Saturday, July 04, 2009

Would you have been for the Patriots or the Torries in 1776?

I am a proud American. I love many of the things that America has stood for. We are not a perfect country, but we have been a country that has probably done more good than any other country throughout history.

But what was the basis of our country's founding? We were being taxed without representation. Hey, I'm sympathetic. I don't even like taxation with representation! But would Jesus have been for a violent overthrow of a government for this reason and others like it (such as violation of individual rights)?

Think about it. The British government did believe in God and Christ. The Roman government was thoroughly pagan and polytheistic, and it of course did not believe in Christ. And yet, Jesus counseled "turning the other cheek," "going the extra mile." and "giving to Caesar what belonged to Caesar." He never counselled violent overthrow of this corrupt, pagan empire.

So--whose side would you have been on in 1776--the patriots or the torries? Let's stir it up!


Professor said...

This is part of a larger question: "What is the responsibility and obligation to government by Christians?" Related to this are questions like" 1) Can a Christian be a soldier? 2) Can a Christian kill in battle? 3) Can a Christian participate in civil disobedience? 4) Can a Christian defend his home and family 5)To what extent should a Christian participate in politics? .......

This particular question involves "more than meets the eye" and its resolution is not as simple as it seems. What should be noted, however, is simplifying the question to one of a) The American Revolution was just a tax revolt and could not possibly be justified or b) It was just based on the Enlightenment view of natural rights and the liberty of man and thus had no theological basis are both incorrect and ignoring the rigorous debate regarding this issue between the founders-- particularly between Quakers against the arguments made on such subjects ( in favor of ) by Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Rutherford and others.

Principally, the founders argued that the American "Revolution" was a defensive war against a tyrannical government that attacked them and one in which they had exhausted all means of reconciliation. Whereas they agreed offensive war and anarchy was not sanctioned by scripture, they were not obligated to blindly submit to every law and policy.

So...... the answer as to whether one could have participated in the American revolution requires extensive knowledge of 1) What were the causes of the Revolution? And, what had happened historically before Independence was declared? 2) What are the theological arguments for participation and against civil disobedience 3) Was the Revolution defensive? 4) Does scripture support civil disobedience in a defensive action against tyrannical rule?

These questions are too deep to be answered now. But, I believe at present, there a definitive theological case can be made for participation.

A useful article on this subject is "The American Revolution: Was it an Act of Biblical Rebellion?"

James Nored said...

I am sure that you are much more familiar with the causes of the war of independence than I am.

Certainly a case can be made for civil disobedience at times, particularly if laws violate the spread of the gospel or would cause harm to people. Or for absurd speed zones. (Just kidding!)

Would we justify civil disobedience in other matters, say, towards not paying our taxes today? What would members think about this?