Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages Romans

Romans 13 and the founding of America

Postby Hachet Hat » Sun May 05, 2019 9:42 am

Romans 13 and America's founding, God's will or not?

Recently while attempting to discuss supporting conflicting ideas here on reddit, I was basically told oh you're a christian so you have to support the government (and by proxy any decisions this particular person votes into action) and pay your taxes like a good little girl.

So I got to talking with a friend and they mentioned Romans 13 which talks about submission to authority and taxes and all that. I noticed it said no authority exists without God putting them there and that rebellion against authority is rebellion against God. At the same time, if an authority falls it is also God's will. So it got me thinking about America's founding and rebellion against the authority back then. Curious if anyone has some thoughts on this. Would that mean the current government was put there by God? Is it complicated at all by the previous government not exactly falling, but just losing control?
Hachet Hat

Re: Romans 13 and the founding of America

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:15 pm

First of all, Romans 13 is about God instituting the idea of government, not instituting every particular government and every particular leader. God instituted government to function as an authority beneficial for society, to legislate for good, to protect the innocent, to use its resources for morality, as well as to punish the bad and to act against detrimental and evil forces that would work against human wellbeing. That's what Romans 13 is about.

What Romans 13 does NOT say or imply is that God instituted every government, has put in place every governmental leader, or endorses every president, dictator, or king, or is responsible for the downfall of every government that ever falls.

When Romans 13 says "no authority exists without God putting them there," Paul is not arguing for the divine right of kings or government, but for the proper place of government and order. Nor does he oppose here revolution for a change of government. What he does oppose all lawlessness and disorder. Therefore the text does not affirm a divine active institution or ordination of a particular government. It is not saying that each individual government and/or each individual ruler has been put there by God. By saying that, you would be saying that every ruler has God’s stamp of moral approval, which is not the case at all. What is ordained is not a particular government but the concept of proper government, the principle of government as such.

America's founding was not necessarily the will of God, nor can we claim God had no part in it. There's really no way to know whether America was "put there by God." Every government, and every form of government, has its strengths and weaknesses, things it does right and mistakes it makes. The British government against which we rebelled also had its strengths and weaknesses, rights and mistakes. Our rebellion against them, as we read the Declaration of Independence, was a laundry list of grievances on many matters considered to be unjust. There are obviously many opinions about whether our revolt was justified or not. But what we can't say for certain is whether America's founding was the will of God or not. When someone takes such a position, it is really nothing more than their opinion and not a biblical stance.

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