Friday, September 2, 2011

Dennis Asks: "Is Romans 13 Good Teaching and Advice?"

Romans 13:1 Those in positions of authority have been placed there by God

Is Romans 13 Good Teaching and Advice?

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorThe readers of this blog are probably some of the most Biblically literate layman on the planet.  One of the things I got from both my Calvinistic and WCG experience was knowing WHAT the Bible said.  It is why I credit most ministers with at least being good Bible readers, which of course is not to be mistaken for Bible literacy. 

Rather than take the "splatter pattern" approach to why teachings of Jesus or Paul might be considered suspect and ill advised, I would rather take them one at a time and expand each of those that , to me, are susceptible to criticism and rejection. 

First of all let me say that many of the teachings of both Jesus and Paul are excellent and make a real life more meaningful when applied.  We also need to realize that these teachings are not unique to Jesus or Paul.  The Sermon on the Mount is full of common sense teachings that anyone in just about any religion could and did already teach.  They are not unique or especially amazing teachings.  Many teachings of Jesus parallel Buddhism and those of Paul are just nice things to keep in mind.  

Another thing to keep in mind when we come across those difficult things to do or give up scriptures are given in the context of the FIRM belief by Jesus and Paul and the early Church that time really was short. Really short.  Turning the other cheek or giving up ones cloak was in the context of time is really short so don't worry about it.  You will be avenged and clothed very soon.  Practices such as sharing all things in common were based on the short plan that Jesus was about to return so let's stick together.  It was NEVER meant to be a prolonged way of being.  In time, when Jesus did not materialize, the system broke down and it was abandoned.  Not exactly eternal truth.

Paul's advice about marriage was based on "time is short."  It is not really a long term good thing for anyone's mental health to be alone , without someone to love and be loved by.  Paul, having never met Jesus and never quoting him did not know that Jesus taught the opposite of himself.  It is not better to be like Paul according to Jesus, or any psychologist.

Also and evidently, Jesus own mom and brothers, the ones who in Mark had never heard of his miraculous Matthew and Luke birth story, came to get Jesus when they heard what he was teaching to take him home, because he was "beside himself."  This is code for "nuts" or "insane."  
Mark 3:20-21

New International Version (NIV)
 20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
There is no Mary, "who pondered these things in her heart," in Mark's account of Jesus.  There is no Mary that knows from his birth, that Jesus is the Son of God to become God himself eventually through the process of theological evolution. 

Evidently the family, in Mark's view, did not find Jesus teachings all that amusing and if it kept up, they might get blamed for not reigning him in.  So they tried.  
At any rate, let's take a look at Paul's teaching on obedience to government, i.e. the Romans at this time in history.  

We need to ask ourselves how, if this advice was obeyed through history, if we'd have had an American Revolution or been able to bring about real change in the governments of insane leaders gone nuts.  In this chapter, Paul is telling the Church members to obey the Romans.  My sense is that Paul knew you could rant, curse and rave against the Jews but it was really stupid to do so against the Romans.  The Jews might get pissed off, but they are branches cut from God's tree.  The Romans, on the other hand, can kill you/us.   

Romans 13  New International Version (NIV)

Submission to Governing Authorities
 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Really? Caligula?  Hitler? Stalin?  Mao?  Sadaam? Ghadaffi? Netanyahu? Clinton? Bush? Obama?  Really?  What of the millions who have died under their God given authority?  Is this not the advice from Paul, the "all things to all men, " kiss up to the Romans, so that he might save his own hide at times?  

Paul pulled his 'I am a Roman Citizen" card out from time to time to save himself.  How does a Pharisee of the Pharisees , who hate the Romans become a Roman Citizen exactly?  Is this good advice for the long haul?  I don't think so?  We'd all be in gulags and internment camps before long with this attitude.  Would not any corrupt government LOVE to have this taught religiously to the masses?  Was Paul being realistic here?  Why would the Book of Revelation be relevant if this advice was followed?  Obey the Beast and False Prophet and all will be well.  After all, they have their authority from God.   

 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves
Really? God is the author and originator of these worldly regimes?  I thought Satan was the God of this World? Another great piece of advice to benefit any corrupt regime that needed to be ousted.  I wonder if ministers preached this in the pulpits of England and America in the 1760's??  If God is really behind human governments, is this some kind of cosmic joke on the faithful?  Seems terrible advice to me. .
 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. 

Har har!!  Oh Really!!!  May I suggest there be no drinking the next time someone thinks to give this kind of advice or evaluate the fruits of human government!   There are lots of dead Palestinian Children in and around Gaza who might disagree with this erudite observation on the motives of rulers.  One may as well say, "For rulers hold no terror for those who do not get in their way or oppose their plans...but those who out."  I think it means "For rulers hold no terror to those who do what they are told..."   The rightness or wrongness is not really up for discussion. 

 Am I on Candid Camera?  Sounds like advice right out of the WCG Handbook on How to Intimidate the Brethren!  The Flurry's, Pack's, Weinland's and Meredith's of this Wild World Church of God experience would love that one!  Most politicians would kill to see this be your attitude.  And don't expect to get commended for anything.  No one is going to give you a medal in this life for doing "the right thing."

 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Yikes, If you make it to the top, you are automatically there because God voted for you and you won.  And government as humans have experienced it is here for nothing but our own good.   Who writes this stuff...the Government?  So anything the Government does to wield the sword, mace, tazers, microwavers, crowd control, tear gas, outright shooting and gassing is really God giving it to us all good, via his trusted servants and agents?  Goodbye American Revolution. Our bad!!! 
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Right, if I disobey an illegal, immoral or tyrannical government, it will hurt my conscience.  I don't think so.  

 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

"...he said as he took his 20th vacation at the seaside and played 200 rounds of whatever game was popular in their time.  I pay taxes to finance war and killing.  I pay taxes so others can pay off their friends on Wall Street and cover their asses for stealing my other taxes, homes and properties.  In my world, these jerks are not God's servants but rather work for the other guy in the Bible who is more the roaring lion type.  Shoot...if Satan is a leader of his own gang, God must have put him there for their good!  Obey him boys!!  

"...who give their full time to governing...."  Uh huh, sure , right , fine...

7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Notice we are not talking to the receivers here, but rather the givers.  I always wanted to scream when HWA chanted, "God's way of life is the way of giiiiiivvve."  Uh huh, so we gave and they took.  The receivers of our giving only think they are givers but it is easy to give away someone else's money.  HWA built "God's College," "God's House,"  "God's work,"  with our money not his.  That was easy and painless for the receivers.  My parents and thousands of others bought Steuben Crystal for world leaders and rented auditoriums for the snakes in government to fill with the unwilling citizens to make these meetings look successful.  My parents and others paid for "The Church" to preach to world leaders...God's chosen leaders evidently who were mostly jerks and bastards.  

How about we turn this one around and say,  "Give to everyone what you took from them.  You who have taken, how about you give it back?  I digress.

So, Is Romans 13 here good advice for realistic living on this planet at anytime in human history.  Or is this the idea of one man who bragged about being "all things to all men,"  not that he might save them, but in fact, did not get his head taken off quite yet by them because they had the power anyway and we need not stir them up.  

Why would Paul give this advice about gentile leaders in government and yet scorn Peter, James and John's leadership in the Jewish Church. If anything was of God it was that?  Why did Paul curse those who didn't agree with him or his Gospel?  He was not much of a team player himself it seems when it comes to following the lead of others that God seems to have put in high places.  Paul totally disregarded the commands of James in Acts 15, in reality,  but  I guess he was special and that was different.   

Personally, I think the author of Romans was writing for the Roman Government to see he and his teachings were harmless and no threat to them. To do otherwise would have been suicide and, while you can make fun of the weak who cannot harm you, you had better be on good terms with those that can kill you. 

Dennis C. Diehl


Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Dennis quoted this scripture:

2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves

MY COMMENT - Well, here is a WCG scripture conflict catch 22. The WCG taught British Israelism - the USA was Manasseh and Great Britain was Ephriam. Did not the 13 original colonies rise up and rebel against the British empire - rebel what allegedly God instituted?

There could be no USA without rebelling and fighting the Revolutionary War in direct conflict of the quoted scripture. And, if there was no Revolutionary War, then there could be no WCG teaching that Manasseh was the biblical identity of the USA.

Now there is a catch 22 that I wish Mr. Armstrong could explain. However, I wouldn't ask Gerald Waterhouse because it would turn into a 4 hour sermon. :)


Steve said...

As usual, Dennis, you are writing what I have always been thinking. Get out of my head! :-) I have never told you this, but in regard to your debate with McCarrow and that other came out looking like the intelligent one. The other two were so full of shit and made themselves look so bad with their parroting remarks, that if I were them, I would have hid under a rock afterwards.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Great job of again showing the obvious stupidity of much of the Bible and religion in general.

The purpose of all relgions is control of the masses for the benefit of the controlers. Some of my best friends (Bill Dankenbring, Richard Hopkins, etc.) set out to found their own religious organizations. I never wanted to because the last thing I wanted to do was control other people.

Life probably would have been much easier if I had taken that route and some of my body might be less stove up from all the hard work entailed in wrestling carpet around, but I would have been just another leech sucking blood from deceived people.

It's nice to sleep well at night and know that what financial benefits I have garnered were obtained honestly and hurt nobody.

DennisCDiehl said...

Thanks! Hi Steve, I have thought about this since a kid. Always seemed contrived to save Paul from Roman harassament.

Also, If this is so, the Jesus of Revelation spends the whole book upending the Kingdoms of this world... If they agents for good and placed there by the Father God, I imagine it shows the Son is not on board with this "they carry not the sword in vain" etc...

Even Gospel Jesus upended the tables of the Temple which would have brought Roman wrath upon him for risking riots during Passover etc. Very disrespectful again of Rome as the agent of God and appointed by God for their good.

It is obvious that Paul never read about or knew any such Jesus, nor any Jesus him.

Reality said...

"Even Gospel Jesus upended the tables of the Temple which would have brought Roman wrath upon him for risking riots during Passover etc. "

And this leads to yet another biblical inconsistency. Why was there any need for a Judas to betray Christ with a kiss, since they knew exactly who Jesus was. They didn't want to arrest him during the "Jewish" feast because it might cause an uprising.

Some authors postulate that the very name, "Judas" was to be reminiscent of Judah/Judaism so that they could usher in the idea of the Jews being responsible for Jesus' death rather than that of Rome/Pilate/Caligula.

The list looms large!

Your article is fantastic. I have to wonder how it was that so many of us never saw a problem with the very idea that God put the powers that be over us. I expect the churches would try to make it apper that the Bible's "rulers over us" only pertained to those leaders inside the church.

Great work!

DennisCDiehl said...

The story of Judas, imho, is an attempt to place Jesus death at the feet of the Jews and not the Romans who clearly killed Jesus the King of the Jews. "We, had better, have no other King but Caesar," and all.

I won't rekindle the story of Bar Abbas vs Jesus King of the Jews, but there were not two men in the story. Pilate was testing the crowds loyalty and their lives depended on the answer.

Criminals were never released to the Jews on Passover in reality.

Steve said...

DennisCDiehl said...
"I won't rekindle the story of Bar Abbas vs Jesus King of the Jews, but there were not two men in the story. Pilate was testing the crowds loyalty and their lives depended on the answer."

MY COMMENT: Go ahead. Rekindle it.

DennisCDiehl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DennisCDiehl said...

DennisCDiehl said...
short version

Early copies of Mark have Barabbas called Jesus Barabbas

Bar in hebrew means "son of"
Abba means "Father"

So we have Barabbas or Jesus Son of the Father or Son of God.


We have Jesus, King of the Jews.

Pilate is asking crowd, "Do you want Jesus the Son of the Father (Religious Jesus) or Jesus King of the Jews.

Crowd: "we have no King but Caesar"

Pilate: "Good answer because if you did, I'd kill you all. I don't care about the Jesus Son of God, that's your problem. I care about this same man being your King." So I release Jesus the Son of the Father who is harmless to me but this King gets it.

There were not two men being discussed. There were two titles. Jesus was a dead man but the crowd was being tested as to their loyalty to Rome. If he is your Rabbi..take him. If he is your all die.

Give us Jesus Bar Abba

Pilate: Good answer. SIGN OVER JESUS ON CROSS "Here is Jesus, King of the Jews."

The Jesus that was the religious one was let go. They got Jesus Bar Abbas. Rome got their King

Steve said...

Hmmmm! So, neither "one" was released?

DennisCDiehl said...

Right. There was only one. Jesus. It was a debate over which title the Jews gave the one Jesus and which one Rome killed. The crowd chose wisely to save themselves from Pilate and Rome too.

There were no two people coincidently called Jesus the Son of the Father (Bar Abbas) and Jesus the King of the Jews.

DennisCDiehl said...

Pilate "released" the religious title to them for he cared not about that. Rome killed the Jesus who claimed to be a king and threat to Rome somewhere along the line. No human got released. But when given a title, the dead jesus got "King of the Jews" on his cross, not "Son of the Father'

So in once sense, the Jesus son of God (Jesus Bar Abbas) didn't die on the cross. weird theology!

Reality said...

And then .....

History shows Pontius Pilate to have been a ruthless man, not inclined to "wash his hands" of the outcome of Jesus' trial.

This notion of his sympathy for Jesus was recorded in the text in order to facilitate more blame on Judah for his death.

I will look up some of the references.

Steve said...

I understand what you're saying about "bar abbas", but isn't "abbas" a common surname in the middle east? Could it be that no one knew who his father was, not even Barabbas? So, Matthew(or whoever wrote the book)lied? And, what about Luke? He said(or whoever wrote it)that Barabbas was a murderer. Mark calls him a murderer and insurrectionist. John calls him a robber. Peter also called him a murderer in Acts 3:14. Would they all say the same thing about the man they were following? I thought the Jesus Christ was without evil. If they were one and the same, how could one be that evil and the other be that good? It seems like opposites. Forgive me, but I'm a little puzzled about your religion. Don't get me wrong. I think there's many things in the bible(and I don't think it's "holy" or deserving of a capital letter)that ought to be taken with a grain of salt and not inspired. It's kinda like playing "telephone, telephone" for thousands of years.

DennisCDiehl said...

Hi Steve, yes, it is the passing on of stories until someone writes them down and then who knows what really happened or was really said.

The different authors give different details to the story but the question is why the story in the first place. There could have been a real Jesus Bar Abba in prison for those crimes, but what an amazing coincidence. A Jesus Son of the Father and a Jesus King of the Jews. And the Jesus King of the Jews was claiming to be a Jesus Son of the Father! ;)

As noted, there is NO history of Pilate being such a softy towards Jesus or the caring what the people wanted. There is no evidence for this "let someone go at Passover," tradition. Pilate is painted at times as almost being a Christian and history would deny this portrayal. He was ruthless and to be feared.

The key seems to be the crowd's response to "Do you want Jesus king of the Jews" and they said, "we have no king but Caesar.' This seems to be the point of the story and Pilate. To pin it on the Jews a bit and to test their loyalty to Rome. Not to release any man called Jesus the Son of God instead of Jesus.

Fly right said...

The alternative to law and order is anarchy. This begins in the individual soul and spreads from person to person until the masses are engulfed in today's chaos.

Since the Edomite bankers are rapidly moving all the nations into that direction through unpayable debt and war, we will see if disregard for law and order, even with bad, terrible, or abusive law enforcement is a safe and peaceful alternative to the Creator's law of love and obedience.

The ecclesia was always told to stay separate from the governments of Babylon, but to be at peace with them is possible.

Fly low and stay out of sight is good advice-then as now--to survive in this wicked world.

Reality said...

Some references I find written of Pontius Pilate:
Part I

From Philo of Alexandria...
Philo of Alexandria, The embassy to Caligula 299-305
Pilate was an official who had been appointed prefect of Judaea. With the intention of annoying the Jews rather than of honoring Tiberius, he set up gilded shields in Herod's palace in the Holy City. They bore no figure and nothing else that was forbidden, but only the briefest possible inscription, which stated two things - the name of the dedicator and that of the person in whose honor the dedication was made.
But when the Jews at large learnt of this action, which was indeed already widely known, they chose as their spokesmen the king's [Herod the Great] four sons, who enjoyed prestige and rank equal to that of kings, his other descendants, and their own officials, and besought Pilate to undo his innovation in the shape of the shields, and not to violate their native customs, which had hitherto been invariably preserved inviolate by kings and emperors alike.
When Pilate, who was a man of inflexible, stubborn and cruel disposition, obstinately refused, they shouted: 'Do not cause a revolt! Do not cause a war! Do not break the peace! Disrespect done to our ancient laws brings no honor to the emperor. Do not make Tiberius an excuse for insulting our nation. He does not want any of our traditions done away with. If you say that he does, show us some decree or letter or something of the sort, so that we may cease troubling you and appeal to our master by means of an embassy.'
This last remark exasperated Pilate most of all, for he was afraid that if they really sent an embassy, they would bring accusations against the rest of his administration as well, specifying in detail his venality, his violence, his thefts, his assaults, his abusive behavior, his frequent executions of untried prisoners, and his endless savage ferocity.
So, as he was a spiteful and angry person, he was in a serious dilemma; for he had neither the courage to remove what he had once set up, nor the desire to do anything which would please his subjects, but at the same time he was well aware of Tiberius' firmness on these matters. When the Jewish officials saw this, and realized that Pilate was regretting what he had done, although he did not wish to show it, they wrote a letter to Tiberius, pleading their case as forcibly as they could.
What words, what threats Tiberius uttered against Pilate when he read it! It would be superfluous to describe his anger, although he was not easily moved to anger, since his reaction speaks for itself.
For immediately, without even waiting until the next day, he wrote to Pilate, reproaching and rebuking him a thousand times for his new-fangled audacity and telling him to remove the shields at once and have them taken from the capital to the coastal city of Caesarea [...], to be dedicated in the temple of Augustus. This was duly done. In this way both the honor of the emperor and the traditional policy regarding Jerusalem were alike preserved.

Reality said...

Part II

From Flavius Josephus ....
Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War 2.175-177
On a later occasion he provoked a fresh uproar by expending upon the construction of an aqueduct the sacred treasure known as Corbonas; the water was brought from a distance of seventy kilometers. Indignant at this proceeding, the populace formed a ring round the tribunal of Pilate, then on a visit to Jerusalem, and besieged him with angry clamor.
He, foreseeing the tumult, had interspersed among the crowd a troop of his soldiers, armed but disguised in civilian dress, with orders not to use their swords, but to beat any rioters with cudgels. He now from his tribunal gave the agreed signal.
Large numbers of the Jews perished, some from the blows which they received, others trodden to death by their companions in the ensuing flight. Cowed by the fate of the victims, the multitude was reduced to silence.
Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.60-62
He spent money from the sacred treasury in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem, intercepting the source of the stream at a distance of thirty-five kilometers. The Jews did not acquiesce in the operations that this involved; and tens of thousands of men assembled and cried out against him, bidding him relinquish his promotion of such designs. Some too even hurled insults and abuse of the sort that a throng will commonly engage in.
He thereupon ordered a large number of soldiers to be dressed in Jewish garments, under which they carried clubs, and he sent them off this way and that, thus surrounding the Jews, whom he ordered to withdraw. When the Jews were in full torrent of abuse he gave his soldiers the prearranged signal.
They, however, inflicted much harder blows than Pilate had ordered, punishing alike both those who were rioting and those who were not. But the Jews showed no faint-heartedness; and so, caught unarmed, as they were, by men delivering a prepared attack, many of them actually were slain on the spot, while some withdrew disabled by blows. Thus ended the uprising

There is a good reference by Raymond E. Brown, "The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels", in volume I, pages 693-710. It is too long to post here however.

These paint a different picture of him than that which the Bible portrays.