Absurdum est ut alios regat, qui seipsum regere nescit

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.”

http://realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/19/gingrich_slams_cnns_king_for_question_about_ex-wife.html

America’s temperature was taken last night at the Republican debate and the temperature reveals she is dead. Newt Gingrich plays the role of an indignant outraged candidate who insists that he is “appalled” by the media’s questioning of his adultery committed during his first marriage. Only in America could a man who is a serial adulterer get to play the role of the righteously indignant. Keep in mind that the very same type of people who were giving Newt a standing ovation were the people who were so outraged when it became known that President Clinton was having forbidden and unlawful carnal knowledge of Monica Lewinsky.

But, Newt can receive a standing ovation in spite of his serial adultery because the American citizenry sees the double standard of the media. The press taught us that women in Clinton’s lives were nuts or sluts and so since President Clinton received a pass from the media for his trailer park behavior why shouldn’t their candidate receive a pass from the media for the trailer park behavior of their candidate? The media to this day has not vetted candidate Obama. We know very little of his Marxist past. What of his relationship with renown Marxist Frank Marshall Davis? How did Obama’s attachment to the teachings of Marxist extraordinaire Saul Alinsky mold and shape him? How tight were Barack Hussein Obama and 60’s Marxist radical Bill Ayres?

If Clinton and Obama receive a pass from the media for their sultry and blemished past why shouldn’t the past of all the candidates get a pass … including the serial adulterer Newt Gingrich? If Clinton and Obama and Newt get a pass from the media for their past why should anybody care that Rick Santorum’s wife spent a good deal of her life during her 20’s shacking up with a abortion doctor that was 40 years her senior? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Now, understand, I don’t think that any of them should get a pass. And I don’t think it is unfair if Newt’s adulteries are exposed for all the world to see while others with pasts more egregious are ignored. What is “unfair” in all of this is that the press would purposely hide any of the candidates past that needs to be known by voters. So, if Newt gets hung out to dry, and others don’t … Newt is only getting justice and has nothing to complain about except the fact that the others didn’t get justice. Newt’s past not being exposed by journalists only piles up the injustices, it does not make everything fair. Fair would be asking not only Newt the hard questions about his serial adultery but it would also be demanding that Obama tell us about his Marxist past.

Secondly, we have to understand why there is such a double standard in the media. The media is governed by a humanist world and life view and therefore they have an interest in destroying anybody who becomes the champion of those segments of the citizenry whose worldview is different than the major media. The media holds the putatively conservative candidates (even if those candidates are only conservative in their rhetoric) to a different standard so that the media can destroy those candidates who are advancing a worldview that is contrary to their own. Notice, most often this is done to support the sexual revolution. Herman Cain is seen as conservative and so what is brought forth are all of his sexual liaisons. Newt Gingrich is seen as conservative so the media brings forth his alleged demand for a “open marriage.” Before that they tried to destroy Clarence Thomas with salacious stories of pubic hairs on coke cans. The media, in destroying these candidates, is at the same time destroying a worldview that at least rhetorically opposes the humanist pan-sexual worldview.

However, as delighted as the media is in pulling the rug out from under supposedly conservative candidates we, as Christians, should even be more delighted even though there is clearly a double standard. Christians can be satisfied by a “listen to what I say, don’t look at what I do” candidate being exposed because we don’t want blatant hypocrisy being the face that represents our convictions.

So, for my part I would say that Newt’s serial adultery disqualifies him from my vote. God does grant forgiveness but God granting forgiveness does not mean that there are no consequences to his adulterous actions. And one consequence, in my way of thinking is that given the fact that he could not rule his own home well, then he should not be entrusted to rule the country. In the words of Albert J. Nock, “really, when one thinks of it, what a preposterous thing it is to put the management of a nation, a province, even a village, in the hands of a man who cannot so much as manage a family.”

McAtee Contra Hart

Darryl writes over at oldlife,

http://oldlife.org/2012/01/can-epistemologically-self-conscious-calvinists-get-along/

A letter to the editor in a recent issue of New Horizons set me thinking once more about the objections to two-kingdom theology that prevail among those Reformed Protestants most attached to Dutch Reformed figures or ideas.

The letter to the editor that Darryl references can be found here on page 21,

http://www.opc.org/new_horizons/NH2012/NH2012Jan.pdf

However, before we turn to that just a brief comment about Darryl’s subtle insistence that basic historic Calvinism is uniquely Dutch Reformed. I’m sure the following Presbyterians would be amazed at the idea that it is uniquely Dutch Reformed who held to the absolute sovereignty of the Lord Christ over every area of life. With just a few quotes I will come to the defense of the Presbyterians who likewise held the same beliefs in the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the best of the Dutch Reformed.

First we have the Presbyterian A. A. Hodge who according to Darryl must speak with a Dutch accent,

“It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute-book of the Kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, “He that is not with me is against me.” If the national life in general is organized upon non-Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity.

A. A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, p. 283-84

And again from the son of the Charles Hodge,

If professing Christians are unfaithful to the authority of their Lord in their capacity as citizens of the State, they cannot expect to be blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in their capacity as members of the Church. The kingdom of God is one, it cannot be divided.

Princeton President A. A. Hodge, Respected Presbyterian

Then there is Darryl’s favorite Presbyterian, J. Gresham Machen, who could write,

“Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.”

J. Gresham Machen
1912 centennial commemorative lecture at Princeton Seminary

“Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”

~J. Gresham Machen

Then there is the granddaddy of all Presbyterian John Calvin,

Calvin’s commentary on Luke 14:23 (in Volume 32, i.e. Harmony of the Gospels, Volume 2, at page 173):

Luke 14:23. Compel them to come in. This expression means, that the master of the house would give orders to make use, as it were, of violence for compelling the attendance of the poor, and to leave out none of the lowest dregs of the people. By these words Christ declares that he would rake together all the offscourings of the world, rather than he would ever admit such ungrateful persons to his table. The allusion appears to be to the manner in which the Gospel invites us; for the grace of God is not merely offered to us, but doctrine is accompanied by exhortations fitted to arouse our minds. This is a display of the astonishing goodness of God, who, after freely inviting us, and perceiving that we give ourselves up to sleep, addresses our slothfulness by earnest entreaties, and not only arouses us by exhortations, but even compels us by threatenings to draw near to him. At the same time, I do not disapprove of the use which Augustine frequently made of this passage against the Donatists, to prove that godly princes may lawfully issue edicts, for compelling obstinate and rebellious persons to worship the true God, and to maintain the unity of the faith; for, though faith is voluntary, yet we see that such methods are useful for subduing the obstinacy of those who will not yield until they are compelled.”

Look, Iron Ink is chock full of quotes from Presbyterians who would be indicted and brought up on charges by church courts staffed with Radical Two Kingdom “theologians” like Hart, Horton, Clark, and Van Drunnen. I only wanted to cite a few Presbyterian quotes so that Darryl couldn’t get away with his insinuation that only Dutch Reformed types have these kinds of ideas. Christians throughout the centuries have been quite attached to Presbyterians figures who had the same Calvinist ideas as their Dutch Reformed counterparts.

All that to say that it is Darryl and his jolly band who are the innovators. They have no historical legs to stand on when it comes to the kind of Presbyterianism they are trying to create whole cloth and then read back on Presbyterians of years gone by. R2K is a 20th century innovation on Reformed theology and one can only hope that the Escondido theology will go the way that Mercersburg theology went long ago. I suspect that when all is said and done, Darryl Hart and Michael Horton will be 21st century equivalent of Phillip Schaff and John Nevin. Darryl and Mike, like Phillip and John, will be curious footnotes in the history of Reformed theology.

Darryl continues,

The assertion in question stated that “our epistemological self-consciousness must be thoroughly present at every point of the discussion of [interactions between Reformed Protestants and Roman Catholics].” The letter took exception to comments Michael Horton made about Immanuel Kant and the moral law that provides a basis for believers’ cooperation with non-believers in the common realm: “Even the philosopher Immanuel Kant retained an infallible certainty of ‘the moral law within’ after rejecting supernatural religion.” William Dennison, the letter writer, rues Horton’s assessment of Kant and argues that “any true Van Tilian should be deeply disturbed by such a statement.”

The point worth reflecting on here is not the rival assessments of Kant or whether Horton was actually endorsing Kant. It is instead the impression created that epistemological self-consciousness will lead to a rejection of Kant. I myself remain worried about the kind of pride and even self-delusion that the project of epistemological self-consciousness may nurture. In fact, this past Sunday at the URC in Anaheim the congregation confessed sins corporately in ways more in keeping with the “heart is desperately wicked, who can know it” than with the possibility of bringing Christian truth to bear on all parts of our waking existence.

1.) If you read William Dennison’s letter to the Editor you will realize that the point that Dennison is hammering home is that people like Darryl and Mike seem to be giving up on the Reformed idea of antithesis which was such a staple of Cornelius Van Til’s teaching. Mike’s column,

http://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=721

and Darryl’s rejoinder both fail in speaking to the idea of the antithesis. Both Mike and Darryl brush off such concerns as Dennison’s as insignificant. Mike suggests that Christians could join with Kant in the R2K compartmentalized common realm since both Kant, the anti-Christ philosopher, and Christians retain an infallible certainty of ‘the moral law within.’ Horton’s reasoning here plays havoc with the Van Tillian illustration that “No matter how much you sharpen a saw that is set at the wrong angle, it will not cut straight.” Kant, being a Christ hater, was a sharp saw that could not cut straight and yet both Mike and Darryl suggest that the sharp saw that is Kant can cut straight in the undifferentiated common realm along with Christian saws that are cutting true.

2.) I’m not sure how a public confession of sins is an acknowledgment that, in principle, the epistemologically self-conscious Christian can’t know what is and isn’t sin. Is Darryl really suggesting that corporate confession of sin proves that the whole project of being epistemologically self conscious is bogus? Is Darryl telling us that corporate confession of sin during corporate worship proves that in the common realm it is impossible to bring Christian truth to bear on all parts of our waking existence?

This comment by Darryl reveals once again for R2K theologians the Kingdom is completely “not yet.”

Darryl writes,

The thing is, I am pretty confident that Mike Horton is self-conscious of being Reformed and of the claims of Christ upon his thoughts and actions. I am not sucking up to Mike. I am simply raising the possibility that epistemological self-consciousness does not produce uniform judgments. One epistemologically self-conscious believer may recognize value in Kant’s morality, another may esteem Hegelian idealism. But does a disagreement in judgment mean that one party is guilty of epistemological appeasement? Will the epistemologically self-conscious agree on whether or not to eat meat offered to idols?

1.) Hearing that Darryl worries about the kind of pride and even self-delusion that the project of epistemological self-consciousness may nurture, one wonders if Darryl worries at the same time about the kind of pride and self-delusion that may be nurtured in his project of embracing the seeming certainty that epistemological self-consciousness is not possible? I mean that is what this boils down to isn’t it? Van Til repeatedly emphasized the necessity of epistemological self-consciousness while Darryl is suggesting that each man must do what is right in his own unique epistemological self consciousness. One epistemologically self-conscious Christian likes Kant, another epistemologically self conscious Christian likes Hegel. Vive la différence!

2.) Darryl’s first sentence in the blockquote above is open to challenge. Indeed, whether or not Mike Horton is self-conscious or not is the very point William Dennison was challenging in his letter to the Editor. Dennison was asking if someone Reformed and Presbyterian could actually be betraying the epistemological self-conscious legacy of Reformed and Presbyterian Cornelius Van Til. An epistemologically self conscious theologian would not do that. Further, the whole debate between the innovation that is R2K and standard historic Calvinist theology is a debate, at least in part, over the question of whether or not the R2K innovators are indeed epistemologically self conscious. Would epistemologically self conscious people create a nature / grace dualism and then suggest that everything in the nature compartment is governed by a never delineated Natural law?

3.) And yes … per Paul the epistemologically self conscious Christian will have no problem with eating meat offered to idols though he may demur for the sake of his weaker non epistemologically self conscious brother.

The two-kingdom payoff is that most of the proponents of 2k that I know have a long list of theological reasons for such advocacy. In other words, 2k is not simply a capitulation to secular society as if 2kers are going along to get along. Instead, 2k stems from serious reflection on the truths revealed in Scripture and confessed among Reformed churches. I get it that many don’t see it that way. But disagreement with other ways of construing the relationship between church and state, or between the eternal and temporal realms (such as neo-Calvinism or theonomy) does not mean that 2k lacks epistemological self-awareness. In fact, some of us would claim that 2k takes more biblical and theological claims into account than other efforts to bring a Reformed w— v— to bear on politics.

1.) True, R2K is not simply a capitulation to “secular” society. Doubtless R2K is many other things besides being a capitulation to “secular” society. It is nice to have that admission from Darryl.

2.) The long list of theological reasons for advocacy of R2K has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. For the most recent weighing see John Frame’s new book “The Escondido Theology,” or alternately just read around here at Iron Ink. There is no “there” there in R2K theology.

3.) It is interesting that Darryl seems to have slightly retreated here. In this piece Darryl admits that R2K is one way of construing the relationship between the eternal and the temporal realms. There have been many other pieces from R2K types which have insisted that their way of construing the relationship between the eternal and temporal realm is the only way.

4.) Darryl focuses on politics but of course the idea of Reformed Weltanschauung extends beyond politics.

Darryl writes,

So if the epistemologically self-conscious may have different assessments about the value of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony or about the merits of Quantum Theory, is epistemological self-consciousness any guarantee of victory in debate? I don’t know how it could be (and I am awfully aware of this knowledge thanks to a second cup of coffee).

Or alternately some Christians who claim to be epistemologically self conscious are in point of fact not.

Learning Curve 19 January 2012

I.) Library

http://firstword.us/2012/01/darryl-hart-on-mlk/

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:tBZKvEox-TEJ:distributistreview.com/mag/2011/05/can-mises-be-baptized/+&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

http://jewishracism.blogspot.com/2007/12/ron-pauls-ties-to-jewish-supremacism.html

http://americanvisionnews.com/1278/voddie-baucham-answers-why-ron-paul

http://libertyrevival.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/ron-paul-supports-globalization-and-one-world-currency/

http://www.caseyresearch.com/cdd/rise-praetorian-class

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/12/prweb9064707.htm

II.)Video

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/18/full_interview_mark_levin_on_hannity.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/17/chris_matthews_the_way_gingrich_said_juan_at_debate_was_racial_code.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/18/sheila_jackson-lee_newts_food_stamp_talk_has_underlying_message.html
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/18/dem_rep_says_people_on_food_stamps_due_to_dangerous_policies_of_gop.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/01/18/obama_pollster_calls_herman_cain_racist_on_tv__then_denies_it.html

Learning Curve — 18 January /2012

http://www.culturewars.com/2003/rabbidresner.html

http://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=721
Library

http://oldlife.org/2012/01/can-epistemologically-self-conscious-calvinists-get-along/

http://web.archive.org/web/20070927223854/http://credenda.org/issues/10-1thema.php

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:H0D5OCNvYZ8J:www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/the-southern-tradition-implications-for-modern-decentralism/+supporters+of+liberty+everywhere+defenders+only+of+her+own+america&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/203853-department-of-justice-defends-obamas-controversial-recess-appointments

http://frontpagemag.com/2012/01/02/ron-pauls-soros-defense-plan/

The Real Sons of Confederate Veterans

http://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/on_sumner_and_the_south.htm

http://faithandheritage.com/2011/09/dabney-on-sunday-redefining-terms/

http://www.secession.net/index.html#PRINCIPLES

Romans 13 & The Possibility of Civil Disobedience

I’ve posted this before on Iron Ink but I was having some problems accessing it so I post it again here for my own sake.

Romans 13:1b – For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Should we follow the idea that the presumption in the text, found in vs. 3-4 that the governing authorities that are to be submitted to are governing authorities that are not ruling in such a way as to force the Christian to violate the Christians higher allegiance to Christ then we must conclude that it is those kind of governing authorities alone to which we owe our obedience.

We are going to find that Romans 13 does not allow Christians to check their moral compass at the door of the local magistrate. Romans 13 will not allow us to say “We were just following orders,” or “we were just obeying the law.”

Of course, this is not to say that God does not appoint wicked governing authorities. Such an appointment by God of such wicked governing authorities may very well be God’s appointed punishment for a people’s sin. However, such God appointed authorities may themselves find themselves removed for other God appointed authorities by God’s people as they follow lesser magistrates that God raises up in blessing to His people.

Romans 13:2 – Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves.

Taking into consideration the qualifiers from vs. 3-4, the point here is that those who resist a reasonable and just governing authority, which is not seeking to force God’s people into treason against Christ, are people that are resisting God. The text in no way countenances obedience to governing authorities appointed by God who are seeking to legislate sin or treason against Christ into the Christian’s life. Should a God appointed governing authority seek an obedience that would violate the Christians relationship to his Liege Lord Christ then at that point resistance to tyrants becomes submission to God.

The mentioning of resistance provides the opportunity for a brief rabbit trail.

First, we would say that resistance comes in different shapes and sizes. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the book of Daniel reveal what is commonly called non-violent resistance. This kind of resistance seems to be the only option open to Christians when God has not yet seen fit to raise up a lesser magistrate to command their obedience in godly defense of Christ honoring order. The resistance here is characterized as being a resistance that is willing to pay the consequences of resistance in order to do what is right before God and man. It is needless to say that such resistance does not always end in being delivered from the blazing furnace. Often in these situations we see that the blood of the martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church.

Another interesting aspect of the resistance that we find in the book of Daniel is the ability for the individual resisters to keep working for the governing authority once the particular episode causing the resistance is resolved. In other words, even though there are times of resistance that we see in the book of Daniel, there is no indication that the pagan governing authority in question couldn’t be submitted to once the particular problem was removed. This is suggestive that Christians, when living under pagan governments, can both resist and at the same time support the overall governing authority structure should that governing authority structure relent from what is provoking the necessary Christian resistance. In short, all Christian resistance, whether individual and non-violent or corporate and armed, does not necessarily have overthrow as its goal. All because I cannot bow down to the King’s image (for example) doesn’t mean that the King’s rule should be capsized. It only means that the King has to quit expecting Christians to bow down to his image.

Secondly, large scale non-violent resistance that is almost certain to bring death upon those who are non-violently resisting needs eventually to take the 6th commandment under consideration. If non-violent resistors know, due to the King’s track record for dealing with such resistance, that taking a certain non-violent action will eventuate in their own death, then the non-violent resistors need to ask themselves whether or not the giving over of their lives is some form of self murder. It seems that if we are to honor the 6th commandment as it pertains to ourselves, Christians at some point in the kind of hypothetical situation we are describing must turn their non-violent resistance into the armed resistance of self-defense. We will return to the 6th commandment again later.

Thirdly, the examples that we opened with from the Old Testament Scriptures clearly teach that armed resistance, when led by lesser magistrates, can be a Biblical response to gross egregious disobedience of ungodly magistrates.

Romans 13:3 – For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.

Do what is good.

And of course our response is… “By what standard?”

Well, the Christian only has one standard by which he determines that which is good and that is God’s explicit law. How else can we determine what is good? So, we are to do what is good by God’s standard.

“The nations are bound to recognize the Bible as the supreme law of the land; as the standard of civil legislation. God’s law as recorded in the Bible, reaches all the possible relations of humanity; extends to every duty that can be performed, and fastens its claims on associated bodies of men, as well as upon individual persons. Were this not true, we should have this monstrous anomaly in Jehovah’s government, that while men, as individuals, are bound by the laws recorded in the Bible, in their congregated capacities, they may set these laws at defiance, and even contemn as citizens, what as Christians they are bound to honor and obey. If we admit that kings, as such, are not bound by the laws contained in the Bible, they commit no sin in acting contrary to them, while they act in their official capacity. The moral laws recorded in the Holy Scriptures, are but a fairer copy, and more full and explicit declaration of the eternal and immutable principles of righteousness, which are contained in the law of nature.”

–James R. Wilson — Presbyterian Minister
THE SUBJECTION OF KINGS AND NATIONS TO MESSIAH

So, here it become obvious that the Apostle is not talking about Rulers who are tyrants and usurpers, for tyrants and usurpers most definitely are a terror to good works and are a friend to evil workers.  The call here to be subject to Magistrates here is a call that is circumscribed by the text’s definition of a Magistrate who is defined as someone who is God’s Minister to us for good. If he is a Minister to us for evil then he does not fall in the category of a Magistrate to whom we must be subject to.

The text limits who we are to be subject to by defining the person we are to be subject to. If he is not a terror to those who do evil but is instead a terror to those who do evil he does not qualify as one to whom we must be subject to.

For example tyrants and usurpers are a friend to the evil workers who are abortion providers, as we saw again just this last week with the SCOTUS decision on “Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.” These kind of Magistrates we are not to be subject to for they are Ministers to us for evil.

Tyrants and Usurpers show their friendship with evil workers by taking money from those who do what is good to give to these evil workers, which is exactly what happens as the IRS takes from Christ honoring people and redistributes it to those doing evil.

Indeed, we would say that usurpers can be identified by their propensity to not be a terror to evil works but to good.

Dr. Greg Bahnsen offers here that

“When such service (to the Christian’s Lord) is repudiated by the King (or other ruling authority) is violently and persistently transgressed, so that good citizens are terrorized by the ruler and evil men tolerated or exalted, the Christian must not comply with the tyrant’s policy but rather work for reform in the name of the Lord and divine standards of public justice.”

Romans 13:4 – For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

Do not rush by the fact that the Magistrate is called here “God’s minister.”  In the Greek the word is the same word from which we get the word Deacon. It is most often used in the Scriptures to define those who minister the word or for those who fulfill the set office of deacon in the Church. Here the Magistrate is called God’s Minister, which should predispose us to thinking that the Magistrate referenced here is a Magistrate that does God’s revealed bidding. It is why Paul can say the Magistrate in question is to us for good.

If Paul had desired to say that the Magistrate was an agent of the Devil to us for good he could have said, as Paul said concerning his “thorn in the flesh,” that the Magistrate was a Messenger of Satan. But Paul doesn’t say that. Paul writes that the Magistrate is God’s Minister which inclines us to believe that the Magistrate is to be operating in accord with God’s revealed justice.

Now a word on the sword here that the Magistrate, as God’s Minister bears. The sword is a symbol of Justice. The Magistrate therefore, as God’s Minister is to be the agent of God’s justice for a people.

Now, how is the Magistrate to know what what Justice is? How is he to define Justice? The only way that the Magistrate can define Justice and so be a good to the people is to look to God’s Word as his authority for defining justice.

Listen to John Knox as he talks about the Sword of Justice,

“The Sword of Justice, Madam, is God’s, and is given to princes and rulers for one end. If they fail in their duty and spare the wicked, then those who intervene and deal out the requisite punishment will not offend God. Nor are those who restrain kings from striking innocent men committing any sin, as numerous Biblical example demonstrate. In Scotland, judges are empowered by Act of Parliament to seek out and punish those who celebrate Mass, and it is your duty, Madam, to support them. Ye should therefore consider what it is that your subjects expect from you, and what it is that ye ought to do unto them by mutual contract. They are bound to obey you and that not but in God. Ye are bound to keep laws unto them. Ye crave of them service: they crave of you protection and defence against wicked doers. Now, Madam, if ye shall deny your duty unto them…think ye to receive full obedience of them? I fear, Madam, ye shall not.”

John Knox
Interview w/ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
Teaching us on the proper disposition to Magistrates

The fact that the sword of Justice is to be handled in keeping with God’s revelation was a point made by Greg Bahnsen,

“The civil magistrate cannot function without some ethical guidance, without some standard of good and evil. If that standard is not to be the revealed law of God… then what will it be? In some form or expression it will have to be the law of man (or men) – the standard of self-law or autonomy. And when autonomous laws come to govern a commonwealth, the sword is certainly wielded in vain, for it represents simply the brute force of some men’s will against the will of other men.”

Bahnsen was merely echoing a long exegetical history as seen in this comment by Samuel Rutherford, Lex Rex, p.34

”Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin, either habitual or actual, is not from God: the power that is, must be from God; the magistrate, as magistrate, is good in nature of office, and the intrinsic end of his office, (Rom. xiii. 4) for he is the minister of God for thy good; and, therefore, a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power; and is no more from God, but from sinful nature and the old serpent….”

 

Here we quote from Jonathan Mayhew’s Sermon entitled, ‘On The Right Of Revolution.’

“Here the apostle argues from the nature and end of magistracy, that such as did evil (and such only) had reason to be afraid of the higher powers; it being part of their office to punish evil doers, no less than to defend and encourage such as do well. But if magistrates are unrighteous; if they are respecters of persons; if they are partial in their administration of justice; then those who do well have as much reason to be afraid, as those who do evil: there can be no safety for the good, nor any peculiar ground of terror to the unruly and injurious. So that, in this case, the main end of civil government will be frustrated. And what reason is there for submitting to that government, which does by no means answer the design of government?”

And now Knox

“Let a thing here be noted, that the prophet of God sometimes may teach treason against kings, and yet neither he nor such as obey the word, spoken in the Lord’s name by him, offend God.”


John Knox

Romans 13:7 – Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

The Holy Spirit summarizes his argumentation by calling on his listeners to give to those what is their due. Given all that we have said thus far it is clear that which is due to magistrates is dependent in some degree upon the proper due they give to the one whom has appointed them to their position and whom they themselves are subject.

This verse should be read in conjunction with Jesus’ command to ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and render unto God the things that are Gods.’ (Matthew 22:21)

The giving of what is due to magistrates (Romans 13:7) or the rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesars must be measured by some standard that is beyond and above whatever the magistrate or the Caesar determines. Any Christian people who would allow a wicked Caesar or magistrate to determine on their own what is their due or what should be rendered to them would quickly become an enslaved people. Any glance of history will reveal that there are times when the magistrate has wanted taxes that were not his due. Any glance of history reveals that there have been times when the magistrate desired a fear and/or honor that were not his to command due to his disobedience to God. There are times when it is conceivable that dishonor, as the magistrate counts it, would be done out of honor to God.

Kyle and Johnson summarizing John Knox on this

What if the state merely supports the idolatrous practices of the church? Then the people must resist. Even lowly individuals — if they speak as God’s ambassadors — have the authority to rebuke princes for their transgressions…. the real treason was not to oppose idolatrous monarchs to the death.

Kyle & Johnson 
John Knox; An Introduction to his Life and Work — pg. 102

1.) Romans 13, when read against the rest of Scripture does not negate the possibility of armed resistance to wicked rulers. This has been noted time and time again throughout history by people of the Reformed Faith,

“For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them.”

John Calvin 
Daniel Commentary

“The nature of wicked princes is much like to warthogs, which if they be suffered to have their snouts in the ground, and be not forthwith expelled, will suddenly have their snouts in all the body; So they if they be obeyed in any evil thing be it ever so little will be obeyed in all at length.”

John Ponet
Magisterial Reformer

“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”

John Knox

‎”When Kings or rulers become blasphemers of God, oppressors and murderers of their subjects, they ought no more to be accounted Kings or lawful magistrates, but as private men to be examined, accused, condemned, and punished by the law of God…. When magistrates cease to do their duty, the people are as it were, without magistrates … If Princes do right and keep promise with you, then do you owe all humble obedience. If not ye are discharged from and your study ought to be in this case how ye may depose and punish according to law such rebels against God and oppressors of their country.”

Christopher Goodman
Puritan / Co-pastor with John Knox in Geneva
Romans 13 is not to be understood, as if magistrates were above the laws, and had a lawless power to do as they will without opposition; for they are under the law, and liable to the penalty of it, in case of disobedience, as others; and when they make their own will a law, or exercise a lawless tyrannical power, in defiance of the laws of God, and of the land, to the endangering of the lives, liberties, and properties of subjects, they may be resisted,

John Gill

“If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the Government has been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the living God.”

 

2.) Lesser magistrates in the OT included the office of Priests (Jehoiada) and Prophets (Elijah). Is this suggestive that the office of ‘Pastor’ might therefore be considered a office that constitutes a magistrate who, even though in another jurisdictional realm, God could hypothetically raise up to lead God’s people against Tyranny in the Civil Realm ?

Consider how unlikely it is that a lesser magistrate under a supreme magistrate would ever rise up to bite the hand that has put him in that position. Is there no place to look for lesser magistrates to lead against tyranny besides those who come from the King’s house? Why not look for leadership of others magistrates that come from the house of the other jurisdictional Spheres as we see exemplified by Elijah the Prophet and Jehoida the Priest as they acted as representatives from other juisdictional Spheres against the civil jurisdictional Sphere? If we hold that the doctrine of interposition is valid for the State in other Spheres (as in the plea to enter into the Family Sphere to the rescue of Terri Schiavo) why would not the doctrine of interposition be valid for the Church Sphere against a rampaging disobedience in the Civil Sphere?

If there are people who can answer this in a way that leans against the expected answer of the rhetorical question I would love to hear it.

3.) Non-violent resistance might be a violation of the 6th commandment depending on what is known regarding the outcome of non-violent resistance.

4.) Readings of Romans 13 that lead to the advocacy of civil disobedience for every picayune or imagined slight against the Christian faith or readings that lead to the conclusion that it is never ever right no matter what for Christians to be involved in civil disobedience are to be eschewed.

The former attitude cannot be justified by the Biblical call that we should pursue peace with all men. The latter attitude can not be justified if we are serious about avoiding the sin of idolatry. Francis Schaeffer put it this way in his Christian Manifesto,