If Only World(view) Magazine Had the Light of Nature

Now that the Denver Broncos are done for the season we need to go elsewhere for our sports/religion/culture war cocktail.  The latest comes from Beantown, where Bruin goalie Tim Thomas refused to visit the White House with his teammates because

the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. … This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House.

Marvin Olasky of World Magazine  – the Christian publication – applauded Tim Thomas, calling his move “an admirable stand” and saying “he’ll be able to tell his three children and grandchildren that he did not salute madness.”

Governor Deval Patrick – the Massachusetts liberal – had a different assessment:

“He’s a phenomenal hockey player and he’s entitled to his views, but it just feels to me like we’re losing in this country basic courtesy and grace.” Patrick said. “I didn’t think much of President Bush’s policies – two wars on a credit card, prescription drug benefit that we couldn’t afford, deficit out of control – but I always referred to him as ‘Mr. President.’ I stood when he came in the room…”

If this disagreement was a hockey fight Governor Deval would have Olasky’s shirt over his head. And that’s too bad, because there are some distinctively Christian resources that could have helped Mr. Olasky with his response. We respect ministers not just for their gifts, but for the office they hold.  We believe in the church not just because we liked the sermon on Sunday, but because it’s a divine institution.  Then there’s something called the fifth commandment, nicely detailed by the Westminster Larger Catechism:

Q. 128. What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?
A. The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

(If this is your first look at the Westminster standards, Tim Thomas would be an inferior and President Obama would be a superior.) But there’s no hint that Olasky drew from any of these resources.  He couldn’t put down the culture warfare sword even for the President of his country.  Worldview momentum wouldn’t allow it.

Poor Governor Deval, who only had the light of nature to guide him.  But the light of nature was enough for him to know that there is a basic respect due even to those with whom we disagree. It was enough for him to see that it bodes ill for the future of the American experiment when opposing parties refuse to engage in basic civility toward one another, and citizens no longer honor office.

If you’re keeping score, that’s one goal for the light of nature and none for World(view).

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43 Comments

Filed under Culture Wars, Sports & Religion, Worldview

43 responses to “If Only World(view) Magazine Had the Light of Nature

  1. Richard

    Smackdown. I love it.

  2. Lily

    Hmm… I would aargue that it is not quite that clear cut. I would offer that there was no disrespect shown to the office of the President, but there was a conscientious objection shown for the abuses of office of the President. Specifically, conscientious objection for exceeding the authority given to the office of President. The President has shown great disrespect not only for his own office, but for the office of citizen by abusing the public trust given to him. Thus it would be a case of 2k where Thomas rightfully obeyed his conscience and exercised his authority as a citizen to not only disagree/disapprove of abuses of authority, but to decline an invitation for a photo op with the President.

    Do I have a case Herr MM?

    • Richard

      Lilly, sorry to butt in, sure Thomas rightfully obeyed his conscience and exercised his authority, sure. But–what about Olasky and “World”?

      • But, Richard, isn’t this the equivalent of refusing to shake the outreached hand of your President? We’ve talked about light of nature, but that also seems at odds with the magistrate-respect shown by Paul.
        Ultimately, we’re seeing politico-evangelicals simply acting like another huffy political faction.

    • Lily, first of all, he broke the sport ethic “thou shalt maintain team chemistry.” That can be broken, but only for a strong (moal/religious) reason.
      Then there are ways of expressing opposition to President Obama. Vote against him. Speak out against his policies. Etc. But snubbing a traditional visit to the Whitehouse is bad for team chemistry and an unnecessary eye gouge for an apolitical event.
      Plus this reminds me of an incident in Iowa in which a guy walked up to the President and yelled at him for something Vice President Biden said. He immediately became the darling of the Politico-Evangelicals, who likened him to David (v Goliath). But he was just crass, rude, and disrespectful of office. The Worldview instinct clashes with a Christian and “light of nature” understanding of office.

  3. Lily

    You make good points, MM. Being part of a team is important and balancing being part of a team and individual conscience can be difficult. I’m not sure I see the comparison between a man rashly hollering at Obama and a deliberated statement declining an invitation. They look different to me in both tone and subject.

    I did find some fun ammo to throw at you from your camp. So, here, I argue with you for both fun and serious. Serious in sense that how to handle civil disobedience has become of interest to me because of the times we are living in. I’m thinking that Thomas was well within the parameters of godly dissension and that submission to the principle of team spirit/unity in a public appearance was not needful. Perhaps it could be argued that his obligations to the welfare of his fellow citizens is greater than his team’s appearance at the White House in this specific case? It will be good to hear you response. Check out these quotes:

    Calvin:

    The Lord, therefore, is King of kings. When He opens His sacred mouth, He alone is to be heard, instead of all and above all. We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates — a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God. (Institutes – Book IV, Chapter XX:32)

    The reason why we ought to be subject to magistrates is, because they are constituted by God’s ordination…. [T]yrannies and unjust exercise of power, as they are full of disorder, are not an ordained government; yet the right of government is ordained by God for the well being of mankind…. [T]hey are the means which he designedly appoints for the preservation of legitimate order. (Commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans pp. 478-479)

    Henry Beveridge

    …[I]t is remarkable, that often in Scripture things are stated broadly and without any qualifying terms, and yet they have limits, as it is clear from other portions. This peculiarity is worthy of notice. Power is from God, the abuse of power is from what is evil in men. The Apostle throughout refers only to power justly exercised. He does not enter into the subject of tyranny and oppression. And this is probably the reason why he does not set limits to the obedience required: he contemplated no other than the proper and legitimate use of power.(Scottish Publication of the Commentaries – John Calvin, ibid., p. 478 (footnote).

    Westminster Confession

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to His Word…. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty ofconscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also….
    …[B]ecause the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. (WC Chapter XX:2)

    Adolf Hitler

    The Protestants haven’t the faintest conception of a church. You can do anything you like with them– they will submit. These pastors are used to cares and worries… they learnt them from their squires…. They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them. They have neither a religion that they can take seriously nor a great position to defend like Rome. (Herman Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction (London, 1940)

    • There’s a lot there, Lily. But for now, responding to Calvin with Calvin, consider how he addressed a magistrate:

      For the Most Mighty and Illustrious Monarch, Francis, Most Christian King of the French, His Sovereign, John Calvin Craves Peace and Salvation in Christ.

      1. CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE BOOK WAS FIRST WRITTEN

      When I first set my hand to this work, nothing was farther from my mind, most glorious King, than to write something that might afterward be offered to Your Majesty.

  4. Lily

    Richard, You are welcome to jump in. I’m clueless on “World” and Olasky – pray tell?

    MM – does the intro concerning the then presiding King supersede the current situation with a temporary President? I’m thinking they are two different things.

    • Richard

      Lilly,
      Olasky is PCA. World is run largely by PCA-people, with no affiliation offically to the denomination. I agree, MM, the guy was a jerk, but I see the PCA people as bearing a greater weight of responsibility for cheerleading the guy when they are aware of the Confessions.

  5. Lily

    MM – I didn’t word that well. I’m not objecting to respecting the office. I’m thinking an autonomous 16th century King to whom bowing is due (among other obeisances) is not quite the same as an elected President who’s power is supposed to be balanced by other branches of government and supposed to be under the scrutiny of the press and his fellow citizens – well it’s a different situation.

    Part of what I’m arguing for is how to keep the checks and balances working, and private citizens exercising their vocation as citizens would be a part of that – right?

    • A citizen can critique an elected official as much as desired. It can been done in a principled and respectful manner. Every person is due a certain degree of courtesy; the magistrate is owed “courtesy plus.” A subaverage parent is to be honored and a subaverage minister is to be honored notwithstanding their performance because of their status (office).
      This was just a hockey team visiting the Whitehouse but this kind of attitude is becoming more prevalent and it’s too bad World is being a cheerleader for it. How about this: “Disrespect for office is the seed of anarchy.”

  6. Lily

    Hmm… MM. I’m not sure how declining an invitation based on an overall displeasure with government mismanagement degenerated into anarchy! Wouldn’t that charge fall into the progressive’s bag of tricks to deflect criticism!?! Golly, they’ve already charged Thomas with racism over it! Surely adding anarchy is pushing the boundaries quite shamelessly! 😉

    On a different note, how about the natural light that tells us when to say “no” to bullies or when to speak the truth and say “no” to an invitation or when to answer a fool according to his folly? These things are not unheard of in our personal vocations with citizen being one of our many vocations. It’s not hard to make the case that our government is out of control in a number of areas. Just as a congregation has a duty to address an out-of-control pastor who misuses his office, so a citizenry has a duty to address an out-of control government or President who misuses his office. Life is messy. 😉

    • Lily, I don’t see where you at all link honor with office. Is honor owed to a magistrate and, if so, what does it look like? Is it a good thing for our country if right wingers can’t show courtesy to a D and left wingers can’t show courtesy to a R ?

  7. Lily

    Richard,

    I’m wondering if there may be a confusion of 2k. Since Olasky and World are not PCA (right-hand kingdom), but a media organization with employees who happen to be PCA (left-hand kingdom), then they are free to involve themselves fully in the left-hand kingdom and cheer for Thomas’ decision. I don’t have a subscription to the magazine, so I could not read the full article. Personally, I don’t have a problem with what Thomas did as a private citizen. I wonder if most of the controversy is political posturing (faux pious appeals for respect), media hype to sell products, and etcetera.

    • Richard

      Olasky is a ruling elder in the PCA. World is a media organization (Olasky is editor, last I heard), but it holds itself out as a magazine with a Christian “world view” on political and cultural issues. There are all sorts of 2 K issues when we hear of a “Christian” view point which looks with favor on someone who denigrates the office of one who is in authority over us.

      • Lily

        Richard,

        I am clueless on what the PCA expects of it’s elders. I am also unsure as to what constitutes the denigration of a magisterial office. While I respect the office of mayor, I may not respect the man who misuses that office and bankrupts the city. I would not want to be disrespectful to him, but would surely hope he would go to jail for any criminal behavior and would not want to recommend him for reelection. Do you understand my dilemma?

        I may be jaded, but I barely notice when a magazine labels itself Christian. I pay a little more attention if it says it is attached to a specific tradition. I also try to pay attention to what type of author I’m reading. Different traditions and authors seem to have different perspectives: liberal, conservative, orthodox, heterodox – I’m guessing you consider these things too?

  8. Lily

    Re: A citizen can critique an elected official as much as desired. It can been done in a principled and respectful manner.

    I may be missing something, MM, but I can’t see where he failed to do that.

  9. Lily

    It seems to me that it will take great wisdom to navigate this terrain as a Christian. Honor is not a blind, servile, obeisance to an office without regard to what is being said and done in it.

  10. Lily

    Oops. The full comment failed to post:

    MM! Would you quit being the attorney and turning the tables on me (probably an impossibility 🙂 )!?! You have yet to answer my questions or my defense of Christian liberty to exercise our vocations as citizens. You are also deftly dodging my charges of progressive tactics. Shouldn’t Christian freedom be established prior to the secular situation of polarized politics? Can we establish Christian liberty and then address honor? As I wrote previously, I am very interested in this. It seems to me that it will take great wisdom to navigate this terrain as a Christian. Honor is not blind servile, obeisance to an office without regard to what is being said and done in it.

  11. Lily

    Nope. Christ sets us free (primary) to serve. Liberty and responsibility go hand in hand. Besides, I’m old enough to be your kids granny. 😉

  12. Lily

    Richard, I may crack up all week over your remark. Lotsa fun to think I have a trump card, but it also reminds me a little too much of Old Maid! 😉

    MM – Forever young? I hope that’s a heavenly gift! I also can’t help hoping there are babies and children in heaven to cuddle and love on. I have a hard time thinking of nothing but adults… yet, to never grow up? That’s doesn’t seem right either. I can’t imagine the new heaven and earth we are promised.

    Luther? Sigh… ’tis complicated. He wrote both in support of the peasants and in opposition to them. He asked the princes to take their grievances seriously and to treat them well. Then he was appalled at the violence of the peasants and asked the princes to suppress their violence. Then he wrote to reprove the princes for their heavy handed violence against the peasants. Nasty bit of history and an example of what not to do.

    And… (here’s another trump card) since violent peasants killing and pillaging can’t be compared to sport’s figures declining invitation to the White House. I win this round. 😉

    • Richard, Lily is a granny who wears brass knuckles that leave smiley face bruises.

      Lily, let’s try some cross-confessional analysis. Here’s my question: IF the quoted catechism is true, then who better obeys it, World Magazine or the Governor of Massachusetts? In this situation, of course.

  13. Lily

    If you wouldn’t object, MM. I would like to offer one of the most important and under-reported political decision that will have serious repercussions on the church. It’s this kind of stuff that has me wanting to understand our topic.

    This link is to today’s Issues Etc. interview of Terry Mattingly of Get Religion. He covers Obama’s HHS mandated birth coverage that boils down to a Chines style Freedom of Worship versus America’s historic Religious Freedom. I hope all will listen and take the seriousness of situation to heart:

    http://issuesetc.org/2012/02/02/2-media-coverage-of-terry-mattingly-222012

    • Yes, Lily, that’s a very serious issue that we need to keep an eye on. We could very well have an irresistible force meeting an immoveable object. We could see some religious civil disobedience and some very important judicial decisions. The Obama administration gave a one year extension that will put off the issue for a little while.

      • Lily

        Brass knuckles, MM? Moi? Smiley face bruises? Oy vey! And here you almost redeemed yourself with that forever young flattery. Not! You must not have spent much time among Southerners with warped and/or eccentric humor. Where on earth are your stomping grounds?

        And nope, you aren’t going to rope me into one WC quote versus political posturing. Please see the Reformed quotes I offered earlier. This subject and the times we are living in are much too serious to not be looked at through the whole counsel of God, some wisdom from church history, and good dose of old fashioned common-sense about man’s sinful nature. There are some real land mines to be navigated. And I plead for my case to be heard (can I play my widow card here?).

        As you said, MM, it’s a serious issue. A year will pass quickly and the Church needs to wake up to the dangers. This is not an RC issue. In glorious 2k fashion, the progressive Bishop did what needed to be done. He told the state it had gone too far and needs to return to it’s boundaries. At this point, the White House is not backing down. Time will tell:

        “White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Thursday’s afternoon briefing that there was “not a debate” over reversing the decision. “The decision has been made, and it was made after careful consideration,” he said.” http://tinyurl.com/86mkyg3

  14. Lily

    MM, from a legal standpoint, this is the best analysis of the situation I’ve seen so far. I hope this situation gets a lot more coverage:

    “…what is at issue in the controversy over the administration’s rule is not just the question of religious liberty but the question of non-governmental institutions in a free society. Does civil society consist of a set of institutions that help the government achieve its purposes as it defines them when their doing so might be more efficient or convenient than the state’s doing so itself, or does civil society consist of an assortment of efforts by citizens to band together in pursuit of mutual aims and goods as they understand them? Is it an extension of the state or of the community? In this arena, as in a great many others, the administration is clearly determined to see civil society as merely an extension of the state, and to clear out civil society—clearing out the mediating layers between the individual and the state—when it seems to stand in the way of achieving the president’s agenda. The idea is to leave as few non-individual players as possible in the private sphere, and to turn those few that are left into agents of the government. This is the logic of a lot of the administration’s approach to the private economy, not just to civil society. It is key to the design of Obamacare (which aims to yield massive consolidation in the insurance sector, leaving just a handful of very large insurers that would function as public utilities), of significant portions of Dodd-Frank (which would privilege and protect a few very large banks that would function as public utilities while strangling all the others with red tape), and of much of the regulatory agenda of the left. And it is all the more so the character of the administration’s approach to charitable institutions. It is an attack on mediating institutions of all sorts, moved by the genuine belief that they are obstacles to a good society.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/289647/religious-liberty-and-civil-society-yuval-levin

  15. Lily, what is disrespectful is that you’ve not weighted in at my place over the recent discussion on civil disobedience. Of all the Lutheran nerve.

    But I meet your Calvin quote with VanDunen on Calvin:

    Calvin’s convictions on this subject [civil disobedience] were, on the whole, strikingly conservative. In an extended series of discussions toward the close of the Institutes, he hailed the honor and reverence due to magistrates as a consequence of their appointment by God [ICR 4.20.22-29]. Calvin exhorts Christians that they must “with ready minds prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which relate to the common defense, or in executing any other orders.” [ICR 4.20.23]. He goes on to make clear that this applies to bad rulers as well as good: “But if we have respect to the Word of God, it will lead us farther, and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes, by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they less perform than the duty of princes.” [ICR 4.20.25]. “The only thing remaining for you,” Calvin adds shortly thereafter, “will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words.” [ICR 4.20.26].

    David VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms (pg. 121)

    So even “bad rulers” are to be shown respect. After all, what credit is it to you that you obey one who treats you well? Obeying those who trample you seems like loving those who hate you (you know, like what would Jesus do?). I get that this fellow may not have disobeyed by the letter of the law, but what about the spirit of the law, which is far superior? And I’m with Patrick here: a pox on the age of self-expression which is opposed to self-comportment.

  16. Lily

    Disrespectful, Zrim? Moi? I’ll have to see about remedying that. Though, I wonder that it’s a little late in the game to join.

    I would offer to you that Bonhoeffer had his name removed from the list of confessional pastors that were being prayed for so that there would be no confusion that he was acting as a private citizen and prevent repercussions from being imposed upon the church for his actions (eg: no 2k conflict as a pastor). He was also faced with a totalitarian government that was killing thousands daily, not a democratic style of government where the state could be addressed by the citizens for it’s misuse of power like Wilberforce could. He was in a rock and a hard spot. Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. To look the other way when so many people were being murdered with an assembly line precision when it was within his power to stop it is damning too.

    WWJD? Letter versus Spirit? You are incorrigible. I would offer that WWJD is lame (his mission was to die on the cross for sinful man) and that it is normally the legalists who would pit the letter against the spirit of the law. I would agree with you – this age of self-expression versus self-comportment stinketh.

    While I would agree that rulers are to be given what is due to them, it’s not a command to look the other way when they engage in evil. There is no reason to not understand that we live under a different type of governance than Calvin and Luther did. Our vocations as citizens includes civic engagement in our own governance and petitioning or suing the government over wrongful or neglectful governance, recall elections, and so forth can be part of our vocation. We have redress for evil magistrates and can have them charged with their crimes.

    I would trump your DVD with scripture. Romans 13:1-6. It’s not rocket science to recognize that this is not a command for blind submission to evil rulers and there is a “conscience clause” to not disobey when rulers are doing what God has ordained. Natch, it’s more complicated than that, but it does catch the essence of not sinning against your conscience in disobeying good governance or sinning against your conscience by obeying an evil governance.

    I like the way JB Phillips puts the next part (Romans 13:7-10): “give everyone his legitimate due, whether it be rates, or taxes, or reverence, or respect! (To love others is the highest conduct) Keep out of debt altogether, except the perpetual debt of love which we owe to one another. The man who loves his neighbor has obeyed the whole Law in regard to his neighbor.”

    Obedience to government does not trump your duties to your neighbors. The whole chapter needs to be kept together and not separated. It’s a false choice to think it’s submission in the face of evil. I don’t submit to my husband if he tries to murder our children. He’s likely to get hit over the head with an iron skillet (how’s that for self-comportment?). I don’t have to chose submission over the welfare of my children. I don’t have to abandon my children while waiting for the police. It’s skillet time!

    Would also add that Paul appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen. We can do the same and our government has given us much greater rights than Rome. We can appeal and act within our civic rights. It’s up to us if we choose to be passive and allow our nation to be swallowed up by totalitarianism. Perhaps Lutherans remember German history better than the Presbys? WWII might have been prevented if people hadn’t been dazzled by the early Hitler’s promises and looked the other way during his power grabs and acts of terror against portions of the citizenry. I would offer that an inadequate anthropology and false choices leads to all kinds of problems.

  17. Lily

    I’ll give you a scenario to think about, Zrim.

    If I was rich and famous with companies wanting my endorsement of their products, I would choose the companies and their products with care. I would not want to misuse the fame God had given me.

    In a similar fashion, if a President wanted to invite me to the White House and give me an honor, I would have to consider both the President and the honor being offered. In our current administration, I would say no. Why? Conviction. I would not want my fame used as an endorsement of approval of the most pro-abortion President in our lifetime. He has actively sought to expand it both in foreign and domestic policy. He threatened the withholding of federal dollars for medicare in a state that legally legislated to stop funding Planned Parenthood which is a non-governmental agency. The state caved. And I would publicly state my reasons why I turned the invitation down. As a private citizen, I will not allow my fame to used by a President who supports the genocide of a portion of our citizenry. Do I have a duty to the President or to the children?

  18. Lily, I get being opposed to the policies of a President. What I don’t get is taking non-political opportunities to express political opposition. Why do politics have to swallow everything up? My own idea is that it owes to having an over-realized sense of politics in the first place. Also, what Thomas does here reminds me an awful lot of when Oprah takes the time to tell us her political convictions. Maybe more than Presidents needing to be put in their place by celebrities, celebrities need to know that personality isn’t authoritative or even interesting.

    So I don’t understand, Lily, why you think giving honor to your God-ordained magistrate is conditional. You want to trump DVD and Calvin with the Bible, but the Bible simply doesn’t give exception clauses in this regard:

    Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

    Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

    Plain reading reveals no conditional clauses, as in honor the emperor but only if he’s a good one that you really like—otherwise, heap on him scorn. There’s even stuff in there about Christ as example. Are you saying Peter was lame?

  19. Lily, to be more direct: What do you do with “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust”? I know modern ethos says only just magistrates deserve submission and obedience, but the Bible seems to disagree.

  20. Lily

    Zrim,

    Re: the good and gentle versus the unjust

    Perhaps, I don’t see this situation as necessarily being difficult. People are always wanting us to go the extra-mile and placing unjust demands upon our time, energy, and resources. We all have fun bowing to the demands of others. If this puts it in perspective – have you ever asked your boss to not work over-time or to give an assignment to a co-worker rather than immediately bowing to the demand? Would you seek new employment if he placed you under unrelenting overtime demands? It’s not wrongful to seek a more humane employer or accept new employment.

    I don’t necessarily equate unjust with being illegal or sinful (eg: excessive overtime). Abortion is legal but immoral. Thus I would not obey an authority commanding me to abort my child and would necessarily suffer the consequences of my disobedience.

    I’m thinking it’s not fair to compare Thomas to Oprah. Thomas didn’t seek the limelight nor seek to present his views to purposely influence the public square. The situation was imposed upon him and he had to respond. He gave a public response because it was a public invitation. I don’t think he was deliberately trying to throw the weight of his celebrity around. The situation found him.

    The bible always trumps theologians and I was also teasing you by using the word trump. Obedience to man’s authority always ends up being conditional because obedience to God always trumps magistrates. To say “no” to authority does not mean one has to be scornful or disrespectful. I do like the story of Daniel making sure his windows were open so he would be heard praying/worshiping God and disobeying the king’s edict. That’s a little in your face defiance – ya thank? I’m not defending sassiness, but trying to point out that obedience isn’t static.

    I don’t think quoting one passage of scripture and ignoring the whole counsel of God works. Being subject to authority isn’t wooden. I do love that passage about how Christ suffered for us and how we are to suffer unfair treatment, too. Submission to authority can be painful, yet it does have limits. It looks like a biblicist reading of the passage to think obedience to man is unconditional and to not understand that there may be times where we are to defend and care for our neighbors and will need to disobey men in some cases. Even if it is on the sly (Rahab).

    Is Peter lame – lol! Paul sure had a few words with him over his behavior! Again, I’m teasing you some since Peter was human like the rest of us. 😉

  21. Lily

    Zrim,

    I’m wondering if breaking out a couple of sentences helps with the perspective I’m trying to bring out when I’m trying to point out the whole counsel of God needs to be considered.

    1) Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

    2) Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

    3) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.

    In the first sentence, this isn’t a description of an evil government. Just sayin…

    In the second sentence, our primary vocation as a child/servant of God should be remembered. Thus we will serve others to the best of our ability because we love, fear, and trust God. But we are free to exercise our freedom to not comply with orders that would violate God’s command (Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s amorous wife and unjustly suffering for it).

    The third sentence reminds us to fear God and that there are a lot of other considerations/people besides those in authority (eg: I’m not going to fudge on the accounting books and double bill clients or shortchange the employees wages because my boss tells me to).

    I’m not promoting or excusing disobedience, I’m begging for the text to speak for itself and for the whole counsel of God to be seen. Does that make sense?

  22. Re: the good and gentle versus the unjust.

    Perhaps, I don’t see this situation as necessarily being difficult. People are always wanting us to go the extra-mile and placing unjust demands upon our time, energy, and resources. We all have fun bowing to the demands of others. If this puts it in perspective – have you ever asked your boss to not work over-time or to give an assignment to a co-worker rather than immediately bowing to the demand? Would you seek new employment if he placed you under unrelenting overtime demands? It’s not wrongful to seek a more humane employer or accept new employment.

    Lily, I’m not saying obedience means we can never disagree or even push back. But what happens when, like in most of real life, we aren’t heeded by our less than ideal authorities and we can’t just up and leave our employment or our find new citizenship? What if the poor treatment continues? Is Peter really saying we may then disobey? But it sure seems like the plain reading is to obey the unjust. I do agree that it becomes another story when we are personally directed to violate God’s moral law. But when I’m directed to do things I really hate but are not immoral then I am obligated to obey.

    I’m thinking it’s not fair to compare Thomas to Oprah. Thomas didn’t seek the limelight nor seek to present his views to purposely influence the public square. The situation was imposed upon him and he had to respond. He gave a public response because it was a public invitation. I don’t think he was deliberately trying to throw the weight of his celebrity around. The situation found him.

    I think that’s a little much. It seems to me Thomas took it upon himself to politicize a clearly non-political situation. It was not invited to make a political statement but to show respect for his President and he took advantage of his celebrity and became a political opportunist. It’s just so eeeevangelical.

    I don’t think quoting one passage of scripture and ignoring the whole counsel of God works. Being subject to authority isn’t wooden. I do love that passage about how Christ suffered for us and how we are to suffer unfair treatment, too. Submission to authority can be painful, yet it does have limits. It looks like a Biblicist reading of the passage to think obedience to man is unconditional and to not understand that there may be times where we are to defend and care for our neighbors and will need to disobey men in some cases.

    I’m not sure doing poor justice to a passage of Scripture justifies the accusation of latent Biblicism. You really haven’t answered satisfactorily what it means to obey an unjust magistrate, which are Peter’s plain words. But I’ve not said that obedience to magistrates is absolute or “blind.” I think if we take all of Scripture into account we see that we cannot obey when directed to personally violate God’s moral law. But the text I’ve submitted to you suggests obedience is not only owed the just but the unjust. And what I hear in response is a lot of work to figure out how to disobey the unjust.
    In the second sentence, our primary vocation as a child/servant of God should be remembered. Thus we will serve others to the best of our ability because we love, fear, and trust God. But we are free to exercise our freedom to not comply with orders that would violate God’s command…

    I agree. But instead of framing in terms of freedom to disobey man I would rather say we are obligated to obey God. I wonder, do you see any room for the suggestion that we are to obey tyrants?
    I’m not promoting or excusing disobedience, I’m begging for the text to speak for itself and for the whole counsel of God to be seen. Does that make sense?

    Well, in places it sounds like you are trying to promote disobedience. But I don’t see biblical warrant for it. I do see warrant for obeying God and magistrate. I do see warrant for obeying God rather than men. But I don’t see any warrant for disobeying magistrates, because, as Paul says, they are God’s vice-regents and to disobey them is to disobey God. So I just think very often as modern westerners (particularly Americans) we tend to speak way too flippantly about disobeying civil authorities. We may not as believers mean to convey that disobedience is a virtue, but it sure sounds like that to me most of the time.

  23. Lily

    Zrim,

    I am going to give you a bit of a hard time on this. I think you may be making this harder than it is?

    Re: real life… what if poor treatment continues… directed to do things I really hate but not immoral.

    Of course we do what is required and go the extra-mile at times. We all deal with this subject in all of our vocations. I’m not sure I understand the big deal is about it other than the need for wisdom in our vocations when dealing with difficult people. It reminds me of the instruction to the slave who is converted to Christianity and told to continue serving as a slave and if he can free himself, then do so.

    Re: ..not invited to make a political statement but to show respect for his President and he took advantage of his celebrity and became a political opportunist. It’s just so eeeevangelical.

    We may never see eye-to-eye on this one. I still see liberty to object and since it’s politics it will necessarily be political. No way to avoid it just like to disagree with Osteen is necessarily theological. I don’t see objections as disrespectful and still see it as a situation imposed upon him and not necessarily opportunistic or evangelical. Both Catholic and LCMS leaders have objected to the president’s latest power grab. In this later case, there is a duty to object. In the former case, there is liberty to object as a private citizen and his objections are not frivolous.

    Re: …the accusation of latent Biblicism. You really haven’t answered satisfactorily what it means to obey an unjust magistrate, which are Peter’s plain words. But I’ve not said that obedience to magistrates is absolute or “blind.” I think if we take all of Scripture into account we see that we cannot obey when directed to personally violate God’s moral law. But the text I’ve submitted to you suggests obedience is not only owed the just but the unjust. And what I hear in response is a lot of work to figure out how to disobey the unjust.

    I think I answered the unjust question above. I could be very wrong about biblicism. In looking at this response, I would be more inclined to wonder if there is more of a law/gospel/law effect at work. We have liberty to apply grace and wisdom to unjust situations and the desire to see obedience to the law does tend to provoke the law/gospel/law sandwich effect. There always seems to be the fear that people will abuse their freedom. Grace is always challenged because of those fears. The passage clearly addresses that we are free: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” with the normal limits of freedom – do not sin. I’m not criticising you. We ALL want to sandwich things when a particular law is especially important to us. I don’t think it is necessarily a sin to object to a President’s choices or to decline an invitation based upon those objections. I would think a case could be made that it would be sin to accept the invitation and not take a stand against the perceived blossoming of tyranny. Address the problems rather than being used as window dressing for corruption.

    Re: …instead of framing in terms of freedom to disobey man I would rather say we are obligated to obey God. I wonder, do you see any room for the suggestion that we are to obey tyrants?

    Again, I would point to liberty/grace and the fears it exposes. As a Lutheran, I would object to the Calvinistic terminology of “obligated to obey God” and stand firm in the Lutheran expression of fear, love, and trust God. A much richer and better emphasis, IMO. As for obeying tyrants, there is necessarily liberty and room for discernment. There is a difference between unjust and immoral/illegal rulers. Heavy taxes are unjust and an inevitable burden to be borne because of fiscal mismanagement. Taxes w/o representation is illegal and we have redress for that. Forced abortions are immoral and to be resisted.

    Re: I don’t see any warrant for disobeying magistrates, because, as Paul says, they are God’s vice-regents and to disobey them is to disobey God. So I just think very often as modern westerners (particularly Americans) we tend to speak way too flippantly about disobeying civil authorities. We may not as believers mean to convey that disobedience is a virtue, but it sure sounds like that to me most of the time.

    I would repeat that I do not advocate freedom to sin. I would quibble with you over the word “virtue” and offer we often have a responsibility to address problems. I do advocate liberty to engage in discernment, wisdom, and dissent when faced with the evil of men. Magistrates are men. This may be more difficult for men to understand than women? We’re used to the submission clause for wives and the need for wisdom when dealing with difficult husbands. Submission, in general, yes. Yet, there are limits in obedience to husbands and even situations where to divorce them, obtain restraining orders, or turn them over to the police for imprisonment becomes necessary.

  24. Lily

    I”m afraid I wasn’t very helpful, Zrim. Lutherans tend to major in the gospel which necessarily will echo the scriptures that proclaim our freedom in Christ. We are set free to fear, love, and trust God and to serve our neighbors in our vocations. Secular vocations are part of the created order. The gospel frees the believer to roll up his sleeves in his vocations and manage the challenges of secular life in the left-hand kingdom. We are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as we necessarily practice our Christian lives within our vocations. As always, much easier said than done.

    Theology without reference to sin amounts to a “Satanic attack upon the Church,” to quote a famous remark by Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola about the sexualization of parts of Western Anglicanism and related post-Christian heresies (me quoting Uwe Siemon-Netto). I like this quote because, for me, it points out the obvious. To not recognize that we will have to deal with sinful situations in our vocations leaves us ill-equipped to make decisions about them. In my inept way, I was trying to point out that Christians lives are lived from the freedom Christ has given us in him. I don’t know if that’s a difference in our traditions or not? Life is messy and we are often challenged to make difficult decisions. Sometimes, we are forced into no-win situations where there are multiple commands in play and something will be neglected or violated in making decisions. I wish life was neat and clean. I hope this makes sense?

  25. Bobby

    Nice post.

    Indeed, it says something about the deficiencies of Kuyperianism when a secularist guided by the laws of nature can get closer to the wisdom of the Confessions than an ordained presbyter who willfully blinds himself to the teachings of nature and proceeds on worldview alone.

  26. Vermonster

    I’m generally sympathetic to your views, but I need a primer on “Worldview”.

    I thought everybody had a world view.

    Could you point me to some source (here or elsewhere) which will explain this use of “worldview” to me? Thanks.

    • Vermonster, I buried my working definition in Does Worldview Deliver Presidents and The Importance of the Unimportant. Here’s one quick summary:

      If this is popular worldview, then worldview consists of 1) a rejection of the sacred/secular distinction, 2) an assertion that the scriptures inform all of life, 3) a declaration that Christ’s redemptive work applies to political, social, and cultural matters, 4) a call for the Christian to transform politics and culture based on the scriptures and, related to but distinct from #2, 5) everything has a moral implication. No doubt there is more to it, but for now we can call these the Five Points of Worldviewism.

      If you click on the “worldview” category to the right these articles will pop up. My contention is that “worldview” is much more than the idea that people tend to have ideas that hang together. It’s that PLUS some philosophical and theological baggage.

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