The Christian and Tyranny
The Christian and Tyranny
“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God” said John Knox. Though many do not know his name they are the inheritors of his theology. John Knox was a Scottish Presbyterian and was the primary figure during the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. John Knox’s understanding of resisting tyranny would come to play a crucial role in how the Church in America would respond to tyranny over 100 years later.
The discussion on how the Christian is to relate to the State can become heated very quickly. Even among brothers there is not complete agreement on this topic. Though a possibly volatile issue, it is one worthy of our consideration, especially in light of current events.
Romans 13:1-7 is where the Apostle Paul makes clear that the Christian is to live a life in subjection to the governing authorities because they are ordained by God. The civil magistrate is God’s servant and not to be a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Even the Lord makes this clear when discussing the paying of taxes in Matthew 22. Jesus tells His disciples to, “... render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Yet, does this mean that the Christian is to never critique the government? Is there never a time to push back? Some would say so, and with them I would have to disagree. There is a proper time when the Christian may rise up and defy tyranny. When the civil magistrate would require disobedience to God then the Christian has the obligation to obey God and not man. Peter tells the Jewish authorities that he must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). The Apostles had been commanded by the authorities to tell no one of Christ. The decision was to either keep their mouth shut and obey the Jews, or be obedient to Christ and proclaim the good news.
Over the weekend UK judges ruled to take 8-month old Indi Gregory off of life support. Indi’s parents were pushing against the decision. The Italian government was even willing to move her to a children’s hospital in Rome. There are many details that ought to be considered in this story, especially the condition that Indi was fighting against. Even so, in the end the State determined that she was not to stay on life support. What is the response of the Church?
This is by no means a call to arms. It is simply a sober reminder of the times in which we live. The morality of the West is decaying before us. Therefore let us be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16). Let us strive to live at peace with all men (Heb 12:14). Yet, if the day ever comes when we must either obey God or obey man, may God grant us the strength and faith to obey Him.
Grace be with you,
C. R. Hamilton