Paul—I am a Citizen of the Occupation

Martin was the son of a Lutheran pastor and a submarine commander in World War I. By the time World War II came, Martin had become a pastor like his father. Martin spoke positively of his country—“When this great nation was formed, God gave it Christianity for its soul, and from these Christian roots it has grown.” Martin joined the army with his two sons.

Martin’s allegiance should have to be Christ’s kingdom, not to the earthly nation where he lived. Martin Niemoller was a German citizen. He volunteered to serve in the Nazi army in submission to his earthly nation.

I am often told that the apostle Paul “used his Roman citizenship” and that this means that I have a duty to vote in the “democracy” which is the American empire. Back during the situation of Romans 13, I am told, we Christians were not citizens of Rome, but now things have changed and we Christians are now ourselves the magistrate, and so now we only submit to ourselves. And then I am told that submission to the powers, in this new situation, means becoming part of the powers, so it’s my duty to vote or even to kill for the American empire.

What is being left out of this story is the fact that the Roman empire was an occupation force within Israel. Did only Roman citizens have a duty to support or kill for Rome? Or did non-Roman citizens also have a duty to obey the Roman empire?

When we are reminded that “Paul used his citizenship”, should we conclude that only Paul needed to submit to Roman occupation? More importantly, is it true that those with an extra ‘citizenship” are in a better position to live as Christians in the world?

pastor Martin Luther–“When Christians went to war, they struck right and left and killed, and there was no difference between Christians and the heathen. But they did nothing contrary to Matthew 5;38-39 because they did it not as Christians. but as obedient subjects, under obligation to a secular authority.”

I Corinthians 7—I don’t need to be out of jail, but also I don’t need to be in jail, therefore there is nothing I could gain if Roman citizens had the vote about occupying Israel.

Paul used his Roman citizenship twice:
Acts 16:37 The first time was after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. He used it to no apparent benefit to himself. He announced his citizenship after his beating and humiliation. The effect was to put the public authorities on the spot. Paul got a severe beating-and then an apology. He didn’t get, or try to get, an audience with the powers. They wanted him to leave town, and he did.

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. It did not keep Paul from being killed. Most likely Paul was never ‘free’ again, spending the rest of his time in the Roman legal system/under arrest..

Paul did not use his Roman citizenship as a means to spread the gospel, because there was nothing about his being Roman that could add to the gospel or create an “apologetic” for the gospel. For Paul the crucial issue was being in Christ, not the various options on how one can be in the world. Being Roman didn’t make being in Christ more significant or effective. Being Roman didn’t create opportunities for the gospel. God’s effectual calling does not depend on what liberal political theory likes to call “religious liberty”.

Acts 21—You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 But they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, by telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk in our customs. 22 So what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you’ve come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have obligated themselves with a vow. 24 Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay for them to get their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that what they were told about you amounts to nothing, but that you yourself are also careful about observing the law. 25 With regard to the Gentiles who have believed, we have written a letter containing our decision that they should keep themselves from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
26 Then the next day, Paul took the men, having purified himself along with them, and entered the temple, announcing the completion of the purification days when the offering for each of them would be made. 27 As the seven days were about to end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has profaned this holy place.”

Acts 26: 29 “I wish before God,” replied Paul, “that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains.” 30 So the king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up, 31 and when they had left they talked with each other and said, “This man is doing nothing that deserves death or chains.” 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Paul could have simply gone to Rome. God had been able to direct Paul before without having to resort to such convoluted arrangements. Paul had enough popular appeal that people, influential people, wanted to see and hear him. But Paul didn’t go to Rome: he went to Jerusalem. The prophetic word his brothers and sisters received before he went there led them to strongly urge him not to go. He rejected their counsel. Their wisdom was driven by their concern for Paul and was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Even if one has a “word from God”, that word does not have self evident meaning— it must be evaluated.

The chief men of the church in Jerusalem were concerned about appearances, so they had Paul do something which was unnecessary in an attempt to improve his standing with the Jews. They had him take four men through the rite of purification with him, a practice the Jews might appreciate but which had no value for the maturing of the church in Jerusalem. In fact, it seems more like accommodation to the religious culture than anything. This is the event that caused the problem; not Paul or the men being there, but the assumption by some Jews that Paul had gentiles in the temple. This might be a good example of what results when we are concerned with appearances. Paul accepts the counsel of those in Jerusalem he is not particularly close to, of whose high standing he professes to have no particular regard, and who are motivated by their concern for appearances.

Martin Luther —I will not oppose a ruler who, EVEN THOUGH HE DOES NOT TOLERATE THE GOSPEL, will smite and punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgement. For he is within his rights, since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel but have become faithless, perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers, and blasphemers, whom even heathen rulers have the right and power to punish….

Luther—If the ruler can punish and does not, then he is guilty of all the murder and all the evil which these fellows commit, because, by willful neglect of the divine command, the ruler permits them to practice their wickedness, though he can prevent it, and is in duty bound to do so. Here, then, there is no place for patience or mercy. It is the time of the sword, not the day of grace. Therefore will I punish and smite as long as my heart bears. Thou wilt judge and make things right.’ Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God…On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell…

The Magisterial Reformers insisted that the problem was with “anabaptists” sneering at the benefits the “natural order” which has been preserved for us by those whose vocation for God is to kill. The problem is not German or Genevan lesser magistrates at war against emperor and pope or peasants. Though the earth in the age to come will be the Lord’s, to be practical in this present age the earth must be kept from the parasites and preserved for the invisible hand of providence. And this means we can vote (and be glad that other people don’t vote, democracy does not depend on majority consent). Only idealists cannot compromise between two evils, and we can accuse such people as those who immanentize the eschaton…

So when we fear the Muslim Turks, we do not need to tempt God by only relying on the second coming of Christ, because we have our American citizenship. And we can either make alliances with them or bomb them. And in the same manner as Paul was saved from death by the hands of the Romans (because he was a hybrid, both Roman and Christian) , we too will not tempt God by trusting God to save us, even though two swords may not be enough,

Hitler (after the failure of the assassination plot)—“it was providence that spared me. This proves that I am on the right track. I feel that this is the confirmation of all my work.” But all things happen because God predestined them to happen not because God approves these things. God works all things for the good of the elect does not mean that all things are good. Job’s friends— all suffering is evidence that God does not like you?But Psalm 7318 speaks of the prosperity of the non-elect. “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”

George Eliot describing a preacher loyal to the status quo or tradition “Let him be ardent and imaginative on the coming advent of Christ, but cold and cautious toward every other infringement of the status quo. Let him be hard and literal in his interpretation only when he wants to hurl texts at the heads of adversaries, but when the letter of the Scriptures presses too closely on hi genteel Christianity, let him use his spiritualizing alembic and disperse the letter of the Scripture into impalpable ether. ”

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27 Comments on “Paul—I am a Citizen of the Occupation”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    It’s easier to call the enemies of 2k “neo-anabaptists” than to see them as “post-liberals” or “anti-liberals”. Because 2 k, as taught by “natural law Reformed” and “Lutheran” and ‘Conservative Mennonite” votes Republican but claims to do so not as Christians. In other words, the “juggling two kingdoms and two masters at once” folks reject Christendom, but do so only in the name of “liberal” political theory. By “liberal” political theory, I do not mean either the Republican party, which practices crony military-entitlement capitalism, or the Democratic party, which does that plus also engages in other non-liberal redistribution by taxation. By “liberal political theory”, I mean the “secular state” ideas which informed the Constitution and the founding fathers. 2k folks like Hart assume that the the only positive alternative to Christendom is liberal political theory. Help the state to do the killing which needs to be done to preserve the liberal experiment (against what could only be worse), but don’t do it as Christians or as the church.

    So let’s not think of a sociologist like Hunter as a “neo-Calvinist” or a “neo-transformationalist”. But does Hunter want to “change the world’ by being the church? No. Since the people in the church are also sinners, Hunter thinks that changing the world means keeping liberal democracy. Hunter—“Why do the neo-Anabaptists reduce the life of Imitatio Dei to the parameters of the church?”’ Sounding very much like the brothers Niebuhr, Hunter ” claims that because they fail to understand power and its pervasiveness, Neo-Anabaptists try to keep their hands clean. ”

    A focus only the church and the gospel, which does not “balance” and “juggle” and “struggle with the tension” of putting the “other kingdom” hat on, would NOT use power to overcome evil with evil. Hunter thinks that what needs to be done to maintain the liberal American empire and even to make it better. And 2 k people seem to agree. Maybe their votes won’t help, they think, but nevertheless it’s not only their duty but also the duty of “neo-anabaptists” to try to vote for the person who will move history in the right direction. And sure, if history does NOT move in the right direction, we can all agree that God is still in control, and perhaps the result will be a just punishment for us for not being liberal enough or for torturing our enemies (too much), but in the present age (secular time) we can’t afford to be patient enough to only not do what Jesus told us not to do.

    (I must wonder why people want me to vote. Is my approval of liberal democracy so important to them that it does not matter if I don’t vote for for the person they think will move history in the right direction? I DO understand why they think people who won’t use power to overcome evil with evil need to shut up and have no liberty to talk at all about power or good and evil. )

    “Because Hunter does not affirm the political end of formation in the church–that Christians are to instantiate an alternative politics–he renders Christian action a mere instrument within the world’s power game. Yet the church, through its worship of Jesus as Lord, enables the Christian to be critical toward the world’s conception of “power.” The worship of Jesus Christ–the crucified God– allows, in other words, the Christian to see power in a form that the world will consider madness..”

    II Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, because the end of power is weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, in order that Christ’s power reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ.

    • markmcculley Says:

      Nathan Finn—But there have been some worthwhile initial attempts at a history. My friend David Scott wrote a short historical article for the now-defunct Baptist Reformation Review back in 1974. Mark McCulley’s Studies in History and Ethics (1983) includes some relevant chapters. Leon McBeth included several pages of information in his The Baptist Heritage (1987), and Tom Nettles includes some helpful material in the updated version of By His Grace and For His Glory (2006).

  2. markmcculley Says:

    DGH—-His repudiation of the nation where he resides sounds good. But he derives lots of benefits while sneering at America.

    mark–Now the “hybrid” has to “JUGGLE” because Hart can’t keep both hats on at once? Where Romans 13 teaches us to submit to “them”, because God is in control of “them” and therefore any “benefits” are a result of God’s control of evil against evil, Hart cannot obey Romans 12 which commands us to leave the wrath to God, but instead argues that we need to take off our “mother kirk” hat and put on the hat in which the ends justifies the means and help our neighbors in the need to overcome evil with evil. Hart exempts himself from being neo-Calvinist because he does this “if you are going to benefit, you need to approve and pay for the killing that it takes to keep a culture” but NOT in the name of Christ or the church, but simply as one sinner among other sinners.

    Instead of rejoicing that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, Hart refuses liberty of conscience to those who sneer at war and the nations who prosecute war and agrees with the brothers Neibuhr that the reality of sin in the world and the reality of our own sin means that killing people is not sin. Hart does not appeal to what the Mosaic covenant said, and he doesn’t go by the standard of the Sermon on the Mount, and therefore nobody can call him a “theonomist.”. But nobody can call Hart an “anarchist” either, because he’s not merely submitting to the powers—when Hart takes off his “mother kirk” hat, he puts on the hat which says that (in this new situation, where there is no monarchy) “we” ARE “them”, and Christian now being the magistrates are now the agent of God’s wrath (not defined by God but by the constitution) and Christians who won’t do this are ungrateful jerks who should perhaps be exported because they don’t see the need to thank Satan for Satan’s service to God. Since Satan does what God needs Satan to do, and God in sovereignty orders what Satan does , anybody who complains about Satan might sound good when they complain but they are denying all the good that God works from what Satan does.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    I often agree with some of what Rick write, especially on “the judgment according to works” I agree that Christ was not “under grace” Rick P— “I do appreciate the desire to acknowledge something more than mere nature in God’s pre-fall dealings with Adam. God bestowed positive blessings on his creatures in the Garden and any obedience that Adam might have offered to God resulted not from virtues and powers that had their origin in Adam but that derived from the gift of God. Nonetheless, to assign the term “grace” to these pre-fall dealings is to change the definition of our term “grace” so that it ceases to refer clearly to God’s salvation of sinners. ..While graciousness is an attribute of God, this does not exactly line up with our confessional meaning of that grace by which sinners are saved.”

    I disagree with the answer of Rick Phillips to this question— Surely you don’t really disagree that sanctification begins with a deeper appreciation of our justification?

    Rick P—“Actually, I do disagree with this, as I am a WTS union-with-Christ guy. Sanctification does not begin with justification or an appreciation of it. Sanctification begins in the effectual call of Christ and its effect of regeneration within me. Justification and sanctification are the dual graces that result from union with Christ through faith and both “begin” in him. This is why the new covenant promise in Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb. 8:10-12 can list sanctification first and justification second, as does Calvin in Book III of the Institutes. So no I would never agree that sanctification begins in justification or my appreciation of it. It is inseparably joined to justification, of course, through my union with Christ in faith, so that sanctification is never abstracted from justification (or vice versa). Tullian writes that “Sanctification is… moving deeper into the reality of our justification.” This puts justification in the place of Christ!
    ….The relationship between justification and sanctification is that between twin brothers, not a master and his servant. So just as it would be wrong to say that justification is the status gained from your sanctification, it is also wrong to say that sanctification is living out your justification. ”

    Rick P—” I would certainly agree that Romans 2:6-7 is not hypothetical but actual. Paul means it when he writes, “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” The context in which this statement is made – Romans 8:13 – is one focused on sanctification. So in pointing out the necessity of good works we must pointedly separate it from justification. Romans 8:13 is absolutely true, but it is not speaking of justification. ”

    Rick p—“Why would I put myself through the ordeal of discipline, sacrifice, and sweat, much less risk-taking business endeavors, if I can have a wonderful life without working for it?”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Corinthians 15—If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

    In some theology, Capitalism is the essence of America, and America is the essence of Christianity

    So Rick P is safe within the “spirituality of the church” when he promotes the vocational dignity of Christian snipers and clergy regulation of marriage, and denounces “socialists” the day before the South Carolina primary, but maybe we are not so safe if we talk about that? Robertson is talking politics but we are not talking politics when we talk about Robertson?

  5. markmcculley Says:

    There are other Dutch Reformed who separate themselves from the politics of Kuyper. Though they don’t think that taxes to fund wars are “class warfare”, they do think that taxes to give to the poor are “theft”.

    Kuyper, The Problem of Poverty, p 33—“And whenever the magistrate came forward as a servant of God to protect the weak, the more powerful class of society soon knew how to exercise such an overpowering influence that the government, which should have protected the weak, became an instrument against them. This was not because the stronger class was more evil at heart than the weaker, for no sooner did a man from the lower class rise to the top than he in his turn took part just as harshly – yes, even more harshly – in the wicked oppression of those who were members of his own former class”

    Kuyper, p 40 –“The church’s second influence was through an organized ministry of charity, which in the name of the Lord – the single owner of all goods – demands that good be shared so that no man or woman in the circle of believers is allowed to suffer want or go without necessary apparel”

    Kuyper, p 67 —“Property belongs only to God; all of our property is on loan from him; our management only stewardship….An absolute community of goods is excluded in Scripture. However, Scripture excludes just as completely every illusion of a right to dispose of one’s property absolutely, as if one were God, without considering the needs of others”

    Kuyper, p 72—“The government should help labor obtain justice. Labor must also be allowed to organize itself independently in order to defend its rights….As for the other state aid – namely, the distribution of money – it is certain that such intervention is not excluded in Israel’s law giving, but there it is held to a minimum.”

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Kuyper, The problem of Poverty, p 42—-“Constantine’s conversion became, for the church, the signal to wed itself to the power of the world. From then on, as a consequence, the world came into the church. Instead of disciples who went without purse or food, richly endowed princes of the church housed themselves in magnificent palaces”

    But it’s not politics if you defend the American status quo against the European model? It’s not “politics” if you want to REturn to what was inherited but now seems to be lost? Like the old school Presbyterian slave owners, Karl Marx and John Wesley made an idol of their work. “1. God calls believers to work—even to boring work. 2. Such work can be done in the Lord’s name and with a good attitude. 3. Such work advances God’s glory. 4. Such work is a holy sacrifice. 5. God himself will accept it as an offering. 6. Christians should follow the leadership of their bosses, even unworthy ones. 7. Christ enables believers to bear the hardships of the workplace. 8. Jesus himself assigns the particular task to each laborer. 9. Successful performance of work brings glory to God the Father and to Jesus, God the Son. 10. Daily labor is a means God uses to sanctify believers. 11. Jesus accompanies them in their work. 12. Any work is noble. 13. God evaluates work, and even judges the motives with which it is done. 14. Work is part of Jesus’ easy yoke. 15. Work hastens the coming of the Lord. 16. Work comes to us not as a curse, but as part of God’s bounteous grace. 17. Work is a delight that brings Christians joy. 18. Work bring believers closer to heaven. 19. Work allows people to experience heaven on earth.”

  7. markmcculley Says:

    T S Eliot—“Capitalism creates people detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion: in other words a mob. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined.”

    “Was our society assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries? Do we have any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends?”

    “The organisation of society on the principle of private profit, as well as public destruction, is leading both to the deformation of humanity by unregulated industrialism, and to the exhaustion of natural resources. A good deal of our material progress is a progress for which succeeding generations may have to pay dearly.”

    Quietism is not apoliticial. It’s a defense of the arrangements which have come about with the passing of time. When Luther advised the killing of the peasants, Luther did not do so in the courts of ‘the church” (in those courts he said, i can do no other, because this is my body cannot mean only a sign). When Luther advised the killing of the Jews, Luther did not do so in the pulpit of the church. I mean, people knew who Luther was and all, but having different roles means being able to live a hybrid schizophrenic existence. On Sunday we know what “the minister” (the guy who hands out grace, which grace can be refused) said on the day before the Republican primary, but today “the minister” is not talking about the political nature of the future works we need for our salvation. And so the spirituality of the church is saved.

    Having snipers ready to kill Muslims or Christians involves some socialist redistribution of money. I mean you can do the wars off budget, but at some point somebody need to tax the poor in order to pay economically disadvantaged soldiers to go out there and try to kill people (with love and to the glory of God).

    Being a New Side / Old School guy is not that much different from being a two kingdom guy. In any case, you get to have two masters, and on the church side it’s “apolitical”, but what’s to keep anybody from being “new school’ on the side which ignores Jesus and attempts to translate what we want done politically into something which suits both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump?

    I am not quite sure that sprinkling some holy water on Republican rhetoric actually changed any result in South Carolina. Did it give another person permission to care and not to care? The poor you always have with you.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    published the day before the Republican primary: Rick Phillips—“Socialism promises to give a blessed life for free. Today, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders promises to give free education, free health care, and free vacation time, etc. (Of course, since government does not create wealth, these things are only free as the money to give them is taken from others.) As I listen to Senator Sanders, I wonder what incentive there would be to work hard. Why would I put myself through the ordeal of discipline, sacrifice, and sweat, much less risk-taking business endeavors, if I can have a wonderful life without working for it? ” – See more at:

    Taxation of all to redistribute to West Point is not socialism. Progressive taxation of the one percent rich is socialism.

    I wonder what motive there would be for Christians to be moral and do good works, if the only incentive was gratitude. If all Christians were already saints, what would be the point of purgatory in this life? if works were not needed for sanctification and final salvation, being thankful would not alone be reason enough to undergo our present probation of discipline, sacrifice and sweat. Sure, you can get into the covenant without working, but grace is what teaches you that if you don’t work enough you won’t stay in….

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Acts 23: 1 Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?” 4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?” 5 “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,” replied Paul. “For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. But this does not mean to leave the kingdom of creation, where there are many immoral people. And it also doe not mean in the visible church, because a visible church is always a mixed bag, and only people who are too certain of themselves would ever judge other people in the church. Otherwise you would have to leave the church. . Do not even eat with such persons, unless they are receiving the means of grace from ordained clergy, or working with you in the secular kingdom for the extermination of Muslims. But even then, when you eat together in the army, don’t forget that it’s not heaven and you are not eating as a Christian but as a secular American. Even though it’s not our business to judge outsiders, we must judge those who were born in the visible church, and keep them from coming to the table too soon, in our opinion. When we judge those who have been baptized in water and in the name of the Trinity, we are not judging those who are outside. And as long as we make a distinction between church and world, we can kill for the world. As long as we make a distinction between creation and redemption, we can kill other creatures as long as we do not do so in the name of redemption. As for sabbath, we do sabbath for both reasons. on a different day of course but the different day is the ceremonial part but the creation reason for sabbath proves that it’s moral, because the redemption reason maybe could be ceremonial, depending on what we decide and who we are talking to.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Herman Hoeksema—“In all attempts to show how a wholly corrupt tree may still bring forth good fruit, natural man, as he actually reveals himself in this world, is not totally depraved. The antithesis is obliterated and the chasm between the church and the world is removed, and the former is justified in making common cause with the latter in the things of this present life. with regard to this so-called civil righteousness, the term does not occur in the Reformed Confessions. The ConfessionS declare that the natural man is incapable of using natural light right even in things natural and civil, nay further, that in various ways man renders this light, such as it is, wholly polluted and holds it in unrighteousness.”

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Dan Berrigan
    I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder. how many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm … in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans—that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise.

    “Of course, let us have the peace,” we cry, “but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us not know disruption of ties.” And because we must protect that, and because at all costs—at all costs—our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost—because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace. There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace.”

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Can temporary residents submit to Putin and honor Putin, without being either a citizen of his regime or a rebel against his evil regime?

    I Peter 2: 7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving,
    The stone that the builders rejected—
    this One has become the cornerstone,
    8 and A stone to stumble over,
    and a rock to trip over.
    They stumble because they disobey the message.They were destined for this.

    9 But you are a chosen a chosen people
    in order to proclaim the praises
    of the One who called you OUT of darkness
    into His marvelous light.
    10 You were not born a people,
    BUT NOW you are God’s people;
    you HAD NOT received mercy,
    but NOW you have received mercy.

    I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Americans and the Russians and the Turks and all other pagans so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

    Honor everyone. Love the brothers. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. 18 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel

  14. markmcculley Says:

    When Jesus said that His kingdom is from another place, this is NOT Jesus saying that His kingdom is not on earth. But that’s the way you have to keep reading John 18 if you want to say that the kingdom from heaven is in your heart (or the sky) but not yet on earth in any way which would call treason fighting for another kingdom

    By saying that one kingdom is heaven in our hearts, they are left free to say that they also live in a second kingdom, which is not Satan’s kingdom but then again not exactly Christ’s kingdom either (except in the sense that Christ is creator but not in the sense that Christ is redeemer ???)

    Since Jesus Christ is the creator of everybody, this means that Jesus Christ is not the Lord over those who have not yet trusted in Him for redemption. Sure, he is Lord over them as creator but not Lord over them as Redeemer, so we need to be realistic and work together with unbelievers in not looking to Christ to get order in Geneva?

    Because even for Christians, Christ is Lord over us when it comes to our redemption but not the other stuff, which the Bible has nothing to say about anyway?

    If we were to agree that Jesus Christ is Lord over Christians even as Creator, that would mean that we are anarchists who want “redemption to swallow up creation”

    “Swallow up creation”. What does that mean? Would that make us universalists who think that all human creatures will be redeemed? Would that make us worship with the charitable assumption that all who are visible are “us” redeemed? Would that make us communists, with wives in common?

    Or does it mean that Christ’s kingdom is only in our individual consciences (and our ecclesial sacramental conscience) , but not in our “creatures together” conscience so we don’t have to be pacifists but are free to kill Christians from other nation-states?

  15. markmcculley Says:

    Jean Lassere—You could justify anything by such reasoning in these cases. Jesus did not reproach Pilate for his presence in Palestine so He sanctioned the Roman occupation, and all military occupations generally; implicitly He must then condemn all defensive wars against a foreign invasion. He did not reproach the Herodians for their servile collaboration with the Romans, so he sanctioned all collaborations, including the Vichy’s . He did not reproach the Pharisees for their hostility to the Romans; so He also sanctioned patriotic the invader. He did not reproach His disciple Simon for having offered violent resistance to the Romans, so He must have sanctioned all resistance movements. He did not ask Zacchaeus to give up his job as head of the publicans; so He approved of the Roman occupation, its system of collecting taxes, and implicitly a powerful nation’s right to colonise and exploit a weaker. He did not rebuke Pilate for having massacred the Galileans in the middle of their sacrifices (Luke 13:3)

    The writer of Hebrews praises the faith of Rahab without mentioning her being a prostitute, therefore we need to consult John Murray if we want to know why it was sin for the midwives to lie and why polygamy was sin for Abraham.

    Luke 3: 10 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him. 11 John replied to them, “The one who has two shirts MUST SHARE with someone who has none, and the one who has food MUST do the same.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 John told them, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized.” 14 Some soldiers also questioned him: “What should we do?” He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force…”

    As long as you argue from silence, do you ever know if there is a difference the soldiers John the Baptist talked to and Cornelius? Was any of them born in a covenant household? Do you know for sure what was not said, but not what was said?

    Acts 16: 7 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!” 29 Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the message of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.

    Does this text prove to us that it’s not necessary to talk about Christ’s death when we give the message of Christ’s Lordship? Does this text prove to us that it’s not essential to share the gospel with a household if you share the gospel with the head of the household? Does this text prove to us that it’s not necessary to teach the gospel to the people of a nation if its magistrate permits the baptism of that nation?

    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. (Treatise on Idolatry 19; Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:73)

    Since ‘the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered”, why not administer water to people after they believe the gospel? If the efficacy of God using water is not God giving faith in the gospel, why would water be needed before a person believes the gospel?

    Swords do not cut ears off. People do. And this proves that, even if you should not cut certain ears off, you should definitely always carry a sword. Be careful not to imitate Jesus, because Jesus had an unique mission, and was not a Christian, with a duty to kill for justice and support those who use violent force for the common good.

    Jesus cannot be our example, even though Jesus is human because Jesus is God . To act like Jesus did in that one unique case would be for us a ‘theology of glory”, because since the cross things have changed for us, and now the theology of the cross demands that we also take our turn when killing is needed.

    Now we have the duty to serve both kingdoms (which is what soldiers who were both Roman and Christian did when they killed Jesus). If being an unjust steward of another man’s taxes is an inherently immoral thing to do, there is no way that Jesus would ever use that metaphor in a parable. The important thing to remember here is that the regulative principle of Scripture does not apply to the secular kingdom. As long as something is natural and common among our neighbors… I told you not to associate with immoral people. But this does not mean to leave creation, because having a job (like an office to kill) was already good before there was ever curse or redemption from curse.

    I Peter 2 when He was reviled,
    He did not revile in return;
    when He was suffering,
    He did not threaten
    but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.
    He Himself bore our sins
    in His body on the tree,

  16. markmcculley Says:

    I Samuel 8: 6 When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the Lord. 7 But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. 8 They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. 9 Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them.”

    10 Samuel told all the Lord’s words to the people who were asking him for a king…. The king who will rule over you: He will take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots. …14 He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants…. you yourselves can become his servants. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you’ve chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you on that day.” 19 The people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We must have a king over us.

    Judges 9: 8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over

  17. 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

  18. markmcculley Says:

    View at

    Bonhoeffer happily bade farewell to a caution mistaken for sanctity and conversely the “perverse satisfaction in knowing that every person has failings and weak spots.”

    Bonhoeffer says he did not receive the Eucharist in the Roman Mass in the Benedictine chapel

    Bonhoeffer died a virgin. “I’ve already seen and experienced more of life than you have,” he wrote to a recently betrothed Eberhard, “except for one crucial experience that you have, which I still lack — but perhaps that’s precisely why I have already had more of ‘my fill of life’ than you as yet.”

    The Nazi Christians wanted above all a manly church — eine männliche Kirche — unified by the Teutonic ideals of racial purity, military prowess and national destiny. A suffering, compassionate effeminate Christian offended the Nazi mind. For “in a manly time of struggle,” exclaimed one Nazi pastor at a Frankfurt rally, “one cannot get by with effeminate and sweet talk of peace.

    Against the Reich Church vulgarians and their boast that Christ represents “the embodiment of all manliness,” Bonhoeffer was drawn to the Christ who sojourns in the world as a beggar among beggars, in places of exclusion and distress, in such a way as to conceal himself in weakness, not to be known. . . . incognito, as a beggar among beggars, an outcast among the outcast…a sinner among sinners.”

    Metaxas’s vehement refusal to consider Bonhoeffer’s ambiguous sexuality — and his need to place Bonhoeffer in the pantheon of manly evangelicals — reflects Metaxas’s own preference. The shape of Bonhoeffer’s sensibilities and desires subverted the Nazi ideals of masculine religiosity. His witness  formed an lived critique of Nazi ideology and Nazi theology.

  19. Mark Mcculley Says:

    n his famous To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate of 1520, Luther described his world-altering concept of the priesthood of all believers: Every lay Christian, no matter how humble, has as much right to interpret the Bible as any pope or priest. Luther was thus shifting the locus of authority from credentialed elites to ordinary believers, empowering them to define their own faith.

    In Europe, however, these populist ideas were quickly snuffed out. Kings and princes together with bishops and abbots cracked down on all who sought to apply them. The most dramatic case came during the German Peasants’ War of 1524–25, when farmers and laborers—inspired, in part, by Luther’s tracts—rose up against their secular and spiritual overlords. They were put down in a savage bloodletting that left more than 100,000 dead. Luther himself—fearing anarchy and furious at those who invoked his writings to better their lot—endorsed the slaughter in a lurid pamphlet titled Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. “Let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab” the peasants, he wrote. “It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.”

    Although the killings had started before Luther’s pamphlet appeared, he was strongly urged to retract his screed. He reluctantly prepared An Open Letter on the Harsh Book Against the Peasants, but, rather than disavow his position, he restated it in even starker terms. To those who said he was being unmerciful, he wrote, “this is not a question of mercy; we are talking of God’s word.” Luther was incapable of apologizing.

    Luther’s peasant tracts badly damaged his reputation not only among the peasants but also among many of his fellow reformers. The experience hastened his own retreat from his early radicalism into a reactionary intransigence in which he opposed all forms of resistance to injustice and maintained that the only proper course for a Christian was to accept and acquiesce. He took as his watchword Romans 13: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities.” It was the individual who had to be reformed, not society. Luther also believed in the concept of the “two kingdoms,” the secular and the spiritual, which had to be kept rigorously apart. Christ’s Gospel was to apply only in the spiritual realm; in the secular, the government’s role was to maintain order and punish evildoers, not to show compassion and mercy. The Lutheran churches in Germany and Scandinavia (like most established churches in Europe as a whole) became arms of the state, developing a top-heavy bureaucracy that bred complacency, discouraged innovation, and caused widespread disaffection.

  20. Mark Mcculley Says:

    In the recent eulogizing of Graham, there has been a tendency to gloss over his aggressive early evangelism. He was a strident anticommunist, a tireless critic of pornography, and a fawning supporter of presidents. While he insisted on integrating his crusades, he shunned the broader campaign for civil rights. Graham refused to participate in the 1963 March on Washington and dismissed Martin Luther King Jr.’s conviction that political protests could create a “beloved community” in which, even in Alabama, “little black boys and little black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls.” Graham declared that “only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” In both his obsequiousness toward the powerful and his opposition to social change, Graham was very much Luther’s heir.

  21. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Luther’s rebelliousness was, however, paradoxically joined to an opposition to real-world change. While rousing the masses, he refused to endorse measures that would concretely address their needs. This combination of incitement and passivity is apparent in contemporary American evangelicalism, with both its ceaseless agitation against the centers of power and its shunning of any real program to address the underlying sources of resentment and dissatisfaction. In accord with Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms, many evangelicals see the proper role of the government to be imposing order, not showing mercy.

    Donald Trump has followed this approach. On the one hand, he has played on the conviction of evangelicals that they are an oppressed minority who have been prevented from practicing their religion as they see fit. He has vigorously defended the right of the faithful to say “Merry Christmas,” of pastors to speak freely in their pulpits, of church-run hospitals and health-care organizations to refuse to offer contraceptives. He has also appointed judges committed to those principles. At the same time, Trump has carefully avoided taking on the powerful financiers and magnates who have helped to create the economic system that has inflicted such hardship on his base. Trump’s insults, invective, and mocking tweets against enemies real and perceived seem a long way from the Sermon on the Mount,

  22. Mark Mcculley Says:

    when the climate changes, a church has to change

    MLK—-The early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded popular opinion. It was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” By their example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide… Things are different now. Often a church is an arch defender of the status quo. The power structure of the average community is consoled by a church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are. (“Letter From Birmingham Jail”)

  23. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Every January 18th a million Russians make foreigners shiver and wonder. This year again, in temperatures ranging from -10°C in Moscow to -45°C in Yakutia, they plunged into a cross-shaped hole cut in the ice. The annual ritual, marking the baptism of Christ, was the top news item on Russian state television, mainly because one man taking part was President Vladimir Putin. Arriving dressed in the peasant attire of a sheepskin coat and felt boots, he stripped off, crossed himself and leapt into the icy waters of Lake Seliger….“I ask all heads and their deputies to take part in this organised event. You are all Orthodox people, are you not?”

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