Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Honor the emperor

In this post I’m not taking sides on AHA controversy. I’m just commenting on an objection to AHA.

Below is a guest post from Justin Edwards. Justin was one of the leaders of the Abolitionist Society of North Carolina, a chapter of the larger AHA movement.

So to anticipate one objection, yes, I am still an abolitionist, but no, I no longer endorse or support AHA.

AHA claims to be under the authority of the local church, yet the church many of them are a part of is not a local church ruled by, led by, taught by, or equipped by elders, which Jesus Christ has appointed to shepherd His Church realized in the local church (Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 5:17). Nor is this a church plant that was established under the authority of another local church, nor are the members at Door of Hope sent out to do any work of the ministry they claim to be doing. This is where their orthodoxy affects their orthopraxy in a negative way. They are in no way “subject to the elders” (1 Peter 5:5) and in no way can they “obey their leaders” (Hebrews 13:17) because they have no leaders (elders).

As long as he’s quoting 1 Peter, what about the second chapter:

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Slaves, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

Does Justin obey the emperor? I don’t mean, does he obey the President of the United States. Is he in submission to an emperor? Isn’t that what Peter commands? Submission to an emperor?

The authority of a US president is hardly equivalent to the authority of a Roman Emperor. Not on paper.

In no way can he obey the emperor because he has no emperor to honor.

Does Justin obey his slave-master? Isn’t that what Peter commands?

In no way can he honor his slave-master because he has no slave-master to obey.

On the face of it, isn’t Justin guilty of selectively prooftexting 1 Peter?

If contemporary Christians are obligated to institute elder-led churches, are contemporary Christians obligated to reinstitute slavery and reinstitute imperial government? 

Why does Justin tacitly assume that what Peter says about elders is transcultural, but what Peter says about emperors, slaves, and slave masters is culturebound?

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