The absent revolutionary
No more Mr. nice blogger. It’s time to start asking some tough questions. For most of my life, I have believed that America is a nation founded by Christian men on Christian principles. If you look at our constitution, I would agree that the principles of separation of powers as well as the emphasis on personal freedoms are thoroughly consistent with a Christian worldview (even though many of our founders were, in fact deists at best or secular humanists at worst…but I digress)
I love the 4th of July. For purely sacrilegous reasons, it is probably my favorite holiday because it is simply the most fun. I love the fireworks, the bratwursts, and, most importantly, the pool party at my aunt Ruth’s house every year that allows me to catch up with my dad’s side of the family. For one day out of the year, I remember the sacrifice of those who fought for the freedom that I now enjoy and I feel very proud to be an American.
Here is my problem. I look for examples in the New Testament of Christians plotting revolutions to overthrow the Roman government, which was far more oppressive than the British government that our forefathers overthrew, and I find absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Not even a hint.
Think about it for a moment. Nero was one of the worst dictators in human history. At the Ripley’s wax museum in Dallas, he is (or at least was when I was there)put right alongside Hitler as one of the most evil men that ever lived and yet, all we get from Peter is “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
If you look to find a revolutionary in Paul, much less Jesus, your search will come up dreadfully short. If you look to Paul for answers to how a Christian should relate to governing authorities, about all you are going to get is instruction to pay taxes, obey the laws of the land, and to pray for your leaders (Romans 13:1-7, I Timothy 2:1-3). In fact, it was Paul that told the Christian slaves of his day to obey their masters, and encouraged other Christians to aspire to lead a quiet life and to mind their own business (Colossians 3:22 and I Thessalonians 4:11). Not exactly Boston Tea Party material! I imagine if I were a patriot in the 18th century looking to overthrow the British government because of illegal search and seizures and taxation without representation, I think Peter and Paul would be the last people I would look to for inspiration.
And yet, in all of this, how many American Christians do you know that question the idea that our forefathers were acting out the will of God when they fought against the British? How many American Christians question the idea that God initiated the Revolutionary War?
Interesting question indeed. The flip side of the issue is that since the New Testament teaches that government is a God-ordained institution, it logically follows that it is not wrong for a Christian to serve as a policeman, congressman, military officer, or as a president of a country.
Hindsight can be a strange creature. I don’t know too many people, including me, that would argue that the U.S.A should rejoin the British Commonwealth. Somehow I don’t think the British want that either. Having said that, I think the question is still relevant…could it have happened another way or perhaps at another time?