Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gregg Frazer's latest response to King of Ireland

KOI challenged Dr. Frazer to this and Gregg rose to the occasion. I thought what Gregg gave me demanded more than just one post, where I should separate it into sections. But, since it reads well as one long argument, I decided to reproduce it that way. The argument is about whether rebelling against governing authorities is EVER consistent with Romans 13 in particular and the Bible in general. Here it is:

RESPONSE TO KOI:

Let me preface my response to the King of Ireland with a few remarks to the general audience. First, as far as I can tell, the message of Romans 13 (one way or the other) was not at all important to the leaders of the American Revolution – they never discussed it or even referenced it.

Second, it was VERY important to many of the common people whose support and participation were necessary to make the Revolution successful. In particular, in New England -- the birthplace and hotbed of the Revolution – congregants in the overwhelmingly Calvinist churches had been taught for 150 years that rebellion/revolution/resistance to authority was wrong and sinful. This is what made Mayhew’s work so important and made him so prominent – he provided a hurdle over this primary stumbling block in the way of recruitment for the Revolutionary cause.

Third, by the time of the Revolution, many ministers in those New England churches – who had been trained in seminaries teaching Enlightenment rationalism and who had been heavily influenced by Locke – had politicized the pulpit and turned it into a platform for liberal democratic thought.

So, interpretation and application of Romans 13 mattered not at all to the leaders in a theoretical sense – but it mattered a great deal in a practical sense. The churches became the greatest recruiting offices for the Revolutionary forces in New England, in particular. If Mayhew and West had not come up with their creative interpretation of Romans 13 to overturn the meaning understood for 1600 years, the Revolution might have failed for lack of supporters.

Now, to respond to the King of Ireland:

With all due respect, King, I would submit – and will try to demonstrate – that while you answered questions, you did not answer the questions that I asked. Rather, you re-framed them to suit your purposes and to make them more convenient to answer from your position. Likewise, while you responded fairly effectively to certain arguments, they were straw man arguments – not arguments that I actually made.

According to Romans 13:1, all governing authorities – those which exist – get their authority from God. Jesus affirms this in John 19:11. We are all to submit to those in authority over us – not to all authorities, but to all those who have authority where we are. So, although its authority comes from God, I have no obligation to submit to the Chinese government’s authority unless I’m in China. Then I’m in their sphere of authority and I must submit. So, regarding the ubiquitous Aztec question: if Monte is attacking, but hasn’t established control, then you submit to the tribal leader – as the one with authority in your sphere. If Monte has conquered and established control, then he is the supreme authority and you must submit to him. If there is a conflict between higher and lower magistrates, then I Peter 2:11 seems to indicate that you should submit to the higher authority.

The difficult question is what to do during time of transition between an authority going out of existence and one coming into control of a region. In that circumstance, a Christian would have Christian liberty to decide – after much study and prayer – what God would have him do. As soon as the new regime is instituted, he must submit to it, however. No, Monte is not an authority just because he claims it; he is an authority if he exerts or wields authority according to the system by which the society is organized – in reality, not according to a particular group’s desires or wishes or preferences.

You say that Locke is right and that consent is the key to legitimate authority and that man “should only consent if it secures him the greatest amount of liberty.” On what basis do you make that claim? – certainly not Romans 13, which says nothing about consent or liberty. You might rightly make that claim philosophically, but not biblically.

I find it intriguing that you say on the one hand that not all those who “claim” authority are legitimate authorities, but then you suggest that nations of people who “claim” sovereignty must be, in fact, sovereign. I’ve agreed with you that not all who claim authority have authority – likewise, however, not all who claim sovereignty have sovereignty, either.

You then say that your “issue” with me is that I “assume judgment due to some perceived evil of the conquered people.” Here’s one of the straw man arguments you attribute to me that I’ve never made: I do not assume judgment as the reason that a people is attacked or conquered. Scripture is quite clear that, in a fallen world, war is the norm and not necessarily indicative of special judgment by God. What I have said is that we all – me included – are worthy of judgment by God and that every nation commits evil and is worthy of judgment. So, if a people are conquered, they are worthy of judgment, but it need not be special judgment; it may simply be God’s plan that one nation rises and another falls without it being a special case of judgment. You keep talking about assuming judgment, but I don’t do it – you do.

Regarding my question whether you question the legitimacy of the governments of the United States, Germany, and Japan: I did not ask you whether a Navajo should question the legitimacy of the U.S. government or how you would advise such a person. I asked you whether you question it. I wasn’t interested in a theoretical or philosophical response, but a real, practical, personal response – do you refuse to pledge allegiance because you don’t think the American government is legitimate? Are you involved in organized resistance against the illegitimate U.S. government? Do you refuse to pay taxes? Do you think these three governments are illegitimate because they were established by those with the “bigger guns?”

The fact that you could not answer the question without re-framing it to better suit your position indicates that you do, in fact, recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. government. If you don’t resist the U.S. government and if you do, in practice and in reality, accept its legitimacy (and that of the German & Japanese governments), then you agree with me that being established by the “bigger guns” does not necessarily make a regime illegitimate.

You ask me on what I base my view that the fact that authorities emerge proves their legitimacy. It’s very simple: Romans 13:1 says that “those which exist are established by God” – a universal and clear statement of fact which I accept as fact. I accept that God knows more about what’s legitimate than do I and I take His Word for it.

Straw man alert: You ask why I would assume that it’s “God’s will for the U.S. to use “bigger guns” to rape a people of their culture and amputate their spirit.” Very simply: I don’t make such an assumption. I never assume what God’s will is. I’ve never said such a thing was God’s will. What I have said is that it is God’s plan – and I assume that because the Bible teaches very clearly that God has a plan for nations and whatever happens is part of that plan. God’s will is not always done – because he allows sinful men to act on their evil nature. But God’s plan cannot be thwarted (Isaiah 14:26-27; Jeremiah 27:5-7; and numerous other passages) and He has a plan for history and the rise and fall of nations. You don’t like that fact, but I can’t help it – I didn’t write it, God did.

You accuse me (again) of “disdain for the ‘pagan’ Navajo that has no interest in God.” I have said numerous times – and I don’t know how to say it any clearer – that we are all (me included) deserving of judgment and none of us (me included) seeks for God, according to Romans 3. I have no more disdain for the Navajo than I do for myself – it’s not a matter of disdain, it is a matter of recognizing the nature of man.

You say “Just because something happens does not mean God intended it to be that way.” Here’s where we just fundamentally disagree. I’m wondering: a) who you know who is stronger than God and can thwart His plan and b) why you’d be interested in believing in a God Who doesn’t know everything and is not all-powerful.

Perhaps the most common straw man you’ve built against me is the notion that I support or advocate “Divine Right of Kings.” You continually talk about it as if I’d ever expressed support for such a notion – which I have not. It makes a comfortable re-framing of my position – but it doesn’t touch my actual position. To put it as clearly as I know how: I support/advocate “Divine Right of Everyone in Authority.” The authority needn’t be a king – it could be a president, a legislature, a state legislature, a governor, a mayor, a city councilman, a police officer, an employer, a church elder, a parent, yes, even an Aztec tribal leader! I’ve expressed support for the divine legitimacy of the American government, of Pilate, of the current German & Japanese governments, of Cortes, and the tribal leader – none of whom are kings or headed by kings. Your simplistic depiction of my position is designed, no doubt, to elicit unthinking support because the concept of Divine Right of Kings is universally assailed in American circles. But it is not my position.

Regarding your comparison between the Saul/David situation and the Othniel situation and your conclusion that it is as “simple” as God saying He wouldn’t listen to Israel when they cried out for deliverance from Saul: if these were the only two passages in Scripture, that “simple” explanation might fly as representative of the Old Testament record. But they’re not the only passages and uprooting them from the context of the rest of the Old Testament record can lead to faulty views such as this. For example, there are plenty of tyrants in the history of Israel after Saul who are not removed despite pleas from the people. If it’s as “simple” as you’ve made it, God should have interceded on behalf of all of the others. Also, God does not only recognize kings of Israel (His people) who’ve gone through a special anointing ceremony to be His “anointed.” Romans 13 says that all rulers are “ministers of God” and “servants of God.” And God refers to pagan civil rulers as His “servants,” His “shepherds,” and His “anointed” (see e.g. Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10; Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). So, what applied to David re Saul applies to all civil rulers AS FAR AS TAKING OUR OWN INITIATIVE IS CONCERNED. GOD may remove a ruler or even raise up a deliverer to remove a ruler or use the sinful rebellion of people to remove a ruler – but we have no authority or permission to do so on our own initiative. It isn’t up to us to decide, but rather God. You talk of having “a time to have the Spirit come upon you” -- as if that were up to you to generate. As if you were in control of the Spirit of God!!! God can send His Spirit; God can raise up a deliverer; God can determine that it’s time for a tyrant to fall – but that doesn’t mean we can or that we can simply decide that we are such deliverers!

You say that “’appointed’ authority can come under judgment themselves and their former slaves can even be the ones to take them out.” True. What is NOT true is the notion that WE get to decide when that time has arrived or that, contrary to clear command from God, we can do it our own way on our own timetable. You ask why the Declaration of Independence can’t be an example of this – BECAUSE THERE WAS NO REVELATION TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARIES TO TRUMP THE BIBLICAL COMMAND NOT TO REBEL. God did not reveal to them that this was an Othniel situation and He did not reveal to them that He had appointed an Othniel to deliver them! Othniel didn’t decide on his own – He received revelation from God.

Re your creative exploitation of Ecclesiastes 3: first, “a time for war” does not equal a time for rebellion or revolution, as you imply on occasion. War is a quite different entity than revolution, which may/may not be accompanied by war. To say there is a time for “war” tells us nothing about “revolution.” Second, you suggest, by the way that you refer to it, that God declaring that there is a time for each of the things listed indicates that they are good things or things of which God approves. That is not necessarily the case. So, even if there were a “time for revolution,” that would not necessarily make it a good or acceptable thing. And, the sense in which it would be good would be when God decides – not someone without the authority to do so – namely, us. Third, I notice that you conveniently leave out the first sentence of verse one: “There is an appointed time for everything.” That speaks of God’s control – of God’s plan. God has appointed times for events – they do not happen randomly or outside of His plan. That’s my view – not yours.

You say kings were not God’s original intent. I don’t see the relevance of the point, but if you mean that they weren’t part of God’s original plan, Deuteronomy 17:14-15 says differently – I’ll take God’s Word for it. Whether they were or not is irrelevant, though. Once they are governing authorities, they must be submitted to. Your example of Moses and the judges is not relevant because they were not “rulers” in the sense of making laws/commands or executing them. God made the laws and Moses executed them. The judges were just that: judges. Period. I don’t see the point of your example of the apostles appointing elders, either. The Greek word for “appointed” is cheirotoneo, which means to stretch out the hand and appoint/pick. Even IF it meant to elect, it’s the apostles who did the “electing,” not the people. Also, that’s simply ONE WAY TO COME INTO AUTHORITY – NOT THE ONLY WAY!

Re what you say about I Peter 2: here’s another straw man. I never said that humans do not establish governments in the sense of creating governmental institutions – quite the contrary. I specifically referred to the term “human institution” in my discussion of this passage. Man establishes governing institutions; God establishes/ordains the “authority” which those leaders wield. AND how about looking at the point of the passage instead of picking a word and making a trivial point?

As for my belief that it’s pointless to try to prevent God’s plan from happening: If you think you’re the answer to God’s question: “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” Go ahead, knock yourself out. Give it your best shot. Just don’t claim a biblical right to do it.

Another straw man: you say that I “do not leave room that evil empires can and have been used of the devil to do his work on earth.” Quite the contrary! I’m constantly reminding people entering the political arena that they should lower their expectations because Scripture identifies Satan as the “ruler of this world system.” BUT SATAN IS NOT AUTONOMOUS – he does what he does with the permission of God and within confines set by God. Read Job 1:8-12 and Job 2:3-6. God is quite ingenious if you think about it. He allows Satan to pursue his evil plans in this world by influencing governments – all the while God is restraining evil by the function of those governments! In fact, while we’re identifying Satan’s evil ploys, convincing men to rebel against God-ordained authority is one of his favorites.

While I John 3:8 says that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, that doesn’t tell us anything unless we know what those works are. The rest of Scripture – including Romans 13 – tells us that resisting authority is one of those evil works for which practitioners will “receive condemnation.” Even IF this were supportive of rebellion, it says that CHRIST came to destroy the works of the devil – not us. So, again, it would be God – not us. [The verse is a specific reference to Christ’s work on the Cross, anyway.] Rebellion has destroyed plenty of lives, too! Wasn’t the Reign of Terror unpleasant enough for you? Arguably, many more people were unjustly murdered by the French revolutionaries than were ever killed by the monarchy.

Straw man alert! You say that you believe in the Trinity and in the right to revolt and that others 200 years ago might have, as well. You follow that insight with: “Is there a possible false dilemma here?” One problem: I NEVER CREATED SUCH A CONNECTION! I never said that one could not – or that they did not – believe in both the Trinity and in the right to revolt! I never even intimated such an absurd idea. Of course many believed in both the Trinity and a right to revolt. Like other people in this discussion, you’re suggesting that I’ve elevated belief in the proper interpretation of Romans 13 to a fundamental doctrine of Christianity – I have done no such thing. Of course someone could be right on the Trinity and wrong on submission to authority. I’m contending for a proper view of Scripture, but I’ve never said that human beings cannot be inconsistent in their reading of it – quite the contrary; I’ve said the exact opposite. So if there’s a false dilemma, you created it – not me.

The mere reprinting of Mayhew’s argument in your post does not make it any more accurate or correct than it was when he first made it. Mayhew says: “Rulers are, by their office, bound to consult the public welfare and the good of society: therefore you are bound to pay them tribute, to honor, and to submit to them, even when they destroy the public welfare ….” BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT ROMANS 13 SAYS! It never says that rulers are “bound to consult the public welfare and the good of society” – I defy you to show me where it does. It says that rulers ARE ministers of God (vs. 4) and that they ARE servants of God (vs. 6) – not that they should be or should try to be or aspire to be or are “bound” to be. All rulers and all governments restrain evil; although, being human beings and/or human-made institutions, some are better at it than others. Not a single government in history has been a perfect minister of God or servant of God – not a single ruler has been, either. But they’re all ministers/servants of God. And, as for the reasons to be subject, Romans 13 actually delineates four reasons, the first of which is because they all get their authority from God (vs. 1). But the reasons Mayhew lists refer to them BEING MINSTERS/SERVANTS OF GOD – not to them being “bound to consult the public welfare and the good of society,” which is never said.

So, there is an absurdity here, but it’s not an absurdity on Paul’s part (God’s part, really, since His Spirit inspired Paul) – it’s on the part of Mayhew.

I am very familiar with Abraham Keteltas’s God Arising and Pleading His People’s Cause – it’s hardly a reliable source. You talk about “extreme” positions? Keteltas argues in that sermon that Jesus came to earth and died on the Cross for the American cause!!! I keep a marker on that page of the sermon – for whenever I need a chuckle. As for his comments about who’s “anointed” in I Chron. 16 and Psalm 105 – both verses refer to prophets, not to the common people. [For those who want the technical, they are examples of parallelism in Hebrew, in which the same thing is said twice for emphasis – a common Hebrew technique.]

Re the Nero issue:

The flexibility of people holding your position on Romans 13 (especially as it applies to the American situation) never ceases to amaze me. In one sentence, you can justify a revolution against a “tyrant” for imposing a $1 per year tax to pay for a war which protected those people; in the next, you can with a straight face assert that a Roman emperor who drained every Roman of every cent to build extragant palaces for himself was not a tyrant. In one sentence, you can demand CONSENT as the only legitimate basis for government; in the next you can defend a Roman emperor as legitimate and not meeting the standard of tyranny that, of course, an English king met. While Nero had not yet begun specifically persecuting the Christians, he was hardly elected and hardly “consulted the public welfare and the good of society” by your and Mayhew’s standard!

You must remember that Paul wrote Romans UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God knew what Nero was going to do – and inspired Paul to write to those people how they must conduct themselves not just for that day, but when the persecution came. If it was just Paul’s opinion or limited by Paul’s finite understanding, then I wouldn’t give it any more weight than my own thoughts or those of a “wise” man. But it was GOD’s Word to those people – and it wasn’t bound by time constraints because God isn’t bound by time constraints. Paul did not say: “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities until they start doing mean and nasty things.” There are no qualifiers – despite Mayhew’s penchant for adding them. So, no, Nero had not yet begun burning Christians alive or feeding them to animals or nailing them to crosses, but the God Who inspired Paul’s writing knew he was going to.

WHEN HE DID BEGIN persecuting the Christians, it was so vile, wicked, and merciless that an entire branch of theology still today regards Nero as the Anti-Christ – THE WORST and most wicked ruler of all time.

I’m glad you refer to yours as the “the Lockean style of theological reasoning,” because it will help others reading along to recognize reading the Bible conveniently in support of a pre-determined agenda – rather than honestly on its own terms. Locke was hardly a theologian.

Re Titus 3:1, let me get this straight: if two words are used together in the same sentence, then every attribute of one of the words must be applied to the other???? If Paul tells readers to be subject to authorities and to be obedient in one passage, and in another entirely different book he says that subjection, but not obedience, is absolute, then obedience must also be absolute in the original passage? Frankly, I don’t know how to respond to such lack of logic. If I speak of God and man in the same sentence, then I must be saying that man has all of the same attributes as God? If I tell my daughter, knowing she isn’t old enough to drive: “do not murder anyone and do not drive a car” – then the universality of the first instruction necessarily applies to the second despite the context and I’m telling her she can NEVER drive a car? Again, you snatch things out of the air without regard to context for the purposes of your argument – Titus 3:1 was not written in a vacuum! He was writing to people who were familiar with the principle of Acts 5:29 AND with the fact that Paul was writing from prison (consistent with subjection, but not obedience)!

Re Locke’s creative attempt to minimize the universality of Romans 13: I give you credit for digging up an explanation. I think it’s interesting that you make it the view of Mayhew and Keteltas, too – although they say no such thing. The primary problem with Locke’s view – aside from the fact that it comes from Locke, hardly the most reliable source on the Bible – is that ROMANS 13 SIMPLY DOES NOT SAY WHAT LOCKE SAYS IT “MIGHT.” Romans 13 says nothing about differentiating Jewish rule from Gentile rule – that’s not an issue at all. If that were God’s message, one would think He could express it a little clearer – like actually saying that. In Romans 1-11, Paul lays out the theology behind being a Christian – how one becomes a Christian and what it means to be a Christian. Some of it is addressed to Jewish converts and some of it is not. It is addressed to Christians – all of them. Then, starting in chapter 12, he says that given our position as Christians, we need to think about things differently. In chapter 12 & 13, he explains HOW we are to think with “transformed” and “renewed” minds in a practical sense as Christians – not as Jews or Gentiles. It’s not an ethnic matter; it’s a spiritual matter.

As for your application comments, I would suggest that “some of the doctrines least friendly to liberty were constructed on the shaky foundation of theological interpretations that” are designed to appeal conveniently to whatever people want to hear or whatever they prefer. Communism, for example, is based on the notion that men are basically good. Sounds nice and reasonable, doesn’t it? Again, you’re mistreating a passage and taking it out of context when you say that Paul “is telling people it is better not to get married in one letter and in a later letter telling widows to get married if they are going to be busy bodies.” In I Corinthians 7:8, Paul says: “I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I” – but he doesn’t say it in a vacuum! In the previous verse (7), he says concerning his own unmarried status and the married people he was talking about in verses 2-6: “However, each has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” So, for those with the gift of celibacy, being unmarried is a good thing – but he’s not telling everyone that it’s better to be unmarried. Quite the contrary; in verse 9 he says that those who feel sexual passion should marry. I don’t know what other passage you referred to, but it doesn’t matter since this one doesn’t say what you reported.

You say that we should “look beyond the surface of what the text seems to indicate” – this is the problem. Try looking AT what the text seems to indicate some time before replacing it with something you prefer.

As for your three “most important points”: the philosophical ideas to which you refer are NOT “taken from the text of the Bible,” but from creative, out-of-context interpretations which amount to re-writing the Bible (i.e. a different “text” entirely)

a) if it is wrong to state that these preachers’s ideas were shaped more by Enlightenment thought than Christian theology, then why did they cite Locke and other Enlightenment sources more than they cited Scripture or Christian sources?
b) have you actually read their sermons (aside from Keteltas)?
c) have you investigated their course of study in seminary to see what they were taught?

In your quote from Barton, we can see the cleverness or the ignorance of Barton – he says that “the TOPIC of civil disobedience and resistance to governing authorities had been a SUBJECT of serious THEOLOGICAL INQUIRIES for centuries before the Enlightenment. This was especially true during the Reformation, when THE SUBJECT was DIRECTLY ADDRESSED by theologians such as” Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli and others. Notice how he did NOT say that Calvin and Luther ADVOCATED resistance to governing authorities. He said the topic was discussed and “addressed” – but he didn’t say what their position was. He is either saying this in a way to imply that they supported resistance because he’s ignorant of the facts or he’s deviously saying it to imply that conclusion even though he knows it’s not true. Either way: CALVIN AND LUTHER DO NOT SUPPORT RESISTANCE TO GOVERNING AUTHORITIES – as I’ve shown numerous times on this blog.

Straw man alert! I have NEVER said or suggested that “they are all theistic rationalists,” as you say here. Quite the contrary (again): I’ve said all along that there were Christians and deists (and even a few atheists) among the Founders. For the record, Locke is not orthodox in his doctrines of salvation or almost anything else. For example, he doesn’t believe in the Trinity, the deity of Christ, original sin, the atonement, or justification by faith. And (straw man again) neither I nor anyone who shares my view concerning theistic rationalism (e.g. Jon) has EVER labeled “everyone a theistic rationalist that disagrees with the loyalist/Frazer line of reasoning.” In fact, as I’ve now repeated dozens of times, one’s position on Romans 13 is NOT one of the criteria in determining a theistic rationalist at all.

Re my question of whether we have any revelation from God affirming that He raised up Washington or any other American revolutionary as a deliverer or whether Washington or any other American revolutionary even claimed to receive direct revelation from God telling him to rebel: I give you credit for digging up a number of interesting quotes – but none of them answers the question that I actually asked. I did NOT ask whether they thought God was on their side or whether they thought they were doing what God would want done. I asked for revelation from God that they were doing His bidding or evidence from them that they claimed to receive revelation from God instructing them to be deliverers for Him. Obviously, they believed God was on their side – so did the British. So has virtually every combatant in world history. Hitler thought God was on his side and so did the Japanese when they bombed Pearl Harbor. The Romans and Egyptians cut out the middle man and deified their rulers to make sure they had God on their side.

I know that Washington believed in an active, intervening (“interposing” if you prefer) God – that’s one of my proofs that he wasn’t a deist. It is a quite different thing than believing that God spoke to him and told him to be a deliverer, however. I believe in an active, invervening God Who controls events, too – but I’ve never received any special revelation from Him except the Bible. The “called into action” quote is nice, but he says he was called into action “by great events” – not by God!

The story about Washington being immune to bullets is entertaining, but parts of it are problematic historically (sourced in Mason Weems’s hagiography of Washington which also reports that, on his death, angels came and bore away his body through the ceiling). But let’s say it’s true. All it proves is that: a) Washington did not die, b) Washington believed that God had specially spared him, c) it was not God’s plan that Washington die then. The same exact conclusions can be drawn from the attempt to assassinate Hitler: a) he did not die, b) he believed that God specially spared him, c) it was not God’s plan that Hitler die then. IT IS NOT REVELATION AND IT IS NOT EVIDENCE THAT WASHINGTON RECEIVED ANY REVELATION OR CLAIMED TO HAVE RECEIVED ANY REVELATION. It isn’t even evidence of any special relationship between Washington and God – unless Hitler had a similarly special relationship. [LET ME BE CLEAR: I AM NOT CLAIMING THAT HITLER HAD A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD OR THAT IT’S A GOOD THING HE SURVIVED OR ANYTHING OTHER THAN whatever applies to Washington here similarly applies to Hitler]

Whether Washington or Keteltas thought God was blessing their cause or not is irrelevant to the actual question that I asked. I understand why you’ve re-framed it – as you have all of the questions – because it cannot be favorably answered from your position.

Finally, HISTORY does not at all contradict my view of Romans 13 – nor can it. My view does not say that everyone will be subject; it doesn’t say that revolutions won’t happen; it doesn’t say that God won’t use special deliverers; and it doesn’t say that God won’t use the sinful actions of people to accomplish His plan. So, how could history contradict my view?

38 comments:

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"Finally, HISTORY does not at all contradict my view of Romans 13 – nor can it. My view does not say that everyone will be subject; it doesn’t say that revolutions won’t happen; it doesn’t say that God won’t use special deliverers; and it doesn’t say that God won’t use the sinful actions of people to accomplish His plan. So, how could history contradict my view?"

If God uses special deliverers to rebel against the authorities as Othniel did then is God not endorsing rebellion? Your original position was that this was a sinful action that God used. You still have not responded to that very simple question.

It seems that you are stating that all "rebellion" is wrong except when God tells someone to do it. That is inconsistent.

As far as the rest of your points I do not have time to read all this right now. I will and respond in a post when I have time. I do appreciate that you took a good amount of time to respond. I said I would answer your questions and I did. It took you a while to respond but that is fine. I would appreciate the same chance to wait until I have time.

I think this is a good discussion but I still think we are barking up the wrong tree as far as getting to the truth of the American Founding. More later....

King of Ireland said...

I did go ahead and read this because curiosity got me. I have a district game this week and grades are due Monday. I will check in if you want to respond to my comments above. But a more thorough response will have to wait.

I think you responded well but I already see some holes in your argument. Most of them are based on your Calvinist assumptions that I find absurd on at least some levels. I also have to caution you again about making your reading of what the Bible says God saying it. None of this is a clear and cut and dry as you seem to make it. Especially when you have a Calvinist bias.

I also think the pot is calling the kettle black when you say I avoid you better points and reframe the discussion to advance my position. What about Locke's interpretation of Romans 13 do you find wrong? Specifics please?

In general you seem to spend more time trying to slip out of the corner I painted you in(maybe I did put some words in your mouth at times) than responding to my specific questions.

Gregg Frazer said...

My original and present position are the same: that WE are not to resist authority -- to rebel. GOD, Who is the One Who gives them their authority, can determine that it's time to end their exercise of authority -- but that is not up to us nor is it an option for us. GOD can raise up a deliverer; GOD can use the sinful actions of people; GOD can send a worm to eat the "innards" of a tyrant -- but WE are NOT to make such a decision or take such action on our own initiative. The instruction to us is submit and do not resist -- period. IF someone has direct revelation from God that He has, essentially, removed their authority and that He wants that person to be His instrument to accomplish that result, THEN he can do so. That has only been true in a handful of cases, however; and none since the days of the Old Testament.

I think I was very careful to couch the parts which were my opinion or my view or my position with one of those terms. I won't do that with what the Bible actually says, though. I won't pretend that the Bible doesn't say what it says or engage in this postmodern practice of denying that words have real meaning and that there is AN ACTUAL TEXT. There may be a difference between what the text says and my opinions concerning it -- BUT THE TEXT DOES SAY SOMETHING THAT IS NON-NEGOTIABLE or language has no meaning.

So, I do not make my "reading of what the Bible says" as "God saying it" -- but I do maintain that what the Bible says is God saying it! Biases, Calvinist or otherwise, matter in interpretation of what the Bible says -- but they don't change what the text actually says! You're just uncomfortable with what the text says, so you call it my "reading." It is READING, not MY reading.

If I say that, in the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers ...," -- is that MY reading or is that simply what Lincoln said? If I say that the Constitution begins "We the people of the United States ..." -- is that MY reading or what it actually says? Do only those with a particular bias contend that Plato's Republic begins with "I went down ..." -- or is that what it says?

Likewise, when I QUOTE DIRECTLY from the Bible, the only "bias" I have is that the text is the Word of God -- it has nothing to do with Calvinism. If you don't agree that it is the Word of God, then we cannot discuss the issue intelligently and we'll continue to talk past each other -- as I've said since last June that we are doing. This is part of why I wanted to leave the discussion -- not because I'm afraid or because I can't support my views or because (fill in the blank with whatever false reason makes you comfortable) -- but because we're not making any progress because we're talking past each other. WE DON'T SHARE COMMON PRESUPPOSITIONS NECESSARY TO RESOLVE OUR DIFFERENCES.

I'm not going to pretend that God did not say what He said. I'll pretend, for the purposes of discussion, that I'm not sure my view is correct -- but I won't pretend that God did not say what He said -- i.e. pretend that I can't read.

Gregg Frazer said...

As for me avoiding your "better points" and re-framing the discussion -- give me an example and I suppose I'll go back into the cave. Keep in mind that yours was supposedly a "response" to questions initiated by ME -- so I don't see how I COULD re-frame the discussion if you were honestly trying to answer me. The discussion was, ostensibly, FRAMED BY ME.

I answered what I found wrong in Locke's interpretation -- specifically. Here's what I said: "The primary problem with Locke’s view – aside from the fact that it comes from Locke, hardly the most reliable source on the Bible – is that ROMANS 13 SIMPLY DOES NOT SAY WHAT LOCKE SAYS IT “MIGHT.” Romans 13 says nothing about differentiating Jewish rule from Gentile rule – that’s not an issue at all. If that were God’s message, one would think He could express it a little clearer – like actually SAYING that. In Romans 1-11, Paul lays out the theology behind being a Christian – how one becomes a Christian and what it means to be a Christian. Some of it is addressed to Jewish converts and some of it is not. It is addressed to CHRISTIANS – all of them. Then, starting in chapter 12, he says that given our position as Christians, we need to think about things differently. In chapter 12 & 13, he explains HOW we are to think with “transformed” and “renewed” minds in a practical sense as CHRISTIANS – not as Jews or Gentiles. It’s not an ethnic matter; it’s a spiritual matter."

You see, this is frustrating! I spend hour upon hour answering your arguments and then you "miss" or ignore my answer!

As for trying to slip out of corners (I presume by that you mean trying to deal with the plethora of straw men you threw my way and pointing out that you did not actually answer the questions I gave you) rather than responding to your specific questions:

a) I thought the deal (for once) was supposed to be that you'd answer MY questions (which you did not do)

b) I DID answer your questions, anyway. Which questions of yours did I not answer? Examples?

c) You don't seem to notice when I DO answer your questions -- like just above re Locke's version of Romans 13, which I answered and yet you apparently didn't notice

This is another reason I wanted to leave the discussion -- it's very frustrating to devote MANY HOURS responding to everything you say, only to have you announce that I didn't do it and have, thereby, sullied the name of evangelicalism.

I spent every free hour I had for the last week/week & 1/2 poring over the hundreds of paragraphs you wrote back in July and responding to virtually everything you said -- only to have you make this comment! It really motivates me to continue the discussion -- NOT.

Gregg Frazer said...

King,

On a personal note, I'm glad you enjoy coaching football.

I coached high school football for 30 years.

I won 1 National Championship (according to Sports Illustrated), 3 California State Championships, and 7 California Interscholastic Federation Championships.

This is the first year since 1978 that I have Friday nights free -- but I'd rather be out there.

Enjoy it while you have it.

el_lives said...

In Re Romans 13
In Re John 19:11

19John11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

Jesus isn't talking about His Father above! He is talking about Tiberius Caesar head of Rome! This is where Pontius Pilate gets his authority! And even though Jesus says the one handing him over (Tiberius Caesar) to Pilate is guilty of a greater sin this doesn't relieve Pilate of a lessor sin.

And When Jesus said, My Kingdom is not of this earth this should of stopped the trial right there as it took away Pilate's jurisdiction.

Why do Paul's teachings go against God's commandments, Jesus' word as well as what was taught to the apostles and what they preached?

God says, "I change not."
God says, "Here is how you shall love me, keep my law."
Jesus said, "I do not come to destroy the law...."
1st Commandment: 'Thou shall have no other gods before Me.'

Doesn't Paul preach we are no longer under the law?
Does the teachings of Paul make God, Jesus, and the Apostles LIARS?

If Shatan is the power here on earth. When he tempted Jesus,
why didn't Jesus acknowledge his authority?
The governments of the world are Shatan's, easy to see. When he tempted Jesus "he said worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth."

Romans13: Paul said to obey the higher authority.
Isn't the highest authority here on earth SHATAN?

Didn't Jesus reject Shatan?
Do the Kingdoms of the Earth belong to Shatan or not?
Is the Bible lying in this regard?

Would Jesus, as head of the church, get a license to marry?
Would Jesus get 501C3 so donations to His Church would be deductible?
Wasn't Marraige created by God in the Garden of Eden?
What is the state doing requiring marraige licenses?
Isn't there is a separation of church and state?

The Federal Reserve is a private cartel of international bankers.
Didn't Jesus braid the whip in which he chased the money changers out of the temple?
Do believers have the right to chase these money changers out of this God fearing nation?

Didn't God tell Moses that he was going to leave? Otherwise how could he return? (Revelation)
Didn't Israel reject God in 1st Samuel Chapter 8?

ISN'T THIS THE HIGHER AUTHORITY WE ARE TO OBEY?
Acts5:29 "And then Peter and the Apostles answered, and said, We oght rather to obey God then men." (1560 Geneva Bible; 1st English study bible.)

Tom Van Dyke said...

Dr. Fraser writes, not only of Romans 13, but in general:

I won't pretend that the Bible doesn't say what it says or engage in this postmodern practice of denying that words have real meaning and that there is AN ACTUAL TEXT...BUT THE TEXT DOES SAY SOMETHING THAT IS NON-NEGOTIABLE or language has no meaning.

Since we agree about the historical facts re Mayhew:

Locke's reading of Romans 13 uses the same hermeneutic as William Ellery Channing in 1835:

"Attempts are often made to support slavery by the authority
of Revelation. "Slavery," it is said, "is allowed in the Old
Testament, and not condemned in the New. Paul commands slaves to
obey. He commands masters, not to release their slaves, but to
treat them justly. Therefore slavery is right, is sanctified by
God's Word."


...

"Slavery, in the age of the Apostle [St. Paul---TVD], had so penetrated
society, was so intimately interwoven with it, and the materials
of servile war were so abundant, that a religion, preaching
freedom to the slave, would have shaken the social fabric to its
foundation, and would have armed against itself the whole power
of the state. Paul did not then assail the institution...he commanded masters to give to their slaves that
which was "JUST and EQUAL"; thus asserting for the slave the
rights of a Christian and a Man; and how, in his circumstances,
he could have done more for the subversion of slavery, I do not
see.


...

"This very course, which the Gospel takes on this subject,
seems to have been the only one that could have been taken in
order to effect the universal abolition of slavery. The Gospel
...looked, not at the abolition of this form
of evil for that age alone, but for its universal abolition.
Hence the important object of its author was to gain it a
lodgment in every part of the known world; so that, by its universal diffusion among all classes of society, it might quietly
and peacefully modify and subdue the evil passions of men; and
thus, without violence, work a revolution in the whole mass of
mankind.

In this manner alone could its object, a universal moral
revolution, have been accomplished.

For if it had forbidden the
EVIL, instead of subverting the PRINCIPLE, if it had proclaimed
the unlawfulness of slavery, and taught slaves to RESIST the
oppression of their masters, it would instantly have arrayed the
two parties in deadly hostility throughout the civilized world;
its announcement would have been the signal of servile war; and the
very name of the Christian religion would have been forgotten
amidst the agitations of universal bloodshed.

The fact, under these circumstances, that the Gospel does not forbid slavery,
affords no reason to suppose that it does not mean to prohibit
it; much less does it afford ground for belief that Jesus Christ
intended TO AUTHORIZE IT."



Gregg, I understand that I'm somewhat putting you in an unfair box, that to oppose the American Revolution on Romans 13 grounds puts you defending slavery by extension.

But if we cannot oppose slavery in accordance with Christian principles, that Christianity was a "universal moral revolution" ---reason drawing from the Biblical text without it being specifically in the text---the Bible is something no Christian would want to be caught dead in a field with.

"The Gospel was designed, not for one race or for one time, but for all races and for all times..."

This quite devout view of the universality and timelessness of the Bible that Channing cites leaves room for the compatibility of reason and revelation, denying the God-givenness of neither.

[Nice to hear from you again, Gregg. Test everything. Hold on to the good.]

Gregg Frazer said...

el_lives:

Your statement from John 18:36 helps to explain the fact that Jesus does mean from God when He says "from above" in John 19:11. If, in fact, He is not recognizing Pilate's authority over Him, then the fact that He is king of another kingdom would be relevant and end the trial, as you say. But it doesn't take away Pilate's jurisdiction because He recognizes that Pilate's authority comes from God.

Also, it would be pointless for Jesus to make such a tautological remark as "you only have power over me because the emperor gives it to you" -- DUH! So what? What's the point of saying that?

Paul's teachings do not go against any of the things you list -- so there is no answer to the question. The question is nonsensical.

God does not change. Neither does the way to please Him. It is, and always has been, by faith -- i.e. believing in God and His Word. The way that one SHOWS that he believes in God and His Word is by obeying Him. Unfortunately, as Adam & Eve demonstrated, no one can perfectly keep His law. So, God provided a means by which imperfect, fallen men can please Him: through His Son and His atoning work which imputes Christ's righteousness to those who believe in Him.

You left out part of what Jesus said in Matt. 5:17 -- He not only said He didn't come to abolish the law; He said that He came to FULFILL it. The law is made up of two covenants -- the old covenant and the new covenant. The new covenant is instituted by Christ to "fulfill" the law. The Old Testament sacrificial system was merely a picture of Christ's eternal sacrifice which fulfilled the law once and for all. When the new covenant was instituted by Christ, it replaced the old. Read Hebrews 9 & 10.

Paul preaches that we are no longer under the old covenant law; we are under the new covenant law -- the fulfilled law.

Jesus acknowledged Satan's position as ruler of this world system by not challenging Satan's claim. Jesus didn't need to affirm it here because He did so on numerous other occasions (e.g. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; through His disciple John in I John 5:19, etc.) If you're going to ask about what He did NOT do, why not ask why He did not correct Satan or rebuke him for making such an outrageous claim?

As I explained in the response to KOI, Satan is the ruler of this world system, but he's not autonomous -- he rules within bounds set by the sovereign God. Furthermore, he did not give Jesus any commands as ruler of this world. He offered Him the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. Jesus declined the offer. Also, Jesus here asserted His authority as God (highest authority, source of all authority) over Satan by finishing the exchange with "you shall not put the LORD your God to the test."

Satan is the ruler of this world over men -- but not over God.

Re Acts 5:29 (which I have cited many times, including this latest response to KOI): yes, God is the highest authority. So, if an earthly authority -- which gets its authority from God -- commands us to disobey God, then we must prefer God's command and disobey the earthly authority -- BUT REMAIN IN SUBJECTION. That usually means taking punishment. This is precisely what Daniel did, and Shadrach & his friends, and, for that matter, Paul himself.

Gregg Frazer said...

Hi Tom,

I'm on the way home -- I want to respond more fully to your post, but I want to make a quick comment now.

I have never said that we can't draw and apply principles from the Bible "without it being specifically in the text." Of course we can and we can use our reason to do it. Despite what some have suggested, I do not completely discount or disparage reason; I only argue that it must be used circumspectly and that it is not the highest or most reliable authority. It is useful, but not infallible. Like Aquinas (one of your favorites), when reason and revelation are in conflict, we must side with revelation and understand our reasoning to be flawed.

The key, however, in drawing and applying principles from the Bible is that a principle which violates what IS explicitly stated is not valid.

It is fine to use our reason to come up with principles – but not if they directly contradict what the Bible clearly says. It is nonsensical to draw from the Bible a principle which contradicts the Bible.

King of Ireland said...

DR. FRAZER,

I have a word for you: Context. We have to put the text in context of the times it was written, who things were written too, and various others things to try and see what it really means.

As far as Othniel, here it what it says:

"And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim."

He went to war against the King that was in authority over them and God's spirit was with him. So if it is always wrong to rebel against authority then how it this right? It seems you are saying that obedience is absolute except when God raises some one up? If that is true then by definition obedience is not absolute. Thus, nullifying you interpretation of what you feel that Paul was trying to say.

All other points are not relevant until you answer this:

Are there exceptions?
If so then how can you claim absolutism?

Also, if you go back to what you said about Nero it was that he was persecuting Christians at the time and this was proof that even Hitler should be submitted to. I think you went on about some guy in Russia. Your history was wrong and easily checked. Let's not forget you have a PHD in that exact topic. All I have is a general BA in Education/History. You are quoted regularly as an expert on this site. You should be held to a higher standard. That was sloppy.

To make it worse you promote some nonsense about how it was written for all times because God made it that way. Even if that is true, and to some degree it is in my view, it has nothing to do with your original statement about Nero that was based on flawed history that is easily verifiable.

These two issues are two corners I see that you are painted in and your response to both is poor in my opinion. I asked questions and you have asked questions. You are the one with the thesis and the PHD and the burden of proof is on you. Tell me specifically where I did not answer your questions?

One last note before I put my grades in:

You say that Mayhew's argument changed 1600 years of Christian thought or something like that. No it did not. Locke and others had used many of the same arguments for years. I forget the name of the guy but he used these arguments in the Puritian Revolution in England. I think it was Hooker. I am on a heavy anti biotic for an staff infection in my foot so I am a little spacy so sorry if I am getting some names wrong. But Tom has brought these names and their ideas up for months now and you keep calling them not Christian because they were "rationalists".

Do you consider Witherspoon a rationalist? He had many of the same arguments. He influence Madison a great deal. I have a hunch that other founders were educated in these arguably Christian ideas whether they were "Christians" or not.

Straw man alert: You keep saying you are frustrated and I am not answering your questions when I answered them all. Then tell me I am ignoring your answers when you give vague answers to specific questions. You still have not answered the Locke question other than to say that the text does not say that.

Context, Context, Context.

I know this is a lot. So if you just answer my Othniel question we can move on for now until I get some more time to respond in a thorough way in some posts. I am glad you came out of your cave. I enjoy intelligent discussion.

Jon,

I am loving it. I am in Florida and the talent down here is the best I have ever seen. We are terrible but have 9 Freshman starters. I see a State championship in the future if we keep them out of trouble.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"IF someone has direct revelation from God that He has, essentially, removed their authority and that He wants that person to be His instrument to accomplish that result, THEN he can do so. That has only been true in a handful of cases, however; and none since the days of the Old Testament."

I did see your answer when I looked back. You are saying there are exceptions and by definition this is not absolute. Thus nullifying your literal interpretation. To use your own argument against you, "where in the text of Romans 13 does it say that there are exceptions if God tells you to do it?" If it is not in the text then it could not be part of the interpretation of what was trying to get across right. Who is right? God or Paul?

You open yourself up to people like J crying , "Contradiction" on here and having a major point. They blame the Bible I blame fallible man and dogmatic interpretations of the Bible. Is it possible that Mayhew and Locke could be right on this one? I say you have never really thought about it in an unbiased way.

Your own words paint you in these corners not "Straw men".

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

To be clear:

I do not recognize the legitimacy or authority of the US government over me in certain instances. One of them is taxes. It is confiscation and most of it goes to Corporate Welfare and banks that do not need it. The guy that trashed Lehman Brothers is building a bigger mansion in Naples than he had and starting his own bank with 36 billion. Any government that steals from me to give to him loses legtimacy in my eyes. Do I still pay the taxes? Yes to avoid jail. Not because I think they have a moral or legal right to do it.

As far as Japan and Germany I personally have no allegiance to either but could surely see some tribal groups that would not recognize their legitmacy based on how power was obtained. China is the same to me.

King of Ireland said...

Off topic but:

Tom,

How about some posts on the Salmanca school in Spain that promoted human rights? You have been hitting on this for a while in comments but I think it is worth a post. I think Brad brought up a good subject to talk about that relates to the discussion on this blog. What do you think?

I have missed interacting with you guys and am looking forward to having more time in November when the season starts to join the discussion again.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"God did not reveal to them that this was an Othniel situation and He did not reveal to them that He had appointed an Othniel to deliver them! Othniel didn’t decide on his own – He received revelation from God."

Where does it say in the text that he received a revelation from God? If it is not explicitly in the text we cannot make inferences through reason right? It says the Spirit came upon him and he went to war. Your own words paint you into a corner not strawmen. If Locke cannot use overall context to infer that Paul may have been telling the Jews to submit to all authority not just Jewish authority then you cannot infer that Othniel had a direct revelation from God. If you cannot prove he did then your argument cannot stand because God would be sending his spirit with a rebel. Right?

Locke's argument in the Two Treatises was based on political theology that was Christian and philosophy. Most like leave out the first but his argument against the divine right of kings is central to the rest of his thoughts in the second Treatise.

When they use his arguments they are using Christian political theology which has nothing to say about salvation or the essentials of the faith. It only is concerned with politics and what God may or may not be saying about it. Your whole thesis is a straw man just waiting for some to burn it down. Gary Amos does it quite well. Have you read the book?

Why is your political theology anymore "Christian" than mine? I could be wrong about Romans 13 but you can never say it for sure. It is not that black and white. I have not said you are emphatically wrong. I disagree but leave room for being in error since it is not the clearest passage in the Bible.

That is the whole point. It is not as clear as you make it seem. Thus, labeling Mayhew the way you do and claiming certainty from God is arrogant in my view. Who is to say you are anymore right than Locke? Oh yeah I forgot God right?

King of Ireland said...

You object to me cussing and question someone who has risked their life more than once for the faith's "Christianess" I caution you that the true meaning of taking the Lord's name in vain would seem to have a deeper meaning that would include saying emphatically God said something when he did not.

I think that is what all the so called prophets that got judged did is it not?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thx for your prompt and courteous reply, Gregg.

I realize that you and "King of Ireland" are the named participants in this colloquy, but not only do you sharpen each other, we, your readers, benefit from your discussion. You represent this blog at its best. Rock on.

[And "King," I do urge you to begin using your real name and meet Dr. Fraser on even ground. He puts not only his name but his professional reputation on the line and I think it only fair that you return the courtesy.]

Gregg, my point about Locke on Romans 13 and Channing on Colossians ["slaves obey your masters"] stands. It's not just about "reason" as some abstraction set against revelation.

We all roughly agree on the history; it's you that continues to explore the theology. If you wish to test your Biblical arguments, you must run them through Locke and Channing, not around them.

All "Christian principles" cannot be found verbatim in the Bible. That's a fact we both seem to agree on. Where that leads us, well, I'll still be hereabouts when the time comes to explore that.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom---How about some posts on the Salamanca school in Spain that promoted human rights? You have been hitting on this for a while in comments but I think it is worth a post. I think Brad brought up a good subject to talk about that relates to the discussion on this blog. What do you think?

I only say that the march toward what we now call "human rights" that began with Aquinas [the "dignity of the human person"] and was continued by his successors, the Salamancans, and their successors didn't quite get to political liberty as advanced by Locke, the D of I, and the Bill of Rights. It was a process.

And so, I suggest it only quietly, that Christianity was already on its way to liberty and rights for 100s of years, and the credit should not be yielded to the "Enlightenment," as if secularism dropped from the sky one day in the 1600s and liberated mankind.

But you're entirely accurate that even if they didn't have their philosophical arguments together, the Salamancans immediately foresaw the inhuman horrors that the Spanish exploitation of the New World would bring, and tried to stop it.

But the Salamancans did not succeed, their ideas did not carry the day. The New World was raped, that's just a historical fact.

I have missed interacting with you guys and am looking forward to having more time in November when the season starts to join the discussion again.

Ditto. Pick your spots. And good luck with the rest of football season. Pick your spots there, too...

Gregg Frazer said...

First, I've never said that "obedience" is absolute; I've said that "submission" is absolute. I have, in fact, specifically said that obedience is not absolute.

Second, subjection is absolute in the following senses:

a) as far as WE as individual people are concerned, we are always to be subject, without exception. God (Who made that rule) can overrule and assign someone to be His deliverer. Such a deliverer is acting for God, not himself (or the people). It is God's prerogative, not ours. We absolutely may not generate rebellion or resistance -- no exceptions.

b) God's special revelation is closed until the return of Christ; He isn't giving new special revelation. So, there are no deliverers with special revelation from God any more.

As for Nero, what I said was that Nero persecuted Christians -- those Roman Christians who were Paul's audience. He did. I did not say he was doing it at the time that Romans was written. It doesn't matter whether he was doing it at the time because Paul did not tell them to be subject UNTIL persecution came -- he simply told them to be subject, period. The instruction remained in force when the persecution came and no exception was made. Nero persecuted those very Christians to whom Paul was writing. It was not an error in history, but in your assumptions about what I was saying. Because I knew the history and knew it was easy to check, it would indeed have been sloppy for me to say what you thought I said.

I find it very disturbing that you refer to the fact that God is not time-bound and reveals instruction to His inspired writers that is not limited by time as "some nonsense."

You "responded" to my questions, but did not "answer" them. You re-framed them and then answered your version of the question. I told you specifically in my long response where you did not answer my questions. But, here it is again:

a) I asked you whether you consider the U.S. government to be illegitimate and you told me how a Navajo should feel about it -- not whether YOU consider it to be illegitimate.

b) I asked you for evidence that Washington received direct revelation from God and you told me that he thought God was on his side, but no evidence that he received special revelation from God.

c) I asked you for evidence that "subjection" and "obedience" are the same thing and you told me that, by my logic obedience must be absolute if subjection is. You didn't even address the issue of the two different words.

d) I asked you how the proper interpretation of a passage can change based on how it is applied or misapplied -- how future events could change the actual original meaning of the passage. You gave me yet ANOTHER interpretation of Romans 13 and its audience, but said nothing about how the proper interpretation could change based on its application.

Gregg Frazer said...

Re Mayhew: I said he was important because he provided a way around the obstacle of Romans 13 FOR THE COLONISTS IN AMERICA AT THE TIME OF THE REVOLUTION. Yes, others had made arguments justifying revolution before Mayhew, but they didn't "take" in the Calvinist-dominated churches of New England. I did not say that Mayhew was the first in the world to come up with such ideas.

As for Witherspoon, first, he didn't come to America until 18 years after Mayhew wrote his seminal work -- so he did not precede Mayhew. Second, he supported the Revolution, but he did not comment on Romans 13 or provide an alternate version of it to the churches. He did not make "many of the same arguments" because he didn't address Romans 13. I'd be happy to read a sermon or paper on Romans 13 by Witherspoon, if you have one.

[parenthetically: the claim about Witherspoon's religious influence on Madison is an exaggerated one for which there is no evidence. Yes, Madison studied under Witherspoon, but the course taught by Witherspoon was Moral Philosophy and he began the course with the caveat that they were going to study it from naturalistic principles and not from revelation. Madison never acknowledged any religious influence to Witherspoon -- but rather to Samuel Clarke (a naturalist). I've had thousands of students in my 30-year career -- do you suppose it's legitimate to say that they all share my beliefs?]

You did not ask me for an answer to the Locke question which you would LIKE; you just asked me to answer the question -- and I did. I can't help it if you don't like the answer. And, again, your Locke point was irrelevant to the question of mine that you were supposed to be answering:

I did not ask you for yet another interpretation of Romans 13 -- I asked you how the proper interpretation (let's say that Locke's is correct, for argument's sake) can CHANGE BASED ON HOW IT IS LATER APPLIED OR MISAPPLIED. HOW CAN THE PEOPLE TO WHOM IT'S ADDRESSED KNOW WHAT GOD WANTS THEM TO DO, SINCE THEY CAN'T SEE HOW MEN WILL MISUSE THE MESSAGE IN THE FUTURE?

You didn't answer any of this -- you just supplied another interpretation. OK, answer the question as if Locke's is the correct interpretation!

I agree with you that context is critical -- I've harped on it myself. That's why I object when you snatch verses or even PARTS OF VERSES out of context and make them the center of your arguments. I've actually spent much time in these discussions establishing context.

What have I taken out of context? Example?

Gregg Frazer said...

I see that you've finally answered that you do not consider the U.S. government to be legitimate. Interesting. Thank you.

One wonders why you don't leave this tyrannical country? From the jail comment, I conclude that you don't think a revolution would be successful, but why don't you move to a non-tyrannical country that won't misappropriate your tax dollars? Francs? Pesos?

Re Othniel receiving revelation from God, you are quite correct that I am inferring via reason that he received revelation from God informing him of his task. AGAIN, I've never said that it is wrong or illegitimate to infer using reason -- I've said that it is illegitimate to PREFER inferences drawn merely via reason to what the Bible clearly says. It does not say here that he did NOT receive revelation and it does say that God sent His Spirit to him. So, it seems like a logical conclusion -- but I'm not dogmatic on it as I would be for something the Bible clearly says.

I did not accuse you of a straw man in the discussion over Locke's view. Ironically, that's another straw man! I stand by the times I DID accuse you of making straw men, though.

I also did not deny Locke's right to produce his own interpretation based on an inference -- but I don't have to agree with it, do I? You asked me to tell you why I think Locke was wrong and I did -- are you now telling me that I HAVE to AGREE with Locke?

By the way, the fact that God's Spirit came upon Othniel does not guarantee that everthing he did is God's will. See Judges 8:24-27 and 16:1, for example. Whereas God's Spirit came and went in the Old Testament days, Christians today have the Spirit residing in them continually -- yet we sin and do not always do exactly what God wants. So did they.

I didn't want to confuse the argument with this point, but since you're enthralled with Othniel, it needs to be mentioned.

Whether he received revelation from God or not is irrelevant because we have revelation to tell us that God sent him as "a deliverer." Whether he knew he was a deliverer or not is irrelevant to the overall point. But I won't be dogmatic on the notion that he received revelation from God.

If you want to stress that point, then I'll ask you to answer the more difficult question concerning Washington -- on which I gave you a pass because it's impossible and I couldn't expect an answer. I asked the question for effect.

I asked as the last part of the question (which I now remind you that you agreed to answer) for "REVELATION FROM GOD AFFIRMING THAT HE RAISED UP ANY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARIES AS DELIVERERS." I was willing to just let you try to demonstrate that Washington or others BELIEVED that they had received revelation. But since you question whether Othniel received such revelation, I'll ask you re the Americans for what we have re Othniel -- actual revelation from God affirming him.

I don't remember saying that my political theology is more "Christian" than yours. I "label" Mayhew the way I do because I've thoroughly investigated his theology and the basis for it -- not just because he's wrong on Romans 13. [I'm hardly the only one with a disparaging view of his theology -- as I noted, not a single minister showed up for his ordination]

I'm sorry if my confidence in my theology and views offends you. I appreciate your concern about saying emphatically what God said. I agree and that's why I don't take it lightly and don't do it unless I'm quite sure. Repeating, in context, exactly what the Bible says is, I think, perfectly safe. I would be worried if I were reading words/concepts into a passage that are not there, though.

Gregg Frazer said...

Tom,

As I thought I explained, I wasn't avoiding your Channing post -- it was 6:00 pm and I was headed home. I said I'd respond more fully and I plan to do so. But, again, it's after 5:00 pm now and my wife doesn't appreciate me coming home after the time she's designated for dinner. If I have to reconstruct the whole "slavery and the Bible" response, it will take me well past her time.

I know I already responded to the slavery question in detail on American Creation before. I'm going to search the records of American Creation to see if I can find it and not have to do it all over again.

Well, I just searched under "slavery" and couldn't find it.

JON -- CAN YOU FIND IT?

If not, I'll lay it all out again -- but not now. Maybe tomorrow, if Jon can't find it and if I can find time.

Sorry, Tom.

P.S. It's not me who WANTS to continue to explore the theology; I've laid out the theology several times. But a certain interlocutor won't let me go without calling me a coward or saying I've let down the whole of evangelicalism!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, I understand. Your answer to King still comes down to an insistence that Paul's epistle is God's word and cannot be read except as a absolute prohibition on revolt for all time.

My notion on slavery is of course not exactly about slavery, but of the possibility of deriving "Christian principles" which aren't specifically in the Bible.

King of Ireland said...

Dr. Frazer,

Was Othniel in submission when rebelled against the King? If not then submission is not absolute. Why would God raise up a deliverer and have him sin by not submitting? It is not logical.

I disagree over how you use revelation. I think that is the key dividing line here. I believe we can receive specific revelation from God now. I think Washington probably did. If you cannot prove Othniel did, and you cannot, then your point about Washington is irrelevant.

So I change my question in a an attempt at clarity:

Was Othniel in submission to the King who had authority over him? If not then submission is not absolute. Thus, destroying your dogmatic claims about Romans 13.

You did not respond to my text argument. Why can you infer about Othniel and Locke cannot infer about what Paul was saying to the Jews about government? Cannot have your cake and eat it too.

I would have to agree with Tom that this discussion has been good for me. I hope you see it that way too. I will keep checking back this weekend. I will also respond/answer your response in detail in a few weeks. I will do several posts to try and be thorough. Then on to Gary Amos and an attempt to steer this discussion into its proper frame.

Have you considered being a contributor here? We may disagree on some things but I do realize an educated man when I see one. I think it would add to this blog and draw some different kind of people as an audience for expressing your thoughts.

Finally, I do not have time to dig up the Nero quote I think you are mistaken about what you originally said.

Tom,

My name is Joseph Winpisinger. You can call me Joe. I think I said this before. I used that nickname originally on Brayton's blog and that is what most know me by. So I keep it since some people read both blogs and Positive Liberty. I do not have any professional rep to put on the line other being a history teacher. I do plan to start taking some Master's classes soon in History.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

".S. It's not me who WANTS to continue to explore the theology; I've laid out the theology several times. But a certain interlocutor won't let me go without calling me a coward or saying I've let down the whole of evangelicalism!"

Just because you laid out what you think does not mean you are right and should not be challenged. You responded to what I asked you too. I did the same so if you do not want to continue to discuss this then fine. I do plan to respond to your response. I am not totally clear yet where you are coming from but I get the basic idea.

I think the merit in this back and forth is that our arguments are very similar to the ones they had back then too. That is where it is relevant on a history blog. My goal was to show all out there that what you say is not the only "Christian" thoughts on this subject. I also have a real passion to demonsrate to non_Christians that not all Christians are dogmatic.

I think the discussion should really return to the whole reason vs. revelation argument. I was learning a lot from that. I think that is where the rubber meets the road. The problem is that reason and revelation have theological implications.

King of Ireland said...

Greg Frazer stated:

"sked you how the proper interpretation of a passage can change based on how it is applied or misapplied -- how future events could change the actual original meaning of the passage. You gave me yet ANOTHER interpretation of Romans 13 and its audience, but said nothing about how the proper interpretation could change based on its application.


This is not a clear question. I also might add that some actions of the American government are legitimate and others are not. This is ofcourse my opinion and I will not be leaving. I take the good with the bad by choice.

King of Ireland said...

I agree with Tom and this is my problem as well. It is the insistence that there is only one possible interpretation. It is dogmatic. Nothing is that simple.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Winpisinger, although I'm against pseudonyms specifically on this blog as they imply a lack of seriousness [whether that's true or not, it just seems that way], I was simply pointing out that Dr. Frazer has a serious professional standing in this religion-Founding biz, so it would acknowledge that status to give him a correspondent without a pseudonym, a sign of seriousness, respect and good will.

As for Mr. Brayton's blog, I urge you do keep the pseudonym, to respect that blog's absence of seriousness, respect, and good will.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Gregg,

I know exactly the thread you are talking about where you stated the slavery the Bible seems to endorse is not what went down in America/Western Culture in the 18th Century.

It's hard to use google to find things said on threads. I haven't found it but will still look.

It might also help to reinvigorate the discussion if we have time. I understand that the Bible doesn't explicitly endorse the worst practices of slavery that we saw from the chattel slavery in the US. But nowhere do I see the Bible forbidding these either. Rather, the Bible, as I understand it, doesn't overturn slavery or any then existing social institutions in the pagan world because its message is entirely spiritual. That is, a chattel slave qua chattel slave could still be "free in Christ," and ultimately, that's all that mattered.

Gregg Frazer said...

King,

I do not argue that there is only one POSSIBLE interpretation. I argue that there can only be one CORRECT interpretation. God meant to say SOMETHING PARTICULAR. Our job is to find out what that is. Other interpretations can be interesting and useful to justify what we want, but they are ultimately unimportant for determining what God wants of us. As I keep trying to emphasize, truth is not determined democratically or according to our preferences -- it is what it is, whether we like it or find it convenient or not.

Either God says we have a right to rebel against authority or He doesn't. What other real alternative is there?

When you talk of my biases, you seem to suggest that I really WANT subjection to authority to be God's will -- I don't have a natural desire for that. I'm a fallen human being with a sin nature, too -- so I'd LIKE to be able to justify resisting authority and my rebellious bent. I spent much of my elementary school years in the principal's office.

I am perfectly fine with having my views challenged -- it's the whole "if you don't answer everything I say or if you ever leave the argument, then you're a coward and so are all evangelicals" thing that bothers me.

Here we go on Othniel again:
The reason we must be in subjection to authority is because God ordained authority and He says to be subject to it. In Othniel's case, God had removed the authority of the king and designated Othniel to end his reign. We have revelation to tell us that God designated him as a deliverer -- we have no such revelation regarding Washington.

The reason we must be in subjection to authority is because God ordained authority and He says to be subject to it. To resist is to "oppose the ordinance of God." If the God Who tells us to be subject withdraws that authority and changes that message, then our responsibility changes. The ONLY way we can KNOW that, however, is by special revelation. If we have NO SPECIAL REVELATION, then we are accountable to what He HAS said. If Othniel did not receive special revelation from God telling him to rebel, then he sinned and God used that sin to accomplish His purpose (as He frequently does).

So, even if my inference about Othniel is wrong, the message of God remains the same.

I never said that Locke could not infer what Paul was saying -- obviously he COULD because he DID. I simply contend that his inference was wrong, inconsistent with a proper approach to Scripture, and inconsistent with the message of God revealed in Scripture.

Thanks for the "contributor" suggestion. Jon invited me several months ago, but, as I told him -- I don't have time to do this on a regular basis. I don't really have time to do it now, but I cannot leave evangelicalism and my reputation undefended. I don't know how regular bloggers find the time! All of my spare time ideally goes into academic research and writing.

Gregg Frazer said...

Tom,

As I understand it, you're not asking me to again lay out the entire biblical message concerning slavery. You're wanting me to comment on Channing's hermeneutic as compared to Locke's.

Let me briefly correct something in Jon's mostly excellent summary, however. The Bible does, indeed, condemn the type of slavery practiced in America in Exodus 21:16 -- where it assigns the death penalty to those who kidnap persons to make them slaves.

Slavery in the Mosaic Commonwealth was actually a gracious provision for the poor. It was strictly controlled; there was no stigma attached to it; slaves were to be treated as family members (some even married daughters of masters); there were strict time limits; slaves were not held perpetually unless by their own consent; etc.

So, using such passages to defend American slavery was completely invalid -- taking things seriously out of context.

In the New Testament, Jon's point about the spiritual nature of the message and being "free in Christ" is quite good. To expand on it a little, one's spiritual condition and pursuits are much more important than the material. The Gospel and obedience to God is much more important than our earthly place or condition or position. One can be a child of God irrespective of one's status.

As Jesus said, His kingdom is "not of this world" and we should render to Caesar the things (material) that bear the image of Caesar and render to God the things (ourSELVES) that bear the image of God.

If we've set our minds on things above, as we're instructed to do, then our earthly position is not ultimately important. What is important is obeying God in WHATEVER CIRCUMSTANCES we find ourselves.

So, if you're a slave, use that position to glorify God by your submission to authority and working as hard as you can -- as if working for Him (because you are, indirectly). If you're a master, treat your slaves as brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that you'll give an account before God.

If you're a citizen/subject, submit to the political authority, again, as unto God (because you are, indirectly). If you're a magistrate, do not "lord" it over people, but act as a servant, knowing you'll give an account to God (not necessarily to men). If you're a congregant, submit to the church elders; if you're an elder, lead the flock lovingly, knowing you'll give an account to God (not to men). If you're a child, submit to your parents as unto God; if you're a parent, raise your children lovingly, knowing you'll give an account to God. If you're a wife, submit to your husband; if you're a husband, lead your wife lovingly as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.

The New Testament passages concerning slavery are about glorifying God in whatever position you're in. They're about submitting to God-ordained authority and preferring obedience to Him to personal comfort or preferences.

Gregg Frazer said...

As for Channing's interpretation: I agree with you, Tom, that Channing's hermeneutic is similar to Locke's in that they're both interpreting Scripture from a social/political perspective. For that reason, I don't think Channing's interpretation is any more accurate than Locke's. I think it's reasonable GIVEN THE PRESUPPOSITION that the Bible is primarily about social change or pragmatics. But I don't think that's what the Bible is about.

The Bible is about God, Jesus, and what it takes to please God. One glaring problem I see with Channing's view is that I don't see God shying away from making bold, uncompromising claims regardless of circumstances or how it would be received or earthly opposition.

The Bible is not fundamentally about slavery or non-slavery (except slavery to sin). Whether or not one is a slave in this life is irrelevant to his need to come to God on God's terms. And whether or not one is a slave, one can please God and live in a way that glorifies Him.

God is much more concerned with how we live as slaves than whether or not we are slaves. God is much more concerned with how a master treats slaves than whether he is a master. It's the same as the political subjection issue. God wants us to be subject to WHATEVER authority we find ourselves under -- circumstances do not ultimately matter. And God holds rulers accountable to be the kind of rulers they ought to be.

Individuals may be miserable in a material/physical sense in this life, but the eternal rewards awaiting those who please God by accepting the sacrifice of His Son make anything good or bad in this life negligible. Individuals may live luxurious, tyrannical lives for the brief time that we're on earth, but their misery for eternity will erase any memory of their brief, transient licentious "happiness."

So, I think Channing misses the whole point where slavery is concerned. It is a very nice, logical argument given his presuppositions and his priorities -- but I don't think it reflects God's priorities.

Channing's is an appealing attempt to provide "cover" or excuse for God -- I just don't think God needs it. God is not interested in appealing to men ON THEIR TERMS -- He demands that men come to Him on HIS TERMS.

Having been starkly "insensitive," let me conclude with this:

The master-slave relationship is not God's ideal (any more than the tyrant-suffering subject). He prefers men to be loving, kind, generous, treating one another as equals, preferring others to self. But neither relationship is at the center of His concern -- His central concern is how we respond in our circumstances, whatever they are. Do we act in a way that is honoring to Him? That's the issue.

As for dealing with those who oppress others, Scripture is quite clear that God can handle that perfectly well Himself. And nothing we could cleverly devise could be more appropriate or effective than His plan.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tom,

As I understand it, you're not asking me to again lay out the entire biblical message concerning slavery. You're wanting me to comment on Channing's hermeneutic as compared to Locke's.


Yes, exactly.

As for Channing's interpretation: I agree with you, Tom, that Channing's hermeneutic is similar to Locke's in that they're both interpreting Scripture from a social/political perspective.

Yes, pretty much. Their hermeneutics are indeed identical, and I'd guess that Channing copped his argument from Locke's, that St. Paul writes for non-resistance to oppressive authority under Roman rule because for Jesus to preach otherwise would have made The Gospel one of bloody political revolution, not of the Good News about eternity, etc.

Same would be true of slavery as of political oppression.

However, if we stop there, with only the literal reading of the Bible, "Christian principles" against slavery, let alone political freedom, cannot be derived.

But at least we understand each other, and at least on this end, always have.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

I do not argue that there is only one POSSIBLE interpretation. I argue that there can only be one CORRECT interpretation. God meant to say SOMETHING PARTICULAR. Our job is to find out what that is. Other interpretations can be interesting and useful to justify what we want, but they are ultimately unimportant for determining what God wants of us. As I keep trying to emphasize, truth is not determined democratically or according to our preferences -- it is what it is, whether we like it or find it convenient or not."

Have I ever said that there is no correct interpretation in the abstract? I know I have not because I do not believe that. I have never truth is determined by preferences or democratically. WHAT I HAVE SAID IS THAT THIS INTERPRETATION THING IS NOT AS EASY AS MOST EVANGELICALS MAKE IT OUT TO BE, MANY BASE THEIR POSITIONS ON BIASED TEACHING THEN RECEIVE AND NEVER READ AND ANALYZE IT IN A DEEP WAY FOR THEMSELVES, AND THAT EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE LIKE YOU ARE SO DOGMATIC THAT THEY AND THEIR GROUP ARE RIGHT THAT IT TURNS PEOPLE WHO ARE SKEPTICAL OR THINK DEEPER OFF.

I know this because I have walked in essentially the same circles as you and left that circle for that reason. Almost all of the people I used to talk to from outside the circle throw out the baby with the bathwater of biased dogmatism.

So I change my question to limit your wiggle room:

How are you so sure that your interpretation is the correct one? At least part of the Bible would seem to contradict it.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"In Othniel's case, God had removed the authority of the king and designated Othniel to end his reign"

Where does it say this in the text. Unless, you infer that God raising up a deliverer is removing a king's authority that is. But that is inferring things that are not in the text.

As far as Washington goes, you stated that he was not did not have specific revelation from God. I challenged that original position of yours. The burden of proof is on you. You must prove that Othniel did have specific revelation and Washington did not for your argument to hold weight.

If not then Othniel did not submit to an authority that had been sent by God himself. He did this with the Spirit of God. Is it your contention that the king's authority ended the day that Othniel was raised up?

I also will use your own argument against you again in that if it does not matter if Othniel was in sin as a deliverer it does not matter if Washington realized that he was a deliver or not in regards to whether he was used by God or not. The bottom line is that you have no idea, nor can you, whether Washington and others had a revelation from God or not? This was my original point.

It also depends on what one means by revelation which should return us to the subject of reason and revelation. This is where the rubber hits the road. I think I am going to take some time today and do a post in more detailed response to you. Hopefully this can be done in one or two posts. Then I want to outline what Gary Amos has to say about reason and revelation in regards to historical Christian political theology.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"If the God Who tells us to be subject withdraws that authority and changes that message, then our responsibility changes."

Translation:

Submission to authority is not absolute.


Gregg, you cannot say for sure that Othniel had that revelation or Washington did not. You are right when you say that Hitler claimed this too. The North and the South both stated that God was on their side in the Civil War. England and the Colonies both said God was with them in the Revolutionary War.

My entire point to you is that SOMEONE WHO IS EMPHATICALLY SURE THAT GOD IS ON THEIR SIDE IS WRONG. This should humble us and cause of the be willing to re-evaluate our positions all the time. I would say this is especially true for those like you that come to the debate table with a laundry list of assumptions based on deep biases. I stipulate to none of your Calvinist assumptions and to be taken serious by non-believers you must stop assuming that you PHD gives you that right.

That is how it comes off even if it is not your intention. Tom is essentially neutral in this discussion between me and you and he keeps pointing this out to you as well. You assume that your position on Romans 13 is the correct one and that taints your historical look. In other words, you have a dog in that fight and cannot be totally objective.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"
I never said that Locke could not infer what Paul was saying -- obviously he COULD because he DID. I simply contend that his inference was wrong, inconsistent with a proper approach to Scripture, and inconsistent with the message of God revealed in Scripture. "

I know you did and it is YOUR VIEW of the his wrongness, based on YOUR VIEW of a proper approach to scripture, and inconsistent with YOUR VIEW of the message of God revealed in scripture. Your view is not the only view and is not necessarily the CORRECT VIEW.

I think I have done a pretty good job of demonstrating that Romans 13(the book of Romans in general) is a difficult passage that should not be used as a primary proof of any theological position. This can not be a lead passage. At best it could be used as a support passage for another passage that is more emphatically clear than this one.

For one to use that passage as the undeniable proof that the Founders were a bunch of rebels is suspect. Those that use it to justify the divine right of kings are idiots. Locke and Mayhew agree.

King of Ireland said...

I forgot to add that I think this is what Tom is trying to point out with the whole slavery thing.

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"As Jesus said, His kingdom is "not of this world" and we should render to Caesar the things (material) that bear the image of Caesar and render to God the things (ourSELVES) that bear the image of God."

Yea and he also told his disciples to pray like him and pray that his kingdom would come on as earth it is in heaven. Was he praying for something he did not want to see happen? Paul also tells the slaves to get free if they can also somewhere.