Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What about Obama? Or, Calvin would have been a Tory...

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 20 - Civil Government
22-29 - Obedience with reverence due even unjust rulers
22. From magistrates, to laws, now to the citizen's duty. First, we must honor the office. Some think it just a "necessary evil," but 1 Pet 2:17; Prov 24:21; Rom 13:5 say otherwise.

23. We must also obey them. Rom 13:1-2; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13-14. Included in this is abstaining from harassing public officials. Let them do their jobs. "Let [citizens] not raise a tumult."

24. So far, we've been assuming the ruler is a "father of his country," as Homer put it of Odysseus. But some "drain the common people of their money, and afterward lavish it on insane largesse... plundering houses, raping virgins and matrons, and slaughtering the innocent."

25. We are subject to "all who, by whatever means, have got control of affairs." "They who rule unjustly and incompetently have been raised up by Him to punish the wickedness of the people.... a wicked king is the Lord's wrath upon the earth." See Job 34:30; Hos 13:11; Isa 3:4; 10:5; Deut 28:29. "Let us... pause here to prove this, which does not so easily settle in men's minds." [No kidding].

26. God "removes kings and sets them up" - see Dan 2:21, 37; 4:17, 14. When Samuel warns the people about asking for a king, he basically says, "The willfulness of kings will run to excess, but it will not be your part to restrain it" - see 1 Sam 8:11-17.

27. Jer 27 is especially pertinent. See verses 5-8, 17. "We see how much obedience the Lord willed to be paid to that abominable and cruel tyrant for no other reason than that he possessed the kingship.... those seditious thoughts [should] never enter our minds that a king should be treated according to his merits...."

28. This is not "peculiar to the Israelites." See Prov 28:2; Job 12:18. Jer 29:7 also commands Israel "to pray for the prosperity of their conqueror." David dares not touch Saul's head, as Saul was God's anointed - 1 Sam 24:6, 11; 26:9-11.

29. Rulers do owe subjects just rule, "but if you conclude form this that service ought to be rendered only to just governors, you are reasoning foolishly." What if children decided their parents were too harsh, and thus didn't obey? We ought "not to inquire about another's duties, but every man should keep in mind that one duty which is his own." In the face of wicked rulers, "it is not for us to remedy such evils." God will avenge. See Ps 82.

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