Apologetics is Becoming Very Practical in America
by Donnie Griffin
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1, ESV)
When a conversation like this begins, it’s difficult to think clearly. It’s easy to jump to hypotheticals in which either worst case scenarios are presumed as probable or the truth about humanity is ignored as too improbable.
As a Christian, it’s also easy to over simplify the whole problem by quoting the above verse and assuming that it encompasses all situations. Furthermore, many pastors and teachers have a tendency to postulate a Christianity that errs to pacifism, giving the impression that God intends for his Church to constantly be fed to the lions.
Very little consideration is given by modern theologians to the very real possibility that Christians may be called to overtly disobey and/or put off an oppressive government. All civil disobedience seems to be relegated to martyrdom and peaceful protests and all Christians are told to remain calm and give to Caesar all that is his. We are constantly reminded of the Early Church martyrs, the Coliseum, and their blood as the seed of the Church and the Gospel.
The problem is that this all to common teaching has a narrow view of history, an inadequate vision of the Kingdom of Christ, and ignores some important Scriptural descriptions of real, God ordained authority. We can dispatch this extreme obedience view fairly quickly.
Is it the case that we are to absolutely obey governing authorities? Of course it’s not. Most Christians would agree that whenever an authority goes against God’s precepts, we should not submit to them.
Is it the case that civil disobedience always looks like it did pre-Constantine Rome? Of course it’s not. History teaches us that Christians have participated, if not lead, everything from hunger strikes to armed rebellions to revolutions, many of which were obviously blessed by God’s providential hand.
Is it the case that the Kingdom of Christ is merely something that is to come and we are to be apathetic about its advance? Even the most devout Dispensationalist should answer with a hearty NO!
On the other hand, do Christians have the liberty under Scripture to participate in a more robust form of civil disobedience? Some theologians say no, some say maybe, history says yes…
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