Romans 13, The Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War

 Romans 13, The Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War

By Charles Carlson

During the Cold War era, evangelists, notably Billy Graham, provided public support for rearmament to protect the USA from “Godless Communism.”   Today’s Neo-Christian churches provide the only significant grassroots support for US serial wars against Muslim countries, supposedly to protect the U.S. from Islam, but actually to support Israel. It is useful to know how Christian scripture has been falsely reinterpreted, rewritten, and misapplied, so as to allow support for American Mideast policy.  We will take an educated layman\’s view of the Christian scripture that we are told allows church leaders to justify US destruction of smaller and weaker Muslim countries and Israel\’s occupation  and imprisonment of Gazans, 1.5 million Palestinians.

A few years ago leading evangelicals, including the giant Southern \’Baptist Convention, held to a statement of faith that the Bible was the true and inerrant word of God.  It and many other churches and seminaries have changed this statement out of necessity by adding the phrase IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT.  But original texts are not available, only old hand copies.  In the case if the New Testament, those several old text we do have are not originals and differ slightly, and translations of the ancient Greek have radically differed in interpretations of the meanings and guesses at the contexts of the original writers.  These sometimes imaginative interpretations are amplified in countless pages of footnotes added to popular study bibles used…pure opinion and nothing more.

A case in point is the Scofield Reference Bible.  It has been reedited at least four times since the original was published by Oxford University Press in 1908, which has an estimated 500 pages of footnotes that have been altered and updated every few years.  These notes have played a major role in redirecting Christian focus from the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the State of Israel.

Often we have to guess at the context in which phrases or pages of writing were penned, because the original authors do not always tell us.  We may not know when or where they were written, or even, with certainty by whom.  Many church writers have engaged in what is called “proof texting,”  referred to as “Aristotelian logic” by writers George Barna, whom we think, made a contribution to understanding.  Proof Text writers and preachers (John Hagee is one) claim every part of scripture, right down to each individual word and verse, is the word of God and therefore miraculously is true independent of context.  From this they reason they can patch together bits and pieces of text written at different times, often by different authors, and hold that the resulting homogenized argument is also necessarily true.  This makes the bible sort of a jigsaw puzzle.  #1 Barna.

We will examine one section of Romans 13, consisting of seven verses, as a student would be expected to study from a history or a physics text book, deriving its meaning from the words themselves in the context of the author’s stated thesis and purpose in writing the book.  In other words, we will use common sense rather than any pre-conceived Neo-Christian concepts to unravel what the authors of a two thousand year-old text probably meant.  We choose to examine Romans 13 because it is the one most often used text to reprogramming neo-Christians to accept a world at perpetual wars.

Neo-Christians usually justify their support of wars in the Middle East in terms of Hebrew, Old Testament accounts of God\’s wrath told in the Israelites’ stories of bloody conquests of the Philistines and Canaanites.  Samson is still glorified by both American children and the Israeli army for annihilating the Philistine enemies of “God\’s chosen people,” the Israelites.  His story is retold to justify the occupation of today\’s Philistines (Palestinians).  Recall that in the story, God strengthened Samson to kill a thousand Philistines with an animal bone.  The Israeli military named its nuclear arms program “Operation Samson.”  The Genesis account of God\’s instructions to Abraham to occupy Canaan is warped to justification today’s Zionist Israelis\’ “right”  to occupy the entire Middle East. We have unraveled the misapplication of several of these convenient Old Testament yarns and our work has stood virtually unchallenged.  *2  *3

In this series we will examine one of a very few New Testament passages Neo-Christians misapply in order to justify participation in wars that amount to genocide, or to justify passive acceptance of a serial war by our government.  The subject of this first parts explains why Romans 13, cannot be used to justify wars.  In part II, Jesus words will be discussed.

Whenever I find a Neo-Christian who seems to support war, I want to know his reasoning from Jesus\’ own words.  “Where,” I ask, “did Jesus ever give anyone a hint of authority or license to take the life of someone else\’s child, five or ten thousand miles from your own safe home?”  The answer is invariably a quick switch to some Old Testament order from God, supposedly giving to the ancient Israelites license to annihilate some tribe.  No Neo-Christian apologist I have met has ever found such an answer in Jesus\’ words.  And invariably each, when pressed, recites a certain writings from Apostle Paul of Tarsus; every Neo-Christian pastor can quote this Romans 13, passage by heart. *4

The first six verses of Chapter 13 of the New Testament book of Romans, seems to bluntly state that every supreme public official (“ruler” in the King James Edition) is a higher power over each of us as subjects, that each one of them is a direct appointee from and by God, is installed in office to carry out God\’s divine plan, and that each one is in office at God\’s will to punish evil doers and reward those who do good.  Paul seems to have said that those of us who defy our rulers are defying God and will be punished, and those who do good have nothing to fear from them.  Neo-Christian pastors, many who now answer to the label “Christian Zionists,” apply Paul\’s declaration to every public official\’s act that they approve of, but which Jesus would denounce.  The destruction of Iraq, the occupation of Palestine, and the execution of Osama Bin Laden are examples that have been justified from uncounted American pulpits under Apostle Paul\’s first six verses in Roman 13.  They demur, “It\’s our leaders\’ decision.”

When convenient, Neo-Christians expand Paul\’s words to elected and appointed politicians.  Actually, Paul did not use the word “ruler.”  The best available texts nearest to the original used a Greek word that seems to translates to “magistrate.”  It should be noted that some modern bible were translated or paid for by potentates such as King James II.  Based on the Neo-Christian reading of the passage, no follower of Christ would ever be safe to challenge the will of any politician, appointee or employee thereof.  This reveals what may be the one great unexplained paradox between Paul\’s words and his acts.  I will offer a simple explanation.

Paul was in legal trouble most of the time for challenging Roman authority, the Judean king and the religious Pharisees, all of whom derived their authority from Caesar.  He gives a gruesome account of how many times he was whipped, stoned and imprisoned by the authorities of his day.  He was, in fact, the number one “burr under the saddle” of all these authorities until his violent death at their hands.

Paul also provides an account of the words he used in an attempt to convert Roman King Agrippa and his wife Bernice d before his trial before Caesar in Rome.  This would seem to suggest Paul thought Agrippa needed to follow Jesus, which would hardly be necessary if that ruler was a direct appointee from God.  Paul\’s life account contradicts his statement that kings are God appointed, so why did Paul say they are?

A very important point must be made and understood here.  Never, but this one time, did Paul appear to contradict Jesus\’ words, nor did he go beyond them, except in this one case at point.  It is impossible to find a whole statement attributed to Jesus that would support Paul\’s incongruous comment about the godliness of rulers.  Nowhere did Jesus say magistrates, potentates, kings or religious leaders were more favored by God, anymore than the most humble beggar.  This is one reason Jesus was hated by the leaders and in consistent trouble with them, from Herod and the Pharisees, to Pilate and the Caesars.

Paul was a superb salesman, which makes him human and believable, but doublespeak was not in him.  Politicians engage in doublespeak, Paul, except in this case at point, applied logic.  President Obama announced that the State of Israel must return to its 1967 boundaries, but two days later he told AIPAC the US support of Israel is “ironclad.”  That is political doublespeak that defies logic.  The verses we are discussing apply triple speak, so what did Paul try to convey to his first century followers to whom he wrote this letter?  Why is it that Paul\’s courageous acts are contradicted his words?  The answer must be one of these: 1) Paul did not write the passage in question, someone else inserted it for their own purposes; 2) Paul wrote it while temporarily insane; or 3) most logically, Paul wrote it as a parody–a coded message meaning he believed exactly the opposite of what he wrote, and that all those who knew him would instantly understand what he dared not and never did say outright, words his enemies would not be able to use against him.  Let us consider this last possibility.

What if, after writing as I have for 22 years, I was to circulate a letter to my closest friends stating outright that Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu and Muammar Gaddaffi were all Gods agents in office, appointed by God to reward those who do good and punish evil doers?

I hope I could count on my friends to show up at my door with a straitjacket in case I had lost my mind, and policeman to make sure someone was not holding a gun at the back of my head.  Surely no one who knows me would take the statement seriously, for each one knows I believe, right and act exactly in the reverse.  Those who know me would say I had resorted to crass sarcasm to tell the readers what I really believe… that most political leaders are self-serving opportunists, if not sold out thugs, and none can be trusted.  So why wouldn\’t Paul\’s friends view Paul\’s statement in the same way, especially if Paul, or some of those he was writing to, happened to be in jail or under surveillance, which he might have been?

Paul had a lot better reason to write in code than I do.  I am not threatened with death.  Jailers saved his life a time or two. The Book of Romans was not his first letter, but it was his longest, and we do not know what threat or surveillance he was under when he wrote it.  What if Paul put a Caesar-friendly coded, paradoxical passage in his letter to get it past to Roman authorities to Roman Christian friends who were also facing persecution?  What if Paul really wanted to tell congregations what rats and thieves politicians (magistrates) really are?  Why not say exactly the opposite of what he thought, and rely on the good judgment of his friends who read the letter?   It is easy for us to miss this possibility because the letter was not written to us.  Parody or biter sarcasm is, this write thinks, the best explanation of Paul\’s words.

Back to Paul\’s words:  “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers” ( Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Pharisees?) …”for rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil” (Nero, Caligula, Henry VIII, Stalin, GW Bush and his father before him?) “for he is the minister of God to thee for good” (Obama, Netanyahu, Bernanke?).

Are you kidding me!  Apostle Paul did not mean any of it, and Jesus did not say a word that would support it. Paul\’s parody or sarcasm speaks loud and clear to this reader, and translates thus:  We are again being abused by the political leaders who are watching my every move, who are godless hypocrites, who exist by terrifying everyone who challenges their earthly authority while they pretend to be gods.  Most are a force for evil against good.  Watch out for them, never trust them, but try not to defy them to their faces, lest they kill you and destroy our mission.

Does Paul give us a clue to his parody?  Yes he does.  At the very end of his “makes no sense” six verse discourse he hints at the truth in verse 7, which is also a parody within itself, providing  the code to correct all the foregoing six verses: (7) “Render therefore to all their dues:  tribute (bribes) to who tribute is due; custom to whom custom is due; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

How could he make it more clear?  The reader must decide what is due to each politician, especially “fear,” which seems to say God did not decide!  Give politicians bribes, taxes and fear, paul says, but reserve honor for those who deserve it.  This is Paul\’s hidden message that suggests he is writing parody!  To me it say, those who get fear deserve no honor.  By mentioning fear he makes it clear there are those who deserve only fear.  If rulers were God\’s appointees for good, they would not need bribes, taxes, nor would they be feared. Verse seven seems to undue verses 1-6 giving the entire message a tone of Parody.

Now let us look at context.  I challenge anyone to find a passage in context anywhere in the recorded New Testament words of either Jesus or Paul that suggests that rulers are any different in God\’s eyes than are the least of their subjects.  Paul said this most clearly in what my scholar friends say was probably his first written letter, the third chapter of the book of Galatians:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  The entire six chapters of Galatians seems to support this context.

Neo-Christian pastors give Paul\’s parody on rulers a so called “literal” translation to justify America\’s war-based economy.  Of course, our “Rulers” love it — who would not relish being appointed to do God\’s will?  Pastors and Bible studies also misuse Paul\’s parody to justify Israel’s 60 year occupation and genocide inside the largest open air prison in the world, Gaza.  They misguidedly take Paul\’s paradoxical words literally to justify encouraging our Christian youth to join an occupier military that kills to maintain political power.  They misuse Paul\’s likely parody to justify watching while American politicians accept torture of prisoners and slaughter civilian tribesmen in Afghanistan.  And they do this without any support for this isolated passage anywhere in Paul\’s writing, anywhere, or in any words that Jesus is recored as saying.

Pastors hide behind Paul\’s words when our politicians use cold-blooded murder by drone attacks and kill most of the Bin Laden family to keep us from knowing the truth from live witnesses.  Our celebrity religious leaders do all this knowing they cannot find a line or verse from Jesus\’ own words that support their so-called “literal” reading of Paul\’s first six verses of Romans 13.

In Part II, I will deal hard proof that Jesus\’ own words (as recored in early texts) have been contradicted by bible translations in several reference bibles published since 1948, making Israel a near god along side of Jesus. Research presented in this series will constitute the textual basis for Part II of our DVD series.  Obtain The Tragedy and Turning.

Order  Part I,  www.whtt.org

Endnotes

*1 George Barna,  Pagan Christianity

*2 Tragedy and Turning, whtt.org

*3  Cause of Our Conflict,  whtt.org

*4 Romans 13, 1-7 King James Version:

1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For 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:  4For 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. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  6For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God\’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

 
       

2 comments

Romans 13 Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War |  SHOAH
May 27th, 2016

[…] look at Romans 13 and what should be our take away from it based on a ground breaking article, “Romans 13: Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War” written by Chuck Carlson a few years ago. Did Romans 13 give German Christians the authority to […]

5 dancing shlomos
June 3rd, 2016

one godless agent, obama, took out a god agent, gaddaffi, and working on another, assad.

would god’s agent take power (to help the people), gaddaffi, or “voted” in by a machine, bush, obama?