Facebook Conversation - 5/8/2013
Below is the transcript of a 3-way Facebook conversation which occurred starting 5/8/2013. Facebook friend "X" posted a comment on the purpose of Civil government. Friends "P" and "E" chimed in to see if a more kingdom-oriented consensus could be reached.
Original post by X: All people have certain unalienable rights given by the Creator and the purpose of civil government is to protect an individual’s unalienable rights such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which includes the right to own private property and to associate with others for legitimate purposes
P: The only government which will preserve all of your God-given rights is the "Kingdom of God", which is at hand. "Civil" governments have been around since Cain's first city-state. Those governments created by men are there to punish the wicked (Rom 13). Who are the wicked? Those that choose to not to seek the Kingdom of God. In 1 Samuel 8 we are told that choosing the governments of men is a rejection of God.
Man's governments often start with haughty ideals like safeguarding your liberty, but history has shown time and time again how those governments are a poor substitute for God's kingdom by eventually making merchandise of those very same people they initially claim to want to protect.
Christ's instructions? Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... Mt 6:33
X: The only government which will preserve all of your God-given rights is the "Kingdom of God", which is at hand. "Civil" governments MUST BE REDEEMED.
X: When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, the people groan" (Proverbs 29:2). It's obvious from this scripture that God wants us involved in civil affairs. This is why the Bible speaks that the mountain of the Lord's house will be exalted.(Isaiah) The peoples of the world are exhausted and "groaning" under the rule of wicked people. Every form of government has been tried, and all have failed dramatically. There is no new government prototype to try, and the earth knows it. It's groaning and travailing for those who keep their promises of righteousness and justice. Most politicians pledge to fight corruption, but few have been successful. All promise justice, but none are able to bring it about. The world's thinking is disconnected, as few seem to realize that only the influence of the Kingdom of God can bring about a real change. Only He is the Desire of the nations (Haggai 2:7).
P: Knowing who commissioned the English translation of the Bible (King James) it always piques my interest when I see words like "authority" being quoted. In fact, the word "authority" in Proverbs 29:2 is translated "multiply" 74 times, "increase" 40 times, "much" 29 times, "many" 28 times... "authority" doesn't even make the list so falls into the 24 miscellaneous translations. So Pr 29:2 is telling us that when righteousness multiplies, the people are happy. When you have evil rulers, they mourn. I don't see that as any instruction to participate in "civil" government. It's actually a pretty self-evident statement.
In regard to authority, when Christ walked this earth, he told the Pharisees that he was going to take the kingdom away from them and give it to others who would bear fruit. (Mt 21:43) Later we see Him appoint a kingdom to His apostles. (Lk 22:29) But He instructed His apostles that this kingdom operated differently than those of the other nations. As the princes of His kingdom, the kingdom of God/Heaven, they were not to exercise authority one over the other. (Mt 20:25, Mr 10:42, Lk 22:25) His kingdom operates through faith, hope, and charity through the perfect law of liberty. This was the same style of kingdom that the ancient Israelites had thrived in for over 400 years. And it thrived for 1000 years after Christ. It is, in fact, the most prevalent form of government throughout the history of humanity. We do not need a *new* government prototype, but to repent, turn around, and find our way back to the model of God's kingdom that He intended from the very beginning.
Do you not think that the wicked people in power are there because the wicked masses put them there? Tyrants can only rule because the little tyrant within those who choose them gives them power. All that the groaning people need do is to repent from their wicked ways (e.g. choosing men to rule over them) and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I agree that the only hope for the salvation of people is the Kingdom of God, but it won't be found in the governments created by men who call themselves benefactors yet exercise authority.
E: '"Civil" governments MUST BE REDEEMED.' New wine, old wine skins. Abraham didn't try to redeem Ur. Nor Moses Egypt. Nor Jesus Rome. They simply (re)created alternate systems.
X: P: I do agree that we need but "to repent, turn around, and find our way back to the model of God's kingdom that He intended from the very beginning." I also agree with your view as stated, " All that the groaning people need do is to repent from their wicked ways (e.g. choosing men to rule over them) and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. " I suppose the quest I have in this is, are we to withdraw completely from society and have nothing to do with the current status quo?
X: is it then that we then simply bring influence to culture instead of having the Babylonian system influence us? I want to understand how my view can be transformed in this area and then how to affect it.
X: previous question to "E". thanks
E: I understand the state of disequilibrium. Good, proper churchian all my life. Delegate to state Republican convention while in college. Started listening religiously to Rush when he still did animal rights updates and caller abortions (pre-1990). Slowly realized all of it was worthless. State-licensed church was impotent to talk about real issues. And Rush refused to talk about deeper issues--like why churches and marriages were licensed by the state--while promoting his form of big government.
Was introduced to a network of people doing practical, grassroots things necessary for a decentralized government. Stuff churches did in America 300 years ago. Check out some of the links that helped me, especially the MP3s:
<profile page included the following links:>
Best answer I know for your question: It starts by forming serious relationships with other like-minded people such that you are able replace centralized government services in each other's lives. So the worse the centralized system gets, the less you and your community are effected (like Israel in the land of Goshen during the plagues before the Exodus). As this happens, the "city on a hill" that your life represents will become more inviting to others who start to question the sinking ship they currently "worship."
X: will listen. Thanks. Now, your last para. is probably one of the most simple to understand I have ever read and a great example of the wisdom that "comes from above". Blessings.
X: let me clarify...peaceable, easy to be entreated, without hypocrisy
P: Good questions! Hmmm - "society". Christ gave us parables like the wheat and the tares. We are told to live "in" the world but not "of" it. We read about the church in the wilderness. We are instructed to love our neighbors, and to love our enemies. We see God's kingdom being called priests among nations. All these indications seem to say that we remain among those who choose not to pursue the kingdom of God. Perhaps as salt, perhaps as examples and encouragement - light in the darkness, cities on a hill. How do we do that? "E"'s answer addresses that. Don't forsake the gathering together of brothers who are able to walk in one accord seeking the kingdom.
That being said, the apostles were marvelled at for being "unlearned and ignorant" men (Acts 4:13). They were accused of doing things contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, one Jesus (Acts 17:7). The were accused of robbing the temple at Ephesus (Acts 19). How do theses events thread together? The Greek word translated "ignorant" above is "idiotes". It seems easy to equate that to the English word "idiot", but they are of different word origin. "Idiotes" would better be translated as "non-participant". And "unlearned", from "aggramatos" more appropriately "unlettered" or "unnumbered". So we have unnumbered non-participators claiming that they have another king (Jesus). What about robbing the temple of Ephesus?
On Pentecost after Christ's death, every man (family) who proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ was cast out of the social welfare system of the Pharisees. That system was operated through the "temples". So "Christians" were both no longer eligible for those benefits, but also were no longer forced to contribute. They had been set free by Christ. As you get more and more Christians being removed from the social security system of the Temples, contributions will correspondingly decrease. Ergo, seemingly "robbing from the temples".
The early church, being kicked out of the social welfare systems of the Pharisees, had to immediately start providing for the needy of their society without "government's" help. That's OK - Christ showed them the way of "pure religion" to do so. That is how they were able to thrive for a thousand years even through the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. They had their own government - Christ's government. Even though they lived along side those who still belonged. This is a large factor in why they were persecuted.
The more you can visualize the two co-existent governments (God's/man's), the better able you are to direct attention from one to the other and re-prioritize the "status quo". All roads lead to Rome. But if you turn around, all roads lead to the kingdom of God. Direction is key.
Lots more - keep seeking!
X: Awesome, REALLY appreciate it!