Tom Reynolds

 

You stated: "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 en...tity which we call 'the State' or 'the Government?'" The answer is always,"No."

 
While I appreciate you making the attempt, I believe that this is a complete and utter misuse of Scriptures. This isn't even sola scriptura. This is reductionism taken to the absurd level. There is no express command from God in the Bible for human beings to do a whole host of things that we believe are right and proper. In fact there are very little express commands in the Scriptures period. For example, where exactly did God command us to build houses or roads? Where exactly did God command us to wear shoes or pants? Where did God command us to sleep in beds? Where did God command us to create the internet? "Complete" and "utter?" Really?

 

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't build houses because there's no command to do so (I think such a command could actually be inferred, but that's another discussion).

  • I'm arguing that we shouldn't steal because God says "Thou shalt not steal," and calling it "taxation" or "revenue enhancement" doesn't change the immorality of confiscating another person's property using threats of violence.
  • I'm arguing that we shouldn't kill because God says "Thou shalt not kill," and calling it a "bold foreign policy" or "spreading democracy" doesn't change the immorality of killing.

Some have said that Romans 13 changes the morality of killing and stealing, but I argue that Romans 13 presupposes that the Empire is evil, and simply commands us not to resist evil with more evil, violence with more violence.

"No," my opponents reply, "Romans 13 shows that God commands us to have a system of institutionalized theft and murder called 'The State.'" To which I reply that God never rescinded nor modified nor amended nor superseded the commands not to kill and not to steal with "OK, now I want you to create an institution of systematic theft and murder called 'Civil Government.'"

It's easy to infer the moral legitimacy of wearing shoes. It takes more work to prove the moral legitimacy of calling oneself "The State" and engaging in extortion and murder.

Some of these things aren't mentioned in Scriptures at all, others including civil government are taken for granted. In most areas of our lives the Scriptures do not give us detailed instructions, they give us general principals. In many areas they assume certain things exist, ie civil government. And I hate to say it but even ancient Israel at the time of the judges had a form of civil government. And that time period was not written about in glowing terms where every man did what was right in his own eyes. Civil government is "taken for granted" only in the sense that it is pervasive, but never morally legitimate.

There are many Bible-believing scholars who contend that Israel did not have a "civil government" until 1 Samuel 8. Israel was an ecclesiocracy -- a church, but not a "state." The priesthood was temporary, and judges were remedial. The ideal was Patriarchy, not Politics.

You said,  
"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."  
The reason why I think it is is because Paul states it. See Romans 13:4. "For he is God's servant to do you good." Of course Paul is speaking generally here, and there are times were this is not the case, but in general he does good how? By punishing the wrong doer. He does so as God's agent authorized to bear the sword. Paul even states that taxes are ok in verse 6. Why? Because the authories are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. In other words you should pay taxes because these people can't earn a living any other way, due to the fact that they have been given a full time job by God to govern you. (By the way I'm doing this on my phone, so if you want me to address an argument you need to write it out and not hyperlink to it.) Paul no more states that the Roman Empire is "moral" than Isaiah states that the Assyrian army is "moral." God judged Assyria and Rome both.

Paul calls the empire DEMONIC by referring to it as "the powers," a word which ALWAYS means demonic EVIL.

God used Assyria and Babylon to do good to the remnant of Israel, but to do evil to unbelievers. But the key is "God USED." God sends evil and uses evildoers, but the evildoers God uses for our good are still evil. They are not moral. They are not "authorized" in any ethical sense, but only in terms of God's providential sovereignty.

(And I'm sorry for the hyperlinks, but serious Bible study cannot be sorted out on phones and Twitter.)

"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.""  
States and Nations are fictions? Where do you see that concept in Scriptures? I see Scriptures constantly speak of nations. I don't think they would be repeatedly referenced if they weren't real entities. Why do the Nations rage? Why do they plot and scheme? Go forth to all the Nations . . . God sends individuals to hell, not "nations." Especially when you use the word "nation" to refer not to people, but to "governments" or political institutions. God doesn't send "democracy" to hell. (Though He should.)
You said,  
"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."  
This makes no sense in the context of Romans. So basically Paul was saying, "Christians beware if you are not good someone is going to overthrow Rome and punish you. If that is the case then you are to submit to the new nation."? Makes no sense except when you pull that one verse completely out of context and twist it to serve a preconceived idea. Romans says that God ALREADY sent the sword (Rome) and followers of Christ are to "submit" to the invaders and not attempt to overthrow them.

We are ALREADY under tribute and we should pay the tribute.

Invading another nation and putting it under tribute is evil. Jesus said "resist not evil."

You said,  
"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]."  
So when I see the word "spring" in a writing and it refers to the season, then I see the following: "Jack jumped into the spring and got wet." I should interpret that to mean that Jack jump into the season and got wet because it was probably a rainy season, right? Because words can never have two different connotations? You don't interpert clear passages of Scripture with other Scripture that has nothing to do with the subject. You've linked these two passages because of the word "sword" and the principal that vengence is God's? Deuteronomy has something to do with Romans because PAUL QUOTED IT.
And when Paul talks about "the sword," he was referring to a concept that his readers were familiar with, even if we in 21st century USSA are not.
You have taken a crystal clear passage of Scripture and made it so convoluted that it took you 1000's of words to explain it and a seminary degree to understand it. So much for the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. I'll let you in on a secret, the Bible is not a code book you need to break. Nor is it your play thing to further your pet issues. Romans 13 was perspicuous to those who were being tortured to death by the Romans. It was perspicuous to those who understood that empires were animated by demonic forces. It was perspicuous to those who knew that the Greek word for "powers" meant "demonic forces."

It is not perspicuous to those who don't read their Bibles, but only listen to "Bible-teachers" for their entire lives who say that empires have God's ethical approval.

You stated,  
"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."  
Gobbly goop. You make no sense. Explain this as if I haven't read your 10000 plus pages of internet Biblical gymnastics. The Bible says you and your family should do business and build your estate. The Bible says I should do the same. The Bible says I should not steal from you. The Bible says I shouldn't get my friends together and say, "Let's VOTE on whether to take Tom's property by force." You believe voting to steal and kill is morally approved by God.

The Bible commanded priests to shed the blood of those who commit what we call "capital crimes" to make atonement and cleanse the land of bloodguiltiness. Any other excuse for killing people is simply vengeance, and is unGodly.

You stated,  
"Or maybe Tom says his friends in government are "ministers of God" doing what God commands."  
I have no friends in government. You see the government as the good guys; that's what I mean by your "friends." People whose jobs you approve of.
But I'm not saying this Paul does CLEARLY. Read Romans 13:4-6 I've read the verses Tom; we're discussing the MEANING of the verses.
You said,  
"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."  
Sure it does in Romans 13. You're turning Romans 13 into a mindless slogan.
You stated,  
 "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."  
Sure it does in Romans 13. C'mon, Tom. You're turning Romans 13 into a mindless mantra.
You said,  
"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." See more on God's "ministers."
Sounds like a never ending bloody cycle. Is that a criticism of God and His ways?
If it's a criticism of my interpretation of Isaiah 10, what's wrong with my interpretation? Who disagrees with me (among those who have read and studied the passage)?
You stated,  
"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."  
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is a coherent argument there somewhere. You'll just have to explain it to me more clearly cause I'm not a smart man. You ARE a smart man. You're just lazy. Look at your remark about "never-ending bloody cycles." That's just a "smart alecky" remark. I can tell you're smart enough to submit a more thoughtful response, but you're not investing your time in the job. Isaiah 10 says God sent the Assyrian army in His providence to rape Israel because Israel was a harlot, and then God judged Assyria for doing what God "ordained." No serious Bible commentator disagrees with my interpretation of this passage (and similar passages). Not one.

February 21 at 11:43pm

 

Kurt And-Shelley Fiech
Kevin are you going to respond to Tom?

I did my best.