Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Romans 13:1-7
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. I Peter 2:13-14
The above passages are often taken by Christians to mean that Christians owe almost complete obedience to human governments (the exceptions being where the authorities try to forbid the preaching of the gospel or demand that Christians worship the ruler as God). A number of times I’ve heard Christians cite these passages (especially Romans 13:1) to argue that those in authority are necessarily put there by God. I believe that to take such a view is to go against what the Bible teaches about truth, righteousness, and justice. A person could murder his way into power, take over in an illegal coup, steal an election, or lie about his constitutional qualifications for office, and yet we’re supposed to believe that such a person is in power by the authority of God. Such a view doesn’t say much for the character of God. I’m reminded of the 1888 U.S. presidential election, when Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote, but won a narrow electoral vote win over Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland. Mr. Harrison grasped the hand of Pennsylvania Republican boss Matt Quay, and said, "Providence has given us the victory." A few weeks later, Mr. Quay told reporters in Philadelphia, "Think of the man! He ought to know that Providence hadn't a damn thing to do with it," adding that Mr. Harrison would "never know how many Republicans were compelled to approach the gates of the penitentiary to make him president."
Both of these New Testament passages contain conditions. Those in authority are to praise those who do good, punish those who do evil, and do good to the people of God. If they’re that, then they aren’t governing with the authority of God, even though they may still hold the reins of power. The Old Testament gives us an example of a king who was anointed by the LORD, but who lost that authority although he was still in office. Saul was anointed King over Israel in I Samuel chapter 10; in verse 7, Samuel told Saul that God was with him. However, Saul began to disobey God in chapter 13, and after he further disobeyed God by refusing to destroy everything belonging to the Amalekites, the LORD rejected him as king:
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. I Samuel 15:26
And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. I Samuel 16:1
Was Saul immediately deposed as king? No, he was still on the throne, and remained King over Israel until he died in battle in I Samuel chapter 31. What he lost was the authority of God behind his rule; Saul was no longer God’s man on the throne, even though the LORD allowed him to remain in office for some time after pronouncing His rejection of Saul as king.
One pastor who takes a view of Romans 13 that’s contrary to the view often expressed among Christians is Chuck Baldwin of Pensacola, Florida. In February 2009 he wrote a column on the subject titled Romans 13 Revisited. Three years earlier, Pastor Baldwin interviewed Greg Dixon, former pastor of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, on the subject of Romans 13, and the audio can be downloaded here. In January 2010 Pastor Baldwin’s son Timothy, a constitutional lawyer, wrote a two-part column titled Biblical Mandate For Just Government: What is Good & Evil, which may be found here and here.
In May 2006 Alex Jones, at his Prison Planet site, ran a column by Paul Joseph Watson alleging that the United States government, through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), is paying thousands of pastors to preach sermons on Romans 13, advising Christians obey the government, and not to resist a declaration of martial or other intrusive government actions. Mr. Jones has a reputation for promoting conspiracy theories, but in this case, he provides evidence to back it up. A concerned congregant from Church of New Hope, an Assemblies of God church in Stow, Ohio, wrote to Prison Planet and included a copy of a bulletin insert dated November 9, 2008 from the Ohio District AoG Superintendent, Rev. John Wootton, invoking Romans 13 to state that Barack Obama’s presidency comes from God, and that Christians should lead the way in supporting him.
Another column by Mr. Watson in February 2009 disclosed that a member of the Worldwide Church of God had asked church leaders if any WCG pastors were on the FEMA payroll, only to be told that such information was privileged. Also in February 2009, Mr. Jones interviewed State Representative Matt Shea of Washington, who expressed his concern over the use of pastors as FEMA agents. You can watch the video of the interview, or read the transcript.
It’s tempting to think that all this is just the typical conspiracy-mongering of Alex Jones, but I’ve found some evidence myself to back up his allegations. At Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Beaverton, Oregon, Pastor Chuck O’Neal had a series of four (count ‘em, four!) sermons in the summer of 2008 on the subject of Christians obeying the government. These were:
July 13, 2008 Evangelistic Sedition!
July 27, 2008 Gospel Seditionists Submitting to State Authority
August 3, 2008 Moral Seditionists Submitting to State Authority
August 10, 2008 Practical Submission to State Authority
I invite, indeed, urge the reader to download these messages. I don’t think I’ve ever heard sermons that advised a more servile attitude toward government than these. I can’t prove that this pastor is a paid government agent, but these sermons make me very suspicious.
February 12, 2015 update: As reported by Mikael Thalen of Infowars, February 9, 2015:
A church hosting a law enforcement appreciation sermon asked its followers to pledge their allegiance to government this weekend, arguing that all state authorities throughout history have been ordained by God.Click on the link to see or hear Pastor Dan Kellogg's message on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, February 8, 2015.
According to an anonymous visitor of the Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek, Washington, who provided exclusive photos to Infowars, attendees were ordered to submit to the state without question.
“They had police worship today and last week was military worship where they played clips of American Sniper…” the source said. “They were telling people to basically worship government and worship police no matter what. No mention of police brutality, no mention of the stingray systems grabbing our data…”
The church’s pastor, Dan Kellog, who is also reportedly a police chaplain, used the Romans 13 bible verse to justify his position. As noted by Infowars Paul Joseph Watson, Romans 13 has long been used by authoritarian regimes to force compliance.
“Romans 13 has routinely been cited by tyrants throughout history in an attempt to prevent Christians from opposing their rule, indeed, it was Hitler’s favorite bible verse,” Watson wrote. “Religious groups such as the Catholics in 1930’s Germany also used the verse as an excuse not to rise up against the Nazis when they were still a minority political party.”
Near the end of the sermon, members of the congregation were asked to raise their right hands and make a pledge, which included the promise to call 911 on “suspicious” neighbors.
“I pledge to call 911 if I see someone suspicious in my neighborhood,” the pledge stated.
While working with law enforcement to create a safer community is a noble cause, the sermon made no mention of the duty of Americans to oppose and protest unconstitutional legislation and dictates.
The sermon’s content is eerily similar to a 2009 document passed out to churchgoers in Ohio that told Christians to support President Obama due to his status as “God’s minister.”
Since at least 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has used Romans 13 under a FEMA program to train pastors to become literal secret police. Pastors are tasked with teaching their congregations to submit to every government action including forced relocation under martial law.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, pastors operating under the “Clergy Response Team” program were used to quell dissent as police and military carried out unconstitutional gun confiscation.
Click on the links to see the photos of the screen behind Pastor Kellogg displaying Romans 13:1 and the pledge mentioned in the article above.
HT: Chuck Baldwin