Friday, July 3, 2009

Pardon Me, While I Play Devil's Advocate

One of the most difficult roles to play is that of “devil’s advocate.” In common usage a devil's advocate is someone who takes a position, usually a position he or she disagrees with, for the sake of argument. Of course we know that the reason this process is used is to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure. Having stated this definition, I am going to attempt to play the devil’s advocate in this post. My reason is quite simple, a former professor of mine, (whom I love, respect, and have no issue with at all) recently made this statement: “I believe it is no mistake that the America War for independence followed hot on the heels of the Great Awakening: spiritual revival first, then political liberty built on this foundation.” I am going to take the other side for sake of argument because I find this a very difficult position to defend. The question that begs to be answered, is there a correlation or relationship between spiritual revival and political liberty? It seems that when one would be truly revived by God’s Spirit one would be led to humble submission not rebellion and war. Did Paul not tell us in Romans 13:1-7 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” I wonder how the early revolutionists would have responded to the English Parliament had they been asked about their understanding and the intended application of this passage? Do we pick and choose those passages that we want to submit to or do we really believe what they say? How does this passage govern the decision to resist the founding authorities at that time? Another thing about the statement that “spiritual revival first, then political liberty” troubles me – when the Holy Spirit was moving through the Roman Empire and when “the entire world was turned upside down”, there was no revolutionary war to establish political liberty in the Roman Empire. The apostles never called for a new government founded on political liberty. We know Paul wrote Romans 13 under the rule of Nero.
Were the colonists truly following God’s will in resisting their government? Were they right in establishing independence from Great Britain? I would hate to think that the moving of God’s Holy Spirit during the mid 1700’s would be adequate support for sedition, treason, rebellion, and war some 30 or 40 years later.

1 comment:

Scot said...

Thank you for making this argument. It saddens me how very many people will side with your former professor.