Was the American Revolution Justified?

From Dawson, through Facebook…

Was the American Revolution justified? It seems Romans 13 clearly doesn’t support the founding fathers’ motives, though some were religious. The Declaration of Independence says, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Is this Biblical? Is civil disobedience by an armed revolution ever justified?

Dawson asked a second question that I will get to after answering this one.

Romans 13:1-2

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

  • This is a strong call to submission.
  • This is not an absolute call to submission.
  • The words of Peter in Acts 5:29: We ought to obey God rather than men.

Many colonists felt that the revolution was justified, and even a duty before God. Not all did, by any means! There were many colonists who remained loyal to England and England’s king, and who thought it was wrong to rebel. Some of those were motivated by their faith, and passages such as Romans 13.

Why did so many feel that the American Revolution was justified, even though passages like Romans 13 tell us to submit to the government? Here were three ideas that contributed to that feeling that revolution was justified:

  • The idea that the American Revolution was a defensive war.
  • The idea of The Divine Right of Kings against the idea of Lex, Rex – “Law before the king,” as stated by the Scottish pastor Samuel Rutherford in his influential 1644 book.
  • The idea of the Just War – that there are times when war is Biblically justified, and the right thing for nations and peoples to do.

Based on those three principles (and more), they reasoned like this:

  • The king had showed himself to be a tyrant – above any law
  • To submit to the king was to dishonor God, to elevate the king too highly and to put the principle of law too low
  • Other means of appeal were exhausted
  • There was a reasonable chance of success
  • The use of war did not produce a worse situation

Those points work out elements of the Just War theory through their present situation.

Thinking back to the American Revolution shows us that Christians can look at the political situation and come to different conclusions. Those Christians who favored revolution did so for some of the reasons I have stated. There were other Christians who remained loyal to the English Crown and said, “your reasons aren’t compelling to me – I think God still wants us to submit to the government.”

I could make a case for either position. Because of that, I think that individual Christians should have followed their conscience, and they should have been charitable towards other believers who did not agree.

Dawson asked a second question:

And what are the exact laws from God that supersede any law of man? Is the 2nd amendment a god given right?

Here is now the Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Is this a God-given right? I would say that the Bible makes clear that God gives the right to self-defense.

  • Exodus 22:2-3 gives the right to use force in self-defense, even in defending one’s property – under the right circumstances.
  • Luke 22:38 tells us that the disciples apparently traveled with two swords. Matthew 26:52-54, Luke 22:49, John 18:10 also tell us that the disciples apparently had weapons with them (a sword or swords).
  • In Luke 22:36, Jesus told His disciples there would be a time when it was appropriate for his followers to buy a sword.

I think we can reason like this:

  • Self-defense is a Biblical idea; God gives the right to self-defense (not that the right can’t be exceeded or abused, but it is there)
  • Jesus and His disciples defended themselves with the appropriate weapons of their day.
  • God gives us the right to defend ourselves, our families, and our property with the appropriate weapons of our day.
  • I wouldn’t say, “The Second Amendment is a God-given right.” I would say, The Second Amendment is consistent with our God-given rights.

Lex, Rex is a book by the Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford. The book, written in English, was published in 1644 with the subtitle “The Law and the Prince”. Published in response to Bishop John Maxwell‘s “Sacro-Sancta Regum Majestas”, it was intended to be a comprehensive defence of the Scottish Presbyterian ideal in politics. The book defends the rule of law and the lawfulness of defensive wars (including pre-emptive wars) and advocates limited government and constitutionalism in politics

Opponents of just war theory may be either inclined to a stricter pacifist standard (proposing that there has never been and/or can never be a justifiable basis for war) or toward a more permissive nationalist standard (proposing that a war need only serve a nation’s interests to be justifiable).

Just War Ideas – Things That Justify War

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition).

Were the Israelites who came out of Egypt saved, even the ones who died in the wilderness?

Will the Israelites that came out of Egypt and died in the desert be saved? Jude 1:5 says that the Lord destroyed those who did not believe, and Exodus 14:31 says that the Israelites believed the Lord.

First of all, I wouldn’t read too much in Exodus 14:31, because even though I don’t know that specific verse, I do know the timeline of Exodus. By Exodus 14, they have not even come to Mount Sinai and entered into their national covenant with God yet. They haven’t even been given the opportunity to go into the Promised Land. That happened about a year after they came to Mount Sinai. In Exodus 14, I’m sure it’s true that they believed in God, but it was believing God for His deliverance in that moment, not necessarily for eternal salvation.

We have no promise in the Scriptures that every individual Israelite that was freed from Egypt made it to heaven. There was a difference between what God promised to them as His covenant people and the individual Israelite being saved by their own personal decision of trusting in God.

We need to be very careful and understand that no one is saved, and no one is damned by the group they belong to. In other words, your membership in a specific church isn’t going to get you to heaven. Your lack of membership in another kind of church isn’t going to send you to hell. We aren’t saved or damned because of the group we belong to or don’t belong to. We are saved or damned based on what we do with Jesus Christ, God’s Messiah and Savior.

So, as far as it comes to individual, eternal salvation, their belief in God to rescue them from Egypt and provide for them in the wilderness did not necessarily mean they believed in God for salvation.

What does it mean to “glorify God in the day of visitation” in 1 Peter 2:11-12?

Can you help me understand 1 Peter 2:11-12? More specifically when it talks about glorifying God in the day of visitation?

1 Peter 2:11-12 says,

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

I think perhaps it’s possible to make too much out of that phrase to glorify God in the day of visitation. In other words, I don’t think it’s trying to imply that every pagan that sees the life of a believer will, in fact, glorify God on the day of visitation (that they will be saved). Maybe he’s saying that they will become saved and give glory to God.

Let me say this. Your godly example can display to others God’s greatness, so that these Gentiles will be led to Jesus Christ and they, along with you, will glorify God on the day of visitation. He’s talking about the witness of the believer being a testimony and a hook, so to speak, to bring somebody to Christ and attract them to the good news that is in Jesus Christ.

I think glorifying God in the day of visitation speaks of them coming to Christ, and the day of visitation being the second coming of Jesus.

Why are modern versions of the Bible copyrighted, unlike the KJV?

Why are modern versions of the Bible copyrighted, unlike the King James Bible, which is public domain?

Modern versions of the Bible are copyrighted, because it is a very expensive proposition to translate and publish a modern Bible version. The people who put a lot of money into that want to get a return on their investment. The copyright is simply to protect their monetary interest.

The King James version was written at a time when there were no copyrights. It is in that category of, what we’d call, public domain work, where it can’t be copyrighted. Anybody can publish an edition of the King James Bible. There’s no restriction on it whatsoever. However, other Bibles, more modern translations, do have restrictions. Some of them are open, and some are more closed.

Are we required to keep the Sabbath?

I would like to know if we are required to keep the Sabbath. I have family that hold to some Seventh Day Adventist beliefs and want to know if we have to keep the Sabbath and how do we observe it.

I could give sort of a classic theologian answer to your question. Are we required to keep the Sabbath? I would say no and yes. Here’s the no part of it. We are not under obligation to keep the aspects of the ceremonial law that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Sacrifices were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Christians aren’t required to perform sacrifices. The feast days were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We’re no longer required to keep those feast days. The temple ceremonies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We’re no longer required to keep those. The Sabbath was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The New Testament makes this plain. Because the Sabbath was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, it is not a binding law.

The idea for Christians is this. We have rest in Jesus as believers, so every day is a Sabbath for us. Do you get the difference between the two? So, Christians are not under obligation to keep the Sabbath in that respect. It is a part of the law, the ceremonial law, and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Here’s the yes part of the answer. There are aspects of the Sabbath that are just hardwired into us for our good. Even though we are not required to keep the seventh day, Saturday, as the Sabbath, it is good for us to take a day off one in seven. It’s healthy and it’s good that that is consistent with how God has created us.

We don’t keep the Sabbath to obey God and to be right before Him. That’s fulfilled in Jesus, but it’s wise to keep the Sabbath because that’s how God constructed us to work well with one day of rest in seven.

While we are not required to keep the Sabbath, we are, as believers, free to keep the Sabbath if we would like to. If a Christian wants to keep the Sabbath, they are certainly welcome to unto the glory of God. Just do not expect that to be a binding law upon the conscience of other Christians. They are free to observe the Sabbath or to not observe it. As Paul says in Colossians, Let no one judge you concerning the keeping of a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath. We shouldn’t judge anybody regarding the keeping or not keeping of the Sabbath in that regard.

According to Isaiah 47:2-3, is it wrong to reveal one’s thigh in public?

Some believe that it is sinful to reveal one’s thigh in public. They cite Isaiah 47:2-3 which says, your nakedness shall be uncovered. They believe that verse two explains the uncovering of the thigh. Can nakedness simply refer to the maid being raped? I also know this is a picture of Babylon’s judgment.

The biblical command regarding such things really should be understood in the context of modesty. You can look up the Old and New Testament passages that speak of the idea of modesty. Now, here’s the thing we have to admit. The standards of modesty can differ from culture to culture. Clearly, there are some displays of the human body that would be universally immodest. However, there are some cultures where the display of the leg, a half way above the knee, would be viewed as being immodest in either a male or a female, and there are other ones where it might be viewed as being modest. So, we don’t say that this is an issue completely given over to cultural subjectivity. Yet, we can’t deny that there are some aspects of it that are culturally subjective. Something that may be perfectly modest in one culture may not be regarded as modest in another culture.

I think that in whatever culture you’re in, you have to observe those particular things. You’re not free to flaunt a standard of modesty just because you come from a different culture. The same is true the other way around.

Generally, in the culture I live in, it’s not immodest for someone to wear shorts. Now, of course, you can conceive that there’s some style of shorts or something somebody could wear that could break this, but that’s not a violation of modesty.

What this is speaking of is how modesty was understood in biblical culture. Don’t ever miss the idea that, in the Bible, the phrase to uncover nakedness is a euphemism, a soft way of speaking for sexual relations. This is found in the book of Leviticus. Now, I’m not saying it’s only having to do with sexual relations, but I would say it is a display of nudity leading to sexual immorality. It kind of has both ideas in mind.

I do not believe the passage in Isaiah is a universal condemnation of somebody wearing a modest swimsuit or shorts, male or female. I just don’t see that to be the case, but I will allow that there are different standards of modesty.

Why is there to be a separation between church and state?

Why is there supposed to be a separation between church and state?

We talk a lot about it in America that there should be a separation between church and state, at least in some regard. Of course, there’s different ideas on what that means, but the basic idea is that there should be some kind of separation between church and state.

Is that a Bible idea? Does the Bible tell us there should be no separation between church and state? The Bible tells us there should be a separation between church and state. In theology, people sometimes call this the two kingdoms idea. In other words, there’s the kingdom of God, together with the church, and there’s the kingdom of man that is typified or finds its governmental role with the government, the state, etc.

Here’s the simple idea. God has established both kingdoms and one is not to rule over the other. I don’t believe Jesus gave us an indication that His disciples should be establishing a state church. Matter of fact, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. It certainly has an impact on this world, but it is not an earthly kingdom like the Roman empire.

I would say the Bible does teach that the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man have a place in God’s plan, but they are different realms that need to be respected.

Here is a more practical answer. I believe the history of the church shows us that when the church has had political power, especially when it’s had great political power, it has not held it very well. When you take a look at the story of the church having great political power in the Roman Empire after Constantine or having great political power in the medieval church, in churches since the reformation, etc., I don’t think it’s used for good.

I think one of the blessings God gave to the United States of America is that we’ve never had a state church on a federal level, and that has been a blessing for the United States of America. It has been something that has contributed to the vitality and the energy of Christianity in our country as compared to other nations that have had state churches.

So, I believe it is not only established by biblical principle but by history.

What is a clear definition of faith?

I like the way a commentator on the Greek text of the Bible, named Kenneth Wuest, used to answer that question. He defined the ancient word that we translate faith or belief in the New Testament, Pistis in Greek, to trust in, to rely on, and to cling to. I think that that is a very important definition of faith (to trust in, to rely on and to cling to).

It is far more than mental agreement. That’s what most people mean today when they say they believe in something. They mentally agree that it exists or that it’s out there. The way the Bible speaks of faith is far more than that. It’s trusting in someone or something. It’s relying on someone or something. And it’s clinging to someone or something. That’s the faith we need to put in Jesus Christ for the security of our life in this life and the next.

If marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman, why did God use and bless men in the Bible who had more than one wife?

First of all, there is no doubt that, in a New Testament context, the Bible puts forth the ideal of one man and one woman. In the Old Testament, there were many people, people that we would regard heroes of the faith, who had more than one wife. They were polygamous.

It’s true that God did use and bless them in some respect, but here’s what you need to look at. Every time you are given a vision, a look into the family life of a polygamous family in the Bible, it’s a mess. Do you want the family life of King David? One of his sons raped one of his daughters. Another one of his sons murdered the son who raped one of his daughters. Another one of his sons also led a civil war against David. Is that the kind of family life a person wants? No, but that’s a polygamous family. Look at the rivalry in the fighting and the friction in the family of Jacob or Israel. Cold bloodedly, those brothers sold one of their own brothers into slavery. I could go on and on. Anytime you see the family life of a polygamous family in the Bible, it’s a mess. God is teaching us powerfully that polygamy is not His plan.

Now, Jesus referred to this in Matthew 19 when Jesus was asked questions about divorce, which was a controversial topic in Jesus’s day. Jesus first addressed the issue of marriage. He said, Have you not read that from the beginning it was so. In other words, God’s plan for marriage to be one man and one woman was from the beginning, and He established that precedent in the Garden of Eden.

God did not begin “enforcing” that until the New Testament. He just allowed it and hoped that people would learn from the recorded disasters of polygamous family life in the Old Testament.

So, God’s blessing was not upon these multiple marriage families in the Old Testament. If we want God’s blessing upon our marriages, we should do it in a way that honors Him. It’s still not going to be easy. There will still be challenges, trials, and difficulties, but it’s still our duty to honor God and His plan.

What is the difference between demons and fallen angels?

The Bible speaks of fallen angels. It speaks of demonic beings or demonic spirits. It also speaks of unclean spirits. Now, many Bible scholars, and I would find myself in agreement with those Bible scholars, believe that fallen angels, demons, and unclean spirits all refer to the same category of beings. Demons are fallen angels. Unclean spirits are these fallen angels and demons? This is not universally agreed upon among Christians. Some people think that fallen angels have one category, and demonic spirits or unclean spirits are a different category.

There’s not an absolutely clear, irrefutable link between them in the scriptures, but I think there’s enough overlap to be able to say that fallen angels are demonic and unclean spirits. Again, I don’t think that there’s exactly enough information for us to be absolutely certain on it, but there’s enough indication of it. There’s enough lack of clarity regarding this that  causes there to be some level of disagreement about this among believers.

Is it Biblical to pray to feel the presence of God?

I don’t recall any biblical passage that tells us we should pray that we would feel, sort of physically in an overwhelming sense, the presence of God. I think there is some danger in seeking after such an experience. The danger is this: that we would rely so much on such a sensory experience, we lose sight of the fact that we’re supposed to trust in, rely on, and cling to Jesus Christ, whether feelings are there or not.

I do know, both from the Bible and from history, that there have been believers who, at times, have been overwhelmed with a sense of God’s presence. I have felt some similar experiences in my life, but I don’t think we should seek after the experiences. Seek the Lord. Don’t seek an experience. Seek His truth, His power, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. Whatever experiences come along the way, praise the Lord for them. That would be my counsel for any believer, seek God Himself.