Various Bible texts are used to support this view, mainly from the Old Testament, although Romans 13: 1-3 is often quoted: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
George Lakoff, in his work on reframing, points out that the "Christian" right uses what he calls a "strict father" model, in which the father of the family represents God, and has godlike power over the wife and children. This family structure molds the authoritarian personality, which holds that submitting to higher authority is a virtue. It partly explains the powerful hold which Bush has on his followers, who see him as anointed by God and incapable of making mistakes. He evidently sees himself the same way, and is self-righteously unwilling to admit error.
Is this what Jesus preached? It is a very important point in reclaiming the gospel to understand where authority rests in Jesus' world view, and therefore who can claim rulership.
In His day, the Roman emperor was the ultimate authority, and the Jews were ruled by the Pharisees, to whom the emperor delegated authority. Jesus therefore lived in an authoritarian environment, complete with harsh punishments like crucifixion for those who dared to challenge the rulers.
In his view, however, rulers were to serve the people, not control them.
Mark 10: 42Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.
Jesus replaced the Mosaic covenant which God made with the people Israel with a new covenant, made between each individual and God, based on love. Under the Mosaic covenant, the first two kings were chosen by God's messenger, the prophet Samuel (Saul and David) and David was designated father of the royal line. Under the new covenant:
Matthew 23: 8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.[b] 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
The Founding Fathers took the message to heart in writing our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights..." Kingship was abolished, not only because King George III was a tyrant, but also because the form of Christianity which was brought to America was democratic, based on the inner authority of conscience, not on the outer authority of a designated king.
Looked at this way, Romans 13 quoted above takes on a different meaning. Under the US Constitution, authority is vested in "we the people". God has established this country as an experiment in democracy, and those who are challenging the authority of "we the people" are rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Bush and his cabal have been careful so far to preserve the form of democracy, although they have gutted its substance with rigged voting machines, the Patriot Act, and illegal wiretapping, among other things. They are trying to keep the appearance of legitimacy, knowing that authority ultimately rests on the consent of the governed.
They are pushing for theocracy, striving to tear down the separation of church and state which has so far saved America from the bloody excesses of a fundamentalist dictatorship.
The American people are confused about this, not knowing how to counter Bush's claim of "divine right". If we realize that democracy embodies Jesus' message, that we are all brothers and sisters, and all carry within ourselves the ability to govern and be rabbis, and that those in public office are to serve, not lord it over us, we will realize that Bush is violating what God has instituted, here in the "shining city on the hill".
We the people need to take back our authority and bring judgment upon the usurpers. We can do this via the mechanism provided by our Constitution, called impeachment. Impeachment is peaceful, legal and democratic. It's what Jesus would be doing, if He were with us.
In the name of the Prince of Peace,
1 | 2