Nullifying Tyranny

In their new book, Nullifying Tyranny: Creating Moral Communities in an Immoral Society, James and Walter Kennedy address the case for nullifying unconstitutional federal legislation to “fellow Christians who . . . understand that the government . . . has been slowly taken over. . . by an anti-Christian secular humanist element . . .” It is, in essence, an attempt to wake Christians up to the fact that the “god” of democracy results in a situation where immoral people can force everyone to comply with their edicts. “Government, even when sanctified by a majority vote, cannot turn an otherwise immoral act into a moral act.” Amen.

http://the-classic-liberal.com/creating-moral-communities-immoral-society/

Government under democracy is nothing more than legalized theft on a massive scale … Whether it is monarchy or democracy, government steals private property (through taxation, mostly) “in order to pay for the loyalty of . . . supporters those close to the source of power who have a natural interest in maintaining the status quo.” Moreover, “A loyal court, a loyal police and military, and a loyal religious establishment” all “lead parasitic lives. The cost is paid by the productive who must labor to earn enough for the king” (or the state in general, under democracy).

I guess that’s why we’re a Constitutional Republic…or at least we’re supposed to be. I don’t know why people always insist we’re a Democracy. Must be that majority (Mob) rule thingy people talk about sometimes. It seems like some people get into politics thinking and hoping they can change things for the better. And some people get into politics thinking and hoping they can ride the gravy train and be fixed for life. The folks that try to “do good” most often are changed into someone they wouldn’t give the time of day to in real life.

H/T to the CL

37 responses to “Nullifying Tyranny

  1. Hi, JD:

    As mentioned in a different post, I’d agree that “51% agreement doesn’t mean getting it right” (or “moral”). Basically, there’s really no biblical endorsement of core democratic principles or mechanisms. The question here is the Christian attitude toward that fact.

    To the extent you and other reviewers have got the message of this book right (and I imagine you have), the writers take their response to that fact in an unChristian direction.

    Their contention that government (meaning American government, I presume) “…has been slowly taken over…by an anti-Christian secular humanist element” is an obviously-factionalist formulation (“those secular humanists are out to get us Christians”). Raises huge questions about their honesty from the get-go, I’d say.

    That ALL human governments embody “…an ANTI-GOD secular humanist element” (a more honest formulation) would not be news, however, to anyone who “gets” the bible. That’s what “kingdoms of man” are; and ALL are opposite to God’s rule (in Jesus’ words, “the Kingdom of God”). Goes for democracies, republics, monarchies, dictatorships…even the theocracies human beings have set up.

    The writers’ purpose seems to be to stir up Christian rebelliousness toward government: that’s counter-scriptural. The New Testament doesn’t teach rebellion: indeed teaches the opposite. In the Old Testament, God goes even farther, saying rebellion is, in His eyes, equivalent to witchcraft.

    Wouldn’t consider they’re coming from a Christian biblical understanding: or promoting a Christian purpose.

    Best, Steve

    • I gotta make note to self to “sign” my posts. Sorry ’bout that.

      Howdy Steve,

      Not being a learned scholar of the Bible like yourself ?, all I can do is look up verses on rebellion in the Bible and try to figure them out. I’d say that you could give the same passages in the bible to four or five different preachers or pastors and you will get four or five different interpretations of the same verses.

      I didn’t see any verses against rebellion to Man’s government, but I saw several verses against rebellion towards God.

      I would also say that a Constitutional Republic is the best from of government that Man has ever conceived with the caveat that no government by Man will ever equal God’s governance.

      And I’m with J.D. It’s always easier to ask forgiveness than ask for permission.

      Regards, Mike

  2. Steve, I did not write this post, I suspect that ThatMrGuy did.

    That said, though I claim to be a Christian, I don’t claim to be a “good” Christian. I’m more of a God fearing person who believes in the Constitution, and though I’ve never taken the oath to defend it, by God I aim to defend it. If the godless heathen come and try to take my guns, or my freedom of speech, or my freedom, then by God I won’t “turn the other cheek.” I’m well armed, and I have no hesitation to fight “the Government” usurps its authority. Sorry, I grew up in America, and Americans have a long history of rebelling against tyrannical governments, see, e.g., the American Revolution, and the War of Northern Agression.

    I have no doubt that Jesus may disaprove of my worldly attitude, “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword,” etc. However, I also believe in the old saying, “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.” As long as my heart is right, I’m sure God will understand. Besides, taking your position to the extreme, the Jews should not have rebelled against the Nazis; after all, they were the lawful government in Germany.

  3. Hi, Guys:

    You both raise good points. We’d probably all agree with Mike’s view that a constitutional republic is the best form of government man has been able to come up with.

    Would agree also with JD’s observation that there’s a point where obedience to human government is disobedience to God. For early Christians, it was offering sacrifice to Caesar as a divinity.

    But their refusal was predicated on something greater than personal dissatisfaction with Roman government. As JD also notes, the sanctification of rebellion in defense of “rights” (i.e., entitlements) is pre-eminently an American heresy.

    Mike’s review of the scriptures gets it right, I think: the point is rebellion against God, which God says He considers the equivalent of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23). He’s speaking to King Saul there, announcing He’s taking away Saul’s authority to rule…because of his rebelliousness. Two points to take from that: rulers are as accountable in this regard as subjects are; and God is the One from Whom rulers’ authority comes.

    The latter is also the point in Romans 13:1, that obedience to human rulers is not based on who they are (or the form of human government they represent): God’s in control of it all. Rebelliousness is a completely wrong attitude in any human heart: its manifestation in rebellion against authority is tacit assertion that God doesn’t know what He’s doing, or got it wrong.

    There’s a limit, as JD notes. But refusal to acknowledge Caesar’s divinity wasn’t by armed rebellion. That would have evidenced the attitude God proscribes.

    Best, Steve

    • Howdy Steve,

      Let’s try another tack. I’m sure you’re familiar with and believe in The Bill of Rights. Do you believe the rights as enumerated in the BOR came from God or from Man? Or did Man have inspiration from God when these rights were enumerated?

      My favorite, the Second Amendment is a case in point. We can agree that God created everything on this Earth as well as other Works. When God created the animals, he gave each one the instinct for self-preservation. That means defending one’s life. Every animal from the most timid shrew to the most ferocious Tiger has some mechanism to protect itself. God gave Man a large brain and an opposable thumb. ;)

      Supposing the rights as enumerated in the BOR came from or were inspired by God; do you believe that those rights are defensible by Man if another Man in a position of Authority,such as a President or King, tried to usurp those rights?

      On the other hand, if you believe the BOR was written by Man with out inspiration from God, then those rights are only as good as the current Man in authority says they are?

      What say you?

      P.S. Before I get a bunch of flak from you Ladies out there, I use the word Man as all encompassing of the Human Race.

      Regards, Mike aka thatmrgguy

      • Hi, Mike:

        I’d say “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are God’s creation: otherwise, they wouldn’t exist.

        The proposition that human beings are entitled (what we mean by “rights”) to those is the greatest political ideal human beings have ever formulated.

        Does God say human beings are entitled ? No. (Indeed, God’s main emphasis on “rights” in scripture is for the rights of the poor…taking us back to that previous discussion about social justice.)

        I’d say the founding fathers were probably the greatest political theorists the human race has produced. They were however piss-poor theologians. Scriptural Christianity doesn’t bear out their theories, or countenance rebellion in its defense.

        Best, Steve

        • Of all the scriptures on helping the poor and needy, not one of them says that we must allow the government to take our hard earned money and redistribute it to people who sit on their asses and do nothing.

          Pastor Art Kohl wrote in 2002;

          Since 1964 the United States Governments (Federal and State) have transferred over five trillion dollars from the middle class and the rich to the poor. Are the poor better off today or have they become more enslaved and dependent on government?

          How much is five trillion dollars? A billion dollars is one thousand million dollars. A trillion dollars is one thousand billion dollars, thus five trillion dollars is five thousand billion dollars. That amount is inconceivable to the human mind. That is how much government has taken from the middle and rich class and transferred it to the poor. This money did not cost the poor anything. They did not have to earn it. It was given them.

          This scenario described is why so many are up in arms about the subject of welfare. There are still over three million Americans on the welfare rolls. Some are being helped by it and learning to stand on their own feet someday. This is the goal. Others have become enslaved by it and are dependent on it. Some are second, third and even fourth generation dependents on welfare. There are special cases where some are worthy of help and compassion such as the disabled veteran, other disabled, orphans, handicapped, retarded and other extraordinary cases. These can be helped when there is no one else to help them.

          The Bible says; No work…no eat. It also says; A man who does not take care of his own is despicable. And the kicker… Widows are to be cared for by their families, not the government or church.

          There is a BIG difference between “social justice” as espoused by the Bible and the “social justice” espoused by the current administration.

          The founding fathers never claimed to be theologians.

          More to follow, Mike.

          • Well, I lost my whole train of thought after taking my wife out to dinner. I had this whole spiel worked out in my head, but that juicy Ribeye dinner wiped it out. I hate when that happens. ;)

          • Hi, Mike:

            “There is a BIG difference between ‘social justice’ as espoused by the Bible and the ‘social justice’ espoused by the current administration.”

            We agreed on that in the “social justice” discussion, didn’t we ? I’d add “ANY administration,” or any “political theorist or commentator.” All of which is to say human beings don’t get it right.

            The criteria of “social justice” is, however, is the goal God set for human beings, in whatever role. He didn’t give it as His mandate to government only: but as a human institution, government is accountable too. (Also going back to a previous discussion, it’s government’s legitimate JOB, even in human terms, to do what’s best for its citizens.)

            We will probably never get it exactly right: but we don’t get to tinker with (or eliminate) the criteria. In that category I’d put those who try to give “social justice” their own idiosyncratic definition. Likewise those who claim to be exempted from God’s mandate to treat other people RIGHT, when they deem those people aren’t worthy. (Who is ?)

            The only recognized exception is the one you mention: who will not work (if capable of working), shall not eat. Government has the same need for discernment anyone else does: they and we are not called on to support parasites. Helping the poor is a manifestation of the fact we’re all in this together: those who make it a manifestation of looking out for Number one have no claim on us.

            But I think it comes down to what James says: “mercy triumphs over judgement.” If a panhandler asks for money to buy whiskey, giving him money is a negation of discernment. If he says he needs a meal, the Christian thing to do would be to invite him home to eat with you. If that’s not possible, invite him to go to a restaurant with you. (The deepest mandate is to share yourself and your time…both more valuable than money…with him.) If that’s not possible, give him the money, despite suspicion he may buy whiskey with it. If he does, you’ve done what’s right (“mercy triumphs over judgement”)…and that’s not negated by the fact he’s done what’s wrong.

            Get down to it, the “conservative” clamor against “social justice” because some people are unworthy is a transparent political red herring, not a consideration of biblical principles of righteousness.

            (Seems like we’re talking about food again…red herrings and ribeyes ? Making me hungry !! LOL.

            By the way, thought that was a good post from you over at Tom’s site too. Like you, I found the “looking out for Number One” idea very clarifying.

            Best, Steve

            • Steve, it’s funny how liberals espouse “social justice” and say that “The criteria of ‘social justice’ is, however, the goal God set for human beings, in whatever role.” But then when it comes to social issues, suddenly they scream “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE” and “YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE MORALITY!”

              Not saying you say that–I do not know if you do or not–but I know the typical slimely liberal who happens to espouse “social justice” certainly does.

              And one statement you made is pure, unadulterated BULL SHIT! …”the ‘conservatives’ clamor against ‘social justice’ because some people are unworthy is a transparent political red herring, not a consideration of biblical principles of righteousness.” [The equivalent would be for me that liberals favor abortion because they hate kids and favor murder. That too is not Biblical principle.] I know of no one, ever, who made such a statement. I’ve never seen a worse mischaracterization of what conservatives believe in my life. I’m beginning to wonder how you could ever believe such a person exists in modern society. Your comment makes me think that you are either 1) very stupid, 2) extremely gullibe (buying into that liberal argument) and or 3) stoooopid and gullible.

              Please disabuse me of this conclusion, as I really enjoy your posts. At least I did up until that last one.

              • Hi, guys:

                “And one statement you made is pure, unadulterated BULL SHIT! …”the ‘conservatives’ clamor against ‘social justice’ because some people are unworthy is a transparent political red herring, not a consideration of biblical principles of righteousness.”

                That’s just to say “conservatives” like to use their definition of “social justice” to produce outrage, in furtherance of their political purposes, by appealing to people’s natural selfishness (“look how they’re wasting YOUR money”).

                If the biblical idea (and means, and attitude, and purpose) of “social justice” is the real one, the “conservative” take on it is complete misdirection, in every regard. It also locks its proponents into a primarily-exclusionary mindset (focussing on “those undeserving of our help”); which pretty much misses the spirit of Christianity.

                Doesn’t really have anything to do with being “conservative” or “liberal,” except as those factions choose to adopt anti-scriptural attitudes. God’s mandate is the same for everybody: those attitudes are counter-scriptural whoever adopts them.

                Best, Steve

            • Steve,

              I thought we’d clarified the “social justice” thread too, but evidently not.

              It seems like you just want to bash Conservatives, albeit with nice words and platitudes. Conservatives are the most generous people in the world. Conservatives use their own money and resources to help others

              Liberals/ Progressives on the other hand, are firm believers in using other people’s money for “charitable” purposes. Tax the “rich” and middle class and redistribute it to other people.

              There is a difference in social justice practiced by Conservatives and social justice practiced by Liberals/ Progressives.

              Something to think about.

              Regards, Mike

          • Hi, Mike:

            “The founding fathers never claimed to be theologians. ”

            Thing is, everybody has a theology, their operative ideas about God. Whenever they make statements about God…Who He IS, or what He does, what He says, what He likes, etc….they’re propounding a theology.

            The founding fathers certainly did that (saying God endows men with certain unalienable rights, etc.).

            Duke Ellington supposedly once said “There’s only two kinds of music: good music and bad music.” (I’ve also seen it credited to Pavarotti.)
            I think that’s true of theology…where it’s vastly more important to do it well.

            The founding fathers’ were bad theologians, in my understanding, because their assertions about God aren’t really very scriptural.

            Best, Steve

            • Steve,

              On the one hand, you agree that our rights as humans come from God and on the other hand, you assert that those rights came from Man. Which is it? You’re being obtuse here.

              The founders were learned men with a strong grasp of history and law. The first amendment is a case in point.

              The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…

              Seems to me they got it right on the religious freedom part of the first amendment. The reason so many people braved the Atlantic crossing to come to the new lands was because of religious persecution. England at the time had an established “state” church. Folks who had a little different understanding of God’s word than the “state” church were declared heretics and an abomination before God.

              The founders didn’t want an established “state” church. If they had, perhaps your particular denomination might have been one of the heretical religions as would mine.

              The founders’ only assertion about God was that our rights as humans came from God. Other than that, they didn’t really get into specifics about God or religion except for the first amendment establishing the freedom of religion.

              You also seem to forget about the passage in the bible where it states that the rich shall pay no more than the poor and the poor shall pay no less than the rich. I take this to mean the “tithe” or the ten percent that Man must reserve for God every three years.

              I don’t have anything against helping the poor. I’ve been helped and been a helper. So I know both sides of charity. The Bible speaks of charity and the fact that Man must be charitable, but I still can’t wrap my head around the supposition that government has a better sense of how much charity I should pay and who I should pay it to. That is the basic tenet of this debate, isn’t it. Whether or not people should have the right to be charitable in whatever manner they see fit as apposed to the government deciding someone’s charitable “donation”.

              See my previous comment about the difference between Conservative giving and Liberal/ Progressive giving.

              Regards, Mike

              • Hi, Mike:

                “On the one hand, you agree that our rights as humans come from God…”

                It’s scriptural, in general, that whatever exists comes from God (evil, of course, being His good creations perverted). God also specifically mandates the rights (i.e., entitlement to justice and mercy) of the poor, widows, and orphans. In those regards, I’d consider rights come from God.

                “…and on the other hand, you assert that those rights came from Man. Which is it?”

                The founding fathers idea of “rights” was a human concept, of primarily-political entitlement. It’s derived from centuries of human legal and philosophical thought.

                Basically, the founding fathers appropriated the general scriptural truth (what exists, is from God) and applied it to the human concept of rights. Not that that’s entirely illegitimate: cars (for example) are a human production, but we’d understand (in that general sense) if someone contended that “cars are from God.”

                In any more specific sense, God and the founding fathers are talking about two different things. The founding fathers say human beings are entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” God says no such thing. Indeed, coming at the relationship of man with God as being about what God owes MAN is profoundly wrong-headed.

                “The Bible speaks of charity and the fact that Man must be charitable, but I still can’t wrap my head around the supposition that government has a better sense of how much charity I should pay and who I should pay it to. That is the basic tenet of this debate, isn’t it.”

                No, not at all. That’s entirely the “conservative” misdirection.

                God sets the benchmark for all human beings: His mandate is that we treat each other justly, and with mercy. Government is a human institution, composed of human beings: God requires government too to treat human beings with justice and mercy. (In fact, they’re MORE accountable in that regard.)

                Beyond that, the only way I see government comes into the question is that in our form of government, we have some minimal input on government ‘s decisions.

                So how exactly is government’s “providing for the general Welfare” of its poor citizens…which seems like 1.) common sense, 2.) common human decency, 3.) its job, and 4.) God’s mandate…an expression of “liberal” tyranny ?

                How exactly is that case any different than the fact government does other things we don’t agree with…the “Strategic Defense Initiative” (talk about government waste !), the Bank of America bailout, etc. etc. ?

                I really don’t see “conservative” outrage against government “social justice” as anything more than self-serving duplicity…political factions’ standard operating procedure.

                Best, Steve

            • Steve,

              You said;

              Thing is, everybody has a theology, their operative ideas about God. Whenever they make statements about God…Who He IS, or what He does, what He says, what He likes, etc….they’re propounding a theology.

              I take that to mean that if several people read the same passage from the bible and each person had a slightly different interpretation of the verse, then they’re “propounding” a theology? Or is a particular theology the difference between Judaism and Christianity; or the difference between Christianity and Islam?

              I’m not a religious scholar so I’m trying to figure this statement out.

              Regards, Mike

              • Hi, Mike:

                Sorry, I should have been more clear.

                Didn’t mean “theology” in any formal way, or any particular sectarian way. Just that everybody, whether or not they ever articulate it, has a set of beliefs about God. Even formal atheists (“God doesn’t exist”) or casual skeptics (“Maybe there’s a God, but it doesn’t matter enough for me to waste time thinking about it”) has some kind of view regards God.

                The founding fathers certainly did, don’t you think ? It wasn’t a formal theology, and it wasn’t a specific sectarian theology (that they studiously avoided): but what they wrote shows their idea(s) about God.

                Best, Steve

  4. I believe in the Biblical mandate that we are to “love our neighbor.” Allowing a tyrannical government to kill and abuse my neighbor and my family just ain’t in my definition of “love.”

    Sure, perhaps I could see me submitting if they wanted to martyr me. By the grace of God, not by my own strength. But by God if they tried to do it to somebody else, then they better know that I’m coming for them and there will be hell to pay! How is it “loving my neighbor” if I stand by idly watching? If that is American heresy then I am ALL IN!

  5. Hi, JD:

    That’s probably a slightly different (not unrelated, however) question than the attitude of rebellion, isn’t it ?

    But mainly popping back in to question the terminology “the War of Northern Agression.”
    Pretty much self-justifying historic revisionism, isn’t it ? “Their” aggression goaded “us” into attacking Fort Sumter ?

    Best, Steve

  6. Steve, if you think that the north would not have fought the war if only the south had not taken Ft. Sumpter, I can’t help you much there. That’s just hopeless. The south demanded the surrender many times before the hostilities started.

    Nobody died in the actual seige. If the dipshits had just gone back up north, they wouldn’t have been fired upon. That certainly wasn’t the casus belli. Don’t all the northern oppressors tell us it was for the slaves? And to maintain the union?

    • Hi, JD:

      And the loyal troops manifested their “northern aggression” by 1.) not surrendering when called on to do so; and (2.) staying there to be fired on, when all they had to do was move out of the way ? The vicious brutes !! LOL.

      Like I say, self-justifying historic revisionism.

      Best, Steve

    • Hi, Tom:

      Good link. The writer’s talking about some real, and important, questions…and more importantly, looking at them from a Christian perspective.

      I’d totally disagree with him. But bless his heart, this is the discussion Christians should be having. For thirty years Christians have followed the lead of (I’d say “been misled by”) petty political factionalists. Time we think, and act, as Christians.

      “… I believe the answer comes down to the legitimacy of the government. Do the People accept its right to rule? Because the People accepted his right to rule, Paul and Peter saw nothing to gain by rebelling against the Roman emperor.”

      Exactly wrong, I think. Paul didn’t predicate Christian obedience on PEOPLES’ acceptance or rejection of their government whatever. That indeeed seems the opposite of Paul’s reasoning: that our obedience is based on our recognition of God’s sovereignty over all governments…and over our personal circumstances as their subjects.

      I doubt too the value of what the founding fathers say about when rebellion is justified: the biblical view is that it isn’t.

      But what’s your take: is rebellion anyplace scripturally warranted ?

      Best, Steve

  7. Pingback: A NEW GOVERNING CONSENSUS | Citizen Tom

  8. Steve, I wrote a post you may find interesting. It is related to this post. See http://citizentom.com/2010/06/03/a-new-governing-consensus/.

    Please note that this post, http://familyallianceonline.org/2010/03/30/a-matter-of-legitimacy/, does deal with your questions and comments. However, I will happily add a few more points.

    Consider that neither Jesus (in the Gospels) or the Apostle Paul had any interest in overthrowing earthly authorities. Yet each was a rebel. Each had a heavenly agenda they intended to override any objections from earthly rulers. An both preached knowing that government agents would eventually execute them.

    From the perspective of governing authorites, both Jesus and Paul and all the other apostles were rebels. Do you think Rome crucified Christ for nothing?

    Yet neither Jesus or His apostles sought earthly power. Jesus intended his execution to show death would be overcome. Peter and Paul, and a great many others accepted their death as the price to be paid for reaching as many people as possible with the news of the Gospel.

    What each Christian death demonstrated is that we owe God the greater part of our love.

    Yet their is a time for rebellion, but first we must overcome a practical problem. Until the People become convinced that their government is not legitimate, the People have a moral obligation to uphold their government. That is why the Founders began the American Revolution with the Declaration of Independence. They had to establish in the People’s mind that the rule of British crown had lost legitimacy. That is, the King had become hurtful to them, their families, and their neighbors. So one by one they emumerated the wrongs the King had done to his subjects in America. In addition, the Founders explained in the declaration the ethical problem, why the People had right and the responsibility to rebel against a tyrant. The Founder’s explanaton and example is better than anything I could write. Even if you have read it before, I suggest you do so again. Just remember, these men were Christians, and they were also heroes. When they signed that document, they risked everything this world had to offer them.

    • Hi, Tom:

      “Yet their is a time for rebellion, but first we must overcome a practical problem. Until the People become convinced that their government is not legitimate, the People have a moral obligation to uphold their government.”

      So government, and the question of its legitimacy…and the decision for rebellion against government…rest on human perceptions ? I’d urge you to re-think that. It’s “founding fathers’ ” thought: that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed…which consent can be withdrawn.

      That’s the opposite of the biblical view: that God “established” (and “instituted”) governments, and His “authority” is where they derive their legitimacy. Rebellion against them is rebellion against God. (Romans 13:1-7). I’d urge you to re-think which operative idea…the founding fathers’ or the Bible’s…you’re coming from.

      “…these men were Christians, and they were also heroes.”

      I’d urge you to re-think that one too. The teaching that “the founding fathers were Christians” is historical revisionism that’s been promoted by a current political faction for their own purposes. Do some honest checking on their assertion.

      The definition of “Christian” isn’t hard. Jesus blessed Peter’s simple confession “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16) If a founding father…or anyone else…says that, they’re a Christian by Jesus’ standard. Did the founding fathers make that confession ? If so, they’re Christians: if not, not.

      There are online collections of all the extant papers of all these men. (As you might imagine, every word Washington, for example, wrote has been lovingly preserved.) Those collections have search-function: anything they said on any subject can be located and read in context (in many cases, the original autograph copy is imaged as well.)

      Search Washington’s writings (the two big repositories are the Library of Congress and and the University of Virginia): did he anywhere refer to Jesus in a believing context anything like Peter’s confession ? If so he’s a Christian.
      I’ve searched: there’s nothing that convinces me he was a Christian in the biblical way.

      http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/

      http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/

      Like I say, do your own search. Don’t take my word for it, and don’t take the pious fabulists’ word for it: convince yourself.

      It was a group like any group of men. Some were strong believers (Dr. Benjamin Rush: not online, however; have to get his writings in book form), most were at least conventional church-goers (which may or may not say anything about their heart-convictions), some were skeptics (Benjamin Franklin) and some were all-but-atheists (Jefferson, probably the greatest political thinker of them all). Saying “the founding fathers were Christians” substantially falsifies history: and (which is the fakers’ purpose) our thinking about our country.

      What’s worse, it falsifies Christianity. Would a belief in “nature’s God,” “the Creator,” “Divine Providence,” satisfy your church’ requirement for membership ? I seriously doubt it.

      Whatever else the founding fathers were, their unifying characteristic (rather than fervent Christianity) was that they were rebels against what was, biblically, their legitimate government. The fact they started by publicly making excuses for their rebellion makes clear that they knew what they were doing was wrong. Again, is there any scriptural excuse for, counsel to, or blessing on rebellion ?

      Not saying that they weren’t great political theorists. But when it comes to rebellion, or what it is to be a Christian, God is the One Who draws the line. Politically-motivated attempts to move the line to include our culture-heroes is an affront to Him, don’t you think ?

      Best, Steve

      • Steve, I have done a little research on the Founding Fathers. Some of them were Deists or leaned that way. Perfect faith is a rarity. Even the apostles, men who lived with Jesus for several years ran from the prospect of death. Until they saw the resurrected Christ, their faith was not up to the task Jesus set before them.

        Were the Founders Christians? You have this definition of a Christian. How do you apply it? You must make use of your own perceptions. You borrow criteria from the Bible — what you think suitable — and you apply that criteria using your human senses and human intellect.

        In the end everything we choose to do is based upon our faulty human judgment. Were the Founders Christians? I think it safe to say that on the whole they were. Anyway, here is my best assessment. http://citizentom.com/2008/09/10/deism-and-the-founding-fathers/

        You suggest that we cannot rebel against government because all governments are instituted by God. Yet if we are not allowed to judge based upon our own perceptions, how would we know when a government has been instituted by God? What do we do when governments dispute for supremacy. We call that civil war, and we have to pick sides. Which side?

        One of functions of government is to resolved disputes between men, but governments sometimes fail. The American Revolution is one such example. The King and his Parliament insisted doing things that the perfectly legitimate legislatures in the American colonies insisted that they had no business doing. Eventually, the colonists set up their own national government. At what point did this government become instituted by God?

        Because God is God, everything that happens happens because He allows it to be. Even the most evil and the most good governments exist because He allows them to exist. Nonetheless, we each have a free will, and we each must make choices. Apparently, God insists that we each must learn to govern our self. How? Wisdom is something we acquire. We are not born with it, but we can study and learn, and the Bible is an excellent place to start. Nevertheless, to make use of the Bible requires careful consideration. We cannot just take a few verses from it and just assume we have the answer.

        When you read Romans 13, please consider that the Apostle Paul wrote to a certain audience at a certain time. Both Paul, a Roman citizen, and his audience considered the government of Rome legitimate. Rome was harsh, but Rome did not rule abusively. Roman rulers also fulfilled their responsibilities. Thus, Jesus is recorded to have said: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” But in a different time and place, Moses led a rebellion against Pharaoh. Was Moses wrong? Was the God who guided Moses wrong? Or did Moses finally have to choose between something wrong, disobeying Pharaoh and much greater wrong, obeying Pharaoh and leaving his People enslaved.
        Thanks again for the links,
        Tom

        • Hi, Tom:

          Yes, in fact had read the “Deism” posting and discussion (at least down to the place where the one gentleman just wanted to flame everything) when I was kicking around your site. I’d have some questions there…the idea of a “Christian Deist” seems questionable, for example. But that’s probably for another discussion.

          “…if we are not allowed to judge based upon our own perceptions, how would we know when a government has been instituted by God?”

          Romans 13:1 tells us when a government has been instituted by God, doesn’t it ?

          “…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. ”

          Please note this comment:

          “What do we do when governments dispute for supremacy. We call that civil war, and we have to pick sides. Which side? ”

          If that’s so, Christians should recognize how God defines those “sides,” and make their choice accordingly, shouldn’t they ?

          In the gospels, the only two governmental “sides” Jesus seems to mention are the Kingdom of God (probably 95% of his references), and all the others (“kingdoms(s) of the world”: by inference, the kingdom(s) of man). Which “side” should Christians choose ?

          Which “side” does British constitutional monarchy fall on ? North Korean autocratic communism ? Is America’s form of government anything but a kingdom of this world, of men ?
          Not a merely rhetorical question: would be interested in what you consider the biblical view.

          But I’d question too if the Bible teaches that “we have to pick sides” from among human governments or human political ideas. I’d like to see some scriptures on that, please.

          Which side did Jesus choose to identify Himself with: (the, roughly, “conservative”) Pharisees, (the, roughly, “liberal”) Sadducees, Zealots, Herodians ? His example is also teaching for Christians, isn’t it ?

          “Both Paul, a Roman citizen, and his audience considered the government of Rome legitimate.” This idea: that whether Christians should rebel against or obey their government is contingent on their perception of its legitimacy: again seems utterly contrary to what Romans 13:1-7 teaches. Again, show me where that is taught in scripture.

          “Moses led a rebellion against Pharaoh.” It may be stretching it to call the exodus “rebellion.” It was certainly not an armed uprising (indeed, that would have been unthinkable: God was jealous of His Glory as the One Who freed the Israelites). A quick review of those chapters doesn’t even seem to show God told them to “rebel” even by refusing the work Pharoah laid on them (even though God Himself calls Pharoah’s rule “oppression,” and even though Pharoah doubled their work-load after Moses asked him to let the Israelites go). How was the exodus “a rebellion” ?

          I’m sure you believe as strongly as I do that the Bible is God’s word to us, and contains everything He wants us to know and do. I’m sure you accept the Bible as the benchmark by which all human thoughts and actions are measured. I’d challenge you, respectfully, to measure some of the ideas in your post against the Bible:

          where does the Bible teach that our obedience (or rebellion) is contingent on our decision that our human government is legitimate ?

          where does the Bible teach that Christians must “choose sides” from among human governments or political factions (I’d add, regards another posting on your site, “or economic systems” ?)

          where does the Bible teach that a human government (political idea, economic system, etc.) is not entirely opposite to (and ultimately, an enemy of) the Kingdom of God ?

          If you show me the Bible teaches those ideas, I’ll need to re-examine my thinking, and will be grateful for your help in coming to a more-scriptural understanding. Otherwise, I’ll stick with my evaluation of those as counter-scriptural ideas which Christians should not follow.

          Best, Steve

          • Steve – You don’t think Pharaoh thought of Moses’ plan as a slave rebellion? Of course, God’s direct participation made for some spectacular events, but Pharaoh tried to keep matter a bit more mundane. Eventually Pharaoh called upon his army to put down the slaves; it was not his fault God had other ideas.

            I am a little confused by your stance. I think the authors of the Bible intended to inspire us to action, not fearful inertia. They wanted free to do God’s will, not trapped by legalisms. Do you truly that believe that opposing the designs of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the like would be wrong? Why?

            Anyway, I think I am clear as to how you disagree with my interpretation, but I am confused as to exactly what you believe. What is the role of a citizen? How should one oppose an oppressive government?

            Since it interests me, I expect I will do a blog post on this subject and post it this coming Sunday evening. I would appreciate your insights.

            –Tom

            • Hi, Tom:

              “How should one oppose an oppressive government?”

              “Oppose” is rather too general; “to be against.” Christians always oppose wrong-doing, wherever it’s found (including in their own life). The word is applicable in this discussion, but there’s an important distinction I’ll observe here. “Rebellion” (primarily what we’re talking about, isn’t it ?) is more the idea “to oppose WITH FORCE,” or “BY DEED.”

              (O.K. so far ? If you disagree with my definitions or assertions above, or following, let me know: but I think those are normative understandings of the words and of Christianity.)

              Christianity wisely considers “rebellion” an attitude as much as any specific act. Is it your understanding too that the heart may be rebellious, whether or not it manifests rebellion in overt deeds ? (Indeed, I’d hold the acts RESULT from the attitude: but that’s not germane here.)

              Ran the concordance to see exactly what the Bible says about “rebel” (-lion, -lious), “revolt,” and “resist.” There are about 160 citations in the Bible (NASB).

              A few citations were factual (“so-and-so rebelled against King X”). None of the others addressed the subject with any but a NEGATIVE characterization or injunction. Indeed, Romans 13:2 says flatly that “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…”

              If the Bible doesn’t address the question positively, is it a biblical question ? Is asking when or how Christians should rebel essentially different that asking when or how Christians should commit adultery, or murder ? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

              “What is the role of a citizen?”

              Probably not a complete list: I may have missed some, but these certainly apply:

              1. Pray for the governing authorities (I Timothy 2:1-2)

              2. Be subject to governing authorities (/obey the law) (Romans 13:1,5; Titus 3:1, I Peter 2:13-14)

              3. Give government its due (/pay taxes) (Matthew 22:21, Romans 13:7)

              4. Honor those in authority (I Peter 2:17)

              “Do you truly that believe that opposing the designs of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the like would be wrong? Why?”

              The Christians to whom the above scriptures were written lived under the rule of Nero. They paid their taxes, prayed for the Emperor (evil as he was; all the more reason he needed Christians’ prayers), obeyed the laws against theft, murder, etc. Nothing scripture taught they should do as regards their government conflicted with their being “good citizens”…or lessened their opposition to evil.

              If biblical teachings apply equally to Christians in every time and place, is there anything above that brings our two roles into conflict ? Is there anything there that lessens our opposition to evil, including that done by government ? I’d say “no.” Perhaps you’d agree, as to the biblical view. Where I think you err is considering rebellion from a non-biblical viewpoint.

              Your question above seems to presuppose that a Christian should have opposed the designs of those evil rulers. But you say Christians were right NOT to oppose Nero, because they perceived his rule as “legitimate.” If those transitory perceptions (rather than biblical teaching) are the basis for obedience to human rulers, Third Reich Christians or Soviet Christians who regarded their governments’ as legitimate should NOT have opposed Stalin or Hitler either, should they ?

              There’s a very important question here, which I think is what you intend to explore: what are the limits of Christian obedience ? I’d agree that’s worth exploring: but don’t find any authority except scripture relevant to Christian practice. Would you agree ?

              One other question. I’m not sure I understand what you’re characterizing as “…fearful inertia,” and “legalisms” in my post. Disallowing rebellion ? Not “choosing sides” ? Would be interested to know where you see those qualities.

              Meanwhile, will look forward to your blog this weekend.

              Best, Steve

              P.S. Doubtless Pharoah did consider the Israelites in rebellion. A good example of why human perceptions…especially those of autocrats…can’t be trusted.

  9. Sorry, Tom, your comment was caught in moderation because it contained more than one link. And I have been preoccupied with a lengthy trial. Also, thanks for linking to your blog. We are getting some great cross-linking going on!

  10. No problem. I guessed that was the case.

    Hope the trial is going well.

  11. Sheesh, this thread of comments is getting too hard to follow. So I’ll just post my comment to the end of all the comments.

    Here Steve, perhaps this will help you understand why Mike and I bristle at your mischaracterization of conservatives. I’ll put the shoe on the other foot, and be you attacking but instead of conservatives, I’ll attack liberals.

    Liberals are too stingy and cheap to give their own money. It is a fact that has been confirmed over and over that conservatives are more generous with their money in giving to charitable causes than are liberals. That shows liberals do not really care about the poor. What they really want is for the government to gain power. They take other people’s money by the power of the government, and then give that money which is not theirs, and then somehow falsely believe that they are morally superior to conservatives because conservatives don’t agree with that approach.

    Liberals turn logic on its head and are deceitful about it. They give less, and act as though they are the charitable ones. Conservatives give more, but liberals claim that conservatives are the stingy ones. The REAL reason that liberals take money from others to give to the poor is to make the poor dependent on government, and to encourage the poor to vote for liberals, thus ensuring that liberals will remain in power so that they can enact all their other liberal agenda. Liberals could care less about the poor–they are just using them for their own political agenda.

    When conservatives object to liberals taking other peoples’ money in order to give to the poor, liberals falsely claim that they are just following God’s commandments. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that we are to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Liberals know that. They are just liars claiming to have the Bible on their side. All those kooky liberals who claim to believe in “moral justice” are just shysters and liars and self-serving thieves.

    Now have a nice day.

    Regards, John

  12. Hi, JD:

    No offense, JD, but I think you come from a mostly-partisan viewpoint: everything is either “conservative” or “liberal.” It’s not a good way to view reality, ’cause it’s not true to reality.

    That viewpoint also locks you into some real programmatic responses to reality. What’s (perceived as) “conservative” must be defended, and what’s (perceived as) “liberal” must be attacked.

    Not saying that to give offense, but I think you can see the problems of that mindset, whatever terms it’s cast in. Your viewpoint is your choice, and that gives it a moral aspect: there are good choices and bad choices.

    But I think you’d agree that scriptural mandates apply equally to people on what you perceive as either “side.” Likewise, that scripture is the benchmark by which the ideas and actions of either “side” are measured.

    Here’s what I said:

    …’conservatives’ like to use their definition of ‘social justice’…

    Which centers almost exclusively on what government does. (In addition, there are the idiosyncratic “conservative” definitions such as one we discussed recently)

    …to produce outrage…

    Definitely my personal perception of motives: but it’s hardly credible to say they are unaware their spiel will produce outrage.

    …in furtherance of their political purposes…

    Why else does a political faction do anything ?

    …by appealing to people’s natural selfishness…

    I don’t see how an argument that “your money’s being wasted” could be aimed at the natural human tendency of sloth, or lust, or gluttony.
    (Rather than “selfishness,” a pretty broad attitude, I probably should have been more specific, and said “avarice.”)

    Any evidence you know of that “conservatives’ ” idea of “social justice” is about treating people right (justly, and mercifully) ? That they talk about it to further a respectful and thoughtful discussion of how we can help each other ? That their mindset is to help as many people as possible ?

    If so, I’d consider they’re operating on scriptural criteria.

    Best, Steve

  13. Hahaha! I don’t take offense at being called a conservative–it’s a badge of honor. And when I call somebody a liberal it ain’t a compliment.

    Now, I realize somebody somewhere who is a liberal might be right on some issue. Somewhere. Sometime. At least it stands to reason. I just can’t recall any off hand. So, yeah, I’m good with coming at things from a conservative partisan point of view.

    I also recognize a liberal who does the same thing, and who constantly criticizes conservatives and their positions, but never does likewise to other liberals. Don’t look in the mirror, Steve. You are almost my mirror image as a partisan liberal. Question is, do you embrace your liberalism?

  14. Hi, J.D. :

    I know it’s your opinion everybody MUST be either one or the other of those political factions . I don’t share your opinion, and don’t choose to identify very much with either.

    I’ll ask you like I asked Tom: which political faction of His time did Jesus identify with ? This question too: which political faction of His time did Jesus most severely castigate, and why ?

    Contrary to Jesus ‘ example, do you consider factional allegiance produces good…for its adherents, or anyone else ?

    Best, Steve

  15. Pingback: WHAT DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT? — PART 1 | Citizen Tom

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