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Posted: 07/03/09

Can A Christian Righteously Rebel against Government? (Romans 13)


Dr. David M. Berman                                                                           

Let me start by saying that you must read this entire article to understand my position on this question. The following passage has been used by many to teach that Christians must submit to all government. In fact during the Katrina disaster many Pastors worked with FEMA in what they call "Clergy Response Teams." If Marshall law is declared, this team is to be used by government to keep the people from rebellion (Source K.S.L.A news). It is interesting how the government decries Christian involvement in public policy while at the same time they want to use pastors to facilitate tyranny. I would take time to write about these pastors who would cooperate with government tyranny but that is for another article.

The justification for the mindset that teaches submission to government is found in the following passage:

Romans 13:1-4 "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

This passage by itself seems to support the afore mentioned mind set, however we will see that it does not as we apply proper hermeneutic skills in understanding Scripture. Let us first understand that this passage makes it clear that Christians are to follow the laws of government in general. We are not to fight against lawful moral laws that do not violate as our founding documents say "natural laws or the laws of natures God." This is what our founders understood very well and so they gave us understanding of "inalienable rights." These rights are "self evident." Due to the brilliance of our founders they enshrined this truth in our founding documents so that we would have a nation of laws and not men. Many well meaning Christians believe that we are to submit to tyrannical leaders based on this passage. They are simply wrong. Legitimate government is there to reward good and to punish evil. It is not there to punish good and to reward evil.

The question is; "Can a Christian righteously rebel?" The answer is no! It is never acceptable for a Christian to rebel. First Samuel chapter fifteen says "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."Having said that, in order to really answer this question we must first define rebellion. What is Rebellion?  Is it simply disobedience of an authority? The answer is this; Rebellion is the disobedience of a lawful order and a lawful authority. That is what rebellion is. Two examples would be:

1)      Refusing to stop when a police car is behind you with lights on.

2)      Refusing to answer a question when testifying in court (not including 5th amendment).

What is rebellion not? Rebellion is not disobedience of an unlawful authority or an unlawful order. No government has the right to give unlawful or ungodly orders. Those who believe that Romans 13 somehow gives a right to government to give ungodly and unlawful orders to its citizens are terribly mistaken. Pastors that help the government disarm the citizenry, are acting against the Constitution and the natural law of self defense. Government is not given a right to tyrannical despotic rule. Let's look at the following passage to gain more understanding of this:

Acts 5:27 "And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them"

Here we see that Peter and other Apostles were brought before the council to answer charges that they have disobeyed the authority's demand that they stop preaching salvation through Jesus Christ.

Acts 5:28 "Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us"

The authority makes it clear that they were commanded not to teach in Jesus' name. Not only were they accused of disobedience of a direct order but also of sedition in filling Jerusalem with the doctrine of Christ. The following response of Peter should give all Christians the understanding of Romans 13:1-4.

Acts 5:29 "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men"

"We ought to obey God rather than men." This is the supreme principle concerning the question at hand.  We must realize that Peter was not in rebellion against them. It is impossible to be in rebellion against an unlawful or ungodly order. If the order is ungodly we are obligated to disobey it. We are only in rebellion if the order is lawful and comes from proper authority. God does not contradict himself. He did not command us to obey him and at the same time command us to obey things that men tell us to do which oppose his moral law. For example we are given the right and responsibility to raise our own children in the Lord. We have every right to disobey any action of government that seeks to indoctrinate our children with ungodly teachings!

Our founding fathers fought against the tyranny of the King of England because they realized that the King was in violation of our inalienable rights.

The Declaration of Independence says when speaking of the violation of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:

"Any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute New Government." This means that if a government starts doing things that destroy people's rights, rather than protecting their rights, it is their right to change or destroy that form of government, and to institute a new one that will protect their rights"

The Declaration of Independence lists the violations of God given rights. Here is the list verbatim:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Our founders realized the people have rights and that government can't use Romans 13 as an excuse for despotism. Christians must:

1)      Resist tyranny

2)      Not allow the government to indoctrinate our children.

3)      Stand against any attempt to infringe of the second amendment.

4)      Work to establish a government of the people for the people by the people.

5)      Disobey any law that is ungodly.

6)      Preach the gospel and all Biblical truth no matter what the law says.

7)      Uphold the covenant of the Constitution above all attempts to make it relative to modern liberal/socialist/statist thinking.

8)      Never put personal money gain above the principles of Constitutional government.

9)      Be willing to speak out in the face of persecution.

10)   Be able to articulate the Christian world view.

11)   Protect babies from the slaughter of abortion.

12)   Stand for what marriage is; a man and a woman.

Remember this; The Constitution is a covenant. The states were set up under this covenant. The rules of the covenant are what we agreed to. When the federal government violates the covenant, they have no right to expect to be obeyed and we must not obey them. There is no difference between the federal government violating the lawful contract (Constitution) and a common thief who commits fraud and breach of contract.

I have said this before and now I will say it again:

"One must never put his trust in the government for his own safety, nor the safety of his family. It is not in the nature of government to regard its citizens as more important that itself. Government when limited by the original Constitution of the United States of American can be a blessing. However, without the principled citizenry taking responsibility for itself all government leads to tyranny!"

What Obama, the Democrats, and the willing weak Republicans are doing is the same as many of the things the King of England was doing. They are enemies of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A final word Resistance against tyranny is not rebellion. It is righteous!




Distributed by

By Rev. Dr. David M. Berman Th.D.

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Resisting the government
Posted On: 12/01/11 10:30:49 AM Age 0, CA
I agree with you Dr. Berman. I believe that there is a ground swell for revolution. This revolution isn't like the last one where we formed a whole new type of government, but a house cleaning. I believe that house cleaning starts in the church and repentance and revival that will unite the country to values and God given rights that we have so they can be taken back. Also this needs to be preached from the pulpit and taught in our churches and our schools, it should start in our christian schools first.

Posted On: 03/04/11 05:46:48 AM Age 0, IA
I did not vote this corrupter into office. However, that does not mean we are not entitled to protest. Look at Helmuth Hubener. He never lifted a firearm, nor dagger, but sent out chain letters denouncing the Nazi regime. He was killed for this, but that does not mean that for speaking out against Hitler he was cast into the fiery Gehenna. We have the right to rebel; we are God's people! Letting the Obama administration stamp out religion is against our right of free worship! Evil was created through the sins of Adam and Eve, and is not meant to steamroller our beliefs, but to sow compassion and love for others, and if we let our government destroy us, what good are we than the destroyer themself? Peter Clark

Resist How?
Posted On: 05/10/10 02:30:47 AM Age 39, NV
Reid Ferguson, Very well put. Dr. Berman, Sorry but your argument is lacking. There may be an argument to be made but you didn't make it.I'm wondering what you mean when you say "resist". How does one "resist" the judgement that is coming down on this country. I'm not be sarcastic either, it is a serious question. The way we are being taxed in this country is unconstitutional. Try "resisting" the IRS and see where that gets you. In prison with Dr. Hovind, that's where you will be. What else would there be to do when in prison except preach the gospel and try and win some souls for the coming Kingdom. How do you "resist" being thrown in one of those fema camps that you mentioned. "Resist" and you will either be shot and/or put in jail(or fema camp) anyway. Then what will you be capable of? I guess I just don't understand how you intend to resist when you will be under armed guard. I'm not saying I have the answers but for anyone that thinks they can successfully fight our military is out of their mind. Completely! There are a lot of people fighting against the things that are unconstitutional and have been doing so for many, many years but things still continue to get worse and worse. So do I have doubt.Yes I do. And because of this, It is hinted at that guys like me are wimpy, treasonous and a host of other things. I believe that one reason that the revolution was successful is because it was fought on this soil. I believe that if our founding father's would have tried this back across the pond, they would have been crushed! in much the same way the French Revo played out. I pray that we think long and hard about what is being stirred up in certain movements across this country!!! Come quickly Lord!!!! Come quickly!!!! Gary Reece

God agrees with covenant
Posted On: 02/10/10 11:14:41 AM Age 46, NH
God does not have to agree with a particular covenant for the covenant to be binding. As long as the covenant is not against His Word. Are you saying that when to people make and agreement that is not particularly written in the bible that God does not expect them to keep their word?...with respect, that is absurd...The founding documents make it clear what the agreement is, and those who violate it must be resisted! Resistance to tyranny is correct and honorable....submission to it is not proper and free men will not allow it.

Yes but...Response to Dr. Berman
Posted On: 07/08/09 08:17:57 AM Age 55, NY
Dear Dr. Berman - you are quite correct that you did not say the founding documents were sacred - but I must confess your dealt more with them than Scripture in making a point which you stated was to be based upon Biblical hermeneutics. That aside, i fear we can suffer from a presupposition which you brought up in your response. To think in terms of our Constitution as a "covenant" has its inherent problems. The biggest problem being that even IF we treat it as such - it is purely unilateral. There is no reason to believe God ever agreed to this covenant. We have no Biblical basis for binding Him to such a covenant nor to believe God has ever entered into such a covenant with any other nation in the way we suppose He is connected to this one. The Bible does not sanction our representative republic as God's chosen or preferred governmental system. That is not to say there is anything wrong with our system per se - indeed, it is preferable (in my opinion) to all other man-made governmental structures. But He did not impose it upon us as a people. That it is founded in GREAT measure upon Biblical principles is laudable and agreeable in every place in which it is true. However it is also human, fallible, alterable and fails utterly apart from men and women who individually are submitted to Christ as King. It cannot long stand apart from a redeemed constituency and thus we are seeing its tragic demise in our day. But the answer is not better government nor more precise rules for civil disobedience - it is in the Church recovering Her true relationship to Her God, and walking in true fidelity to Christ. We must change those which comprise society, if we would change society itself. There is not a single New Testament word relating to somehow opposing the Roman tyranny under which it was penned. Tyranny which you cited opposition to not only as a Christian right, but duty. This runs counter to the Bible's current in my opinion. We DO oppose tyranny - but first and foremost - the tyranny of sin governing men's hearts. Reid Ferguson.

Yes but...response to Mr. Burwell
Posted On: 07/08/09 08:02:12 AM Age 55, NY
I am sorry Mr. Burwell, but I have no concept of what you mean by "hiding behind [my] freedom." That there have been horrific and despotic acts perpetrated by the likes of the Nazi regime and others is without question. That their godless foundation is behind such acts is also without question. But what we are discussing here are the precise parameters which the Bible places upon our requirement to rebel at times and what that looks like. I simply make the observation that never were God's people permitted or instructed to take up arms against their captors (be it Egypt, Babylon, etc.) simply on the grounds they were under tyrannical rule. We need to be careful upon what basis we make such decisions. I believe the Scripture is more restrictive regarding our "rights" under such conditions than we are used to and/or comfortable with. Scripture must be the supreme authority in such cases, not our personal political views, nor even those of our own precious founding documents. Reid Ferguson.

yes but????
Posted On: 07/07/09 08:11:27 AM Age 45, NH
In no way did I say the founding documents are as Sacred Text however they are the covenant that this nation was founded on. Since they are the agreement and the federal government as well as states are violating the agreement, it is reasonable to state so. There is nothing in the Constitution that violates the bible because they are based on the biblical world-view.

Freedom to be Wrong
Posted On: 07/05/09 09:30:29 PM Age 46, PA
You have the freedom to be wrong for now. What exactly will you say when the government takes away any right you have but to see your family die for your faith? When they come in and take your children to "re-education", subject your wife to the army as a whore and force you to server their whims or die? You think my example extreme? IT HAPPENED in sight of my own GRANDMOTHER. She had to get pregnant to avoid being made a hooker for Hitler's Army. She never saw her husband again. God expects you to be a man and do what is right. Stop hiding behind your freedom and your twisted understanding of the Bible. It was men of God that established this nation and men of God will fight to keep it free. Patrick Burwell,

Posted On: 07/04/09 01:37:33 PM Age 65, OH
There are many other examples of this in the scriptures. God sent Israel to Egypt and they were to obey Joseph and the Pharaoh. But when the Pharaoh told the midwives to kill the male children of Israel, they disobeyed Pharaoh and God blessed them for it. In fact God blessed all of Israel for disobeying Pharaoh and God brought curses on Egypt for obeying the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh had tried to kill all the male children of Israel which would have destroyed all of Israel; but instead the Pharaoh had pronounced his own judgment by this act, when God killed all the firstborn of Egypt instead. The children of Israel went free for disobeying the King of Egypt. - Lou Newton

Yes, but...
Posted On: 07/04/09 10:37:55 AM Age 55, NY
While there is much to agree with in the good Dr.'s article, I am afraid it suffers from several errant presuppositions. If he were to reduce his argument to the two basic Biblical principles which are modeled and articulated throughout Scripture - we'd be OK. But using the founding documents of the USA as though THEY have some sort of sacred authority, or must be correct in every way - skews the issues significantly in my opinion. What we see repeatedly in the Biblical model is: a. If any authority (be it a person or governmental body) REQUIRES anyone to do anything God's Word forbids us to do - we MUST disobey the authority. b. If any authority(be it a person of governmental body) FORBIDS anyone to do what God's Word REQUIRES us to do - we MUST disobey the authority once again. However, to extend this beyond the Scriptural bounds, would leave men like Joseph or Daniel serving under clearly despotic governance unable to function in the norm - which they clearly did - with the exceptions noted above. When Israel is captured by the Babylonians, they are judgmentally brought under despotic rule by a pagan government and the prophetic word to them through Isaiah in particular is in fact to submit and NOT fight. These kinds of examples must be considered, and our near canonization of America's founding documents must be rejected - despite their being the best any human government has ever produced. Simply because they "say" we have the specified inalienable rights, does not necessarily mean it is so. Simply because they specify what those men then deemed as charges worthy of revolution against England's then Kind - again do not make it so. I am afraid we sometimes confuse Americanism with Christianity and such a confounding of the two produces a hybrid which ultimately dilutes Christianity.

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