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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Salt and Light and the Rainbow Covenant

God's Providential Care for Justice

God not only has predestined His people to salvation and eternal life, but He
does providentially preserve the world until all of His people actually are born
and come to faith. Hence, as Christians we not only spread the light of the 
Gospel and render the earth palatable, but we are called to work to reprove
wickedness and speak for truth and justice.

The presence of the righteous holds back the hand of God's wrath until all the
elect are saved. [2Peter 3:3ff] Sodom would have been saved if there had been
ten righteous souls. 

Sometimes wars are God's chastening acts on all sides of the conflict, but by no
means always. The man who stands in his yard shooting people will be taken out
by officers of the law, or by other citizens who may have lesser offenses on their
record. Not even cops are pure always. But the Rainbow Covenant includes the
activities of men in God's wise and providential government of the world, and we
are to be willing actors in that work. Hence, we support the work of the police
against domestic crime and the military against foreign crime. Both occupations
are approved of God and are His ministries.

Wicked nations that may be used of God to curtail the activities of other wicked 
nations may in turn be subject to chastening by God who is the judge of all nations
as their Creator and Lord. Also, if the government becomes the enemy of its own
people, the people may change the government, destroying it if necessary. Even
wicked men may be used of God to accomplish this purging. [Read the American Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, though himself not a Christian in the
evangelical sense, yet expressed in the Declaration the thinking that grew out 
of fifteen hundred years of thought concerning the relations of the people with
unjust governments.

The Rainbow Covenant of Genesis 9 is with all the world, the sons of Noah. God
promises not to destroy the world again, but has commissioned the nations of the
world to work to escape the wrath of God by mitigating violence: "Whoso sheds
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." War is a just and proper occupation
for the nations of the world, especially to hinder the ambitions of murderous
regimes who shed the blood of the innocent and make the world unfit for peace.
God uses one nation against another, to slow the progress of sin and preserve the
world. Peace is God's great gift to the world, but if we do not seek righteousness
along with peace, He will give us unending wars and troubles. 

Governments are established by God for the purpose of rewarding the good and
being a terror to those who do evil, both internally in the state and externally in
the family of nations. Nations must not make peace with internal outlaws nor
with external outlaw nations. We must pray and support wise leaders both locally
and nationally who will support just laws and righteous relations with foreign
powers. It isn't easy. But as St. Augustine said: "No man's sin is so unnatural as
to wipe out all traces whatsoever of human nature." [The City of God (New York: Doubleday, 1958) 545 quoted by David W. Hall, Calvin in the Public 
Square, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 
2009, p. 5]

What makes an outlaw government? Not easy to define, but one that wars directly
or indirectly against its own people, or directly and indirectly seeking to overthrow  
legitimate governments more righteous than itself. This is a huge subject and cannot
be covered on FB even in bumper sticker form. Love your neighbor as yourself applies
to nations as well as to individuals, but the bar is lower, perhaps. The extremes are
easy to define: a man with a rifle in his front yard shooting at his neighbors; nations
who do likewise. A man with a gun threatening his neighbors; nations who do
likewise. Wisdom is required, but we do not pull out the police because some cases 
are harder: a man with a meth lab; one growing pot; making moonshine; and every
variety of ways in which wicked men seek the lives and property of their neighbors.
I suggest Hall's book cited above; Augustine’s City of God [ancient and not perfect]; 
Calvin's chapter on Civil Government in his Institutes; and a whole host of reading, not much of which is found on Facebook. 

One of the beauties and curses of America is that every man has the privilege of
placing his ideas in the public forum no matter how uneducated, unstudied, and
ignorant they might be. This freedom of speech is hated by tyrants of all stripes, but
is a bulwark against them. That's why they hate it. Even the stupid ideas of the
educated, the studied, and the learned are given play. Only God can give us wisdom
to sort out the chaff from the wheat.
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