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Unlawful Taxation and Unlawful Civil Government (Mark #60) by Greg Price (Free MP3)
This sermon provides faithful biblical guidelines concerning what the Bible teaches about paying taxes while introducing Scriptural teaching on how to determine if a particular civil government is lawful or unlawful according to God's Word (the Bible). The classic Knoxian, Covenanter, Reformed Presbyterian position is defended here and will certainly hold some surprises for most modern Christians. Includes quotes from such Covenanter classics as Samuel Rutherford's Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince. For much more on this subject see Greg Price's book, which is free online, Biblical Civil Government Versus the Beast and the Basis for Christian Resistance.
Does not Christ confirm the lawful authority of the beast of Rome when He says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Mt. 22:21)?
Answer: This question was proposed by the enemies of Christ (the Pharisees and the Herodians) in order to "entangle him" (Mt. 22:15). If Christ were to answer, "Render the tribute to Caesar", the Pharisees (who strongly opposed Roman complicity) would have slandered Christ as a Roman sympathizer. However, if Christ were to answer, "Render not the tribute to Caesar", the Herodians (who strongly supported Roman alliances) would have slandered him as being an avowed enemy to Caesar. But the Lord Jesus "perceived their wickedness" and essentially gave them a non-answer to their question. Since it was not an honest question, Christ did not play into their trap by answering their question. In fact, "they could not take hold of his words before the people" (Lk. 20:26). Even they could not clearly understand what He had said about the issue of paying tribute to Caesar. Thus, if the enemies of Christ couldn't pin Him to an answer one way or the other (though they would have loved to), neither can any one living today conclude whether Christ condemned paying tribute to Caesar or commended it from His answer. Such evasion to entrapment was used by Christ on other occasions as well (cf. Mk. 11:27-33; Jn. 8:1-11). Even if Christ did endorse the paying of tribute to Caesar, that is not an oath of allegiance paid to Caesar, nor a declaration concerning the lawfulness of Caesar's authority. For tribute exacted by an unlawful government is simply extortion required by a thief who threatens to take all your property if you don't pay him part of your property. Furthermore, even foreigners and aliens pay taxes to nations in which they work without declaring any allegiance to the civil government of that nation. Thus, the payment of taxes is not an oath of allegiance. - Greg Price, Biblical Civil Government Versus the Beast and the Basis for Christian Resistance (emphases added).
"... and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." - Revelation 13:2, KJV
I lay down this maxime of Divinitie; Tyranny being a worke of Sathan, is not from God, because sinne either habituall or actuall, is not from God; the power that is, must be from God; the Magistrate as Magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsecall end of his office, Rom. 13:4. for he is the Minister of God for thy good; and therefore a power ethicall, politick, or morall, to oppresse, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God, but from sinfull nature, and the old serpent, then a license to sinne. - Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince (1644), emphases added. Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince is available on the Puritan Hard Drive along with many other books and MP3s by Samuel Rutherford.
"No manifest idolater, nor notorious transgressor of God's holy precepts, ought to be promoted to any public regiment [i.e. government-GLP], honour, or dignity, in any realm, province, or city that has subjected itself to his blessed evangel". - John Knox from "Summary of the Proposed Second Blast of the Trumpet" , as cited in Greg Price, Biblical Civil Government Versus The Beast; and The Basis for Civil Resistance.
A search for the word "Church", using the Master Search index on the Puritan Hard Drive, brings up 349,881 results in 1,523 documents, and a search for the word "State", using the Master Search index on the Puritan Hard Drive, brings up 157,014 results in 1,524 documents -- all of which gives you the search term in the context of one line (under each book title in which they are found), and when you click on this line the Puritan Hard Drive opens the correct book, to the correct page, and highlights your search term. There are also 317 Reformed resources under the category "Civil Government and Resistance" on the Puritan Hard Drive.
Godless Civil Rulers Exposed and Rebuked From Scripture by Greg Price (Free MP3)
If the vassal does not keep the fealty he swore, his fief is forfeited and he is legally deprived of all prerogatives. So also with the king. If he neglects God, if he goes over to His enemies and is guilty of felony towards God, his kingdom is forfeited of right and is often lost in fact. - Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) (commonly know in English as A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, SWRB reprint, on the Puritan Hard Drive or free at https://www.constitution.org/vct/vct.htm
Moreover, to kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates, we affirm that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation of the religion appertains; so that not only they are appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and for suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever: as in David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others, highly commended for their zeal in that case, may be espied. - The Scottish Confession of Faith (written by John Knox and others), Chapter 24, 1560, emphases added
Furthermore, it is the moral duty of all Christians to resist civil governments which rule by tyranny and establish their thrones by wickedness. The habitual tyranny of unlawful civil governments against God's moral law and against His Christ is manifested in their framing "mischief by law" (Ps. 94:20). The following are just a few of the many notorious and habitual violations of God's moral law which are legally protected by national constitutions and civil ordinances in nations today.
a. Legal protection of idolatry and false worship within a nation that has been enlightened by the gospel, together with a refusal to establish the true reformed religion as the only established religion within that nation.
b. Refusal to affirm in constitutional documents that God's moral law is the supreme law of the land (within a nation enlightened by the gospel), but to the contrary, the legal declaration of an immoral constitution to be the supreme law of the land.
c. Refusal to nationally acknowledge Jesus Christ as the supreme Ruler of the nation whom all civil magistrates are obligated to "kiss" (i.e. to publicly honor) in their official functions (Ps. 2:12).
d. Legal protection of public blasphemy against the name of the Lord in all forms of media.
e. Refusal to prohibit all unnecessary work on the Lord's Day.
f. Tyranny exercised over families in prohibiting corporal discipline and home education without government certification.
g. Legal endorsement of the slaughter and murder of unborn children.
h. Legal protection of gross immorality, sexual perversion and heinous pornography.
i. Habitual theft through unjust and excessive taxes and through inflated paper currency.
j. Habitual covenant breaking.
Without a doubt Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince, by Samuel Rutherford, is one of the greatest books on political philosophy ever written. Samuel Rutherford's teaching, taken from Scripture, decimated the "divine right of kings" doctrine and set up Scripture as the standard by which to judge the actions, beliefs and constitutions of civil government. Picking up where Brutus, in A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, left off, Rutherford here has penned a great Christian charter of liberty against all forms of civil tyranny -- vindicating the Scriptural duty to resist tyrants as an act of loyalty to God. Rutherford wrote this book to promote the great work of covenanted reformation taking place in his day. Murray, in his Life of Samuel Rutherford (1827) notes, "The work caused great sensation on its appearance. Bishop Guthrie mentions, that every member of the (Westminster--RB) assembly 'had in his hand that book lately published by Mr. Samuel Rutherford.' Don't miss this title, as its contents will become more and more valuable to the extent that present civil governments deny the Lordship of Christ, "frame wickedness by law," and persecute the faithful. Also includes George Buchanan's De Jure Regni apud Scotos (in English).
Reformation is desperately needed in our languishing nations. In the past, not only did biblical reformation sweep the church in doctrine, worship, and government, but also reformation of biblical Christianity was promoted and accelerated by Christian magistrates who wholeheartedly supported and defended the ministry of the reformed churches. Reformation is never easy. The truth is no more fashionable today than it was at the time of our reformed and covenanted forefathers. If we would see reformation we must return to the old paths of our God and of our forefathers. What is presented in the following pages is not a novel view of civil magistracy, but one which is believed to be both biblical and representative of our reformed and presbyterian forefathers from the covenanted reformation at the time of the Westminster Assembly. Civil magistracy is a blessed ordinance of the living God, given to the human family in order that it might reflect the order in which God so much delights ("For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" 1 Cor. 14:33). This ordinance should be so cherished by God's people that when the ruling civil magistrate cannot be owned as "the ordinance of God" within a nation, the hearts of God's people both sadly bemoan that fact and earnestly pray that God would in His mercy remove His righteous anger from the land and grant nursing fathers to the church.May God be pleased to open the eyes of His people to the need for reformation in the divine ordinance of civil magistracy. - Greg Price, Biblical Civil Government Versus the Beast; and, The Basis For Civil Resistance (emphases added), free online at https://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/bibcg_gp.htm
Prince Messiah's Claims to Dominion Over All Governments: and the Disregard of His Authority by the United States in the Federal Constitution (1832) by James R. Willson (Digital Download, SWRB PDF At PuritanDownloads.com)
The orthodox churches believe also, and do willingly acknowledge, that every lawful magistrate, being by God himself constituted the keeper and defender of both tables of the law, may and ought first and chiefly to take care of God's glory, and (according to his place, or in his manner and way) to preserve religion when pure, and to restore it when decayed and corrupted: and also to provide a learned and godly ministry, schools also and synods, as likewise to restrain and punish as well atheists, blasphemers, heretics and schismatics, as the violators of justice and civil peace. - George Gillespie (Scottish Commissioner At the Westminster Assembly), Works of George Gillespie, 1:12.
An excerpt from this debate follows:
John Knox: My Lord, said he, The plain words of the Apostle makes the difference, and the facts of many approved by God, prove my affirmative. First the Apostle affirms, That the powers are ordained of God, for the preservation of quiet and peaceable men, and for the punishment of malefactors; whereof it is plain, That the Ordinance of God and the power given unto man, is one thing, and the person clad with the Authority, is another; For God's Ordinance is the conservation of mankind, The punishment of vice, and the maintenance of virtue, which in itself is holy, just, constant, stable, and perpetual; but men clad with the Authority, are commonly profane and unjust; yea, they are mutable, transitory, and subject to corruption, as God threateneth by his Prophet David, saying, I have said ye are gods, and every one of you the sons of the most high; but ye shall die as men, and the Princes shall fall like others. [Psalm 82.] Here I am assured, that the persons, yea soul and body, are threatened with death; I think that so ye will not affirm, is the Authority, the Ordinance, and the Power, wherewith God endued such persons; for (as I have said) it is holy, so [it] is the permanent will of God. And now, my Lord, that the Prince may be resisted, and yet the Ordinance of God not violated: It is evident that the people resisted Saul, when he had sworn by the living God that Jonathan should die; The people (I say) swore in the contrary, and delivered Jonathan, so that a hair of his head fell not: Now Saul was the Anointed King, and they were his subjects, and yet they resisted him, that they made him no better than men sworn.
Lethington: I doubt (said Lethington) That in so doing, the people did well.
John Knox: The Spirit of God (said the other) accuses them not of any crime, but rather praises them, and condemns the King, as well for his foolish vow and Law made without God, as for his cruel mind, that so severely would have punished an innocent man: But herein will I not stand; this that followeth shall confirm the former. This same Saul commanded Abimelech and the Priests of the Lord to be slain, because they had committed Treason (as he alleged) for intercommuning with David: His Guard, and principal servants, would not obey his unjust commandment [1 Sam. 22]; But Doeg the flatterer put the King's cruelty in execution. I will not ask your judgment, Whether that the servants of the King, in not obeying his Commandment, resisted the Ordinance of God, or not; or, Whether Doeg, in murdering the Priests, gave obedience to a just Authority: For I have the Spirit of God, speaking by the mouth of David, for assurance, as well of the one, as of the other; for he in his 52nd Psalm, condemns that fact, as a most cruel murder; and affirms, That God would punish, not only the commander, but also the merciless executer: And therefore I conclude, That they who gainstood his commandment, resisted not the Ordinance of God. And now (my Lord) to answer to the place of the Apostle, who affirms, That such as resist the Power, resist the Ordinance of God; I say, That such power in that place is not to be understood of unjust commandment of men, but of the just power wherewith God hath armed his Magistrates and Lieutenants, to punish sin, and maintain virtue. And if any man should enterprise to take from the hands of the faithful Judge a murderer and adulterer, or any malefactor that deserved death, this same resisteth God's Ordinance, and procureth to himself vengeance and damnation, because that he stayed God's Sword from striking. But so it is, if men in the fear of God oppose themselves to the fury and blind rage of Princes; for so they resist not God, but the devil, who abuses the Sword and Authority of God.
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God! (Return to the Hiding Place Movie) by Kevin Swanson Interviewing Dr. Peter Spencer and Petra Pierce (Free MP3)
A new motion picture tells the powerful story of the young Dutch men and women who resisted the Nazi tyranny during World War II, saving hundreds of innocent lives. These brave men and women defended the lives of Jews, and organized a resistance that hampered the Nazi occupation. Kevin Swanson interviews Dr. Peter Spencer and Petra Pierce, producers of this impacting story and how young people need to be trained to resist tyrants -- because resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
One of the most radical French expressions of the right of resistance was that voiced by Phillipe du Plessis-Mornay in his Vindiciae contra tyrannos (1579) (commonly know in English as A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants - ed.). Julian H. Franklin has said that Mornay was not a theologian trying to soothe conscientious doubts, "but a soldier and a statesman exhorting to revolt." Still, Franklin himself is willing to admit that Mornay is more militant than Beza when it comes to considering the issue of resistance on religious as opposed to strictly political grounds.
Mornay does not let resistance depend on constitutional history or public law, as Viret and Beza did, but rather upon a general assumption that every government has an overriding religious obligation to maintain in all cases, and that if this obligation is breached anywhere, then the ruler can be deposed by his people.
Mornay addresses this issue in the first question of the Vindiciae, where he asks, "Are subjects bound to obey princes if their orders contradict the law of God?" His answer explains the contractual agreement among God, rulers, and the people in feudal terms:
If the vassal does not keep the fealty he swore, his fief is forfeited and he is legally deprived of all prerogatives. So also with the king. If he neglects God, if he goes over to His enemies and is guilty of felony towards God, his kingdom is forfeited of right and is often lost in fact.
Mornay extends this obligation to all nations, regardless of their constitutional history, basing his argument on what is commonly referred to as "covenant theology": The people and the king enter a covenant with God to maintain proper order, including, of course, proper order in worship. Each individual, as well as the king, is responsible for seeing that his covenant is fulfilled.
The importance of the worship issue for Mornay's covenant theory becomes apparent when he tries to provide a historical example.
Mornay uses the case of King Josiah, indicating that the covenant between God and the Jews stipulated that "the king and his entire people would worship God according to the prescription of His Law (i.e. the regulative principle of worship - ed.) as individuals and would act collectively to protect their worship."
Moreover, Mornay is not content with merely using this ancient covenant as an example. He insists that the same principles apply to his own day, arguing that Christian rulers stand in the place of the Jewish kings, and that it is their duty to ensure the fulfillment of God's Law.
Mornay proposes that if the ancient Jews were enjoined to resist godless rulers, the same must surely hold for Christians. Mornay stipulates that it is the duty of the people to safeguard pure worship. When dealing with this issue, then, Mornay insists that the question of idolatry is of prime importance, particularly because the violation of "pure worship" and the persecution of the true Church are the principal grounds for resistance...
Peter Martyr echoed this sentiment in 1554, writing "wherefore for as much as idolatry is the cause of captivity, pestilence, and famine, and overthrowing of publique wealthes, shall it not pertaine unto the Magistrate to repress it, and to keep the true sound religion?" (Commentary on Judges, 1564 ed., fold. 266v-267r). - Carlos M. N. Eire, War Against The Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin (pp. 298-299, 300 [n89]), Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1-7 by James M. Willson and Other Books and MP3s Defending the Classic Reformation Position on Civil Government (Free MP3 Audio Books, Free Online Books and Other Formats)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (23:4) states, "that infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to him." Isn't this contrary to the position affirmed in this book?
Answer: No, it is not. Some of the men quoted throughout this book (e.g. George Gillespie and Samuel Rutherford) were Scottish delegates to the Westminster Assembly, and knew very well the position endorsed concerning the civil magistrate in the Confession of Faith. Rutherford's classic treatment of civil magistracy, Lex, Rex agrees with the Confession's position concerning the civil magistrate. The following explanation summarizes well the meaning and intent of the Westminster divines.
They distinguished between reformed and enlightened lands, and those that were unreformed and unenlightened. In the latter [i.e. in unreformed and unenlightened lands--GLP], many things may be borne with, which ought not to be suffered in the former [i.e. in reformed and enlightened lands--GLP]; particularly, when by a solemn national act, they have made scriptural qualifications essential to the civil constitution. This our ancestors did in their Covenants National and Solemn League. All ranks and conditions in the realm solemnly swore to use every lawful endeavour to extirpate [i.e. uproot--GLP] popery, prelacy, &c. . . . Let the authority of the magistrate be just and legal, we will then hold ourselves conscientiously bound to yield obedience. No authority can be just and legal, with which a contradiction to the moral law is essentially incorporated. Simple infidelity will not render it unjust, either in a heathen country, or in one emerging from Pagan darkness. Neither will simple difference in religion make it void, when the nation have not, by their own solemn act and deed, made conformity [of the religion of the magistrate--GLP] an essential article of their constitution. There may be many defects in a civil constitution, and yet [it--GLP] is morally binding upon a nation: but where plain immorality, or a solemn obligation to support what the Legislator of the universe prohibits under the severest penalties, is essentially incorporated therewith, it cannot bind the conscience. (Samuel Wylie, Two Sons Of Oil; or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy And Ministry Upon A Scriptural Basis (Pottstown, Pennsylvania: Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Publishing  1995), pp. 59, 60 and free online at https://www.covenanter.org/Wylie/twosonsofoil.htm)
- Greg Price, Biblical Civil Government Versus the Beast and the Basis for Christian Resistance (emphases added).
One factor behind this rising tension was that Huguenot political rhetoric had required a decidedly anti-royalist tone during the second and third civil wars. While Calvin's Institution of the Christian Religion seemed to suggest that private citizens owed their obedience even to an ungodly king -- only lesser magistrates could legally oppose the authority of a wicked king -- his biblical commentaries published late in his life offered more intriguing possibilities. In his Readings on the Prophet Daniel first published in 1561, Calvin argued that when Daniel refused to obey King Darius, 'he committed no sin', since whenever rulers disobeyed God, 'they automatically abdicate their worldly power'. Calvin went even further in his Sermons on the Last Eight Chapters of the Book of Daniel published posthumously in 1565. Describing the same biblical incident, Calvin argued that when Kings defy God, 'they are no longer worthy to be counted as princesŠ [And] when they raise themselves up against GodŠ it is necessary that they should in turn be laid low'. - Mack P. Holt, The French Wars of Religion 1562-1629, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995, 2005), p. 78, emphases added
David Steele's comments on all the items in the title, along with additional notes on the National and Solemn League and Covenant, Sola Scriptura and more. He also answers a common objection brought against Covenanters: "Covenanters pay taxes for the support of what they call immoral civil power; yet inconsistently refuse to perform the other duties of good citizens."
Pastor Greg L. Price Reviews and Recommends
the Puritan Hard Drive
Pastor Greg L. Price
I was one of those who had profited much from using the plethora of out-of-print Reformation materials offered by Still Waters Revival Books in the 62 CDs (Puritan CDs and Reformation CDs) for a number of years in my ministry -- works that I could only have found in select libraries (usually hundreds of miles away from my residence).
With the CDs, it took a little while to go to the index of each set, locate the documents I needed, and then find the correct CD. Of course, the time was always well spent in finding that particular document that I needed.
However, now that I have the Puritan Hard Drive, I am able to use my time much more efficiently in finding that particular document I need by quickly searching for it and finding it in a matter of seconds. It's like going from "dial up" to "high-speed" Internet!
And for all of those documents that have a font that are in block letters, I am able to simply cut and paste from the Puritan Hard Drive to my own document with ease.
Amazing surprises do come in small packages!
If you want to understand Reformed theology (i.e., the whole counsel of God) the Puritan Hard Drive is unsurpassed, outside the Bible itself. The First and Second Reformations gave us the most faithful Scriptural teaching and preaching since the time of the Apostles, and there is no other resource, outside Scripture itself, where you can find so much of God's truth as in the Puritan Hard Drive.
May the Lord continue to use this most profitable tool to promote a Third Reformation that encompasses the whole world (Isaiah 2:2-4)!
- Pastor Greg L. Price (Covenanted Presbyterian Pastor, Author, Theologian, etc.) Free online books, MP3s and videos by Greg Price at https://www.swrb.com/newslett/freebook/gprice.htm
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