Last weekend, the President warned Ohio State graduates to ignore those voices that are constantly warning of tyranny. Of course, as many have pointed out since then, that would mean (among other things) not reading any history books on the founding of America, which would reveal the fact that our nation’s Founders were even more leery of government over-reach than the vast majority of modern patriots.
Not long ago, a friend recommended a book of mine on his Facebook page, only to have one of his other friends, a pastor, message him privately to warn him against that book. Of course, the helpful pastor was warning him about a book he himself had not bothered to read, based solely on the title. It’s called Resistance to Tyrants: Romans 13 and the Christian Duty to Oppose Wicked Rulers.
Which immediately set me to looking up the dictionary definition, in several versions. I won’t quote them all here. But the one below is very representative of what you’ll find elsewhere:
- arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. Synonyms: despotism,absolutism, dictatorship.
- the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
- a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
- oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
- undue severity or harshness.
In addition, some dictionaries will point out that the ancient Greeks especially employed the word to speak of any usurper, or one who had attained power unlawfully.
The “money” adjectives above, the ones that really describe a tyrant, are thus “arbitrary,” “oppressive,” “unjust,” “severe,” etc.
The unnamed pastor above apparently has not been paying attention.
For instance, as the new Benghazi hearings continue, it’s now plain as day that the administration’s story about the attack being caused by reaction to a YouTube video was a complete fabrication. The President and all his minions knew without a doubt from the beginning that this was not the real reason. And yet, to this day, the only person “brought to justice” over Benghazi is the man who made the video. He still sits in prison, as of this writing.
Today, we read that the IRS is admitting that it targeted the President’s political opponents for extra-special treatment during the last campaign.
Do a search for terms like “domestic drone surveillance,” “Utah Data Center,” and “Presidential Kill List,” and then come argue that we’re “a long way from experiencing” injustice, severity, and oppression.
Even if we explore the minority definition of tyranny, the Greek one about usurpation, we would have to admit that it’s been a long, long time since the federal government was anything but a tyranny, having usurped (or stolen) authority that they were never lawfully authorized by the Constitution. Who gave the feds the authority to regulate education, for instance? Answer: no one. They took that for themselves.
One of the writers of the Anti-Federalist Papers presciently predicted that the “commerce clause” of the Constitution would be used as an excuse to claim near-unlimited power. Oh, but wait, we’re supposed to ignore the voices warning of tyranny.
To complete the story I began with, the pastor in question went on to admit that he’d never really studied the passage of the Bible that was in question. He doesn’t think he needs to. All he’s ever done is repeat what he’s been told by others. Trace that back, and you’ll find all of them did the exact same thing.
This is how Christianity is turned into the spiritual equivalent of an anorexic teenager. Her pastors refuse to really set good food on the dinner table, and the ones invited to eat don’t complain.
You can be part of fixing that. Start complaining. Why hasn’t your own pastor warned from the pulpit of the encroachment and threat of government tyranny?
Arm yourself for refuting his/her pathetic answer. Right now, you can get the information-packed ebook No Cover for Tyrants: 1 Peter 2:13-17 Explained for only 99 cents for your Kindle.
New International Version Romans 13
Romans 13: 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)
“The Message” Version Romans 13
Rom 13: 1 Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. 2 If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. 3 Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, 4 the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. 5 That’s why you must live responsibly — not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.
6 That’s also why you pay taxes — so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. 7 Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.
8 Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. 9 The law code — don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of — finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. 10 You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.
11 But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. 12 The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. 13 We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. 14 Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)