Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

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 we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

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

Freedom Requires Virtue

You’ve probably heard it said that “Freedom requires virtue.” I’ve heard it in one form or another countless times, attributed to various founding fathers. I doubt very much that any of them said it verbatim, but I think they all expressed some form of the idea in one way or another.

What do I make of it? Usually I hear it from someone who does not like libertarian ideals because they think that it opens the flood gates to immorality. So what is my response? Do I agree with this sentiment, and what does that mean for my views on libertarianism? Surely the two are mutually exclusive, right?

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God’s Existence

I stumbled on this a while back. I do not know who the original artist is on this or I would give attribution. If this is your image, please let me know so I can give you credit. If you would prefer me to take it down, I’d be happy to. It’s a bit long, so I put it after the “continue reading” to save space on my front page.

Continue reading God’s Existence

Defense of Libertarianism. Offense Against Legislating Morality.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll know that I’m a Libertarian and a Christian. You’ll also know that I’ve been struggling to articulate just why I think Libertarianism is more consistent with the Scriptures than what is typically espoused by Christians. That’s not a very precise way to put it. There are many different political philosophies that can be found within the church. Some Christians are pretty “liberal”. But what I’m speaking to would be closer to the more stereotypical “right wing” “moral majority” type position. Most Christians I know personally fall into the “legislate morality” camp to one degree or another, which is a bit of a broad brush. I don’t know that any are hardcore Theonomists, but some I know definitely lean that way. Almost all of them have the same stances on the big social issues. I can think of three key issues off the top of my head. They are pro-life. They are against gay marriage. They are anti-drugs. Many are also anti-alcohol, which I’ll lump into the drug category for convenience. On these three issues, I agree with them on only one – abortion. And I feel firm in my conviction that my positions do not violate the Scriptures. For while I agree with them that the Scriptures teach very clear moral principals in these areas, I whole-heartedly disagree that that necessarily means that the law of the United States must reflect that Biblical morality. This series of articles is my attempt to articulate why I believe that to be.

Matthew 22:37-40 ESV  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  (38)  This is the great and first commandment.  (39)  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  (40)  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is my first stop because I think it sets up the backbone of my whole philosophy on the relationship between morality and legality. I have long held that Legality is concerned with maintaining a peaceful society, while morality is concerned with living virtuously in order to honor the Lord – at least from a Christian perspective. There are other moral codes and various reasons one might feel compelled to live virtuously, by as I am a Christian and whereas Christians believe our moral code to be the correct one, we’ll assume so for the time being. Such is not the point of this text. What is the point is that distinction of purpose. Legality is concerned with peace. Morality is concerned with virtue. There can be some overlap, but to what extent? What does the Word of God say?

Continue reading Defense of Libertarianism. Offense Against Legislating Morality.

Biblical Defense of Libertarianism

I keep wanting to defend my stance as a Libertarian from the Scriptures, but I just can’t seem to do it.

HA! Don’t get your hopes up. It has nothing whatsoever to do with it being indefensible. It is just a huge steak to eat and I keep trying to do it all in a single blog post. That’s foolish. I need to just use this blog to put my thoughts down as they come.

Continue reading Biblical Defense of Libertarianism

Scientific Proof

Like many of the “wars” being fought out there, I generally look at both sides with disdain on the Creation vs. Evolution debate. Like many issues, both sides are arguing against a straw man. The Creationist thinks that evolutionists designed this theory specifically so they can try to disprove God. While Evolutionists think that Christians live in a lala world completely inconsistent with reality.

I’m wholly sympathetic to the “science” side of the argument, even when they talk about evolution and millions of years, simply because when you start with the position that nothing is proved without evidence (skepticism) and then presuppose naturalism, it’s entirely rational to arrive at the conclusions that scientists deduce. It’s also not entirely unreasonable for them to judge people who do not presuppose naturalism to be superstitious. Naturalism simply says that nothing is knowable that cannot be detected by the 5 senses. This would seem to then imply that there is nothing supernatural, since only natural things can be detected by the 5 senses. This is a bit like an ear trying to assert that there is no such thing as light because it cannot hear it, but I digress. Even still, I don’t consider it irrational for scientists to believe what they believe.

I’m also sympathetic to the “creationist” side of this debate. The most vocal of this group may in fact fit the straw man or stereotype, a la Answers in Genesis, but like the Westboro Baptist Church on the issue of homosexuality, Answers in Genesis does not represent the whole of Christianity, and I would content they don’t even represent the majority. Most Christians on this issue are concerned with reconciling what they believe to be true in the Bible with what science tells them.

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Faith and Reason

Much has been said about the relationship between faith and reason. Many times faith and reason seem to be opposed. What is the Christian to do when faced with a claim that seems to have irrefutably evident reason behind it but contradicts the teachings of Scripture? If we believe that the Bible alone (when properly interpreted) is our infallible authority, what are we to do when met with claims such as Evolution?

As I’ve thought of this I’ve never really found an answer I’m comfortable giving. Though I hold both faith and reason to be important, the problem remains of what to do when they conflict. I recently remembered a book we discussed in my ethics class at Cedarville. It was by H. Richard Niebuhr called Christ and Culture. The book discussed five approaches to the relationship between Christ and Culture from a historical and ethical perspective. The details of the book are huge wash in my brain, but I remembered them enough to look up what the five views were. As I did so, I thought it might be beneficial to extrapolate these five categories into five views of the relationship between Faith and Reason.

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The Root of All Nanny Statism

“A great silent collapse, an enormous unspoken disappointment, has in our time fallen on our Northern civilization. All previous ages have sweated and been crucified in an attempt to realize what is really the right life, what was really the good man. A definite part of the modern world has come beyond question to the conclusion that there is no answer to these questions, that the most that we can do is to set up a few notice-boards at places of obvious danger, to warn men, for instance, against drinking themselves to death…” – G.K. Chesterton, Heretics.

No wonder we have so many public service announcements on TV and so many Nanny State laws!!!