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?