So You Say You Want a Revolution?

Declaration-of-independence-broadside-cropped

Declaration-of-independence-broadside-cropped (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m pretty sure my most recent posting of the Declaration of Independence led you to believe something was to follow. If so, you were right. I just didn’t want to smear the beauty and wonder of that document with my words, so it rests alone without contribution. But now, I would like to speak.

Honestly, I’m bothered by a pretty straightforward observation regarding the believer’s responsibility to Paul’s words found in the thirteenth chapter of his letter to the Romans and the rights we have as American citizens.

We can be a fickle bunch on this topic. On the one hand, pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is considered a hero of martyrdom for his involvement in Operation Valkyrie. He was part of the plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. The atrocities committed by Nazi Germany were considered worthy of such extremes, so much so that the words of Paul regarding submission to governing authorities is never contrasted with his efforts. And yet, about the time someone suggests that we have the right to stand in opposition to our government’s policies, here come those words again, “submit to your government authorities.”

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you also struggle with those verses from Romans 13. Then again, maybe you have it all figured out… please share it with me then. In that marvelous document of our founding birth as a nation (The Declaration of Independence), God-fearing men of wisdom declared that the citizens of this country were endowed with certain unalienable rights. They emphasized that these rights weren’t given to us by men, but by our Creator. One of those rights was to recognize when a government becomes destructive, and do something about it… up to and including “altering and abolishing” it.

But what about us professing Christians? Where does the Bible stand on this? Two very differing views of those verses from Romans 13 are found in a couple of works I house in my library. One is “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Gregory Boyd. The other is “Resistance to Tyrants” by Gordan Runyan.

I would love to make heads or tails of this debacle. Maybe with your help I can. I hope to keep these posts brief, but I’m really anxious to share these thoughts from both sides and hear how you feel about these things.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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10 Responses to So You Say You Want a Revolution?

  1. Ben says:

    I just came across this blog as I have recently been wrestling with the same sort of questions you’re dealing with here. I have few answers to offer, but I wanted to let you know that there are others out there also wondering what the Christian’s response should be in the times we face. As a patriotic American I greatly admire our Founding Fathers and their fight for freedom. Like many others I find the direction this country is going to be distressing, and I have wondered what our response should be if tyranny must be faced. However, I have also recently read Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship again, and have been reading his Letters and Papers from Prison… and seriously re-evaluating my entire perspective. One thing I am becoming more certain of… if I am to be targeted or go to prison, I want it to be for only one reason: my faith. Is it possible that American Christians have put undo emphasis on the concept of rights while other Christians around the world can remain undistracted from serving Christ under any conditions?
    -Ben

    • mtsweat says:

      Very valid observations. Very true and provable facts. Consider those who would have received letters from the Apostles. They were literally being killed for their faith.

      You’ve stepped into the first of a mini-series of sorts that I posted over a brief period of time, which culminated in my trying to find some ground for standing against an immoral government. My conclusion would be that we are called to respect, pray for, and even be obedient to those God has placed as authorities in our lives up to the point when they pass laws that require us to be immoral and ungodly.

      Given that we are commanded to stand in the place of the helpless, how do we respond to the now being passed laws that require us to willingly give our tax dollars to fund abortions? If we do so without a fight, is not the blood of the innocent on our hands also? I’m literally struggling with this thing as much as anything I recall. Thanks for stopping in and blessings good friend.

      • Ben says:

        Thanks, I agree. I have also been struggling with the abortion issue in a similar way. Perhaps that issue is worth covering it itself at some point.
        Blessings to you as well!
        -Ben

  2. I don’t want to comment on American politics or issues, but the Scripture comes to mind . . . Acts 5:29 “We ought to obey God rather than man”
    We are enjoined to pray for our governments, but when our governments are in direct opposition to the Word, I act on this Scripture.

  3. Pingback: Free for a Revolution? « Resting in His Grace

  4. loopyloo305 says:

    I know that I am repeating myself but God first, if the leaders of the country are doing God’s will we have the responsibility to follow them. If they are explicit in disobeying God’s will and trying to force us to do the same, we have no responsibility to follow them but instead we do His will. If we succumb to evil by consenting to the desires of man, we are in direct opposition to God, He does not make allowance for us to choose to disobey His will. He always gives us the choice, Paul did not stop preaching because the leaders of the lands he was in wished it and wound up in prison more than once, there was a reason Daniel was in the lions den, and there was a reason that Esther disobeyed and approached the King at the risk of her life. When we try to straddle the fence and take no stand, we have nothing to stand upon.God bless!

  5. I am going to enjoy this read as well as the comments.

  6. hankcr says:

    You also may want to take into consideration the church leaders that took up arms in the Revolutionary War that gained our freedom. They obviously did not have a problem with Romans 13. Of course I am convinced that they did not understand it the way that it is presently taught either. The church of today more or less worships our military and worships the idea of submission to government hence the churches refusal to speak out on government issues. And thats just the way our government wants our churches: silent. Of course that doesn’t apply to black “churches”, but thats another issue. I think that the churches present day understanding of Romans 13 is skewed. It will be interesting to see how you deal with the issue.

  7. ccragamuffin says:

    “You say you’ll change the constitution ~ Well, you know ~ We all want to change your head ~ You tell me it’s the institution ~ Well, you know ~ You better free you mind instead.” If only Lennon and McCartney had used the word “soul” instead of “mind”, we could be singing Revolution in church. That would be fun. I look forward to how you will present the tension between our citizenship in the Kingdom of God and our citizenship in a kingdom of the world. This is a very timely subject with many facets…and many consequences. I am praying as I type, that you will be mightily blessed with insight and discernment…and the recall of more great songs…

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