A more baseless assumption, one more in direct conflict with God’s teaching, was never made by man, than the idea that when the civil authority commands the Christian to do something contrary to the law of God, and he does it, the responsibility rest upon the civil authority, and not on the individual who violates the laws of God at the behest of the civil ruler.
“There is not a word of intimation in the Sacred Scriptures that indicate that it is the duty of any Christians to support, maintain, or defend any institution or organization of man, farther than a quiet, passive, but conscientious and faithful submission to its requirements, may have a tendency to sustain it. That submission he must render, not as a duty he owes to government on account of any virtue or merit it possesses, but as a solemn duty he owes to his Maker. This sense of duty to God connects him with all the governments and powers of the earth just alike. It permits him to become the partisan of none.”
A common objection to the idea that the state is founded in rebellion against God is the language of the Bible describing various kings and leaders as “God’s servants” or “ministers”. Romans 13 can be included as one of these texts. But do such verses justify their actions?
Lipscomb approaches the issue with a new tact this time around, and brings up Romans 13 in the process. He suggests that if Romans 13 is the justifying scripture for allowing Christians to participate in bloodshed, then “Nimrod and Abraham, Pharaoh and Moses, Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, Paul and Nero, stand precisely upon the same footing as approved and accepted subjects [of God].” Of course, he says this is illogical, and we must reject the former premise.
Notable in this piece is the way in which Lipscomb and his co-authors argue for their firm non-violent stance. They are to “submit quietly” to the government save where submission would require violation of God’s law. Their view, of course, is that joining an army to kill would be a violation of God’s law. Would only Christians today see the wisdom in such a firm belief?
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