The Most Disastrously Misinterpreted Scripture
|The thirteenth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans is the classic passage used by Christians to justify the existence of the State. The famous language "The powers that be are ordained of God" is found in that chapter.|
|Actually, this website is devoted to only the first 7 verses of Romans 13. If we have a "hidden agenda," however, it is to view these seven verses in the context of the entire Bible. Those who see in Romans 13:1-7 a divine approval for "the State" take it out of its Biblical context.|
|In his three-volume Systematic
well-respected Calvinist theologian Charles
This claim is typical, vague, and overstated. Hodge says in effect,
where "y" = "the duty of citizens to their rulers."
"x" must surely include "the duty of rulers to their citizens." All of this is certainly not spelled out "comprehensively" in Romans 13. It turns out very little is spelled out in Romans 13.
Our position is that Romans 12 and 13 must be taken together as a unit. Our chapter divisions are not part of Paul's original letter. Romans 12 says "don't return evil for evil; submit to evil, even (Romans 13) the most evil thing on the planet: the State."
But most Christians assume that the State is good. It is "a divine institution," we're told. Romans 13 doesn't really teach this, especially in its Biblical context.
It should be easy enough to remember the three neglected themes of Romans 12-13:
|The Romans13.com website is
produced by a non-profit educational ministry called Vine
& Fig Tree. [VFT
homepage] Kevin Craig is the principal writer and editor. He is
a six-day creationist
and a five-point Calvinist.
More on his credo here.
The name Vine & Fig Tree comes
Washington's favorite Bible passages which speak of everyone dwelling
safely under his own vine and fig tree. This social condition comes about
after mankind turns to God's
Law, allowing God to rule,
and we beat our swords into
Get an audio tour of this website by the author
Our agenda is open and public. Vine & Fig Tree promotes the non-violent abolition of all governments. More about the V&FT agenda follows.
|Some might call this a "utopian"
goal, but it is clearly the Biblical goal. Romans 13 is always used to
stand in the way of this goal of peace.
George Washington's Diaries are available online at the Library of Congress. That website introduces those writings with these words:
The best place to see the Vine & Fig Tree ideal is in the book of Micah.
Let's look at Micah's prophecy (on the left)
and ask a few questions (on the right):
|America's Founding Fathers abolished
a government they described as a "tyranny."
Taxes were 1/20th what they
are today, and the government they abolished would never have dreamed of
using tax revenue to fund abortions, remove the Ten Commandments from
local schools, give foreign aid to Saddam Hussein during his war with
Iran, and build more than 700 military bases around the world, all of
which the government created by America's Founders went on to do.
|This website disagrees with
America's Founders on an important point. The Founders believed that God
commanded human beings to form governments. Governments were necessary,
the Founders believed, to preserve social order by
promoting the Christian religion. The State was seen as "a
Minister of Justice," as much a religious function as a
"minister of the Gospel." This website claims that "the
State" was invented by men, not God. Creation and maintenance of
"the State" is an act of rebellion against God. We want
governments to repent and go out of business.
|You may be deeply offended,
irritated, or worried about a proposal to eliminate all
"governments." It's a radically different way of thinking. We
think it's the Biblical way of thinking.
A "Paradigm Shift"
You hear that phrase thrown around a lot these days. Everybody wants their idea to be the next "paradigm shift." Paradigm-shifters are now mainstream. We believe Vine & Fig Tree represents a true break with the status quo, a change as momentous as that described by Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, upon hearing of Locke's rejection of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings:
Vine & Fig Tree really is a new "paradigm," a "Copernican revolution," a radical way of looking at politics and society. It is one step beyond the radical vision that motivated America's Founding Fathers. It is a vision so old that it appears to be utterly unprecedented.
The vision of Vine & Fig Tree gives energy and hope to those who work for it. It inspires dedicated action.
We are convinced that Vine & Fig Tree will contribute to the Glory of God and the greater happiness of mankind. It will animate future leaders and captivate the hearts and minds of many. There is something here that will resonate with a broad section of Americans.
Dr. Rush speaks of "a turning point," which is to speak of a turning from something to something else. From what should we turn? To what should we aspire?
We must move
|Americans in the 21st century would
consider the Americans of 1776 to have been "radical anarchists"
or even "terrorists."
But, of course, even the most libertarian of the Founders was not technically an anarchist.We are.
This monstrous violence against people is always done in the name of "the People"; these crimes are supposed to prevent crimes.
|In spite of the monstrous evil of
government violence, we have all been trained to have faith in the State.
When a calm, rational, well-documented indictment of the State is offered
and a proposal to embrace the world of Micah's Vine
& Fig Tree vision is made, most Christians immediately
This website seeks to answer these questions.
|Micah's Vine & Fig Tree vision insists that Christians should be working toward beating "swords into plowshares." The traditional interpretation of Romans 13 has resulted in millions of Christians standing idle in the face of horrifying evil, or even waving banners to support it, or even worse, putting on one of the State's uniforms to help carry it out.|
|As we enter the 21st century, we
look back on the most barbaric, lawless, and violent century in human
history. How ironic that most Americans think of this century as a period
of "progress" and "prosperity." In certain outward
respects, it has been.
Four decades ago in America, about 10,000 people were murdered in the span of a single year. These murders were "against the law."
Overall in the 20th century, "organized governments" have ordered or legalized the murder of 10,000 people each and every day."The State" turns out to be a far greater criminal than all the criminals it claims to protect us from.
And the global "New World Order" -- the epitome of the State -- is contemplating the murder of 15,000 people per hour until the luxurious living standards of the global elite are secure.
But don't blame the elite. 10,000 murders require 10,000 working-class people willing to don the uniform of the Empire and kill another human being in the interests of patriotism. This means 10,000 people who have lost touch with Christian morality. The 20th century has seen America transformed from a nation where "religion, morality and knowledge" were taught in every school, to a nation that twice elected Bill Clinton.
The greatest criminal on earth is "the
|The concept of "the
State" is the idea that some people have the right to violate God's
Commandments. Those people who call themselves "the State" claim
the right to take
vengeance on their enemies, and they have the right to confiscate
the property of others to fund their acts of vengeance. The statist
worldview justifies these actions. People who are called "the
State" have a tremendous advantage over people who are called
"businessmen" or "neighbors." Taxation, enslavement,
execution: it can't get any better than that.
But it can get much, much, worse.Violence. Today "the State" is clearly the greatest force for evil on the planet. More people are murdered, more lives enslaved, and more property confiscated or destroyed by "the State" than all the "criminals" and so-called "anarchists" combined. Hundreds of millions killed, billions enslaved, trillions of dollars stolen.
Secularization. And because "the State" begins with the foundational idea of stealing in order to kill, the more consistent it becomes in its rebellion against God's Commandments, the more atheistic it becomes. Virtually every "state" on earth today is atheistic, and the State has become (to use the words of A.A. Hodge) "the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen."
Opposition to Violence. Respectable theologians like John Frame and Gary North accept the moral legitimacy of this institution called "the State," though they reconstruct it in a way that departs from many historic, mainstream analyses, and in ways which are close to the "Vine & Fig Tree" position. But in the end, we're still very far apart, I fear. Frame's and North's most consistent students will not go down in history as great opponents of the murder, slavery, and theft on a massive global scale which "the State" represents.
Opposition to Secularism. Nor will Frame's theological package counter the big theological errors which cripple Christians and have served as the foundation of the State for the last couple of centuries. Not that Frame agrees with these errors -- he does not. But unless these errors are refuted in a way that also refutes the legitimacy of global murder, slavery and theft, the errors have not been refuted, and the secular State will grow.
Then, in turn, the continued existence of the State and the legitimacy of the concept of the State is a toxin which poisons society, causing great a vicious cycle of spiritual sickness and death.
This is a "worldview" issue. One's worldview determines the fundamental categories of interpreting the facts of our world.
Romans 13, it is argued, proves that we must not even try to create social order without a State. Ultimately this issue will not be resolved by the exegesis of a handful of Bible texts. This is really an entirely different way of reading the Bible and looking at human society.
"The State" owes its existence to extortion and threats of violence ("taxation"), and its core purpose is vengeance, all of which are forbidden by God's Law. But most Christians believe that we cannot be secure without these sins being committed by "the State."
That word "secure" is part of the Biblical definition of "salvation." Modern Man believes "the State" brings salvation rather than God. Belief in the necessity or moral legitimacy of the State is a form of idolatry.
There is no legitimate human social function which cannot be more efficiently and humanely carried out without "the State." Self-government, family government, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, insurance, home security, dispute resolution and other businesses will all thrive without "the State."
They have in the past; they must in the future.
Among anarchists there is a debate as to whether our present huge global multinational corporations would exist without the State, e.g., whether Exxon would have its present form without the full resources of the million-man nuclear-armed military forces of a superpower State (the U.S.) overthrowing the government of Iran in 1953, raising up Saddam Hussein's army to battle Iran for over a decade in the 1980's, overthrowing Soviet-influenced governments in Latin America, creating "al Queda" to counter the Soviet Union's disruption of oil pipeline construction in Afghanistan, and myriad other ways in which a "Free Market" in energy has not existed since industrialists like Rockefeller created today's "Administrative State" to annul the Constitution and to carry out their corporate policies. (Pro-special-interest regulation was once "progressive" or "populist," said to be in the best interests of "the poor" or "the people," but today's regulation is now often carried out in the name of "de-regulation," a misnomer, just as "free trade agreements" do not make trade freer, but create huge new systems of government which are not bound down by "the chains of the Constitution.")
"The government" continues to create popular support for its own existence by manipulating education and the media to create the widespread popular belief that without "the State," "criminals" would "take over." We have all been trained to believe from our youngest days that "The State" protects "Life, Liberty and Property."
Today's federal government takes
over half of everything you earn. If we remove our patriotism-colored
glasses, it will immediately become apparent that "the State"
destroys more lives, enslaves more individuals, and confiscates or
destroys more private property than all the "anarchists" and
"criminals" in the world combined.
The entire concept of "the State" is unBiblical and supremely dangerous.
Our worldview needs to exclude the whole idea that a group of people have the right to confiscate the wealth of others ("tax") to fund acts of vengeance against their competitors or "enemies." We do not allow this idea to become socially accepted in the world of business. The idea must become as socially unacceptable in the field of "government."
The future of the human race depends on this conversion.
With that introduction to Romans 13 and the Vine
& Fig Tree vision, let's consider these frequently
|The masses have learned a
subtle lesson from the teachers of the traditional interpretation
of Romans 13. The message of Romans 12 and the Sermon on the Mount -- love
your enemies, leave vengeance to God -- is said to apply only in our
lives. But as public officials, we must be "practical,"
"realistic," (or, as Christians might put it) "Godly"
men of "dominion." We must kill our enemies and take vengeance
on a massive scale through the State. Nobody wants to be
"unrealistic," "impractical," or
We all know that "public" is more important than
"private." That's "the real world." And so the violent
techniques of the State inexorably become imported into our
"private" lives, and forgiveness and love of enemy are lost in
the gossamer bedtime stories of women and children.
|Eight hundred years ago, Western
Civilization believed without question in "the
divine right of kings." Anyone carrying around a copy of the U.S.
Constitution as a model of government and suggesting that an orderly
society could survive without a king would have been mocked -- or
executed. Ideas we take for granted today -- like "consent
of the governed" -- would have shocked the conscience of our
In a few generations, a consistent "free market" approach to
civil government will be the norm. People will shake their heads when they
consider the 20th century State and the support it received from
Christians in America -- a society that permitted the confiscation of
nearly 75% of everyone's income by organized governments which murdered
hundreds of millions of people.
wants to be as god, dominating and controlling others. The follower of
Christ wants to be the servant of others.
When people hear the word "anarchy," they never
think of a situation in which all bureaucrats and tyrants have been
replaced with Christ-like servants.
When people think of "anarchy" what they really think of is
"multi-archy," with every individual trying to
be on top, everyone striving to be his own god, no one willing to lose his
life for others.
This shows that "anarchy" is really an impossibility. Forget what you may have heard about "the one and the many." It is a false philosophical construct. Any society which does not acknowledge Christ as the True and Only Archist inevitably succumbs to polyarchy. Even a centralized or monarchical Caesar requires an army of "little Caesars" in the military and the bureaucracies to carry out the State's decrees. Hitler did not murder six million Jews. That was done by millions of German archists.
It is important for Christians to be servants of the true King, and not archists over others.
The modern world
is an "archist" world. Archists are moving us toward a
"New World Order." Christians
cannot be a part of this. Jesus said NO to the "New World
Order" of His day, and He was executed as an anarchist (Luke
17:7). We must follow Christ, the King of kings, no matter what the
State may say. When the State claims to be God, Christians will be
persecuted no matter how much we "render unto Caesar" (John
Therefore we may as well accept it: Christian
"anarchism" is our goal.
Romans 13 does not say that "archists"
have a moral right to ignore Jesus' command. All men are commanded to be servants,
not archists. Romans 13 in
its context (Romans
12) tells us we are not to overcome archists by
becoming like archists, or by being more archist
than they are; we are not to render evil for evil. We are to be servants.
We are to submit to evil in faith, like Job did. Job was attacked by that
great archist, Satan. But Satan was "ordained by God" to attack
This is probably the toughest issue to come to grips with. All evil is predestined by God. Adolph Hitler did not bear the sword in vain. Saddam Hussein does not bear biological weapons in vain. Osama bin Laden does not bear suitcase-sized nuclear devices in vain. This is what Romans 13 actually teaches.
But that does not mean that we are off the hook, or that God is the "author of sin" (James 1:13-17). To understand Romans 13, we must develop the heart of a servant, and see God's sovereignty over evil.
Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists should be open to a "Paradigm Shift."
Romans 13 speaks of the State as (or in conjunction with) "the powers." This is a reference to evil angelic beings. Most Christians have given very little thought to what the Bible says about angels (good and bad). "Angels" has become another lucrative fad for Hallmark and the New Age movement. Most Americans hold a view of the world which bears a striking resemblance to the ancient religion of Baalism. Are you a Baalist? No point in reading any further if you are.
This is a book-length website. Here are some pages which dig deeper into the background and meaning of Romans 13. They explore God's sovereignty over evil, the work of angelic beings in the Providence of God, and the necessity of abolishing evil in the world, especially the State. These are the lost themes of Romans 13.
We recommend reading them in the order below. The first three pages are foundational. The first page helps us cultivate the heart of a servant and Christian non-archist. The second page is critical to understanding Romans 13, and the reader is urged to spend some time perusing the rest of the pages on that site ("TOTAL Predestination"), particularly the pages on "Baalism" and "Radical Calvinism."
For those who would like more detail, especially on the cultural background of Romans 13, the following are useful. These essays were written back in the early 1980's, and have not been revised since. We're counting on the reader being delayed by those first three pages (above) long enough for us to get the rest of these pages edited and revised. As you will discover, there are very few original thoughts on this website. Nearly all our ideas are plagiarized from other writers: Reformed, Dispensational, and even secular. Our contribution is putting them all together for the first time.
The most important proof of our thesis is simply going through the Bible and inductively putting together a theory of the State. Where did it originate? What does God say about it? The preponderance of the Biblical evidence is anti-State.
Here is what a Christian Anarchist looks likeafter he has joined The Christmas Conspiracy.
Other important angles:
Archive: View an earlier version of this website: August 3, 2001
Our plan is to analyze standard evangelical commentaries to see if there is any reason why we cannot abolish the State, and to create a one-stop shop for rebuttals to leading commentators on Romans 13. Watch for answers to these:
Additional Bibliography: http://www.textweek.com/pauline/romans.htm
If you know of other commentators we should listen to, please write us.
Please leave your comments here. (Vine & Fig Tree does not endorse any political candidates.)
Vine & Fig Tree
Taney County, MO
[e-mail to V&FT]
[V&FT Home Page]