Saturday, January 29, 2011

Things You See When You Re-Read Something Again

The Mayflower Compact:
And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.
I just noticed, on this re-reading of the text, the word "due" in there, before "Submission and Obedience."  In light of how the recusancy laws of England had caused the Pilgrims to move to Holland in 1608, one could read this as acknowledging that there were limits to the "Submission and Obedience" that those signing the Compact were required to grant.

UPDATE: I've promoted the following from a comment into the main body, because it is both a powerful support for this, and a reminder of what educated and intelligent readers come here:
They probably would have been familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism:

104. Q. What does God require in the fifth commandment?

A. That I show all honour, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother and to all those in authority over me, submit myself with due obedience to their good instruction and discipline,[1] and also have patience with their weaknesses and shortcomings,[2] since it is God's will to govern us by their hand.[3]

[1] Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1, 2; Eph. 5:21, 22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1. [2] Prov. 20:20; 23:22; I Pet.2:18. [3] Matt. 22:21, Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21.



By the mid 1600s, the Westminster Larger Catechism put it more clearly:

Question 127 What is the honour that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A. The honour which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart,(1) word,(2) and behaviour;(3) prayer and thanksgiving for them;(4) imitation of their virtues and graces;(5) willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels,(6) due submission to their corrections;(7) fidelity to,(8) defence,(9) and maintenance of their persons and authority according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places;(10) bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love,(11) that so they may be an honour to them and to their government.(12)
##(1) Mal. 1:6; Lev. 19:3 #(2) Prov. 31:28; 1 Pet. 3:6 #(3) Lev. 19:32; 1 Kings 2:19 #(4) 1 Tim. 2:1,2 #(5) Heb. 13:7; Phil. 3:17 #(6) Eph. 6:1,2,5,6,7; 1 Pet. 2:13,14; Rom. 13:1-5; Heb. 13:17; Prov. 4:3,4; Prov. 23:22; Exod. 18:19,24 #(7) Heb. 12:9; 1 Pet. 2:18,19,20 #(8) Tit. 2:9,10 #(9) I Sam. 26:15,16; 2 Sam. 18:3; Esther 6:2 #(10) Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:6,7; 1 Tim. 5:17,18; Gal. 6:6; Gen. 45:11; Gen. 47:12 #(11) 1 Pet. 2:18; Prov. 23:22; Gen. 9:23 #(12) Ps. 127:3-5; Prov. 31:23

6 comments:

Cris said...

They probably would have been familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism:

104. Q. What does God require in the fifth commandment?

A. That I show all honour, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother and to all those in authority over me, submit myself with due obedience to their good instruction and discipline,[1] and also have patience with their weaknesses and shortcomings,[2] since it is God's will to govern us by their hand.[3]

[1] Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1, 2; Eph. 5:21, 22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1. [2] Prov. 20:20; 23:22; I Pet.2:18. [3] Matt. 22:21, Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21.



By the mid 1600s, the Westminster Larger Catechism put it more clearly:

Question 127 What is the honour that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A. The honour which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart,(1) word,(2) and behaviour;(3) prayer and thanksgiving for them;(4) imitation of their virtues and graces;(5) willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels,(6) due submission to their corrections;(7) fidelity to,(8) defence,(9) and maintenance of their persons and authority according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places;(10) bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love,(11) that so they may be an honour to them and to their government.(12)
##(1) Mal. 1:6; Lev. 19:3 #(2) Prov. 31:28; 1 Pet. 3:6 #(3) Lev. 19:32; 1 Kings 2:19 #(4) 1 Tim. 2:1,2 #(5) Heb. 13:7; Phil. 3:17 #(6) Eph. 6:1,2,5,6,7; 1 Pet. 2:13,14; Rom. 13:1-5; Heb. 13:17; Prov. 4:3,4; Prov. 23:22; Exod. 18:19,24 #(7) Heb. 12:9; 1 Pet. 2:18,19,20 #(8) Tit. 2:9,10 #(9) I Sam. 26:15,16; 2 Sam. 18:3; Esther 6:2 #(10) Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:6,7; 1 Tim. 5:17,18; Gal. 6:6; Gen. 45:11; Gen. 47:12 #(11) 1 Pet. 2:18; Prov. 23:22; Gen. 9:23 #(12) Ps. 127:3-5; Prov. 31:23

patrokov said...

And don't forget that Thomas Aquinas' position is that we have duty to ignore unjust laws.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Interesting. Focusing on the term "due" reminds me of the debate whether "due process" has by its nature a substantive component to it as the originalists who argue in favor of SDP would note.

Romans 13 seems clear on its face that rebellion is never permitted. Yet other parts of the Bible (Acts 5:29) obviously note if government commands a believer to sin, you must disobey.

Putting the two together, that means submission to government, no matter how tyrannical, is unconditional. If government commands you to sin, disobey but do not resist the legitimate Romans 13 power of the tyrannical government and accept the legitimacy of whatever punishment they give you, even if it means being thrown to the lions.

That's what the Bible teaches.

Clayton said...

I have just finished reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrestled with this same problem. There was a duty to disobey illegitimate governmental commands, and eventually, he came to terms with the idea that some governments do things that are so wrong that they lack legitimacy.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well DB went thru issues with which America's Founders, and before them dissident Christian sects, struggled.

So there was a rich philosophical literature that argued "rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." And, unlike America's Founders, DB clearly opposed a tyrant. Not that I'm a fan a King George III; but if he was a tyrant, then libertarians rightly categorize just about every American politician, perhaps even Washington (for the way he handled the Whiskey rebellion) as a tyrant.

The problems as I see it are 1) the Bible doesn't teach you can rebel against tyrants or otherwise give guidance for when a government does such evil that they no longer have Romans 13 legitimacy. You have to get the answer from PHILOSOPHY. That means Thomists (like Roman Catholics and some Protestants) are open to such truths. But verse and chapter evangelicals who don't believe in a natural law supplement to the Bible are left out.

And 2) where does one draw the line on when government does such evil that they lose its Romans 13 legitimacy? Even Hitler's government controlled petty crime and hence fulfilled a Romans 13 function of rulers. Likewise every single government, even those with whose leadership we endorse, has messed up and done evil.

Clayton said...

You might have to actually make some hard decisions about which evils are minor enough to ignore, and which require rebellion. Hitler's government controlled petty crime--but compared to the great crimes they committed, so what?