Jonathan Mayhew preached a sermon in 1750 that John Adams considered as "great influence in the commencement of the Revolution." Mayhew's sermon, A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers: with Some Reflections on the resistance Made to King Charles I, remains a classic discourse laying out the biblical case against the "Divine Right of Kings" and in favor of resisting "unjust" governmental authority.
Mayhew's exposition of Romans 13 rivals that of any biblical commentary for its logic and compelling exegesis. Mayhew's take on Romans 13, however, clashed with Calvinist orthodoxy and remains unpopular with some Christian thinkers even today.
**To read Mayhew's milestone discourse, click here.
Our own Jonathan Rowe has argued that Romans 13, Mayhew's interpretation notwithstanding, was problematic for colonial era Christians. Rowe has argued that the Founders had to rely on the Enlightenment and Unitarian thinking to justify the Revolution, since the Bible was "insufficient" to their cause.
**To read some of the American Creation blog posts on this topic, click here.
For my own part, as a pastor, I believe Mayhew's take on Romans 13 makes sense. A literalist reading of Romans 13, divorced from context, would certainly support Rowe's interpretation (which, to be fair, is shared by many theologians, including the eminent John Calvin). But if you define the "higher powers" in Romans 13:1 according to the function spelled out in the subsequent verses as Mayhew does, then you get a far different feel.
**For a commentary on Romans 13 and Mayhew's sermon that I wrote, click here.
This topic, of course, has been discussed at length here at American Creation. I don't profess to be breaking new ground. I only hope that those reading this will take the time to read Romans 13 and Mayhew's discourse. I think Mayhew's case is worth considering.
And though I may differ with Jon, I commend him for all the research, time, and writing he's done on this very important part of the Revolutionary War era.