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It is common in conservative Christian circles to say that the State is "a Divine Institution."  Motivating this rhetoric is a desire to distance ourselves from those who are given to change and revolution (Proverbs 24:21 [cf. Psalm 89:34]). 

But I suspect that the theologians who have made this phrase popular have not engaged in a "Theonomic" Reconstruction of Political Science (that is, one based on the Bible alone, as containing God's Law (Theo + nomy) for every area of life).  Rather, seeking to gain or maintain "respectability" in the eyes of "powerful" institutions and "influential" scholars, these Christians have merely "baptized" Secular (albeit conservative) Humanism.  Other Vine & Fig Tree papers have attempted to show that the leading Reformed and conservative theologians have been guided by Natural Law and Roman Law principles inherited from the renaissance of Greco-Roman "classicism" at the time of the Reformation (and not a strict or self-conscious "Theonomic" approach).  Let us briefly review the reasons why it cannot be said that the State is "a Divine Institution."

It is clear that the actions of the State are in God's hands (Proverbs 21:1; Ezra 7:6); we must affirm God's total predestinating power in history.  But when God, in His secret decree, commands Assyria to destroy sinful Israel, we cannot excuse Assyria for its actions.  To be sure, the State is God's sanctified deacon (Isaiah 13:3), the king His anointed christ (Isaiah 45:1), but God will punish them for their rebellion (Isaiah 10:5-14).  In this vein, Paul calls the State God's "minister" (Romans 13:4).  Tornadoes, famine, slavery, and the State all serve God's ultimate purpose.  Regardless of the evil intentions of the State, God "orders" (Romans 13:1) it, that is, makes its actions conform to His predestined order.

God has given the State a command to execute His judgments upon the sinful (Isaiah 10:6) and uses the State to order the lives of the spiritually enslaved (Galatians 4:3; Acts 7:6); shall we now say that the State is a perpetual good, a permanent and institutionalized blessing which we should all want to see continued?  Does God want the world always to be rebellious so that He can raise up an Assyria to chastise us?   Does God forever want His people to be irresponsible so that the State must educate their children and care for the poor?  I don't know anyone who would answer these questions "yes," and yet that is why, according to the Bible, we have the State.

As followers of God's commanding Word, we must steadfastly maintain that God nowhere in His inscriptured Law commands us to form an empire or a State.  We must agree with James Benjamin Green who, in his exposition of the chapter on the Civil Magistrate in the Westminster Confession of Faith rightly observes (concerning Romans 13:1), "It is not meant that God directly ordained the state by saying to man, Thou shalt set up a government or organize a commonwealth."

Some Kind of "Christian Anarchism"?

This casts doubt on the notion that the State is "a Divine Institution."   If it sounds like advocating "anarchy" we need only remember the root meaning of the word and then ask ourselves, if we be "anarchists," who are the "archists"? 

There is, of course, no such thing as "anarchism."  The word comes from two Greek words, a, "without," and archon, a "ruler."  Every man follows a ruler or ruling principle, even if it is himself.  The chaos we picture when we think of "anarchy" is actually the chaos of too many "archists," each competing for power.  For the Christian, Jesus Christ is our "Archist" (Col. 1:18; Acts 3:15).

But speaking in earthly terms, Christians are "anarchists."  They do not grant the legitimacy of rule outside of Christ, and seek to overthrow it, not by revolution, but by regeneration.  The reason for this struggle between statism and Christianity is not hard to find:

Jesus Christ explicitly forbids us to engage in statist dominion.  In so doing, He calls us to what the world will describe as "anarchism."  Pointing out the lust for power and rule (Gk: archein) which characterizes Humanistic statists, our Lord places this method of social order outside the parameters of Christian life (Mark 10:42-45), thus placing His followers in the ranks of those who oppose the "archist" principle.  Our view of the future (which some have called "Postmillennialism") is thus explicitly "anarchistic," in that it looks forward to the day when Christ shall have put down all "archists" (I Corinthians 15:24-25).

This is not to deny that violent rebellion against demonic powers (Jude 8-10) and their earthly followers (Isaiah 14:4-12,13-22; Ezekiel 28:2-13,14-19; Revelation 13:4; 16:14) is forbidden (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Titus 3:1), as we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21; Rev. 17:14).  Men without the Spirit cannot function without the structuring that even the demonic State (ultimately controlled by God) provides.   Regeneration, not political strategies, will mend the torn fabric of life.

This sounds exceedingly unrealistic, if not heretical.  How would society operate without the State?  Briefly, let us explore the workings of

God's Supernatural Government

God's basic government is called "Providence."  He rules all things by His Word, and the universe is subject to His decree.  When men are obedient to the inScriptured obligations of God's Law-Word, they are in harmony with Providence and their lives are blessed.  Social order is preserved and by God's ordination, man's obedience reverses the curse on the earth and "natural" prosperity ensues, with lingering effects on future generations.  This is true "Government."   Idealistic to be sure.  But God's Word, the Bible, tells us we can trust in His Government.

For those readers who are not familiar with Covenant Theology and with the implications of Theonomy (God's Law), let us take a minute to examine

How God Governs the governors

We know that the hearts of political leaders are in the hand of the LORD; He turns them wherever He wants (Proverbs 21:1).  Why does He turn them where He does?  Is there any reason to His actions?  While we can't plumb the depths of God's decree, He has given us much which helps us understand the progress of history.  He tells us something about His plan in order to bring greater obedience in our lives (Deuteronomy 29:29).

In general we can say that God has political leaders do what He thinks is necessary in order to bring about the extension of Christ's Kingdom on earth (Ezra 7:27; John 19:11; Ezekiel 21:27).  When considering any particular society we must consider the operation of God's Law in that land.  When citizens are Godly and obedient to Biblical Law, their property is protected by God, their work is fruitful, and they are not tyrannized by a State.  When a people take care of the poor, teach their children, and effect the mending of the torn fabric of life as commanded in God's Law, then as a result God blesses them and gives them political freedom and social stability.  The operation of Deuteronomy 28 and parallel passages is foundational in this respect.   Take time now to read this passage with an eye for political implications. 

All the benefits promised by politicians are in fact the benefits of the Providence of God's Grace in honoring His Covenant to bless obedience in His People.  Let us repeat this important truth:  All the benefits promised by politicians are in fact the benefits of the Providence of God's Grace in honoring His Covenant to bless obedience in His People.  It is the responsibility of individual Families to care for the poor, educate the young, employ the solitary, encourage the fearful, heal the infirm, and protect the weak.  When these things are done in obedience to Biblical Law, social prosperity is assured by God through His Providence.  It is the Covenantal operation of God's Law in society.  His Law commands service and sacrificial restoration, not political domination and power (Micah 4:1-5).  His Law promises peace and abundance, and He achieves this through the operation of the Spirit-Cloud; Christ the King is with us in the Spirit-Comforter, and His Dominion is filling God's Temple (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:9; John 16:7-11).

What the Old Testament political structures taught in picture, Christ achieves in reality.   The desire for a State was contrary to Biblical Law (I Samuel 8), but God used the tyrannical kings of Israel to set the People's eyes on a future King (Psalm 72).  The future King is now the present King (Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:31-36).  Through His Spirit He makes His People obedient to God's Law (Hebrews 8:10; Romans 8:4) assuring the Blessings of Providence.  This is God's Government.

But Satan has other ideas.  Let us now consider the Biblical evidence that the State, far from being God's prescriptive will for our lives, is in fact a demonic, Satan-inspired replacement for God's Providential government and His Law-Word for Man.

Guardians of Empire

The State is organized, institutionalized, theft (Micah 3:9-4:5).  Its impetus is pride (Isaiah 14), the desire to be applauded and honored by men (Isaiah 14:18), to profit from their sin (Proverbs 22:7), and still be called a "public benefactor" (Luke 22:25-27). 

But Satan has other ideas.  A survey of the "powers" behind Empire suggests that the State, far from being God's prescriptive will for our lives, is in fact a demonic, Satan-inspired replacement for God's Providential government and His Law-Word for Man.

E M P I R E   vs.   P R O V I D E N C E
The State and the War of the Powers Against Supernatural Government

From what we have already seen, it seems clear that the State is in fact a creation of Satan and not of God.  Of course, Satan himself is a creature of God, and God's predestinating power extends over all of Satan's machinations (Romans 13:1). 

Satan's statist deception began almost immediately.  In the Garden of Eden virtually his first line was "ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).  What does it mean to be a "god"?  If you survey the Old Testament it soon becomes apparent.   The whole program of evolutionary Secular Humanistic statism (boy there's a mouthful!) is an outgrowth of this original temptation.  Satan's temptation is to imitate the government of God, with every man being his own god, surrounding himself with the forces of cosmic powers. 

Throughout the history of fallen man (and fallen angels) we see a continual conflict between the urge to political power and the obedience of Family service.  While the hopefully-repentent Adam was trying to build a Family, Cain murders his brother and then leaves the Family simultaneously to wander and to build an empire (Gen 4:17).  There seems to be the influence of evil angels in Gen 6, or at least tyrannical statists creating the conditions of empire, so God must intervene and save the Patriarchy of Noah.   Then comes Nimrod (Gen 10:8-12) who, if Gen 6 is to be seen as a reference to evil angels (compare Gen 6:2 with Job 1:6 and 2:1), may also have had contact with Satan and his henchmen.  His name literally means let us rebel and draws interesting connections with occult powers (see I Sam 15:23, Rev. 18:23).  Let us examine the Babylonian conspiracy of Satan.

Evolutionary statism is often discussed in the Scriptures under the label of Babylon.   The evil angels seem to have been particularly evident at the formation of Babylon, which not only has had a domineering influence in the life of the people of God throughout the Old Testament, but is the very epitome of statism and empires in the New (in Revelation 12-13 and 17-18).

The State after Nimrod

After Nimrod, Babylon becomes a continual source of irritation (to put it mildly) to the People of God.  Babylonian Statism, in whatever nation it has "evolved," is a continual threat to the Spiritual growth of the Godly.  The Patriarch Abraham has to fight the kings from Babylon and nearby empires ("Shinar" = Babylon (Genesis 14:1,9)).  Eventually, the Patriarchal line ends up in the demonic empire of Egypt, a result probably of faithlessness, in any case, an undesirable fix.

It would seem that the Exodus is a type of Christ's work.  Christ leads His people out of slavery.  God did not actually lead the Israelites out of slavery, He merely protected them as children under age (Galatians 4:2).  While the evil angels were busy inciting men to form empires, God through His angels formed a protective church-state for the Israelites (Galatians 3:19).  In this way the Israelites had their lives structured and were kept from the empires being established by the fallen angels. (At least the Israelites could have been kept, if they were willing.  They were not. Acts 7:53 (cf. vv 30, 38).)  The involvement of angels in the government of man, as contrasted with the Government of Christ, is set forth in Hebrews 1 and 2. 

It seems the path of man in the OT was continually downward.  It was sad enough that God had to treat the children of Israel as slaves in the time of the exodus, and, through the angels, set up a rigid system of government which often paralleled the systems of the fallen angels (Galatians 4:3-8-11).  God's condescension was increasingly demanded until Israel succumbed to the nations around them and wanted a full State (I Samuel 8).   God's permissiveness in allowing the formation of a State is both to teach them about the Messiah ("pedagogical law" is thus an appropriate term) and to judge them.  They never learned the truth of Isaiah 33:22. 

Satan hasn't either, and continues to attempt to gain the authority which is God's.   But he and his demonic legion, although active in the empires and States of the world (Revelation 16:14), have been defeated by Christ, and have been disarmed with respect to those who have the Holy Spirit.  As the Gospel is spread and the Holy Spirit poured out upon more and more men, the influence of the fallen angels will wither.

The key word in Romans 13 describing power and "the powers" is #1849 in the back of your Strong's concordance.   Exousia.  Let us look at some of the occurences of this word. 

Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32,36:  Jesus' Word has true (Godly) power
Matthew 8:9; Luke 7:8:  the soldier is under the power of the empire deriving a subordinate power from the State.
Matthew 28:18
Luke 4:6:  Satan tempts Christ with power.  Satan says that Christ could get a lot more done by "taking dominion in politics."  Satan says he is in charge of politics and puts whoever he wants into office.
Luke 12:11; 20:20; 23:7:  Mention of pagan States and their power.
John 19:10:  Pilate says he has power.   Christ says God's power is greater than Pilate's (Satan's) v.11.
I Corinthians 15:24:  All of Satan's powers will be conquered by Christ because
Ephesians 1:21:  in His resurrection Christ was exalted above them all.
Ephesians 2:2:  The prince of the powers of the atmosphere (i.e., between earth and the invisible heaven) now works in those who do not have the Spirit.
Ephesians 3:10:  The people of God are to tell the powers that the jig is up.  It's time to serve.
Are you looking up these verses?
Ephesians 6:12:  We fight against these powers
Colossians 1:13:  because we are no longer in the empire of darkness, but in the empire of Christ (a Spiritual empire, of course), and because
Colossians 1:16:  even Satan and the fallen angels were created by God (they are creatures, not creators).
Colossians 2:10:  Therefore Christ is the head of the powers now, and has
Colossians 2:15:  disarmed them.
I Peter 3:22:  They are all subject to Christ.
Romans 8:38-39:  It's all over.  ("creature" in v. 39 is translated "ordinance" in I Pet 2:13.)
Nevertheless, because men without the Spirit have no power to live without the structure provided by the powers, we are not to engage in revolutionary deconstruction (sometimes called "Christian Reconstruction" Romans 13:1-4; Titus 3:1) nor treat the fallen angels lightly (2 Peter 2:10).  Men must remain in bondage until they are placed in Families (Psalm 68:6) and given the Gospel so that they can be delivered by the Spirit from these slave-systems (Galatians 3:19,21, 23,24-4:11).  We cannot eliminate tyrannies unless we have the faith to replace them with Providence.

The State:  A "Divine Institution"?

The New Testament seems to confirm our suspicions from the Old Testament: that Satan gives incentive to men to form the State, and that men come to worship both the emperor (or empire) and the fallen angel(s) behind it:  Revelation 12 and 13 are compelling, esp 13:4, where the dragon is Satan (12:9) and the beast is Empire (cf. also chapters 17 and 18 for the economic and religious links.)

The book of Revelation is particularly unavoidable because the entire conflict is (a) between the Body of Christ and the State, and (b) also of cosmic dimensions. 

James B. Jordan has made these comments on the involvement of angels in society and on matters patriarchal:

"The most basic government is self-government and family or household government.   This situation seems almost anarchistic to the modern centralist mind, and it could degenerate into anarchy. . . .  The proper solution to such disorder is to recognize that the LORD is King, and for good men to pray for and exhort others to recognize Him as such and to bow to His gracious Law.  Preaching and missionary work are given as cures for such disorders.  The Christian may relax in this because he knows that the eternally active God is in control of the situation, and that His angels are present guiding the affairs of men.  If judgment is needed, He is capable of executing it."

Christian "Anarchism" is Our Goal  | |  All Evil is Predestined by God   | |  Pray for a Servant's Understanding  | |  Angels and God's Throne of Government  | |  Stars and Idolatry  | |  Why the State Always Encourages Immorality  | |  Unlucky 13 -- Romans 13, Revelation 13 and Isaiah 13  | |   A Roman's-Eye View of Romans 13  | |  "Principalities and Powers"  | |  Lakes of Fire in "Smoke-Filled Rooms"  | |  Romans 13: The Burden is on the Archists  | |  Taxation, Representation, and the Myth of the State  | |   Why the State is not a "Divine Institution"   | |  Angels and Autarchy  | |  95 Theses Against the State   | |   Here is what a Christian Anarchist looks like after he has joined The Christmas Conspiracy.

The Christmas Conspiracy




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