Biblical Approach to an Oppressive Government

***Hypothetical Situation - There is no intent of mirroring any current situation***

Being born and raised on the island of Trid, I enjoyed the freedom to worship God openly and without fear of government intervention. During recent struggles on the island of Trid, a dynamic leader rose to power. This leader was granted unprecedented power by the government of Trid and made his distaste for Christians well known. He also wrested control of the country away from those who opposed his form of government and has dismantled the freedoms to which we were accustom. He has raised an army loyal to him and has now outlawed any form of religious expression.

Because we as Christians are admonished to obey God rather than men, we still meet secretly as a church. However, we have also been approached by an opposition group that is preparing to rise up and overthrow the current regime and restore the democracy the Tridians so much enjoyed for so long. In light of the fact that Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 both tell us that leaders are ordained by God and we should be obedient to those that rule, we are struggling with a biblical approach to this opposition group.

- Is it Biblical for a Christian to participate in overthrowing that which God has ordained?
- Is there a Biblical precedent for such activity?
- Should Christians really be political pacifists?

There are many more questions, but that is a place for us to start.

***End of Situation***

I am curious as to what other's veiws are on this. This stems from a conversation had yesterday and thought it might be interesting to share.

8526 reads
Sean Fericks's picture

I don't know Trinidad's history or government well enough to give a specific answer. However, in the U.S.A., our laws ultimately require us to subject ourselves to the Constitution. If one of our Presidents declared martial law or monarchy, the law of my land allows me to resist with force (2nd Amendment). But the 2nd Amendment implies that such armed resistance should be within an organized militia (presumably under the authority of my state).

That being said, I should focus on my eternal mission. If my efforts to produce societal change are compatible with the eternal goal of my personal sanctification and winning others to Christ, I should proceed. However, if my efforts to produce societal change are competitive with my eternal goals, I should not allow myself to be distracted by temporal persuits.

wbarkema's picture

Sean, notice I said this was a hypothetical situation and I used the Island of Trid. I was not referring to any real place in the situation, especially Trinidad (or Tobago).

Regardless of the laws of the land, the Tridian church was approached to help overthrow the current regime. That is why I tried to not use a form of government or real place to get to the question.

Jay's picture

Quote:
Because we as Christians are admonished to obey God rather than men, we still meet secretly as a church. However, we have also been approached by an opposition group that is preparing to rise up and overthrow the current regime and restore the democracy the Tridians so much enjoyed for so long. In light of the fact that Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 both tell us that leaders are ordained by God and we should be obedient to those that rule, we are struggling with a biblical approach to this opposition group.

1. Is it Biblical for a Christian to participate in overthrowing that which God has ordained?
2. Is there a Biblical precedent for such activity?
3. Should Christians really be political pacifists?

There are many more questions, but that is a place for us to start.

1. No. Do you see Paul - anywhere - preaching any kind of unlawful activity to depose Nero or Jesus trying to get Pilate removed from office? How about David taking matters into his own hands and killing Saul when he had opportunity?

2. No.

3. If what you mean by political pacifists are people who are not involved in politics, then no, I don't think that we should be - Paul was not afraid to use his citizenship to ensure that he was not unjustly punished and that he recv'd a fair trial for criminal charges.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think it would completely depend on the form of gov't of that country. If one of the purposes of gov't is to punish evildoers, and a wicked man uses deception and extortion to gain power, then I think it might be acceptable for Christians to play a part in seeing that this person is removed. Conniving with the Rebel Alliance to do so might be taking that too far, though. I think the Christian's focus should still be serving God whatever the current political climate, but there is more than one way to skin a dictator.

Rob Fall's picture

of the underground/unregistered Evangelical Christian-Baptists of the Soviet Union as an answer to some of the questions above.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

wbarkema's picture

Rob, that answers the questions of should a group of believers still organize and meet as a church. But what about joining a revolution against the current government?

Rob Fall's picture

Speaking from an Anglo-American perspective, I'd try to take a neutral stance. On the whole, I wouldn't snitch out either side to the other. But that would get me shot either way.

wbarkema wrote:
Rob, that answers the questions of should a group of believers still organize and meet as a church. But what about joining a revolution against the current government?

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

ncgolden's picture

Rob Fall wrote:
Look to the example of the underground/unregistered Evangelical Christian-Baptists of the Soviet Union as an answer to some of the questions above.

I think it's wise to look directly to the Bible for the answer. Peter writes to a group of people who were scattered across the known world. These believers lived in potentially volatile social and political situations and his instruction to them was to be focused on outward testimony. Depending on when I Peter was written, the believers reading it were quite possibly under the rule of the emperor Nero. Whoever it may have been, it is clear that the believers were driven abroad by the ruling authorities, and yet Peter writes the following:

Quote:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
- I Peter 2:13-17

Honor the emperor? I think the message Peter is trying to get across is crystal clear. We are not to be swayed by current socio-political events. Our allegiance is to Christ and as followers of Christ we are to submit ourselves to the existing government, even when the existing government is corrupt (as it was in the days of Peter). Jesus made this concise statement, "My kingdom is not of this world."

One quick opinion (and it is merely that) - the reason many evangelical Christians would contradict what I've just written is because their view of future events doesn't coincide with ours. If our goal is to in one form or another usher Christ's kingdom into this present age, how depressing would it be to watch this present age go down in flames? Also, if you'd like to watch me pull out a soapbox real fast, create a thread and attempt to defend the statement that "America is a Christian nation."

And one fun exercise where I will refer to actual events that have transpired recently: We are told to be subject to those in authority over us. If you live in Texas where there have been one or two whisperings of secession in months past and Texas hypothetically did decide to do just that, would you be subject to the new government of Texas or the United States government? Not that it would happen or that it even matters biblically - just a thought I had a while back. Smile

Dave G's picture

Personally I don't believe it's biblical to participate in overthrowing an oppressive government.

I see these things in Scripture, and some other things are my opinion:

1) We are to submit to authority over us, whether it be "froward" or not.

2) "Societal change" isn't within the believers' mandates...we're not of this kingdom. We're searching for a new country, not our current one(s).

3) Sinners sin...let them. If we spent as much time just dealing with what God gave us in His Word, living righteously, meeting other saints needs, praying and studying the Bible, we wouldn't have any time left for "Christian Activism". In fact, I see "influencing" unbelievers to do good works as just religion and will only wear off over time unless the whip keeps getting cracked.

4) As for the state of Texas...anyone that knows history knows that Texas has a nasty tendency to rebel against authority (not that fallen mankind as a whole DOESN'T) more than any other state in the Union. This is no surprise to me...heh.

Dave.

Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Rob Fall's picture

I believe the Brothers pretty much followed your thinking on the matter and on the same basis (I have the Englsih translation of their Statement of Faith available as a rtf file). And they did so to the point of martyrdom. I was only trying to give a "modern" example of a Biblical truth.

ncgolden wrote:
Rob Fall wrote:
Look to the example of the underground/unregistered Evangelical Christian-Baptists of the Soviet Union as an answer to some of the questions above.

I think it's wise to look directly to the Bible for the answer. Peter writes to a group of people who were scattered across the known world. These believers lived in potentially volatile social and political situations and his instruction to them was to be focused on outward testimony. Depending on when I Peter was written, the believers reading it were quite possibly under the rule of the emperor Nero. Whoever it may have been, it is clear that the believers were driven abroad by the ruling authorities, and yet Peter writes the following:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
- I Peter 2:13-17

SNIP

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

wbarkema's picture

If we are to believe our history books, the United States was a product of rebellion from the government due to religious oppression, purportedly by godly men. Was this wrong or right?

wbarkema's picture

Jim,

That is fine. However, much or the impetus for the colonist to come to America was religious oppression. Irrespective of that, the taxation oprression was also contested and used as a reason to rebel against the authority that God had ordained. So, whether it was for religious reasons or finincial reasons, was it right for the colonists to rebel and eventually set up their own government.

Dave G's picture

No.

It was not right for the colonists to rebel against their rightful lord, the king of England.

In subsequent years, those "godly Christians" otherwise known as Americans would go on to import slaves, break treaties with natives by the dozen, stumble upon and claim land already occupied, move westward lured by the promise of riches and freedom to found Texas (yet another successful rebellion against a rightful lord) and other states...*gasp* I'm so negative!

From my studies of American history I'd say the biggest reason wasn't religious oppression, but rather the chafing at the bit of being ruled by a distant king and a Parliament with nobody to speak for them, the colonist. Also, some of the policies of England were a bit invasive...;)

Yes, that would be a rather long debate...lol.

IMO, genuine believers wouldn't have rebelled, they'd have prayed for their king and endured...

Sola Scriptura, both mentally and physically.
That means no other books about Bible interpretation on my shelf, sorry...;)

1 John 2:27-29

Rob Fall's picture

As I understand the situation, the colonists were initially asserting their rights as free born subjects of the British Crown. They viewed such rights as having been established over the centuries up to and including the Glorious Revolution. To the best of my knowledge none of the duly elected and well established colonial legislative bodies took a loyalist stand. The governors of the various colonies are a different matter.

As for the genuine believers, huh? While the overall colonial population was split 1/3 Continental, 1/3 Loyalist, 1/3 Neutral, Baptists (especially in the Carolinas) were solidly in the Continental column due to the non-enforcement of the Acts of Toleration passed by Westminster and signed by HM the King.

So, the question becomes which government are you going to be loyal to, London or the duly elected colonial bodies. My point is they "didn't rebel and set up their own governments." They just stayed loyal to there local authorities and told London to take a hike.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

wbarkema's picture

It is not necessarily my intent to talk about the establishment of our current form of government, although it does give some insight into a biblical approach (not that it was biblical, just that we can glean from that).
I guess I should assume this is talked about as well, but what about the involvment of individuals such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Confessing Church partnering with the German Resistance. I realize that is a radical example, but once again, it shows a rebellion over a leader that (and this is hard to say) was ordained by God. Bonhoeffer joined the resistance, plotted to overthrow the Nazi regime and was even executed for his involvement.

Anne Sokol's picture

but i don't think this is a question for the church (leaders?) to decide. i think it's "every man for himself" with the Holy Spirit . . . if we can stand allowing that freedom to another brother Smile

wbarkema's picture

Anne, that may be so. but what biblical support would "every man" use to make that decision?

As an aside on this particular point, Erwin Lutzer's book "Hitler's Cross" is very interesting regarding the church's involvement during Hitler's rise to power and subsequent Reich.

tyork's picture

Rob Fall wrote:
As I understand the situation, the colonists were initially asserting their rights as free born subjects of the British Crown. They viewed such rights as having been established over the centuries up to and including the Glorious Revolution. To the best of my knowledge none of the duly elected and well established colonial legislative bodies took a loyalist stand. The governors of the various colonies are a different matter.

As for the genuine believers, huh? While the overall colonial population was split 1/3 Continental, 1/3 Loyalist, 1/3 Neutral, Baptists (especially in the Carolinas) were solidly in the Continental column due to the non-enforcement of the Acts of Toleration passed by Westminster and signed by HM the King.

So, the question becomes which government are you going to be loyal to, London or the duly elected colonial bodies. My point is they "didn't rebel and set up their own governments." They just stayed loyal to there local authorities and told London to take a hike.

I guess that you would also say that the Confederate states were also right to rebel against the United States. The question there was also which government were they going to be loyal to. The problem I have with what you state is that much of it is based on social contract theory which I do not find in the Bible. We can play semantics on the relationship between citizen and government and whether we are ruled by a constitution or elected officials, but the commands of Scripture are clear when it comes to how to respond to government, including oppressive governments such as the Roman Empire. The option is obedience to the government unless obedience means disobeying God. We obey God first, but even then as we see with Daniel and Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, we should be prepared to take the consequences of disobeying the government. As for the American Revolution, the issue was representation or the lack of it in England and increasing measures by England to reign in the colonies. The colonies rebelled against these measures. Although I doubt the rebellion had much to do with avoiding religious persecution, religious persecution does not justify a rebellion to overthrow a nation.

Pastork's picture

Tyork,

I couldn't agree more, as my aforementioned article ("The American Revolution: Was it Biblical? ") demonstrates:

http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2010/02/american-revolution-was-it-b...

In this article, I attempt to address various arguments Christians have made in an attempt to support involvement in the American revolution. The primary focus, of course, is on the proper understanding of Romans 13. Hope this helps.

Keith

Rob Fall's picture

A. There was no "a nation." There were thirteen (independent of each other) colonies. In the early days, they looked at themselves as simply exercising their rights as free born Protestant subjects of the British crown.
B. I'm not going to re-fight the ACW. Other than to say the south should have challenged Jackson during the Nullification Controversy. They would have stood a better chance.
C. The supremacy of Parliament had been established. Remember Charles the First and James the Second of England and the Seventh of Scotland. Not to mention the developments under Queen Anne and Georges I and II. The colonial legislatures viewed themselves as the local equivalent of London. Sorry, but the development of the English constitutional monarchy, from the time of the Magna Carta through the reign of George III, works against your position. It had been settled over the last hundred+ years that English\British monarchs were not absolute like their continental counterparts. IOW, there was no Divine Right of Kings in Great Britain. Kings who had tried to practice that Right either lost their head (Charles I) or lost their throne (James II/VII).
If I'm a Virginian the question becomes which government do I obey, the King through the Parliament in London or the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg.
If I'm a South Carolinian, do I support a government that operates in direct contravention of the law (the Acts of Toleration) or do I support the other side. You have to ask yourself why did these Godly men present a unified front when their neighbors were split into thirds.

tyork wrote:

I guess that you would also say that the Confederate states were also right to rebel against the United States. The question there was also which government were they going to be loyal to. The problem I have with what you state is that much of it is based on social contract theory which I do not find in the Bible. We can play semantics on the relationship between citizen and government and whether we are ruled by a constitution or elected officials, but the commands of Scripture are clear when it comes to how to respond to government, including oppressive governments such as the Roman Empire. The option is obedience to the government unless obedience means disobeying God. We obey God first, but even then as we see with Daniel and Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, we should be prepared to take the consequences of disobeying the government. As for the American Revolution, the issue was representation or the lack of it in England and increasing measures by England to reign in the colonies. The colonies rebelled against these measures. Although I doubt the rebellion had much to do with avoiding religious persecution, religious persecution does not justify a rebellion to overthrow a nation.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Pastork's picture

Rob,

I appreciate your perspective, even though I don't think I can agree with you on some things.

Quote:
There was no "a nation." There were thirteen (independent of each other) colonies. In the early days, they looked at themselves as simply exercising their rights as free born Protestant subjects of the British crown.

When tyork referred to "a nation," it doesn't seem to me that he was referring to the thirteen colonies as such, but rather to the larger political body of which they were a part and under whose authority they were, namely the government in England. Thus you correctly point out that "they looked at themselves as simply exercising their rights as free born Protestant subjects of the British crown." But the real issue here is not what they thought their rights were as English subjects, but rather what right the Bible may or may not grant them to rebel against the governing authorities that were over them. Supposing it was true that they had a right to rebel against the government under English law (a point I doubt can be shown), this would not mean that Christian citizens should have done so. For, if the Bible teaches that it is wrong to rebel against the governing authorities, then none of these authorities can legitimately grant such a right in the first place.

Quote:
The supremacy of Parliament had been established. Remember Charles the First and James the Second of England and the Seventh of Scotland. Not to mention the developments under Queen Anne and Georges I and II. The colonial legislatures viewed themselves as the local equivalent of London.

I don't follow you here. I know of no evidence that the governing authorities in the individual colonies ever viewed themselves as the "equivalent of London," if by that you mean that they saw themselves as possessing authority equal to that of Parliament. To my knowledge, they never questioned the right of Parliament, for example, to pass laws governing the colonies and to which the colonies must submit. The issue was rather that they questioned the "constitutionality" or fairness of some of these laws.

Quote:
If I'm a Virginian the question becomes which government do I obey, the King through the Parliament in London or the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg.
If I'm a South Carolinian, do I support a government that operates in direct contravention of the law (the Acts of Toleration) or do I support the other side. You have to ask yourself why did these Godly men present a unified front when their neighbors were split into thirds.

These are exactly the issues I address in the article I mentioned in an earlier post. Here, it seems to me, you are assuming the view that sates that we may overthrow the government if in doing so we obey an interpositional authority. Here is my response to that point:

Quote:
Second, some Christians make the argument that we may overthrow the government if in doing so we obey an interpositional authority. That is, if we are subject to a lesser authority which rebels against a higher authority, then we may obey that lesser authority by joining in the rebellion. And the magistrates in early America, it is argued, constituted just such lesser authorities.

But notice that this argument assumes that it would be right for a lesser authority to seek to overthrow a higher authority in the first place. But what if it isn't right? Does Paul assume in Romans 13 that it would be right? Or does his position indicate that it would be wrong? It appears to me that it would indeed be wrong, because it would in any case entail resistance of a God ordained authority, and such resistance would be considered sin by Paul. In fact, couldn't I argue on the basis of Romans 13 that, when a lesser authority requires me to disobey and resist a higher authority, I must disobey that lesser authority because it is requiring me to sin against God?

If you want to read the entire article, you can do so here:

http://reformedbaptist.blogspot.com/2010/02/american-revolution-was-it-b...

Rob Fall's picture

is all I'm trying to lay out. Many times we tend to view historical events through a 2010, American, post Appomattox Court House, set of lens. My point about the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution is if one takes the position that the colonialists were in error, then the Parliamentarians (ECW) and the anti-James II\VII (GR) were in error. At least, George III didn't loose his head like Charles I.
I haven't read the material in years. But IIRC, the colonial legislatures did view them selves as being equal with Westminster at least on the matter of raising taxes within their jurisdictions. London made the mistake of not raising regular formations in the colonies. Instead they sent regulars from Great Britain and only allowed the colonies militia formations. If the troops had been local, there would have been much less friction. Not to mention the merchantilist trade policies followed by London.
I would also think men like Witherspoon and Leland would not have joined the Continental Cause if the issue was as clear cut as you (IMHO) make it out to be.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Pastork's picture

I see no reason not to see the issue as clear cut, given the clear teaching of Scripture. Interestingly, however, any evidence you have been citing appears to be consistently focused on the cultural and political situation of the early colonies rather than on what Scripture does or does not teach. But the primary issue is whether or not Scriptural teaching on the matter is clear cut or not, isn't it?

Now, I don't mean to say that we should ignore the cultural and political situation in which we apply Scriptural teaching. We definitely should take it in to consideration. We just shouldn't let such considerations overwhelm our reading of Scripture to the point that we can no longer see what it says and to the point where we make excuses for disobeying it (however high-minded and just such excuses may sound to us.) Sadly, however, this appears to be exactly what many of the colonists did when joining in the revolution. At least that is what the views that were expressed at the time concerning the meaning of Romans 13 appear to me to be.

Rob Fall's picture

I simply assume that Godly men like John Witherspoon of Princeton (who though a Scotsman opposed the '45 Rising) and John Leland properly interpreted Romans 13. I am trying to give the reasons why they would. When (according to Armitage) the Baptists throughout the 13 Colonies were solidly in the Continental camp and the rest of the population was divided into thirds (Patriot, Loyalist, Neutral), I assume they knew what they were doing. Unless of course you want to put them in the same category as the PTSS folks in Muenster.

Pastork wrote:
I see no reason not to see the issue as clear cut, given the clear teaching of Scripture. Interestingly, however, any evidence you have been citing appears to be consistently focused on the cultural and political situation of the early colonies rather than on what Scripture does or does not teach. But the primary issue is whether or not Scriptural teaching on the matter is clear cut or not, isn't it?

Now, I don't mean to say that we should ignore the cultural and political situation in which we apply Scriptural teaching. We definitely should take it in to consideration. We just shouldn't let such considerations overwhelm our reading of Scripture to the point that we can no longer see what it says and to the point where we make excuses for disobeying it (however high-minded and just such excuses may sound to us.) Sadly, however, this appears to be exactly what many of the colonists did when joining in the revolution. At least that is what the views that were expressed at the time concerning the meaning of Romans 13 appear to me to be.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rob Fall's picture

By these I mean, a situation in Colony of Virginia in the mid-18th century is different than a situation in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the mid 19th Century and most certainly different than in the early 21st Century. Further, how Romans 13 is applied most certainly is specific to the then current circumstances. Remember, many of the Puritan divines we look to sided with Parliment in the ECW and the Glorious Revolution. One king lost his head and his grandson (and his heirs) lost his throne.

Simply put, how do you apply Romans 13 to the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution? Keeping in mind, the GR (1688-89) was less than a hundred years in the past from 1776

A couple of relevant wiki articles:

[URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glorious_Revolution ]The Glorious Revolution[/URL ]

[URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_of_New_England ]the Dominon of New England[/URL ]

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rob Fall's picture

"We in the colonies are willing to pay taxes to the Crown, but we insist on our right as Britons to be taxed only with our consent, given either in person to the King, or in our legislature through our elected representatives. If the Crown wishes to tax us, let it ask the colonial legislatures for revenue, explaining the need and the amount desired, and we will act on it. But don't try to tax us via acts in the British Parliament, where we have no seats." For details, see Edmund S. Morgan and Helen Morgan: The Stamp Act Crisis,
http://www.amazon.com/Stamp-Crisis-Edmund-Helen-Morgan/dp/B000MS28AA/ref... and Edmund S. Morgan Prologue to Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis, 1764-1766, http://www.amazon.com/Prologue-Revolution-Sources-Documents-1764-1766/dp..., passim.

The claim that the colonies wouldn't pay taxes was a piece of anti-rebel propaganda exploded long ago. In fact, when the Prime Minister began talking about taxing the colonies, colonial representatives in London asked him how much he thought was required, and what it would be for, and he refused to tell them. The attempt to establish the principle that London could do as it pleased with the colonies was more important than the money ostensibly sought.

Stephen M. St. Onge

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Pastork's picture

I am aware of such things, but I still say they are beside the point if the Scriptures do not allow us to rebel against our government. You can keep posting these things if you want, but I will just keep reminding you that the issue for me is, "What does Scripture say?" If you want to give me some evidence that the Founders were right to revolt, then give me evidence of any Scriptural arguments they may have made that demonstrate that I have misread the Bible on this point. So I will simply reiterate what I said before:

Quote:
I see no reason not to see the issue as clear cut, given the clear teaching of Scripture. Interestingly, however, any evidence you have been citing appears to be consistently focused on the cultural and political situation of the early colonies rather than on what Scripture does or does not teach. But the primary issue is whether or not Scriptural teaching on the matter is clear cut or not, isn't it?

Now, I don't mean to say that we should ignore the cultural and political situation in which we apply Scriptural teaching. We definitely should take it in to consideration. We just shouldn't let such considerations overwhelm our reading of Scripture to the point that we can no longer see what it says and to the point where we make excuses for disobeying it (however high-minded and just such excuses may sound to us.) Sadly, however, this appears to be exactly what many of the colonists did when joining in the revolution. At least that is what the views that were expressed at the time concerning the meaning of Romans 13 appear to me to be.

Your response to this was basically to say that you "simply assume that Godly men like John Witherspoon of Princeton (who though a Scotsman opposed the '45 Rising) and John Leland properly interpreted Romans 13." Well, I would like more that your assumptions. In the article I wrote I tried to deal with several alternative readings of Romans 13 that were offered during the Revolutionary period. Do you know of arguments that I missed? Was I wrong in my critique?

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that you are willing simply to assume that the Founders understood Scripture correctly with no clear arguments to support that they did, in fact, do so. This is, after all, the issue for a Christian, isn't it?

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