Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For lit is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Biblical Christianity is clearly becoming less palatable to the wider Australian society. Draconian laws about religious “tolerance”, an impending move toward homosexual “marriage”, the erosion of free speech, tighter laws about the education of children; all of these developments are serious threats to the freedom of the Christian.
I have been convinced for some time that the Church needs to develop a stronger theology of the civil magistrate, or civil authority. We have been privileged to be in a culture which was largely sympathetic to the Christian faith, and even at times officially endorsed it. This is rapidly evaporating, and the need for a careful and biblical doctrine of political authority is urgent.
I do wonder if a strong theology of the civil magistrate might have helped prevent what is now occurring, and we need to be ready in season and out. The scriptures, the early church fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, the Huguenots, and many others, have all done the hard work on this in the trenches. As a part of our Doctrine series, Glenn Ward will be bringing us a sermon on ‘Liberty of Conscience’ later this year. I look forward to this, as Hills Bible Church begins to consider our approach to these issues.