Pg 231 – They Thought They Were Free
I had several talks with a country pastor, an anti-Nazi, who, without challenging the one Scripture that “we ought to obey God rather then men,” shook his head doggedly and reverted, again and again, to the other Scripture that “the powers that be are ordained of God.”
The referenced verses are: Acts 5:27-29 (Peter and the Apostle)
When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
and Romans 13:1 (Paul)
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
I just finished a post about Romans 13 with respect to voting and I didn’t include the Acts verses above. Silly me. For a lengthy discussion about it, see the above link.
Irregardless of my prior writings, these two verses seem to contradict each other. However, as I do believe in the God inspired Bible, and that God by His nature can’t be contradictory, I have to believe that these verses aren’t contradictory and in consideration they actually pair up quite nicely.
Christians are oft noted for believing that God created everything and that everything that exists is sustained (indirectly and/or directly) by God. If that is so, then some would see a contradiction in that Sin exists in the world and thus must also be created and sustained by God.
I don’t think that most Christians have a problem resolving the above notion, because Sin, by definition, is a corruption of an original, good work. Sin is not a stand alone entity; it is a parasite in that it requires good and wholesome things to exist in order to pervert them. Property has to exist before one can Steal. Love has to exist for Lust to exist. Life and Murder. There is no perversion without the un-perverted. Everything that exists can be created by God, but we as humans have been given authority over the world and we have since perverted it. For there is no thing except that which was created by God, and those which exist are established by God.
The same can be said of authority. All authority derives itself from God. There is no authority that exists which is apart from God. However, like creation, authority can be perverted and usurped. Does that mean that it is no longer of God? No, just as the earth and humans have become a perversion of our true selves, we are still created by God and sustained by Him. There is no true separation except that which comes by utter destruction. We can usurp that authority and pervert it, but it remains from God.
So if all authority is derived from God, does that mean we should obey all the authorities of this life? Peter and the apostles didn’t because they recognized the true source of authority and that the High Priest’s authority was usurped and perverted away from Christ. Should we not recognize and do likewise?
This post is a continuation of a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do recommend reading it. To see the short review of the book itself please click this link, to see other commentary like this post click this link.