Author Topic: Romans 13 and Revelation 13  (Read 1021 times)

Dan Fienen

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Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« on: September 28, 2020, 01:41:20 PM »
Over on another thread it was pointed out that Romans 13 and Revelation 13 have very different attitudes towards government. In Romans 13, the government is portrayed as serving as God's agent in punishing wrong doers and that Christians are obliged to offer it their respect and obedience. In Revelation 13, the Roman government is an enemy of God and His people. So is this a contradiction in Scripture?


Let me offer an observation and interpretive principle: In giving us His word in Scripture, God limits Himself to the limited bandwidth available in human communication. Or to put it another way: God cannot say everything that can be said on a subject all at one time.


As a theological work, the Bible is almost exclusively Occasional rather than Systematic theology. Systematic theology tries to be comprehensive  in its treatment of a topic and include all aspects. Occasional theology is more focused on a particular situation and discuss the theological implication of that situation while leaving unexplored and unspoken how that theological topic might be applied to other situations. In the New Testament, Romans is probably the most Systematically presented text, but even there it addresses primarily the situation of the Christians in the city of Rome at that particular time.


It is a great error to take a passage of Occasional theology and treat it as a comprehensive and Systematic statement. Especially if one then compares it with a different passage of Occasional theology and derives that the Bible is inconsistent and contradictory. That is taking a far too literalistic approach to the text of Scripture.


As a general principle, the Romans 13 view of the nature and function of government is a good summary. However, as Revelation 13 and other passages illustrate, government does not always function according to its mandate from God and must be resisted. The maxim, "You should obey God rather than man," as applied to interactions with the government is not in contradiction with Roman 13, but rather points out limits to the applicability of Romans 13, and with Romans projects a more comprehensive view of how we are to regard government.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2020, 04:03:09 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2020, 07:42:27 PM »
Contexts are important.


There is the context within the writing, e.g., taking a verse out of context can change its meaning.


There is the historical context. The historical situation when Paul wrote Romans was quite different when John wrote Revelation. (Neither are quite the same context as America in the 2020.)


I've been having discussions with a friend. She believes that the government is wrong to require the wearing of masks (where that has happened). She has posted a news report about people being arrested at an outdoor church service when they weren't wearing masks in a city where it has been mandated for public gatherings. One of their arguments: "We must obey God rather than men." They also want to make it about their free exercise of religion. (I don't think that requiring a mask if a group is going to gather for worship is prohibiting a worship service.)


For those who agree with the benefits of mask wearing, we see our response to be in line with Paul's admonition in Romans 13. We should do what the government asks us to do.


For those who see it as the government overstepping their boundaries, they can see it as the beast of Revelation that needs to be opposed by true believers.


There is also the context of one's own biases.
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Weedon

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2020, 08:18:51 PM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 02:38:44 AM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.


Doesn't Genesis 6 indicate that the inherent goodness of creation is no longer present? God could see only evil in humanity. He regrets having made them. We live in a fallen world. We might have glimpses of the divine goodness that breaks into our corrupted world, but nature is inherently evil with natural disasters like lightning caused fires, our present pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.
"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 09:49:57 AM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.


Doesn't Genesis 6 indicate that the inherent goodness of creation is no longer present? God could see only evil in humanity. He regrets having made them. We live in a fallen world. We might have glimpses of the divine goodness that breaks into our corrupted world, but nature is inherently evil with natural disasters like lightning caused fires, our present pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

Quite a few plant species require fire to free seeds for germination - the ubiquitous Douglas Fir (which isn't really a fir...) comes to mind, as well as many shrub species such as chapparal, chemise and mesquite that are commonly consumed in brush fires in the West, often ignited by lightning.

Is that part of "nature is inherently evil" or part of God's design?  Is it only evil when the fires are caused by humans?

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 01:08:45 PM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.


Doesn't Genesis 6 indicate that the inherent goodness of creation is no longer present? God could see only evil in humanity. He regrets having made them. We live in a fallen world. We might have glimpses of the divine goodness that breaks into our corrupted world, but nature is inherently evil with natural disasters like lightning caused fires, our present pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

Quite a few plant species require fire to free seeds for germination - the ubiquitous Douglas Fir (which isn't really a fir...) comes to mind, as well as many shrub species such as chapparal, chemise and mesquite that are commonly consumed in brush fires in the West, often ignited by lightning.

Is that part of "nature is inherently evil" or part of God's design?  Is it only evil when the fires are caused by humans?


Growing up, we had two large Douglas Fir trees growing in our back yard (and I went to David Douglas High School - named after the botanist). When Dad found five small trees growing in our yard, he replanted them in a row. There had been no fire. Somehow the seeds from the cones found a way to germinate and start growing.


Yes, there are seeds that need the heat of a fire to germinate. I don't think the Douglas Fir is one of them. It is also common for farmers to periodically burn their fields. We've seen it done in Nebraska and Arizona.


Whether it was part of God's design or a result of the fallen world, we don't know. It is what it is. Lightening happens. It can kill people. It can start fires that destroys homes and lives. Cancer happens. I don't consider that part of God's good design. It's an indication of the corrupted world we live in.
"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2020, 01:43:31 PM »
Brian, the goodness of creation certainly perdures. 1 Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. Genesis 6 expresses Godís displeasure at the corruption of human nature, but not of the creation itself. It could hardly be said that it ďwaits with eager longong for the revealing of the sons of GodĒ if it were not a good creation. It is a good creation that is subject to futility but awaits the day of its own liberation from bondage to corruption and decay when it can celebrate its freedom in the glory of the sons of God. We dragged it down, but just like our sin could not destroy the good work of God in our creation and preservation, so the tribulations of creation cannot destroy its fundamental goodness in the sight of God. 
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 01:59:17 PM by Weedon »
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readselerttoo

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 02:17:53 PM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.


Doesn't Genesis 6 indicate that the inherent goodness of creation is no longer present? God could see only evil in humanity. He regrets having made them. We live in a fallen world. We might have glimpses of the divine goodness that breaks into our corrupted world, but nature is inherently evil with natural disasters like lightning caused fires, our present pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

Quite a few plant species require fire to free seeds for germination - the ubiquitous Douglas Fir (which isn't really a fir...) comes to mind, as well as many shrub species such as chapparal, chemise and mesquite that are commonly consumed in brush fires in the West, often ignited by lightning.

Is that part of "nature is inherently evil" or part of God's design?  Is it only evil when the fires are caused by humans?


Growing up, we had two large Douglas Fir trees growing in our back yard (and I went to David Douglas High School - named after the botanist). When Dad found five small trees growing in our yard, he replanted them in a row. There had been no fire. Somehow the seeds from the cones found a way to germinate and start growing.


Yes, there are seeds that need the heat of a fire to germinate. I don't think the Douglas Fir is one of them. It is also common for farmers to periodically burn their fields. We've seen it done in Nebraska and Arizona.


Whether it was part of God's design or a result of the fallen world, we don't know. It is what it is. Lightening happens. It can kill people. It can start fires that destroys homes and lives. Cancer happens. I don't consider that part of God's good design. It's an indication of the corrupted world we live in.

I have never lived prior to the situations in Genesis 1 and 2.  I and you and all have ever lived in a corruptible world.  And yet itís Godís world created and preserved by Him as well as judged.

readselerttoo

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2020, 02:21:06 PM »
And to be clear God does not create the world corruptible.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2020, 02:23:00 PM »
https://nypost.com/2020/09/28/refugees-from-tyranny-agree-authoritarian-threat-in-america-now-is-from-the-left/

I think the relationship of government to culture fits here as well as anywhere. Dreher is a thoughtful Christian voice on this.

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2020, 02:28:43 PM »
Dreher is right. And this is why the threat of the Church qua Church remains to the left. A ďChurchĒ that is just the world by another name is no threat; but the Church that is the gift of communion with the Blessed Trinity who sets the solitary in families is a threat indeed. But if the gates of hell will not prevail against her, neither will the current idiocy. She conquers by being, well, as St. John Chrysostom put it, lamblike. Nothing can defeat that.
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James

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2020, 04:32:52 PM »
Though itís been a while, Rod Dreher has been a guest on Issues Etc a number of times in the past.
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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2020, 05:19:53 PM »
https://nypost.com/2020/09/28/refugees-from-tyranny-agree-authoritarian-threat-in-america-now-is-from-the-left/

I think the relationship of government to culture fits here as well as anywhere. Dreher is a thoughtful Christian voice on this.

A disturbingly insightful article.  Free speech is especially under attack as directives and templates are provided now for how we must speak and how we are allowed to talk in a public setting.  The recent racial events have especially highlighted this.  Slogans and chants replace dialogue and discussion.  People screaming at restaurant patrons, "Say his/her name!" and demanding that race be understood and discussed only from one single perspective.  Critical Race Theory is now the implemented system being injected into law and education and many other public institutions.  As I watch all this play out I am tempted to go silent, to step into a comfortable shadow.  I don't like conflict.  But will I like the world I am passively allowing to form before me?
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Randy Bosch

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2020, 08:06:42 PM »
The simul runs through creation. So govt is at once Godís good creation and gift for maintenance of justice and order and yet also an arena of demonic perversion and human corruption. And since the fall it will always have features of both and at times and places one side or the other will prevail, but the corruption is never able to wholly wipe out the goodness inherent in its creation by God.


Doesn't Genesis 6 indicate that the inherent goodness of creation is no longer present? God could see only evil in humanity. He regrets having made them. We live in a fallen world. We might have glimpses of the divine goodness that breaks into our corrupted world, but nature is inherently evil with natural disasters like lightning caused fires, our present pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

Quite a few plant species require fire to free seeds for germination - the ubiquitous Douglas Fir (which isn't really a fir...) comes to mind, as well as many shrub species such as chapparal, chemise and mesquite that are commonly consumed in brush fires in the West, often ignited by lightning.

Is that part of "nature is inherently evil" or part of God's design?  Is it only evil when the fires are caused by humans?


Growing up, we had two large Douglas Fir trees growing in our back yard (and I went to David Douglas High School - named after the botanist). When Dad found five small trees growing in our yard, he replanted them in a row. There had been no fire. Somehow the seeds from the cones found a way to germinate and start growing.


Yes, there are seeds that need the heat of a fire to germinate. I don't think the Douglas Fir is one of them. It is also common for farmers to periodically burn their fields. We've seen it done in Nebraska and Arizona.


Whether it was part of God's design or a result of the fallen world, we don't know. It is what it is. Lightening happens. It can kill people. It can start fires that destroys homes and lives. Cancer happens. I don't consider that part of God's good design. It's an indication of the corrupted world we live in.

You're right, my memory was not correct.  Serotinous cones are found on many other species of firs, pines and other trees. 
Jack pines were the ones in my area when young.

So, back to the Q&A: "We don't know" is best; Design or fallen world?  Maybe both.

readselerttoo

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Re: Romans 13 and Revelation 13
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2020, 09:10:23 PM »
https://nypost.com/2020/09/28/refugees-from-tyranny-agree-authoritarian-threat-in-america-now-is-from-the-left/

I think the relationship of government to culture fits here as well as anywhere. Dreher is a thoughtful Christian voice on this.

A disturbingly insightful article.  Free speech is especially under attack as directives and templates are provided now for how we must speak and how we are allowed to talk in a public setting.  The recent racial events have especially highlighted this.  Slogans and chants replace dialogue and discussion.  People screaming at restaurant patrons, "Say his/her name!" and demanding that race be understood and discussed only from one single perspective.  Critical Race Theory is now the implemented system being injected into law and education and many other public institutions.  As I watch all this play out I am tempted to go silent, to step into a comfortable shadow.  I don't like conflict.  But will I like the world I am passively allowing to form before me?

All these notions were present in 1920-30s Germany prior to WWII.   :(