The Use of Civil Disobedience, Part 1 (A Christian Manifesto Today Episode #48)

Welcome to A Christian Manifesto Today episode #48. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Torch Leadership Foundation.

Pastor and Christian philosopher, Francis A. Schaeffer, warned us and created the war plan that we as Christians need today to deal with a society that is increasingly moving away from God, the Bible, and moral principles. He wrote “A Christian Manifesto” over 33 years ago and its words are just as relevant today as they were back then.

Our Christian Manifesto Today Passage from the Word of God today is Daniel 3:8-18 which reads: “Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, [that] he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in [his] rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, [Is it] true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; [well]: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Our Christian Manifesto Today quote today is from Samuel Rutherford. He said: “When the supreme magistrate will not execute the judgment of the Lord, those who made him supreme magistrate, under God, who have under God, sovereign liberty to dispose of crowns and kingdoms, are to execute the judgment of the Lord, when wicked men make the law of God of none effect.”

In this podcast, we are using as our text: “A Christian Manifesto” by Francis A. Schaeffer.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer writes in “The Use of Civil Disobedience” (Part 1):

Civil disobedience is, of course, a very serious matter and it must be stressed that Rutherford was the very opposite of an anarchist. In Lex Rex he does not propose armed revolution as an automatic solution. Instead, he sets forth the appropriate response to interference by the state in the liberties of citizenry. Specifically, he stated that if the state deliberately is committed to destroying its ethical commitment to God then resistance is appropriate.

In such an instance, for the private person, the individual, Rutherford suggested that there are three appropriate levels of resistance. First, he must defend himself by protest (in contemporary society this would most often be by legal action); second, he must flee if at all possible; and, third, he may use force, if necessary, to defend himself. One should not employ force if he may save himself by flight; nor should one employ flight if he can save himself and defend himself by protest and the employment of constitutional means of redress. Rutherford illustrated this pattern of resistance from the life of David as it is recorded in the Old Testament.

On the other hand, when the state commits illegitimate acts against a corporate body—such as a duly constituted state or local body, or even a church—then flight is often an impractical and unrealistic means of resistance. Therefore, with respect to a corporate group or community, there are two levels of resistance: remonstration (or protest) and then, if necessary, force employed in self-defense. In this respect, Rutherford cautioned that a distinction must be made between a lawless uprising and lawful resistance.

For a corporate body (a civil entity), when illegitimate state acts are perpetrated upon it, resistance should be under the protection of the duly constituted authorities: if possible, it should be under the rule of the lesser magistrates (local officials). Rutherford urged that the office of the local official is just as much from God as is the office of the highest state official. Rutherford said, “When the supreme magistrate will not execute the judgment of the Lord, those who made him supreme magistrate, under God, who have under God, sovereign liberty to dispose of crowns and kingdoms, are to execute the judgment of the Lord, when wicked men make the law of God of none effect.”

Samuel Rutherford and Bob Dylan would have understood each other. In “When You Gonna Wake Up” from the album Slow Train Coming. Dylan has the lines:

Adulterers in churches and pornography in the schools
You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules

When you gonna wake up,
When you gonna wake up,
When you gonna wake up,
And strengthen the things that remain?

The difference in the centuries, and the difference in the language used, changes nothing.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s Pray.

* * * * * * * *

Dear friend, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how:

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, continue to stand for the Lord and his Word. God bless you!

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