Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Romans 13 and the American Revolution
Most historians would agree that our Founding Fathers (and a large majority of the colonial public) were very apprehensive about actually breaking from Britain. In reality, most of the protests during the early years of the Revolution (the Stamp Act protests, Boston Tea Party, etc.) were acts of protest not rebellion. The fact of the matter is that most people were reluctant to embrace independence until 1776, and even then, many still had reservations.
One of the interesting facts that allude to this comes from the debate over Romans chapter 13. Both the British and the colonists repeatedly read the words of this chapter, which states that rebelling or overthrowing a government was sinful in the eyes of god (or at least that is how it was interpreted back then). Countless numbers of preachers gave sermons on Romans 13, begging the people to keep with the laws of god and reject the idea of overthrowing government. As one historian put it, “under the Framers' understanding of Romans 13, the American Revolution was not an act of anarchy or rebellion; rather it was an act of resistance to a government that violated the Biblical purposes for which God had ordained civil government.”
Several other preachers, however, suggested that since the king was the ultimate source of divine governmental power, then he should be embracing Romans 13 as well. American colonists were quick to realize the hypocrisy that existed in the King, since they felt he was denying the colonists their legal rights. By understanding scripture in this way, more and more colonists felt justified in embracing independence.