Fear God Means Leave the Wrath to God

Dear Editor, Lancaster Sunday News,

How dare you lecture the Amish (and the rest of us) about what the Bible says about justice! Defending the status quo secular regime, you argue that the Amish have “to know from the Bible that its criminals must not be allowed to escape just punishment.” This conclusion assumes that there is only one way to read the Bible, and that this way is natural law with selective appeals to the Bible.

The Anabaptist tradition has not read the Bible your way, and the historical result has been patience to wait for God’s justice. Your impatience with Amish forgiveness sounds like you know what to do. You will do to criminals what God would do if God were still alive to do it!

But there is more to your argument: you are not really saying that God is out of business. You are claiming that God has made agents of the status quo regime. “The Bible does teach that Christians should submit to governors.” Of course you have no notion of appealing to Romans 13 when discussing the American rebellion against King George, or the regime changes in Iraq or Egypt. Your argument defines “submit to” in a way that would encourage collaboration and obedience to Hitler.

If your editorial board is going to start relying on the authority of the Bible (not for yourselves but for the Amish), then you need to begin with some exegesis. Romans 13 cannot be understood apart from its context. Romans 14 urges the overcoming of judgment among brothers and sisters. Romans 12:19 commands Christians not to avenge themselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine….”

I understand that you may not believe in God, or at least not in the God of wrath revealed in the Bible. Perhaps this is why you are so concerned to do what you think God would do in this situation if God were real enough to reveal standards your secular state could really follow. Or maybe you are just impatient with alternative ways of reading the Bible.

The context of submitting to the powers that God has ordained is important. 1. There is a difference between God ordaining evil to happen and God approving that evil. 2. There is a difference between submitting to the powers and agreeing that these powers are following God’s standards Satan does God’s work.

The Bible commands Christians to never exercise vengeance but to leave it to God. You can claim that the justice you advocate is not vengeance and not God’s wrath. But then Romans 13:4 (context!) says that the magistrate “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Notice that the governors are executing the specific function which Romans 12:19 commanded Christians to leave to God. Though this does not prove that none of the governors are Christians, it does prove that none of them are obeying God at this point! And the text teaches us that God uses this disobedience (not leaving it to God) as wrath. God does not have to approve of the standards of the unforgiving secular regime in order to restrain sin with more sin.

This may sound more complicated than it is. The editorial page wants the Amish to go by the Bible, but not as the Amish have interpreted it but as non-Anabaptists do. But in the meanwhile, the editorial page has no notion that secular judges would go by either the Old or New Testaments.

So go by the Bible, which means letting us do it our way, which is not the way the Bible tells Christians to do it. Of course we will celebrate you for forgiving a murderer if that man is already dead. But if the criminal still lives, then we must have our justice now and not wait for God. Not only will this protect our families, but our wrath has already determined what the crime “deserves”.

In none of your appeal to the Bible do you refer to the death of Jesus Christ at the hands of Rome’s secular justice. James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” Psalm 76: 10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”

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32 Comments on “Fear God Means Leave the Wrath to God”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    This is such a gloriously well thought out and airtight argument, that I fear I’ll appear the fool by adding my two cents to it. But, as my two cents are itching to be spent, I suppose I’ll just have to endure a bit of playing the fool.

    Those Christians, those true Christians, who sadly follow the Editor’s interpretation, are not just being inconsistent, they’re also being disobedient. I mean, it’s already hard enough to turn “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” into “bash in the heads of your enemies”, but it’s even harder, darn near impossible even, to turn “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord, I shall repay” into “Except when you mortals sport a badge, in which case vengeance is then yours too.”

  2. Ted Grimsrud Says:

    Nicely done, Mark.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Dear girardian critic:

    you are right about the “multiple fronts”. I have way more fights with the “neo-Reformed” (who don’t honestly say what they should about “double predestination”). Also, you are right about me sounding angry, ie, the “militant pacifist”.

    I always know that I am not preaching to the choir. Girard and the Girardians (esp Hamerton-Kelly is clear) and I see that they tend to preach to those who already agree with them that the God they will worship is the God who does not retaliate.

    It would be interesting for one of you to actually talk to somebody like me (who’s read Girard) but who also keeps up with all the recent literature on penal substitution.

    I can understand why that would be a waste of time for you. You can simply scapegoat anybody who actually believes in double predestination: “thank god I am not like one of those Calvinists”. Of course I agree with you against the “Arminian” come-ons that say, “God loves you but if you don’t love him back, then God will get you.”

    So you have this evangelical “other”, some of which thinks it’s Reformed (talks penal but not election and non-election), but most evangelicals are simply “non-universalists” who condition salvation on the sinner’s yes, and then you can lump them all together (as they do themselves) and pick at the contradictions.

    But then you are not really “scapegoating Calvinists” but this inconsistent (double-talking) thing which says that God hates people even when God “desires their salvation” (John Piper).

    Oh well, I need to spend less time on both evangelicals and Girardians, and more time on Bible texts. Though I am sure we do not agree about Bible authority (I say that the unchanging God changes what God commands–after the incarnation– you say “we can pick out what God never ever commanded”) but at the end of the day, we still end up focusing on what certain key texts mean: the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 12-13, Matthew 23 etc.

    The only way I know how to “play the victim game” with Girardians is to claim that my “double predestination” understanding is the victim of some people “who think they know god but who are wrong about God”. Girardians gather with the emerging and cast out the Calvinist. On his way out, they join the brothers Niebuhr in telling the pacifist how a pacifist is supposed to act.

    They don’t think a pacifist is supposed to trust any promise of retaliation from God. Better to leave the wrath to God, I say, than to endorse a “second kingdom” to protect us in a secular (Jesus-ignoring) way as the Amish do.

    We are not only victims; we are not only forgivers.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Yes, God does ordain evil. If you think the word “ordained” means “legitimate” in Romans 13, then you take sides with those who think Christians should only submit when the powers (the nation-states, the magistrates) are “legitimate”. And then we are going to need to ask “by what standard” (if not Moses, if not Christ) are we to tell what is “legitimate” or not.

    We need some definitions.

    If ” legitimate” means that no Christian is called to revolutionary attempts to replace the existing powers with better ones (with us with more influence), fine, “legitimate” in that sense only. If the “other second kingdom” is “the world” or “the kingdom of darkness”, that is something different from some “profane third kingdom which is neither Christian nor evil but legitimate”. If a Christian state is not “legitimate” (and I agree that it is not), how are we knowing what “legitimate” means?

    It is not by accident that the imperative of Romans 13:1 is not literally one of “obedience”. The Greek language has good words to denote “obedience”. What the text calls for, however, is subordination. The Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but who is put to death by Caesar, is being subordinate even though she is not obeying Caesar.

    The motives of Christian subordination are found not in fear or in calculations of how best to survive, but “in the mercies of God” (12:1) or in “conscience” (13:5). God ordained Assyria to invade Israel, without making Assyria “legitimate”. God’ordains and uses the wrath of the powers without at all approving the action of any individual exercising that wrath. Subordination is commanded to the slave not because of the “legitimacy” of slave-owners because Jesus Christ himself accepted subordination and humiliation (Philippians 2:5)

    John 18:36 certainly teaches that God “ordained” Plate’s rise to power (and fall). But that does not prove “legitimacy”. The command to submit is not based on our ability or on the “legitimacy” of those to whom we are commanded to submit.

    Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Romans 13 For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been ordained by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has ordained, and those who resist will incur judgment…. For they are the servants of God, AVENGERS who carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

    Romans 9: 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much LONGSUFFERING vessels of wrath prepared for destruction

    Romans 2: 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

    Romans 2: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

    Romans 2: 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    Romans 2:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    I Peter 2: 8 and “A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were ordained to do.
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of DARKNESS into his marvelous light.

    I Peter 2: 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by God to punish those who do evil 18 Slaves, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. (note, Caesar was not called emperor, nor did Caesar want to be called emperor)

    I Peter 2: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly

    Isaiah 10: 5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger;
    the staff in their hands is my fury!
    6 Against a godless nation I send him,
    and against the people of my wrath I command him,
    to take spoil and seize plunder,
    and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
    7 But he does not so intend,
    and his heart does not so think;
    but it is in his heart to destroy,
    and to cut off nations not a few;

    Isaiah 10: 12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, God will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes

    John H Yoder—The willingness to suffer evil is not merely a test of our patience or a dead space of waiting for Jesus to return. Willingness to suffer instead of rebellious attempts to takeover is an imitation of God’s “longsuffering” with the rebellious powers of his creation.

    • markmcculley Says:

      We say that the Psalm Sunday crowd got it wrong because they were wanting freedom in this world and in this age, and then we who either love the status quo or think nothing will change say that Jesus was offering only spiritual freedom, a kingdom after we die. a death which is not really death. Instead of Passover and resurrection, we teach an inherent immortality that claims that all humans are eternal.

      That way we can say the kingdom is in our hearts. Instead of obeying the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount is only for after we die, and now go out and buy our guns. All we need to do is be careful not to buy those guns as a church but as individuals.

      Hauerwas—-“If Jesus is all about getting us to love one another, then why did everyone reject him? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil that he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, he refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Jesus refused these goods because God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence using the means of the devil.

      Hauerwas—Jesus’s refusal to play the devil’s game does not mean that the kingdom he proclaims is not political. Jesus refuses to use the violence of the world to achieve “peace.” But that does not mean he is any less political or that he is not about the securing of peace. His arrest is often thought to represent the apolitical character of Jesus because he commands Peter to put away the sword Peter had used to cut off the ear of the priest’s slave. Jesus rebukes Peter, but he does so because that is not the “cup” the Father has given him. But the cup from which Jesus must drink is no less political for being nonviolent.

      Hauerwas—The character of Jesus’s politics is manifest in his response to the high priest who questions Jesus about his teachings in John 18.19-24. That he is questioned by the high priest may suggest that his mission was “religious” rather than political, but such an account cannot be sustained for no other reason than Jesus’s answer: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

      Hauerwas—They tell me that you are the King of Jews. Is that true?” Pilate’s question is meant to see if Jesus is “political.” Jesus responds by asking if Pilate came up with such a view on his own or did others tell him such was the case. “I am not a Jew, am I?” replies Pilate.. “If my kingdom were FROM this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. ” This is a response used often to deny that Jesus was political. But Pilate rightly saw that Jesus’ denial that his kingship was not of this world is not the denial that Jesus is king. Jesus denied that his kingdom was just another form of Rome.

      • markmcculley Says:


        When Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword, he was not telling them to use it to escape the very thing he promised they should endure to the death.

        Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough [that’s plenty].” (Luke 22:35–38)
        I do not think that Jesus meant in verse 36 that his disciples were to henceforth be an armed band of preachers ready to use violence to defend themselves from persecution. Jerry Falwell, Jr., said in his clarifying remarks on December 9,

        It just boggles my mind that anybody would be against what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 22:36. He told them if they had to sell their coat to buy a sword to do it because he knew danger was coming, and he wanted them to defend themselves.
        If that is the correct interpretation of this text, my question is, “Why did none of his disciples in the New Testament ever do that — or commend that?” The probable answer is that Jesus did not mean for them to think in terms of armed defense for the rest of their ministry. Jesus’ abrupt words, at the end of the paragraph, when the disciples produced two swords, were not, “Well, you need to get nine more.” He said, “It is enough!” or “That’s plenty!” This may well signify that the disciples have given a mistaken literal meaning to a figurative intention. Darrell Bock concludes,

        Two events [are] commentary on this verse [36]: Jesus’ rebuke of the use of a sword against the high priest’s servant (22:49–51) and the church’s nonviolent response to persecution in the Book of Acts (4:25–31; 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 12:1–5). In fact, Acts 4:25–31 shows the church armed only with prayer and faith in God. Luke 22:36 sees the sword as only a symbol of preparation for pressure, since Jesus’ rebuke of a literal interpretation (22:38) shows that a symbol is meant (Fitzmyer 1985: 1432; Marshall 1978: 825). It points to readiness and self-sufficiency, not revenge (Nolland 1993b: 1076). (Luke, volume 2, page 1747

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Christian transformationism teaches that the use of the sword must be according to some transcendent absolute standard.

    The Kingdom may be said to be considered a broader concept than the Church, because the Kingdom aims at nothing less than the complete control of all the manifestations of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of human endeavor.” Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 570

    “ The kingdom of Christ is one and cannot be divided in life or death. If the Church languishes, the State cannot be in health. If the State rebels against its Lord and King, the Church cannot enjoy His favor. If the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the Church, he is not present in the State; and if He, the ‘Lord, the Giver of life,’ be absent, then all order is impossible, and the elements of society lapse backward to primeval night and chaos.”

    A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology

    Matthew 26: 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    James 1: 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

    Psalm 76: 10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 13 says to submit to THEM, It does not say to become THEM. And it’s not about your right to kill yourself to protect yourself, but about your obligation to submit to those who do kill. Romans 12: 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[ to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Romans 13: “The exousia are the servants of God, an avengers who carries out God’s wrath ” Submit to them does not mean that you have a calling to be them.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    in 2kingdom thinking, Jesus can be left out of it when it comes to “the common kingdom”. But to leave Jesus out of the question/pattern is to deny that Jesus is both our lawgiver and our example. In the same I Peter text which speaks of Jesus bearing our sins, we are commanded to follow His example, not in everything, but in the matter of not returning evil for evil. In the same Sermon on the Mount which tells us that we need a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. We do not have to choose between law and gospel, because the law is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the law.

    The Reformed Confessions agree that unbelievers can do no good works before God. My question asks—if believers claim that they can live in the common kingdom” and “leave Jesus out of it” and have as their standard the same “natural law” as unbelievers do, are the works of believers in the “common kingdom” nevertheless “good works”.

    I do realize this is a difficult question, because in one legal sense, justified persons have no sins, no dead works, and nothing can condemn them (good tree brings forth good fruit)

    But I think we would agree that the sin of the believers is still sin, even if we don’t agree about Jesus being the law-giver who tells us what sin is.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Brandon Adams — historic Presbyterianism was very different than modern Presbyterianism. Modern Presbyterianism will consider a non-communicant member who has reached the “age of discretion” and does not profess saving faith in Christ to be a covenant breaker and thus excommunicated. That was not the historic position. Instead, non-communicant members could remain members of the church without making any credible profession of saving faith. That was only required for communicant membership (access to the Lord’s table). Thus everyone in a nation was required by law to profess the true religion (known as “historic faith”) but they were not required by law to profess saving faith. Therefore the covenanters did not see themselves as judging “the world” with these laws. They were judging the church. http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/theology/the-half-way-covenant/

  10. markmcculley Says:




    One of the evils of being “reformed” is that they say they water adults believers also but they still think the world is the church. I have recently read. “Presbyterians not only believe in credobaptism, they practice it; they just don’t believe in exclusive credobaptim. This means that every instance of adult/believer/credobaptism in Scripture fits within both the paedobaptist view and the credobaptist view.”

    And I answer; Roman Catholics not only believe in grace but also in faith. They just don’t believe in grace that excludes salvation by our lawkeeping and they don’t believe in faith that excludes works. The “Reformed” will keep on watering infants and once these infants get brought into “the one visible church”, they will tolerate many doctrinal differences with the confession, because they still think of the world as their church. Thus they ignore what the parable of the wheat and tares says about the field being the world and use the parable for a lack of discrimination and discernement and disciple in their “the one visible church”


    • markmcculley Says:

      Brandon Adams —Presbyterianism,says that Israel has always been the Church. To them, there is no “new Israel.” Israel is the same it has always been, except now it includes all nations, not just one nation. Since the word ekklesia (“church”) is used of both Israel and the NT church, they say It is identical, the same. If you reject this and say that Israel was a type of the church, then you reject historic Presbyterianism.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    sinners punish other sinners
    God saves us from sinners by means of sinners

    Psalm 17: deliver me from sinners WHO ARE YOUR SWORD

    14 From men WHO ARE YOUR HAND

    save me from men…

    whose portion is in this life:
    You fill their bellies with treasure;
    their sons are SATISFIED,
    and they leave their surplus to their children.
    15 But I will see Your face in righteousness;
    when I awake, I will be SATISFIED with Your presence

    satisfied is not an even-steven “balanced” kind of thing—more than enough

    I know that my Redeemer lives and that in this flesh I shall behold God” (Job 19:25)

    For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth” (John 5:28)

    Psalm 16:10 For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
    You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.

    Romans 1: 4 Therefore God handed over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They handed over the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.26 This is why God handed them over to degrading passions. For even their females handed over natural sexual relations[ for unnatural ones. 27 The males in the same way also handed over natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another…28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God handed them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Gary North thinks we can’t do private vengeance, but maybe we can do private pre-emptive violence. To avoid the command of Romans 12 (leave the wrath to God), say that Romans 12 is only the after-the-fact wrath of God (administered by Muslims and atheists alike) and not about “before the wrath” violence. North is not working with a theory of punishment which “satisfies justice” but instead with a “humanitarian theory of punishment” which is not according to justice but for the greater good and which is “useful” for himself and those he loves. “I kill to stop killing”. I take up the sword so you won’t take up the sword”. North is armed and threatening immediate violence against anybody who is armed and threatening immediate violence

    mark asks–so was the death of Jesus to “satisfy justice”? Was Christ’s a result of God’s wrath and vengeance and justice? Or was the death of Christ not about satisfying justice but a preemptive (and often successful) use of violence for the greater good?

    And why did Jesus Himself die for the greater good, when he could have killed others for the greater good? And why did Jesus himself “satisfy vengeance and justice” when he “could have” made others satisfy justice?


  13. Jonathan Malesic, Secret Faith in the Public Square (2009)—“Can Christians be witnesses to the truths of the gospel in a land where being Christian is a form of social capital? What about when Christian identity has become a brand? American public life easily converts Christian identity into something which saves a culture. … When being a Christian is thought to be politically useful, the true purpose of being a member of the public known as the church has been lost.

    • markmcculley Says:


      maybe the Son as Creator is our Lawgiver, but is the Son as Redeemer our lawgiver?

      Hauerwas—-“At a conference sponsored by the Church Federation Office in 1932, Bonhoeffer vigorously attacked the idea of the “orders of creation” introduced by traditional Lutherans. Creation simply cannot be self-validating because Christians have no knowledge of creation separate from redemption. “The creation is a picture of the power and faithfulness of God, demonstrated to us in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. We worship the creator, revealed to us as redeemer.”

      “Bonhoeffer soon returned to the issue of the “orders of creation” in a
      address to the Youth Peace Conference in Czechoslovakia in July 1932. Again he attacks those who believe that we must accept certain orders as given in creation. Such a view entails the presumption that because the nations have been created differently each one is obliged to preserve and develop its own characteristics. He notes this understanding of the nation is particularly dangerous because “just about everything can be defended by it.” Not only is the fallenness of such order ignored, but those that use the orders of creation to justify their commitment to Germany fail to see that “the so-called orders of creation are not revelations of the divine commandment, they are concealed and invisible. Thus the concept of orders of creation must be rejected as a basis for the knowledge of the commandment of God.”

      Bonhoeffer is against the distinction between “person” and “office” he attributes to the Reformation. He notes this distinction is crucial for justifying the Reformation position on war and on the public use of legal means to repel evil. “But this distinction between private person and bearer of an office as normative for my behavior is foreign to Jesus,” Bonhoeffer argues. “He does not say a word about it. He addresses his disciples as people who have left everything behind to follow him. ‘Private’ and ‘official’ spheres are all completely subject to Jesus’ command. https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/publications/conrad-grebel-review/issues/fall-2002/dietrich-bonhoeffers-political-theology

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Psalm 90:7, “We are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.” Hosea 13:11, “I gave you a king in my anger, and I took him away in my wrath.” Romans 2:8, “For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and anger.”

  15. markmcculley Says:

    O LORD, the God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth! Psalms 94:1

    Isaiah 47:3 Your nakedness will be uncovered, and your shame will be exposed. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.

    Isaiah 59:17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and He wrapped Himself in zeal as in a cloak.

    Isaiah 61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn,

    Luke 4: 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
    18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
    because He has anointed Me
    to preach good news to the poor.
    He has sent Me
    to proclaim freedom[m] to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to set free the oppressed,
    19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

    2 Thessalonians 1:8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

    Hebrews 10: 30 For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Matthew 5 is not teaching that the Mosaic covenant was misunderstood and that Jesus is giving the right understanding.

    Matthew 5 is saying that Jesus is not only Savior but also Lord and Lawgiver. The new covenant is not the same covenant as the Mosaic covenant, or the Abrahamic covenant.

    Matthew 5: 38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist in kind an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.


  17. markmcculley Says:

    Donald Trump has been “baptized into Christ”. Only a revivalist or a catabaptist sectarian would suggest that we know that he’s not a Christian yet. “Church is the place where God is at work creating and confirming faith in the hearts of its visible members through preaching and sacrament. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. By contrast, Baptist ecclesiology lodges the church’s visibility in the members. Their response to the covenant, not God’s promise, creates the church. according to baptists.” Sarcasm alert


  18. markmcculley Says:


    “We could see Paul’s invoking of his Roman citizenship as a model for indirect power, transferring the responsibility for his own safety away to the Roman legions while increasing his protection from mobs. Jesus’s pulling tax money out of a fish’s mouth is, to me, the ultimate political use of indirect power, an absurd rebuke of those whose hope is in a political system instead of The Messiah. And yet, Paul and Jesus are still executed by the political class, an example of why this line of thought can’t be ended with the suggestion to “use more indirect power.” Or at least, should we choose to use more indirect power, we can prepare ourselves
    beforehand to end up like pennies on a railroad track.”

  19. markmcculley Says:

    Preston Sprinkle: If the state mandates that blacks can’t drink from the same water fountain as whites, it very well has the divine right to do so, according to certain interpretations Romans 13….Wayne Grudem says that the “sword in the hand of good government is God’s designated weapon to defeat evildoers” and goes on to apply this to America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    God executes vengeance through Rome after he prohibits Christians from doing so. Compare these two statements, which are only a few verses apart:
    Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (12:19)
    For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out the God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (13:4)
    There’s an intentional contrast.


  20. markmcculley Says:

    “When push comes to shove, American evangelicals are neither with Luther nor with Calvin. They are with Thomas Müntzer.” @RScottClarkW

    As usual, the Reformed are blaming it on the anabaptists, ignoring what the Westminster Confession commanded before it was revised, ignoring the New England theonomists and Luther’s support of German magistrates against the peasants, contemporary Reformed proceed as if all credo-baptists were the same. It’s something like saying that Scott Clark must agree with John Calvin about Constantinianism.

    But one wonders if Scott Clark ever read Conrad Gebel’s letter to Muntzer.


    wcf 23…. yet the civil magistrate does have authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, the civil magistrate has power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

  21. markmcculley Says:

    Tertullian—-But now the question is whether a believer can become a soldier and whether a soldier can be admitted into the faith, even if he is a member only of the rank and file who are not required to take part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There can be no compatibility between the divine and the human sacrament (= military oath), the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters-God and Caesar.

    Moses, to be sure, carried a rod; Aaron wore a military belt, and John (the Baptist) is girt with leather (i.e., like a soldier); and, if you really want to play around with the subject, Joshua the son of Nun led an army and the people waged war. But how will a Christian man go to war? Indeed how will he serve even in peacetime without a sword which the Lord has taken away? For even if soldiers came to John and received advice on how to act, and even if a centurion became a believer, the Lord, in subsequently disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier, No uniform is lawful among us if it is designated for an unlawful action. (Treatise on Idolatry 19; Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:73)


  22. markmcculley Says:

    Niemoller–It is unChristian to conduct a war for the saving of the christian church, for there is no Christian church to save.

    Tertullian —-Jesus will save the life that has been given up for hius name sake but will destroy the one that was saved at the expense of His name for money’s sake. There is . no allowance for a plea of necessity . The necessity to fear denial of Christ and martyrdom is greater than the necessity to avoid martyrdom.

    Do we believe it lawful for a human oath to be superadded to one divine, for a man to come under promise to another master after Christ? Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs?

    Shall he, forsooth, either keep watch-service for others more than for Christ? And shall he keep guard before the temples which he has renounced? Shall he carry a flag, too, hostile to Christ? And shall he ask a watchword from the emperor who has already received one from God?

    Of course, if faith comes later, and finds any preoccupied with military service, their case is different, as in the instance of those whom John used to receive for baptism, and of those most faithfulcenturions, I mean the centurion whom Christ approves, and the centurion whom Peter instructs; yet, at the same time, when a man has become a believer, and faith has been sealed, there must be either an immediate abandonment of it, which has been the course with many; or all sorts of quibbling will have to be resorted to Military service does not hold out exemption from martyrdom


  23. markmcculley Says:

    if you can defend Stalin, also Trump

    dgh—On your point about special revelation interpreting general revelation, are you suggesting that a magistrate who does not use Scripture to interpret general revelation has less authority? I don’t suppose you are. But that is the rub. Whether it’s Saddam Hussein or Barack Obama, spirituality folks would say this is the guy whom God has ordained. His rule is based on some kind of natural law or creational order — a general sense of justice and order — and so he is fulfilling his calling whether using Scripture or not.

    I think that Van Til’s doctrine of Common Grace is the missing ingredient in many explanations of the civil magistrate and moral law. How is it that countries that are completely godless still know that murder is wrong? They have the law of God written on their hearts, and despite their sinful failure to seek to consistently make and execute upright laws (which they can only do by God’s grace as they search the Scriptures), they still get a good bit right by Common Grace

    dgh-Nick, do you really think the Bible teaches the just distribution of power? Does it teach constitutional monarchy, bicameralism, federalism, checks and balances? Don’t we learn about some of these affairs by observation? Is Aristotle chopped liver

    Nicholas T. Batzig Jesus created a body for Himself and brought natural and supernatural revelation back together.
    In his article “Nature and Scripture,” found in The Infallible Word–a symposium by the faculty of Westminister Theological Seminary–, Van Til persuasively argues that natural and supernatural revelation were meant to be together from the beginning. Adam was to interpret the world around him–a world that revealed the God who made him–by means of the word of God–the God who spoke to him. It was Satan who sought to lead Adam to separate natural and supernatural revelation. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was part of God’s natural revelation, but it was also the object of supernatural revelation. Satan told Adam that he could interpret the Tree apart from God’s word


    dgh—both Israel and the church were to purge blasphemy and idolatry from their ranks as well, that first table of the Decalogue is pretty explicit. But somehow the Christian school advocates think that the state, which will be governed by the same Bible that governs the church, will be tough on sexual sins and murder but not on blasphemy and idolatry. That leaves us with an interesting disagreement. The folks who condemn two-kingdoms for its dualism (among other things) have a dualistic view of the Decalogue. How integrated is that?

    Lee irons–Clark seems to be saying that the state has a moral obligation or duty to enforce the moral law (= natural law), a duty that itself derives from moral/natural law. My problem with this is that, if logically carried through, this will lead to a view of civil government that is just as theocratic as that desired by the theonomists. The only difference so far as I can tell is that on Clark’s view there would be more leeway in the specifics of the penal code…

    …Most theonomists would be perfectly happy with a state run on natural law principles, since they argue that the general equity of the Mosaic Law is identical with natural/moral law as revealed via general revelation (cp. Bahnsen, No Other Standard, pp. 206, 222).

    Another problem with the appeal to natural law as the principle for determining the positive enforcement duties of the civil magistrate is that we live in a pluralistic society in which the very content of natural law itself is highly contested at critical points. Many citizens believe, for example, that committed same-sex relationships are not in any way sinful. Again, I affirm that the these people are wrong, and that deep down they know they are wrong. I know that because I believe the Bible’s teaching concerning the content of natural law (e.g., Romans 1). But such an appeal to Scripture will have minimal persuasive value in the public square. A natural law theorist may not go out with the intention of making a naked appeal to Scripture. He may try appealing to various arguments that support his interpretation of natural law, keeping his biblical beliefs out of play to achieve maximum rhetorical effect. But since the ultimate epistemic basis for his interpretation of natural law is Scripture, at the end of the day this will come to light at some point in the argument and it will become evident that he is not really making a good-faith religiously-neutral appeal.


    Brandon Adams–What is the point in making a distinction between moral law and natural law and then saying the church is ruled by one and the state is ruled by the other?


  24. markmcculley Says:

    Paul is not our perfect example, Jesus is Acts 22:25-27.The second time Paul “used his Roman citizenship” was after the Jews had tried to kill him, but BEFORE he was flogged. The consequences of this dragged on for the rest of Paul’s life. His citizenship in Satan’s kingdom did not keep Paul from being killed. Paul was never legally free again, spending the rest of his time in the Roman legal system/under arrest.

    I Peter 2: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly



  25. Mark Mcculley Says:

    p.52 of The Reformers and their Stepchildren, Verduin

    In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition. The Codes of
    Justinian decreed that “Heresy shall be construed to be an offence
    against the civil order” (XVI, 5:40). It has been said that Calvin
    sought, late in the trial, to have sentence commuted to the effect
    that some mode of execution other than by fire would be Servetus’ lot.
    The reason for this suggestion was that Calvin wanted Servetus
    eliminated as an offender against the civil order. Death by fire was
    for offenders in the area of religion. Hence Calvin’s concern in the
    matter. It was the same sensitivity that made Margaret of Parma, in
    1567, specify death by hanging for Guido de Brès. It would look better to have de Brès destroyed as a seditionist than as a heretic; hence death by the noose rather than by the flame. So also in the case of Servetus.


  26. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Rene Girard—-“The obligation never to shed blood cannot be distinguished from the obligation to exact vengeance on those who shed it . . . it is precisely because they detest violence that men make a duty of vengeance.

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