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    1. #1
      Stravinsk's Avatar
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      Ask a Christian - Pauline Christianity - a religion of the State?

      Ask a Christian - Pauline Christianity - a religion of the State?


      Please read and answer thoughtfully before giving a flippant answer based on the title, thanks. Doing so shows some respect for my thoughts. There are a few different reasons I do not call myself Christian, this is one of them.

      The first few verses of Romans 13 make it clear that:

      1) There is no State Authority but what God has established (Romans 13:1-2)
      2) If you are punished by the State it is because you have done evil - conversely - if you are praised by the State you have done good. (Romans 13:3-4)
      3) Obey the State not only because of the power vested in it to harm it's citizens, but also because it is for conscience sake (Romans 13:5)
      4) The States employees are "God's Ministers" (Romans 13:6), therefore taxes are good and necessary.

      In a nutshell (with some supporting verses elsewhere such as 1Peter 2:13-14, 17) these verses tie Christianity to the State

      So my main question and follow up questions for Christians are:

      Do you believe this?

      If no, understood (neither do I, not as the chapter states it, anyway)
      If yes, then...

      Question 1 for those who believe this passage and supporting passages as written) Was Jesus a sinner or was He evil? Because it is logically impossible to accept what Romans and 1st Peter teach *and also* accept that Jesus is a sinless sacrifice. For according to the teaching above - the State could not punish and put to death an innocent man. One of it's primary functions is to sort the good from the bad and punish evildoers, by the Authority of God, according to Paul.
      If the State got it wrong in Christ's case, then the State was not being governed by God as Paul says it must be. If the State got it right in Christ's case, then Christ is an evil doer according to Paul's teaching here.
      If the argument then becomes that the State acknowledged Christ's innocence but still tortured and murdered Christ because of Jewish influence - then the passage still falls into one of the previous categories - as one of it's primary duties is to punish evil doers and not the innocent.

      Question 2 for those who believe this passage and supporting passages as written) State vs State. For this question let there be the assumption that both States in Question are primarily Christian and have at least nominal Christian leaders. I'm letting this assumption dominate even though the text does not specify it but because someone is bound to say it doesn't apply to "non Christian" states.

      If State X and State Y are both Christian majorities with leaders who confess Christ, then through the understanding of Romans 13:1-6 what must logically follow is that

      A) If a state of war exists between them, God has ordained it.
      B) Any action by one State against another State must be under the ultimate approval and authority of God - as God is the Authority in both states according to Romans 13. Therefore, any action done by one State's government to another - including Sanctions leading to starvation, Torture, replacing leaders, rape, murder and anything else - is ultimately done under God's Authority. The benefactor and malefactors only a matter of God's favoritism at the time. And of course, favoritism *must* be shown in this scenario. It further follows that if favoritism is shown in these ways (by the Authority of the State which Paul says represents God's will for determining good and evil) - then God doesn't love the whole world. Just the State he is favoring in hurting and plundering the other's citizens. God bless (your country, and *only* your country here).


      Or ...
      The first few verses of Romans 13 cannot possibly be correct in it's very wide proclamations about God and government, and a bunch of qualifiers and excuses not found in the text must be added to this chapter of Romans (and 1Peter 2: 13-14,17) in order to make it relevant. Which of course means that the Scripture is incomplete and not God-breathed.


      Here's your chance to convince me I've got this all wrong and I might even be in the running for being saved like the rest of Christianity thinks it already is. Let's hear it, if you have it.
      Last edited by Stravinsk; 10-01-2017 at 07:51 AM. Reason: grammer, spelling correction

    2. #2
      Imalive's Avatar
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      Give unto Cesar what's Cesar's and unto God what's God's.
      I see this text as true if it's a normal govt. The Nazi's said to the dad of Corrie ten Boom that he had to tell em where the Jews were hid in his house cause they had to obey the State according to the Bible. He said I obey the queen.
      Saul was a bad king but David regarded him as the anointed of God. That guy who threw them in the burning oven, if it goes against God don't obey, you have to obey God more than ppl, that's what they said in Acts too.

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    4. #3
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      You're right, of course. The problem is that many people take a verse in Scripture as covering every possible situation when it doesn't mean that at all, not any more than the statements we make ourselves in response to certain day to day occurrences do.

      So in this case, we are instructed to not make the things of the government into the things of God. But it does not mean that there is nothing whatsoever that any government anywhere and at any time can possibly do that we ought, in good conscience, to oppose.

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    6. #4
      MennoSota is offline Veteran Member
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      Romans 13:1-13
      [1]Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

      God ordains the rise and fall of nations. His purpose for nations is to establish justice in a rebel world.

      [2]So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

      Here the idea is that those who rebel against just laws are rebelling against what God has established.

      [3]For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.

      Here we understand that Paul is referring to just laws and rule. We see that God gives the police the right to bring justice to lawbreakers. We see that Christians ought not to be acting unjustly.

      [4]The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.

      Here we see clearly that God establishes just laws in society and he gives rulers the authority to crush injustice, even unjust actions by Christians.

      [5]So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

      Christians submit under the just laws of the nation in which they reside. (In 2 Corinthians 5 we see that we are foreigners in the land and act as ambassadors for God) We submit in order to have a clear conscience in case we are treated unjustly for our allegiance to God.

      [6]Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.

      We obey and pay taxes because God tells us and our conscience remains clear if we are treated unjustly.

      [7]Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

      We obey God, even when mistreated.

      [8]Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

      We pay what is required of us and we don't default on our responsibilities.
      Paul then alludes to the second of two commandments that fulfill the law. The first is to Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

      [9]For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

      Same as vs 8.

      [10]Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

      Paul tells us the same thing John tells us...we are to love even our enemies. (This passage is an excellent argument for pacifism by the way.)

      [11]This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

      Don't get caught sleeping and not obeying God. The time for us to be free from the injustice of this world is getting nearer.

      [12]The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

      Live rightly for our King is coming!

      [13]Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.

      We don't live in the future, we live in the now. Therefore, in the now, live good and decent lives. Don't live immoral lives of debauchery.
      The entire chapter is dedicated to instructing the Roman Christians to refrain from evil and be respectful.
      In observing this chapter, I find nothing that supports the OPs conjecture.

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    8. #5
      MoreCoffee is offline Silver Member
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      Saint Paul certainly does advise obedience to the state as far as possible while maintaining a good conscience as a Christian. Saint Thomas Moore is a very instructive example of how such obedience plays out when the state is wicked.

    9. #6
      Stravinsk's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Romans 13:1-13
      [1]Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

      God ordains the rise and fall of nations. His purpose for nations is to establish justice in a rebel world.

      [2]So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

      Here the idea is that those who rebel against just laws are rebelling against what God has established.

      [3]For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.

      Here we understand that Paul is referring to just laws and rule. We see that God gives the police the right to bring justice to lawbreakers. We see that Christians ought not to be acting unjustly.

      [4]The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.

      Here we see clearly that God establishes just laws in society and he gives rulers the authority to crush injustice, even unjust actions by Christians.

      [5]So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

      Christians submit under the just laws of the nation in which they reside. (In 2 Corinthians 5 we see that we are foreigners in the land and act as ambassadors for God) We submit in order to have a clear conscience in case we are treated unjustly for our allegiance to God.

      [6]Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.

      We obey and pay taxes because God tells us and our conscience remains clear if we are treated unjustly.

      [7]Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

      We obey God, even when mistreated.

      [8]Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

      We pay what is required of us and we don't default on our responsibilities.
      Paul then alludes to the second of two commandments that fulfill the law. The first is to Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

      [9]For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

      Same as vs 8.

      [10]Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

      Paul tells us the same thing John tells us...we are to love even our enemies. (This passage is an excellent argument for pacifism by the way.)

      [11]This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

      Don't get caught sleeping and not obeying God. The time for us to be free from the injustice of this world is getting nearer.

      [12]The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

      Live rightly for our King is coming!

      [13]Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.

      We don't live in the future, we live in the now. Therefore, in the now, live good and decent lives. Don't live immoral lives of debauchery.
      The entire chapter is dedicated to instructing the Roman Christians to refrain from evil and be respectful.
      In observing this chapter, I find nothing that supports the OPs conjecture.
      1. You didn't answer either of my questions or points.
      2. You had to ADD to the passage for it to FIT! Namely, you provided the qualifier "just" as applied to laws and general rule. Saul/Paul doesn't provide that qualifier at all, it is an ADDITION to the passage that takes away the divine Instituted Government (Something Saul/Paul Teaches) to one where a single human being such as yourself can question it and ignore it if you decide it's unjust in any way!

      In other words, you don't like the passage either, but to get around it you put in a qualifier that isn't in the text. If the book of Romans is Scripture, then you have just ADDED to it. That's a no no.

    10. #7
      Stravinsk's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Albion View Post
      You're right, of course. The problem is that many people take a verse in Scripture as covering every possible situation when it doesn't mean that at all, not any more than the statements we make ourselves in response to certain day to day occurrences do.

      So in this case, we are instructed to not make the things of the government into the things of God. But it does not mean that there is nothing whatsoever that any government anywhere and at any time can possibly do that we ought, in good conscience, to oppose.
      I'm afraid my response to you is going to be similar to the last poster.Saul/Paul doesn't allow this in the passage. If a qualifier *needs* to be added to justify opposing a wicked government, a wicked law etc, then Saul/Paul's writings here are incomplete, and if it needs to be completed (which means to totally change the Authority of Government in the passage), then it isn't Scripture at all.

    11. #8
      MennoSota is offline Veteran Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Stravinsk View Post
      1. You didn't answer either of my questions or points.
      2. You had to ADD to the passage for it to FIT! Namely, you provided the qualifier "just" as applied to laws and general rule. Saul/Paul doesn't provide that qualifier at all, it is an ADDITION to the passage that takes away the divine Instituted Government (Something Saul/Paul Teaches) to one where a single human being such as yourself can question it and ignore it if you decide it's unjust in any way!

      In other words, you don't like the passage either, but to get around it you put in a qualifier that isn't in the text. If the book of Romans is Scripture, then you have just ADDED to it. That's a no no.
      I actually address the passage and what the passage says. I have no clue what you were trying to extrapolate from the passage, which is why I spoke to the text of God's word.
      Do you agree with how I interpret the passage or disagree?

    12. #9
      Stravinsk's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      I actually address the passage and what the passage says. I have no clue what you were trying to extrapolate from the passage, which is why I spoke to the text of God's word.
      Do you agree with how I interpret the passage or disagree?
      Then go back and read what I wrote, carefully. You didn't address the OP or the points therein at all, you merely quoted the text and gave your own interpretation.

    13. #10
      MennoSota is offline Veteran Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Stravinsk View Post
      Then go back and read what I wrote, carefully. You didn't address the OP or the points therein at all, you merely quoted the text and gave your own interpretation.
      I have.
      I went through the entire chapter showing that the passage has nothing to do with tying Christianity to the State.
      I have no idea how you can come to that conclusion when you read the text.

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