When a Government Oversteps Its Authority

July 6, 2015

Shattered Dreams

During some of the darkest days of Germany, a faithful Lutheran presciently described how governments lose their claim to legitimate authority according to Romans 13.  Considering recent events here in the United States, where the unelected and unaccountable SCOTUS has decreed law, Hermann Sasse’s 1932 treatise, What is the State?, may warrant some thoughtful consideration:

The Caesar cult in its manifold forms, the deification of the state, is one great form of the defection from the [true] idea of the state. There are also other possibilities of such defection. The government can forget and neglect its tasks. When it no longer distinguishes between right and wrong, when its courts are no longer governed by the strict desire for justice, but by special interests, when government no longer has the courage to exercise its law, fails to exercise its duties, undermines its own legal order, when it weakens through its family law parental authority and the estate of marriage, then it ceases to be governing authority.

Raising such a question can lead to heavy conflicts of conscience. But it is fundamentally conceivable, and it has time and again become reality in history, that a governing authority has ceased to be governing authority. In such a case there may indeed exist a submission to a superior power. But the duty of obedience against this power no longer exists.

One Response to “When a Government Oversteps Its Authority”

  1. dalconstruct Says:

    When “graven” is used in the NT (for instance, Paul at Mars Hill) I have in mind a euphemistic “misplaced faith.” From the Babel account, to the coin Jesus asked the Jews about, to the Revelation “mark” of the you know what, the issue seems to be: What do YOU see and how does it shape your faith when you live under your contemporary man-made system? The answer appears to be a matter of life and death, in Scripture, as opposed to “Oops, I saw the coin to be Caesar’s instead of God’s, honest mistake.”. If accurate, that could make your post, above, critical wisdom for today.


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