Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some Footnotes on Frazer v. KOI on the Absoluteness of Submission to Rulers

In my last post, I pointed to this post (and the thread below it) where I think Dr. Frazer properly answered all of KOI's claims about the Bible and its absolute command on submission to government, no matter how potentially tyrannical. Again that post and the comments section are especially informative.

I note two claims of KOI's in that thread and question their logical soundness and the assumptions that he and more orthodox biblicists might have when discussing them.

In the first, KOI writes:

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. ...

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

Except according to orthodox biblical hermeneutics, it isn't inconsistent. By way of analogy, incest. Orthodox biblicists believe that brother sister incest is, in the present era, absolutely prohibited. Yet, many of these same biblicists believe in a literal Adam/Eve creation story. As it were, by logicality necessity Cain and Abel either procreated with their mother Eve or their sisters (or some other close relatives, who by logical necessity, would have had to have engaged in incest that the Bible, as a current rule, categorically prohibits).

Now, orthodox biblicists can rationally explain why incest was okay in Genesis, but not shortly thereafter, having to do with the more degenerated genetic nature of Adam and Eve's offspring, the damage to our genes the Fall took on said subsequent generations (i.e., by the time of Moses). And if B/S incest marriages were permitted shortly thereafter the Fall, it would greatly damage the gene pool in a way that Cain and Abel's procreation with their close relatives did not.

But it remains a categorical moral prohibition -- brother/sister incest marriages -- could get a special exception by God for God's own particular reasons and then subsequently be absolutely prohibited.

Secondly, KOI wrote:

I disagree over how you use revelation. ... I believe we can receive specific revelation from God now. I think Washington probably did. ...

This is also very important. Orthodox biblicists believe that revelation stopped with the final book of the biblical canon. Therefore, accordingly, George Washington could NOT, as a matter of TRUTH, have received revelation from God excepting him as Othniel may have (or, accordingly, Othniel may have sinned like Lot when he had sex with his daughters, again to use a biblical example of God using man's sin to validate His will).

Yet, if God continues to reveal, leading to all sorts of potential possible books or additions to the biblical canon (like Mormonism), KOI has a point.

The premise matters tremendously; it is key.


Phil Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Johnson said...

It seems we have to learn everything there is to know about some of the fairy tales that influenced our forebearers. And, we all know that many of the details involved helped make America what it is today.
Some of what they provide is good and some isn't so good. Jack and the Beanstalk seems to have messages that had a lot to do with molding our society.
Why doesn't anyone write articles about some of the less complicated fairy tales?
Or is that way too far over the top?

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not quite down with George Washington receiving a "revelation" from God, although the contemporary literature often claims to see the hand of God in helping their cause, a tacit approval, I reckon.

Take a look at this book analyzing the highly influential Calvinist Peter Martyr Vermigli [1499-1562] prying open the door for "resistance theory."

What's clear is that the evolution of Protestant resistance theory is a complex study, and one not even yet completed by scholars, having been short-circuited by the prevailing secular narrative---the "Harvard Narrative," if you will---where all good things are attributed to men like Locke and The Enlightenment.

Further, it appears that Dr. Frazer is in theological opposition to Vermigli, who was more key than Calvin himself in bringing Reformed theology to Britain. [Vermigli himself was forced into exile from Britain during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary.]

At some point, and well before the American Revolution, "resistance theory" becomes normative Calvinism, and that's the historian's only concern. Further theological niggling about what's God's will and what isn't is simply not relevant.

King of Ireland said...


Where does it say that Othniel got a direct revelation from God? It does not. Since it is abudantly clear to even Calvin that Othniel's actions were righteous I guess one does not need direct revelation before executing armed rebellion against a standing King sent by God to rule?!

I also need a scripture as to where it says that one needs a "revelation" from God to resist authority. His Romans 13 interpretation is falling apart as other parts of the bible read correctly in the right context refute it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

In rereading the passage the Bible says Othniel was raised up to be a deliverer and it was the spirit of the Lord that came upon him.

That's what Gregg means Othniel receiving specific revelation. Or to put it another, specific revelation tells us God did this. That's what is necessary in order to get an exception for the otherwise absolute command not to rebel. And since GW existed at a time when God stopped revealing, it was impossible for God to give the GW/FFs that specifically revealed permission.

This makes logical sense. Romans 13 on its face seems an absolute command. Othniel is just an example of a man acting in a particular way, doing God's will. Specific commands are more compelling than examples of biblical characters doing X because God wants them to.

Again, I respect your right to take two seemingly contradictory parts of the Bible and do your best to smooth them out and make a rule out of it.

However you are just wrong that Frazer's position is error and yours is the correct one based on how to put the various parts of the Bible together.

King of Ireland said...

"That's what is necessary in order to get an exception for the otherwise absolute command not to rebel."

I thought interpostion too? This is my exact point Jon. Who decides what the exceptions are? Interposition is no where in the Bible. I think it is wise and is a logical extension of some biblical principles but it is not in the Bible. So by defintion it is not a revelation from God in the sense that Frazer uses the word. Thus, it fails the test that you just stated above.

Secondly, this goes back to what I have stated over and over again: This basically states that rebellion is wrong unless God tells you to do it.

Plus it says God raised up Cyrus and Gregg and Calvin both would say that he was part of the latter group who sinned by rebelling but God used it anyway. If so then "being raised up by God" is not synonymous with receiving Revelation.

At this point either Frazer is wrong or the bible contradicts itself.

Jonathan Rowe said...


The Bible appears to contradict itself over and over and over again. Folks who believe it inerrant and infallible have to form non-contradictory rules sometimes dealing with dozens of verses and chapters of scripture on the matter. I think Gregg does a good job with Romans 13.

But we can make a big list of many many things where the Bible seems to say two or more different things and Sola Scriptura Protestants argue over every single one of them.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Some examples of this. Hell/eternal damnation? That's an orthodox doctrine. Benjamin claimed the Bible teach it.

And among orthodox evangelicals some have proof texts that state it means separation from God; and it's such a bad place because God is not there. Other proof text seem to teach God is present in Hell and personally delivers the punishment to the Devil, his angels and the unsaved.

Likewise "love the sinner but hate the sin" is a doctrine that can be gleaned from various proof text. But other texts seem to save God hates people.

Every single letter of TULIP. Parts of the Bible seem to say that believers don't lose their salvation; other parts intimate that saved folks can lose their salvation.

There are even parts of the Bible that seem to indicate that Jesus is not fully and equally God, but some kind of subordinate Son. Other parts seem to teach Jesus' full Godhood.

This just scratches the surface of the apparent contradictions in the Bible.

There are a lot of dumb ass evangelical Preachers who don't even know how to approach this. However, there are smart preachers like John MacArthur, Gregg and many others who can give answers to each and every claim I made and come forth with rich arguments as to why the Bible doesn't contradict itself. But they do so by using extremely complicated arguments.

The Bible is not a simple book. And to get a contradictless understanding of it (as the inerrant infallible Word) one MUST, by necessity engage in pretzel logic.

King of Ireland said...

"I think Gregg does a good job with Romans 13."

Not when numerous stories in the Bible contradict his version. Locke's is much more in line with the entire spirit of what Paul is talking about in Romans.

I think we should drop this and work on doing some comparisons of interposition/resistance documents to see how far off Locke and the founders were off from earlier writers. My sense is the same one that Babka had about Calvin himself:

Things evolved over time.

I think you should read the link Tom cited under Mark's post today. Deist states that law of nature and natures God came from Blackstone. Amos said that it had Christian origins as well but I cannot remember if he mentioned Blackstone.

I hope you are seeing that Christianity had a social contract theory long before Locke and others wrote about the idea. Adams stated the all the principles of liberty were in place before Locke and Sidney dilated on them. In other words they built on what was already there.

King of Ireland said...

"There are a lot of dumb ass evangelical Preachers who don't even know how to approach this. However, there are smart preachers like John MacArthur, Gregg and many others who can give answers to each and every claim I made and come forth with rich arguments as to why the Bible doesn't contradict itself. But they do so by using extremely complicated arguments."

That is because they have actually really read it and studied for themselves. Not many do. Most pastors I have met do not know the Bible at all. It took me about 5 years of study to surpass almost all I knew in knowledge. They had been around it all their lives.

With that stated, Frazer is wrong about a lot of things in my view. His view of what is Christian is far too narrow.

But on to better things like Ponet and Vindicae to really hash this thing out.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I don't think they do contradict his story, because he smooths out the contradictions.

But what this is like is someone who argues Hell is separation from God, and then is confronted with

“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” – Revelation 14:10

Another source of contradiction is whether saved folks continue to sin or not.

"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

The fact that you can interpret the Bible so other versus contradict what Gregg argues in Romans 13 is nothing new for evangelicals who believe the Bible the inerrant infallible Word of God.

You can make such an argument for almost every important religious tenet in which evangelicals believe.

This is why Rome doesn't put up with that crap.

King of Ireland said...

Rome f-up a good part of the world with that stance and I think that Luther and company f-up some things with their extreme. Truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Tom's right though we need to widen this discussion to some other people besides Calvin.