Eschatology Matters

Neo-Calvinists share with theonomists a post-millennial outlook. David Koyzis illustrates:

Yet the call to holiness and to living for the kingdom is as extensive as creation itself. Farmers, manufacturers, labour union stewards, musicians, artists, journalists, electricians and sewage line workers are not obviously preaching the gospel or attempting social reform. Yet if they are in Christ, they are agents of his kingdom in every walk of life.

It is telling that the authors of the statement neglect the eschatological dimension of the faith. Eschatology, or the doctrine of the last things, is not a mere add-on to our Christian walk. Rather, it gives us direction for the future. At the end of the present age are we to be removed from this world to spend eternity in a blissful ethereal realm of floating spirits? Or will the whole creation be renewed when Christ returns? Perhaps the authors are not in agreement on this, which could account for their silence. Nevertheless, the Bible itself is not so reticent: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-24). “For in him [Jesus Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). “And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new'” (Revelation 21:5, emphases mine).

We live in the hope of the resurrection of the dead in a renewed creation, which awaits its final fulfilment at Christ’s return. In the meantime we are heirs of this promise in everything we do in God’s world.

That quotation has the classic marks of neo-Calvinism, a view of the kingdom of God that blurs distinctions between holy and ordinary vocations, between church and secular matters, regards growth in holiness as something that applies to non-Christian affairs. Above all, the classic way of seeing continuity between this world and the world to come.

Neo-Calvinism is especially defective about the nature of the saeculum, which is the age between the advents of Christ. Greenbaggins invoked Vos to explain the peculiar character of the period when the ministry of word and sacrament defines the church, in the words of the Confession of Faith, as “the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God” (which means the kingdom of Jesus is not Hollywood, New York City, Grand Rapids, or the Department of Health and Human Services:

Here is Vos (a Dutch Calvinist, mind you):

The significance of the unique organization of Israel can be rightly measured only by remembering that the theocracy typified nothing short of the perfected kingdom of god, the consummate state of Heaven. In this ideal state there will be no longer any place for the distinction between church and state. The former will have absorbed the latter.

Greenbaggins explains:

In other words, the present state of distinction between church and state is a parenthesis. One day in the future, a perfect theocracy (with no possibility of the people’s apostasy) will come into being in its fully ineradicable, eschatologically perfect state.

That parenthesis, the interadvental period, is the age of the secular. It is the time when church and state are distinct, when Christ’s reign as king is divided between ruling creation and reigning over the redeemed.

Those who deny that distinction, those who see a progression from Israel (good), to church (better), to glory (best) fail to acknowledge the difference that the interadvental period makes. It is a time when all efforts to immanentize the eschaton, either by bringing the past (Israel) into the present, or bringing the future (new heavens and new earth) into the now, are flawed because Jesus’ spiritual kingdom is not of this world.

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71 thoughts on “Eschatology Matters

  1. Does this mean that we are to selectively cherry-pick from the Abrahamic covenant what we want to keep (infants born in a probation covenaant) as “in substance” the new covenant, but assign other Abrahamic promises and commandments to the Mosaic adminstration of “the covenant”?

    Vos —The old dispensation of the covenant of grace bore a legal character for israel as a nation and therefore, in its external form, once more kept the covenant of works in view, although the core of what God established with Israel was of course the continuation of the Abrahamic revelation of the covenant of grace Reformed Dogmattics, volume 2 .p36

    Charles Hodge–It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a church. The parties to the former covenant were God and the nation; to
    the other, God and His true people. The promises of the national covenant were national blessings. The conditions of the national covenant were circumcision and obedience to the law … There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, and the commonwealth founded on the one with the
    church founded on the other.” Church Polity, 1878, 66

    Genesis 22: 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn,” this is the Lord’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. 18 And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.”

    Genesis 26: For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, 5 because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.”

    People who attempt to overcome evil with good by mistake believe that Jesus is already king even before Jesus comes back to earth?

    I Corinthians 15: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
    23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/protestprotest/2019/01/social-justice-and-the-problem-of-evil/

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  2. Why are you attempting to ccombine the Lutheran idea of being both kingdoms at once (the earth for now belongs to Satan, and that present kingdom will not improve) with some Reformed idea of progess in “sanctification” (the sacrament does more than mereely keep you in a state of grace) ?

    WCF: Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby, they whom God hath before the foundation of the world chosen to be holy, are in time through the powerful operation of His Spirit, applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life and all other
    saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up,i ncreased, and strengthened, as that they MORE AND MORE die unto sin and rise unto newness of life.”

    Heidelberg Catechism Q.76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ? A. It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become MORE AND MORE UNITED to his sacred body

    Unlike the Reformed, Luther did not believe in progfess in sanctification, Maybe if the Reformed stopped teaching progress in “holiness infusion” (rising “more and more” to life ), then Kuyper and other Reformed guys would stop thinking that Ben Sasse is going to slow down abortion rates or persuade Israel to kill less Muslims.

    Mark Seifrid-—-Calvin is able to speak of the condemning function of the Law with the same vigor as Luther himself ( I
    Yet in his eagerness to resolve the question of the unity ofScripture, Calvin speaks of the Law as ….not bringing death but serving another purpose. According to this perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …

    Seifrid—Luther finds a radically different anthropology in Scripture. The old, fallen creature exists as a whole alongside the new creature, who is likewise a whole.. There is no intermediate state” in which we receive instruction but escape
    condemnation. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written. Admittedly, this perspective robs “progress” of its ultimacy. The goal and end of the Christian
    life is given to us already at its beginning in Jesus Christ….. What those need who do not feel themselves to be aas much sinners as they used to be is the careful, gentle, yet direct exposure of their sins—not merely the faults of our
    society or problems in our culture but the root sins of self seeking, pride, lust, envy, greed by which we deny God and mistreat one another

    proto—I believe that applying our faith to all of life will mean that there’s much in the world that is simply beyond hope of redemption http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2014/03/two-articles-on-reformed-two-kingdom.html

    The difference between God’s providence in creaton and God’s providence in redemption needs to be defined (then deconstructed). God is not only sovereign over Babylon but also sovereign in that Christ only died for those sinners God sovereignly elected (and no reform of the “means of grace” is going to change that).

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  3. What you say depends on with whom you are having polemics. In your The Reformation Still Matters, (against the Romanists) you sound sometimes like an anabaptist. But when you are trashing “biblicists” and “separatist individualists”, you sound very much like your “mediating institutions” need the magistrates to replace the pope as rivals (checks and balances) to Scrripture alone and the anarchy of the “priesthood of the believers”. I realize that my assessment of this probaby reinforces your view that this means that you have hit the “sweet sport”, and that your dialectic is not self-deception but “just the right gray mix” of now and the not yet.

    You want to still kill people in this age (not as a Christian but as an American) because it is your duty to become more and more sanctified (using natural law to restrain sin in yourself and others) , but by what standard do you presume to do this killing? Even though Jesus already said what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, what Jesus said was only for heaven in the age to come. What Jesus said must be translated back into someting like Moses said, but because this is a transition time, in this age let’s not go by Moses or Jesus but let’s roll with the original intent of the founding slaveowners of Americanism…

    No magistrate, no magisterial Reformation. Duffy—Eire’s final chapter “Luther the reactionary” deals with Luther’s violent repudiation of the apocalyptic radicalism of former disciples like Andreas Karlstadt .The libertarian rhetoric of Luther’s reformation pamphlets, with their insistence on the freedom and dignity of every Christian and their onslaught on ecclesiastical corruption and established religious authority, certainly fueled and probably helped trigger the peasant uprising. Years later, Luther would tell admiring disciples, “It was I, Martin Luther, who slew all the peasants . . . for I commanded them to be slaughtered. All their blood is on my head. But I throw the responsibility on our Lord God, who instructed me to give this order.”

    Luther—“Since we are all priests and all have one faith, why should we not have the authority to test and determine what is right or not right in the faith.” The killing is done by the secular kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom approves what the secular kingdom does .Hart’s argument sounds like any disapproval of what the secular kingdom does (Pilate included) is because people are rejecting what God has predestined. The idea that the spiritual kingdom is doing evil always seem to Hart like it’s coming from people who really want to take over the secular kingdom (as opposed to Hart merely agreeing that visible churches could not now exist without the violence and wrath of the status quo secular kingdoms)

    “The Zurich vs. Geneva narrative proclaims that Zwingli, Bullinger, and all the churches that followed them can be taken as representatives of an essentially late medieval ecclesiology, perpetuating the idea of a corpus Christianum, the godly prince, and a state church; Calvin, Beza, and all the churches that followed them, meanwhile, represent a fundamentally different ecclesiology, one with a more Anabaptistic concept (though its apologists will rarely speak this way) of the church as a gathered, separated community of the righteous, independent from, and frequently in rivalry against the so-called Christian magistrate.”

    https://calvinistinternational.com/2012/05/07/protestantism-and-liberalism/

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  4. Passed from death to life and not enter into judgment, must not ever mean that there is no future justification according to works And scripture alone also must never really alone. Pope must be replaced by Confessions written for the sake of the National Church and a true church depends on a Professional Clergyman who will give support to the Confession and to the Professional Magistrates. Because it makes no sense to deal with Christians when they have a Pope. And “consience” does not ever mean what a Christian thinks but only what his church thinks. And maybe it wasn’t the church who decided what the canon of the Bible was, but now the magistrate needs (for the sake of order and civility) to decide if your church is a church. And in this way, the recognized churches will act as rivals to the necessary nation-states. If not a church member, not a saint.

    D. G. Hart—-“a defense of religious liberty for persons actually increases the power of the state.”

    https://oldlife.org/2016/08/24/against-religious-liberty-for-freedom-of-church/

    Crawford Gribben—- Rutherford’s Free Disputation challenges any idea that the modern, politically passive Presbyterian main- stream can be identified either with the theology of the historic Westminster Confession. Rutherford’s commitment to shaping an entirely Presbyterian world, where public deviations from orthodox faith or practice should be met with the most severe of legal consequences, is a world away from the political complacency of modern evangelicalism or notions of conscience as license to sin (WCF 20.3-4).Tthe Confession is not committed to the separation of church and state in any modern understanding of that idea. The doctrine of the “two kingdoms,” where church and state operated independently but with mutual reliance on the law of God, did not at all favor a religiously neutral state.“The Civil Magistrate. . . hath Authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that Unity and Peace be preserved in the Church, that the Truth of God be kept pure, and intire; that all Blasphemies and Heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in Worship and Discipline prevented, or reformed…

    Machen—“Historic Christianity does, against the claims of society, provide for the individual a refuge from all the fluctuating currents of human opinion, a secret place of meditation where a man can come alone into the presence of God. It does give a man courage to stand, if need be, against the world; it resolutely refuses to make of the individual a mere means to an end, a mere element in the composition of society. Historic Chriatianity brings the individual face to face with his God.”

    Imagine what would have heppened had the Magisterial Reformers became martyrs instead of working with the magistrates to get the best gradual compromise they could get? I mean, it’s one thing to sacrifice yourself individually (as one member of the church) but what would happen if confessional churches had not made the adjustments necessary to maintain magisterial support for their newly founded institutions? Without the appearance of continuity with the sacraments which came before, what remains of any authority to exercise the keys? I mean, what good would Luther or Calvin being a martyr have done anybody? No more good than was done by the deaths of Hus and Grebel. (It was their lack of patience in waiting for the magistrates which only made things worse ) . Unless you deny that Jesus is God, you have to admit that Jesus is not our example, since we can’t make any atonement. Therefore creation and redemption must always be kept on distinct tracks, even though sure technically Jesus is also our creator . But there is no need now after redemption for us following His human example, especially if we have the right motives when we welcome new Constantines to help us rival the pope , and thus do our bit to overcome evil with evil, even though it won’t work, at least we won’t get wiped out… And those who disagree with Hart about this either deny God’s predestination or confuse nature with grace….

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  5. mcmark:

    You want to still kill people in this age (not as a Christian but as an American) because it is your duty to become more and more sanctified (using natural law to restrain sin in yourself and others) , but by what standard do you presume to do this killing?

    You might have a point if Jesus had not inspired Paul about the magistrate. Don’t immanentize the eschaton.

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  6. Mark:

    Maybe if the Reformed stopped teaching progress in “holiness infusion” (rising “more and more” to life ), then Kuyper and other Reformed guys would stop thinking that Ben Sasse is going to slow down abortion rates or persuade Israel to kill less Muslims.

    Sasse lives now; Kuyper — at least the famous one — died in 1920.

    So maybe you simply mean, “current Reformed thinkers.”

    But that’s not true either. The Reformed thinkers who most look to holiness infusion to improve society are the ones who are most 1k-ish in their thought.

    Legit 2k thought holds that the civil kingdom will keep on being a mixed bag, neither improving as a result of sanctification, nor yet falling entirely apart — until Jesus comes.

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  7. Mark:

    Does this mean that we are to selectively cherry-pick from the Abrahamic covenant what we want to keep (infants born in a probation covenaant) as “in substance” the new covenant, but assign other Abrahamic promises and commandments to the Mosaic adminstration of “the covenant”?

    No. The covenant in its entirety belongs to the children of Abraham. Paul teaches this in Galatians 3. There is no talk of “this covenant, but not that covenant.” Instead, all in Christ are children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.

    What of the offspring promise? You quote Genesis 22, “In you all nations shall be blessed.” Paul attributes that to Christ:

    Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. — Gal 3

    What of the land promise? You quote Genesis 26, “I will give your offspring all these lands.” Paul attributes that to Christ:

    It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. — Rom 4

    The entirety of the promises made in the covenant with Abraham are fulfilled in Christ and explicitly attributed to all those who are of the faith of Abraham.

    Are infants then born in a probation covenant? Is the covenant of grace dependent upon eventual sanctification? Me genoito! Rather, there is a visible and an invisible aspect to the covenant: What we see, what God sees.

    What God sees is complete and true: He knows His elect, and they follow His voice.

    What we see is outward and partial. We “see faith” in others by means of professions and actions, but we have no way of knowing with certainty whether that faith is genuine and saving, or illusory (as in Matt 13.20 – 22).

    To the extent that any infant OR adult is “on probation”, it is only in the eyes of men, and not before God.

    What then of Hodge’s “Two Covenants”? He’s wrong. I really like Hodge, and I like to think that I am neo-Hodgian in my approach to theology. Still, in this case, he tries to resurrect a relation between the covenants that was tried and rejected in the 17th century: Two distinct covenants, one with the nation and one with the remnant. He does so because he finds himself trying to fend off anabaptist tendencies within Presbyterianism (“vipers in diapers”), but he goes too far.

    That approach fails because of the Biblical evidence. Rather, our best model is that there is one covenant, with an outward administration and an inward substance.

    I strongly recommend reading Turretin here (whom, interestingly, Hodge generally relied upon, but not in this instance).

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  8. Agreeing with the Wetminster Confessions about your personal progress (more and more dead to sin, more and more united to Christ ) is not saying that this age is the age to come, but any attempt to change society by the standard of Christ’s commands you see as failure to wait for the second coming. I am not buying the difference you assume between “sanctification” and “social justice reform “. What happens both with you and with society has been predestined by God, and we agree that in all things God is good. But our shared theodicy does not answer my question above–by what standard do we call what is good or evil?
    With what motives do we overcome evil with good? Can’t we agree that Jesus is already king now, before Jesus comes back to earth? . Is simply having a standard in which Jesus is the example a confusion of this age with the age to come ?

    Let me remind of what Paul said Romans 12: Do not avenge yourselves. Instead, leave room for Go’ wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But
    If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
    If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
    Romans 13: 4 The powers are God’s servant, avengers that bring wrath

    I certainly agree with you that God reveals God’s wrath in this age. But I do not agree with you that Romans teaches that Christians now in this age are to be loyal to two kingdoms at the same time. The powers are doing the very thing that Romans 12 forbid us to do. Romans 12 does NOT say, don’t use evil to defend yourself but wait until you can join up with the powers to administer God’s wrath. Satan is God’s servant, and God uses the wratth of Assyria against Israel, but that does NOT mean that we should therefore have two masters and two kingdoms.

    Romans 13: 8 Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another… 10 Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. 11 Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

    Of course I also very much like some of what Guido de Bres wrote—

    we are “justified by his grace as a gift,
    through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”56
    And therefore we cling to this foundation,
    which is firm forever,
    giving all glory to God,
    humbling ourselves,
    and recognizing ourselves as we are;
    not claiming a thing for ourselves
    and leaning and resting
    on the sole obedience of Christ crucified,
    which is ours when we believe in him.
    That is enough to cover all our sins
    and to make us confident,
    freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror
    of God’s approach,
    without doing what our first parents, Adam and Eve, did,
    who trembled as they tried to cover themselves
    with fig leaves.
    In fact,
    if we had to appear before God relying—
    no matter how little—
    on ourselves or some other creature,
    then, alas, we would be swallowed up.
    Therefore everyone must say with David:
    “Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servant,
    for no one living is righteous before you

    But Guido de Bras was way too much worried about telling the magistrates what to do or not to do to simply relax in the joy of personal justification before God. He wrote a Confession so that the magistrates would know what the true church was, and in the process confesssed the legitimacy of what the state did (even if without reference to Jesus or to Moses), because Guido seems to think that any kind of law would decrease “sin” in this age)

    “God, because of the depravity of mankind, hath appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the world should be governed by certain laws to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained…And the office of the magistrate is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship that the kingdom of anti-Christ may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted.

    Guido at this point soun like an “enthusiast”. Instead of being a biblicist separatist, a citizen of heaven waiting for Jesus to come in the age to come, Guido wants to replace the pope with the magistrates. Is it because he fears that justificaton by Christ’s alone will not cause people to live right that Guido promotes “social justice/violence ” as a mans to the imporveement of this present age? And even though Guido confesses the goodness of God’s providence, he is not content—“we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and all those who would subvert justice, and confound that decency and good order, which God hath established.

    Again, the specific standard for “justice” and “order” is not given (neither Jesus nor Moses), but Guido nevertheless
    wants the other kings to work with Jesus, who is already now king of this earth , even before Jesus comes back to earth.

    D G Hart—The reason for low-church fear here is Rome’s appeal to Maatthew 18 is for papal supremacy and authority. But that appeal did not put off the earliest Protestants (Hart means the Magisterial Refomers who helped eliminate earlier reformers) … From their perspective,Rome’s application of these texts was flawed, but not the idea of
    church officers possessing the keys of the kingdom which “open the kingdom of heaven to believers and
    close it to unbelievers.” http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=13-10-020-f

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  9. Guido de Bres was martyred, at least in part because he conscientiously refused to countenance a popular insurrection to gain his release contrary to (against the will of) the “[evil] powers ordained by God,” which had sinfully sought to bind his conscience. Hart (et al) admires his convictions and his consistency.

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  10. Mark: But our shared theodicy does not answer my question above–by what standard do we call what is good or evil?

    Pause for a moment and reflect that By This Standard is the title of one of Greg Bahnsen’s books. And one of Gary North’s articles.

    Could it be that your theonomic tendencies are showing?

    But to answer: God’s Law is given in two forms — in the Word, given to His people, and written on the heart and given in the commands Adam. It is not a different law, but a different form of the same law, to which Adam’s people appeal for civil society.

    Mark: Can’t we agree that Jesus is already king now, before Jesus comes back to earth?

    Yes. He rules by precept over his people; He rules by providence and decree over all of creation.

    Mark: Is simply having a standard in which Jesus is the example a confusion of this age with the age to come?

    By all means, let’s have Jesus as the example — indeed, as the second Adam. But what did Jesus say when asked to rule on civil matters? The example of Jesus saying “man, who made me judge over you?” should cause theonomists serious pause. For indeed: Jesus IS judge of all. Yet in that time and in that place, He demurred.

    Mark: But I do not agree with you that Romans teaches that Christians now in this age are to be loyal to two kingdoms at the same time.

    Nor did I say it. We are loyal citizens of one kingdom, respectful strangers and aliens in the other.

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  11. John Fea—he seems to believe that the only thing Christianity teaches Christians about their responsibility as citizens is that Christianity has no role to play in our responsibility as citizens

    Luke 1:3 Someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 “Friend, Jesus said to him, “who appointed Me a judge over you?” 15 Jesus then told THEM, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”

    then a parable: A rich man said, let’s build a wall

    I Peter 2: Christ did not threaten
    but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

    Peter in Acts 2: 23 Though Jesus was handed over according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, YOU usedlawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.

    who made you judge over us?

    2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!

    John knox made Mary Queen of Scots a martyr, but that doesn’t mean that either Knox or the Romanist queen were correct to think that a Christian can give place (submit) to the wrath and adminster the wrath both at the same time. Eschatology doesn’t turn the present evil into present good. You were wrong to accuse those who do not share your two kingdom world-view of either not believing in God’s goodness or not believing in God’s goodness.

    We are not all “anabaptists now” in terms of liberty and conscience. Not all two kingom teaching is the same, and I don’t merely mean that some are relatively more “radical” than others. As proto has explained, most forms of “two kingdoms” are “evolved Constantinianism” But most “2kers” believe a second kingdom justifies world violence as the means to order. But others of us believe that it is not good for any human creature to agree and participate with that violence. We can agree that God has ordained the handing over of sinners to sinners, without confusing what God has predestined in this age with good.

    And when we pacifists ask you “by what standard” about this second kingdom you are also loyal to ( “responsibility as citizens”, your only response is—“you have theonomic tendencies”. You don’t even attempt the “we are in the middle between two extremes”. Rather, your assumption is that those who won’t participate in state violence have no right to even talk about “by what standard” . This assumption goes along with a worldview that thinks there would be no culture without a worldview which finds a place for violence. And thus the begging of the question—-there would have been no Magisterial Reformation without the Magistrate, as if it were self-evident that the Magisterial Reformation was at least better than Romanism . Or “all martyrs are really seditionists” .

    DVD’s argument was that you can’t say that the law during the Mosaic economy is only a different form of the same law Christ gave. You have ignored that argument, as also my argument that a Magisterial Reformation is only another theology of glory, because it adds the violence of nationalism along side the efficacy of Christ’s death.

    Jesus Christ rules by precept over creatures, not only over those the Trinity has redeemed. Jesus Christ is creator. Listen to Him! Even redemption is ruled by Christ’s providence, because God has only imputed the sins of His elect in Christ. Christ is not the mediator of a conditional atonement or a conditional covenant.

    The old Constantinianism (Guido, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Augustine) said that the magistrate rules in matters both religious and “civil”. The newer Constantinianism says that there are must be a “civil” over which neither Christ nor Christians rule, a “civil” which gets to decide what is “civil” and “what is not religious” . This is a “civil” in which even Christians can ignore the example of the second Adam so that they too participate in violence, as long as they don’t technically name the “civl” as also Lord and God.

    take they our life,
    Goods, fame, child and wife,
    Let these all be gone,
    They yet have nothing won;

    Colossians 1;13-14 God has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

    John 18: “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this— to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.

    Luke 4: 5 So Satan took Jesus up and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 Satan said to Jesus, “I will give You all this authority, because all this authority has been given over to me, and I can give all this authority to anyone I want. 7 If You then will worship me, all authority will be Yours.”
    8 And Jesus answered Satan: “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY.”

    The Inquisitor argues that “Had Jesus turned stones to bread, He would have performed a miracle that would have convinced the WORLD to follow Him politically. If Jesus had thrown Himself from the temple, the mystery would have enabled Him to TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO DO. And if He had accepted the kingdoms of the earth, He would have been able to avoid death.

    And so the “hybrids” — even those who call themselves aliens (when they start losing) in the one kingdom but who still approve and legitimate the violence of that kingdom, explain that Jesus died only for “spiritual reasons” so that any resurrection or reiging is not about here and now in this age. All that is deferred, but for now, we don’t simply wait (do nothing) but we, for the sake of the peace of our city, join in to protect this city from other cities .

    And Hart suggests, well, when it comes to religious liberty, it would really be better (ie, we would be more free) if the “civil state” would deal with us not as individuals but by means of our churches (defined by clergy). But, when it comes to taking up the vocation of killing for the “civil state”, individual Christians do whatever they want, as long as they don’t bring in either Moses or Jesus as a standard.

    Of course, in this age, things won’t be fixed, can’t be fixed. But in the meanwhile, it would be way worse if God had not given us magistrates to make sure our slaves and our women kept in their predestined place.

    john H Yoder (politics of jesus, 213) — Christians cannot measure whether we should revolt against the state, as if a certain states could fall short on the status of being states, and therefore need to be revolted against. Nor can we measure by this yardstick whether a nation-state has been ordained by God, because all nation-states have been predestined by God. All the powers that be are subject to the sovereignty of God, and Christians are to be subject to them all. http://jamesmcgahey.blogspot.com/2013/03/jesus-and-two-swords-justification-for.html

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  12. Note commenting on this whole thread, just one particular point. Jeff said

    What then of Hodge’s “Two Covenants”? He’s wrong. I really like Hodge, and I like to think that I am neo-Hodgian in my approach to theology. Still, in this case, he tries to resurrect a relation between the covenants that was tried and rejected in the 17th century: Two distinct covenants, one with the nation and one with the remnant. He does so because he finds himself trying to fend off anabaptist tendencies within Presbyterianism (“vipers in diapers”), but he goes too far.

    Can you clarify which 17th century view you are referring to? Just curious who you have in mind here.

    Second, Hodge was not at all responding to anabaptist tendencies in that article. Quite the opposite. He was responding to Episcopalians arguing the 17th century Presbyterian position of a national church witih non-communicant adult members modeled after Israel. https://books.google.com/books?id=EdQrAAAAYAAJ&dq=charles%20hodge%20%22church%20polity%22&pg=PA55#v=onepage&q&f=false

    R. Scott Clark loves that quote, btw, because he says it provides historical precedent for Kline’s views. https://heidelblog.net/2008/07/republication-of-the-covenant-of-works-2/

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  13. @ Mark:

    Thanks. I feel encouraged that we are at least engaging here. The “Wall of Quotes” format conveys, perhaps inadvertently, that actually responding to what has been said is too mundane; here, you respond, and I appreciate it.

    The core of your appeal has to do with pacifism: The belief that Jesus’ words to “turn the other cheek” must apply to all as the standard of what is good behavior. Hence, that standard must rule also the magistrate and the laws of all nations.

    The obvious falsifier is Rom 13, in which Paul makes clear that (a) the sword is given to the magistrate (in his day, Nero!), and (b) that the magistrate is acting as God’s agent in wielding the sword.

    for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. — Rom 13.

    Somehow, you believe that the “obvious falsifier” does not falsify. I haven’t yet heard exactly why. Could you explain? In what sense can Paul be pacifist in the societal sense, yet also infallibly teach that the magistrate can legitimately be God’s servant as avenger? How is Paul not, in your words, “a hybrid”? For he also teaches that the Christian should take no vengeance, but leave that to God.

    Mark: DVD’s argument was that you can’t say that the law during the Mosaic economy is only a different form of the same law Christ gave. You have ignored that argument, as also my argument that a Magisterial Reformation is only another theology of glory, because it adds the violence of nationalism along side the efficacy of Christ’s death.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read DVD. My response would be that the moral law during the Mosaic economy *is* a different form of the same law that Christ gave; the civil and ceremonial are part of the shadows and types, thus fulfilled and obviated with the coming of Christ.

    Mark: …as also my argument that a Magisterial Reformation is only another theology of glory, because it adds the violence of nationalism along side the efficacy of Christ’s death.

    I would respond that this fundamentally misunderstands because it tries to combine the assumptions of two systems. You have a 1k assumption (yes?) — hence, you attribute the Reformed teachings about the magistrate to “glory” because you assume that the violence of the magistrate belongs to the kingdom of Christ.

    But if you could really understand 2k on its own terms, you would see that the violence of the magistrate belongs only to this present age. There is not glory in this present age, for it is passing away.

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  14. Jeff: The core of your appeal has to do with pacifism: The belief that Jesus’ words to “turn the other cheek” must apply to all as the standard of what is good behavior. Hence, that standard must rule also the magistrate and the laws of all nations. The obvious falsifier is Rom 13, in which Paul makes clear that (a) the sword is given to the magistrate (in his day, Nero!), and (b) that the magistrate is acting as God’s agent in wielding the sword.

    mark– no state is acting as God’s legitimate agent. To be predestined is not to be approved. From above:—-Yoder– cannot measure whether we should revolt against the state, as if a certain states could fall short on the status of being states, and therefore need to be revolted against. All nation-states have been predestined by God. We are to be subject to them all…. Satan took Jesus up and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world —-handed over according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, lawless people nailed Him to a cross and killed Him. Hart defends Pilate’s jusrisdiction to kill Jesus instead of obeying Jesus by not killing. It is not at all “obvious” that Romans teaches that human creatures now in this age are to be loyal to two kingdoms at the same time. The powers are doing the very thing that Romans 12 forbid us to do. Romans 12 does NOT say, don’t use evil to defend yourself but wait until you can join up with the powers to administer God’s wrath. God uses the wratth of Assyria against Israel, but that does NOT make Assyria “obviously a legitimate agent of wrath” Nor does it mean that human creatures can or should have two masters and two kingdoms.. God’s sovereignty uses Satan. as God’s servant. This does not mean that Romans 13 gives us a standard by which we discern if we need a new Satan to replace the old Satan. Sinners sin against other sinners, but they are neither commanded nor given standards to adminster wrath (you won’t use Jesus or Moses but you seem to think that both covenants are the same as the natural standard given Adam) , but nevertheless the evil actions are used by God for God’s purpose.

    Jeff—be pacifist in the societal sense, yet also infallibly teach that the magistrate can legitimately be God’s servant as avenger?

    Jeff, your interpretation that Paul or Jesus is teaching that the magistrate is “legitimately God’s avenger” is quite fallible. Your inability to find the standards for legitimacy vs illegitimacy helps show that you fail to make a distinction between what God ordains in history vs what God commands and forbids.

    Jeff: My response would be that the moral law during the Mosaic economy *is* a different form of the same law that Christ gave; the civil and ceremonial are part of the shadows and types, thus fulfilled and obviated with the coming of Christ.

    mark: Yes, that question-begging moraal/ ceremonial distinction was used the Romanists (before and after Trent, and now in the new perspective) to say that some kinds of works (not other kinds) are necessary so that faithis inevitably never alone for “final justification”.

    David VanDrunen—A common reading of Matthew 7:17-20 in my own Reformed tradition is that Jesus is about to clarify the Mosaic law in response to Pharisaical corruption of Moses. This fails to reckon with the radical, eschatological newness of the coming of Jesus and his kingdom …All six of Jesus’ “You have heard” statements either quote or paraphrase the actual teaching of the Mosaic law, not contemporary Jewish interpretation of it….Whereas the Mosaic law prescribed procedures for divorce, oath-taking, just retaliation, and destruction of enemies, Jesus proscribes these very actions.

    David VanDrunen– We must consider how Jesus’ commands in 5:38–42 are different from the lex talionis as imposed in the Mosaic law. The “eye for an eye” formula appears three times in the Mosaic law and is evidently a cornerstone of its jurisprudence. It was likely not intended to be applied in an overtly literal way, but represented a key legal principle: justice was to be strict, proportionate, and retributive.14 As such it encapsulated the Mosaic theme that Israel would be justly rewarded in the land if they faithfully obeyed God’s law and would be justly (severely) punished if they disobeyed ….Jesus is legislating a different principle ….The lex talionis prescribes a second action that is proportionate to the first action: the person who causes the injury is to receive the same injury in return. Jesus’ words in 5:38–42 preserve the twofold action and the proportionality of the lex talionis. The difference is that he exhorts his disciples to bear the second, retaliatory action themselves.17 A proportionate penalty is still borne, but the wronged party rather than the wrongdoer endures it. This reflects the larger Matthean theme that Jesus’ disciples must imitate Jesus in his suffering at the hands of sinners.

    http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church-a-reformed-two-kingd

    Mark: …as also my argument that a Magisterial Reformation is only another theology of glory, because it adds the violence of nationalism along side the efficacy of Christ’s death.
    Jeff–This fundamentally misunderstands because it tries to combine the assumptions of two systems. You have a 1k assumption (yes?)

    mark—it never seems to ever occur to you that I have read and understand what you have read and understand, but nevertheless disagree. I guess this goes with worldview that talks about being “Exiles” and yet still loudly affirms not only the legitimacy of the world’s violence but also agrees to participate in it for the sake of “society”. There is more than one definition for two kingdom paradigms . In one theory, church and state are distinct. For example, Calvin gets called to pastor by the City Magistrates, and the City tells the church (Calvin) how often it can swallow the leader. But “doctrine develops” and what was once “moral law” becomes merely ceremonial and accidental, so then there is another two kingdom theory in which the state no longer calls itself Christian, but nevertheless “true Christian churches” confess the legitimacy of the new form of Constantine. What the Reformed have called two kingdom is not what the Lutheran have called two kingdom (otherwise you wouldn’t be getting so much kickback from Reformed institutions) , and neither of those theories is the same as one in which there are two kingdoms in this age but only one is Christ’s and the other kingdom endorses violence as something either indifferent to Christ or legitimated by Christ.

    Jeff:: — hence, you attribute the Reformed teachings about the magistrate to “glory” because you assume that the violence of the magistrate belongs to the kingdom of Christ.

    Mark–since i don’t like it when you say “you do not understand”, I won’t say that about you here. But neither do I want to say that you are deliberately misrepresenting. It is the glory of Christ that Christ is now already sovereign over both good and evil. Not only does God in Christ predestine all things, but Christ the creator is risen mediatorial Lord of all creatures. I am not denying that God hides Himself, or that God ordains what God has not commanded (Lutherans talk about left hand vs right hand) . Do you want to agree with me that the violence of the world is not commanded by Christ or governed by Christ’s standards Jeff? if we can agree on that, then the next step (for you) is to agree with me that the violence of the world is predestined but not approved by Christ.

    If we agree Christ is already king now, but also agree that the present passing away age is not the same as the age to come, how does that in any way make it ok for you to be loyal to two different kingdoms in this present age? Since it is not yet glory, it doesn’t matter what we do? Even if that were so, why would you so object to us now being pacifist?

    Hebrews 2: For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because of His death

    I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must REIGN UNTIL He puts all His enemies under His feet.

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  15. MMC: But I do not agree with you that Romans teaches that Christians now in this age are to be loyal to two kingdoms at the same time.

    JRC: Nor did I say it. We are loyal citizens of one kingdom, respectful strangers and aliens in the other.

    MMC: It is not at all “obvious” that Romans teaches that human creatures now in this age are to be loyal to two kingdoms at the same time.

    That’s one example of many misunderstandings.

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  16. I agree that you don’t understand this kind of pacifism. It doesn’t fit Niebuhr’s caricature . You seem to think you have “infalliably” an either or—–theonomy of the Mosaic law or “natural law”. But we are converted by God from one kingdom to another kingdom, and we don’t stay in both (our outside here, our inside up) We are all born under the Creator Christ’s sovereignty, but none of us are born already on earth as citizens from heaven.

    “Evolved Constantinianism” is when the nation-state no longer needs to pretend to have its standard from God’s law, because those who profess to be Christians agree to kill along side everybody else by whatever “natural” rules the powers of the status quo determine. .

    John Howard Yoeder—Pre-Constantinian Christians had been pacifists, rejecting the violence of army and empire not only because they had no share of power, but because they considered it morally wrong; the post-Constantinian Christians considered imperial violence to be not only morally tolerable but a positive good and a Christian duty.
    The Priestly Kingdom (1984), p.135

    Verduin—-In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition. The Codes of Justinian decreed that “Heresy shall be construed to be an offence against the civil order” (XVI, 5:40). It has been said that Calvin sought, late in the trial, to have sentence commuted to the effect that some mode of execution other than by fire would be Servetus’ lot. The reason for this suggestion was that Calvin wanted Servetus eliminated as an offender against the civil order. Death by fire was for offenders in the area of religion. Hence Calvin’s concern in the matter. It was the same sensitivity that made Margaret of Parma, in 1567, specify death by hanging for Guido de Brès. It would look better to have de Brès destroyed as a seditionist than as a heretic; hence death by the noose rather than by the flame., The Reformers and their Stepchildren, p54

    https://books.google.com/books?id=LUM-FCtmCZAC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq

    in the Nick Foles forthcoming book on a Christian worldview—-The specific day of sabbath was always only a ceremonial law, and in this present age, losing only increases your “spirituality” ( more sanctified, more united to Christ, better)

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  17. You seem to equate the kingdom of darkness (which we have left — Col 1.13) with the various nations of the earth. As in, now that I am a citizen of heaven, I am no longer an American.

    Is that so? Have you formally renounced your citizenship?

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  18. I got to do something to opt out? I mean besides not voting? I still pay taxes—does that submission make me guilty? Is being born American something like being born in the covenant of grace? Christian until you break the covenant and get cut off? Born with no choice but to make a choice?

    it’s a wall of quotations, not a wall of quotes.

    John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

    Mike Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse

    mcmark;;; Since i was raised pagan, at least i won’t need to renounce the water that might could add extra curse .

    Since we did not choose to be born in Americaa, doesn’t that prove espeically that it’s grace to be born in America?

    If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be not evil. Indeed, if God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why some were born Christian in the external administration and this is why they need to meet the conditions of becoming and staying Christian. Even if I myself now profess to believe and evidence faith (by works not faith), none of us knows with certainty whether if our faith is genuine and saving, or temporary and in fact was always illusion. But conditional grace is objective and real.

    Or is being American different from being Christian–as I long as I don’t opt out publically, my children can continue as parasites on those ready to kill for their economy and country?

    The progressive fragmentation of Christendom can be seen reflected in the following four variants of Constantinianism:

    • Neo-Constantinianism – the Constantinian vision becomes smaller and more provincial. The church is still linked to power but now at the level of individual nation-states rather than global empire.

    • Neo-Neo-Constantinianism – the traditional church-state alliance is broken through disestablishment but the church maintains its unquestioned loyalty to a particular nation-state.

    • Neo-Neo-Neo-Constantinianism – the church remains loyal and patriotic even though it finds itself within a nation-state that is explicitly secular or even anti-Christian.

    • Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Constantinianism – the church identifies itself with a future regime that it regards as a ‘better system to come’ (e.g. by supporting revolutionary Presbyteriaan movements).

    http://aquakerstew.blogspot.com/2010/06/constantinian-shift-fall-of-church.html

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  19. MMC: I got to do something to opt out? I mean besides not voting? I still pay taxes—does that submission make me guilty?

    Would voting make you guilty? Of what?

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  20. You can’t be bothered to say what is falsified? Romans 13 “infallibly” teaches that no human creature has any right to be a pacifist.? You and Jeff are agreed with the “theonomists” that Christians sometimes need to kill but disagree with them when they seek to find guidance for the killing from Moses or Abraham?

    Romans 12: leave room for God’ wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    Romans 13 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and authorities that exist are ordained by God.

    Romans 13 says nothing about authorities submitting to authorities. Is there anything in Romans 13 which teaches that it is morally correct for any citizen of heaven to become a governing authority? Is there anything in Romans 13 which teaches that the meaning of Romans 13 changes depending on the situation? When the governiing authorites claim an eschatology in which there is now no God with any standard for governing authorities, is that something new and different? Is Hart correct to teach that God has a regulative principle for churches, but no regultive principle for secular governing authorities Does this lack of a biblical regulative principle for the “political” governing authority mean that we are to submit to any governing authority, or does it mean that we also have the liberty to become ourselves the governing authority? Does Romans 13 require us to agree that whatever a governing authority does is good, even though God has no regulative principle for what is good or evil for the governing authority to do?

    2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose the authority will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For authorities are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad conduct . Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have the approval of the authority . 4 For government authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because government authority does not carry the sword for no reason. For government aauthroity is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. 6 And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants,7 Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes,, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

    8 Do not owe anyone anything,except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments:—all are summed up by this:–Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. 11 Besides this, KNOWING THE TIME, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight:…14 put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

    DG Hart–. Puritans rightly advocated the regulative principle of worship, that is, the idea that whatever is
    done in public worship must find explicit warrant from Scripture. If the Bible does not require it, then it may not be done even if the thing proposed is not inherently sinful. So, for instance, the Bible may not prohibit explicitly a time of testimonies during worship. But unless testimonies find direct sanction in Scripture, they may not be
    included. http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=13-10-020-f

    mm–The Bible may not expicitly prohibit waiting to receive grace by means of water until you hear John preach repentance. but because we find in the Abrahamic covenant (which we find in the Bible) direct sanction for an objective seal of grace (or curse) for infants, waiting for the conscience of parent (or child) may not be inconcluded in the praxis of any true church. Until a chlld is uncluded in the covenant, that child cannot be taught to submit to parents or to God’s gospel. Until a pacifist agrees that an authority, though not governed by any biblical regulative principle, is not only predestined by God but also a good and legitimate authority, we cannot be sure that pacifist is not a seditionist.

    in 1567, Guido de Brès was not killed by fire as a heretic because that would have a trangression of the boundary between that authoriry which has a regulative principle and the authority which has no regulative principle. Romans 12 means that it’s important not only that seditionists be hanged but that these seditionists learn to agree that the political authorities are doing good even though they have no regulative principle.

    John H Yoder–“The imperative of verse 13:1 is not obedience”. The Greek language has good words to denote
    “obedience”. What the text calls for, however, is subordination. The Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but who is put to death by Caesar, is being subordinate even though he is not obeying. The motives of this subordination are found not in fear or in calculations of how best to survive, but “in the mercies of God” (12:1) or in “conscience” (13:5). If the reason of our subordination is not God’s having legitimated the wrath of the state (or delegating the wrath to the state), what is our reason?… Jesus Christ himself accept subordination and humiliation (Phil 2:5). The willingness to be killed is then not merely a dead space of waiting for Jesus to return. Not killing is an imitation of Christ’s victorious patience with the rebellious powers of his creation.”

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  21. JRC: The belief that Jesus’ words to “turn the other cheek” must apply to all as the standard of what is good behavior. Hence, that standard must rule also the magistrate and the laws of all nations.

    The obvious falsifier is Rom 13

    MMC: You can’t be bothered to say what is falsified?

    I did indeed say: The belief that Jesus’ words “turn the other cheek” must rule also the magistrate and the laws of the nations is falsified by Romans 13.

    I should clarify that Romans 13 shows that “turn the other cheek” does not apply to the magistrate in the performance of his office.

    You object that God’s providence in allowing the magistrate to be established does not show that it is God’s precept that the magistrate should exercise the sword. You don’t go there, but perhaps the magistrate is like Assyria and Edom: Used of God, but not approved by God.

    Yet the language of Romans 13 does not allow this. The ruler is described as “the servant of God for your good.” (θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν). There’s not really a way to turn this into “a disapproved instrument providentially used by God.”

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  22. So two questions:

    (1) Is voting a sin?

    (2) Why are we citing John Howard Yoder as a spiritual authority? He was repudiated by his denomination for sexual abuse spanning decades.

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  23. Jeff— The belief that Jesus’ words “turn the other cheek” must rule also the magistrate is falsified by Romans 13. You object that God’s providence in allowing the magistrate to be established does not show that it is God’s precept that the magistrate should exercise the sword. You don’t go there, but perhaps the magistrate is like Assyria and Edom: Used of God, but not approved by God. Yet the language of Romans 13 does not allow this… There’s not really a way to turn this into “a disapproved instrument providentially used by God.”

    mark: I certainly have referenced not only Assyria but Satan, and also those religious and political powers that murdered the Lord Jesus. But perhaps, in your rush to translate what I have written into me saying that “resist by turning the other cheek” is Christ’s standard for the nations, you have not yet believed that I actually wrote what I have written about Assyria or Acts 2.

    Iaiah 10: 5 Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! 6 Against a godless nation I send
    him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mud of the streets.
    verse 12 But when the Lord finishes all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes.”

    Psalm 24: The earth and everything in it,
    the world and its inhabitants,
    belong to the Lord

    Not being a wishy washy Reformed person (and rational enough to deny contractions, because ability to do the contrary is not the basis of duty) , I certainly have not ever said that God’s providence “allowed” anything. That’s something that PCA people like Tim Keller say, as he does apologetics for a false God when speaking to the public. No, God has ordained evil, not only what Assyria (and Israel did) but also what the Jewish presbytery and the Roman empire did in the killing of Jesus. The fact that Christ’s death is the righteousness by which God shall justify all the elect in Christ in no way justifies Hart’s apology for Pilate as doing the kind of thing necessary for those who hold that “office” to do.

    Hart—“Nero did not violate God’s law IF Nero executed Christians who obeyed God rather than man. If Paul continued to preach after the emperor said he may not, then Nero was doing what God ordained government to
    do. Christians don’t get a pass from civil law just because they follow a higher law. I for one, as a Protestant and a conservative of some kind, think the secular nation-state deserves a little more appreciation. Its powers are so vast that it can turn a religiously motivated killer into a mere state actor. Of course, if you’re one of those Christians who prefer the Anabaptist option of pacifism, the nation-state is not such a good thing. But I’ll gladly settle for Islam as the most violent religion and the U.S. as the most militarized nation…”

    mm–Be a pacifist if you want, but if you believe Romans 13, then you still just HAVE TO (it’s so obvious that you can’t not see it and still live among us) AGREE that when others kill on your behalf, what they do to overcome evil is not evil but in fact good. And therefore Caiphas handing Guido de Bres over for death on account of political sedition was at least better than collective sedition….

    I am denying that the decision of true churches to hand over Mualima to their own magistrate justifies much less defines a distinction between religion and politics, so that there is a regulative prinicple for that which stays in the boundary accepted by the magistrate as “religious” but no regulative principle for the magistrate that decides what is religion and what is “sedition”.

    Scott Clark—Despite attending a congregation, that congregation may not have the marks of the church…..If it is the case that rejecting infant baptism is sufficient to unchurch a congregation, i.e. to deprive them of the status of being a “church,” then there are very few actual churches in North America, to pick but one global region……However orthodox modern Baptists are on the other issues, they continue to share the conviction that however valid infant circumcision was prior to the incarnation, the New Covenant is such that there is no place for infant baptism as a proper recognition that the children of believers are members of the covenant of grace just as much today as they were in Abraham’s day. ….Denial of infant initiation is a denial of the catholicity of the church stretching back to Abraham….so long as they are baptized in the triune name, they are baptized, even if it is late in coming. When they gather thus, in congregations, I regard them as being rebellious, as having a poor view of redemptive history, as HAVING AN OVER-REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY (this is not the age for the unmixed church), but I can’t regard their congregations as “true churches.”

    https://heidelblog.net/2013/04/on-churchless-evangelicals-pt-3/

    Jonathan Leeman:: I simply don’t have the authority to tell someone they don’t have to obey Jesus. it’s not just baptists who talk this way. It’s everyone: baptists, presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and beyond. Everyone for 2000 years has insisted that baptism must precede membership and admission to the Lord’s Table. Put this question to your paedobaptist friends: “Would you admit someone into your church who has not been baptized and who refused to ever be baptized?

    mm–Sure we all agree that the earth belongs to the Lord, and that Jesus is already king even in this age (until the last enemy death is ended) , but must true churches also agree now to “tolerate” those who claim “religious liberty” not to approve the magistrate or its killing? When the magistrate decides what a true church is, should the magistrate keep “discipline” as a mark of the church, or reject that mark as being too subjective Donatist and Anabaptist? Does moral or political “sedition” by the adminstrater of sacraments turn those sacraments into nothing?

    I do NOT say that the Sermon on the Mount is the standard for the Magistate. I do NOT say that the Mosaic covenant is the standard for the Magistrate. I do NOT say that the Noahic covenant is “not religious but political” (with the slight discontinuity that now no specific God is worshipped when the family kills somebody who killed somebody). I do NOT say that the Abrahamic covenant is not (and really always was not) about only about Christ (and never about politics or land or family)

    (Abraham was only about Christ, except also about infants now being in the same gospel covenant as always, but with only religion and no politics now, but because there is only one gospel, this means if you make a distincction between new covenant and “the one covenant of grace”, you have (stupidly) denied that there is only one gospel)

    mm– I see the discontinuity, and do not flatten it all to make it look neat and pretty (as if curmcucision was only in the Mosaic but not in the Abrahamic) or as if Abraham’s obedience was not necessary (both Moses and Abraham are types of Christ. This is almost enough to say about what I have been saying and not saying. I have written that, now in this present age, all human creatures are to submit to whatever Magistrates God has ordained. I have been writing that , now in this present age, no human creature (Christ our Creator) is exempt from the law and example of Christ (duty is not based on ability) . It doesn’t make any difference what “office” they claim to have or by what (non-religious) standard they claim to have. Human creatures are to leave the wrath to God, and, knowing the time, our only debt is love our neighbor even when our neighbor is our enemy.

    You seem to presume that —standard or no standard – we all must not only submit but approve the magistrate as doing that which is good. As in, we have already decided to kill some enemies for the good of our neighbors. Now, tell us how to do that in a way you can approve. Attend a Roman Catholic university and study “natural law” and then you can be on the Supreme Court. .

    I hope this gets us back to what you seem to think is so self-evident about Romans 13. It must so obvious to you that you have not even bothered to write it out. Ok, we know that you are not “anabaptist”, but is that really all you need to say? Pilate as God’s “approved instrument providentially used ? Are you saying that? Or is it “Pilate was not a disapproved instrument”, but in fact not religious but only political and therefore neutral ? Does the magistrate determine what is not religious but political? Because we are commaned to submit to the magistrate, what the magistrate does therefore is neither good nor evil? Because we have a duty to submit to the magistrate, does that make it an indicative good when any human person (religious or not religious) takes up the sword? When your motive is to overcome evil, by definition what you do is not evil? Since we are all sinners individually, and the age to come has not come, we must therefore agree at the least that overcoming evil with violence is better for everybody than not approving magistrates?

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  24. @ BrandonAdams:

    I’m sorry, I completely missed your questions above until just now.

    (1) I’m referring to the “subservient covenant” view of Bolton, Cameron, and Amyrault. I understand the essence of that view to be that between Moses and Christ, there were two distinct covenants in operation, one subservient to the other. I may be oversimplifying to place Hodge there — and of course, he was not an Amyrauldian in his soteriology! — but he does have the essential element of two distinct covenants.

    (2) I agree with you. In the immediate context of the quote, Hodge is refuting the Romanist / Anglican view that the visible church is The Church.

    Still, I understand Hodge’s polemic for infant baptism and against Thornwell to turn on a clear distinction between visible and invisible churches — which parallels the distinction between national covenant and covenant of grace. In his treatment of infant baptism (Sys Theo III.XX.10), Hodge takes pains to point out that circumcision played roles in *both* the national covenant and the covenant of grace; hence, baptism is not merely a marker of outward administration, but also of the grace of redemption:

    Secondly, that circumcision was not the sign exclusively of the national covenant with the Hebrews, is plain because it was enjoined upon Abraham and continued in practice hundreds of years before the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, when the people were inaugurated as a nation. It was instituted as the sign of the covenant (that is the Scriptural and proper word) made with Abraham. The essential features of that covenant we learn from such passages as Genesis xii. 3, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” xvii. 7, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” These passages are explained in the New Testament. They are shown to refer, not to temporal or national blessings, but to the blessings of redemption.

    In other words, for Hodge, distinguishing the two covenants prevents both the error of conflating visible and invisible (Romanist) but also the error of completely externalizing the covenant with Abraham (anabaptists, and Thornwell).

    I’m not an expert on Hodge. That’s just my amateur take.

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  25. @ McMark:

    I don’t see any references to Assyria in what you wrote. I do see that you cited Acts 2, but you didn’t say anything about it.

    What do you think Acts 2 proves about magistrates in general?

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  26. MMC: I do NOT say that the Sermon on the Mount is the standard for the Magistate.

    MMC: I have written that, now in this present age … no human creature (Christ our Creator) is exempt from the law and example of Christ (duty is not based on ability) . It doesn’t make any difference what “office” they claim to have or by what (non-religious) standard they claim to have. Human creatures are to leave the wrath to God, and, knowing the time, our only debt is love our neighbor even when our neighbor is our enemy.

    Little confused here. The second quot(ation) seems to say that the law and example of Christ … which includes the SOTM … is the standard for all … which includes the magistrate.

    The first quot(ation) seems to say that the SOTM is not the standard for the magistrate.

    Which is it?

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  27. Jeff,

    No problem, thanks for responding.

    1) Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I think it is accurate to place Hodge’s view here in line with the subservient tradition. You said this view was rejected in the 17th century – are you referring to WCF? I’m curious because I assume you hold to Klinean republication, which has attempted to prove its compatibility with WCF by appeal to Bolton.

    2) Thanks for clarifying. Notice, however, that Hodge does not employ the subservient covenant view in the section that you quoted. When defending infant baptism, he specifically says there were not two Abrahamic Covenants.

    [T]he covenant made with Abraham was the covenant of grace… It is said that it [circumcision] was the seal of the national covenant made with Abraham; that it was intended to mark the nationality of his descendants, and to secure their interest in the national promises made to the patriarch… It has already been proved that the covenant of God with Abraham in reference to Christ was the covenant of grace and that circumcision was a seal of that covenant. 1. Because no man could be a Jew without professing to embrace the covenant with Abraham which referred to Christ. The Bible does not distinguish two Abrahamic covenants… That circumcision was the bade of this covenant in its spiritual, as well as in its temporal aspect, is obvious, because the two were united as the soul and body in man… No man could be circumcised with exclusive reference to the national covenant. He could not enroll himself among the children of Abraham, and claim as one of his descendants a part of the national inheritance, without at the same time entering into covenant with God… By being a Jew, he professed the whole Jewish faith… No man was ever circumcised in obedience to the command given to Abraham who did not thereby profess faith[.]
    “The Church Membership of Infants” https://books.google.com/books?id=4To7AQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA367&ots=Pwq5GMaBen&dq=%22the%20bible%20does%20not%20distinguish%20two%20abrahamic%20covenants%22&pg=PA367#v=onepage&q=%22the%20bible%20does%20not%20distinguish%20two%20abrahamic%20covenants%22&f=false

    Thus he flip-flops depending on who he is arguing against. Against baptists there was only one Abrahamic Covenant, the Covenant of Grace. Membership in the Abrahamic Covenant, including its national aspect, was membership in the Church. However, when Episcopalians make the same appeal to the Abrahamic Covenant in defense of a national church, Hodge says “there were two covenants made with Abraham… By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a Church… There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace.” It is worth noting that again, and again when Presbyterians in the 18th and 19th centuries argued against a national church they adopted the subservient covenant view.

    Notice that in your quote, Hodge takes the first perspective: that there was only one Abrahamic Covenant and that membership in national Israel = membership in the Church.

    under the old economy the Church and State were identical. No man could be a member of the one without being a member of the other… If, therefore, circumcision was a sign and seal of membership in the Hebrew nation, it was a sign and seal of membership in the Hebrew Church. All this arose from the nature of God’s covenant with Abraham. In that covenant, as we have seen, were included both national and religious promises… This is really the turning point in the controversy concerning infant church-membership.
    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology3.iii.vi.x.html

    He does not, in that section, argue for two distinct covenants. Rather, he responds to the claim that circumcision was only with regard to national blessings by showing that it originated with Abraham and that the national and spiritual blessings were united and could not be separated.

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  28. You object that God’s providence in allowing the magistrate to be established does not show that it is God’s precept that the magistrate should exercise the sword. You don’t go there, but perhaps the magistrate is like Assyria and Edom: Used of God, but not approved by God.

    Yet the language of Romans 13 does not allow this. The ruler is described as “the servant of God for your good.” (θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν). There’s not really a way to turn this into “a disapproved instrument providentially used by God.”

    Without commenting on or getting involved in everything that Mark has said, on this particular point I think you are mistaken Jeff. http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/theology/romans-13-person-office-or-both/

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  29. @ Brandon: That’s a fantastic article! Thanks.

    In reading it, I see two strands of thought: (1) God has decreed for certain persons to rule (Irenaeus, Aquinas, Glossa). For that strand, bad ruling is a defect, but the ruler *in general* still acts as God’s servant. (2) God has ordained the office (Calvin et al). For this strand, bad rulers have invalidated their authority by their actions, but they do not thereby invalidate the general authority of the office. So for Calvin, he could technically say that a particular magistrate is “a disapproved instrument providentially used by God.” So clearly, what I said runs afoul of Calvin there.

    What I’m responding to is actually a third view seemingly put forward by Mark: Yes, God has decreed that magistrates would come about, but that their office is inherently evil because it requires use of the sword, in contradiction to Jesus’ teachings in the SOTM. The office itself is a disapproved office. God has given the magistrate the sword, but He does not ever want the magistrate to use that sword as a matter of precept. That view doesn’t really feature in the article (except with a brief, undeveloped mention of the Anabaptists).

    Thus the Schleitheim Confession:

    Thirdly, it will be asked concerning the sword, Shall one be a magistrate if one should be chosen as such? The answer is as follows: They wished to make Christ king, but He fled and did not view it as the arrangement of His Father. Thus shall we do as He did, and follow Him, and so shall we not walk in darkness. For He Himself says, He who wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Also, He Himself forbids the [employment of] the force of the sword saying, The worldly princes lord it over them, etc., but not so shall it be with you. Further, Paul says, Whom God did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, etc. Also Peter says, Christ has suffered (not ruled) and left us an example, that ye should follow His steps.

    Finally it will be observed that it is not appropriate for a Christian to serve as a magistrate because of these points: The government magistracy is according to the flesh, but the Christians’ is according to the Spirit; their houses and dwelling remain in this world, but the Christians’ are in heaven; their citizenship is in this world, but the Christians’ citizenship is in heaven; the weapons of their conflict and war are carnal and against the flesh only, but the Christians’ weapons are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldlings are armed with steel and iron, but the Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God. …

    So for all of the thinkers mentioned in your article, the Christian would be free to be a magistrate. For Schleitheim and Mark, not so.

    So perhaps I should word the point from Romans 13 like this:

    JRC revised: The ruler is described as “the servant of God for your good.” (θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν). There’s not really a way to turn this into “all rulers are inherently sinning in the fulfillment of their office”

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  30. Jeff, I’d recommend giving the article a re-read. You’re summary’s not quite accurate. I’m not sure what you mean by bad ruling being a defect for #1. That’s not the strand as explained in the article. View #1 has to do with God providentially empowering men to dominate other men – justly or unjustly. “Bad ruling” is not a “defect.” It is part of God’s providential use of the ruler as his servant. See Nebuchadnezzar. Not quite sure your summary of Calvin is accurate either, as the point is he tried to combine the two views (rather than simply being a representative of the second).

    The office itself is a disapproved office. God has given the magistrate the sword, but He does not ever want the magistrate to use that sword as a matter of precept. That view doesn’t really feature in the article

    Well, insofar as the appeal is to Romans 13, the article directly addresses that. The first view is specifically a rejection that Romans 13 refers to office/precept. On that view, Romans 13 simply teaches that God providentially uses the sinful actions of powerful men for his purpose. Consider this elaboration: http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/theology/nebuchadnezzar-and-romans-13-person-or-office/

    So if that view is correct (I believe it is), a defense of Christians taking up the sword would need to be sought elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. By “defect” I mean unjust or bad ruling, a sin on the part of the ruler.

    You summarized: “Bad people may receive bad rulers as a punishment. But all rulers, good and bad, are God’s ministers for good.” Or as you cite from the Glossa: ““The power of harming is given to wicked and unworthy rulers so that the patience of the good may be proved and the iniquity of the evil may be punished.” Even an evil ruler “does not harm the good person but purifies him.””

    Or as I said, “For that strand, bad ruling is a defect [ie, sin on the part of the ruler], but the ruler *in general* still acts as God’s servant.”

    In other words, the first view would hold that Nebuchadnezzar sinned by demanding worship of the statue, but the outcome nevertheless glorified God.

    I don’t think we’re actually in conflict here?

    JRC: [For the Anabaptist] The office itself is a disapproved office. God has given the magistrate the sword, but He does not ever want the magistrate to use that sword as a matter of precept. That view doesn’t really feature in the article

    BA: Well, insofar as the appeal is to Romans 13, the article directly addresses that. The first view is specifically a rejection that Romans 13 refers to office/precept. On that view, Romans 13 simply teaches that God providentially uses the sinful actions of powerful men for his purpose.

    Two questions:

    (1) Side question: Does the first view actively reject the notion that Rom 13 refers to office? I guess by Luther’s time, there is an active rejection. But I’m not seeing that in Irenaeus. Is it entirely fair to equate Luther / Bonhoeffer with Irenaeus / Glossa?

    (2) This goes to my point: do *any* of your authors put forward the idea that *all* magistrates are in sin by virtue of their exercise of the power of the sword? I didn’t see that addressed on either reading.

    According to everything I read in both articles, the first view would have some rulers good, some bad; the second would have all rulers legitimate insofar as their office goes. Whether by the first or second view, Christians could lawfully be rulers.

    The Schleitheim view, by contrast, takes ruling to be off-limits, inherently “not appropriate.” This is different, and I didn’t see it addressed in your article.

    That third view is what I’m positing to be in conflict with Rom 13.

    In other words, it’s one thing to say that Romans 13 does not teach the moral legitimacy of the office. You make an interesting case for that proposition. It is another to say that Romans 13 leaves room to believe that all rulers are inherently in sin by using the sword. The first view does not directly address that, unless I’m missing something.

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  32. @ Brandon, and Mark also:

    From Hensler

    Although a few Anabaptists, like Müntzer, embraced the use of the sword, and many quietist Anabaptists, such as Menno Simons, rejected any Christian use of coercive force, particularly the sword, Hubmaier, in his 1527 essay on the sword, sought to convince his fellow Anabaptists, who had embraced extreme pacifism and almost completely withdrawn from society, that it was spiritually permissible for a Christian to participate in government, including participating in the use of force. In discussing Romans 13, Hubmaier analogized human rulers to natural forces controlled by a sovereign God: Now, God always punishes the wicked, sometimes with hail, rain, and sickness, and sometimes through special people, who have been ordained and elected for this. Therefore Paul calls the authorities handmaidens of God. For what God can do himself he often prefers to do through his creatures as his tools. In this essay, Hubmaier discusses sixteen passages of Scripture relevant to the participation of the believing Christian in civil government, and he saves Romans 13 for last proclaiming, “This passage alone, dear brothers, is sufficient to sanction the authorities against all the gates of hell.”

    This shows the distinction, I think between the first “God-ordained persons in authority” view and the pacifist “authority is forbidden to Christians” view, and the relevance of Rom 13 to that distinction.

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  33. Thanks for clarifying. I was thrown off by your verbiage.

    1) Yes, the point of the article is that it’s either/or, logically.

    2) That would require further study and elaboration on the specific authors. But the point is that if one adopts the “person” view, Rom 13 cannot be appealed to as support for Christians holding the office, since the passage is not about precept/office. Whether or not Christians may use force would need to be decided elsewhere. This would largely be influenced by whether or not the SOM addresses all use of force by Christians, or only some use of force by Christians. Thus “That third view is what I’m positing to be in conflict with Rom 13” does not follow if one understands Rom 13 to be about the providential ordaining of persons, not office. Thank you for the quote from Hubmaier via Hensler, but Hubmaier adopts the “office” interpretation of Romans 13. https://books.google.com/books?id=5ssV8aMrFOUC&lpg=PA206&ots=-gTVu9gtK3&dq=%22This%20passage%20alone%2C%20dear%20brothers%2C%20is%20sufficient%20to%20sanction%20the%20authorities%20against%20all%22&pg=PA206#v=onepage&q=%22This%20passage%20alone,%20dear%20brothers,%20is%20sufficient%20to%20sanction%20the%20authorities%20against%20all%22&f=false

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  34. Jeff will always agree that what you wrote agrees with what Jeff translates you to have wirtten.

    Jeff:–“Hence, baptism is not merely a marker of outward administration, BUT ALSO of the grace of redemption”

    This makes it sound like Jeff will agree (with Hodge) to mention the politics (the land, the violence, the big family) from now on–“but also”. But wait for it…..

    Jeff—“These essential passages are shown to refer, NOT to temporal or national blessings BUT to the blessings of redemption.”

    In the style of Scott Clark, the both and (national promises to Abraham not only to Moses) has been forgotten and we are back to antithesis (Abraham only about Christ–except also about the children of those who replaced the Jews) .

    Hubmaier taught “free-will” like the other “anabaptists”, but Hubmaier was like not other “anabaptists” because Hubmaier approved violence and those who held “the office” that claims to legitimately adminster God’s wrath .

    if I can quote a sinner like Machen, then maybe I can also quote Yoder without doing a google search to make a judgment about his sins.

    “The realpolitik stand-point is associated with Balthasar Hiibmaier. Although identified with the Swiss Brethren, Hiibmaier ….failed to see that the state which claims to reform the church can also claim to halt its progress. He is accurately describedas standing half-way between Anabaptism and Zwinglianism,52 and as a Catholic AnabaptistY As the reforming priest in Waldshut when the village was resisting the Habsburgs, Hiibmaier was baptized in 1525 and led the majority of the town to be baptized, so constituting the first Anabaptist political city, He aimed, like Zwingli, at a general reformation of the church, believed in establishing a Christian society and shared Zwingli’s real-political teaching on the sword. By this Stayer means the recognition that values enforced by the sword are tarnished, but this is better than making no attempt to realize those values….

    https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/bq/36-6_264.pdf

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  35. Those who follow Niebuhr’s psuedo-pluralist liberalism always want to tell pacifists how to be pacifists. It’s so convenient to say that “all anabaptists” either agree with the violence of the Munster Rebellion or agree with the “outside the perfection” language of Schleitheim.

    Proto—The idea that the Anabaptists accepted the order as it was and just decided to not participate in it is to misunderstand their motivations.1. The idea that we are somehow being protected by the police and
    military is a concept most of us utterly reject. We see these institutions as self-serving and violent expressions of state power. The notion that the magistrates serve and protect the public is something you don’t have to be a Pacifist to realize is bogus. 2. While I personally have no stake in defending the Schleitheim Confession the statement rightly affirms that the state has been instituted by God and serves a purpose. But that doesn’t sanctify it. It may be a minister of God’s Providence but Biblically these same terms and concepts were used in reference to Cyrus of Achaemenid Persia and even the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Were they sanctified? I think not.

    http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2014/03/neo-anabaptists-or-historical-anti.html

    Proto–“Tooley is attempting to re-invigorate the Niebuhr position. The Mainline Churches have largely just followed the culture when it comes to their understanding of the Church’s relation to the world.”

    The Magisterial Reformers were “leaning on the arms” of the magistrates. Those who did Bible study with Zwingli said, let’s keep studying these things. But Zwingli said, the time for biblicism has ended, because I am determined to go no faster than the magistrate will allow. You will find out that those who don’t take this “gradual” approach will end up without a true church

    Christendom 1 says–it’s your fault that the magistrates have to put you out. It’s your decision to not have your babies christened which leaves us with unhappy responsibility of violence . But we do it for the greater good, that order not vanish from the earth. What would happen to Christianity if there were no Christian magistrate?

    Christendom 2 says—thank God that American violence is not the violence of the true church. But if your babies are not given the grace of being included in the covenant of grace, then there is no way that you can teach them God’s law and order. What would happen to Christianity if there were no magistrate? If we Christians had to listen to Jesus about good and evil, that would logically mean that all human creatures had to listen to Jesus about good and evil. And so we thank God that Jesus is spiritual savour but not yet in this age king of all creation.

    If Christendom is essential to being Reformed, then discontinuity from Christendom becomes something “not Reformed”.

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  36. @ Brandon: Thanks. I’m still chewing on this:

    But the point is that if one adopts the “person” view, Rom 13 cannot be appealed to as support for Christians holding the office, since the passage is not about precept/office.

    I believe I understand the argument:

    IF Romans 13 teaches that “God providentially uses the sinful actions of powerful men for his purpose.” and
    IF that use does not confer moral sanction for use of force,
    THEN it is possible that all use of force is still contrary to God’s precepts, so that Rom 13 by itself does not falsify the pacifist position.

    As far as I can tell, it’s a deductively valid argument. There is a *possibility* (given the premises) that offices bearing the sword are off-limits to Christians.

    I’m still struggling with two points, however.

    * First, although the argument is deductively valid, the second premise is inductively suspect. Is it *possible* that every instance of use-of-force is sinful? Is it *possible* that the office of magistrate is off-limits to believers? Yes. But there are a whole raft of OT and NT counterexamples.

    Abraham. Joseph. Many judges. Samuel. David. Solomon. Hezekiah. Nebuchadnezzar after his repentance.

    Jesus driving out the moneychangers. The soldiers who came to JtB. The centurion who came to Christ. The centurion in Acts 10. The Philippian jailer. Peter’s blinding of Simon Magus.

    Some of those were directed by God to use force. Some were believers who were appointed by God to positions wielding the sword. And some were converts who are never told to leave their office. One was God Himself, using force.

    To my mind, this makes it highly unlikely that Rom 13 refers only to wicked use of force, providentially used by God. It is much more likely that “does not bear the sword in vain” refers to God-ordained use of force.

    In other words, using the rest of Scripture to help clarify the meaning of Rom 13 leaves it intact as a falsifier.

    In a sense, I am “reaching outside of Rom 13” here, but only in the sense of seeking to evaluate (and ultimately rejecting) one possible interpretation of it.

    Thoughts?

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  37. The second point of struggle is that the “person / office” category (for understanding Rom 13)
    is new to me, and I’m having trouble mapping it to the more familiar category of “power / authority”

    Power: The ability to enforce one’s will
    Authority: The moral right to command.

    It seems that you and Hensler confine the “person” view to God granting power to certain individuals, and the “office” (or legitimating) view to God granting authority as well as power.

    But I’m not sure that dichotomy works well to explain Luther or Irenarus. If the secular authority has only power, but no moral authority, why should we for conscience’ sake submit to and honor that authority? Simply because Nebuchadnezzar has a gun, metaphorically speaking?

    Thus Luther: St. Paul teaches that one should honor and obey the secular authorities. He includes this, not because it makes people virtuous in the sight of God, but because it does insure that the virtuous have outward peace and protection and that the wicked cannot do evil without fear and in undisturbed peace. Therefore it is the duty of virtuous people to honor secular authority, even though they do not, strictly speaking, need it. – Luther Comm Rom 13.

    Irenaeus also in Adv Haer V.24.2-3 confers legitimacy, authority, to the use of force by human rulers, arguing that some do it properly and some improperly. (Too long to quote here).

    So I’m not fully on board with the person / office distinction. It seems to me to compartmentalize in a way that is at variance with the cited theologians.

    Or perhaps I’m just misunderstanding the category.

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  38. @ Mark: Jeff will always agree that what you wrote agrees with what Jeff translates you to have wirtten.

    It’s always a struggle to correctly translate others. I try; sometimes I fail.

    What about your role in being well-understood. The walls of quotes (yes, that is the correct phrase), the innuendos, the sarcasms, and the outright accusations are all barriers to communication.

    The first two conceal your arguments; the latter two, more often than not, misrepresent others.

    I would rather our conversations be substantive and charitable, such that you feel well-understood, even if we don’t agree.

    You bear some responsibility towards making that happen.

    As to the alleged contradiction: I don’t recall the context of either quote.

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  39. Thanks for the comments Jeff.

    the second premise is inductively suspect. Is it *possible* that every instance of use-of-force is sinful?

    Just a technical point here: The second premise is specifically limited to Romans 13. The second premise is not “Every instance of use-of-force is sinful.” Rather, it is “God’s providential use of powerful men to accomplish his purpose does not itself confer moral sanction for use of force.” That moral sanction for use of force would need to be found elsewhere.

    You list numerous examples of use of force by believers in Scripture. Those are all passages worth discussing and should inform the overall question, but they don’t change anything about Romans 13 itself. If those passages do teach that believers may use force, that does not therefore mean that Romans 13 confers moral sanction.

    this makes it highly unlikely that Rom 13 refers only to wicked use of force, providentially used by God.

    That is not the argument I have made. The argument is that God’s decretive use of secondary means does not itself confer moral sanction on those means. We’re simply talking about the distinction between God’s two wills. If “ordained” in Rom 13 refers to God’s decretive will then it does not refer to God’s preceptive will.

    It is much more likely that “does not bear the sword in vain” refers to God-ordained use of force.

    That would necessarily mean that Romans 13 refers to the preceptive ordination of the office, not the providential use of a person. It can’t be both.

    The second point of struggle is that the “person / office” category (for understanding Rom 13) is new to me

    First, note that this distinction is not something originated by myself or Hensler. It has been the bedrock of reformed political thought. Knox made the distinction to justify the Scottish revolution and Rutherford elaborated in extensive detail the same: http://reformedlibertarian.com/blog/brandonadams/rutherford-on-romans-13-and-the-distinction-between-person-and-office/

    They simply did it in reverse: Romans 13 refers to the office (preceptive will), therefore it does not refer to any specific individual. If an individual ruler becomes a tyrant, he has stepped beyond the bounds of the office and may therefore be resisted. Their logic is correct, I simply take the opposite reading of the passage: it refers to providential empowering of individuals (decretive), therefore it does not refer to the office.

    It seems that you and Hensler confine the “person” view to God granting power to certain individuals, and the “office” (or legitimating) view to God granting authority as well as power.

    Not quite. Per your definitions, Power would correspond to decretive will. Authority would correspond to the preceptive will. The three positions are:

    Person (power/decretive);
    Office (authority/preceptive);
    Both.

    As explained in the essay, some men throughout history (including Calvin) have tried to combine both readings into one (“Both”). But as subsequent reformed political philosophy (see Rutherford and others) demonstrated, that’s illogical. It’s either/or (review Chrysostom and Murray as well).

    If the secular authority has only power, but no moral authority, why should we for conscience’ sake submit to and honor that authority?

    Please see the end of the post – the section titled “Meaning of ‘Be Subject’” http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/theology/romans-13-person-office-or-both/#further-remarks

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  40. @ Brandon:

    I have found that I sometimes just have to repost without multiple links. Moderation purgatory frequently lacks indulgences.

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  41. Reposting comment (without links) stuck in moderation:

    Jeff,

    No problem, thanks for responding.

    1) Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I think it is accurate to place Hodge’s view here in line with the subservient tradition. You said this view was rejected in the 17th century – are you referring to confessionally rejected (WCF) or simply rejected by declining popularity? I’m curious because Fesko, Gordon, Irons and others have tried to defend Klinean republication’s confessional validity by appeal to that subservient tradition – I assumed you’re in that general camp.

    2) Thanks for clarifying. Notice, however, that Hodge does not employ the subservient covenant view in the section that you quoted. When defending infant baptism, he specifically says there were not two Abrahamic Covenants.

    [T]he covenant made with Abraham was the covenant of grace… It is said that it [circumcision] was the seal of the national covenant made with Abraham; that it was intended to mark the nationality of his descendants, and to secure their interest in the national promises made to the patriarch… It has already been proved that the covenant of God with Abraham in reference to Christ was the covenant of grace and that circumcision was a seal of that covenant. 1. Because no man could be a Jew without professing to embrace the covenant with Abraham which referred to Christ. The Bible does not distinguish two Abrahamic covenants… That circumcision was the bade of this covenant in its spiritual, as well as in its temporal aspect, is obvious, because the two were united as the soul and body in man… No man could be circumcised with exclusive reference to the national covenant. He could not enroll himself among the children of Abraham, and claim as one of his descendants a part of the national inheritance, without at the same time entering into covenant with God… By being a Jew, he professed the whole Jewish faith… No man was ever circumcised in obedience to the command given to Abraham who did not thereby profess faith[.]
    “The Church Membership of Infants” Princeton Review 1858 (Google Books)

    Thus he flip-flops depending on who he is arguing against. Against baptists there was only one Abrahamic Covenant, the Covenant of Grace. Membership in the Abrahamic Covenant, including its national aspect, was membership in the Church. However, when Episcopalians make the same appeal to the Abrahamic Covenant in defense of a national church, Hodge says “there were two covenants made with Abraham… By the one, his natural descendants through Isaac were constituted a commonwealth, an external, visible community. By the other, his spiritual descendants were constituted a Church… There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace.” It is worth noting that again, and again when Presbyterians in the 18th and 19th centuries argued against a national church they adopted the subservient covenant view.

    Notice that in your quote, Hodge takes the first perspective: that there was only one Abrahamic Covenant and that membership in national Israel = membership in the Church.

    under the old economy the Church and State were identical. No man could be a member of the one without being a member of the other… If, therefore, circumcision was a sign and seal of membership in the Hebrew nation, it was a sign and seal of membership in the Hebrew Church. All this arose from the nature of God’s covenant with Abraham. In that covenant, as we have seen, were included both national and religious promises… This is really the turning point in the controversy concerning infant church-membership.

    He does not, in that section, argue for two distinct covenants. Rather, he responds to the claim that circumcision was only with regard to national blessings by showing that it originated with Abraham and that the national and spiritual blessings were united and could not be separated.

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  42. Hi Brandon,

    I’ll leave the covenant discussion for later. In brief: I’m relying on Turretin when I say that the subservient view was abandoned. But I agree with you that Gordon and Irons have attempted reviving it.

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  43. @ Brandon: Still chewing. Let me clear some brush.

    BA: The second premise is not “Every instance of use-of-force is sinful.” Rather, it is “God’s providential use of powerful men to accomplish his purpose does not itself confer moral sanction for use of force.”

    Right. That’s why I summarized it as “IF that use does not confer moral sanction for use of force…”

    My later comments (“is it possible …”) will be explained further below, but we do agree on the content of the second premise.

    BA: First, note that this distinction is not something originated by myself or Hensler. It has been the bedrock of reformed political thought.

    Right. I’m not suggesting that you’re putting forward a theological novelty. I’m just saying that I’m getting up to speed on this way of cutting the cake. Am reading your Rutherford link, which is … bracing.

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  44. Thanks for clarifying re: subservient. I’ll leave the discussion be – just a quick comment that if “abandoned” is what you have in mind as “rejected” then that’s not quite accurate. It was not abandoned after Turretin. Its popularity actually grew. In Scotland you had John Glas (father of Scottish Congregationalism) argue it in the early 18th century, followed by several others, including John Erskine – both of which employed it as an argument against a national church. It became the dominant view in England’s Church Missionary Society (Charles Simeon, John Newton, Thomas Scott). In the U.S. Jonathan Edwards held it. The only treatment I have been able to find from an American Presbyterian explaining the 1788 revision in terms of covenant theology was greatly influenced by Thomas Scott’s Whole Bible Commentary and embraced the subservient covenant view to argue against the traditional Wesminster view (search reformedlibertarianDOTcom for “An American Presbyterian Argument Against Covenanters”). By 1807, New England Congregationalist Samuel Austin lamented

    Whoever will candidly review the most ingenious Treatises which have been published in the Baptist controversy, will perceive that the Pcedobaptists have a great pre ponderance of evidence on their side of the question. It will, at the same time, be perceived, that they are not as united as could be wished in the principles of their theory. Some rest the evidence that the infant seed oj believers are proper subjects of baptism, almost wholly upon the covenant which God established with Abraham. Others have not so much re spect to this kind of argument ; but prefer to rest the defence of their opinion, and practice, upon what they apprehend to be the clearer intimations of the Gospel, and upon the re cords oj history. Different views are entertained of the nature of the Abrahamic covenant: It is debated whether this covenant was strictly, and properly the covenant of Grace ; what was the real import, and who were the objects of its promises. Different opinions are entertained, and contrary hypotheses advocated also, respecting the Sinai covenant, the dispensation by Moses generally, and the constitution and character of the community of Israel. Some very respected and learned divines among the Pcedobaptists have adopt ed the idea, that this community was of a mixed character, and have called it a Theocracy. Among the many advocates of this opinion are Lozvman, Doddridge, Warburton, Guise, and the late John Erskine. These Divines supposed, that the legation of Moses could be best defended against the ca vils of unbelievers, by placing God at the head of the community of Israel, as a civil governor , surrounding himself with the regalia, and managing his subjects with the penalties and largesses, of a temporal sovereign.

    So Hodge wasn’t trying to revive an early 17th century view that was abandoned. He was simply swimming in the stream where its popularity had grown – in large part as an argument against a national church (which is how Hodge used it).

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  45. @ Brandon:

    Two questions for you.

    (1) In the “Romans 13: Person, Office, or Both?” article, you say

    I believe the answer is to be found in God’s command to Judah that they submit to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. This was not simply a natural law duty that all image bearers must submit to anyone who invades their country. God led Israel many times to resist oppressors and to rebel successfully against them. Rather, this was a positive law given to Judah and was specially revealed by prophets. It was an Old Covenant curse for their disobedience to Mosaic law.

    I’m having trouble understanding the difference between this construct and the construct of authority, the moral right to rule.

    You stipulate that although many oppressors have power, the Israelites were specifically commanded to submit to N. (agreed).

    So, there is something different between simple “power” and the je-ne-sais-quoi that N. has which confers the moral right to demand submission.

    But isn’t that just the concept of authority by another name?

    Granted that N.’s actions are immoral, but wrt the Israelites, that doesn’t matter: They are commanded by God to submit; ergo, he is decreed by God to have the right to rule.

    This is still within the “person” framework — God has specifically decreed N. to the qualities of power and that-which-looks-like-authority — but it does not limit the decree of a person to power alone.

    I’m just having trouble seeing how you separate “you must submit to X” (to the Romans or to the exiles) from “X has the right to be submitted to.”

    For you have already observed that raw power is not enough to carry that weight; else the Israelites had no business throwing off the yoke of the Midianites.

    Concisely: What is the difference between “having the right to demand submission” and “authority”?

    (2) I thought I was getting the person / office distinction: God providentially decrees persons to have power; or God preceptually establishes offices that have authority.

    But your analysis of Nebuchadnezzar sets aside God’s providence (“This was not simply a natural law duty that all image bearers must submit to anyone who invades their country. God led Israel many times to resist oppressors and to rebel successfully against them.”) and instead appeals to God’s precept (Jer 21) as the reason that Judah had to submit to N. but not other oppressors.

    I’m totally confused here! Is Nebuchadnezzar an example of God providentially bringing people to power, or of God preceptually establishing people to be in authority? And if the latter, wouldn’t that be the “both” view?

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  46. which confers the moral right to demand submission… I’m totally confused here! Is Nebuchadnezzar an example of God providentially bringing people to power, or of God preceptually establishing people to be in authority?

    Nebuchadnezzar did not have a moral right to demand submission to the nation he sinfully conquered without provocation (see post specifically on Neb to see that this is how Scripture characterizes his invasion). However, the Israelites did have a moral duty to obey God’s positive command not to resist his sinful oppression. Neb was judged by God for his invasion and dominion over Israel because God never gave him authority (moral sanction) do do those things. God’s command was to Israel not Neb.

    But your analysis of Nebuchadnezzar sets aside God’s providence (“This was not simply a natural law duty that all image bearers must submit to anyone who invades their country. God led Israel many times to resist oppressors and to rebel successfully against them.”) and instead appeals to God’s precept (Jer 21) as the reason that Judah had to submit to N. but not other oppressors.

    You’re conflating two different issues:
    1) What is the manner of the ordaining the powers that be?
    2) Why is subjection due?

    Thus
    1) The ordaining is God’s providential empowering of people, not his preceptive establishing of an office.
    2) Subjection is due only because God has positively commanded that in this particular instance the sinful oppressor should not be resisted. It’s no different than commanding that in any particular instance a robber must be submitted to. It doesn’t give the robber moral authority to be a robber.

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  47. mcmark,

    Romans 13 “infallibly” teaches that no human creature has any right to be a pacifist.?

    Rom 13 isn’t talking about all human creatures when it comes to the sword. It is talking about those ordained by God to wield it.

    All creatures are to submit to and honor the emperor. Are you saying a pacifist doesn’t? A pacifist may bear arms against the emperor?

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  48. McMark, if you think pacifism is required by Scripture then you need to find a pacifist island and move there. This is not love it or leave it. It is that you are complicit in the local police who protect your property and in the courts that give you a platform to fight those who infringe on your person.

    Or you could thank the Lord for the protections that civil society affords and use imprecatory psalms against the Feds when you dissent from war policy.

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  49. I agree that we can distinguish the command to God’s people from a moral right on the part of the ruler. Jesus commands us not to resist the evildoer, without justifying the evil done.

    But if we’re taking N. as a template for understanding Rom 13, and if we take Daniel’s behavior to exemplify what it means to submit, then the believer’s duty is not limited to simple non-resistance. It includes also honoring, paying taxes, and even serving well and faithfully as an official in the case of Daniel and friends.

    Further, the honor given is said to be “due” in Rom 13. Would that not indicate that there is a positive moral right to be honored on the part of the governing authority?

    What I’m doing is poking at the thesis that God’s ordination of people is limited to their power and does not include their authority. It seems to me that if there *is* any such thing as authority, then God providentially appoints people to positions of authority in addition to appointing them to have power. That is, I’m arguing that the “person” view, which I hold to be more cogent than the “office” view, includes elements of both power and also authority.

    You argue that Romans 13 cannot be understood as “both” power and authority; I’m currently thinking that it must; else, there is no point in honoring the authority. Nor can we make a meaningful distinction between a ruler and a robber.

    If there appears to be a contradiction in having a person appointed to both power and authority, it is likely because of added premises. I note for example that Chrysostom’s argument rests on a much weaker understanding of God’s providence and decrees:

    Hence he does not say, “for there is no ruler but of God;” but it is the thing he speaks of, and says, “there is no power but of God. And the powers that be, are ordained of God.” Thus when a certain wise man saith, “It is by the Lord that a man is matched with a woman” (Proverbs 19:14, LXX.), he means this, God made marriage, and not that it is He that joineth together every man that cometh to be with a woman. For we see many that come to be with one another for evil, even by the law of marriage, and this we should not ascribe to God.

    — Chrys. Comm Rom 13.

    So for C, God ordains the office, but not individual people to fill it; his added premise is that some things can come to be outside of God’s decrees. A stronger understanding of God’s decrees would reject that possibility. And if the possibility is rejected, the apparent contradiction falls away.

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  50. But if we’re taking N. as a template for understanding Rom 13, and if we take Daniel’s behavior to exemplify what it means to submit, then the believer’s duty is not limited to simple non-resistance. It includes also honoring, paying taxes, and even serving well and faithfully as an official in the case of Daniel and friends.

    “Honoring” is rather vague and need not entail that Neb held a preceptive office. Not paying taxes is equivalent to rebelling. Serving as an official advisor does not necessarily entail the moral authority of Neb as holding a preceptive office, rather than simply being a powerful individual.

    What I’m doing is poking at the thesis that God’s ordination of people is limited to their power and does not include their authority.

    I understand that’s what you’re attempting to do, but I do not think you have succeeded. You haven’t addressed the fact that the two are logically distinct. Logically the statement “ordained by God” cannot mean both “an individual providentially empowered” AND “an office preceptively established.” Basic logic necessitates a distinction, not conflation.

    It seems to me that if there *is* any such thing as authority, then God providentially appoints people to positions of authority in addition to appointing them to have power.

    Once again, this conflates the two wills of God. See Rutherford and that entire tradition’s rejection of that kind of thinking. Rutherford’s entire “Lex, Rex” was written against that idea (I provide a detailed summary of the book on the RL site if you search).

    You argue that Romans 13 cannot be understood as “both” power and authority; I’m currently thinking that it must; else, there is no point in honoring the authority.

    Again, it’s illogical. It is one or the other. You must address the logic if you want to claim Rom 13 teaches both. Another post on RL called “Romans 13:6 “For this reason, pay your tribute”” might be helpful here.

    Nor can we make a meaningful distinction between a ruler and a robber.

    That’s not an argument against the person interpretation of Rom 13. It just means you need to reconsider your understanding of a ruler. Rutherford:

    Conquest without the consent of the people is but royal robbery… If the act of conquering be violent and unjust, it is no manifestation of God’s regulating and approving will, and can no more prove a just title to a crown, because it is an act of divine providence, than Pilate and Herod’s crucifying of the Lord of glory, which was an act of divine providence, flowing from the will and decree of divine providence, (Acts ii. 23 ; iv. 28,) is a manifestation that it was God’s approving will, that they should kill Jesus Christ

    Augustine:

    How like kingdoms without justice are to robberies Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?
    For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity… But to make war on your neighbors, and thence to proceed to others, and through mere lust of dominion to crush and subdue people who do you no harm, what else is this to be called than great robbery?

    The first king in the world, Nimrod, was such a robber.

    If there appears to be a contradiction in having a person appointed to both power and authority, it is likely because of added premises… A stronger understanding of God’s decrees would reject that possibility. And if the possibility is rejected, the apparent contradiction falls away.

    Chrysostom’s view of the depth of God’s providence is irrelevant to the logical distinction between the two wills of God. Again, see Rutherford, who follows in the same steps yet has the strongest understanding of God’s decree (as well as Murray).

    I appreciate your time here.

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  51. Likewise, and it might be time for me to go read Rutherford. Still, I think we have successfully crystallized our difference. You say

    You haven’t addressed the fact that the two [power and authority] are logically distinct. Logically the statement “[exousia] ordained by God” cannot mean both “an individual providentially empowered” AND “an office preceptively established.” Basic logic necessitates a distinction, not conflation.

    And here, I would simply reply that “an individual providentially empowered” and “an individual providentially given authority” are distinct, yet not contradictory. Jesus was both; elders are both. Parents are be both. Since God decrees whatever comes to be, anyone having authority does so because of His decree.

    In other words, the “power / authority” dichotomy doesn’t map perfectly to the “decretive / preceptive” dichotomy, nor to the “person / office” dichotomy.

    So while it IS true that “exousia” in Rom 13 cannot mean both person and office at the same time, it MAY mean “person ordained to have power” and “person ordained to have authority” at the same time.

    Of course, I have not yet established that it does mean both. So far, I’ve only cleared the way by showing that there’s no contradiction.

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  52. And here, I would simply reply that “an individual providentially empowered” and “an individual providentially given authority” are distinct, yet not contradictory. Jesus was both; elders are both. Parents are be both. Since God decrees whatever comes to be, anyone having authority does so because of His decree.

    I’ve never said they are contradictory. Yes, obviously anyone in a legitimate position of authority arrives at that position by God’s decree. That’s irrelevant.

    So while it IS true that “exousia” in Rom 13 cannot mean both person and office at the same time, it MAY mean “person ordained to have power” and “person ordained to have authority” at the same time.

    Your statement sounds directly self-contradictory. Can you rephrase? The statement “the powers/authorities that be are ordained of God” must refer to decree or precept. It can’t logically mean both things so long as both things are distinct.

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  53. BA: Your statement sounds directly self-contradictory. Can you rephrase?

    Interesting. I think we’ve hit it.

    How about, “the term τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ in Rom 13 could refer to persons both providentially given power and providentially placed in positions of authority, without contradiction.”

    Examples: Christ, elders, parents.

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  54. Yes, every instance in which a person is in a position of God-established authority has been providentially placed in that position by God. Once again, that is irrelevant. That is not the point. The point is that a particular proposition cannot refer to both at the same time using the same words, since they are two different concepts. It is perfectly logical to say “God has ordained that society have civil government and God has ordained particular people to providentially fill that office.” There’s nothing wrong with that. What is illogical is saying “God has ordained the powers that be” means “God has ordained that society have civil government” AND “God has ordained particular people to providentially fill that office.” The sentence means one or the other, not both.

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  55. @brandon, thx for the solid thought-provoking stuff on the person vs office distinction!

    @MM, thx for the Clark quote: “When they (non-paedo’s) gather thus, in congregations, I regard them as being rebellious….I can’t regard their congregations as “true churches.” All of us rebellious credo’s are feeling that presby love!

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  56. There are two views of “Subservient Covenant” that shouldn’t be mixed. One says that the Mosaic Covenant is a distinct covenant, neither CoW or CoG, and grants only temporal rewards. The other considers the Mosaic Covenant as subservient to the New Covenant. If my memory is correct, the latter view considers the Mosaic Covenant as a part of the single CoG in administration, though not substance.

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  57. the latter view considers the Mosaic Covenant as a part of the single CoG in administration, though not substance.

    In other words, the latter view (I assume you have in mind modern Klinean) is utterly confused and doesn’t understand the terms they are using 🙂 If it’s different in substance then it’s a different covenant. That’s reformed covenant theology 101. That’s why the subservient covenant view recognized the Mosaic as distinct from the CoG.

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  58. I’m simply cautioning that there are two views that can be confused.

    If I were to add anything, Westminster does not advocate the former view of a third distinct covenant not belonging to the CoG with only temporal rewards. That’s one thing they agreed on.

    Also, the use of the terms “substance” and “administration” is used differently by different writers, so Covenant Theology 101 doesn’t clear that up either.

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  59. What is to be gained from self-consciousness? If you can avoid martyrdom by naming the violence of the magistrate as legitimate “force” (since in this age Christ has no standard but only sovereignty), what is to be gained by “seeing ourselves”?

    Margaret of Parma specified death by hanging for Guido de Brès. It looked less Constantinian to have de Brès destroyed as a seditionist than burning as a heretic What practical difference (in this age which is coming to nothing) does it make if the magiatrate who kills Guido Des Bres as a martyr or as a political seditionist? The neutral public “facts” are different from any “religious values” added by historians.

    Jeff: We are loyal citizens of one kingdom, respectful strangers and aliens in the other.

    Jeff—Paul infallibly teaches that the magistrate can legitimately be God’s servant as avenger

    https://oldlife.org/2019/01/07/eschatology-matters/#comment-181437

    John Fea—he seems to believe that the only thing Christianity teaches is that Christianity has no role to play in our responsibility

    Hart— “if you think pacifism is required by Scripture then you need to find a pacifist island and move there. This is not love it or leave it.”

    Hart—“Nero did not violate God’s law when Nero executed Christians who obeyed God rather than man”

    Hart—We are complicit with the local police who protect our property and in the courts that give us a platform to fight those who infringe on our persons.

    I quote (verb) one more quotation (noun) out of context.

    Psalm 24: The earth and everything in it,
    the world and its inhabitants,
    belong to the Lord

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  60. @ Brandon: What is illogical is saying “God has ordained the powers that be” means “God has ordained that society have civil government” AND “God has ordained particular people to providentially fill that office.” The sentence means one or the other, not both.

    Yes, that would be illogical — but it’s not what I said.

    Rather, I said that “exousia are ordained of God” appears to mean “God has providentially ordained some people to have both power and authority.” Those two qualities jointly define what it means to be an exousia. We see evidence of “power” in the sword given to the exousia; we see evidence of “authority” in the things due to the exousia, especially honor. However vague “honor” may be, it is still not owed to raw power, but rather to authority.

    I then I give examples of people who have both. We agree that it is not contradictory to say that people can have both; we agree that it is not contradictory to say that God has decreed those people to have both.

    It is clearly not contradictory to say that exousia have both qualities. especially when we have examples to hand. And if exousia have both qualities, then we agree that it is by God’s providence that it is so.

    So what then remains of the objection?

    Part of the confusion rests, I think, on the hidden premise that if God has ordained authority, it must be by precept. But this is not the case. We already know which offices God has preceptively decreed: elder, deacon, parents, priest in the OT. Offices such as President or Postmaster General or Assistant Deputy Director of the FDA have come about not by precept, but through providence via the actions of men. There is no hidden “Book of Offices” in the appendix to Scripture.

    So there’s no contradiction or double-speak in saying that God has providentially ordained people to have both power and authority. The open question is then, does exousia truly entail both qualities? I argue Yes, from the qualities attributed to the exousia.

    I’ll close with Luther, who is held up as an example of the “person” interpretation of Romans 13. He frankly takes a stronger line than I do on the issue of the sword, but the key point is that he ascribes both power and authority to the exousia of Rom 13. And, although I don’t quote it here, that authority is crucial to Luther’s rejection of church authority over the state.

    First, we must provide a sound basis for the civil law and sword so no one will doubt that it is in the world by God’s will and ordinance. The passages which do this are the following: Romans 13, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authority, for there is no authority except from God; the authority which everywhere exists has been ordained by God. He then who resists the governing authority resists the ordinance of God, and he who resists God’s ordinance will incur judgment.” Again, in I Peter 2, “Be subject to every kind of human ordinance, whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as those who have been sent by him to punish the wicked and to praise the righteous.”
    John the Baptist also teaches the same thing. When the soldiers asked him what they should do, he answered, “Do neither violence nor injustice to any one, and be content with your wages”. If the sword were not a godly estate, he should have directed them to get out of it, since he was supposed to make the people perfect and instruct them in a proper Christian way. Hence, it is certain and clear enough that it is God’s will that the temporal sword and law be used for the punishment of the wicked and the protection of the upright.

    — Luther, On Temporal Authority

    That is the sum and substance of it. The sword is in itself right and is a divine and useful ordinance, which God will have not despised, but feared, honored, and obeyed, on pain of vengeance, as Paul says, in Romans
    13:4. For He has established two kinds of government among men. The one is spiritual; it has no sword, but it has the Word, by means of which men are to become good and righteous, so that with this righteousness they may attain everlasting life. This righteousness He administers through the Word, which He has committed to the preachers. The other is worldly government, through the sword, which aims to keep peace among men, and this He rewards with temporal blessing. For He gives to rulers so much property, honor, and power, to be possessed by them above others, in order that they may serve Him by administering this righteousness. Thus God Himself is the founder, lord, master, protector, and rewarder of both kinds of righteousness. There is no human ordinance or authority in either, but each is altogether a divine thing. Since, then, it is beyond doubt that the occupation is, in itself a right and
    godly thing

    — Luther, “That Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved”

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  61. Mark, wow.

    From Mirriam-Webster:

    quote noun
    Definition of quote (Entry 2 of 2)
    1 : QUOTATION
    2 : QUOTATION MARK —often used orally to indicate the beginning of a direct quotation

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  62. I said that “exousia are ordained of God” appears to mean “God has providentially ordained some people to have both power and authority.” Those two qualities jointly define what it means to be an exousia.

    I think we’re getting confused here with the terminology and need to take a step back.

    Part of the confusion rests, I think, on the hidden premise that if God has ordained authority, it must be by precept. But this is not the case. We already know which offices God has preceptively decreed: elder, deacon, parents, priest in the OT. Offices such as President or Postmaster General or Assistant Deputy Director of the FDA have come about not by precept, but through providence via the actions of men. There is no hidden “Book of Offices” in the appendix to Scripture.

    Brother, you seem rather confused. There is no hidden premise. It is an explicit premise: divine institutions (what God commands) are a matter of God’s preceptive will, not his decretive will. Watson “God’s providence is greatly to be observed, but we are not to make it the rule of our actions. ” Moral authority is, by definition, an aspect of God’s preceptive will. I would really encourage you to read Lex, Rex (or at least my summary of it) as I think it would help clarify some of your confusion. The implication of your statement here is that the office of civil government is not a divine institution. It’s simply a pragmatic arrangement by consenting men (“through providence via actions of men”). Thus there is no divine authority for it and people are free to be without it if they choose. Is that your intention?

    You quote Luther, but Luther believed that civil government was a divine institution established at creation. You list parents as something preceptively ordained/instituted by God, but you place civil government in a different category. Luther believed civil government was a paternal institution preceptively established at creation. As you quoted him “There is no human ordinance or authority in either [spiritual or worldly government], but each is altogether a divine thing.” Again, as you quoted him, he interprets Romans 13 as preceptive establishment of the sword/office. “The sword and its law have existed from the beginning of the world.” He says Rom 13, like Gen 9:6 and Ex 21:14 establish the sword by command.

    On Rom 13 Hodge says

    For there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ἀπὸ θεοῦ. This is a very comprehensive proposition. All authority is of God. No man has any rightful power over other men, which is not derived from God. All human power is delegated and ministerial. This is true of parents, of magistrates, and of church officers.

    Note that if Rom 13 is about authority, then magistrates are in the same category as parents and church officers, not a different category. He continues, explaining the logic of the passage

    The doctrine here taught is the ground of the injunction contained in the first clause of the verse. We are to obey magistrates, because they derive their authority from God… human government a divine institution

    You said

    We see evidence of “power” in the sword given to the exousia, we see evidence of “authority” in the things due to the exousia, especially honor.

    Again, you’re conflating the two wills. You can’t mix and match within the passage. The sword either refers to 1) the preceptive office of wielding the sword, or 2) the physical strength to reign supreme over all opposition. If the sword refers to might/strength/power, then it does not refer to preceptive office. If it does not refer to preceptive office, then subjection is not due as a matter of authority. Conversely, if subjection is due as a matter of authority, then the sword refers not to power but to office. As you said “However vague “honor” may be, it is still not owed to raw power, but rather to authority.” You can’t just throw the logic of the passage out the window and mix and match the two wills of God. You need to be consistent throughout.

    Perhaps you can offer a brief verse by verse commentary or paraphrase on Rom 13:1-7 so we have something concrete to look at.

    Here is the “office” interpretation paraphrased:
    1 Let every soul obey the office of magistrate. For there is no authority except from God and the magistrates that exist are filling a role commanded by God. 2 Therefore, whoever resists the office resists the command of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For magistrates are not commanded to punish good works but to punish evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the magistrate? Do what is good and he will praise you. 4 For God has prescribed the office for your benefit. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not have the authority to punish in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only to avoid his punishment, but also because he only punishes those who are sinning. 6 Afterall, that’s why you pay taxes – so the magistrates can dedicate their time to punishing evil doers. Therefore you owe them taxes, revenue, fear, and honor.

    Rutherford and that tradition show very clearly that if this is the meaning of the passage, then obedience is only due to a magistrate wielding the sword lawfully. He may, and must, be resisted if he sins in his use of the sword.
    Many have recognized that that winds up flipping the passage on its head. What is intended to be a command not to rebel is actually giving license to rebel. How is this conclusion avoided? By throwing in providence after the appeal to preceptive authority breaks down. Obedience is due to the office, per the above, because it is a divine institution. What if the magistrate is not ruling according to God’s design? Well then in that case they are not acting with the authority of the office, but you still have to obey because God has providentially given him power over you. But, as you have already acknowledged, mere providence does not obligate us.

    Here is a paraphrase of the conflated rendering:
    Conflated
    1 Let every soul obey the governing authorities. For there is no office of authority except from God and the people currently in office have been providentially placed there by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the providence of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 Why? Because governing authorities are not given authority to punish good works, but to punish evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good and they will praise you. 4 But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not have authority to wield the sword in vain; for God has commanded him to be an avenger, to punish those who practice evil. 5 Therefore you must obey, not only to avoid punishment, but because disobeying the governing authorities is sinful. 6 That’s why you pay taxes – so they can be devoted to punishing evil doers. 7 Therefore give everyone their due: pay the goverment their taxes and customs, fear them and honor them.

    Do you see the inconsistent jumping around between the two wills of God throughout? On this rendering, we are to obey a particular individual, not because they hold an office, but BECAUSE they have been providentially chosen by God. Do we obey our elders BECAUSE of providence? No, we obey our elders because of God’s command. Recall Hodge “The doctrine here taught is the ground of the injunction contained in the first clause of the verse. We are to obey magistrates, because they derive their authority from God… human government is a divine institution.” This rendering also means that we will bring judgment upon ourselves for resisting God’s providence because governing authorities have been given authority to punish people for resisting God’s providence. It’s just incoherent.

    Again, I appreciate the discussion and pushback.

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  63. Hi Brandon,

    I’m slowly plowing through Rutherford. It feels like walking through a food-fight in that he is trading barbs with Maxwell on every page (so far).

    Meanwhile, if you would be willing to address more directly this question, I would appreciate it: If Luther is a representative of the “person” view (per Hensler), why then does he use Rom 13 to argue for the moral legitimacy of the sword?

    Background: Hensler writes to address the question of “How can rulers ordained by God to do good so frequently do evil instead?” He notes two answers: The positivistic answer is that God providentially ordains powers, and their evil is providentially used for good purposes; the legitimistic answer is that God ordains powers generally and the precepts by which they are to operate; some rulers fail to follow those precepts (and thus fail in their office).

    Our conversation hits on a somewhat different question: Does Rom 13 legitimate the use of the sword? You’ve argued that Rom 13 is positivistic (I generally agree); thus Rom 13 does not provide moral sanction for the sword.

    Problem: Hensler squarely locates Luther in the positivistic camp. Thus, for Luther, the point of Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 was that God had given the power of coercion, or force, to rulers, and Christians must submit to that power, not that God had given good government and that Christians ought to submit to the government as long as it is good.

    YET, Luther strongly argues that Rom 13 provides moral sanction for the sword

    So either Hensler is miscategorizing Luther, or Luther is confused, or you have drawn an unwarranted implication from the categories.

    The first is unlikely. The second is possible, but Luther ties his positivism so strongly to his 2k position that it would seem that inconsistencies would have been noticed and dealt with. That leaves us with the “unwarranted conclusion” option as the most likely…

    Could you address that while I’m tied up with Rutherford? Thanks.

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  64. I left a comment a few hours ago, but I don’t see it. Did it get lost in the nether? I didn’t save it…

    As an aside, I was also going to recommend E. Calvin Beisner’s dissertation “His Majesty’s Advocate: Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees (1635–1713) and Covenanter Resistance Theory Under the Restoration Monarchy”

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  65. To the best of my recollection, Hensler does not directly address the fact that some people conflate the two. Luther is yet another instance of that.

    As I’ve noted, those who interpreted Romans 13 as a reference to God’s preceptive institution of civil government recognized that the obedience commanded must extend only to the degree an individual ruler stayed within the bounds of that institution. Hensler begins by noting “Luther definitively rejected such reinterpretation. Luther’s conclusion from Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1 was that ‘whatever powers exist and flourish, exist and flourish because God has ordered them.'” I don’t have access the Luther’s Romans commentary (source of the quote) to confirm that he is referring to providence, but we’ll assume he is.

    Hensler then discusses Luther’s translation of exousia as power, rather than authority. However, he goes on to quote scholars indicating that Luther didn’t really make a clear distinction between the two categories (“a distinction between ‘authority’ and ‘power’ which Luther precisely did not make. It also suggests an abstract quality to Luther’s thought which it lacks”). He definitely had specific persons in mind, but not necessarily in distinction from preceptive authority. Luther was clearly not a political philosopher, as he admits himself. Hensler quotes another scholar “The crucial point is that Gewalt erodes the distinction between ‘power’ and ‘authority’.” In other words, as I’ve said, Luther conflates the two.

    Moving on to your quote from Hensler “… not that God had given good government and that Christians ought to submit to the government as long as it is good.” That is actually directly contradicted in the section that follows in Hensler:

    In the second part of On Secular Authority, Luther interpreted Romans 13 to limit secular authority: “Paul is speaking of superiors and power. But . . . no one has power over the soul except God. St. Paul cannot be speaking of obedience where there is no power . . . .”250 Luther buttresses his argument by again citing Romans 13 for a list of those “powers” that do belong to the secular ruler:

    And he [Paul] makes clear that this is what he means when he lays down a limit to both power and obedience: ‘Give to each what is due to him, tax where tax is due, customs duties where customs duties are due, honour where honour, fear where fear.’ In other words, secular obedience and power extend only to taxes, duties, honour, fear, outward things.

    Here Luther uses “power” to mean “authority.” “Paul cannot be speaking of obedience where there is no power[authority].” Luther then interprets Romans 13 as limiting the authority given to rulers. If a ruler steps beyond those limits (such as ordering German Christians to burn Luther’s translation), then Christians do not have to submit because the ruler has no authority in that matter.

    Hensler opened his section on Luther by stating

    As discussed above, some taught that Romans 13 could be used as a yardstick, not only for the conduct of the believing ruled, but also for the ruler by interpreting Paul’s phrase “the powers that are are ordained by God” to mean that “the powers that are of God are ordered.”235 Luther definitively rejected such reinterpretation.

    and yet we have just seen that that is precisely how Luther interprets it (at least in this instance). Luther said that Romans 13 can be used as a yardstick for the ruler. If a ruler goes beyond the Romans 13 yardstick (outward things) by trying to rule the soul, then Christians need not obey.

    So I think Hensler may be miscategorizing Luther slightly, but I don’t have access to his early Romans commentary. In all of this I believe I read someone noting that early on (commentary) Luther was responding to the radical Anabaptists seeking revolution. Thus he emphasized the requirement to submit to the powers. Later (On Secular Authority) Luther was responding to German rulers who were persecuting the church. Thus he emphasized the limits to their authority as ordained by God.

    Returning to your background

    Background: Hensler writes to address the question of “How can rulers ordained by God to do good so frequently do evil instead?” He notes two answers: The positivistic answer is that God providentially ordains powers, and their evil is providentially used for good purposes; the legitimistic answer is that God ordains powers generally and the precepts by which they are to operate; some rulers fail to follow those precepts (and thus fail in their office).

    Now note what Luther says in “On Secular Authority” (just a sentence after what Hensler quoted above)

    he lays down a limit to both power and obedience: ‘Give to each what is due to him, tax where tax is due, customs duties where customs duties are due, honor where honor, fear where fear’ [Romans 13.7]. In other words secular obedience and power extend only to taxes, duties, honor, fear, outward things. To the same effect: ‘Power is not a terror to good, but to wicked works’ [Romans 13.3]. He is setting a limit to power: it is not to have mastery over faith and God’s Word, but over evil-doing.

    Notice that in this instance Luther follows the legitimistic interpretation. Luther might employ the positivistic interpretation elsewhere, but that would simply demonstrate his inconsistency and reiterate my whole point.

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