‘Are the Powers That Be Really Ordained by God?’ (2015)

See the source image

We do want to be careful about concluding that God in any way endorses the actions of tyrants–Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah, Nero, Stalin, Hitler, Mao: one could use up a whole day just listing the blood-soaked tyrants of this fallen world–but we don’t dare say that anything happens outside the sphere of His sovereignty.

Are the Powers That Be Really Ordained by God?

Remember: God gives us free will. It wouldn’t be free, if we couldn’t abuse it. Sometimes it’s necessary for God to intervene. If He didn’t, we’d wipe ourselves out.

Along with the power of the civil magistrate, the government, come various responsibilities. We are to honor and support any government that fulfills those responsibilities, even if it’s staffed by pagans. The trouble starts when the rulers ignore their responsibilities.

But to insist that God “ordains” every monster who rises to power by climbing over the corpses of his victims–well, that’s simply blaming God.

We can’t see everything that He sees, we can’t know but the most inconsequential sliver of what He knows–and there is a time to trust and obey.

And a time to cast out wicked rulers.


9 comments on “‘Are the Powers That Be Really Ordained by God?’ (2015)

  1. First; the 2015 piece is well written and serves as an excellent exposition on the subject.

    There has to be some authority in place, especially in a complex world such as our present situation in our global village of the Internet era. As an example, in my work, I have to deal with various standards including ISO 27001, some Australia-specific regulations and, in the US, HIPPA. I’m no fan of HIPPA, itself; because, while it provides some needed protections, it places unfair burdens on individual practitioners but allows the insurance companies to data-mine to their heart’s content.

    I mention the example above because it serves to illustrate the conundrum of human authority. The HIPPA act claims to insure privacy, but in reality, it delivers a cornucopia of Information to the insurance companies in the name of “Portability”. Meanwhile, we have to jump through hoops created by this act, some of which serve little more than a symbolic purpose.

    Human authority has had a checkered past. Ancient Israel had laws which were Divinely provided, yet the religious leaders felt the need to extend these laws and, figuratively, build a fence around the law. They strained the gnat and swallowed the camel (which pretty well explains my problems with HIPPA, also) and life became a minefield of needless regulation for the average Israelite.

    The United States was a roaring success, in great part, because government authority was constitutionally limited and individual states could tailor much of civil law to their particular needs. This is key; the realities of life on the eastern seaboard are considerably different from the realities of life in the vast spaces of the western US and local laws need to reflect those differences.

    One thing that concerns me greatly about the Millennial generation, is that many of them seem excessively obsequious towards any and all authority. This can be dangerous. Diedrich Bonhoeffer published a piece on a similar phenomenon which occurred in Germany, during the ‘30s. After the defeat of Kaiser Wilhelm, many people wanted a central authority figure upon whom they could rely. In the end, they got just what they wanted, and Germany was all but destroyed in the process, leaving an example which still stands out as one of the most egregious abuses of power in all of recorded history. I fear the many of the Millennial generation would be willing lackeys for any tyrant whom came along and promised to take care of them.

    1. Our public schools tirelessly and implacably “teach” children that the government’s job is to “take care of you.” There is a desire to fend off adulthood indefinitely–at least for as long as possible.

      Liberty is not the natural state of fallen man. It is a special blessing from God, easily lost.

      They will take it from us if they can.

    2. I remember hear Ed Koch refer to the government as our caregivers. Really Ed?!?! I didn’t ask for a caregiver. All told, I probably contribute somewhere around $30,000 per year to various taxes, income, property, sales tax, etc. and I am well within my rights to expect something in return. If there is a caregiver in this situation, that would be the taxpayers whom keep all of these various public entities funded.

      Sometime within the next five years or so, I intend to scale back and collect Social Security. Once again, this is not a matter of caregiving, because it is something I’ve paid for since I started working, in the very early ‘70s. I’m not asking for care from these people, I am only expecting to be compensated for that which I was compelled to pay.

      God help us! (I’m not ashamed to consider God as a caregiver.)

  2. Martin Luther said we are each completely responsible for our lives, and at the same time God is sovereign over all things. He called this “God’s Dilemma,” not ours. Our part is to trust and obey.

Leave a Reply