjection and to overthrow an authority, it is because HE HAS DECLARED the authority illegitimate -- HE gets to do that, but we don't. GOD determines which authorities should cease to exist -- but that is not our role; we have no right to make that determination.

We submit BECAUSE GOD TOLD US TO and a deliverer raised up to overthrow a regime does so BECAUSE GOD TOLD HIM TO. The standard is the same.

You call me arrogant, but you claim the ability to determine which regimes ordained by God have a right to exist. I, on the other hand, think that God has that right.

Re "your beef is with Jesus": I did not interpret what Jesus said, I simply quoted it. The burden of proof is on you to explain why it should not be accepted as is. You're shooting the messenger.

I enjoy defending the Word of God, but for the purposes of this site (and so I'm not continually drawn back into this argument), perhaps we should return to the fact (on which we both agree) most relevant to the Founding: that the key Founders did not accept what Romans 13 says. They much preferred Jonathan Mayhew's and Samuel West's version.


I am sorry that you have such a negative and uninformed view of the Bible. For my part, I don't know many "cultural epics" which contain literally hundreds of fulfilled prophecies -- prophecies made hundreds of years in advance.

For example, if you know ancient Greek history, you'll recognize an astonishingly detailed account of Alexander's victory at Issus in Daniel 8:6-7 written 200 years before it occurred. It is embedded in several chapters laying out future world history -- the rise and fall of empires -- and specifically identifies empires (Medo-Persian and Greek) hundreds of years in advance of their existence(Daniel 8:20-21). Verses 8 and 22 of Daniel 8 describe exactly what happened to Alexander's empire after his death.

These are just a couple of examples of prophecies in the Bible which are easily verifiable -- without knowing the history of Israel or spiritual principles.

From your tone, I'm pretty sure you're impervious to actual evidence, but I thought I'd take a shot, anyway.

And, just for the record, there are no contradictions in the Bible.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Which Bible? Seems Martin Luther took his own razor blade to it.

Implicit in Jonathan Mayhew's sermon is Maccabees, one of the "deuterocanonical" books that Luther disappeared.

Once again, the unitarian Christian influence on the founding is felt here---as the notes on Mayhew's "The Snare Broken" observe:

A Unitarian, Mayhew rejected Trinitarian views as early as 1755 and based his beliefs on his own reading of the Bible, not on Calvin’s. He combatted Anglican evangelism in America through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts and the looming installation of an Anglican bishop in America, which early on epitomized the tyranny threatened by London and Canterbury.

However, although Mayhew makes some Hobbesian noises [“self-preservation, being a great and primary law of nature”], many of his arguments revolve around his interpretation of Romans 13 and the principle that the English parliament and not the crown is the true ruler, and co-equal to the colonies' own legislatures.

Indeed, the phrase and argument about "taxation without representation" originates with Mayhew's famous 1750 sermon.

The Divine Right of Kings had been dispensed with theologically in the late 1600s [see both the Catholic medievals and Algernon Sidney], and dispensed with by British law with the "restoration" of William and Mary to the throne, giving parliament primacy.

Hence, revolution would not be against a king, but against one's own equals, obviating Calvin's reading of Romans 13 where the rubber meets the road.

One cannot illicitly revolt against one's equals! By what right does one man rule another? Only with his consent.

This is the key theological argument and justification of the revolution.

A loophole? Dr. Frazer might argue with Mayhew's rationale, but they thought about these issues deeply, and that's why these sermons were so important, as the colonists made their way through their theological thicket. In fact, Mayhew's "The Snare Broken" is from 1766, and still acknowledges the theological duty to obey rightful authority throughout.

It was only through riffs like "taxation without representation" that they could satisfy themselves on the rightness of their cause.

Sophistry? Disobedience to the Word of God and Romans 13? Disobedience to John Calvin? Perhaps all of the above, but biblical all the same.

“It is hoped that but few will think the subject of [this sermon] an improper one to be discoursed on in the pulpit, under a notion that this is preaching politics, instead of Christ. However, to remove all prejudices of this sort, I beg it may be remembered that 'all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.' Why, then, should not those parts of Scripture which relate to civil government be examined and explained from the desk, as well as others?”---from the preface of Mayhew's published 1850 sermon.

The unitarians of the Founding era were like that. If they could ignore Rome's interpretation of the Bible, they certainly could ignore John Calvin's!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Fascinating, Captain, and germane to the colonists' disobedience of not the crown, but their equals in parliament, as British law and custom established that the latter is the sovereign.

State Opening of Parliament

Black Rod is best known for his part in the ceremonies surrounding the State Opening of Parliament and the Throne speech. He summons the Commons to attend the speech and leads them to the Lords. As part of the ritual, as Black Rod approaches the doors to the chamber of the House of Commons to make his summons, they are slammed in his face. This is to symbolise the Commons' independence of the Sovereign. Black Rod then strikes the door three times with his staff, and is then admitted and issues the summons of the monarch to attend. This ritual is derived from the attempt by Charles I of England to arrest five members in 1642, in what was seen as a breach of privilege, though strictly the King was entitled to enter the chamber. After that incident, the House of Commons has maintained its right to question the right of the monarch's representative to enter their chamber, though they can not bar him from entering with lawful authority.

King of Ireland said...

I tried to respond three times but it would not go through. I will post a response on my blog in the next week or so.

King of Ireland said...

Seems it is working now. I left this on Postive Liberty on under the same post. Maybe it will frame this discussion a bit better and also give Dr. Frazer the "biblical" response he is looking for:

Some quoted Dr. Frazer:

“If governments that do evil are illegitmate [sic], then there has never been a legitimate government in world history.”

I responded:

"Without getting into some long sermon there are many times where difficult questions came up and Jesus referred people away from the “Secondary Sources” of Theology and Philosophy and back to the original intent of God’s plan(for lack of a better term). The core of Dr. Frazer’s thesis seems to be that God intent in the actions of the ruler is irrelevant and that man should just have some sort of blind faith that it will all work out even if one has to wait to the next life to see that happen. This eliminates a look back for the original intent of government.

I think this is why he did not answer my question about the LORD’s prayer in which Jesus told his followers to pray that God’s kingdom would come and his will be done on earth as it was in heaven. This should cause one to wonder if there is a deeper meaning than most traditions pass down to the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of Heaven and the type of government God would like to see on earth.

I think Frazer may frame it this way because he does not want a discussion of legitimate government. Why? He wants to keep Christians from involvement in this endeavor. His pastor preaches on it all the time.

My take:

It says numerous times that the glory of God will one day cover the earth as the water covers the sea or something similar. This begs the question what is the glory of God? The only place the in the Bible that states this clearly in Exodus 34:5-7. So my take is that this would imply that those characteristics would be on display throughout the earth. Where? In those who were to reflect the image or picture of God on earth: Man. I think this would imply a Lockean type application of principles to the institutions of society. Thus one would be expected to see

1. Compassion
2. Grace
3. Patience
4. Abounding or Overflowing love
5. Faithfulness
6. Forgiveness
7. Justice

Who could argue with that. Locke said the chief aim of government is the happiness of man. I think the application of the seven things above to government would go a long way toward that. I think the principles of Liberal Democracy, in the Lockean sense, are at the very least a good start. The people like Frazer that seek to eliminate the Christian’s commitment to influencing governments that would seek to bring about the happiness of man and extreme Christian that forget about mercy in the midst of the judgement in seeking to implement the ten commandments as law are both wrong. Very wrong!

Why can’t the prayers of Jesus be seen as answered, at least in part, by the Founding of a government that has brought about the happiness of man because it seems to have at least some of the 7 characteristics of glory applied to it. Who cares if the religionists or secularists get credit for it. I think it is in Romans were Paul asks how the gentiles obey the law when they do not have the Torah? It says that the requirements of the laws are written on their hearts! This would seem to point to natural law. I am admittedly ignorant on the subject and am seeking to learn more. As I look at the Philosophy I think it is going to confirm the Theology. I think God may have used to “gentiles”(Philosophers) to shame the “Jews”(dogmatic Christians who care more about repeating their tradition than seeking truth) in the Founding of America!

God charged Abraham to establish righteousness and justice on earth long before the Jewish law was given. I think many like Frazer are straining out nats and swallowing camels with the way they try to frame this debate.

More later when I post specifically to his responses to what I wrote on my blog….."

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, K of I, you remind me so much of GK Chesterton, who suspected God might have given man a brain in his head for a reason besides turning it off in favor of blind obedience:

"It came out of its cell again, in that day of storm and ruin, and cried out with a new and mighty voice for an elemental and emotional religion, and for the destruction of all philosophies. It had a peculiar horror and loathing for the great Greek philosophies, and of the Scholasticism that had been founded on those philosophies. It had one theory that was the destruction of all theories; in fact it had its won theology which was itself the death of all theology.

Man could say nothing to God, nothing about God, except in an almost inarticulate cry for mercy and for the supernatural help of Christ, in a world where all natural things were useless. Reason was useless. Will was useless. Man could not make himself move an inch any more than a stone could move itself. Man could not trust what was in his own head any more that a turnip could. Nothing remained in earth or heaven, but the name of Christ lifted in that lonely imprecation; awful as the cry of a beast in pain...

The Protestant theology of Martin Luther was a thing that no modern Protestant would be see dead in a field with; or if the phrase be to flippant, would be especially anxious to touch with a barge-pole.

That Protestantism was pessimism; it was nothing but bare insistence on the hopelessness of all human virtue, as an attempt to escape hell. That Lutheranism is now quite unreal; more modern phases of Lutheranism or rather more unreal; but Luther was not unreal.

He was one of those great elemental barbarians, to whom it is indeed given to change the world...

Now Luther did begin the modern mood of depending on things not merely intellectual. It is not a question of praise or blame; it matters little whether we say he was a strong personality, or that he was a bit of a big bully. When he quoted a Scripture text, inserting a word that is not in Scripture, he was content to shout back at all hecklers: "Tell them that Doctor Martin Luther will have it so!"

That is what we now call personality. A little later it was called psychology.

After that it was called advertisement or salesmanship. But we are not arguing about advantages or disadvantages. It is due to this great Augustinian pessimist to say, not only that he did triumph at last over the Angel of the Schools, but that he did in a real sense make the modern world. He destroyed reason; and substituted suggestion."

Gregg Frazer said...

Contrary to "King's" suggestion, I have tried to make it clear that both God's intent for government and the actions of rulers are very relevant and important.

The purpose of government is to restrain evil. All rulers and all governments do that -- they are ministers of God for good (Rom. 13:4) and "servants of God" (Rom. 13:6).

We differ on at least two points. First, I contend, as per the literal reading of Romans 13, that ALL governments perform this function -- albeit imperfectly (since they are run by fallen men). "King" seems to think that only those governments of which he approves perform this function -- or that some governments perform it perfectly and others are unworthy of our subjection because they make some imperfect laws.

Second is the question of who gets to decide when/which governments are illegitimate and whose job it is to hold rulers accountable. I contend that Scripture is clear throughout that GOD makes that determination and GOD holds rulers ultimately accountable -- men are not given that privilege/responsibility/role.

I NEVER promote or support or suggest "blind faith"; rather I contend for trust in God's sovereignty and His plan -- which is what He asks of us. Faith based on God's sovereign, often miraculous, work throughout history is hardly "blind."

I did not respond to "King's" references to the Lord's Prayer because "the kingdom of God" is a very complex, complicated, multi-layered concept in the Bible and I knew it would be fruitless (and too time-consuming) to go down that road. Since "King" routinely ignores many of my arguments/questions, I thought it only fair that I be allowed to ignore ONE of his.

I stated in my earlier post that a discussion of "legitimate government" is redundant -- akin to discussing "canine dogs." Romans 13:1 is crystal clear that all existing governments are legitimate, so I see no point in such a discussion.

To be clear, I do NOT wish to keep Christians from endeavoring to improve government or engaging in discussions of good government. My classes are filled with such discussions and I encourage people to be politically active.

I do NOT "seek to eliminate the Christian's commitment to influencing governments" -- I seek to influence governments myself. What I seek to eliminate is the notion that governments which do not meet my or "King's" or someone else's approval somehow become illegitimate and liable to rebellion.

I agree wholeheartedly that governments ought to pursue righteousness and justice. To the extent to which we can hold them accountable WITHIN THE GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM (as Calvin correctly pointed out), we ought to do so (elections, impeachment, the roles of tribune or ephor, etc.). What we are NOT free to do, however, is to rebel and to "oppose the ordinance of God" by denying the government's authority.

Governments and rulers are to pursue righteousness and justice, but it is GOD who holds them ultimately accountable -- that is not man's role or place.

Gregg Frazer said...

To get back to points on which we can all agree:

1) None of us supports "blind obedience" or the uselessness of reason.

2) The key American Founders did not hold to the literal view of Romans 13.

3) I'm not going to convince those of you who want biblical support for rebellion that it's not available -- and you're not going to convince me to abandon what I think the Bible clearly teaches.

Can you move on and can I be excused?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, you may, Gregg, although since I jumped in here, I located a fundamental point, to wit:

The Divine Right of Kings had been dispensed with theologically in the late 1600s [see both the Catholic medievals and Algernon Sidney], and dispensed with by British law with the "restoration" of William and Mary to the throne, giving parliament primacy.

Hence, revolution would not be against a king, but against one's own equals, obviating Calvin's reading of Romans 13 where the rubber meets the road.

One cannot illicitly revolt against one's equals! By what right does one man rule another? Only with his consent.

This is the key theological argument and justification of the revolution.

Gregg Frazer said...

But Tom,

I'm not defending (or interested in) some kind of medieval notion of "divine right of kings" (and neither was Calvin). Neither Calvin's nor my reading of Romans 13 depends on -- or has anything to do with -- "equals" versus "superiors."

The biblical injunctions have nothing to do with "superiors," "inferiors," or "equals." They have to do with those wielding authority. They have to do with ROLES, not ESSENCE.

So, a group of equals elects a body to make laws for them. That body exerts authority, is a government, and is due, therefore, subjection/submission by those under its jurisdiction.

Note that Paul says nothing about superiors or inferiors in Romans 13.

From a biblical standpoint (and Calvin's), revolution is not against equals or superiors, but against "authorities."

Think of it this way: a police officer has authority over you when he is performing that role -- but he is still your equal. If you see him at church or at a ballgame, you don't need to bow or treat him any differently than anyone else. It is only when he is exerting the authority of a police officer that you need to submit to him. Likewise, elders of a church are not essentially superior people -- they are equals. But when they exert the authority of the church, you must submit to them.

And if you're going to appeal to the modern notion of "consent," you'll want to remember that it doesn't mean that you must personally consent as an individual to everything the government does -- that's not what Sidney or Locke said. What if you vote against someone? Does that mean that you haven't given consent and you don't have to abide by the laws they pass? Not according to Locke or Sidney.

For Locke, the consent is given at the time of the state's creation. Afterward, everyone who lives within the state gives tacit consent to the government -- it need not be renewed by each person or even each generation.

And I take issue with your final statement. This was not the key theological argument. Mayhew and West and the others who provided the theological cover for the revolution did not talk AT ALL about a government of equals obviating the literal reading of Romans 13. They talked about "tyranny" and how that made governments illegitimate in their view.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, you could be right there. Still, Mayhew [in "Snare"] refers to the continental legislatures as equal to parliament. But one equal cannot rule another.

The "taxation without representation" riff was huge---Edmund Burke acknowledged this, and pleaded with Parliament that they were playing with fire by not granting the colonists their full rights as Englishmen. This is not necessarily an argument against tyranny nor specifically for "consent," although consent in taxation as a right had building for a long time historically in the Christian west [see the French estates-general] and taxation was explicitly in Parliament's sphere.

Regardless, Gregg, you argue from sola scriptura, however, that was a recent invention, as it appears to reject theology. [Correct me if I'm wrong.]

But theology---the application of reason to scripture---had been the custom of the church for 1500 years before Luther. "Disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God" goes back to 1150 and probably further.

[I had hoped to get a nibble out of you on Luther and the "deuterocanonicals, but that was just a bit a fun.]

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

I do understand that we cannot answer every point made by the other. I do think what I said is relevant to this entire conversation..

One last question if you may?

Romans 13 says to submit to all authority. Disobedience is non-submission every bit as much as rebellion or whatever label you want to use. It is all non-submission. Thus your reading of Romans 13 does not permit any type of non-submission. Or your definition of authority is wrong. Since we both know that there are numerous differences in the Bible where the authorities were ignored then it cannot mean this.

I would also add that it would seem to be impossible to love your neighbor and give him over to Hitler to obey his authority.

Tom Van Dyke,

I would say that I guess I am a "Protestant" but it occurred to me many months ago that Calvin, Luther, and Augustine messed the whole thing up. Sinner in the hands of an angry God is a terrible way to describe God to the world. I was turned on the Aquinas while reading about beauty and Immanuel Kant. I am not sure if I would agree that he was right about atonement and salvation but his Theology makes a lot of sense. I have a long way to go to understand the Theology and Philosophy of the founding.

I looked at the list of Harvard Classics that most used to read. Madison and company were highly educated. I went to Public School and am pissed at the crap I got. Watered down garbage. I look forward to learning more about all this from you and others.

Tom Van Dyke said...

If it's any consolation, K of I, I went to Catholic school, including a Catholic college, and never got Aquinas either.

However, I admit that there was a Thomistic "vibe" to it all, which is why I think I recognize a Thomistic "vibe" to the Founding, and my proof/argument is that it was via non-Catholic thinkers like Hugo Grotius, Richard Hooker and John Locke, with the Founders were very well acquainted. All of whom were very familiar with Aquinas [and his philosophical successors like Suarez and Vitoria].

As for your argument re Romans 13 to Dr. Frazer, I think it has some merit, but I think also there's a qualitative difference between passive disobedience and open rebellion. He has a point, and it's the one the Loyalists made.

But as I have no dog in this this Protestant intramural battle, I see Jonathan Mayhew directly addressing Romans 13, saying that

"...upon a careful review of the [Paul the] apostle’s reasoning in this passage, it appears that his arguments to enforce submission, are of such a nature, as to conclude only in favour of submission to such rulers as he himself describes; i.e. such as rule for the good of society, which is the only end of their institution. Common tyrants, and public oppressors, are not intitled [sic] to obedience from their subjects, by virtue of any thing here laid down by the inspired apostle."

That the Protestant Mayhew's interpretation of Romans 13 differs from the Protestant John Calvin's, or the Protestant Gregg Frazer's, matters not a whit to me.

I stay out of the crossfire of opposing biblical interpretations, because as the student of history knows, the "religious wars" of Europe that the American forefathers fled included plenty of Protestant-on-Protestant violence. Circular firing squad, more like.

The irony observed by non-Protestant observers is that once Luther and Calvin kicked the Catholic Church's central authority to interpret scripture to the curb, the individual became the interpreter. The individual came up with a lot of stuff that Luther and Calvin's new orthodoxy didn't like, Jonathan Mayhew's very reverent, devout, and conscientious interpretation of Romans 13 being a prime example.

[And if you want to read a real horror story, look up Martin Luther and the Anabaptists.]

So to the non-Protestant, Jonathan Mayhew's is as a legitimate interpretation of Romans 13 as John Calvin's. Or yours, or Gregg Frazer's.

For my own part, I hold that the verses from Romans, "every soul be subject unto the higher powers" and that the "powers that be are ordained of God" doesn't apply to the colonists vs. parliament.

In the British [and the colonists'] understanding of common law, parliament is not a "higher power," but only a legislative body that serves as a representative of the citizen, and at the citizen's pleasure.

I don't know about you, but I don't look at Nancy Pelosi as my ruler, or a "higher power," or "ordained by God" in the least.

And that the colonists were denied the right to even participate in elections to Parliament meant that "taxation without representation" was a violation their rights as Englishmen. No one is required to obey an unlawful authority that is not a "higher power." You'll see Mayhew and others struggle with Romans 13---they did not ignore it. On the contrary, they tried to justify themselves before it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, and K of I, I would add that I'm not as up on my Augustine as I should be, but let's remember he was just a man, not Jesus or anything. And Aquinas was wrong on some stuff too.

As for Jonathan Edwards' sermon known as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," while catching up on my history of Protestantism, I ran across something that said Edwards' sermon---as written---had a lot of gentle, loving God stuff in it but that the people responded so resoundingly to the "angry" part that Edwards never got to it. Food for thought. Edwards was apparently not the brute that popular history makes him out to be.

Gregg Frazer said...


I'm suggesting that the "kingdom of God" and its relevance to this discussion is beyond our ability to plumb. It is an exceedingly complex concept with many layers -- spiritual, earthly, personal, theological, eschatological, present, eternal, temporal. We are not equipped to deal with it accurately and it would require several volumes, not a few lines in a blog.

I agree with your statement: "Since we both know that there are numerous differences in the Bible where the authorities were ignored then it cannot mean this." However, the "this" that it cannot mean is that obedience and submission are synonymous. [although I might quibble and say that authorities were not "ignored," but were consciously "disobeyed"]

Again, submission/subjection is recognizing the legitimacy of the authority over you; i.e. affirming that they have authority over you. That does not mean -- as you so frequently point out -- that the authority is infallible or that it will always be godly. So, when the authority asks you to disobey God, you must disobey the authority and remain obedient to God -- but you are still in submission/subjection if you affirm their authority by taking the punishment. This explains the examples of Daniel, Shadrach et al, the apostles, etc.

In Titus 3:1, Paul distinguishes between being "subject" and being "obedient." The Greek word for "subject" here means "to place under." [same Greek word as in Rom. 13:1] The Greek word for "obedient" means "to obey." To be in subjection is to place yourself under the authority -- not challenge or deny it. It is not the same thing as to obey everything that is commanded.

When you disobey A PARTICULAR LAW/COMMAND because it requires disobedience to God (Acts 5:28-29), you are not challenging or denying the legitimacy of the authority itself -- you are challenging the legitimacy of the law. If you "resist," then you are challenging the authority itself and not being subject.

This is why we have distinct words for obedience and submission -- they are not synonymous.

Re turning people over to Hitler: I have already stated (several times) that a law commanding you to participate in murder should not be obeyed because it requires that you disobey God.

Gregg Frazer said...


If you mean to make the argument that the colonial legislatures were equal authorities with Parliament, then you're not talking about revolution -- you're talking about war between two sovereign powers. That's an entirely different ballgame.

Such eminent scholars as Harry Jaffa and Steven Dworetz -- both of whom mightily approve of the American Revolution -- nonetheless recognize that the view I've expressed was the prevailing view for more than 1500 years.

Jaffa: "for more than a millenium and a half of the history of the Christian West, the prevailing opinion was that political authority descended from the top down, from God to kings and rulers, and that the obligation of the ruled was simply to obey."

Dworetz: "Basing a revolutionary teaching on the scriptural authority of chapter 13 of ... Romans must rank as one of the greatest ironies in the history of political thought. This passage ... served as the touchstone for passive obedience and unconditional submission from Augustine and Gregory to Luther and Calvin."

You are correct in noting that the Loyalists made the argument I'm making.

One (of several) of the problems with Mayhew's argument which you quote is that he sees Romans 13 as a list of qualifications for potential governments to aspire to. The problem is that Paul presents a DESCRIPTION of what governments ARE, not a list of what they SHOULD be.

He says that government "IS a minister of God for good"; that it "IS a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil"; and "rulers ARE servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing." He doesn't say that a government SHOULD be a minister of God or that rulers SHOULD be servants of God. He says that they ARE -- and ALL of them.

He says that "EVERY person" must be in subjection, "for there is NO authority EXCEPT FROM GOD, and THOSE WHICH EXIST ARE ESTABLISHED BY GOD." There is no wiggle-room language here -- there is no every person EXCEPT those living under a tyrant -- there is no those which exist EXCEPT those we think are tyrannies.

A second (of many) problem here is "tyranny" in whose eyes? Who gets to decide whether a regime counts as a tyranny and on what grounds? Since Scripture roundly condemns man-made rebellion, there are no biblical rules for making such a determination.

Your entry has to be the first time I've ever seen Mayhew's emasculation of Romans 13 described as a "very reverent, devout, and conscientious interpretation," though!!

Given your statements about "higher powers," Parliament, and Nancy Pelosi, I have to ask: are you an anarchist? "Higher power" simply means "governing authority." Does British law not recognize governing authority? Does American law not recognize governing authority? Does Nancy Pelosi not wield governing authority? Do we not have to obey the laws passed by Congress?

If that's the case, what's the point of going through the charade of electing people to govern? Regardless of your opinion, would you be punished for breaking the law -- i.e. does Congress wield governing authority in reality? That's what Romans 13 is talking about.

I have no use for Nancy Pelosi, either. But whether you or I personally consider Nancy Pelosi a governing authority or not is irrelevant to Paul, who laid down the principle centuries before we existed -- or to God, Who deals in realities, not personal perspectives. So, much as I dislike the notion, I MUST recognize Pelosi as a governing authority and I MUST be subject to the laws passed by Congress -- even those I vehemently disagree with and those which I think threaten the very existence of America.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Gregg, please observe that I'm at arm's length from this and am not getting into the worthiness of either Calvin's or Mayhew's interpretation of Romans 13. To me, they are equal.

This is a purely intramural theological battle between Protestants of different stripes and is of no concern to anyone except yourselves.

Is Nancy Pelosi my "ruler," a "higher power?" No. She is my servant, the public's servant. This is a completely different view of authority than that of kings.

We would have to get into the England's Glorious Revolution of the 1600s that established that principle, as well as the thoughts of both the Scholastics and people like Algernon Sidney to fill this out. Neither does the "1500 years" argument hold much theological/historical water since the Reformation turned its back on those 1500 years, despite its, um, protestations that it was a return to proper Christianity.

Back to the real world, then:

Were Pelosi, et al. to make laws illegally, like locking up or shutting out the Republicans [and the latter is perfectly analogous to "taxation without representation], then I am not obliged to obey illegal laws [an oxymoron, but you know what I mean].

In other words, you, as my equal, cannot order me around without legitimate authority that makes you a "higher power."

Strangely enough, if you were my conqueror, like the Roman empire, or the Babylonians, a reading of Romans would indeed make you a "higher power," an instrument of divine justice or divine purpose.

However, parliament didn't meet that threshold. They were just bullying jerks to whom no obedience was owed.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

I will consider what you wrote and think it through. I think I am beginning to understand the complexities of your position more.

I respect your view of not wanting to discuss the kingdom of God on a blog. But I cannot say I agree. I think it is the central core of this whole topic. I think it is frames 1-100 of a video and we are on frame 500 with this discussion. Without a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God I do not think we can begin to have this discussion in the right frame.

I heard your Pastor on the radio once blasting the religious right. He was right in one sense and wrong in the other in my mind. I have no time for the moralizers either but I cannot say that it is preach the gospel only. I went to that extreme for years and regret it now. There are practical things for us to do on this earth to make it a better place.

Gregg Frazer said...


It's not just a "Protestant" debate, the Catholic Church has a perspective in this area as well. [Not to mention the fact that God holds everyone accountable for what's right and wrong -- regardless of their preferences. That makes it a concern for everyone.]

My remarks concerning the 1500 years were in response to your suggestion that my view was contrary to (or independent of) theology for that span.

Nancy Pelosi is GOD'S servant (Romans 13:6) whether you (or she) recognize it or not. The issue is who wields/exerts authority -- not what men think is the source of it.

When you say that you have no obligation to obey "illegal laws" -- who makes that determination? Each individual? Is that not anarchy?

When you say that I, as your equal, cannot order you around without legitimate authority that makes me a higher power -- what gives me (or anyone) that legitimate authority? In our system, is it not elections? So, does not Pelosi have such authority (collectively, with Congress) -- given by consent of the majority?

If you do not recognize her authority (and that of Congress) as legitimate, again, aren't you an anarchist? Who DOES have legitimate authority in America?

Similarly, who HAD legitimate authority in the British Empire, if Parliament did not and was just a bunch of "bullying jerks to whom no obedience was owed?" According to the British Constitution, Parliament had legit authority to make laws -- why is that not sufficient authority?

Are you aware that there was no MP from Manchester, England in Parliament at the time of the American Revolution? Does that mean that the people of Manchester were living in a state of nature and could disobey laws from Parliament? How far does that go? Must there be a representative from your village? Your hamlet? Your neighborhood? Your house? Such ideas lead back to anarchy through infinite redress.

Are you aware that there was discussion in England of adding representatives from America to Parliament and the idea was floated to American leaders? The Americans rejected the plan because they knew they wouldn't have enough votes to have their own way and they would simply lose their best argument ("no taxation ...").

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Gregg, I believe I answered most of your questions by inserting the proviso that Pelosi had done something illegal like shutting out the Republicans, and analogizing that to "taxation without representation."

As for Britain's offer of representation [and its rejection], it doesn't apply to Mayhew's arguments of 1750 and 1766, where he's still complaining. And as I recall Edmund Burke was urging representation well into the 1770s, so if and when the offer finally came, it was too little too late.

As for the Catholic Church on Romans 13, Aquinas in the 1200s was already making dents in the absolutist interpretation [some helpful links here]

...followed by the Scholastic philosophers Suarez and Vitoria. Bellarmine, too.

I do not know your theological position on theology vs. plain reading of scripture, Gregg. Regardless, in the whole of Christendom, there is huge diversity of opinion and belief on the subject and your POV [and mine, or even the RCC's] is but one of many. Since I'm at arm's length here, even when it comes to the Catholic Church, the prevailing opinion of Christendom is that rebellion to tyrants is indeed obedience to God, and right or wrong [only God knows], you are arguing a minority theological position.

I do not believe the Divine Right of Kings [and its dismantling] is irrelevant here, as you indicated. [See Algernon Sidney, and Locke vs. Filmer.]

Further, the notion that liberty is a function of natural law has its origins in Aquinas and is further developed by the aforementioned Scholastics, and even more by the Protestants who picked up the baton. One of the widely held beliefs of the Enlightenment-era Christianity was that natural law and scripture could never be in conflict. [See Hooker, Locke, James Wilson.]

Therefore if a strict, literal reading of Romans 13 puts it in conflict with natural law, a different interpretation like Mayhew's must be the proper one.

[As always, that's an arm's-length observation of the history of ideas, and not a claim on theological truth.]

Jonathan Rowe said...

I think Tom might be right that the notion "rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" is the "prevailing" notion in Christendom, esp. considering USA (while considering her origins) is the most powerful nation that is "Christian" in an identity/demographic sense (previously the British Empire held that honor and who knows how long the US will dominate in a power sense; hello China?). However, Gregg's evangelical tradition teaches a "narrow gate" understanding of Christianity. What prevails might not be real regenerate Christianity, in a strict, biblical, Sola Scriptura sense! This is something OFT utterly failed to appreciate.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated,

"Nancy Pelosi is GOD'S servant (Romans 13:6) whether you (or she) recognize it or not. The issue is who wields/exerts authority -- not what men think is the source of it. "

Why? What makes her part of ALL authority? In her case I would actually agree with you because the United States is a sovereign nation based on the consent of the governed. But what allows someone to claim authority. What keeps me from stating that I am my own sovereign nation?

Is your argument that the fact that they are in "authority" means God placed them there? I guess what I am asking is this: How would Tom know whether to obey me(the person who states that I am a sovereign nation and all must submit to me, Nancy Pelosi, or The Queen of England(because her authority was usurped to establish this country)? How do we "recognize" the actual authority?

If God wants us to recognize(acknowledge) its legitimacy(right to rule) they it would seem logical that he would want to make it clear how to recognize(understand, see) who is or is not the authority. There have been times when there were two Popes or Two Kings.

1, Who gets the submission?
2. How do we know?

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer stated

"Again, submission/subjection is recognizing the legitimacy of the authority over you;"

Dr. Frazer stated in the post earlier:

"You regularly use the term “legitimate authority,” but the Bible doesn’t use that term because ALL authority is legitimate."

I found this two quotes after I asked the questions above. Maybe a better question is how do we know who the "authority" is in cases where it is disputed?
It would seem to me that one authority would be legitimate and the other would not. Thus, proving my use of the label "legitimate" authority. Submission by your own words mean to give legitimacy to something because we believe God set it over us.

When Cortez came in the name of God and demanded the allegiance of the Aztecs, who were they to obey him or Montezuma? Or for that matter one of those two or their own tribal leader who gave no legitimacy to the claims of either but was brought into subjection through loss of a war. If I am the poor Aztec seeking to obey God whose directives do I submit to and how would I know for sure so I did not offend God?

I hope these are clear questions. I am afraid they are not but I think I would understand your position better if you thought these scenarios through and responded.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer's use of the term Legitimate Authority again:

"Similarly, who HAD legitimate authority in the British Empire, if Parliament did not and was just a bunch of "bullying jerks to whom no obedience was owed?"

You are confusing me and possibly proving Locke right with your own words and I do not think you can see it yet. I would seem to me that God gave us the ability to reason to attempt to discern who is legitimate and who is not. How could this not be if our obedience to him requires recognition of authority that is established by him.

Your take seems to declare the conqueror as the legitimate authority.

Gregg Frazer said...


I only have a few minutes. Let's see if I can answer your basic question quickly.

How do we know who's in authority? Every system has a means for elevating people to positions of authority.

In America, we elect people -- or they're appointed by elected people. In 18th century England, the Parliament was elected and the King rose by heredity.

You can CLAIM authority, but you would not have authority unless you could wield it. And that is based on the system.

As for "Submission by your own words mean to give legitimacy to something because we believe God set it over us" -- that is not what my own words said. We do not "give" legitimacy to an authority -- we only recognize that God has given it legitimacy. We recognize the authority internally in our affirmation of it and externally by complying with any/all commands which do not require disobedience to God -- or by submitting to them if/when we have to disobey.

The instances in which all of this is very difficult are those in which there are 2 kings (exceedingly rare) or the transition between authorities due to the results of revolution/invasion (also very rare). In these cases, a Christian must, after much prayer, study of the Word, and meditation, decide which authority God has ordained.

We may not be able to perfectly ascertain what is correct in all circumstances (we are fallible) -- but we must do the best that we can faithful to what God has instructed us to do.

The Aztecs were not under Cortez's authority; they were under Montezuma's. A tribal leader who was not submitting to Montezuma would be sinning and one should not follow him in his sin. This is why Peter says to submit to kings "or to governors AS SENT BY HIM." (I Peter 2:13-14) Lower level magistrates are also -- along with "EVERY PERSON" (Rom. 13:1) -- to be subject to those in authority over them.

This is all moot, of course, because the Aztecs had no interest in Christian principles or in following the true God.

Re Locke: I don't quite get your point, but Locke recognized the sovereignty of the legislative body in his created order. He also recognized the sovereignty of Parliament in England -- so I hardly think I'm being controversial in suggesting that Englishmen knew that Parliament was the authority over them.

Except for the very rare, minor exceptions you've noted above, determining who is the authority does not require reason or discernment. It only requires a knowledge of who's making the laws and/or who's in the positions of authority established in the system under which one lives.

I don't have to reason to know who's in authority in America. I just have to see who's in Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, law enforcement, the state legislature, city government, etc.

My "take" (which is what I think the Bible clearly teaches) is that the conqueror BECOMES an authority when he is able to actually exert authority. For example, in Jeremiah 27, God refers to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar -- who had conquered Israel and carried them away into captivity -- as "My servant." In Jeremiah 29:7, God instructs Israel to pray FOR their conquerors (not for liberation). So, a conqueror BECOMES a "legitimate authority" after he successfully conquers.

This is not a controversial notion, either. The American government became the authority after "conquering" the British in the Revolution. The Americans conquered the various Indian tribes and extending their authority over those parts of the country. The Normans became the authority upon conquering the Saxons. The Romans became ... and so on. The current German and Japanese systems resulted from the conquering of those nations in WWII. No one questions the legitimacy of these authorities.

Re the nitpicking about my use of "legitimate authority" -- I use it in response to your (or Tom's) use of it -- to answer your questions in the terminology that you prefer.

I think I answered everything.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I agree about conquerors as the traditional biblical notion. As I recall, when Islam was at the Gates of Vienna and its triumph over Europe possible, Luther was already getting good with it at divine will.

Dr. Frazer, unfortunately, until the notion of scripture vs. natural law is dealt with, the entire rationale for liberty is missed.

It must be kept in mind that the Founding milieu was not Lutheran---Anglicanism was very much Catholicism with a change of management. Further, Calvin's view of Romans 13 had obviously already begun to fade with the Presbyterians during the 1600s and the English civil war.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer stated:

" A tribal leader who was not submitting to Montezuma would be sinning and one should not follow him in his sin."

So if he was under his own sovereign tribal leader and Montezuma came as said he was god on earth and asked the man give up himself and his family to go be sacrified to appease the gods then that man must submit to Montezuma over his own sovereign tribal leader based on what?

Gregg Frazer said...


I won't be dragged into endless hypotheticals -- especially concerning pagans who would have no interest in God's Word.

Also, the principle I've laid out numerous times is easy enough to apply by anyone honestly seeking to do so.

But, this once: if Montezuma had authority over the tribal leaders, the tribal leader would not be "sovereign" -- any lesser magistrate is, by definition, not sovereign, but under a higher authority (I Peter 2:13-14). And that lesser authority is likewise obligated to be in subjection to the authority over him.

If Montezuma did not have authority over the tribal leader, then the man should submit to the tribal leader.

Either way, he should not obey an order to commit suicide or murder (both would require him to disobey God) or engage in any pagan worship ceremony -- worshiping false gods is also a violation of God's commandments.

It doesn't matter whether Monte claims to be god or not -- he's not. The true God is the One Who must be obeyed.

However, the man should still submit to Monte and to the tribal leader. Chances are, he'd be punished by one of those earthly authorities, but his obedience to God would be honored by Him -- which is infinitely more important. (Matt. 10:28)

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

I think I can let you go at this point. Thank you for being a straight up guy and answering whatever we all ask you. I do not agree with you but do respect you for sure based on your interactions with me. I think we will have to agree to disagree for now. I do plan to post on my blog a more detailed response to your questions in this post. I have time issues as well so it may be a week or more.

With that said, I would translate the following:

"But, this once: if Montezuma had authority over the tribal leaders, the tribal leader would not be "sovereign" -- any lesser magistrate is, by definition, not sovereign, but under a higher authority (I Peter 2:13-14). And that lesser authority is likewise obligated to be in subjection to the authority over him. "


The man with the bigger guns is from God.

I cannot except that biblically or logically. Though I do think my position is a little extreme in that you can acknowledge authority and still disobey or resist it short of Revolution. I need to study and crystalize my thoughts on this subject. I think we differ though on when that authority is no longer the recognized authority. I think recognized is actually a better word the legitimate in this context.
I also think that Liberation of America is a better word than Revolution.

Thanks for sharpening my iron.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

Can I access your doctoral dissertation anywhere. I would like to read it at some point.

King of Ireland said...

The following may be off topic for the subject matter of this blog but I could not let this comment go without a response:

"I won't be dragged into endless hypotheticals -- especially concerning pagans who would have no interest in God's Word."

The problem with this attitude is that many pagans do have an interest in God. I read a book named "Eternity in their hearts" many years back that chronicles numerous historical examples of tribes that had realized that they were disconnected from God for centuries and were waiting for a white man to come with a book.

The problem is that the white man who came with the book (Cortez) used to to enslave them instead of uplift them. Others did not kill the people but killed their culture and amputated their spirit. Still others distorted the teachings of the book and just messed things up.

So the problem may not be with the Pagan who has seen God through nature and understands a need to be connected to that God but with man that uses the book as weapon to enslave.

Cortez was sent by a Sovereign who believed that he had a divine right to steal, kill, and destroy those who he thought of as savages. I believe it says that the kindness of God leads to repentance. What about some tyrant using the book to oppress people in the name of God shows his kindness? I think your reading of this passage distorts the character of God.

I promise now I will shut up unless you respond. I did not see this statement earlier and needed to respond because it hit on a major theme that I have been trying to tie into this discussion.

Gregg Frazer said...


Re "The man with the bigger guns is from God": my point has nothing necessarily to do with bigger guns. It has to do with what you call "legitimate authority" within a particular system.

I thought I addressed that adequately with: "How do we know who's in authority? Every system has a means for elevating people to positions of authority."

The Supreme Court doesn't have access to ANY guns -- but they have recognized "legitimate" authority in our system.

Often those with the "bigger guns" do, in fact, become the authority. I gave several examples in an earlier post that I think everyone would agree with. In fact, it took "bigger guns" in the sense of winning the war to make America an independent authority.

And call it the "liberation of America" or what you will, the bottom line is that the Americans rebelled against the authority that had been over them -- which they had fully recognized as Englishmen -- and broke free from that authority without its consent. That's generally termed a revolution -- but the idea is more important than the word.

As for pagans and their lack of interest in God, once again it's not just my opinion: I refer you to Romans 1:18-23.

If you mean the Bible when you say "I believe it says" -- where in the Bible? I don't have any idea what you're talking about. And since I haven't mentioned such a passage, what do you mean by "I think your reading of this passage distorts the character of God?" What passage? I definitely want to be sure not to distort the character of God! I'm in this discussion in the first place to present and defend the character of God.

The only thing I can think of related to your "kindness" comment is God's kindness extended to us in His grace. But that is kindness is on the part of GOD, not on the part of someone claiming to represent God. His work of salvation is not dependent on someone like Cortez being kind.

If that's what you are referring to, then it seems to me that, once again, you're projecting God's role and God's work onto men -- just as you do with respect to overthrowing rulers.

Make sure that, in the words of JB Phillips, your God is not too small.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

The "passage" is the one that is the subject of these several posts by Jon:

Romans 13

Do you not agree with God's concern in the Old Testament(cannot remember where and do not feel like looking it up though I think it was in Isaiah) that the gentiles were blaspheming the name of God because of the Jews? That is not possible? Was Cortez a good witness like the ones that Jesus sent out? What is the point of having an account of the hope that is within us if it does not matter?

You stated:

"The only thing I can think of related to your "kindness" comment is God's kindness extended to us in His grace. But that is kindness is on the part of GOD, not on the part of someone claiming to represent God. His work of salvation is not dependent on someone like Cortez being kind."

What is the point of man being made in the image of God if this is irrelevant? My point is that you seem to indicate that Cortez being there is somehow most certainly the "judgement" of God to purged evil. Maybe it was. The Bible does say God does this. But if He desire is to reach people that have realized "THROUGH NATURE" that they are in need God and are expecting a white man to come with a book that will re-connect them with God and he comes with the book, deceives them, takes all their gold, and does it all because of the "Divine Right" of Isabella and Ferdinand then how does that fulfill the commandment given to Abraham to establish justice and righteousness on earth? Why ask Abraham to do this if it does not matter because God is in control?

I respectfully suggest you re-read my post in response to you. Your historical arguments lack a clarity that I would hope to see. What if the ideals of Aragon,(Aquinas and Renaissance ideas about the worth of the individual i.e. the original focus of "humanism") which was a Constitutional Monarchy based on the right to rule on with the consent of the people, had prevailed in Spain at the time of Cortez and travelled with Cortes rather than the conquering tyrannical mentality of Castile.

This is not some "extreme" hypothetical. It was a turning point in history. Many millions died because one philosophy won out and spread instead of the other.

Which one represents Biblical principles more? I refer you to the article the Jon links from a woman that quoted your use of "Theistic Rationalism" and my comment. She is right on!

I know I have not dealt with your interpretation of some verses that you have used to back your view. I will do this in a post on my blog and if you wish to respond then you may.

I would respectfully ask you again( based on my pagan background, my conversion, and that fact that I have literally discussed God and the Bible with hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life both here and abroad) to branch out more among the "pagans" and see where they are coming from. The way you come across would change. This subject comes up quite often on Ed Brayton's blog. I would suggest chiming in. You will get blasted( I did) but it help me contextualize my beliefs to that audience.

I wish Cortez and others would have done the same. Maybe less "pagans" would have died without a true revelation of who God is?!

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

As far as Romans 1 it states what I have been saying the whole time. Those without the Bible(the majority of mankind at his point in any real sense and most certainly the vast majority of "nations" in the Biblical sense) are accountable to God because of conscience AND be what is made. This would include nature and man. The very two things that the enlightenment sought to influence through the scientific method. I would argue that one way man could reveal God to a pagan is through just and righteous government.

My Biblical case:

Back to his command to Abraham in Genesis 18. The what we have covered. The why? To bring to pass what was promised that all "nations" would be blessed through him. How? My take is that he would carry the image of God to those nations by being righteous and just.

Back up:

Acts 15:16 seems to clearly state that the rest of the nations(or some versions say the remnant of mankind) will seek the Lord when they see true worship. That is my interpretation of the tabernacle of David. Which is the tent of meeting of Moses. Gods glory was there and Moses came out reflecting it.

Maybe the Aztecs would have rid themselves of their man made images of God(Romans 1) if they would have seen the real image of God reflecting in a man that reflects his glory? See my above comment about Exodus 34 for clarification.

I would say they would have seen it more in the Aragonese way than the "bigger guns gives legitimacy world of the Castilians like Cortez". What would you have wanted your first experience with the people of the "book" to be?

I am not sure you have really thought out the weaknesses of the tradition you seem to have been taught(Calvinism) and reasoned through the applications of your beliefs to real life situations. It has to practical right?

Gregg Frazer said...

King (re your first post):

You say that "my reading" of Romans 13 somehow distorts the character of God: this charge is your lowest blow to date! And demonstrably unfair.

First, if you'll recall, "my reading" is WHAT THE PASSAGE ACTUALLY SAYS WITHOUT ANY MANIPULATION OR ADDITIONS! So, if "my reading" distorts the character of God, then God is distorting His own character through the pen of Paul.

But let's consider Romans 13 in light of God's character by "my reading." God is loving -- here He expresses his love by making civil government work for man's good. God is gracious -- here He reveals His common grace for mankind by ordaining civil government to protect man against himself. God is just -- here He explains how the system of authority He's devised punishes wrongdoers and praises those who do right. God is omnipotent -- here He explains how He enables human governments to wield power to accomplish His purposes. God is sovereign -- here He reassures us that He is in control to make governments ministers of God and servants of God devoted to the purposes which He has ordained. God is a God of order -- here He delineates the order of authority in the political realm (as He does elsewhere for the church, the family, and the workplace -- and even in heaven!). God is holy -- here He makes it clear that governments do good and punish evil and warns those who would ignore His instruction that they will be punished.

Is that enough? Or do we need to go through more attributes of God?

Of course God wants His people to be good witnesses/examples to unbelievers -- because righteousness by His people brings Him glory and bad behavior by His people pours contempt on His name before the wicked and emboldens them in their rebellion against Him.

Cortez was obviously not a good witness, but then, he wasn't a Christian, so I wouldn't expect him to be.

I don't understand the argument you indicate that I supposedly made concerning Cortez. I made no argument concerning Cortez at all -- I certainly did not say that his presence was judgment on evil (although it quite possibly was). I said nothing about him except that God wasn't dependent on him being kind!

Why would the Aztecs be expecting a white man to come with a book to connect them to the true God? You accuse me of being ahistorical -- but this is a whopper!

And as I tried to suggest, Romans 1:21-23 appears to be a nearly perfect description of the Aztecs!

We are all to do our part to help establish justice because God is a God of justice and wants His people to reflect His character to bring Him glory and because it provides opportunities for us to demonstrate our obedience to Him and because He has chosen to fulfill some of His plans through human action. Sometimes He uses men's participation and sometimes He doesn't. Either way, He controls the results. What He wants from us is obedience.

Gregg Frazer said...

King (part 2 re your first post):

Do you NOT think God is in control? Now we're talking distortion of God's character! You brought up Isaiah -- was God lying in Isaiah 14:24 & 27? Or did He just overestimate His ability/power? Why do you think that hundreds of prophecies have come true? Coincidence? Do you think God is surprised by events? Do you think He says, "Wow! I didn't see that coming?" Why should I trust Him for my eternity? He doesn't control whether it happens or not -- Jesus won't even know how many places to provide in heaven because He doesn't know how many will be saved. Maybe they'll run out of room before I get there.

You'd have to deny several of God's attributes if you deny that He's in control. Omniscience? Nope, He cannot know what's going to happen. Omnipotence? Nope, He doesn't have enough power to assure that His plan is done. Holiness? Nope, He lied to us. Just? Nope, we'll have to wait and see whether everyone gets his just deserts.

You keep encouraging me to change the way I look at these things, but I have no interest in looking at things the way you do. You tend to focus on a very fallible, unreliable perspective -- that of men. Men are fallible, fallen beings who are easily misled by their emotions, their own very limited knowledge/point of view, and sinful desires. If I have a choice between that perspective and the truth of the omniscient, infallible sovereign God of the universe as revealed in the Bible -- I'll take God's truth every time. I fully recognize that I'll take criticism and flak for it, He said that I would. [I Corinthians 2:14; John 15:18-19]

When we have no revelation to tell us God's truth, then we must deal in the realm of opinion, emotion, and personal experience. But when we DO have revelation, why prefer the unreliable and flawed to the completely reliable and perfect?

On almost all of your questions (e.g. how one is saved, etc.), I quote Scripture as an answer and you give me people's feelings or opinions. Forgive me if I think I'm on more solid ground. After all, it's just my fallible personal opinion.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"Why would the Aztecs be expecting a white man to come with a book to connect them to the true God? You accuse me of being ahistorical -- but this is a whopper! "

Read the book I mentioned called "Eternity in their hearts" He notes many examples of what I stated. He paid a price to risk his life too. It is so easy to make bold statements in the safety of American and the church. I wonder how many would be as bold in a village where they could get stoned in a second for what they preach in the safety here?

Read the book before you speak.

I will try to respond to some of the better points you make and the scriptures you use in the next two weeks. I am busy with the end of school but I will do it and post it on my blog and give it to Jon again.