"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Monday, October 15, 2007

These are the times that try men's souls.

Unfortunately I have not been reading much theology lately so I have not had much to post. But I have been reading just a little of American History here and there. I regret that I have nothing more to post on right now but that is where I am at. There was once a time when being Anti-Christian would hurt your success in America, rather then make it. This was the case with Thomas Paine. I must disclose I am no expert (on anything). Just read bits here and there. He had early success arguing against the tyranny of slavery, monarchy and for the equality of man kind. He helped make the case for the colonies to go to war against Great Britain. But among other problems the more he made known his views of Christ he lost support.

"The opinions I have advanced… are the effect of the most clear and long-established conviction that the Bible and the Testament are impositions upon the world, that the fall of man, the account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty; that the only true religion is Deism, by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues—and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested all my hopes of happiness hereafter. So say I now—and so help me God."

So help him indeed. Yet sometimes his brilliance shown through as this wonderfully sound piece below. I stand with Paine on this point. Be it the Indian caste system or the European caste system of Monarchy and aristocracy I stand opposed. While tyranny is the norm in human events it is amazing to live in a country that while it does have it's own "aristocracy of wealth" there is amazing access to "pursue happiness". Whatever that means... I think that for those of us born and bred here in America we easily forget how most Kings abused there power greatly as is also the case in Israel where few were righteous. Perhaps I could write more later on the role of the governed, as both are important. But righteous leaders go a long way too. In fact the case the Lord makes against a King seems very similar to what our founding fathers complained about.

1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them."
1Sa 8:8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.
1Sa 8:9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."
1Sa 8:10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him.
1Sa 8:11 He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.
1Sa 8:12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
1Sa 8:13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
1Sa 8:14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
1Sa 8:15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.
1Sa 8:16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.
1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.
1Sa 8:18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us,
1Sa 8:20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
1Sa 8:21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD.
1Sa 8:22 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey their voice and make them a king." Samuel then said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city."

Here is Paine:
Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession
Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian World hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred Majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!

As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by Kings.

All anti-monarchical parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries which have their governments yet to form. "Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's" is the scripture doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchical government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.

Near three thousand years passed away, from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of Republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven.

Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.


Jared Nelson said...

Deu 17 and 1 Samuel 2 seem to promise Israel a king. From my reading, the time of the judges wasn't much better (Jdg 21:25-In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.) and the problem wasn't the form of government but the people. The problem was Israel demanding God's promise before God's timing and wanting to be like the nations around them. So to me, the Bible does not prescribe a form of government, but does prescribe the conduct of the people and the government be it monarchy, republic, democracy or otherwise. In fact Matthew Henry interprets 1 Samuel 8 as Israel's sin of dismissing the government they had, a sign they were not trusting God teaching us to work within the government God has given us whatever it may be...

Aaron said...

Good point! Classically Calvinistic, be thankful for what you have. Speaking for myself and not Paine I am not trying to say God forbids monarchy and endorses a constitutional republic full of checks and balances. I just find the warning about how a king will act interesting and of value.