When The Saints Go Submitting

In a time when Romans 13:1-7 tends to die the death of a thousand qualifications in conservative American Christianity, we might learn from the Early Church Fathers about honoring and submitting to our governing authority, even when those authorities are busy killing us.

“The Christian is the enemy of no man, least of all the Emperor, for we know that we should love him, and reverence him, and honor him, and desire his safety, together with that of the whole Roman Empire.” (Tertullian)

“Thou Lord and Master, hast given our rulers and governors the power of sovereignty through thine excellent and unspeakable might, that we, knowing the glory and honor which thou hast given them, may submit ourselves unto them, in nothing resisting Thy will. Grant unto them, therefore, O Lord, health, peace, concord, stability, that they may administer the government which thou hast given them without failure.” (Clement’s prayer A.D. 90)

Justin Martyr wrote the following concerning the emperor: “We worship God alone, but in all other things we gladly serve you, acknowledge kings and rulers of men, and praying that they may be found to have pure reason with kingly power.”

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One Response to When The Saints Go Submitting

  1. Katy says:

    My husband and I (in our mid-twenties) have a few (too many) friends who would describe themselves as “Christian Anarchists.” These friends are not radical, generally speaking, but very conservative socially and theologically. But their view of government is troubling, and departs from all historic Confessions. Their emphasis on individual autonomy ignores Rom. 13 and denies the important (Biblical) authority of fathers in the smallest government unit, the family. Their obsession, ironically, idolizes government in the same way as Communists. Absence of government is their savior, instead of complete, total presence.

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