|I didnít say Iíve never read anybody saying these things, I asked you to give me someone, anyone beyond the last 50 years that agrees with your interpretation of Romans 13. Youíve given me four guys within that time period, who may or may not agree with you (I sincerely doubt that NT Wright holds your views and Iíve never heard of the other guys), and Origin who doesn't agree with you, and then you say everyone from the Anabaptist (not a great source of scholarly theology in my opinion) on down to the apostles does. Who exactly? Iím asking this not because Iím not well read on the subject, but because I am fully confident that you are out on an island, and I donít seek to join you there.||You've never heard of the other guys because you've been trained to remain in your little box. So was I.
There have historically been many Christian groups who have said the State is evil because it uses violence contrary to the commands of Christ. Whether they had exactly the same interpretation of Romans 13 as I do seems like a red herring.
I admit I'm out on an Island. Ask John about Patmos. Your question is not a very Berean approach.
Tom, I invite you to stand alone. I invite you to go directly to God's Word, reach your conclusion, and be willing to say "Let God be true, though every man be a liar" (Romans 3:4). I know you'll say that's risky. I would have said the same thing years ago.
My interpretation of every WORD of Romans 13 is backed up by numerous scholars. I'm willing to add up the pieces and raise the "Anarchist!" banner at the end of the discussion, even though none of the other scholars are. They agree on my premises, but are afraid to admit my conclusion.
If you believe in a long future, that future cannot include institutionalized violence and extortion. Over the last 2,000 years, we've seen that when Christianity succeeds, the State recedes. In the last 200 years, Christianity has declined and the State has grown, replacing liberty and abundance and giving us poverty and mass death wherever it reigns.
The future depends on a recognition that empire, divine right of kings, or "civil government" -- "the State" -- is the worst idea human beings have ever come up with, and capitalism ("Liberty Under God") is the best idea, because it's God's idea. I invite you to be a part of that future instead of clinging to the past.
|You have told me to go through the Bible and put smiley and frowny faces when it talks about empires. I tell you that is a complete and utter (yes complete and utter) misuse of Scripture. Aside from that point, I donít care if the Bible said not one word of good about the various civil governments (which it doesnít) that have existed in the past, that is a categorical difference from it saying that civil government the institution itself is evil. If you canít or wonít see this, then I donít know what else to say.||You tell me, but that's not a Biblical argument. Why is it a "misuse of Scripture" to look in the Scripture from cover to cover for the answer to the question "What does the Scripture say about the State?"
My argument is not that the State is bad because every State has been bad. My argument is that the State is bad because God prohibits its core functions: taking vengeance and robbing people to pay for it.
|ďIím not going to give you a bibliography, because in essence you say, ďeven if you do Iím not going to accept it.Ē|
|No thatís not what I said. What I said in essence is, ďEven if there was no civil government in Israel at the time of the judges, which Iím not conceding, it is irrelevant because God doesnít give that time period a ringing endorsement either.Ē If you canít even parse my (me being similar to you in time period, language and culture) response correctly, how in the world can I trust you to parse Paulís (being completely different from you in time period, culture and language)?||The absence of "civil government" in Israel up until 1 Samuel 8 is relevant because it shows God nowhere commanded it, and in 1 Samuel 8 God explicitly says that the desire for civil government is a rejection of Him as Lawgiver, King, and Judge.
Where does God give the State a ringing endorsement? (Caveat: telling us not to resist the confiscatory violence of the demonic State is not a "ringing endorsement" of it.)
Parsing is easy. Just read all the verses that contain the Greek word for "powers." Your prima facie parsing is correct: Paul in Romans 13 is saying that the State is evil, but not to resist it. Those who disagree with this parsing will admit (if they're honest) that they must bring the contrary conclusion (viz., that the State is good) into Romans 13 from other passages. "In this passage, the word exousiai -- which everywhere else signifies demonic powers -- cannot mean that, because we all know the State is a divine institution." That's not exegesis, that's eisegesis (reading into the text rather than out of).
|Yes, I believe in the continual existence of the Church as an institutional entity and the high calling of the clergy. I am Catholic, just not Roman Catholic.||"Clergy" is not the same as "levitical priests." The "clergy" doesn't shed blood. Under the Old Covenant, God required the shedding of blood in capital cases.|
|Neither one of the passages in Deut. you referenced say that the priest oversees the killing of murderers. They are to be judges in a criminal capital punishment case when the case is questionable and oversee the killing of an animal when an unsolved murder takes place. Youíre not exactly giving me confidence in your exegetical abilities.||I said the priests oversaw all blood-shedding liturgies. "Oversee" doesn't necessarily mean "physically on the premises." It just means that shedding blood served liturgical, not strictly "civil," purposes. A non-liturgical, neutral "civil" government (that has God's moral approval) is not to be found in the Bible.|
|On the subject of atonement and restitution, Iíll point you to Titusí book Chapter Eight, and leave it at that. He does a better job of explaining it than I could, sufficient to say that the theme of restitution is written throughout the Old Testament law.||I'm a big fan of restitution. Shedding a murderer's blood was not intended to make restitution to the victim. It was intended to make atonement before God.|
|ďAnd 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.Ē|
|I never said that ďNobody in history has said that violence is wrong.Ē There have been many people who have stated that violence is wrong. The conclusions you draw from this (ie that the state is therefore evil) is what Iím saying nobody has said or even thought of before.||I never said you denied that some Christians have said that violence is wrong. I said you denied that people who have started with that premise have reached the conclusion that "therefore the State is evil and Christians should not form them or advocate them.Ē I would recommend the works of Leonard Verduin, but I can't remember whether it is in his book, The Anatomy of a Hybrid: A Study in Church-State Relationships or The Reformers and Their Stepchildren. Most of these people wouldn't say the State is evil, because they believe God wants unbelievers to be governed by the State. But they still said the State was not for Christians, and that it represented unbelief in practice. Unfair to expect them to have embraced full-fledged anarcho-capitalism. Like a fish concluding that life is possible outside the fishbowl. We're all a product of our times, and limited by that upbringing, unless we boldly embrace God's Word.|
|ďYou 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.Ē|
|Ummm . . . First of all the Anabaptist and Donatist examples were a little bit more complex than you are letting on. Secondly, people usually were put to death because they refused to recant their beliefs. Iím thinking they werenít so afraid of death that they couldnít have added their thoughts against the state if they had had them, since they were going to die anyway. You state that the people in the past agreed with you. I am merely saying, prove it. You wonít because you canít. Although I should have guessed that you would have raised the ďWell the state is so evil that they have repressed all evidence of such thoughts.Ē argument. (rolling eyes). Yet we know exactly what they believed on every other issue that they were put to death for. Hmmm. Iím thinking that the evidence is in my favor on this one.||The whole of Church history is more complex than you're letting on. There were more pacifists and anti-statists than you wish to admit.
If the State is willing to execute people who believe (1) Jesus is Lord, or (2) The State is evil, I'd rather die for proclaiming (1). But that doesn't mean I don't also believe (2).
|ďAll the Bible verses are on my side.Ē|
|If you say so . . . The Bible verses are what they are. It's your interpretation of them I have a problem with. I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree, and I really have to stop."||There are no verses where God commands or commends those who form States to kill their enemies and fund these killings through extortion. There are verses which say these things are wrong. I think anarchism is an easy intellectual conclusion, but it may not be culturally easy. Most scholars are not willing to proclaim that conclusion, even if the premises of Scripture require it. You have to be willing to stand alone.|