The Right to an American Revolution

 

Scripture:

Proverbs 20:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.

Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear the Lord and the king; Do not associate with those given to change.

Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the government authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  Render therefore to all there due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

I Peter 2:13-17 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God. Honor the king.

Well, that is a lot to absorb. As a thesis, I will say that I believe the American Revolution can be supported by Scripture.  Many pacifist Christians of that day and our day state that it was an act of rebellion; some even reiterate this with the fact that there were 13 colonies and thirteen is a number which means rebellion.  But the question is was the Revolution or rebellion justified or was it contrary to the will of God.

In I Peter I see a key as an honor to those in authority.  My first piece of support will be the fact that the colonists did honor the King and its mother country for many years. In fact, they had diligently pursued reconciliation, lived a Christian life, and honored Great Britain through obedience and dependence on the mother country for decades and even centuries (Hopkins, 1970). Therefore they did honor the King and mother country for a period of time while stating grievances all the way through the Declaration of Independence.

The Colonists were willing to support the mother country but in the final two years before the war began, they believed they had to defend themselves because they Battle of Lexingtonwere now on defense and not receiving any real ability to negotiate their position.  King George III had dispatched 25,000 troops to invade the colonies and invade homes and imprison them without proper legal actions.  Colonists believed this did, so do I, violate British Common Law, English Bill of Rights, as well as the Magna Carta.  At this point, the America’s began to assemble a military for self-defense (Witherspoon, 1815).  Most history states the Colonists never fired the first shot in the Boston Massacre, Lexington, or Concord; the skirmishes were therefore self-defense.  The Lexington command was “Don’t fire unless fired upon”.

Some Old Testament scripture to support civil revolutions or self-defense would be the story of Daniel and the three Hebrew Children refusing to worship another God (Dan. 3,6), Moses revolting against the Egyptian Empire, (N.T) Acts 4-5 when the Apostles were forbidden to use the name of Jesus, and not directly obeying Church authority when Paul disagreed with Peter about ministering to the gentiles (Peter was the current head of the Church).

It seems most founding era clergy leaders who supported the Revolution simply believed in submitting to the government as an institution but not be pushed around by a tyrant King who had become disconnected with the New World.  The scriptures above, as well as the leading of the Holy Spirit, told them that this Revolution was their divine right as human beings in another land than their mother country.

References

Barton, D. (n.d.). The American Revolution: Was it an act of biblical rebellion? Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders, Inc.

Hopkins, S. (1970). The Grievances of the American colonies candidly examined. New York: Research Reprints Inc.

Witherspoon, J. (1815). The Works of John Witherspoon. Volume IX. Edinburgh, J. Ogle.

 

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