revolution

Romans 13 seems clear to me.  These United States of America were founded in direct violation of the principles laid out by the Apostle Paul.

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Textual context is important, and certainly historical context is important.  Paul wrote this letter while Israel was occupied by a hostile enemy that was actively and physically persecuting the Jews.  Resistance against the authority “instituted by God” sometimes meant crucifixion, and Paul forbade it.  He said resistance would incur “judgment by God.”

But when the first settlers came to America, weren’t they escaping religious persecution rather than submitting to it?  And when the colonies thereafter delivered the Declaration of Independence to King George, were they submitting to the authority placed over them by God Himself, or were they breaching Paul’s directive? Were the puritans seeking religious freedom or simply religious control?  Paul seems to tell us not to fight for self control so much as to submit to the authorities God puts in place, whether they persecute us (as the Roman Centurions often did) or they please us (as Constantine did).

But that can’t be what he really meant!  Look at Daniel – he didn’t eat what King Nebuchadnezzar ordered and he refused to bow to the golden image! He set an example for civil disobedience.  Yes of course he did, but he also set an example for bravely and stoically accepting the government’s consequences for the same, trusting God in the process. According to my reading, he did not resist, revolt, or rebel. He simply obeyed God and accepted man’s actions afterward.

What about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  Same pattern.  What about the apostles preaching when they were told to cease and desist? They were certainly engaged in civil disobedience, but they did not fight the people God placed in authority. As a matter of fact, while God specifically delivered Peter from a prison cell on two occasions (Acts 5:19 & 12:7), on another occasion when Paul and Silas were in a Philippian prison for exorcising a demon, an earthquake shook the jail to the point they could have walked out, but they stayed in submission to the authorities, because God was not taking them out.

So did the original colonists and founding fathers have a biblical justification for revolution against King George, who God placed in authority over them according to our Bible? Perhaps no.  This is one of a few premises to support the idea that I am a Christian living in a secular nation, rather than a Christian living in a Christian nation.  More to come.

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