Supremes to uphold right to bear arms

Judging from the different justices’ comments on the oral arguments over Washington, D.C.’s gun ban, it appears that the Supreme Court will rule that the 2nd Amendment does indeed give individuals and not just corporate militias the right to keep firearms.

The linked article said that the ruling might provide for some regulation, such as of military weapons such as machine guns. But if the Constitution specifies the role of individual ownership of weapons for militias, shouldn’t that apply specifically to military weapons? And doesn’t the 2nd Amendment amount to a constitutional requirement for local militias, of local civilians keeping weapons in their home so they can, if needed, be organized into a local defense or law enforcement force? That’s basically what Switzerland does. And 18th century America. The right should indeed inhere with individuals, but what should we do with the militia provision?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    But if the Constitution specifies the role of individual ownership of weapons for militias, shouldn’t that apply specifically to military weapons?

    Of course.

  • Carl Vehse

    But if the Constitution specifies the role of individual ownership of weapons for militias, shouldn’t that apply specifically to military weapons?

    Of course.

  • Joe

    The collective vs. individual right argument has largely been over within the halls of academia. I would imagine that 6 or 7 if not all 9 of the Justices will find that it is an individual right.

    The real battle is going to be over what level of constitutional scrutiny the court applies to gov’t efforts to regulate firearm ownership. Most constitutional rights are subject to the highest level of scrutiny called strict scrutiny. This ensures that the gov’t can only interfere with that right in extremely limited situations and requires the gov’t to prove that there is no other way to achieve their goal that would interfere with the right to a lesser degree. The supposedly conservative Bush department of justice argued for a lower level of scrutiny. In response Dick Cheney and some other administration folks filed their own brief and argued for strict scrutiny. This is where the real battle will be. I think you can count on four for strict scrutiny: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito. The Question is what level of scrutiny will Kennedy advocate. He is the new O’Connor (i.e. the swing vote) He was also extremely active in the oral argument.

    As far as styles of weapons, unfortunately most of the argument focused on the right of self-defense, which is at the heart of the 2nd Amendment. But so is the right to over through the gov’t if it becomes tyrannical. In fact, the Miller decision from the 30’s held that the gov’t could ban sawed-off shotguns because there was no evidence that such a weapon had any military value. In other words, the case that most gun grabbers like to cite as holding a collective view actually holds that you can only own military style weapons ie. machine guns. Justice Thomas has pointed this out a few times in concurring opinions.

  • Joe

    The collective vs. individual right argument has largely been over within the halls of academia. I would imagine that 6 or 7 if not all 9 of the Justices will find that it is an individual right.

    The real battle is going to be over what level of constitutional scrutiny the court applies to gov’t efforts to regulate firearm ownership. Most constitutional rights are subject to the highest level of scrutiny called strict scrutiny. This ensures that the gov’t can only interfere with that right in extremely limited situations and requires the gov’t to prove that there is no other way to achieve their goal that would interfere with the right to a lesser degree. The supposedly conservative Bush department of justice argued for a lower level of scrutiny. In response Dick Cheney and some other administration folks filed their own brief and argued for strict scrutiny. This is where the real battle will be. I think you can count on four for strict scrutiny: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito. The Question is what level of scrutiny will Kennedy advocate. He is the new O’Connor (i.e. the swing vote) He was also extremely active in the oral argument.

    As far as styles of weapons, unfortunately most of the argument focused on the right of self-defense, which is at the heart of the 2nd Amendment. But so is the right to over through the gov’t if it becomes tyrannical. In fact, the Miller decision from the 30’s held that the gov’t could ban sawed-off shotguns because there was no evidence that such a weapon had any military value. In other words, the case that most gun grabbers like to cite as holding a collective view actually holds that you can only own military style weapons ie. machine guns. Justice Thomas has pointed this out a few times in concurring opinions.

  • Rose

    Tiennamen Square would not have happened if the Chinese had the right to bear arms.
    Wouldn’t it be great if a model of the Chinese replica of the Statue of Liberty were in every school?

  • Rose

    Tiennamen Square would not have happened if the Chinese had the right to bear arms.
    Wouldn’t it be great if a model of the Chinese replica of the Statue of Liberty were in every school?

  • Bror Erickson

    It does seem to be a bit contradictory. The way I read the second amendment local governments should be giving you rebates for buying m16s.

  • Bror Erickson

    It does seem to be a bit contradictory. The way I read the second amendment local governments should be giving you rebates for buying m16s.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I want my full auto M16!

    Actually, I think I’d prefer something in .30 caliber….. :^)

    Yes, it does constitute at least a strong encouragement for state militias. Colorado even has a provision in the state constitution for exactly this.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I want my full auto M16!

    Actually, I think I’d prefer something in .30 caliber….. :^)

    Yes, it does constitute at least a strong encouragement for state militias. Colorado even has a provision in the state constitution for exactly this.

  • S Bauer

    I think I’ll take the M-1A2 Abrams, please.

  • S Bauer

    I think I’ll take the M-1A2 Abrams, please.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If you can “bear” or carry that, what on earth do you need any firearm for, S. Bauer? :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If you can “bear” or carry that, what on earth do you need any firearm for, S. Bauer? :^)

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@2) said “the right to over[throw] the gov’t if it becomes tyrannical” is “at the heart of the 2nd Amendment”.

    I suppose I might be showing my constitutional ignorance here, but I don’t see how the Constitution that is at the heart of our government also could have, at its core, a provision for the overthrowing of the same through armed insurrection. The 2nd Amendment seems pretty clearly to have as its concern “the security of a free State” (that is, the United States of America, whose legal core is the Constitution). Do you really think that the militias referred to in that amendment were set up to oppose the United States government? Or to defend it?

    Furthermore, have we as Christians forgotten Romans 13? Even if the Constitution granted us the power to rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders, we as Christians could not. Romans 13 is clear — even clearer than the awkward wording that is the 2nd Amendment!

    As for Rose’s idea (@3: “Wouldn’t it be great if a model of the Chinese replica of the Statue of Liberty were in every school?”), I have a hard time seeing how this would not send children the message to rise up as one against authority. But maybe that’s just me.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@2) said “the right to over[throw] the gov’t if it becomes tyrannical” is “at the heart of the 2nd Amendment”.

    I suppose I might be showing my constitutional ignorance here, but I don’t see how the Constitution that is at the heart of our government also could have, at its core, a provision for the overthrowing of the same through armed insurrection. The 2nd Amendment seems pretty clearly to have as its concern “the security of a free State” (that is, the United States of America, whose legal core is the Constitution). Do you really think that the militias referred to in that amendment were set up to oppose the United States government? Or to defend it?

    Furthermore, have we as Christians forgotten Romans 13? Even if the Constitution granted us the power to rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders, we as Christians could not. Romans 13 is clear — even clearer than the awkward wording that is the 2nd Amendment!

    As for Rose’s idea (@3: “Wouldn’t it be great if a model of the Chinese replica of the Statue of Liberty were in every school?”), I have a hard time seeing how this would not send children the message to rise up as one against authority. But maybe that’s just me.

  • Steve

    tODD, you are showing a certain amount of Constitutional ignorance. The framers of the Constitution (and Bill of Rights) definitely had defendend the population from a tyranical state as part
    of their thinking. You have to remember the only goverenment our forefathers were familiar with was
    King George and the absolute rule of the monarchy.
    But I truly do not think or believe that “…rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders” was part of
    anybody’s thinking. But an armed local militia could stand its ground against a ‘tyrannical’ state government, whereas an unarmed citizenery could only
    submit.

  • Steve

    tODD, you are showing a certain amount of Constitutional ignorance. The framers of the Constitution (and Bill of Rights) definitely had defendend the population from a tyranical state as part
    of their thinking. You have to remember the only goverenment our forefathers were familiar with was
    King George and the absolute rule of the monarchy.
    But I truly do not think or believe that “…rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders” was part of
    anybody’s thinking. But an armed local militia could stand its ground against a ‘tyrannical’ state government, whereas an unarmed citizenery could only
    submit.

  • Don S

    tODD, Joe probably stated the case a bit strongly, but it is clear from historical context that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure that the the people and the states retained leverage over the newly founded federal government. There was great fear at the time that they had created a monster, and that the federal government would eventually overwhelm the ability of the several states to operate with the level of independents and self-governance they were accustomed to. As you will recall, the Constitution only came about some 8 years after the end of the Revolutionary War, because of sharp disagreement about establishing such a central government. First, the country operated under the Articles of Confederation, which basically provided for the 13 states operating independently with mutual aid treaties between them.

    So, it wasn’t so much that the 2nd Amendment was provided so the government could be overthrown, but it was certainly there to keep it in check. It fit in with the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights to ensure a limited government.

    Unfortunately for all of us, that didn’t work out so well.

    Joe, great job summarizing the issues in your post # 2. If the Court doesn’t hold for a standard of strict scrutiny, we will essentially have a worthless constitutional right, kind of like our 1st Amendment right of free exercise of religion.

  • Don S

    tODD, Joe probably stated the case a bit strongly, but it is clear from historical context that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure that the the people and the states retained leverage over the newly founded federal government. There was great fear at the time that they had created a monster, and that the federal government would eventually overwhelm the ability of the several states to operate with the level of independents and self-governance they were accustomed to. As you will recall, the Constitution only came about some 8 years after the end of the Revolutionary War, because of sharp disagreement about establishing such a central government. First, the country operated under the Articles of Confederation, which basically provided for the 13 states operating independently with mutual aid treaties between them.

    So, it wasn’t so much that the 2nd Amendment was provided so the government could be overthrown, but it was certainly there to keep it in check. It fit in with the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights to ensure a limited government.

    Unfortunately for all of us, that didn’t work out so well.

    Joe, great job summarizing the issues in your post # 2. If the Court doesn’t hold for a standard of strict scrutiny, we will essentially have a worthless constitutional right, kind of like our 1st Amendment right of free exercise of religion.

  • jd

    all guns are military weapons

  • jd

    all guns are military weapons

  • Bror Erickson

    No jd,
    Though in a pinch the military man could use just about any gun, not all guns are military weapons, and those that are should hardly be called guns.
    Of the many different firearms availabe to the consumer at say cabella’s most are very impractical for military use. The “guns” that is shotguns for sale are usually tailor made for different hunting situations. They are good for upland game birds, or ducks, but not for home defense, the barrels are usually to long for such use. Nor are they good for police or military use, the last thing you want to do is send a slug down a choked barrel.
    The rifles too are good for hunting, usually haveing a scope and bolt action. Could be used for some sniping adventures, but would be very impractical in a battle.
    That isn’t to say there aren’t military style weapons one could buy at Cabellas. But the vast majority of them are not military weapons, not in the least. That said I have used assault rifles on a pig hunt once. That was kind of fun.

  • Bror Erickson

    No jd,
    Though in a pinch the military man could use just about any gun, not all guns are military weapons, and those that are should hardly be called guns.
    Of the many different firearms availabe to the consumer at say cabella’s most are very impractical for military use. The “guns” that is shotguns for sale are usually tailor made for different hunting situations. They are good for upland game birds, or ducks, but not for home defense, the barrels are usually to long for such use. Nor are they good for police or military use, the last thing you want to do is send a slug down a choked barrel.
    The rifles too are good for hunting, usually haveing a scope and bolt action. Could be used for some sniping adventures, but would be very impractical in a battle.
    That isn’t to say there aren’t military style weapons one could buy at Cabellas. But the vast majority of them are not military weapons, not in the least. That said I have used assault rifles on a pig hunt once. That was kind of fun.

  • Ricky P

    I think I’ll stick with my Bow and Hunting Rifle though my wife keeps a Glock. It’s your right as well as hers and is mine as well should I choose to do so as much as it is my right not to do so! I will not be selfish when it comes to this. I will also not enforce my ways upon others as I strongly agree with upholding the constitution along with every single one of it’s ammendments. I stand with those upholding their indevidual rights to make a free choice as to their personal decision as to own, keep and bear arms! To me it’s not about guns, it’s so much more! It’s about a free country remaining a free country with those presently giving their lives as have those in the past given their lives with the belief that the constitution not only spake of a militia but as to indeviduals maintaining such rights in the case need there be a malitia.

  • Ricky P

    I think I’ll stick with my Bow and Hunting Rifle though my wife keeps a Glock. It’s your right as well as hers and is mine as well should I choose to do so as much as it is my right not to do so! I will not be selfish when it comes to this. I will also not enforce my ways upon others as I strongly agree with upholding the constitution along with every single one of it’s ammendments. I stand with those upholding their indevidual rights to make a free choice as to their personal decision as to own, keep and bear arms! To me it’s not about guns, it’s so much more! It’s about a free country remaining a free country with those presently giving their lives as have those in the past given their lives with the belief that the constitution not only spake of a militia but as to indeviduals maintaining such rights in the case need there be a malitia.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Steve (@9) and Don (@10), the problem I see is that militias are defensive in nature, an ad hoc force to defend in times of war or insurrection, not to create them. Even the colonial militias did not have as their goal to assail or overthrow the British government, but to defend certain rights they felt they had, never mind Romans 13. I have no problem with an armed, defensive militia. But as a Christian, I must decry militias that are offensive or insurrectionist.

    Steve, you said you don’t “believe that ‘rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders’ was part of anybody’s thinking. But an armed local militia could stand its ground against a ‘tyrannical’ state government.” Honestly, what’s the difference? When a militia “stand[s] its ground,” is it just that you’re saying they can’t consider political leaders fair game? What if I’d written “rise up as a mob and gun down members of our military”? Is that any different from standing ground against a tyrannical government? That’s certainly what the colonial militias did.

    The thing is, if you’re going to raise up a militia to throw off the shackles of tyranny or something, then it doesn’t really matter what rights the Constitution grants you — you’ve almost certainly already thrown out the Constitution and the laws and government that hang on it! I mean, if I feel that Bush has gotten too tyrannical and form a militia to toss out federal police/troops of our region, and then defend our region’s boundaries against the inevitable return of force by the Army, etc., there isn’t going to be a debate between us and them about the 2nd Amendment and militias. By my actions, I have declared that I have no interest in the Constitution — I may say I like its values, I may even declare that my new country has as its basis of government laws just like the Constitution, but I am not upholding the U.S. Constitution with my actions.

    Moreover, this brings us to the question: how tyrannical is too tyrannical? I know plenty of people right now who think that, what with its actions on habeus corpus, federal vs. state control, and increasing the power of the “unitary” executive, Bush would qualify as tyrannical. Would you be okay with them forming a militia to defend their territory from federal intrusion and control?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Steve (@9) and Don (@10), the problem I see is that militias are defensive in nature, an ad hoc force to defend in times of war or insurrection, not to create them. Even the colonial militias did not have as their goal to assail or overthrow the British government, but to defend certain rights they felt they had, never mind Romans 13. I have no problem with an armed, defensive militia. But as a Christian, I must decry militias that are offensive or insurrectionist.

    Steve, you said you don’t “believe that ‘rise up as a mob and gun down our elected leaders’ was part of anybody’s thinking. But an armed local militia could stand its ground against a ‘tyrannical’ state government.” Honestly, what’s the difference? When a militia “stand[s] its ground,” is it just that you’re saying they can’t consider political leaders fair game? What if I’d written “rise up as a mob and gun down members of our military”? Is that any different from standing ground against a tyrannical government? That’s certainly what the colonial militias did.

    The thing is, if you’re going to raise up a militia to throw off the shackles of tyranny or something, then it doesn’t really matter what rights the Constitution grants you — you’ve almost certainly already thrown out the Constitution and the laws and government that hang on it! I mean, if I feel that Bush has gotten too tyrannical and form a militia to toss out federal police/troops of our region, and then defend our region’s boundaries against the inevitable return of force by the Army, etc., there isn’t going to be a debate between us and them about the 2nd Amendment and militias. By my actions, I have declared that I have no interest in the Constitution — I may say I like its values, I may even declare that my new country has as its basis of government laws just like the Constitution, but I am not upholding the U.S. Constitution with my actions.

    Moreover, this brings us to the question: how tyrannical is too tyrannical? I know plenty of people right now who think that, what with its actions on habeus corpus, federal vs. state control, and increasing the power of the “unitary” executive, Bush would qualify as tyrannical. Would you be okay with them forming a militia to defend their territory from federal intrusion and control?

  • Joe

    tODD – theory is this: If the population is armed then the gov’t will not become tyrannical because the ultimate check will be in place. That really was the driving force behind the 2nd amendment. If the gov’t attempts to become tyrannical, the people as the only proper source of gov’t have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary. Whether this is the Christian thing to do or not is pretty much irrelevant to what the constitution says.

    The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to ensure freedom for the people by limiting the power of the federal gov’t so when they talk about a “free State” in the 2nd Amendment they are not talking about defending the federal gov’t from attack. They are talking about defending the individual states and the people against the federal gov’t. The federal gov’t’s power to establish a standing army to defend itself was granted in the actual text of the constitution. See Article I Section 8 and Article II Section 2. The idea of a standing federal army almost killed the constitution and made the 2nd Amendment necessary for ratification.

    We all learn about the checks and balances of the three branches of gov’t in civics. Almost no one is adequately taught about the check on federal power by the sovereignty of the Several States; ie the concept of federalism. Or the check by individual rights.

    The consitution by design limits the powers of the very gov’t it established. It should not really be that shocking to think that it provides for away to actually physically secure the limits placed on the gov’t.

  • Joe

    tODD – theory is this: If the population is armed then the gov’t will not become tyrannical because the ultimate check will be in place. That really was the driving force behind the 2nd amendment. If the gov’t attempts to become tyrannical, the people as the only proper source of gov’t have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary. Whether this is the Christian thing to do or not is pretty much irrelevant to what the constitution says.

    The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to ensure freedom for the people by limiting the power of the federal gov’t so when they talk about a “free State” in the 2nd Amendment they are not talking about defending the federal gov’t from attack. They are talking about defending the individual states and the people against the federal gov’t. The federal gov’t’s power to establish a standing army to defend itself was granted in the actual text of the constitution. See Article I Section 8 and Article II Section 2. The idea of a standing federal army almost killed the constitution and made the 2nd Amendment necessary for ratification.

    We all learn about the checks and balances of the three branches of gov’t in civics. Almost no one is adequately taught about the check on federal power by the sovereignty of the Several States; ie the concept of federalism. Or the check by individual rights.

    The consitution by design limits the powers of the very gov’t it established. It should not really be that shocking to think that it provides for away to actually physically secure the limits placed on the gov’t.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@15), if you are correct that that is the only way to understand the 2nd Amendment, then it is incumbent on Christians to seek to repeal it, as Christians know that (1) “people” are not “the only proper source of gov’t” and (2) people do not “have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary.” Not that I agree with your understanding.

    The fact that the federal government has the power to form a standing army does not contradict the idea that militias also serve to defend from an external enemy or insurrection. Indeed, the National Guard serves this very purpose — an ad hoc armed force that defends against such things. Or do you think the National Guard only exists to protect against federal tyranny?

    And again, I ask: how tyrannical is too tyrannical? Are you okay with my (really not-all-that) hypothetical example @14? Who gets to define when an armed mob’s actions are justified? Were Ruby Ridge or Waco legitimate actions of a militia?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@15), if you are correct that that is the only way to understand the 2nd Amendment, then it is incumbent on Christians to seek to repeal it, as Christians know that (1) “people” are not “the only proper source of gov’t” and (2) people do not “have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary.” Not that I agree with your understanding.

    The fact that the federal government has the power to form a standing army does not contradict the idea that militias also serve to defend from an external enemy or insurrection. Indeed, the National Guard serves this very purpose — an ad hoc armed force that defends against such things. Or do you think the National Guard only exists to protect against federal tyranny?

    And again, I ask: how tyrannical is too tyrannical? Are you okay with my (really not-all-that) hypothetical example @14? Who gets to define when an armed mob’s actions are justified? Were Ruby Ridge or Waco legitimate actions of a militia?

  • Joe

    The National Guard is not a militia in the sense that militia is used in the second amendment. It is a weird hybrid of a state/federal standing army that did not exist at the time of the founding. The militia spoken of in the second amendment was neither federal nor state. The Michigan Militia is the kind of militia that the second amendment is talking about. They exist independent of any government.

    To be sure these same folks could have ended up being called up by the feds or their state for the common defense but then they would be joining or would be pressed into the militia/standing army of Article I Section 8 or the state constitutional equivalent. The actual non-governmental militia itself would not be federalized. It just would be that the same able-bodied men would end up in a federal uniform.

    As to your point that by the time you decide to take action you won’t care what the constitution says so it doesn’t matter what the 2nd amendment says loses its logic if you really play it through. Say you do think that the gov’t has become a tyranny, and say lots of others feel the same to the point where many many people agree with you. Now say it becomes necessary to use force because this tyrannical gov’t won’t let you vote, etc. If you have not protected the 2nd amendment throughout the times when the gov’t was not tyrannical and instead let them take your guns – how will you do anything about the tyranny now? (Again, I am not saying this is the Christian thing to do.)

    How much is too much? That is left to whether you can convince enough people that it is too much and get them to take up arms.

    The constitution is a document drafted by a group of men who had just finished fighting a revolution, who believed in their heart of hearts that the only legitimate government was one that ruled with the consent of the governed, who steadfastly believed that the federal government’s power had to be checked internally (the three branches) and externally (federalism and the Bill of Rights). Their biggest fear was that the new government they established would become the replacement of the tyrant they just through off. Also, don’t forget they were not granting rights in the Bill of Rights, in their minds they were simply stating in express terms that the new gov’t was not empowered to infringe upon what they considered to be the pre-existing natural rights of men.

    Jefferson and Madison are the particular founders who drafted the second amendment. This would be the same Jefferson who said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • Joe

    The National Guard is not a militia in the sense that militia is used in the second amendment. It is a weird hybrid of a state/federal standing army that did not exist at the time of the founding. The militia spoken of in the second amendment was neither federal nor state. The Michigan Militia is the kind of militia that the second amendment is talking about. They exist independent of any government.

    To be sure these same folks could have ended up being called up by the feds or their state for the common defense but then they would be joining or would be pressed into the militia/standing army of Article I Section 8 or the state constitutional equivalent. The actual non-governmental militia itself would not be federalized. It just would be that the same able-bodied men would end up in a federal uniform.

    As to your point that by the time you decide to take action you won’t care what the constitution says so it doesn’t matter what the 2nd amendment says loses its logic if you really play it through. Say you do think that the gov’t has become a tyranny, and say lots of others feel the same to the point where many many people agree with you. Now say it becomes necessary to use force because this tyrannical gov’t won’t let you vote, etc. If you have not protected the 2nd amendment throughout the times when the gov’t was not tyrannical and instead let them take your guns – how will you do anything about the tyranny now? (Again, I am not saying this is the Christian thing to do.)

    How much is too much? That is left to whether you can convince enough people that it is too much and get them to take up arms.

    The constitution is a document drafted by a group of men who had just finished fighting a revolution, who believed in their heart of hearts that the only legitimate government was one that ruled with the consent of the governed, who steadfastly believed that the federal government’s power had to be checked internally (the three branches) and externally (federalism and the Bill of Rights). Their biggest fear was that the new government they established would become the replacement of the tyrant they just through off. Also, don’t forget they were not granting rights in the Bill of Rights, in their minds they were simply stating in express terms that the new gov’t was not empowered to infringe upon what they considered to be the pre-existing natural rights of men.

    Jefferson and Madison are the particular founders who drafted the second amendment. This would be the same Jefferson who said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • Joe

    tODD – it is getting late and I just want to state that I can no longer tell what the tone of my posts are. Just know that anything I typed that “sounds” snotty or harsh or whatever is not intentional.

    As for the Romans/repeal question, I have always wondered what your duty to submit is when you live under a gov’t that empowers you to disobey it in so many ways as ours? Was MLK wrong to disobey the segregation laws? Are we wrong to publicly denounce the excesses of a particular administration? I think this could be a very interesting debate/discussion/topic.

  • Joe

    tODD – it is getting late and I just want to state that I can no longer tell what the tone of my posts are. Just know that anything I typed that “sounds” snotty or harsh or whatever is not intentional.

    As for the Romans/repeal question, I have always wondered what your duty to submit is when you live under a gov’t that empowers you to disobey it in so many ways as ours? Was MLK wrong to disobey the segregation laws? Are we wrong to publicly denounce the excesses of a particular administration? I think this could be a very interesting debate/discussion/topic.

  • Tony

    Through out history when the ruling powers wanted to subjugate the populance the first thing they did was to make ownership of weapons illegal and futher more if the criminals know that the ordinary responsible citizen may be armed they may think twice before commiting ther acts of violence.

  • Tony

    Through out history when the ruling powers wanted to subjugate the populance the first thing they did was to make ownership of weapons illegal and futher more if the criminals know that the ordinary responsible citizen may be armed they may think twice before commiting ther acts of violence.

  • Tony

    Also the revolutionary war of independence was won mainly with ordinary citizens with thier squirrel rifles.

  • Tony

    Also the revolutionary war of independence was won mainly with ordinary citizens with thier squirrel rifles.

  • Carl Vehse

    Christians to seek to repeal it, as Christians know that (1) “people” are not “the only proper source of gov’t” and (2) people do not “have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary.”

    tODD, these are two complete misunderstandings about government, governmental authority, and the form of government.

    The people are the government, and God gives the governmental authority to the people. The people then use this authority to establish their form of government, to whom they delegate some of that authority. In the United States, that is through elected and appointed officials.

    We, the people in the United States, established a new form of government in 1776, when we renounced the old form of government (King George). Later in 1789, we the people, through our representatives, more peaceably established the form of government described in the Constitution, which, occasionally we have changed for the better (or worse in some cases).

    The second amendment preserve the right we the people (government) have to defend ourselves both as the governed and as the government. In reality we, the governed, are also we, the government. Our duty (and a Christian’s desire) to God, within the Kingdom of the Left, is to act rightly in both capacities.

  • Carl Vehse

    Christians to seek to repeal it, as Christians know that (1) “people” are not “the only proper source of gov’t” and (2) people do not “have the right to reconstitute the gov’t – even by force if necessary.”

    tODD, these are two complete misunderstandings about government, governmental authority, and the form of government.

    The people are the government, and God gives the governmental authority to the people. The people then use this authority to establish their form of government, to whom they delegate some of that authority. In the United States, that is through elected and appointed officials.

    We, the people in the United States, established a new form of government in 1776, when we renounced the old form of government (King George). Later in 1789, we the people, through our representatives, more peaceably established the form of government described in the Constitution, which, occasionally we have changed for the better (or worse in some cases).

    The second amendment preserve the right we the people (government) have to defend ourselves both as the governed and as the government. In reality we, the governed, are also we, the government. Our duty (and a Christian’s desire) to God, within the Kingdom of the Left, is to act rightly in both capacities.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The key issue regarding an insurrection is that the theory under which our country was founded was akin to Rutherford’s “Lex Rex,” or “The Law is King.” In a manner of speaking, the “rebels” of our so-called “revolution” were merely fighting to maintain the laws they already had, and that King George was the actual rebel by seeking to institute customs foreign to those described by the Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights.

    The same argument was made in support of the Confederacy–that the real rebels were those in blue, not gray.

    Going further back, Cicero strove to retain the Roman republic in opposition to Caesar and many others–so the concept of Lex Rex really goes back all the way to the time of Christ. It therefore is not entirely wrong to suggest that fighting one who seeks to establish tyranny can be a Biblical action.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The key issue regarding an insurrection is that the theory under which our country was founded was akin to Rutherford’s “Lex Rex,” or “The Law is King.” In a manner of speaking, the “rebels” of our so-called “revolution” were merely fighting to maintain the laws they already had, and that King George was the actual rebel by seeking to institute customs foreign to those described by the Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights.

    The same argument was made in support of the Confederacy–that the real rebels were those in blue, not gray.

    Going further back, Cicero strove to retain the Roman republic in opposition to Caesar and many others–so the concept of Lex Rex really goes back all the way to the time of Christ. It therefore is not entirely wrong to suggest that fighting one who seeks to establish tyranny can be a Biblical action.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@17,18), I don’t understand the separation you’re putting between your opinions on the Constitution and Christian action. You are a Christian, right? What is the point of defending un-Christian behavior in response to tyranny?

    And still, your response to “how much is too much” leaves us in anarchy. Any group of people can decide at any time that it’s had enough and can — blessed by you and their interpretation of the Constitution — split off and form their own government. Every state can secede from the Union. And every region can secede from the new state-nations. All the way down to fiefdoms. And all of them would be following the intent embodied in the Constitution? Makes no sense. And it’s a bad idea. If the point of government is to maintain order, then having people do as they see fit in their own eyes — as long as there’s enough of them! — is the opposite of it.

    And I find Jefferson’s quote abhorrent as a Christian. Not too surprising, since I find much of his religious thought abhorrent as well.

    Similarly, Carl (@21), there is nothing in your argument that would not allow for any group of people — say, Texas or Minnesota — to declare themselves the new authority in their region and to split off from the United States.

    Nothing, of course, except this: “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

    Paul is very clear here — Romans 13 does NOT have a tyranny clause! God established King George III as the authority over the colonies. Anyone who rebelled against King George the III brought judgment on themselves. That God in his wisdom used people’s sinful actions to bring about a new authority does not mean that he blesses rebellion, anymore than a child born of rape means that God sanctions that.

    I mean, I see people trying to shoehorn America’s birth into the Bible, but it won’t fit! So which is more important?

    Bike Bubba (@22), the colonists did not address any issues they had with King George using the law they were subject to. They tossed the law out and made their own. As such, the British law became irrelevant to them. They obviously were not fighting to maintain the laws they already had, because they threw them out.

    I feel like nobody has yet noticed that you’re all laying the groundwork for any part of this nation to secede, with your blessing. We, too, have a system of laws in which power overlaps. People in this country can make a case that President George has stripped them of the rights they deserve — habeus corpus, states rights, or with regard to imprisonment or wiretapping.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@17,18), I don’t understand the separation you’re putting between your opinions on the Constitution and Christian action. You are a Christian, right? What is the point of defending un-Christian behavior in response to tyranny?

    And still, your response to “how much is too much” leaves us in anarchy. Any group of people can decide at any time that it’s had enough and can — blessed by you and their interpretation of the Constitution — split off and form their own government. Every state can secede from the Union. And every region can secede from the new state-nations. All the way down to fiefdoms. And all of them would be following the intent embodied in the Constitution? Makes no sense. And it’s a bad idea. If the point of government is to maintain order, then having people do as they see fit in their own eyes — as long as there’s enough of them! — is the opposite of it.

    And I find Jefferson’s quote abhorrent as a Christian. Not too surprising, since I find much of his religious thought abhorrent as well.

    Similarly, Carl (@21), there is nothing in your argument that would not allow for any group of people — say, Texas or Minnesota — to declare themselves the new authority in their region and to split off from the United States.

    Nothing, of course, except this: “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

    Paul is very clear here — Romans 13 does NOT have a tyranny clause! God established King George III as the authority over the colonies. Anyone who rebelled against King George the III brought judgment on themselves. That God in his wisdom used people’s sinful actions to bring about a new authority does not mean that he blesses rebellion, anymore than a child born of rape means that God sanctions that.

    I mean, I see people trying to shoehorn America’s birth into the Bible, but it won’t fit! So which is more important?

    Bike Bubba (@22), the colonists did not address any issues they had with King George using the law they were subject to. They tossed the law out and made their own. As such, the British law became irrelevant to them. They obviously were not fighting to maintain the laws they already had, because they threw them out.

    I feel like nobody has yet noticed that you’re all laying the groundwork for any part of this nation to secede, with your blessing. We, too, have a system of laws in which power overlaps. People in this country can make a case that President George has stripped them of the rights they deserve — habeus corpus, states rights, or with regard to imprisonment or wiretapping.

  • Joe

    tODD my opinions on the constitution and my opinions as a Christian necessarily differ because I did not write the constitution. I don’t get to conform its meaning to what I want it to say – it says what it says, period. This is originalism. You look at the text and determine the normal usage of the words used in the time the text was written and that is what the constitutional text under review means.

    Today, we are quick to say well, that doesn’t make sense today so lets just say the words mean something other than what they say. This would be the living constitution theory of the Warren Court. It is unjustifiable and unnecessary. The constitution provides a mechanism for changing it to meet today’s needs. It’s the amendment process. We have used it many times over the years, it works.

    “What is the point of defending un-Christian behavior in response to tyranny”

    I am not defending anything, I am just saying what a text that someone else wrote means.

    “Every state can secede from the Union. … Makes no sense.”

    Until the time of the civil war, there was really no serious debate over this point. Everyone knew this to be true. Lincoln, in order to justify going to war, really made the first case against the right of secession. In fact, the New England states almost seceded decades before the civil war. In those debates no one argued that they could not do so. And it makes perfect sense – not to us anymore – but to the framers. The Union was just that – a voluntary union of otherwise independent States who decided to give up a small amount of their sovereignty for certain enumerated purposes. Not until the Civil War did anyone suggest that the Union could stop anyone from leaving it.

    The only debate pre-civil war was if individual states could nullify an act of congress within their boundaries by a majority vote in the statehouse.

  • Joe

    tODD my opinions on the constitution and my opinions as a Christian necessarily differ because I did not write the constitution. I don’t get to conform its meaning to what I want it to say – it says what it says, period. This is originalism. You look at the text and determine the normal usage of the words used in the time the text was written and that is what the constitutional text under review means.

    Today, we are quick to say well, that doesn’t make sense today so lets just say the words mean something other than what they say. This would be the living constitution theory of the Warren Court. It is unjustifiable and unnecessary. The constitution provides a mechanism for changing it to meet today’s needs. It’s the amendment process. We have used it many times over the years, it works.

    “What is the point of defending un-Christian behavior in response to tyranny”

    I am not defending anything, I am just saying what a text that someone else wrote means.

    “Every state can secede from the Union. … Makes no sense.”

    Until the time of the civil war, there was really no serious debate over this point. Everyone knew this to be true. Lincoln, in order to justify going to war, really made the first case against the right of secession. In fact, the New England states almost seceded decades before the civil war. In those debates no one argued that they could not do so. And it makes perfect sense – not to us anymore – but to the framers. The Union was just that – a voluntary union of otherwise independent States who decided to give up a small amount of their sovereignty for certain enumerated purposes. Not until the Civil War did anyone suggest that the Union could stop anyone from leaving it.

    The only debate pre-civil war was if individual states could nullify an act of congress within their boundaries by a majority vote in the statehouse.

  • Carl Vehse

    i{red{God established King George III as the authority over the colonies.}}

    From my previous post, King George III was not the government, nor did he have any governing authority other than that delegated to him by the people.

    To claim that a form of government established by a revolution is, in itself, sinful unless it succeeds, at which time it become God-established is eisegetic nonsense. According to such nonsense, we should still be under the rule of the Roman government, rather than the historical succession of revolutions, insurrections, and rebellions that have claimed to replace Caesar as the authority.

    God gave the governing authority to the people who established (or recognized) King George as the form of government. That God-given governing authority was then used by the people when it was necessary for the people to establish a new form of government. Of course, the right to form a new government does not automatically guarantee success in forming a new government, as the attempt at the Confederacy showed.

  • Carl Vehse

    i{red{God established King George III as the authority over the colonies.}}

    From my previous post, King George III was not the government, nor did he have any governing authority other than that delegated to him by the people.

    To claim that a form of government established by a revolution is, in itself, sinful unless it succeeds, at which time it become God-established is eisegetic nonsense. According to such nonsense, we should still be under the rule of the Roman government, rather than the historical succession of revolutions, insurrections, and rebellions that have claimed to replace Caesar as the authority.

    God gave the governing authority to the people who established (or recognized) King George as the form of government. That God-given governing authority was then used by the people when it was necessary for the people to establish a new form of government. Of course, the right to form a new government does not automatically guarantee success in forming a new government, as the attempt at the Confederacy showed.

  • Don S

    tODD, again I agree with Joe — I was just explaining the history surrounding the bill of rights and the obvious intention of the Founders when they instituted the Bill of Rights — not opining as to whether they were right or wrong or whether any portions of the Constitution should be amended, using the provided process for properly making Constitutional amendments.

    Here’s the interesting part. When the Bill of Rights was instituted, it only applied to the federal government. The purpose of these 10 amendments was to protect the people, and the states, from a future tyrannical federal government. The federal government was limited to its enumerated powers, set forth in the various Articles of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, which was a bargain necessary to obtain the ratification of all of the original states, clarified the limits to its powers. I don’t think this interpretation of history is controversial or in dispute, even by liberal historians. Anyway, the point of this is that the 2nd Amendment did not originally apply to the states, nor did any of the other amendments of the Bill of Rights. So states were free to restrict speech, ban guns, engage in unlawful search and seizure, etc. Again, the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure that the federal government did not take away the right of the people to have guns, so that states could, if necessary, raise up militias to defend themselves against a future tyrannical federal government. It was kind of like an emergency destruct mechanism.

    Back to the interesting part — it was after the Civil War, as a part of Reconstruction Reforms, and so that the North could control the newly repatriated Confederate states, and ensure that former slaves were truly accorded the rights of citizens, that the 14th Amendment was passed, the Due Process clause of which was interpreted as applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government.

    So, before the Civil War, states and cities and other local governments would theoretically have been perfectly free to entirely ban guns within their borders. However, after the 14th Amendment, and particularly after the very expansive readings of that amendment which have been made by liberal courts of the 20th century, the 2nd Amendment and all other amendments forming the Bill of Rights apply equally to state and local governments as well.

    That’s the history. If you diagree with the policy, amend the constitution.

    Now, I’ll editorialize. Liberal elites haven’t typically cared for imposing their desired policies in such a democratic way as amending the constitution. It’s too hard, and inconvenient because people just don’t get their sophisticated ideas the way they should because of those nasty right wing radio talk hosts and blogs. They prefer to gain power by pretending to be moderate, then appoint hacks in black robes who will creatively interpret a “living constitution” as magically adapting to whatever policy they like. No inconvenient democracy or messy vote of the people necessary.

  • Don S

    tODD, again I agree with Joe — I was just explaining the history surrounding the bill of rights and the obvious intention of the Founders when they instituted the Bill of Rights — not opining as to whether they were right or wrong or whether any portions of the Constitution should be amended, using the provided process for properly making Constitutional amendments.

    Here’s the interesting part. When the Bill of Rights was instituted, it only applied to the federal government. The purpose of these 10 amendments was to protect the people, and the states, from a future tyrannical federal government. The federal government was limited to its enumerated powers, set forth in the various Articles of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, which was a bargain necessary to obtain the ratification of all of the original states, clarified the limits to its powers. I don’t think this interpretation of history is controversial or in dispute, even by liberal historians. Anyway, the point of this is that the 2nd Amendment did not originally apply to the states, nor did any of the other amendments of the Bill of Rights. So states were free to restrict speech, ban guns, engage in unlawful search and seizure, etc. Again, the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure that the federal government did not take away the right of the people to have guns, so that states could, if necessary, raise up militias to defend themselves against a future tyrannical federal government. It was kind of like an emergency destruct mechanism.

    Back to the interesting part — it was after the Civil War, as a part of Reconstruction Reforms, and so that the North could control the newly repatriated Confederate states, and ensure that former slaves were truly accorded the rights of citizens, that the 14th Amendment was passed, the Due Process clause of which was interpreted as applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as the federal government.

    So, before the Civil War, states and cities and other local governments would theoretically have been perfectly free to entirely ban guns within their borders. However, after the 14th Amendment, and particularly after the very expansive readings of that amendment which have been made by liberal courts of the 20th century, the 2nd Amendment and all other amendments forming the Bill of Rights apply equally to state and local governments as well.

    That’s the history. If you diagree with the policy, amend the constitution.

    Now, I’ll editorialize. Liberal elites haven’t typically cared for imposing their desired policies in such a democratic way as amending the constitution. It’s too hard, and inconvenient because people just don’t get their sophisticated ideas the way they should because of those nasty right wing radio talk hosts and blogs. They prefer to gain power by pretending to be moderate, then appoint hacks in black robes who will creatively interpret a “living constitution” as magically adapting to whatever policy they like. No inconvenient democracy or messy vote of the people necessary.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, if the Founders tossed the law and made up their own, why does it bear striking resemblance in most respects to the Magna Carta and 1689 Bill of Rights?

    Sorry, but you have, along with most people, been profoundly miseducated on this point. References to the “rights of Englishmen” are legion in the founding documents, and it leaves little doubt that they were more or less trying to claim only the same rights that their relatives across the Atlantic were able to claim.

    And made no attempt to remedy things according to their laws? Have you never read the Declaration of Independence, Todd? Protests to colonial governors and the king were legion!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, if the Founders tossed the law and made up their own, why does it bear striking resemblance in most respects to the Magna Carta and 1689 Bill of Rights?

    Sorry, but you have, along with most people, been profoundly miseducated on this point. References to the “rights of Englishmen” are legion in the founding documents, and it leaves little doubt that they were more or less trying to claim only the same rights that their relatives across the Atlantic were able to claim.

    And made no attempt to remedy things according to their laws? Have you never read the Declaration of Independence, Todd? Protests to colonial governors and the king were legion!

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@24) and Don (@26), when I said “opinions on the Constitution”, I didn’t mean your opinions as to what it actually means (that is, how it’s interpreted), I meant your opinions as to how it should be (that is, what is our reaction to it). But I guess we’re all on the same page now. Your (pl.) discussion of state’s rights before the Civil War is interesting, but I need to learn more about that. There is still the question of whether it’s okay (from a Constitutional point of view — I have made it clear where I stand as a Christian) for a large-enough (?) group of people to decide they’ve had enough of a larger entity’s authority and form their own entity. Even if we take as a given that states have the right in the Constitution to throw off the federal shackles, that leaves unanswered the question of regions or cities within the state doing the same thing. The arguments presented were with regard to tyranny in general, and would imply that it’s always okay for any group to break away as long as they can present some proof (?) of “tyranny”.

    Don (@26), as to your editorialization, I’ll grant that neither liberals nor conservative elites are immune from their disdain for Constitution’s principles and are both quite competent in their own ways at finding corner cases that allow them to seize power over various parts of government, to their advantage.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Joe (@24) and Don (@26), when I said “opinions on the Constitution”, I didn’t mean your opinions as to what it actually means (that is, how it’s interpreted), I meant your opinions as to how it should be (that is, what is our reaction to it). But I guess we’re all on the same page now. Your (pl.) discussion of state’s rights before the Civil War is interesting, but I need to learn more about that. There is still the question of whether it’s okay (from a Constitutional point of view — I have made it clear where I stand as a Christian) for a large-enough (?) group of people to decide they’ve had enough of a larger entity’s authority and form their own entity. Even if we take as a given that states have the right in the Constitution to throw off the federal shackles, that leaves unanswered the question of regions or cities within the state doing the same thing. The arguments presented were with regard to tyranny in general, and would imply that it’s always okay for any group to break away as long as they can present some proof (?) of “tyranny”.

    Don (@26), as to your editorialization, I’ll grant that neither liberals nor conservative elites are immune from their disdain for Constitution’s principles and are both quite competent in their own ways at finding corner cases that allow them to seize power over various parts of government, to their advantage.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@27), I think you missed my point. First of all, I would argue that our Constitution does not bear a “striking resemblance” to those earlier documents, any more than does Christianity bear a striking resemblance to modern Judaism. That is, they are similar at many points, yes, but it is in their differences that they are shown to be rather different. Regardless, like I said before (@14), the fact that they set up a government with similarities to the one they overthrow does not affect the fact that they did rebel against the government in authority and declared themselves not subject to its laws. Any legal similarities that persisted were because they wanted them, not because they continued to feel subject to pre-existing law.

    As to your response that “protests to colonial governors and the king were legion,” my point wasn’t that at no point did they try to remedy things according to British law. It was that they eventually gave up on that and went the armed insurrection route. They gave up on British law and went outside the system.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@27), I think you missed my point. First of all, I would argue that our Constitution does not bear a “striking resemblance” to those earlier documents, any more than does Christianity bear a striking resemblance to modern Judaism. That is, they are similar at many points, yes, but it is in their differences that they are shown to be rather different. Regardless, like I said before (@14), the fact that they set up a government with similarities to the one they overthrow does not affect the fact that they did rebel against the government in authority and declared themselves not subject to its laws. Any legal similarities that persisted were because they wanted them, not because they continued to feel subject to pre-existing law.

    As to your response that “protests to colonial governors and the king were legion,” my point wasn’t that at no point did they try to remedy things according to British law. It was that they eventually gave up on that and went the armed insurrection route. They gave up on British law and went outside the system.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Carl (@25), “King George III was not the government”? I didn’t say he was “the government”, I said he was “the authority” instituted by God. Not that such distinctions between government and the men running them were as clear-cut then as they (ideally) are in the United States.

    As to “nor did [King George III] have any governing authority other than that delegated to him by the people,” it is clear that the colonists seized power from him in spite of his authority, but please explain how he was not an authority instituted by God over the British people, at that time including the colonists. What you appear to be saying is that any entity formed by people is necessarily instituted by God. So if I and my friends just up and decide one day that Bush has no authority over us, then we are carrying out God’s will to form a new government, which is sanctioned not only by God, but also by you.

    And again, I did not say “that a form of government established by a revolution is, in itself, sinful unless it succeeds.” I said it is sinful regardless of whether it succeeds. And yet, God may, in his wisdom, use the actions of sinful men to accomplish his purpose.

    I see nothing in your position whatsoever that conforms to Romans 13. Where do you advocate submitting to the authorities? Your interpretation of that is meaningless: we are the governing authority. How then can we even rebel? “I’m not rebelling against the King/President, I’m just claiming authority for myself!”

    I’m sure that the WELS Q&A section can explain it better than I:

    Romans 13 and other passages of Scripture forbid rebellion against the government. On the basis of Scripture.s commands to obedience and patient suffering Luther rejected all rebellion against rulers. The history of the revolutions since Luther.s day have only emphasized the truthfulness of his observations. Besides the American Revolution it is hard to think of one that had a happy outcome.

    Luther did concede that the princes might have grounds for waging a defensive war against the emperor, if he was violating rights which they had under imperial law. However, it does not appear that he felt very comfortable with this concession. This view is of special interest to us because the same justification is sometimes claimed for the American revolution, namely, that legal governments were resisting usurpation by the king of governing rights which were legally theirs. This was perhaps true in Virginia where the legislature took the lead in resisting the king, but it is doubtful if it can apply to the mob action in Massachusetts.

    American Christians, including the Lutherans, were divided in their evaluation of the revolution. Some were persecuted by their neighbors for their refusal to join the rebellion and had to flee to Canada. Some of the most prominent Lutherans in America at the time supported the revolution as opposition to illegal tyranny of the King which was being implemented by the legal local governments.

    The fact that God permitted good to come out of the American Revolution does not demonstrate that the actions or motivation of those involved were proper. God has often used wrongful actions of self-seeking people to accomplish his purposes: the taxation of Caesar Augustus, the self-seeking rebellion against the Pope by Henry VIII, and so on.

    Regardless of whether the motives and actions of the revolutionaries was justified the government they established is the existing government of the United States. It is the government we are to obey. But the existing government includes the actions of the courts and legislatures since the Revolution–not only the constitution but its amendments. This body of law and the officials elected and appointed to uphold it are the existing government. A individual citizen cannot set himself above this body of law on the grounds that he is part of “we the people” and that the government rules only with his consent. What actions may a Christian citizen then take to try to change and improve or to correct this government if he feels it is in error?

    … (Go to the link above to read more)

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Carl (@25), “King George III was not the government”? I didn’t say he was “the government”, I said he was “the authority” instituted by God. Not that such distinctions between government and the men running them were as clear-cut then as they (ideally) are in the United States.

    As to “nor did [King George III] have any governing authority other than that delegated to him by the people,” it is clear that the colonists seized power from him in spite of his authority, but please explain how he was not an authority instituted by God over the British people, at that time including the colonists. What you appear to be saying is that any entity formed by people is necessarily instituted by God. So if I and my friends just up and decide one day that Bush has no authority over us, then we are carrying out God’s will to form a new government, which is sanctioned not only by God, but also by you.

    And again, I did not say “that a form of government established by a revolution is, in itself, sinful unless it succeeds.” I said it is sinful regardless of whether it succeeds. And yet, God may, in his wisdom, use the actions of sinful men to accomplish his purpose.

    I see nothing in your position whatsoever that conforms to Romans 13. Where do you advocate submitting to the authorities? Your interpretation of that is meaningless: we are the governing authority. How then can we even rebel? “I’m not rebelling against the King/President, I’m just claiming authority for myself!”

    I’m sure that the WELS Q&A section can explain it better than I:

    Romans 13 and other passages of Scripture forbid rebellion against the government. On the basis of Scripture.s commands to obedience and patient suffering Luther rejected all rebellion against rulers. The history of the revolutions since Luther.s day have only emphasized the truthfulness of his observations. Besides the American Revolution it is hard to think of one that had a happy outcome.

    Luther did concede that the princes might have grounds for waging a defensive war against the emperor, if he was violating rights which they had under imperial law. However, it does not appear that he felt very comfortable with this concession. This view is of special interest to us because the same justification is sometimes claimed for the American revolution, namely, that legal governments were resisting usurpation by the king of governing rights which were legally theirs. This was perhaps true in Virginia where the legislature took the lead in resisting the king, but it is doubtful if it can apply to the mob action in Massachusetts.

    American Christians, including the Lutherans, were divided in their evaluation of the revolution. Some were persecuted by their neighbors for their refusal to join the rebellion and had to flee to Canada. Some of the most prominent Lutherans in America at the time supported the revolution as opposition to illegal tyranny of the King which was being implemented by the legal local governments.

    The fact that God permitted good to come out of the American Revolution does not demonstrate that the actions or motivation of those involved were proper. God has often used wrongful actions of self-seeking people to accomplish his purposes: the taxation of Caesar Augustus, the self-seeking rebellion against the Pope by Henry VIII, and so on.

    Regardless of whether the motives and actions of the revolutionaries was justified the government they established is the existing government of the United States. It is the government we are to obey. But the existing government includes the actions of the courts and legislatures since the Revolution–not only the constitution but its amendments. This body of law and the officials elected and appointed to uphold it are the existing government. A individual citizen cannot set himself above this body of law on the grounds that he is part of “we the people” and that the government rules only with his consent. What actions may a Christian citizen then take to try to change and improve or to correct this government if he feels it is in error?

    … (Go to the link above to read more)

  • Carl Vehse

    Scripture nowhere names King George as “the authority” instituted by God. The monarchy of King George was recognized by the thirteen colonies and their representatives as part of their form of government, not the governing authority… until July 4, 1776. At that time, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were sixty-five representatives of the people appointed to what is known as the Second Continental Congress by the legislatures of the thirteen British North American colonies. Even they realized that their success in maintaining that independence was not guaranteed, but wrote “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    If you and some others want to establish you own form of government, who do you represent? Just yourselves? Good luck. You’d probably end up in the funny farm or on the gallows (if we still hung people nowadays).

    The American Revolution, in itself, was not sinful. To claim it was is to claim a commandment that God did not give. But if you believe the United States, established by a revolution, was, and still is, sinful, then you probably should not participate in such a sinful form of government by voting.

  • Carl Vehse

    Scripture nowhere names King George as “the authority” instituted by God. The monarchy of King George was recognized by the thirteen colonies and their representatives as part of their form of government, not the governing authority… until July 4, 1776. At that time, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were sixty-five representatives of the people appointed to what is known as the Second Continental Congress by the legislatures of the thirteen British North American colonies. Even they realized that their success in maintaining that independence was not guaranteed, but wrote “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    If you and some others want to establish you own form of government, who do you represent? Just yourselves? Good luck. You’d probably end up in the funny farm or on the gallows (if we still hung people nowadays).

    The American Revolution, in itself, was not sinful. To claim it was is to claim a commandment that God did not give. But if you believe the United States, established by a revolution, was, and still is, sinful, then you probably should not participate in such a sinful form of government by voting.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Carl (@31), I am having a hard time thinking you actually believe the arguments you are making. Did you read the answer from the WELS Web site, above? Do you disagree with it?

    “Scripture nowhere names King George as ‘the authority’ instituted by God.” I cannot believe you are making that argument, as this reads. You are smarter than that. What have I misunderstood?

    Scripture — notably, Romans 13 — doesn’t “name” any one person. It refers to the authorities “which God has established”. What do you think that refers to? Merely the people — all people, any people, a large enough group of people? Scripture nowhere names President Bush as our authority — nor does it name We, the People as our authority. It just refers to “the authorities” and assumes you can work out who that is — and you are one of the few people I have read in all of church history who cannot. Who or what is the authority which God has established over us? Over you? What was the authority or authorities that Paul referred to in Romans?

    And if the authority Paul refers to in Romans 13 is, as you argue baselessly, everybody (and not the people, laws, and governments they may give their loyalty to for a time as they see fit in their own eyes), then how does one “rebel” against that authority? And why does it refer to “rulers” — is everyone a “ruler”? What does “ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις” mean? And how do I or we “bear the sword”? Do you pay taxes to me or us? Paul commands that we pay taxes — so did Jesus, but to whom? Do you, as part of the authority that is apparently everybody “give [your] full time to governing”? Do all of us?

    “If you and some others want to establish you own form of government, who do you represent? Just yourselves? Good luck.” And whom did the colonists represent? Just themselves? Whom did Castro’s regime represent? Just themselves? Your argument again ignores the clear Biblical teaching and relies merely on the probability of success. All you are saying is that, if I have enough people or enough firepower, then God blesses my rebellious actions. Might makes right.

    “To claim [the American Revolution] was [sinful] is to claim a commandment that God did not give.” Carl, it’s clear what God’s commandment is on this matter, and you know it: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities. … He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” What does that mean? What possible effect could it have on you, given your logic?

    “But if you believe the United States, established by a revolution, was, and still is, sinful, then you probably should not participate in such a sinful form of government by voting.” You have repeatedly misquoted or misrepresented what I say in this discussion. I did not say the United States is sinful, nor would that even have any meaning. I said the rebellious actions undertaken in its creation, which clearly contravene God’s will in Romans 13, are sinful. (And if you really believe your argument as quoted here, do you vote, given that abortion is legal?)

    America did not have a virgin birth, Carl. That remains unique to Jesus, your desire to exculpate the actions of certain rebellious men notwithstanding. Your argument is free of Biblical basis, though patriotic (to a fault). I will continue to assume that you value Christianity more than America, but I cannot deduce that from what you write here.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Carl (@31), I am having a hard time thinking you actually believe the arguments you are making. Did you read the answer from the WELS Web site, above? Do you disagree with it?

    “Scripture nowhere names King George as ‘the authority’ instituted by God.” I cannot believe you are making that argument, as this reads. You are smarter than that. What have I misunderstood?

    Scripture — notably, Romans 13 — doesn’t “name” any one person. It refers to the authorities “which God has established”. What do you think that refers to? Merely the people — all people, any people, a large enough group of people? Scripture nowhere names President Bush as our authority — nor does it name We, the People as our authority. It just refers to “the authorities” and assumes you can work out who that is — and you are one of the few people I have read in all of church history who cannot. Who or what is the authority which God has established over us? Over you? What was the authority or authorities that Paul referred to in Romans?

    And if the authority Paul refers to in Romans 13 is, as you argue baselessly, everybody (and not the people, laws, and governments they may give their loyalty to for a time as they see fit in their own eyes), then how does one “rebel” against that authority? And why does it refer to “rulers” — is everyone a “ruler”? What does “ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις” mean? And how do I or we “bear the sword”? Do you pay taxes to me or us? Paul commands that we pay taxes — so did Jesus, but to whom? Do you, as part of the authority that is apparently everybody “give [your] full time to governing”? Do all of us?

    “If you and some others want to establish you own form of government, who do you represent? Just yourselves? Good luck.” And whom did the colonists represent? Just themselves? Whom did Castro’s regime represent? Just themselves? Your argument again ignores the clear Biblical teaching and relies merely on the probability of success. All you are saying is that, if I have enough people or enough firepower, then God blesses my rebellious actions. Might makes right.

    “To claim [the American Revolution] was [sinful] is to claim a commandment that God did not give.” Carl, it’s clear what God’s commandment is on this matter, and you know it: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities. … He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” What does that mean? What possible effect could it have on you, given your logic?

    “But if you believe the United States, established by a revolution, was, and still is, sinful, then you probably should not participate in such a sinful form of government by voting.” You have repeatedly misquoted or misrepresented what I say in this discussion. I did not say the United States is sinful, nor would that even have any meaning. I said the rebellious actions undertaken in its creation, which clearly contravene God’s will in Romans 13, are sinful. (And if you really believe your argument as quoted here, do you vote, given that abortion is legal?)

    America did not have a virgin birth, Carl. That remains unique to Jesus, your desire to exculpate the actions of certain rebellious men notwithstanding. Your argument is free of Biblical basis, though patriotic (to a fault). I will continue to assume that you value Christianity more than America, but I cannot deduce that from what you write here.


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