Reformed Men who Held Kings Accountable

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Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
Jacob said:
"People say that we should mindlessly obey the king, whatever he commands, since Paul never said to rebel. I think, in full agreement with Reformed history, that this is a NAIVE ethic and our great Reformed heritage thundered against it."

Romans 13 says:
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities...

The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right."


Question #1:
Who exactly says we should "mindlessly obey the king"?

Question #2:
I guess I do not know Reformed history that well. In light of Romans 13, how did our Reformed forefathers rebel against their kings?

Did Oliver Cromwell behead the leaders of his time?

This has me quite concerned over my Calvinist leanings.

Question #3:
Who defeated communism in the USSR?
Reagen? Thatcher? Pope John Paul II? The inefficiencies of socialism?
God?

Question #4:
In the US, "the authorities" actually encourage you to vote. Voting against a sitting president is not rebellion.
How precisely then should you rebel in the US?

Question #5:
Which kings should we have rebelled against?

Question #6:
Proverbs16:
"The Lord works out everything for his own ends-
even the wicked for a day of disaster."

I take this verse to mean that God is actually "directing" history.
Am I wrong?
 

Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
Jacob said:
"Revolution is a French concept that I abhor."

I always thought "rebellion" and "revolution" are basically the same.

(Ah, those Frenchmen)
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
I know most people here might like Cromwell, but I think he was somewhat of demagogue. He supplanted tyranny with tyranny.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
I like the idea of interposition of lesser magistrates precisely because it lends strength to the constitution and the rule of law, and upholds rights of people, and is better than violent revolution. The measure of public opinion is sufficient counterweight against abuse of interposition. Yet people act like that is disruptive and rebellious. When you eliminate any concurrent voices to counteract consolidation or usurpation, you leave the potential backlash at tyranny as a possibility. Lord Acton was right to say that John Calhoun and not Webster was "the true defender of the Union."
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I have answered all of these elsewhere, but I will try again.

Originally posted by Henry from Canada
Jacob said:
"People say that we should mindlessly obey the king, whatever he commands, since Paul never said to rebel. I think, in full agreement with Reformed history, that this is a NAIVE ethic and our great Reformed heritage thundered against it."

Romans 13 says:
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities...

The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right."


Question #1:
Who exactly says we should "mindlessly obey the king"?

Pretty much any evangelical. Norm Geisler writes along these lines in his book on ethics. GaryDemar takes him to task.

Question #2:
I guess I do not know Reformed history that well. In light of Romans 13, how did our Reformed forefathers rebel against their kings?

Did Oliver Cromwell behead the leaders of his time?

This has me quite concerned over my Calvinist leanings.

Calvinists, believing in the sovereignty of God, said that no man is absolute and only God is beyond criticism. Secondly, they said that the king is under the law. If the king is under the law, then he can break the law. If he can break the law, he can be *punished* for his crimes. However, he cannot be punished by just anyone. We do not support vigilantism. He can only be punished by a public official, a lesser civil magistrate who has the support of the people, among other things.

Question #3:
Who defeated communism in the USSR?
Reagen? Thatcher? Pope John Paul II? The inefficiencies of socialism?
God?

Irrelevant to the argument but probably JPII and Russian incompetency. Socialism is moronic to the nth power. See my comments elsewhere on why stupidity cannot win in the long run.

Question #4:
In the US, "the authorities" actually encourage you to vote. Voting against a sitting president is not rebellion.
How precisely then should you rebel in the US?

By all means vote. Thirdy Party if you can. You don't rebel. A lesser magistrate rises up and restores the social order. But here is a case study: Let's say that what happened in Florida with Terry Schiavo (ie, the Supreme Court executing her) happened in an Alabama with Roy Moore as governor (which he might win in the next election). Roy Moore would have exercised his constitutional right and surrounded her bed with his own guard, armed to the teeth, to protect Terry. This would have put George II in a tight spot. You have this uncompromising man in Alabama who his interposing and nullifying an order in the name of the Law. If George II had brought troops down there, the citizens of Alabama, led by Roy Moore, would have the God-given right to defend themselves.
If you think the above is more ravings from a right wing nut job, I simply refer you to a fine essay written by John Jefferson Davis which is eerily similiar to what I have been saying.

Unfortunately, I don't think any of the above will happen anytime soon. The church has yet to repent of her sins and the spiritual tenor of the country, unlike the heroic tenor of the church during the First War for American Independence, is not ready for this type of action.
Question #5:
Which kings should we have rebelled against?

I don't know. Using the above guidelines someone can do reasearch on this.
Question #6:
Proverbs16:
"The Lord works out everything for his own ends-
even the wicked for a day of disaster."

I take this verse to mean that God is actually "directing" history.
Am I wrong?

I don't think so.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Here is a case study:

Scenario:

Let's say that you got a letter in the mail for a fifteen dollar tax from the supreme court. What do you do? The statist view of Romans 13 says that yuo must obey it, it being fromthe government and the government functionally acting as God on earth. Howevever, this raises the question of proper jurisdiction. If someone has no authority in an area, can they bind my conscience? Furthermore, the law does not allow--objectively--the supreme court tp tax (they probably do anyway. Yea, to pay that tax would further covenant-breaking, thus putting me in violation of Romans 13.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk

Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
You know, I may be very stupid, but I am having trouble grasping this thread.

King Saul was appointed by God, but fell into disfavour with God.

King Saul disobeyed God, glorified himself, and attempted to kill the apple of God's eye - David.

King Saul, I believe, did not act in a lawful manner.

Yet David did not kill King Saul when he had the chance. In fact, David killed someone who said that he killed King Saul.

To me, David seemed to place extremely high value on not dishonouring God's chosen leaders.

Question #1:
Am I interpreting this history of David correctly?

Question #2:
Was King David correct not to rebel?

Question #3:
If King David did not dishonour King Saul in spite of prolonged threats to his life, when should we? A $15 tax levied by the Supreme Court does not appear to be that onerous.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Henry from Canada
You know, I may be very stupid, but I am having trouble grasping this thread.

King Saul was appointed by God, but fell into disfavour with God.

King Saul disobeyed God, glorified himself, and attempted to kill the apple of God's eye - David.

King Saul, I believe, did not act in a lawful manner.

Yet David did not kill King Saul when he had the chance. In fact, David killed someone who said that he killed King Saul.

To me, David seemed to place extremely high value on not dishonouring God's chosen leaders.

Question #1:
Am I interpreting this history of David correctly?

Question #2:
Was King David correct not to rebel?

Question #3:
If King David did not dishonour King Saul in spite of prolonged threats to his life, when should we? A $15 tax levied by the Supreme Court does not appear to be that onerous.

1. Close. But you are taking unique, hard cases and trying to make universal applications.

2. David resisted the King. The fact that he did not kill him doesn't alter the fact that David was an outlaw in the purest sense of the term. And now, I am going to pull a stunt that non-theonomists always use against me (this isn't against you, Henry; I just have wanted to do tihs for a while): Israel was a theocracy. Nothing applies anymore. Just kiddding!

In more detail. After the fall of Israel things changed with civil magistrates. David the Outlaw was not a magistrate. he had no jurisdiction to call Saul to an account. However, in a post-Rome Western World, the law states that the King is under the law. If he is under the law he can break the law. If he can break the law he can be punished like a criminal.

3. You don't understand. It is against the law for the Supreme Court to tax. Therefore, if I obey them by complying wiht the tax I am breaking the law and thus violating Romans 13.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Let me clarify what I am NOT saying:

1. I the citizen am NOT going to lead an offensive, armed revolt against the government. That is beyond my jurisdiction. However, given the context of the Second Amendment, I do have the right to defend myself against private and government tyranny (see Jefferson for proof).

2. The only way a magistrate can be overthrown is by a lawfully established lesser magistrate, seeing the people being terrorized by the Chief Magistracy, acts on a large scale to protect the citizenry.

see my articles at patrickhenrypatriot.blogspot.com
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
As usual, I come into these threads way late, but I'm going to chime in anyway.

I think the first thing a citizen of a republic must do is understand the structure of his government and the scope of its authority. We do not need a rebellion if citizens consistently and knowlegably call officicious agents to task when they exceed authority. That is the main problem today with the U.S.

As an example, people don't understand (or care, apparently) that it is literally unlawful for Congress to delegate authority to the executive branch. (I say that deliberately, even the most liberal constitutional scholar will admit that the current practice in Washington is not what was outlined in the supreme law of the land. They are enamored of the 'living breathing' concept of the Constitution, but that only confirms that they know what it originally meant). We don't need an armed rebellion to get back to the original practice. Instead, we need education and outrage.

Jacob's example with the court imposing a tax is exactly on point. You not only do not respect authority that exceeds its lawful bounds, you should raise the hue and cry. Make a big deal about minor transgressions because, if you don't, the next one will be bigger. This you can do with a telephone and a little time. You don't need to be well-armed, but you do need to be brave.

I have a current situation in which a local court has started imposing fines on attorneys for not filing certain administrative papers deemed necessary by the local clerk. Neither the court rules nor statute require these papers. The clerk has no statutory authority to make his demands. The fine is only $30 for failing to file a "case resolution form" and I'm fighting it. I am sure I will prevail at the appellate court level. It would be a lot less hassle for me to pay the $30 and go along, but, in my eyes, this is a big deal. An authority cannot exceed his jurisdiction and should be resisted when he tries.

So, in our day to day lives, we should honor rightful authority and resist unjust usurpers. In a republic, it is our duty to understand the difference.

Vic
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by victorbravo

Jacob's example with the court imposing a tax is exactly on point. You not only do not respect authority that exceeds its lawful bounds, you should raise the hue and cry. Make a big deal about minor transgressions because, if you don't, the next one will be bigger. This you can do with a telephone and a little time. You don't need to be well-armed, but you do need to be brave.


Vic

If I may paraphrase what Mr Victor so concisely stated, I am running an internal critique. In my supreme court analogy I set out to show, conclusively I believe, that if one obeys the "law" in this case, one ends up breaking the law. In other words, if you are right you are necessarily wrong. It is a powerful form of refutation. The worldview of such people is inherently schizophrenic. Such a people cannot remain free and such a society signs its own death warrant.

[Edited on 1--23-06 by Draught Horse]
 

Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
First of all Jacob, I think we both appreciate how difficult this issue is. You seem to place a lot of emphasis of "higher laws", and I can appreciate this. (Actually I find this emphasis very refreshing.)

Secondly, I do not have a firm position on this issue, because during war this issue is really, really difficult.

On one hand.....

During Jesus' time, the Romans were really brutal. They persecuted many people in a most sadistic fashion. They also disobeyed many Godly laws.

Yet neither Jesus, nor Paul, seemed to advocate rebellion or disobedience.

This fact seems to really speak against civil disobedience, and for a strict interpretation of Romans 13.

When I read the OT, I get the impression that God overthrows evil leaders - sometimes with even more evil leaders.

Godly people like Daniel, Jeremiah, Nathan, etc. seem to be pacifists who warn the people of their sins.

I can think of only one instance when Daniel disobeyed a king's edict. (Though this instance was significant.)

These facts seem to argue very much against civil disobedience.

On the other hand....

Exodus 1:17 says:
"The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt told them to do."

This seems to justify civil disobedience in one limited case.

Perhaps we can say that for the most part Christians are compelled to obey civil authority, however, in certain limited cases of "higher laws" it is permissable to disobey. (Lord, please forgive me if I am wrong. This is really tricky.)
 

Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
To clarify my point, I do not consider voting against a sitting president or appealing any tax to be civil disobedience in the United States. That is because the American government has allowed these types of "disagreements."

I, myself, have appealed against certain isolated tax regulations in Canada, and noone in government complained. In fact, one civil servant said I should start my own organization.

What I consider civil disobedience in the US is wilfully engaging in behavior that you know government leaders do not condone (eg hiding income, smuggling goods, seeking to compromise the nation's security, rebellion, etc.)

The issue of "proper" civil disobedience weighs heavy during times of war, dictatorships, colonialism, and with regimes that violate human rights.

I am sorry if I confused the issue.
 

Henry from Canada

Puritan Board Freshman
Oh, a larger issue still plays in my little head....

The Romans were absolutely brutal. They sadistically and brutally killed many people. They killed moms, dads, sons, daughters...

Yet neither Jesus, nor the 12 disciplines advocated rebellion. Hence, the argument for a strict interpretation of Romans 13.

All I can think to say is that surely God had a purpose to allow this immense suffering.



....and I get angry when people chew food with their mouth open. I am a sinner.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Victims of the Darkness: Government Surveillance and Intimidation

Right now, here in the United States of all places, the government doesn't condone speaking out against the government. They make lists of people that are against the war in Iraq, they monitor protests, they make dossiers of what they call anti-government speech. Heck, quotations from the founding generation are anti-government by their perverse standards. They show a fundamental disrespect of the law that they themselves profess to uphold.

They even have secret service agents visit a little kid over his social studies project on the Bill of Rights, where he illustrated dissent by taking a picture of the President, and photographing it alongside a thumbs down. It turns out the photo developer turned him into the police, and the police turned him into the Secret Service. And rather than ignore it as, they go interrogate the little kid. At least, his teacher had gumption to stand by him...

After the Patriot Act, they are getting obviously unwanted attention as people and corporations have rightfully resisted their encroachments. They have no right to ask library software makers to turn over lists of computer records of all library users, and their reading habits. No, I say we should scream, and shout, and voice our discontent with this...

The Hobbessian spirit which animates modern interpretations of Romans 13, of resigned pacificism and timidity in the face of tyranny, mocks true Christian piety and humility. Christ stood up to a hypocritical amoral generation of Pharisees, who he condemned as a "brood of vipers," and they executed him for it.

In our country, people who think because they have a magistrate's badge-- presume they have a right to instigate crime, lay traps and snares, tempt and entrap people, and than buy off informants and witnesses. And yet we call it the administration of justice.

[Edited on 1-23-2006 by Puritanhead]
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by victorbravo
As an example, people don't understand (or care, apparently) that it is literally unlawful for Congress to delegate authority to the executive branch.

That violates the old pre-Blackstone Anglo-Saxon legal maxim delegata potestas non potest delegari (a delegated power cannot be redelegated). Today, the Congress abdicates its responsibility and mindlessly delegates away every authority from the war powers and of course powers it doesn't even have. Likewise, so called administrative law within the bureaucracy, has agencies which enact regulations, enforce those regulations, and adjudicate disputes over those regulations. It completely violates the separation of powers, and the most basic principles of federalism. Theoretically, one can appeal administrative court decisions, but the federal courts seldom hear them, and give deference to the administrative courts.

It delegates them to the Presidency and now it is trying to delegate them to so called multilateral institutions like FTAA, which can enact binding regulations on the U.S.

Sadly, most people don't know about this phenemenon. But than again most people are generally ignorant of twelfth-grade Civics, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by victorbravo
You not only do not respect authority that exceeds its lawful bounds, you should raise the hue and cry. Make a big deal about minor transgressions because, if you don't, the next one will be bigger.

The Fate of Abuses and Usurpations under the American Constitution

The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.
"“James Madison


Well, I discussed this and echoed these quotes in my article on interposition earlier, which no one really put much stock into, as evident by the lack of posts.

"œ[E]very act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid."
"“Alexander Hamilton, The Judiciary Department, Federalist #78. June 14, 1788.

"œThe people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal in arms. An act of usurpation is not obligatory: It is not law; and any man may be justified in his resistance. Let him be considered as a criminal by the general government; yet only his fellow citizens can convict him."
"“Theophilus Parsons, Debate in Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788, 2 Elliot's Debates, p. 94; 2 Bancroft, History of the Constitution, p. 267.

"œBut when Congress, (exercising a delegated and strictly limited authority) pass beyond these limits, their acts become null and void; and must be declared to be so by the Courts, in cases within their jurisdiction; and may be pronounced to be so, by the States themselves, in cases not within the jurisdiction of the Courts, or of sufficient importance to justify such interference."
"“Robert Young Hayne, Herman Belz, ed. The Webster-Hayne Debate on the Nature of the Union, (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2000), p. 173.


I realize that Henry is from Canada, but our constitutional systems are not aloof from one another as they have an Anglo-American pedigree, and such principles against usurpations of the law can be found in Blackstone and in the common law jurisprudence.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Henry from Canada
Oh, a larger issue still plays in my little head....

The Romans were absolutely brutal. They sadistically and brutally killed many people. They killed moms, dads, sons, daughters...

Yet neither Jesus, nor the 12 disciplines advocated rebellion. Hence, the argument for a strict interpretation of Romans 13.

All I can think to say is that surely God had a purpose to allow this immense suffering.



....and I get angry when people chew food with their mouth open. I am a sinner.

I understand what you are saying, friend, but feel I have addressed it elsewhere. Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote:

However, the nature of theology is that it progresses (the standard by which is how biblically faithful it is becoming) in its understanding of how to apply biblical principles to modern day circumstances. I will say it another way: Given the legal and socio-political conditions of the first-century, the Roman Christians could not have resisted via armed force. However, it is naive and anachronistic at best, irresponsible at worst, to suppose that we live in the first-century today and that there changing social conditions are normative for us.
A. Morality is absolute and never changes. However, our applications of moral systems do change. We are called to be good citizens. For the Roman Christians this meant obedience to Caesar. As American citizens we are called to be obedient to the civil magistrates as well. (And I will steal a little of my thunder and introduce my main argument).
B. The question then becomes: When Caesar' law requires me to break the Law of the land (while not necessarily exclusive of biblical law, it can be and often is distinct from it), to whom do I owe obedience? That will be the argument of the next section.
C. Grant me Premise B, then I can argue that resisting Caesar (and I will develop this below) is actually obeying Romans 13.

When I have more time I will post stuff that shows legal theory developing in Western Christendom that, and this is interesting because it transcneds boundaries and time periods, places kings under God's law.

To be honest, I am not impressed with the Roman argument. For one, I am not a roman citizen and my rights and responsibilities as an American are different and they demand that I respond differently as well.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
I'm glad I am not a Roman. I don't know why Christians look back to the despotisms of antiquity and forget we're in what is supposed to be constitutional republic where the government is amenable to the people. With the blessings of republicanism, we ought to look to God as the sovereign, and not some King or messianic State.

Yes, pray for our leaders, and likewise pray that God would remove the bad ones, and raise up just and righteous ones.

Unlimited submission isn't for me... nor was it for the Christians in the catacombs of Rome.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Puritanhead
I'm glad I am not a Roman. I don't know why Christians look back to the despotisms of antiquity and forget we're in what is supposed to be constitutional republic where the government is amenable to the people. With the blessings of republicanism, we ought to look to God as the sovereign, and not some King or messianic State.

Yes, pray for our leaders, and likewise pray that God would remove the bad ones, and raise up just and righteous ones.

Unlimited submission isn't for me... nor was it for the Christians in the catacombs of Rome.

Right. Paul gave a lot of commands that we probably don't need to make normative and absolute. Or, to say it more specifically, we do not need to make Paul's application, which was unique in his society, normative for us today. Like, Paul said it is best not to marry because (unstated premise) you are about to be a human torch lighting the streets or Rome. Of course, we need to be obedient to our magistrates and pray for them and seek the peace of the social order. My duties are to be a good, constitutional citizen. To do that I must take Jefferson's advice on the second amendment--guns keep away the government.

But we are not to place magistrates above the law. Once a Christian places the King above the law, he has equated, functionally, the King with God. God is the only Transcendent Law-giver. God is the one who determines right from wrong. Only God has the capability to determine right from wrong. Only God is above criticism. To place the King above the law is to say that the king has the same attributes, judicially, as God.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Puritanhead
Oh how many problems result because people confound power with authority?

Massive bloodshed, for one. I have a stirring quote on that:

"œ There is no law, no appeal, no higher order, beyond and above the universe. Instead of an [vi] open window upwards, there is a closed cosmos. There is thus no ultimate law and decree beyond man and the universe. Man´s law is therefore beyond criticism except by man. In practice, this means that the positive law of the state is absolute law. The state is the most powerful and most highiy organized expression of humanistic man, and the state is the form over the universe, over every human order, the law of the state is a closed system of law. There is no appeal beyond it. Man has no "œright," no realm of justice, no source of law beyond the state, to which he can appeal against the state. Humanism therefore imprisons man within the closed world of the state and the closed universe of the evolutionary scheme (introduction to The New Legality by
Hebden Taylor, 3).

And I read this one hammer-blow of a sentence from Rushdoony:

Therefore, the essential nature of the modern state is power, "and it maintains itself in terms of pweor, its most basic law is power...The humanistic statea may profess the common good...but it moves essentially and always in terms of pwoer, or else it finds lean and hungry humanistic wolves ready to devour it...This means that humanistic law is inescapably totalitarian law, for "the humanistic state not only lacks a transcendental limitation on its law, it also lacks all such limitations on its power, so that its total power reinforces its total law.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Let's not forget Robin Hood!

Oh the world will sing of an English King
A thousand years from now
And not because he passed some laws
Or had that lofty brow
While bonny good King Richard leads
The great crusade he's on
We'll all have to slave away
For that good-for-nothin' John

Incredible as he is inept
Whenever the history books are kept
They'll call him the phony king of England
A pox on the phony king of England!

He sits alone on a giant throne
Pretendin' he's the king
A little tyke who's rather like
A puppet on a string
And he throws an angry tantrum
if he cannot have his way
And then he calls for Mum while he's suckin' his thumb
You see, he doesn't want to play

Too late to be known as John the First
He's sure to be known as John the worst
A pox on that phony king of England!

While he taxes us to pieces
And he robs us of our bread
King Richard's crown keeps slippin' down
Around that pointed head
Ah! But while there is a merry man
in Robin's wily pack
We'll find a way to make him pay
And steal our money back

The minute before he knows we're there
Ol' Rob'll snatch his underwear
The breezy and uneasy king of England
The snivellin' grovellin'
Measly weasely
Blabberin' jabberin'
Gibberin' jabberin'
Blunderin'
Wheelin' dealin'
Prince John, that phony king of England
Yeah!
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
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