A systematic study of Romans 13 by Attorney Jerald Finney.
Setting the right goal is very important for success. Men, both lost and saved, who do not understand God’s principles rely upon their reasoning to conceive of a goal and a way to
achieve that goal. Reason tells mankind that the goal of man is happiness, and conceives of various ways to achieve that goal. On the other hand, the Bible reveals that the God-given
goal of man is the glory of God and tells man how to achieve that goal.
1 Of course, those who follow biblical teaching will be as happy as others on earth. However, happiness on earth is fleeting, at best. The lost person and the carnal saved person will not be happy when his physical and/or material well being is threatened or lost. The Christian will not be happy when his or another’s spiritual state is not as it should be. Christians will have eternal happiness, but that is not their God-given goal.
One thing is for sure, according to reality as judged by the Word of God: mankind, except for a remnant of faithful believers, always rejects God’s wisdom and guidelines and
seeks happiness for themselves rather than seeking to glorify God. Men, in resorting to their own reasoning instead of getting saved and studying and applying truth and principles
from the Word of God as led by the Spirit of God, have sought their goal of happiness in various ways. This is true of philosophies concerning civil government. Mankind began to reason, instead of following God’s principles concerning civil government, immediately after
the flood. God, after the flood, ordained civil government and divided the world into Gentile nations.
2 He did this because, given the nature of man, concentration of the world
into one civil government would mean unlimited potential for evil and tyranny.
3 Mankind rebelled against God’s directions and came together at the tower of Babel.
4 God confused the tongues—that is, He made men to speak different languages—and they were forced to comply with God’s direction to form nations.
5 At first, all nations were Gentile.
6 Israel was the only theocracy ever ordained by God, the only nation that God desired to combine religion and state. After Israel rejected the theocracy, religion and state were separated. For example, God rejected King Saul for intruding into the priest’s office.
7 Many still believe, as always, that man will be able to solve all problems and bring peace through unified world government. Since God divided mankind into nations, one goal of many has been global governance. Of course, God’s Word and history show the folly of this idea. Nonetheless, God will allow man to achieve his goal. The one world government prophesied in the Bible appears to be forthcoming. Fascism and communism, in seeking unity, embrace the idea that the general will of the people is well-intentioned; and, as Rousseau put it: “[T]he general will is always on the side which is most favorable to the public interest, that is to say, the most equitable; so that it is needful only to act justly to be certain of following the general will.”
8 “The idea of the general will created a true secular religion out of the mystic chords of nationalism, a religion in which ‘the people’ in effect worshipped themselves. Just as individuals couldn’t be ‘free’ except as part of the group, their existence lacked meaning and purpose except in relation to the collective. “It followed, moreover, that if the people were the new God, there was no room for God Himself. In The Social Contract, Rousseau tells us that because of Christianity’s distinction between God and Caesar, ‘men have never known whether they ought to obey the civil ruler or the priest.’ What Rousseau proposed instead was a society in which religion and politics were perfectly combined. Loyalty to the state and loyalty to the divine must be seen as the same thing.… “Rousseau’s community is bound together by the general will as expressed in the dogmas of what he called a ‘civil religion’ and enforced by the all-powerful God-state. Those who defy the collective spirit of the community live outside the state and have no claim on its protections. Indeed, not only is the state not required to defend antisocial individuals or subcommunities, it is compelled to do away with them.”
9 Rousseau’s idea of community began at the Tower of Babel where mankind aimed for unity of religion and state. Powerful men have always had this goal. The attempt to force unity continued after the marriage of church and state in the early fourth century and resulted in the adoption of the pagan philosophy which combined religion and state. Early Christianity was a threat to union of religion and state. Because persecution had resulted in tremendous church growth, church and state combined under Constantine and the established “church” adopted many pagan practices to provide unity.
10 Those who resisted unity were labeled as heretics, imprisoned, persecuted, tortured, and murdered.
11 Oneness cannot exist when some are allowed to disagree with a principle of the controlling church-state. The United States of America became the second civil government in history, after the colony of Rhode Island, to reject unity of religion and state and implemented the biblical principle of soul liberty which is also called religious liberty or separation of church and state.
12 America came closer than any nation to following God’s principles for church and state, and she included many of the principles of the Word of God in her founding documents. America is no longer a nation under God and is experiencing the consequences of failing to operate under God and abide by His principles.
13 This inevitable turnabout was caused, to a large degree, by the union of church and state. Although the First Amendment guaranteed freedom from civil government, many churches chose to become state churches through incorporation shortly after the ratification of the Constitution.
14 The First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government.
15 States were free to and did offer to incorporate churches; and many churches, against the warnings of leaders like Isaac Backus, ran to incorporate.
16 Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”), passed in the twentieth century, invites churches, in exchange for “tax exemption,” to come under federal government control to some extent.
17 The great majority of churches have, against the will of God, accepted the invitation by civil government to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status. Unconstitutional actions by the President of the United States have further invited churches to unite with and place themselves under federal government control. For example, President George Bush showed his misunderstanding of the First Amendment and God’s principles by implementing a “Faith Based Initiative” under which religious organizations may apply for federal government money to finance certain ministries. The Bush administration also invited churches to address national disasters under civil government direction. During the Hurricane Katrina disaster, many “Christians” and pastors, guided by a false interpretation of Romans 13, heeded the call and assisted, under civil government, in disaster relief to the victims. Churches, Christians, and pastors should be the first to help others; but they should operate only under God and His principles, never with or under the control of civil government. Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means: “Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations.”
18 Examples of legal entities in the United states are corporations, unincorporated associations, corporations sole, charitable trusts, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3)
(“501(c)(3)”) tax exempt organizations. Because of the First Amendment which recognizes and implements the biblical principle of separation of church and state, churches can still choose to be spiritual entities and no church is required by any civil law to become a legal
19 Nonetheless, many “Christians” incorrectly assume or believe that church and state should be united in America; that civil law requires such a union; and/or that churches
should become legal entities because Romans 13 and other Bible verses are taken out of context and perverted to mean what they do not mean. Some Christians interpret certain scriptures to mean that Christians and churches are required by God to submit to civil government in all things or to submit to civil government in all things except for the preaching of the gospel of salvation. This book analyzes Matthew 17.24-27 which deals with the miracle of the tribute money; Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17) in which Jesus proclaimed, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s;” Romans 13, I Peter 2.13, and I Timothy 2.1-6. What those scriptures teach concerning submission by individual Christians and churches to civil government is the subject of this book.
20 To totally understand the issue of God’s teachings concerning submission to civil government, one must understand other sub-issues or principles. God Betrayed offers a more comprehensive look at all the issues involved.