Wednesday, May 20, 2009

King of Ireland, Frazer, Fatalism & Romans 13:

King of Ireland alerted me to his response to Gregg Frazer on Romans 13. It invokes a number of reductios to try to rebut Frazer's notion that the Bible categorically forbids revolt period.

The main reductio that I've seen from not just the King, but many others is "what about Hitler and Stalin"? But fundamentalist/Sola-Scriptura Christianity is supposed to be immune from such reductios. That is, the question is NOT, "oh how horrible it would be if Christians had to submit to Nazi and Communist tyranny" but rather, "what does the Bible actually teach on the subject?"

And Frazer, following John MacArthur makes a convincing case that the Bible actually and literally teaches revolt against government is always wrong, period. Here is what MacArthur wrote about Christians' biblical duty to submit to even communist tyranny:

A Testimony from the Soviet Union

I will never forget a conversation I had with Georgi Vins. He is a Christian who lived for many years in the Soviet Union. He met with our staff one day and we asked him what it was like to live under tyranny and repression in a communist country. He told us that Christians can’t pursue an education or a career. They have no say in the government and no freedoms to speak of. This question was then posed to him: How do you respond to that kind of government? He said, “We obey every law in our nation, whether it appears to us to be just or unjust, except when we are told that we cannot worship God or obey the Scripture. But if we are persecuted, put into prison, or killed, it will be a result of our faith in Jesus Christ, not because we violated some law in our nation.”

In Romans 13:1-7, Paul is saying the same thing Peter did: We have a serious responsibility to live out our justification by faith. Our self- sacrifice to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2) should make us model citizens of our nation. We should not be known as protesters–as those who criticize and demean people in authority. We should speak against sin, injustice, evil, and immorality fearlessly and without hesitation. But we should give honor to those who are in authority over us. That is the biblical pattern for every age, every nation, and every Christian–it has nothing to do with America alone.

A response might be this is fatalistic -- well yes it is fatalistic. So is the fundamentalist teaching on Hell. But again, we are in the realm of "reductios" to which fundamentalism is supposed to be immune. If the Bible teaches the vast majority of human beings -- including many of your loved ones and folks from history you admire -- are eternally damned, that's what it teaches period. Or, if the Bible teaches submit to all governments, including tyrants, that's what it teaches, period. One thing I admire about Drs. Frazer and MacArthur is their willingness to stick to their guns and follow their Sola-Scriptura premises all the way through, even when it leaves a bad taste in folks' mouths.

Though I would note, it's possible to have differing interpretations on Romans 13; Frazer's and MacArthur's, from my perspective, are closest to the "literal" interpretation of the Bible's text. Most theology that has argued for the right to revolt against tyrants "found" that right with a natural law supplement or somewhat "looser" or metaphorical interpretation of the Bible's text.

This (natural law discovered from reason, and loose/metaphorical interpretation of the Bible's text), and NOT Sola-Scriptura fundamentalism was, without question the political-theology that America's Founders and the patriotic ministers used to justify rebellion against tyrants. It was not "the Bible alone" that told men they have a right to rebel against tyrants because the Bible teaches no such thing. Figures like the unitarian Jonathan Mayhew had to look elsewhere to first find the right and then go back and attempt reconcile the Bible's text with the right to revolt against tyrants.

If only the evangelicals and fundamentalists who comprise Christian Nationalist forces understood this.

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