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.)
thinking about adding something to clarify my "Thesis #54"
based on Tom's comments:
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,
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.
I will say is look at the context of the verse. Is Paul talking to
or about nations or individuals?"
12-13 tell us how to respond to immoral acts and immoral people, even
fictional persons like "the State."
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."
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.
13 says that individuals in "Nation B" should submit to
these evil acts of evil individuals acting under the legal fiction of
13 recognizes the spirit of violent revolution in all
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."
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.
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.
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]."
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.
Tom says his friends in government are "ministers of God"
doing what God commands.
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.
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
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.