Sunday, October 01, 2006

A cross-posted comment on Romans 13 and the biblical theory of Interposition by lower magistrates

I post the below as a cross-post regarding a comment I made in Mr Jon Rowe's blog [corrected at his request], as he has attacked me by name therein, in a current post.

Pardon the interruption to the flow in this blog:


Gordon Mullings said...


Since Mr Rowe has attacked me by name I will observe here that the understanding of the meaning of Rom 13 that I have used is in fact of longstanding importance in biblical studies [the [proto-unitarians etc were simply echoing longstanding covenant theology in the American colonies]. Through the associated doctrine of interposition by lower magistrates, it played a crucial role in the Bible-based reformation theory of Government and revolution to depose tyrants. The 2nd paragraph of the US DOI aptly summarises the steps in the process, and was written by interposing magistrates to justify their action. Bamberg's comments on this are well worth consulting.

Further to this, Mr Rowe has subtly misrepresented my positions in his summary dismissal, as can be seen by comparison with my online note here and the current thread at EO. My point is that biblical Christianity should not be automatically regarded as an enemy of liberty as it materially contributed to its rise, starting with Vindicae [1579] and flowing on through the US fonding and to the wider world. I have explicitly denied that this was the sole stream that so contributed, and mark the distinction between those who were Christians and those who were influenced by the biblical worldview. Biblical Christianity is of course the enemy of licence, an easily confused counterfeit of liberty.

Next, Mr Rowe fails to recognise [though it was pointed out to him] that Nero had TWO distinct phases to his reign, [1] while he was under the tutelage of Seneca and [2] after he dismissed him. It is during the last that the tyranny emerged and -- as I noted in the discussion in the EO thread in which it came up -- it led the Roman peole to hold him a mad and dangerous tyrant and to overthrow him, circa 68. Of the first phase, the Catholic Encyclopedia aptly notes: The first years of Nero's reign, under the direction of Burrus and Seneca, the real holders of power, were auspicious in every way. A series of regulations either abrogated or lessened the hardships of direct taxation, the arbitrariness of legislation and provincial administration, so that Rome and the empire were delighted, and the first five years of Nero's government were accounted the happiest of all time, regarded by Trajan as the best of the imperial era.

Paul wrote Romans in 57 AD, in the former phase of Nero's reign, and is not on record as to the reign of Caligula. In Rpm 13 he laid out the general principle of government that it is God's institution to do good tot he community and to defend it from evildoers [v 4], and should be honoured as such.

As a Hebrew, who then went on to cite Moshe in vv 8 - 10, he was plainly aware that God opposes oppression and tyranny, and therefore empowered that worthy to lead a revolution that overthrew the tyrant, then went on to institute new Government based on explicit covenant with God as a nation under God with appropriate institutions for such. The core principle of the resulting law was that one should love one's neighbour as oneself, and such love, as Paul observed, will do no harm. '

This last is of course exactly what Justinian picked up on in his Corpus Juris as the foundation stone for law and justice.

I will cross-post at my own blog.

4:26 AM


I trust the cross- posting will be self-explanatory.


Jonathan said...

It's "Jon", not "John."

Gordon said...

My apologies for missing the name.