Recovering the Reformed Confession on Resistance

Here's my discussion with pastor Aldo Leon of Pinelands PCA (southeast Miami area) on the Gospel On Tap podcast, episode 95. We talk about the historical, confessional Reformed view of Romans 13 (the "prescriptive office" view), and its meaning for the proper role and strictly limited jurisdiction of civil governance, and The Right Of Political Resistance (even when the government is not requiring us to sin).

See the timestamp outline below the video.


00:14  Pastor Aldo general intro

01:32  Topic intro
Discussed on Presbycast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC95p88UzKg

03:07  Gregory's bio https://sites.google.com/site/ideolog/

04:57  Gregory learned about the Reformed view of the role and limit of civil governance, and the Right of Political Resistance in F.A. Schaeffer's A Christian Manifesto
book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1581346921
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLDP8pocwo

06:21  Singleness https://thelaymenslounge.com/an-open-letter-to-christian-singles/

07:28  F.A. Schaeffer & R.C. Sproul on statism: https://www.ligonier.org/posts/statism-biggest-concern-future-church-america
08:12  The Main Question: Are we obligated by God to submit to everything civil government requires, unless it is requiring sin?
Why not?

09:48  Everything that happens is in God's providence. But the providential fact of someone in power is not God's "ordinance" in Romans 13.

13:50  Romans 13 says there is a God-ordained role/office of punishing actual civil wrongdoing; using coercion (the sword) against injustices (eg, murder and theft). This is the strict God-given limit on civil authority; civil government's actions outside that limited jurisdiction are illegitimate and sinful.

17:37  1 Corinthians 6:1-8 forbids taking civil disputes between Christians to unjust judges. If Romans 13 required submitting to the judgment of those who claimed civil power at the time, this would be a contradiction.

19:20  Reading Romans 13:1-7 from ESV

21:03  Clearly contrasting the wrong view and the right view:
The common wrong view is that we must submit to everything that is not sin required by whoever is, providentially, in power.
The right (Reformed) view is that we are only obligated to submit to what God prescriptively (morally) ordains: specifically, the lawful administration of civil justice. We are not prohibited from resisting tyranny or unjust laws, etc.

24:31  A "providential" view of the passage makes all civil power arbitrary; it amounts to nothing more than "might-makes-right".

26:40  When the false view is applied to and consistently worked-out in other spheres of God-ordained authority, such as home and church, then it would absurdly entail that abusive husbands and fathers are legitimate, and that false teachers could not be deposed from office.  
But God does not give us such unqualified "blank check" authority in any sphere.

31:32  Hosea 8:4 clearly teaches that existing civil governments can be contrary to God's will.

37:32  Hebrews 13:17 also speaks like Romans 13, in an indicative way (stating a fact), and it is understood as referring to a moral prescription for church office.

39:24  Question: How should we understand exhortations in 1 Peter about suffering? Or the appeal to Jeremiah 29 about promoting Babylon's peace, etc?

43:51 Correction!
Gregory meant to say John Milton wrote Paradise Lost (not, 'Divine Comedy' by Dante). But see Milton's entry in the bibliography.

44:09  The New Testament exhortations concerning suffering are about how to suffer in Christ (when it's unavoidable). We are not commanded to suffer, or prohibited from seeking to avoid suffering.

48:02  The Reformed Political Resistance Theology annotated bibliography - https://tinyurl.com/RefoPoliResistBib

50:42  Providence cannot be the basis for moral duty, because everything that occurs, even sin, is God's providence. If we shouldn't resist the government because of God's providence, wouldn't resistance to government be equally God's providence? So how can the duty to submit be coherently based on the fact of a government existing by God's providence? (It cannot).

55:17  Saying that any human authority, when they aren't requiring sin, has an otherwise unqualified or unlimited jurisdiction and scope of authority --such a view is idolatrous.

58:40  Question: Why have so many NAPARC (conservative, confessionally Reformed) churches neglected the historical, confessional Reformed "prescriptive office" view?
It is not taught in most Reformed seminaries. Why?
Possible contributing factors: pietistic "personal experience" focus, progressive/liberal accommodationist/syncretist identifying God's kingdom with the state, scholastic nature-grace dualism.
See Gregory's related post: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/2022/01/reformed-biblical-theological.html

1:18:33  Elements of feminizing men and feminizing worship also contribute

1:27:23 Gregory's closing thoughts:

a. Westminster Confession 20.4 affirms the prescriptive office view in speaking of "lawful" power. (And the other Reformed confessions have similar language.)
b. see forthcoming info at Gregory's blog on authors from the bibliography about the Reformed View of The Right of Political Resistance. Preface here: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/2022/08/the-right-of-political-resistance.html

1:31:18  Pastor Aldo's closing thoughts:
God's Word tells us what the proper role and limited jurisdiction of civil governance is. The church's role is to declare and minister that Word in witness to the world. And believers individually may testify before those who claim power to the truth of His Word.
Also, if a believer votes for a candidate to civil office, they should discern whether the candidate has a commitment to actual limited government, especially locally where local officers can serve to oppose higher levels of tyranny.

*Important caveat: while some Reformed authors did teach an erroneous 'providential' view, that view was rejected by the Reformed churches in their confessions.

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