22 March 2016

On civil disobedience

Is it ever right for Christians to disobey their governments?  Christianity Today commissioned me to write this cover story for its April 2016 issue to assist the larger community of believers in answering this question: Why All Christians Should Consider Civil Disobedience. An excerpt:

We need not support theocracy to recognize that the Bible calls on earthly rulers to do justice within the context of their offices (Ps. 82, Isa. 10:1–2). Christians as far apart politically as Jim Wallis and James Dobson have recognized this. To remain faithful to our calling, we cannot keep our light hidden under a bushel (Matt. 5:15). When rulers ignore or flagrantly transgress their biblical mandate, believers may need to take dramatic steps to awaken consciences and agitate for change.
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Baus said...

CT has the full article behind subscription wall. I'm curious if you say more/other than we must "obey God rather than men" when men require us to disobey God.
Do you affirm or argue for the idea that we are free (and/or have a duty) to disobey other men if ever they command anything beyond their official competence?
If it's not too much of a spoiler, I'm curious about the "bottom line" of your view. (I haven't gotten that far in your book yet either!)

David Koyzis said...

Good reason to pay to get behind the pay wall.

Baus said...

OK. I was finally able to read it. You didn't really mention stream within Reformed thought after Calvin which (exemplified in this quotation from Charles Hodge) holds that "No command to do any thing morally wrong can be binding; nor can any which transcends the rightful authority of the power whence it emanates."

It's not only mandates of idolatry and injustice that call for disobedience, but also *any* exercise of power that would transgress the limited sphere of competence that properly belongs to a given authority.

This tradition has been sorely neglected and ought to be recovered.


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