Dr. D. G. Hart says:
January 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm
“Robert, the question wasn’t whether Nero should light up his gardens with Christians. It was whether Nero executed Christians.
That is what God ordained the magistrate to do, right? Just because a believer has a special relationship with God doesn’t let the believer disobey the magistrate’s laws. Christianity is not a license for civil disobedience.
That’s why the debates about resisting a tyrant were so intricate. The best the Reformers could come up with was the doctrine of a lesser magistrate. A citizen could not disobey. But a magistrate might be able to.
If a law is unjust or if we must obey God rather than men, then we suffer the consequences of disobedience. That’s what the apostles did. They didn’t form political action committees to overturn Roman laws.”
“In ‘The Appellation’ John Knox denounced the orthodox doctrine of (that required) Christian obedience (to wicked rulers) as sinful. He declared blind compliance to a wicked command to be sin. God has not required obedience to rules when they decree impiety. To say that God does is no less blasphemy than to make God the author of sin. Moreover, if the nobles and people comply with their sovereign in manifest wickedness, they will be punished along with him.
In “The Appellation” Knox also laid the foundation for the theme of his “Letter to the Commonality,” which declared “None provoking the people to idolatry ought to be exempted from the punishment of death.” The personal status of such an individual was of no consequence, be they monarch or commoner. Moreover, the punishment of idolatry and blasphemy does not pertain to only kings and rulers. Rather, it relates to all persons according to their Christian vocation and the opportunity afforded to them by God to administer vengeance. CITING DEUTERONOMY 13, KNOX ISSUED THE CALL FOR REVOLUTION — HE DIRECTED MOSES’ COMMANDMENT TO SLAY IDOLATERS TO ALL PEOPLE, NOT JUST THE NOBLES.
Yet Knox never called for indiscriminate slaughter. He distinguished between the treatment to be accorded idolaters, who had never known ‘true religion,’ and those who had known it but has forsaken it.”
Kyle & Johnson
John Knox; An Introduction to his Life and Work — pg. 104
2.) When Dr. Hart offers that “this is what God ordained the magistrates to do right?,” one is left saying, “no, God has not ordained the magistrates to execute those who obey God’s law.” Romans 13, contrary to Dr. Hart, clearly teaches
3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
We see here that God has ordained rulers to praise those who do good. Good is not defined by any standard except God’s Word. So, when a Magistrate executes Christians for doing good, as informed by the standard of God’s Word, then those Magistrates are doing the very opposite of what God has ordained the Magistrates to do. Dr. Hart is in grave error here.
3.) Biblical Christianity at times is indeed a license for civil disobedience. The Hebrew wives knew that fact. Daniel and his friends knew that. Ehud, the left-handed Hebrew Ninja knew that. John Knox knew that.
4.) Finally, on the point of forming political action committees to overturn bad laws, once again, Dr. Hart is just in error. Dr. Hart needs to realize that the very fact that they were disobeying the law was itself the formation of a political action committee to overturn Roman laws. The disobedience is itself political action by committee.
Is Dr. Hart saying that it is un-Christian and / or not Biblical to form political action committees to overturn bad law?
“Nero did not violate God’s law if he executed Christians who obeyed God rather than man. If Paul continued to preach after the emperor said he may not, then Nero was doing what God ordained government to [sic] do. Christians don’t get a pass from civil law just because they follow a higher law. John Brown is no Christian hero.”
Dr. Darryl G. Hart
Comment timestamped — January 12, 2017 at 10:52 am
R2K Heterodox Maven
Doing his best John Knox impersonation
1.) Dr. Hart is now in the position of holding that Nebuchadnezzar did okay when he threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace. After all, he was just doing what God ordained government is supposed to do.
2.) In Exodus 1 the Hebrew Midwives who disobeyed Dr. Hart’s God ordained Government in Egypt are rewarded for their following a higher law. Now, If Dr. Hart were serious about his statement, and if he were consistent, Dr. Hart would have to say that those Hebrew Midwives were disobedient to God’s ordained order. How will Dr. Hart explain that “God rewarded them with houses” because they did obey a higher law?
3.) When St. Peter says “whether it is better for us to obey God or man, you decide,” thus implicitly appealing to the higher law that Hart so detests, Hart answers, “Christians must obey man over God.” Even the Pharisees knew better than to answer the matter in that way.
4.) One of the doctrines of the church that was recovered in the reformation was the doctrine of the lesser magistrate with its insistence on resistance to tyranny in the name of a higher law than civil law. Both civil and church authority need to be resisted if they become tyrannical. The best proof of this is the protection offered Luther as well as the battle at Magdeburg right after Luther’s death. See, Christopher Goodman’s, “How Superior Powers Ought To Be Obeyed By Their Subjects And Wherein They May Lawfully By God’s Word Be Disobeyed And Resisted.”
5.) Dr. Hart is correct in offering that John Brown is no Christian hero but the reason that John Brown is no Christian hero is that John Brown was not following a higher law but was following anti-Christ Jacobin law. Surely Dr. Hart is not suggesting that the disobedience of John Brown was of the same nature and same character as the disobedience of the Hebrew midwives before Pharoah, the disobedience of the Hebrew children before Nebuchadnezzar, or the disobedience of Christ before Pilate?
Or … maybe he is?
6.) Now, to be sure, Christians who disobey man’s law must be prepared to suffer the consequences such as prison, loss of social standing, or even death. These are all possibilities. However, to intimate that authority figures get some sort of pass, simply because they carry some kind of illegitimate authority is just ludicrous wrapped in ridiculous as stuffed inside preposterous.
But this is the kind of heterodoxy where R2K inanity takes one.
“And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
And each of them will sit under his
Vine and under his Fig Tree
With no one to make them afraid.”
Part of what we have been doing in this Avent series is trying to emphasize that what was to Micah “the latter days,” were fulfilled in what we refer to as the 1st Advent of Christ. Micah’s future latter days have been fulfilled and in being fulfilled are promissory of going from fulfillment unto fulfillment.
Because Christian time is thought of as a progressing line moving from promise to fulfillment when dealing with prophecy, it is possible for these promises to be fulfilled. In the words of theologian Oscar Cullman,
“a divine plan can move forward to complete execution; the goal which beckons at the end of the line can give to the entire process which is taking place all along the line the impulse to strive further; finally the decisive midpoint, the Christ-deed, can be the firm hold that serves as the guidepost for all the process that lies behind and for all that lies ahead.”
Christ & Time — pg. 53 – 54
Christ and Time; The Primitive Christian Conception of Time and History – pg. 53- 54
So Christ and the Kingdom was the goal for Micah but it is a goal that once arrived at was capable of continuing to be arrived at.
Once Christ came with His Kingdom all past history was given meaning as the past is now interpreted in light of the completed work of Christ, and all the future found it’s North Star by which all meaning could be interpreted. In the incarnation and Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, and His AD 70 Judgment coming Christ Himself immanentized an eschaton that still retained its future quality.
This is seen even in something as simple as our Calendars. BC and AD. All time finds meaning as it is oriented to the Christ event. The wicked Academicians understand this which is why they seek to scrub BC and AD from usage in favor of BCE and CE.
We have sought to make the point in this series that for Christians, the Redemptive sequence of events initiated by the birth of Christ marks the future age of glory as planting itself in a present wicked age that is opposed to Christ and His Kingdom. As such, for every Christian since the 1st advent the present crackles with the meaning that the future invests it with. For every Christian has the Holy Spirit who is the anticipation of the end as occupying the present. We know this because Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. What is the Holy Spirit a deposit of? Why naturally He is the presence of God as well as the deposit of that future age of glory. That we are living in that future age of glory now is seen in the fact that Scripture teaches that every Christian has been translated from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear son (Colossians 1). Scripture teaches that we have been already resurrected with Christ (Colossians 2). Scripture teaches that God has already raised us up with Christ, and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7). The book of Hebrews teaches that every Christian is now tasting of the powers of the age to come in their existential present. We are living in the eschatological latter days in our current existence because with Christ’s work the latter days have arrived.
Ill. — Christians are like Tolkien’s elves who occupy two worlds at the same time.
As being citizens in the age to come we are God’s agents of change as inveighing against this present evil age wherever we find it. We are those whom God uses to turn the wilderness of this present wicked age into the garden of the Lord so that it blooms with age to come beauty.
All of this makes us a future-oriented people but it is a future orientation which is rooted and grounded in the past because the future orientation is dependent upon how the Christ event brought the future into the then present and so into our present.
It is true that we are moving towards the future eschatological age but this is only true because in the Christ event the future eschatological age located and locates itself in the present.
So, for the Christian time is Linear, as it moves towards the 2nd Advent but it moves towards that 2nd Advent as all of life is interpreted through the 1st Advent.
All of this is why St. Paul could say, “We are more than conquerors.” We might say it this way … “Victory is inevitable.”
Alright … all that by way of review. It is an important concept and if I could I would get it into you by translating it to a recipe and then whipping up a batch and providing it as a dish @ one of our fellowship meals.
Given this understanding, we have seen how with the coming of the Messiah these prophetic words of Micah 4 came to pass.
I.) Christ was and is the Mountain Kingdom that has lifted himself above all other Kingdoms
II.) With the Arrival of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, we have seen people streaming into the House of the God of Jacob
III.) With the Arrival of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom we have seen the rise of Law as informed by God’s law. People have asked for God’s ways and have been taught God’s path.
IV.) With the Arrival of Christ and His Kingdom we have seen the rise of peace (swords beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks) where the Gospel has flourished.
V.) Today we want to look at how with the Advent of Christ the family is restored.
We may have to do this in two bites.
First, we want to see where we find the family in this passage,
We note that every time we see the word peoples and nations spoken of we recognize that language is merely communicating the idea of extended family.
Etymologically speaking — Hebrew — goyim / Greek ethnos
Particular people groups related by blood and covenant.
nation (n.) c. 1300, from Old French nacion “birth, rank; descendants, relatives; country, homeland” (12c.) and directly from Latin nationem (nominative natio) “birth, origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of people, tribe,” literally “that which has been born,” from natus, past participle of nasci “be born” (Old Latin gnasci; see genus). Political sense has gradually predominated, but earliest English examples inclined toward the racial meaning “large group of people with common ancestry.” Older sense preserved in application to North American Indian peoples (1640s).
Building on that Edmund Burke defined a people as being
constituted by the living who recognize, respect, and identify with their dead in the things and imprints of places that they left behind. The living love their dead by training their young into the social affections that keep their dead alive to them…
This idea of families as being a group with a common ancestry and the work of the Messiah in relation to them also comes through in the vs. we are looking at today.
And each of them (the nations) will sit under his
Vine and under his Fig Tree
Micah, sees in the Latter days that nations (extended families) will exist and each have their own property uniquely theirs. We will have more to say about property in the future but we want to stay concentrated today on the importance of family.
Everything in our culture is designed to destroy the stable family. First, we have the whole New World Order agenda devoted to taking us out of our families and giving us in exchange the universal “family of man.” We have the demasculinizing of man; and the rise of Feminism, which is nothing but the de-feminization of women; we see, the attempt to create revolution among children demanding their rights (UN Children’s rights). We have The multi-tens of billions of dollars pornography industry and the reality of how it is ripping families apart. We have the FEDS inheritance laws that have been written so as to weaken the family and instead strengthen the government as the FEDS become in essence the first born son who receives the double inheritance. We have social legislation that subsidizes behavior that is destructive to strong family life. We have the purposeful creation of a culture that has stripped the family of its role as an economic unit. We now have the redefinition of marriage and with the redefinition of marriage, the redefinition of family comes in its wake. Our Churches too often reinforce this attack on the family by how they age segregate members of the family once you walk in the door.
“On no single institution has the modern political state rested with more destructive weight than on the family.”
Twilight of Authority — pg. 238
And of course, the reason for this attack is that the family unit — in both its nuclear and extended clan expression — is the foundational social order unit in a Christian civilization. The foundational social order unit is not as so many suggest the individual. It is not that the individual is unimportant in Biblical Christianity. Indeed only in Biblical Christianity does the individual find importance. However, it is the case that the primary social unit that God has ordained is the family. The whole idea of covenant screams this truth.
With the family as being God’s primary social unit, naturally, then God’s enemy as our enemy desires to destroy the family. Again, it is the family that God primarily deals with. When God calls Noah God saves Noah with His family. When God calls Abraham one of the promises is that “in you, all the families (nations) of the earth will be blessed.” It is promised that the forerunner of the Messiah will, in anticipation of the Messianic age, “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers;” Even in the new Jerusalem in the book of Revelation we see the presence, not of a conglomeration of people, nor of just mass atomized people, but the new Jerusalem is occupied by the families of men (nations).
All this is underscored in the NT. The NT is family-centric and rife with instructions for family including instructions for husbands in providing for their family and kin, instructions on how families are to take care of widows, instructions for raising children, instructions to children on honoring parents, instructions on how husbands are to treat wives and how wives are to treat husbands.
Micah tells us though that in those latter days that came with Christ the family would be again prioritized so that
And each of them (the nations) will sit under his
Vine and under his Fig Tree
Robert Nisbet speaks of the importance of family,
“Every great age, and every great people … is characterized at bottom by the strength of the kinship principle. We can, he argued, use the family as an almost infallible touchstone of the material and cultural prosperity of a people. When it is strong, closely linked with private property, treated as the essential context of education in society, and its sanctity recognized by law and custom, the probability is extremely high that we shall find the rest of the social order characterized by that subtle but puissant (having great power or influence) fusion of stability and individual mobility which is the hallmark of great ages.”
Twilight of Authority — pg. 232
We can agree with Nisbet when just a few paragraphs later he observes,
“Family yet remains the greatest single element of a creative culture.”
Robert Nisbet — pg. 233
But of course, hell being hell, it opposes the family and the modern God-state being the agency that Mephistopheles possesses is a bureaucratic state and with the ever growing expansion of bureaucracy comes the expansion of egalitarianism if only because the bureaucrat is a great lover of a uniform standardized everything. The modern god-state with its egalitarianism is death to the family because families are by definition not the same. They are not equal. The hierarchy families introduce is also anti-egalitarian.
As such the family must be eliminated. You see uniformity is to the bureaucrat what catnip is to your household kitty. The bureaucrat dreams of an assembly line social order where all citizens are easily replaceable cogs. Less paperwork that way. Biblical Family gets in the way of all that.
“It is impossible to be certain in such matters, but the historic roots of the greater ages have lain in diverse, varied, relatively small areas rather than in the atmosphere that goes with bigness, impersonality, and standardization.”
Twilight of Authority — pg. 243
But Micah sees that in the latter days there will be these families and of course Christian civilization in the West has been organized around the family unit. Indeed, wherever Christianity has flourished there you find the flourishing of the Biblical family and thus we can know that this promise of Micah was fulfilled in an inaugural sense. Conversely, wherever you find Christianity in decline there you find family life shattered and so broken individuals and there you also find the certainty that Christ will again bring the power of the eschaton to the healing of family lives again.
Bavinck offers on this score,
The human cannot create; the foundations of society have been laid by God himself once and for all; but on those foundations, he can build further and restore what needs restoration. One must never despair about the reformation of human and family and society; even if the modern human despaired about this, the Christian must not give in to this despondency, because true godliness holds promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1908ch, 185; 1912ch, 193; for the last sentence, cf. 1 Tim. 4:8)
So, the Redemption event of Christ has happened. The future has taken up residence in the present because of that past event, and as such, we look forward to the time when families will once again be biblically patriarchal. Victory on this score is inevitable.
And the reason that it is inevitable, despite temporary setbacks, is that Christ, has come and on the Cross, He defeated all principalities and powers that would resist His intent to cover the globe with Christ-honoring families. In His Cross work Christ paid for the sins that make for the ruination of families and in the outpouring of the Spirit upon those who have been owned by Christ the Spirit works to continuously tame the selfishness and lust which so often are the reasons why family life is ugly.
In the Cross all things are reconciled to God and one of those “all things” is the family. In Christ, our tumbleweed social order that is characterized by the lack of family health will be renewed so that we are once again a Christian people with Christian roots.
The Cross is the center. Micah speaks of these latter days but these latter days could not have arrived apart from Christ’s defeat of Satan in the Cross.
Luke 23:27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”…
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Note the difference responses of our Lord relating to the different participants in the Crucifixion narrative. In the context of the weeping and wailing of the “Daughters of Jerusalem,” Jesus doesn’t ask the Father to “forgive the Jews for they know not what they do.” In point of fact we know from earlier encounters with the Jews Jesus said that the vengeance of God upon the Jews for the killing of the Son of the Vineyard owner came at the cost of their very lives,
What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
For the Romans crucifying Jesus, Jesus pleads for the Father to forgive them. For the Jewish women lamenting the crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus, in a likely prophetic reference to AD 70, warns about the coming wrath of God.
This distinction between these two kinds of speech for two different kinds of people is also captured in the difference of Christ towards Judas and Peter. To Peter Jesus says,
31″Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
While to Judas, Jesus says,
“What you are about to do, do quickly.”
The difference between Judas and Peter is one was the son of perdition while the other was one of the elect. One wonders if that might not be the discriminating difference also in the way Jesus does not plead forgiveness for the Jews who crucified Him but does plead forgiveness for the Romans who served as those executioners who would do the bidding of the Jews in crucifying Jesus Christ?
Some have insisted upon reviewing Christ’s request for forgiveness for the Romans soldiers that at that point the Roman soldiers would have been forgiven at that moment, in the sense of sins forgiven, since the Father and the Son are in agreement. This overlooks one meaning of the word forgiveness.
One meaning of the word “forgiveness” can be deferment or temporary suspension of the charges. Sanday advocates for this in his commentary on Romans when reviewing vs. 25 of chapter 3 he notes that forgiveness (remission — paresis) may be a “temporary suspension of punishment which may at some later date be inflicted.” So, when the Lord Christ prays, “Father forgive them (suspend the charges for the time being) for they know not what they do,” the request is for a deferment or temporary suspension of the charges. As such, when Jesus prays this I don’t think it is proper to think that at that point the Roman soldiers’ sin is forgiven in the sense of the debt canceled.
We should end here by noting that usually when forgiveness is used in the Scriptures it has reference to a legal and not emotional / psychological resolve. Forgiveness occurs after there has been a debt incurred followed by the legal satisfying of that debt. For example, when we are forgiven by God it is not because God has a warm fuzzy towards us and is willing to let bygones be bygones. God forgives us because our indebtedness to Him as violators of His law as been satisfied for us by the work of Jesus Christ in our stead on the Cross. Our forgiveness is thus a juridical (legal) reality. God forgives us because our debt has been paid by our surety.
(Surety — a person who takes responsibility for another’s performance of an undertaking, for example, their appearing in court or the payment of a debt.)
Modern man would do well to re-examine his idea of forgiveness. We tend to think that forgiveness is an emotional or psychological disposition towards someone who has committed offense when in point of fact forgiveness is a legal term that requires, when necessary, restitution before forgiveness can be extended.
What we typically call “forgiveness” is perhaps better termed charity or mercy.