Kevin CraigKevin Craig

  • OK, Kurt, I think I see where I was unclear. Here's a chance for Tom to make a meaningful addition to the discussion. (Me too.)

    I'm thinking about adding something to clarify my "Thesis #54" based on Tom's comments:

    The point of my "95 Theses" is to go through the Bible from cover to cover and get a Biblical view of "the State." In every chapter I ask the simple question, "In this chapter, did God command human beings to form a collective entity which we call 'the State' or 'the Government?'" The answer is always, "No."

    The way I phrased Thesis 54 creates a dichotomy between "war" and "capital punishment," but that's not really the crucial distinction. The real point is that "the State" is immoral on a huge national scale, but Tom thinks the State is moral on an individual level.

    Tom said:

    "All I will say is look at the context of the verse. Is Paul talking to or about nations or individuals?"

    Romans 12-13 tell us how to respond to immoral acts and immoral people, even fictional persons like "the State."

    "Nations" are fictions. When "Nation A" invades "Nation B," it is really the individuals of "Nation A" engaging in acts of violence against the individuals of "Nation B."

    When God says "I'm sending a sword to judge you," He is saying that individuals from another nation are going to inflict harm on individuals in the nation being judged.

    Romans 13 says that individuals in "Nation B" should submit to these evil acts of evil individuals acting under the legal fiction of "Nation A."

    Romans 13 recognizes the spirit of violent revolution in all "patriots."

    After "the government" of "Nation A" successfully invades "Nation B," "Nation B" is extinguished and becomes part of "Nation A" -- at least in the minds of the individuals of "Nation A" -- possibly not in the minds of the individuals of "Nation B" who still have revolutionary hopes of throwing off the "Nation A" invaders and re-establishing the "government" of "Nation B." Individuals who were once a part of "Nation B" might take up the sword against the occupation government of "Nation A" and will be executed by those wearing the uniform of "Nation A," but that is still (in my mind) part of God's judgment of "the sword" -- invasion and occupation -- and not what Tom Reynolds envisions as "individual criminal cases."

    Sure, "Nation A" will soon pose as a "legitimate" government, and might impose criminal sanctions against unauthorized murder and theft. The Rick Santorums of the nation will applaud these efforts to get "tough on crime." They don't realize that the norm is Patriarchy, and when patriarchs are under tribute, they are under judgment.

    "Tribute" can be distinguished from "the sword," but failure to pay tribute is often punished by the sword, so it's really the same thing: a part of God ordaining an armed invasion and occupation.

    To understand Romans 13, one has to begin in Romans 12, and also understand Romans 12 like a Berean (whole-Bible student). Go back to Deuteronomy 32. Read through the chapter and circle every occurrence of the word "sword." Note verse 35. It's quoted in Romans 12. Go to Romans 12 and read starting about v.17. Verse 21 leads right into chapter 13: "Overcome evil with good -- be subject to the [demonic] powers [of Rome]."

    Tom Reynolds is not seeing in Romans 13 an invading army imposing an occupation government on a people under tribute. He's putting himself in the position of the invaders. He feels that his invasion is legitimate. He's OK with "a government" usurping authority over Godly Patriarchs. He doesn't see Romans 13 in the context of a God-ordained judgment, but rather as Tom Reynolds' friends wielding a "rod of iron" and beating up on unbelievers. Tom sees "Capital punishment" as an act of politicians maintaining civil order to preserve the security and peace of the Empire. The Biblical view is quite different. What Tom calls "capital punishment" is in the Bible an act of priests shedding blood to make atonement.

    Or maybe Tom says his friends in government are "ministers of God" doing what God commands.

    But Tom and his friends in Romans 13 are not doing what God commands. The Bible doesn't use "the sword" as a term describing priestly shedding of the blood of individuals to make atonement in what we now call "capital" crimes. And the Bible doesn't say that what Tom's friends in government are doing is warranted by what priests were commanded to do in the Old Covenant. It's vengeance, murder, and theft, and it belongs to God, Who will punish it in men.

    God punishes murder and theft through His "ministers," who serve His purposes of wrath and vengeance. These "ministers" -- like Assyria, Babylon, and Saddam Hussein -- are then judged for their acts of vengeance which serve God's purposes.

    Neither Paul nor his readers would ever have imagined a day when people would voluntarily "vote" for an army of such "ministers" to put them under tribute and bring a sword upon them. Romans 13 is about how individuals should respond to such an invasion and occupation of Godless sword-bearing evildoers, even if your neighbors "voted" for it.