Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Thanks for stopping by. This post is the third part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. I really do not recommend reading this post without first coming to grips with what I have said in previous posts, so please check them out.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property.

It is with those things in mind that in today’s post we turn our attention to Romans 13.

Romans 13

Now we get to Romans 13. For starters, here’s the text of Romans 13:1-7. As you read this, lets’ remind ourselves what perspective we are reading this from. We are not reading this as citizens under the authority of government. We are reading this as civil magistrates casting our votes for how the government will rule. We must ask ourselves, what does Romans 13 reveal about how God wants me to govern?

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. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) 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, (4) 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. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) 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.

Certainly I must be stretching the text to say that it contains commands that must be obeyed by the civil magistrate!

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

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Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Hi there. This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government.

In Part 1, I laid the groundwork necessary to interact with this discussion adequately, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

For that reason, we turn our attention in today’s post to a fundamental Biblical principle for all human ethics and consider how it applies to civil government.

The Foundational Principle of Human Ethics

As discussed in my previous post, I will get to Romans 13 and deal with it in-depth. However, in recognition of the fact that Romans 13, at least as traditionally understood, speaks to citizens, and we are interested in God’s mind as it pertains to civil magistrates, I want to first back up to determine if there are any foundation and universal principles we can glean from Scripture that will give us some parameters that we need to keep in mind.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. This first post sets up the latter posts by introducing the topic and then laying some ground work. Please stay tuned for the next installments.

Introduction

I’ve found myself roped into several debates lately over political issues in which I have needed to defend my position as a Libertarian. This is partly because of my nature to debate things. I hope that nobody perceives me as an argumentative person, or as one who is arrogant or condescending. I suspect, however that such is the unfortunate case. In truth, while I do have to fight against these temptations, the stronger forces that drive me to debate are the strong conviction I have on these matters and the fact that I’m an optimist.

Yeah, I’m a bit of an optimist. I generally have a positive outlook on the nature of human discourse. I truly believe that if we can discuss things rationally, we can come to an understanding of the truth. This is not to place too much faith in human reason or ability, but rather in the authority of Scripture, which ought to be our rule, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process. That being said, when someone engages with me, I assume that they are genuinely curious and that they are truly interested in hearing my side of things. On that assumption, I seek to explain myself as fully, clearly and accurately as i can. I refuse to project ill will on another, insisting that the benefit of every doubt be given. When a question is asked, I assume an answer is expected. I therefore strive to give the best one I can.

However, things very often devolve, as is the nature of the Internet. Sometimes intentions are not noble. Sometimes discussions get hijacked. Sometimes we are limited by time and media. Whatever the reason it seems that I am rarely able to give a full and well-reasoned defense of things. This is what drives me here. I maintain my hope that when believers discuss these things and when their discussion is guided by the Word of God, they can come to a better understanding of the truth, and a better bond with each other, regardless of whether the go away agreeing. For our sure hope is founded not in the correctness of our political platform, but in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his resurrection, and his promise of future glory.

To that end, I seek to lay before you my treatise on all things political.

An Important Clarification: The Biblical Response to Homosexuality in the Church and the Culture

I’ve written a lot on this blog about Homosexuality, because it’s a hot issue right now. In it, I am attempting to cut what I believe is a Biblical line between the left and the right on this issue – a line that I believe corresponds to the Libertarian line. Much of what I have said so far has been directed toward arguing against the conservative faction. But I feel that it is necessary to clarify.

The problem I have on this issue is that there seems to be a problem in conservative thinking in separating our response to sin in the church and our response to sin in the world. We rightly desire to obey our Lord Jesus Christ in all that he has taught us, but we seem to think that that necessarily requires us to apply that same standard to those on the outside – that being obedient to Christ requires us to march on the world in order to make them obedient as well. I have come out against this, saying that our task is to be salt and light and to hold high the Cross, allowing God to draw lost sheep unto himself. Because of this, I fear confusion over my message, that the conservatives who hear my position cannot escape intellectually categorizing me with those who, like Rachel Held Evans in an article I linked recently and apparently now the Pope, desire to make homosexuality acceptable within the church. So I feel I must clarify, that I am guided by the commands of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

Continue reading An Important Clarification: The Biblical Response to Homosexuality in the Church and the Culture

Bullying Gay Kids

Saw this video today:

And read two responses. The first is more liberal leaning. The second is a conservative response to the first:

Be warned. This video is troubling.

While I intellectually and Biblically side more with Dr. McDurmon, there’s something that just troubles me about this. It’s as though something was missing from his analysis. There’s a whole scope of reality is out there that we seem unable to do anything other than turn a blind eye to.

Evans’ article does a good job of pointing out that the video doesn’t really need to flip the gay/straight script to make its point. Even if this had just been a well done dramatic portrayal of the bullying experienced by gay kids, it would still make a crisp point. These things are not mere intellectual discussions at the Supreme Court level about what the government defines as marriage. There is a hatred ingrained into our culture that, unfortunately, the Church does nothing to counteract.

I do not agree with Evans’ position that gays should just be welcomed and accepted with open arms. Like McDurmon, I agree that the Bible clearly denounces homosexuality as sin and calls us to repent. But this is only half of the story. There’s far more at stake here.

What really troubles me is this: What kind of callous does it require for us to coldly stand by and recite doctrine while a child is bullied to the point of suicide? So they’re a sinner. I remember reading somewhere “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”

Be honest, when you hear someone talk about gay kids being bullied, you have trouble feeling compassion for them because you fear that doing so will somehow imply that their sin is legitimate. I know because I have felt the same way. There’s a name for that: Pride, also known as Self-Righteousness. It was on display all throughout that video. If you can’t overcome it and feel compassion for them anyway, then shame on you. Shame on me that I still struggle with it!

Have we become the Pharisees? There has to be a middle ground where, without compromising the truth of God’s Word, we can stand firm in solidarity with those who are mistreated. For oppression under any flag, for any reason, is wrong. The answer is found in the example of Christ himself who ate with the tax collectors and the sinners, saying that he came as a physician to the sick, not to the healthy. Perhaps this world needs fewer Pharisees and a few more Christians!

Where is the voice of Christ when the self-righteous attack the weak? It’s supposed to come from the Church. Evans, like may others, goes to far in saying that the church should adjust its position on homosexuality, but to simply thump the pulpit in response and quote chapter and verse is devoid of any kind of Christ-like compassion.

Sure Jesus said, “Go and sin no more,” but that was the Spiritual equivalent of “Rise, take up your bed, and walk!” It was said in response to faith and was accompanied by his enabling power. It was never a prerequisite for coming to him, eating with the 5,000, or even being healed from sickness!

In what sick twisted world do we think that bullying is justified because someone is a sinner? How can we possibly twist the grace of the gospel to justify it from God’s word?

If you agree that bullying is wrong, please join with me in making your speech against bullying and mistreatment of homosexuals at least as loud as your speech confronting homosexuality as a sin. We need to show both the truth of God’s Law and the compassion of  Jesus Christ.

Blind Faith

Most people consider “Blind Faith” to be completely unreasonable. In the common view, you take something that you want to believe in and despite the lack of evidence in it, and even evidence to the contrary, you just decide to believe it. How silly. This is how Christians are portrayed  Superstitious. Simple Minded. Looking for a crutch to help them through life because they don’t want to face reality.

But that’s nonsense. Faith is not choosing to believe something despite any evidence to the contrary. Faith is coming face to face with something so wondrously true that you can’t help but believe it and remember it, even when you lose sight of it, and are driven by the hope that one day you will come to see it again.

Blind faith is believing the sun will come up again even in the middle of the night.

Ask anyone who has come to faith in their adult years. Ask them for their testimony. They will tell you of an experience. Now, Christianity is not just about an experience. It’s not about that one moment when we walked an aisle or when we said a prayer, but there’s something very real that happens in those moments. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, it’s in those moments that we meet God. And in those moments, we see reality so clearly that we suddenly see everything else in a new light. In those moments we see God himself and we surrender ourselves to him. Then we walk out into the world and are bombarded by a whole world that has never met him.

We are not children believing in Santa Claus.
We are Lucy Pevensie who KNOWS she saw Aslan on the other side of the river and wants nothing more than to go to him.

We are not mindless automatons going through motions trying to just add numbers to our group and notch our belts
We are the mayor of Whoville who has heard Horton’s voice and is so convinced of this reality that he’s willing to look like an idiot in front of the rest of the Whos in order to save them from the destruction he knows is imminent, even if they don’t believe him.

I love that scene from Horton Hears a Who. The movie really did a fantastic job with that. I don’t know what Dr. Seuss’s intent was with this. I know his overall theme was “A person’s a person no matter how small,” but I don’t know if he also had blind faith in mind either. I’m certain the film makers did not intend this to be an analogy for faith, but it still came out so well.

In the scene I’m thinking of, the mayor is trying to convince the Whos that Horton is out there even though he’s the only one who has ever heard him, and there’s a point at which he’s standing in front of his house trying to communicate with Horton so they will hear him, and in the midst of his frantic attempts to make contact, they collectively give him this LOOK.

The look said it all. “This guy’s crazy. He’s a nut. He’s lost his marbles”. And here’s the thing: They’d be right! IF Horton wasn’t up there! All the subtle accusations levied toward Christians – that we’re just superstitious or backwards and stuck in old traditions, etc, etc – All of those would be true, if Christ was not real. But as anyone who has met Christ can attest, he is real. But unless you meet him for yourself, there’s no way to convince you. So we are at an impasse. There’s no empirical evidence that can pass scientific muster. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Blind faith is not choosing to believe the unbelievable.
Blind faith is choosing to hold fast to the undeniable.