A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding. Any observations, questions, or comments relating to the blog's theme are welcomed.
This post is substantially shorter than the book I posted last time. I apologize in that I had no idea how much space what I wrote would take up. Nonetheless, I am going to stay with my theme of attempting to prove that the Declaration of Independence was not rebellion against God, the Bible seems to allow for resistance to tyranny in certain circumstances, and that a proper understanding of Romans 13 played a huge role in the American founding.
I intend to continue to accomplish this task within the framework of answering some questions from Dr. Gregg Frazer. Hopefully, this will lay the ground work for a rebuttal to Jon Rowe's and Ed Brayton's assertion that the subject of political liberty and inalienable rights are foreign to the Bible. Nonetheless, before we get there the idea that the "Divine Right of Kings" is sanctioned by the Bible needs to be exposed for the fraud that it is.
This is second part of my response to the first question that Gregg Frazer asked me in regards to my comments on several posts here at American Creation. The first part went into a more philosophical answer to his question. This part will be based solely on the Bible. Both are part of an overall discussion on the proper interpretation of Romans 13 and its application to the American Revolution.
Dr. Frazer stated:
"The United States and the current governments of Japan and Germany were established as a result of wars--established by those with "bigger guns." The U.S. expanded itself by wiping out Indian tribes and taking over the land on which they lived. Do you question the legitimacy of these governments? If not, why is my position unreasonable in this regard?"
A continuance of my response:
Let me start by stating that since I have already answered that I do, in fact, question the legitimacy of government established through tyranny all that remains is to see if my view is one of a "Theistic Rationalist" who trumps the literal text of the Bible with my use of "reason" or not? Could it actually be possible that the Bible backs up what I am saying?
Perhaps the place to start would be with the favorite story of most self appointed church tyrants to stifle discussion: Saul and David. It does speak of the phrase, "Do not touch my anointed" right? I was wondering if we can we simplify and just refer to it as not touching God's "appointed"? This would seem to align with your interpretation of Romans 13 for sure. Until we look a little deeper into the story that is.
God's "appointed" man for the Israelites was King Saul. Why did God appoint him?:
"So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to
such as all the other nations have."
Why did they want a king?:
Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they
have rejected, but they have rejected me as King.'""And the LORD told him:'
Essentially, the people of Israel were rejecting God just as they had done off and on since they had left Egypt. So to teach them a lesson about watching out for what they ask for God gave them their request. However, it came with a strong warning about what was going to happen:
"This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he
will assign to be commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves."
The end of having a king was that they would become slaves. The worst part is that God told them that when they cried out to Him He would not answer to help them. So, that is how Saul became king of Israel.
So what about David? Well, he was raised up to replace Saul when Saul had offended God to the point where God felt the need to bring judgement upon him. So cutting to the chase, one would need to ask why he does not go and kill Saul and take over since Saul was no longer in God's favor because of his tyranny? The clear answer is that he has an understanding that Saul is God's appointed leader to Israel to bring judgement upon them. When does this judgement end? When God says it does. It seems clear that that is the reason as to why David does not kill him.
One might ask, how is this any different than the example I gave about Othniel in Judges 3? It says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him... and he went to war against the invading tyrant. From what we know, this occurred because the people had cried out to God, he heard them, sent them a deliverer, and set them free. The question is: Why did God not do the sme for the people who cried out about Saul? I would say it is because He said he was not going to listen when they insisted on having a King! So, Is the story of David proof of some dogmatic order to never revolt? The story of Othniel revolting against the conqueror with the clear aid of God would seem to say no.
The fact is that these were two cases with two different set of circumstances. The people had turned away from God, an oppressor was sent to get their attention, and in one case a deliverer was sent after 8 years and took the tyrant out and in another case it took much longer as the replacement King had to wait until God took the tyrant out. Why? In my opinion, in the case of Saul the people of that generation who asked for a king probably had to die off just the same way that the unfaithful generation in the desert had to. This is debatable but is most certainly possible. Either way, the people were warned that God was not going to listen and they would become slaves. To revolt would be a revolt against the clear will of God.
Another example would be when the people rose up to fight against the Babylonians. God told them not to revolt because he had sent them as judgement. They tried to fight back but nothing seemed to work. I feel that this was the same reason that Daniel and the Hebrew boys submitted but disobeyed as well.(An argument that you say I did not address but have now numerous times) They knew that God had sent them to live under the oppressors and knew exactly how long it would be. Jeremiah told them ahead of time. At a different time King Hezekiah held out in 2 Kings 18-20 because God told him that the oppressor was going to fall. As I have stated several times: There is a time for everything under the sun according to Solomon in Ecclesiates.
In other words, the oppressor can certainly be God's "appointed" instrument to judge evil right in line with Romans 13. Equally true, though, is that this "appointed" authority can come under judgement themselves and their former slaves can even be the ones to take them out. We see this time and time again. My question is: Why can't the Declaration of Independence be an example of this?
I guess your contention is that God deposes these rulers so we should never fight back. I will call that the David model: Just sit and wait on God. My contention is that there is a time to do that but there is also a time to have the Spirit come upon you like Othniel and Jehu and you become the instrument of God in deposing corrupt authority. I believe that these latter examples were representative of someone doing good to overcome evil.(Romans) Perhaps they were also destroying the works of the devil(1st John) as Mayhew seems to argue.
With that said, the last thing to address in response to your question is whether kings were God's original intent? I would say no. He told Moses to let the people pick elders to judge. God used this model right up until the point that they asked for a King. This would seem to point to some sort of consent being associated with "appointed authority." This is supported by another scripture that states that the apostles appointed elders. Appointed, from the original Greek, in this context was a word that was used to elect people in Greek Assemblies. That is according to Vines.
Finally, you mentioned 1 Peter 2 in support of your view of Romans 13. The word that was instituted in regards to authority means created in this passage. By whom you might ask? It is humans according to the context. In fact, the root word talks about states. Man created states would seem to be what he was talking about. Man created implies some role for man in establishing government. This seems to cut through your, "God does it all and all is his will" mantra. It seems to point to some sort of human involvement.
So there we have it. I hope I answered your question thoroughly and clearly. In short, no I do not think just because someone has "bigger guns" and conquers someone without their consent that that is evidence of them being "God's appointed authority." I think this line of reasoning is fatalistic hyper-Calvinism that teachers that everything that happens is God's will so why bother trying to stop it? I have also shown evidence from the Bible that I feel backs this claim up.
I do disagree a bit with Mayhew in that he does not seem to leave room that evil empires can and have been used of God as judgement upon a people and that when this is clear the people should not revolt against God's discipline. A tyrant is not necessarily a work of the devil as he seems to conclude.(As the story of Saul proves) I disagree with you as well in that you do not leave room that evil empires can and have been used of the devil to do his work on earth. The former should be submitted too out of respect for the sovereignty of God the latter should be resisted. Why?:
"The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil"
1 John 3:8:
The outcome of the doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings" and how it was used to destroy innocent people's lives is a work of the devil in my opinion. It was in Mayhew's as well.