Blessed Are The Tax Collectors

In my last post I mentioned Michele Bachmann’s intent to abolish any law limiting political speech in churches. To be specific, she said

We silence the pastors because of a law that Lyndon Johnson put into effect in the 1950s – because he didn’t want them to say something against him. What I would do is back the repeal of that law so that we could exercise First Amendment rights everywhere including in this church and every pulpit.

Apparently this wasn’t a spontaneous declaration. In 2006 a Minnesota pastor came under the scrutiny of the IRS for allowing Ms. Bachmann to do a speech in his church. Then there have been occasions when Ms. Bachmann has spoken to a Bible Church, an Assembly of God congregationa Lutheran church and a non-denominational evangelical church – all in Iowa – on Sunday mornings while campaigning for President.

Strictly speaking, the law doesn’t prohibit any kind of speech at all. What it does is limit who may claim tax exempt status, i.e., an organization “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” So, if an organization wants tax-exempt status it must follow certain guidelines about political speech; there’s a financial toll to be paid for being too political, but this isn’t quite communist oppression.

All in all, I’ll take Lyndon Johnson over Michele Bachmann on this issue. If she prefers political speech to theological speech she should do just what she’s doing: be a politician. But churches are supposed to proclaim the gospel and the rest of God’s revealed will, not tussle over political candidates. Thankfully, the magistrate in the form of the tax man might just be protecting the gospel from Bachmann and her friends.

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45 Responses to Blessed Are The Tax Collectors

  1. dr p says:

    i can’t agree with you more, but am more than a bit nonplussed when african-american churches may confuse the two kingdoms with impunity; either enforce the law uniformly, or ditch it.

  2. "Michael Mann" says:

    Doc, normally the idea of justice includes uniformity of application. But how can evangelicals complain if they get an extra helping of restraint-blessing?

  3. dr p says:

    @michael mann: i’m not sure what you mean by “restraint-blessing,” but all I see is the libs getting free press whilst the cons get threatened with loss of tax exemption…and remember, the libs are neither our friends nor favourably disposed towards the faith of the Reformation.

  4. "Michael Mann" says:

    Doc, I mean the tax man restrains all-out political speech, which should clear space for religious/biblical speech. That’s restraint-blessing.

    Of course libs politicize their churches, because this is the ultimate world for them. But if evangelicals actually believe there is something more transcendent and eternal than the next ballot initiative, let the church be the church and go do your politics where people do politics.

  5. dr p says:

    @mMichael Mann: now I get you, and heartily concur; the libs aren’t the only ones confusing the kingdoms, and our side would do well to, and the orthodox Jewish expression goes, pull Messiah in by His beard. I just add the emphasis that the civil magistrate must also honour the kingdom distinction and so silence politics in all pulpits equally.

  6. RubeRad says:

    Of course libs politicize their churches, because this is the ultimate world for them

    But isn’t the point that Liberalism (which as Machen so famously and conclusively argued is a different religion than Christianity) preaches only a social gospel (i.e. not actually a religious gospel), so preaching and politicking are one and the same?

    Definitely confusion abounds; but it seems to me that the libs more likely ruin the gospel by turning religion into mere politics, but the cons vice versa.

  7. mikelmann says:

    “it seems to me that the libs more likely ruin the gospel by turning religion into mere politics, but the cons vice versa.”

    So, Rube, the cons ruin politics by turning it into mere religion? Is that your vice versa? If so, I see your point, but the conservative inability to distinguish the two has to have an effect on religion as well. I’m aware of at least one large evangelical church having a “worldview” Sunday School series that – wonder of all wonders – ended up with worldview conclusions that could be the Tea Party platform. Now, I’m not without sympathy for a good portion of the Tea Party agenda, but I don’t think it’s the gospel, and I don’t think it’s suitable Sunday School material. And that kind of thing must be happening in the pulpit as well. I’m having flashbacks of D. James Kennedy and his conservative patriotic preaching.

  8. RubeRad says:

    I actually meant that the cons ruin the gospel by turning mere politics into religion…

  9. dr p says:

    @rube rad: the “social gospel” is religious; ie the god of Liberalism contra the God of Scripture – there’s no such thing as religious neutrality.
    @mm: both cons and libs are functional postmillenialists and so confuse the kingdoms. That being said, the civil magistrate should also eschew kingdom-confusing and keep his nose out of the churches.

  10. "Michael Mann" says:

    “the civil magistrate should also eschew kingdom-confusing and keep his nose out of the churches.”

    Doc, we shake our heads when libs play the race card in situations that really aren’t about race. Well, evangelpoliticos tend to pull out the religious persecution card. You may recall the shrieks when a municipality in California issued a fine for a Bible study that violated a zoning ordinance . Here, if a church doesn’t want the IRS poking around, it has the options of putting some reasonable limits on political speech or giving up its tax exemption.

  11. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: would you say the same thing when ministers refuse to perform gay marriages etc once Imam Obama gets freedom of religion reduced to freedom of worship only? There’s prper obedience to the civil magistrate, and there are times when, per Mr Bumble, the law is an ass. Tax exemption should not be based upon political correctness of any sort, and what is said in the church, with very few exceptions (sedition, plans to murder, etc) is no business of the civil magistrate. Churches are embassies of the Kingdom of Heaven, and so should be exempt from governmetnal meddling of any sort.

  12. "Michael Mann" says:

    “would you say the same thing when ministers refuse to perform gay marriages…”

    In that situation the magistrate would be overstepping its bounds. This tax law actually provides a fair amount of latitude for political speech. See the link in previous post.

    “so should be exempt from governmetnal meddling of any sort.”

    Churches should certainly be subject to laws concerning, for example, order and safety. Let’s not look for special privileges that really just make us bad neighbors.

  13. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: I read your link and again call attention to the lack of uniformity in enforcement, sugesting a personal axe to grind on the part of Big Brother. Enforcing “laws concerning, for example, order and safety” isn’t meddling; selective use of law is. We don’t seem to be communicating: my opposition to the right hand kingdom flipping off the left hand kingdom is equal to my opposition to the left hand kingdom flipping off the right hand kingdom, whereas you seem to offer the left hand kingdom carte blanche. Do I misperceive? If so, would you be so kind as to where you draw lefty’s bounds? Let’s not be bad neighbours, but let us also not be Big Brother’s door mats.

  14. "Michael Mann" says:

    Justice includes uniform, non-biased application of law, so I get that part of your argument. And concur. But did you know that the EEOC has been pretty strong in upholding religious scruples about the Sabbath? Check out RECENT COMMISSION DECISIONS FINDING RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION at http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/digest/xvii-1.cfm#article .

    But here I think there is a good law, and its enforcement is potentially good for churches. Plus, if I get pulled over for speeding I’m not going to get all huffy about the other ten speeders who didn’t get pulled over. Obama enforces with a leftist tilt. A conservative President will enforce with a rightist tilt. Ideally they would enforce in identical ways but I don’t expect it.

  15. Zrim says:

    There’s prper obedience to the civil magistrate, and there are times when, per Mr Bumble, the law is an ass… Let’s not be bad neighbours, but let us also not be Big Brother’s door mats.

    I can’t help but wonder if there is some holding out here for proper civil disobedience. But I don’t know what the biblical case might be. Plus, doesn’t proper obedience include obeying laws one finds asinine instead of just those one finds stellar?

  16. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: it’s grand that the civil magistrate does his duty by defending the true worship of the true God vis-a-vis the Sabbath, but again it’s his duty…just as I should not be forced under pain of penalty to decline to participate in the progressive liveral sacrament of foeticide as Imam Obama is trying to force upon us. We have a right to worship God given by God Himself, and the civil magistrate must honour it al la kissing the Son. We have no right to speed (6th Commandment) and so ought not to balk at being pulled over. Thus is the speeding analogy a poor one, as it compares an apple with an orange. Let clergy and laity work together to keep the kingdoms distinct, to include removing Old Glory from the sanctuary and eschewing patriotic songs; let the civil magistrate do the same by keeping his stercogenic hands off of Christ’s Bride.

  17. dr p says:

    @Zrim: sure there’s a proper role for civil disobedience, and we’d better have a good reason for engaging in it, not to mention, a willingness to accept the consequences.. Nonetheless we (still) have the ability to exercise our right to petition the magistrate over such laws, as well as vote out those who insist upon foisting those laws upon us. We should consider lawful means prior to denying Caesar his due; of course, Caesar has been acting like he thinks he’s God and thus believes himself to have no limits.

  18. "Michael Mann" says:

    Dr, let’s think of different categories of law. Laws requiring us to refrain from murder are both moral and civil; obedience is a given for such laws. A law about sending in biennial reports to maintain a church’s corporate status is merely positive law since there is nothing inherently moral about such paperwork; although it is somewhat arbitrary we submit because it is the law and submission doesn’t require us to sin. Then there could be a law requiring the church to violate a moral law; the church would need to resist that.

    You are talking as if we are in the third category – a requirement that we violate moral law. Do you have any example of such an imposition? This tax law is clearly not in that category.

  19. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: I don’t see where you got that from my statements, however the Imam’s healthcare takeover expunges the conscience clause for those who consider abortion to be a sin, as well has penalises failure to so participate; eg a physician who refuses to proved a refuerral to an abortuary or an OR nurse who refuses to assist in the murder can end up with street and/or gaol time.

  20. RubeRad says:

    the “social gospel” is religious; ie the god of Liberalism contra the God of Scripture – there’s no such thing as religious neutrality.

    I suppose you also think that “all of life is worship” and every child is above average? To try to bypass the bugbear of neutrality, I’m not trying to say that the social gospel is religiously neutral, but that it’s not religious; it has no need of or reference to God; it’s fundamentally no different than Kiwanis.

    The libs ruin the gospel by kicking God out of religion, and the cons ruin the gospel by bringing politics into religion. Which is maybe to admit that the cons are perhaps better off because at least they still have some religion in their religion…

  21. dr p says:

    @RubeRad: I don’t hold to the reformational crapola you accuse me of, but the social gospel is nonetheless the reasonable service to the god of Liberalism, call it what you wish. Besides, how may libs have you heard attributing all of their delusions to the Holy Ghost? I was raised in do-goody liberalism and so fail to see the clean cleavage between religious and nonreligious that you seem to posit…perhaps because it isn’t there? BTW yes I do believe the cons to be in a somewhat better position than the libs, and I would rather deal with their nonsense than with lib blasphemy; DV one day we won’t need to choose.

  22. Zrim says:

    …sure there’s a proper role for civil disobedience, and we’d better have a good reason for engaging in it, not to mention, a willingness to accept the consequences.

    dr p(epper?), what I had suggested was that one seems hard-pressed to find a biblical case for civil disobedience. For example: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” What here suggests there is a proper role for civil disobedience? I see nothing but the opposite.

    We should consider lawful means prior to denying Caesar his due; of course, Caesar has been acting like he thinks he’s God and thus believes himself to have no limits.

    Well, the kind of Caesar Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 13, as well as the one Jesus would’ve had in mind when he commanded rendering to Caesar his due in Mark 12, conceived himself as deity without limits (and certainly violated modern notions of what makes for a good and honorable magistrate, giving citizens ground to disobey). And yet, no wiggle room whatsoever is given to deny these Caesars their civil dues. So I am wondering is 1) what sort of civil disobedience you think is justified and 2) what sort of biblical justification you have for it.

    I should not be forced under pain of penalty to decline to participate in the progressive liveral sacrament of foeticide as Imam Obama is trying to force upon us.

    I agree, but huh? Who’s forcing you personally commit feticide in your own body or with your own two hands?

  23. Anonymous says:

    @Zrim: nobody’s forcing me to participate in foeticide, but not doing so shouldn’t affect my ability to practise medicine. As for civil disobedience, nobody can order one to sin, as God’s law trumps Caesar’s. Also, the doctrine of interposition gives ample grounds for defying tyrants, and even obligates lesser magistrates to protect their charges from the tyranny of superiors and vice versa. It would be helpful for you to define where Caesar is given unlimited authority, as Psalms 2 and 110 seem to contradict your thesis. The martyrologies are replete with examples of Christians who preferred death to denying Christ, so Caesar’s usurpation of divine honours was not considered his “civil dues.”

    Your position is best illustrated by the evangelical churches in Nazi Germany rolling over and playing dead for Hitler to the point of turning over lists of Jewish converts in order to give the Reich its civil dues; Pr Bonhoeffer, a latter day Phineas, took issue. The Christian King Boris and Metropolitan Stefan of Sofia didn’t see your way clearly, and interposed for the Jews of Bulgaria in the face of Hitler’s demands for their death. In your mind, who were the consistent Christians: the German evangelicals, or the Bulgarian Orthodox? The German Protestant territories and Swiss Reformed cantons disobeyed their Catholic overlords by advancing the Reformation; was that sinful rebellion? Inquiring minds want to know.

  24. Zrim says:

    The anonymous dr p, I am not sure the doctrine of the lesser magistrate is the magic bullet and great equalizer moderns seem to think. Van Drunen, in NL2K, explains:

    Calvin’s convictions on this subject [civil disobedience] were, on the whole, strikingly conservative. In an extended series of discussions toward the close of the Institutes, he hailed the honor and reverence due to magistrates as a consequence of their appointment by God [ICR 4.20.22-29]. Calvin exhorts Christians that they must “with ready minds prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which relate to the common defense, or in executing any other orders.” [ICR 4.20.23]. He goes on to make clear that this applies to bad rulers as well as good: “But if we have respect to the Word of God, it will lead us farther, and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes, by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they less perform than the duty of princes.” [ICR 4.20.25]. “The only thing remaining for you,” Calvin adds shortly thereafter, “will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words.” [ICR 4.20.26].

    VanDrunen goers on to point out that Calvin, when elucidating on the topic of civil disobedience and resistance qualifies his words by saying, “I speak only of private men.” VanDrunen then goes on to show how Calvin made some interesting stipulations about the less private and more extraordinary men known as lesser magistrates, typically the doctrine invoked to justify rebelling against a magistrate who says some people can’t sit at lunch counters or on certain sides of buses. Not only may “lesser magistrates curb tyrants,” but “only magistrates who have already been appointed for such a task.”

    So it would seem that, at least according to VanDrunen’s read on Calvin, that the ordinary citizen who acts contrary to his magistrate’s laws (laws that don’t require any personal violation of God’s clear moral law) is acting contrary to true Christian piety. That might not go down very easily for those of us raised to think of certain rebellious actions as more heroic and inspiring than ignoble and shun-worthy. But it could be that there is in fact more dignity in living with certain political and legal imperfections than in fighting against them. Granted, it is very easy for someone who in theory would not likely have to live with said imperfections. But with no intentions of offending anyone who has been personally maligned or injured by them, it could be that the test of a better obedience is to obey a law one finds closer to odious than immoral.

    As far as your Third Reich thought experiment, the view I wish to put forward would frustrate tyrannical magistrates as much as those eager to suppress them. When magistrates come knocking on church doors wanting spiritual information on her members, mum’s the word, even if that earns cracks to the head. So far as I understand it, then, the German evangelicals were far from understanding the spirituality of the church. The Swiss Reformed were consistent with Acts 5:29-30: when the civil magistrate and a false religion that demand silence about true religion on pain of punishment are one and the same then disobedience is the only option. But I wouldn’t call it civil disobedience but cultic.

    BTW, do Bonheoffer fans ever wonder how plotting the death of a magistrate is consistent with Romans 13’s unflinching demand for civil obedience, or how that sort of conclusion didn’t just drop out of the sky but was necessarily predicated by esteeming disobedience over obedience?

  25. dr p says:

    arrrrrr, zrimbo, nobody’s looking for a magic bullet, but rather to set the limits of divinely-mandated spheres. DG you haven’t adopted the Teutonic model of slavish obedience, and I am no neo-Confederate or lone rebel. Cost-counting (for one’s own self and others who will suffer from any fallout) and even the ability to succeed (eg Christian just war theory) are part of the calculation. I’m no Bonhoeffer fan per se, but can accept the analogy of Bonhoeffer:Germany::Jehoiada:Israel; ie both Gospel ministers were magistrates and had the authority to act as they did.

    Was Paul in Romans 13 speaking absolutely or generally; ie all children are not a blessing, all hoary heads aren’t filled with wisdom, and all magistrates don’t praise those who do well or establish a favourable command climate for righteousness? What exactly, then, is Caesar’s due – particulary in a federal republic where we have the right of redress, and the “due” is set by covenant? When Caesar breaks covenant (ie, Constitution) and rules unjustly, at what point do the lesser magistrates intervene – or, with states acting so, when does the higher magistrate intervene? We have the right of petition for redress, to lobby, etc; do you think this to be disobedience because it isn’t “unflinching” obedience?

  26. "Michael Mann" says:

    “all hoary heads aren’t filled with wisdom, and all magistrates don’t praise those who do well or establish a favourable command climate for righteousness?”

    Rather than thinking of the merits or imperfections of the person occupying the office, it’s more useful to think of the office itself and of law. If a minister secretly apostatizes his act of baptizing is not made void. Likewise sins of the magistrate do not make his office void. Then, we are obeying the law, not a particular personality.

  27. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: I don’t think I’m bringing personality into the argument; I am also unaware of any office of hoary head or any obligation to simply take the advice of one who has one irrespective of his manifest degree of wisdom, intelligence, or spiritual maturity. I do question whether an office requires absolute submission zrim sees in his take on Romans 13, and wonder about the translatability of the acts of Ehud, Zimri, Jehu, Jehoiada, and any other Scriptural regicide I might have missed, into our circumstances. My jury is out.
    @zrim: I forgot to answer your point about the Third Reich: there was nothing “spiritual” about what the Nazis wanted from the evangelical churches; rather the state demanded names and addresses, which the churches handed over with the knowledge of what was to transpire. King Boris and Metropolitan Stefan, on the other hand, defied their new overlords and interposed – again, not over “spiritual information” but about matters of physical life and death. One might also put the Danish king int he same league of rebels for the same reason. Solomon tells us that it is wrong to refrain from doing good to one’s neighbour when it is in one’s power; those who hid people (not just Jews) from the Nazis and fought in the resistance could be said to heed such advice. Where do you stand on that?

  28. "Michael Mann" says:

    It would take a while to go through your regicides,dr. Call me scrupulous or squeamish, but I wouldn’t have much of a comfort level killing my leader based on those narratives.

    IMO a more apt narrative would be the story of David and Saul. Saul was a leader who was not always in his right mind. He went on a mission to kill David without just cause. Yet David with a sword in his hand would not slay Saul who, well, had no free hands at the time. That’s a picture of 5th commandment honor to an authority.

  29. Zrim says:

    DP, whether Paul was speaking absolutely or generally in Romans 13 is a bit moot. What I am trying to get from you is how the text makes any room for a “proper role for civil disobedience” (your words). The whole thing is about civil obedience. You keep going to the doctrine of lesser magistrates, which is fine, and I already told you my take on the historical doctrine. But where does the NT do anything but command civil obedience?

    No, I do not think lawful petitions and lobbying are disobedience. But when the law says I mayn’t sit at a lunch counter then it is disobedience to do so. I’m not saying this is you, but very often westerners who want to want to put the accent on righteous disobedience instead of righteous obedience tend to howl at that because they think breaking distasteful laws is righteous and following them is ignoble (even immoral). But it’s not. It’s to disobey God, per Paul.

    Re the Third Reich, I was only following your lead when you said that the German evangelicals “turned over lists of Jewish converts.” That sounds like spiritual information. But now you say it was names and addresses they handed over. But I still don’t see the point of doing so, whether in democratic or socialistic regimes. So far in your hypothetical I am resisting the state meddling in ecclesiastical affairs.

  30. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: I like you am no potential regicide, but the David and Saul narrative is but one of a number, and we can’t simply pick and choose the one which satisfies our sense of right and wrong. Ditto for Romans 13. I’m no fan of what Cromwell did in Ireland, but see no problem with his having beheaded Charles I; hence my questions regarding the who./when/why of civil disobedience – along with my previously listed examples. At this point I remain as unconvinced that Paul made the civil magistrate inviolate as Solomon made all seniors wise or David made all children to be blessings. As per your posting re: person vs office there is a school of thought which states that resisting tyrants is honouring the office more than the person, but again my jury is out. I’m not ready to come down on one side or the other, although I think we agree that secular politics has no part in the church. I think we disagree as to what Caesar can reasonably expect from the church, and I agree with WCF’s notion of the state as “nursing father” to Mater Ecclesiae. Your thoughts?
    @Zrim: the generality or absoluteness of Romans 13 is exactly the issue here, as the former validates my view whilst the latter does yours. I also suggested above that Romans 13 is but one narrative of many, and those who formulated Christian notions of just warfare were familiar with it. Re: civil rights movement, I’m with you vis-a-vis not sitting at posted counters, and would add that proprietors rather than magistrates should determine who may sit where in private establishments. We also agree that disobedience is not the prerogative of the private individual, but rather is a proper role of the magistracy. What is your view on partisans and resistance movements; ie did these fighters violate the 5th commandment or did they, by protecting the innocent and vulnerable, uphold the 6th?
    Regarding the Third Reich example, what you called “spiritual information” I would call privileged information which the magistrate had no need to know; is this what you mean?

  31. I agree with WCF’s notion of the state as “nursing father” to Mater Ecclesiae. Your thoughts?

    “I’m from the government and I want to help…your religion?” Help like that I don’t want, just like I don’t want school teachers modeling prayer.

    BTW, I do believe in an orderly and lawful way of securing rights: http://presbyterianblues.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/your-sabbath-rights/

  32. dr p says:

    @Michael Mann: that’s not what WCF meant, and I think you know that; rather, your link is, along with noninterference in church activities via positive legislation, regulatory red tape, judicial meddling, and other bogus “restraint-blessings.”

  33. dr, you started off by saying “I couldn’t agree with you more” and that you “heartily concur.” But since then you’ve narrowed that agreement and concurrence down so much I can hardly see them. You rattle the revolutionary saber a bit but then don’t commit to it. You said political speech shouldn’t interfere with religious speech in the church but ever since have intertwined the two. I don’t even know your position any more, but it sure doesn’t sound like what you started with.

  34. dr p says:

    @MM:I concur that political speech should be expunged from the church, but do not concur that the state has the right to do the expunging – that is the duty of the church itself. I’ve not budged from that. An analogous situation is my belief in limiting trans fats in foods I and my family eat: I’m the one who does the limiting rather than the Nanny State. As for the sabre, damned red flag of rebellion, or whatever symbol floats your boat, I thought I was clear that my jury was out; if no, let me state again that my jury is out and hence I commit to nothing at this point because I don’t believe Scripture to teach one absolute rule for all persons, times, places, and occasions. Part of our differences appear to be your conservatism vs my libertarianism.

  35. But dr, there is no state coercion here. No one is getting arrested and no one is getting coerced. Simply, a church loses its tax exemption if it overindulges in political speech. Have you considered that, if this distinction is given up, a whole bunch of groups that are simply political would get favored tax status? The state is making a distinction on who may get tax exempt status, and it favors the church in that regard. You could call it a tax definition.

    And, BTW, the tax man is not coercing me to buy a house when it lets me deduct interest payments. So, if the anti-Bachmann tax rule is “coercion” then you are using that word to be synonymous with “incentive.” But it isn’t.

  36. dr p says:

    @MM: the problem with your post is the word “overindulge;” ie my bare minimum might be the tax man’s overindulgence, and who gets to decide? Furthermore the lines get really blurry when one makes a real life application during a sermon which someone with an axe to grind perceives as political speech and then blabs to the magistrate. So what is acceptable political speech, and what degree, components, or incorrectness makes it overindulgence?

  37. dr, my understanding is that it’s very rare for the IRS to actually close the deal on taking away a church tax exemption based on political speech. I’m shutting down for the weekend. Thanks for the conversation.

  38. dr p says:

    @MM: and I’m about to put my oldest son back on a bus to college. Have a blessed Sabbath.

  39. Zrim says:

    DP, when Paul says that to dis/obey the magistrate is to dis/obey God I read him plainly to mean what he says. I suppose you can decide if that’s an absolutist or generalist take. But you say that Romans 13 is but one text amongst many, so, please, pick some and make the case for the proper role of civil disobedience. As far as partisans and resistance movements, I’m with Luther on the peasant’s rebellion, which is to say nien.

    Sure, “privileged information which the magistrate had no need to know.” Care to amend your suggestion that my position “is best illustrated by the evangelical churches in Nazi Germany rolling over and playing dead for Hitler”?

  40. dr p says:

    @Zrim: I’ve given several examples in post above – take your pick. Let’s add the example of Obadiah hiding the prophets from Jezebel, which gives no evidence that he was asked to actively participate in their persecution. No, he simply loved his neighbours and risked the wrath of the state by his defiance/lack of indifference. I need no proof text as God teaches by principle, precept, and example.
    I’m with you on the Peasants’ Revolt nein, but your equating the Czech, Norwegian, and (to a lesser degree the Polish, when they weren’t helping the Nazis kill Jews) resistance movements therewith, is anaemic at best. These movements, especially the plot to assassinate Hitler, were lead by magistrates and military officers who interposed for their people and so were not mere mass revolts. In re: “privileged information,” there’s still nothing spiritual about it, and so I fail to see how you would justify refusing to turn it over to the state upon demand – sounds like disobedience to me. Please clarify the above points and I will be happy to amend my suggestion.

  41. dr p says:

    @Zrim: sorry to have excluded Rahab, but she too defied her lawful magistrate. A very controversial example indeed, but most apropos.

  42. dr p says:

    @Zrim: …but apropos nonetheless. Interesting link.

  43. Zrim says:

    DP, let me be more clear about where I’m coming from. We live in the exilic era, not the theocratic. The NT prescribes what exilic era living should look like, and from my reading one of the marks of exilic ethics is civil obedience; I don’t see anything in the NT by principle, precept or example that teaches that there is a proper role for civil disobedience. I do see an ethic that demands we obey God rather than men, such that if men are demanding we disobey God then we must disobey men, even if those men are magistrates. What that might look like specifically in whatever time and place is speculative on anybody’s part, so I think it’s pretty unfair to try and attach what I am saying to handing over Jews to Nazis.

  44. dr p says:

    @Zrim: thanks for the clarification, but I’m a general equity man vis-a-vis the OT and so can’t buy into what sounds like – although I don’t think you mean it this way – “New Testament Christianity.” As such, I read Romans 13 as general rather than as absolute. I’m with you when you say that we can defy the magistrate when he orders us to sin, but I’m not sure that indifference to the plights of others doesn’t constitute sin; that is, the indifference of other magistrates. I remain unconvinced that my above-mentioned Scriptural and historical examples have been adequately addressed, and so classify your arguments as moving but not convincing. This is not to say that I can’t be convinced otherwise.

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