Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Submitting to Authorities

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

1 Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν.

This is one of those verses that many of us choke on. After all, here in America we can point to all kinds of corruption in the government. Everyone has that and everyone can find governing authorities that clearly have beliefs that are antagonistic to the Christian. For example, a wildly pro-choice elected official should cause problems of conscience to the sincere believer. Can't we just ignore a President who holds beliefs that are clearly contrary to Scripture?

But we have to deal with this verse. I find the phrase αἱ δὲ οὖσαι interesting. This is a participle that is broken up by the weak adversitive δὲ. Basically, what this reads is "those that are." In other words, anyone who is in power is there because God put him there.

A lot of American Christians have problems with Barack Obama, and legitimately so. I have my issues with his politics. Yet he was instituted by God. Taking this further, Nero was instituted by God. Stalin and Hitler were instituted by God. Their positions were established by Him and they were put there by Him for His purposes. To think less would be to grossly understate His sovereignty. 

I realize that this philosophically borders on theodicy in a way, but we cannot ignore this verse. When we reach a tension like this we have two choices. We can say that God must fit the way we think things should be, which is what a lot of people do. Or, we can change our view of God based on Scripture. That is the way we should do it. That's easy to write, but difficult to do.

No comments: