Tom Reynolds, Part 3

Just a little background on my politics so you can stop being a paranoid libertarian (is that redundant?). I fully support Ron Paul’s presidency. I believe that the federal and state governments should at least shrink back to the size they were prior to FDR and probably back to the size they were around the founding of the county. I do not believe that they should have authority to micro-manage our lives. I do not believe that we need to be the police man to the world, nor establish some form of empire. However, with all that said, I do believe that government is not evil per se, and nothing in the Scriptures suggests that it is. The Bible says that stealing and killing are evil. "Governments" come into existence for the sole purpose of killing and funding that killing by stealing. Nothing in the Bible suggests that God wants legitimate social functions carried out by monopolized theft. Every legitimate function of "government" can be carried out under a free market by competing agencies. Illegitimate functions, of course, should be carried out by no one.

Again, Tom, I make the challenge: go through the Bible and ask, Is God saying something good about empires, or bad? Underline every verse in the Bible that deals with "the State" and put a happy face or a frowny face in the margin: will God reward or punish the man who created or maintained this empire? What is God's ethical evaluation of people who reject Godly Patriarchy to form an empire: Cain, Lamech, Nimrod, 1 Samuel 8, etc. Why does Paul use a term for demonic evil to refer to the empire?

Everything in the Bible, from cover to cover, suggests that "government" -- a monopoly of violence -- is evil. (But the Bible also says we are to submit to and not resist evil.)

I believe that government does provide necessary services to the people like protecting the property and lives of individual citizens from foreign and domestic wrong doers, Delivering Christmas cards to your door might be deemed "necessary," but where does the Bible give the government the authority to declare a USPS MONOPOLY on the delivery of Christmas cards, and threaten UPS and FedEx with violence if they try to compete?

Nothing in the Bible suggests that God wants, prescribes, legitimizes, or commands certain social functions carried out by a forcible violent monopoly. God pervasively condemns the violent imposition of one man's will upon another.

and I believe in just war principals. Just War theory is a myth.
The reason I react so violently to you is that you are an individual who upon seeing an injustice in the world, seek to oppose it by warping Scripture into saying something it does not say to combat that injustice. God is the center and we are constantly swinging the pendulum from one side of the center to the other, and while I appreciate your desire to combat the injustice of large government, that’s exactly what you are doing. G.K. Chesterton was right the world doesn’t progress, it wobbles.  
The reason I ask for any person who would back you in your ideas outside of the past 50 years, is that this prevents cultural creep. If you can show individuals outside of our present culture and circumstances and across cultures and history that have agreed with your assessment, more than likely you haven’t been blinded by our present culture and circumstances. If you can’t more than likely you have. In your case it is clear to me that you are blinded by the injustice you see and the need to combat it into interpreting Scripture in a way that is exactly opposite to how everyone else has ever interpreted it. Read this paper, Tom:

"Principalities and Powers" - pt 2

Go back to part one and learn about the demonic role in empires of the Old Testament.

N.T. Wright, in his commentary on Romans 13, cites Morrison (whose book I am reviewing in that paper) and Walter Wink. Both of them show a long history, going back through the Anabaptists, and back to Paul and the Jews, of recognizing the demonic role in the State. EVERYBODY in Paul's day believed in a nexus between the empire and the demonic. Just because YOU don't know of anyone who holds my view doesn't mean there isn't anybody.

In the distant future people are going to look back on your writing (if it hasn’t been already thrown on the dust bin of history) and see and dismiss it for what it is, a cultural relic. I'm glad you believe in a "distant future." Most Christians don't. They believe God has predestined everything to get worse and worse in these "last days" before the Great Tribulation, Antichrist, Revived Roman Empire, and Armageddon.

I believe in a "distant future." As I look back to the "distant past," I see the influence of Christian principles in the world. Human beings have rejected the Roman Empire, medieval feudalism, divine right of kings, and I think we are now seeing the breakdown of "constitutional republics." The future must be a further rejection of the State in the rise of Ron Paul-style libertarianism, and then a completely Free Market under "anarcho-capitalism."

At that time, I believe your defense of violent social monopolies will be the "cultural relic."

Now getting to the meat of your response.  
You said,  
“Civil government is "taken for granted" only in the sense that it is pervasive, but never morally legitimate.”  
I understand you believe this, but you must also prove it.
You said, “There are many Bible-believing scholars who contend that Israel did not have a "civil government" until 1 Samuel 8.”
Who? Where? Even if this were true the Scriptures describe that time period as “Everyone doing what was right in his own eyes.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the “no civil government” era.
I'm not going to bother giving you a bibliography, because in essence you say "even if you do I'm not going to accept it." Here's one anyway.

John Frame on the State

On "ringing endorsement," see Judges 18:7

You said “Israel was an ecclesiocracy -- a church, but not a "state."
I hate to say it, but an ecclesiocracy is a form of civil government.
You said “The priesthood was temporary,”
This is perhaps even more ridiculous than your statements about civil government, if that were possible.
You believe we still have a (permanent) (Levitical) priesthood? You're Roman Catholic?
You said “and judges were remedial. The ideal was Patriarchy, not Politics.”
Let me take a wild guess. You are the patriarch of your family - correct? So there is no church and no state - you are espousing an idea where all Godly authority rest solely in you? You answer to no one but God. How very convenient. Men will forever seek to throw off the authority that has been placed upon them by God. This problem is epidemic in America.
I don't seek to "throw off" the duty to not overthrow civil governments by force. I obey Hitler, Saddam, and Obama, reserving ultimate allegiance to God, as I'm sure you do. (Acts 5:29)

I do not believe God gives His moral and ethical approval to Obama's health care mandates, and his redistribution of wealth from families to political special interests, which amount to threats of violence against me.

I don't think my view is a "problem," and it certainly isn't "epidemic in America."

If your interpretation of Romans 13 is perspicuous at least for the time period in which it was written, then you shouldn’t have any trouble showing at least one person from the first 500 years of church history that read those verses in that way. If not then what you say is merely your empty words. Read Morrison. See some excerpts here. Origen believed in angelic guardians ("powers") behind the Roman Empire, but didn't reach exactly the conclusions I have reached.

Over and over, Tom, you're saying "I've never read anybody saying these things." I completely believe you when you say you haven't read anybody saying these things.

You said, “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.”  
Guess what? Romans was written to . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . the ROMANS!!! Exactly what invaders are you talking about? Does the verse say: “Since God has used Rome to invade you Romans make sure you submit to the Romans.”?!?!? Once again your interpretation makes no sense in light of the context of the verses. Samuel Adams would consider Obama an invader. Most people in Rome considered Caesar an invader. You would not consider Caesar to be your friend. Do you think the Romans VOTED for Caesar? When you consider your family, or your church, or any other voluntary association, Caesar was an external interloper. Caesar invades your social network and puts you under tribute. You're mocking my words and condoning evil.
You said, “The Bible commanded priests . . .”  
Where does it say that priests are to do the killing? My Bible says that “the avenger of blood” the nearest relative to the person murdered does the killing. Right there your whole argument falls apart. Priests oversaw the shedding of blood in criminal cases (Deuteronomy 17:8-10; 21:5; etc.).
As "the nearest relative," the avenger of blood is clearly patriarchal, not "civil." The perpetrator stays in the city of refuge until the high priest dies, hardly a "civil" concept.
My "whole argument falls apart?" You just gave me more mortar.
“to shed the blood of those who commit what we call "capital crimes" to make atonement and cleanse the land of bloodguiltiness.”  
You are stating that the only legitimate reason for capital punishment is atonement? Based on one verse, which speaks briefly about atonement and to me is far from clear? All the verses on "capital punishment" from Genesis 9 to the end, state that the purpose of shedding man's blood is to make atonement. Name ONE other verse which gives ONE other reason for shedding blood.
Any other excuse for killing people is simply vengeance, and is unGodly.”  
How about for the reason of restitution? I think you are confused between atonement by God for our sins, and the reality of ramifications of our sins in this earthly life. For example, I am married and have an extra marital affair and get the other person pregnant. I repent and ask God to forgive me and of course He does so. My sins have already been atoned for by the blood of Christ. However, there are earthly ramifications to my actions. I should support the child etc. In that sense I am making restitution as well as I am able, to make things right. In the same way, a murderer must make temporal restitution to society in general for what he has done wrong, regardless of whether or not he is forgiven by God eternally. Unlike atonement where the person is sorry for his actions and is repentant, restitution is demanded and things (either life or property) are taken from him regardless of whether he is repentant. This requirement of restitution to the victim is set out repeatedly in the Old Testament and does not change by Christ’s coming. The victim in case of murder is not just the person killed, but the land (society) as well, and that temporal payment must be paid with his life. If you want a murderer to make restitution to his victim's estate, enslave him and seize his work product. Killing him makes no restitution to the victim's estate. The Biblically-required shedding of his blood was not designed to make restitution to the victim's estate. There are no verses which speak of "capital punishment" in terms of restitution.
God always uses the word “powers” to denote evil demonic powers? So Paul writing to a bunch of gentile Romans expected them to understand Deuteronomy and the context of the word “powers” and “sword” in the Old Testament so thoroughly that he didn’t think to explain himself more fully? Especially in light of the fact that when reading the passage on its face seems to suggest the exact opposite of what he was intending? They were to just automatically get this, something that has taken you 20 years to study and 10,000 pages of internet to explain, and everyone else subsequently has always missed it until you came on the scene? Romans was not written exclusively to gentiles (see Romans 2:17). But gentiles believed the that Empire was animated by demonic forces. The Romans emphatically believed this.

And, Yes, Paul expected his readers to understand Deuteronomy (Acts 15:21).

Good thing we have you to set everyone straight . . . ad hominem ("against the man") sarcasm is not a substitute for a well-researched refutation.

And the irony here is noteworthy. You complain that "nobody in history" has ever said that violence is wrong and therefore the State is evil and Christians should not form them or advocate them. You ridicule me, but in the past such Christians (Anabaptists, Donatists, etc.,) were all condemned as heretics and executed. Putting an opponent to death certainly makes it easier to say "nobody" believes that the State is evil! That certainly makes others think twice before publicly going on record against the State and leaving evidence that they opposed compulsion and violent monopolies.

And now you're repeating history.

And since I have come up with these arguments without really thinking about it (being lazy), what would you do if I actually thought about it? Hate to say it, but you wouldn’t win a debate against me, let alone Herb Titus." "Winning a debate" a persuading an opponent are two different things. All the Bible verses are on my side. Your argument reduces to "nobody is persuaded by all your evidence." True, but not the same as a refutation.

How much would you pay to listen to me debate Herb Titus? I'll set up a membership site and charge admission. I'll split the proceeds with Prof. Titus. Do you have his contact info?