FRANCIS SCHAEFFER: A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO Chapter Seven: The Limits of Civil Obedience



Chapter Seven: The Limits of Civil Obedience

Thinking to the bottom line:
1. What is the final relationship to the state on the part of anyone whose base
is the existence of God? Those in our present material-energy, chance
oriented generation have no reason to obey the state except that the state
has the guns and has the patronage.
2. Has God set up an authority in the state that is autonomous from Himself?
God has ordained the state as a delegated authority; it is not autonomous.
Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-17
[Comment: Sovereignty (ultimate authority) is an inescapable concept.
Autonomy is the view that man is either above the law or lives apart from it.]

Historical examples of civil disobedience by Christians:
1. William Tyndale, the English translator of the Bible, was condemned as a
heretic, tried and executed in 1536.
2. John Bunyan, a Nonconformist clergyman who was arrested for preaching
without a license and failing to attend the Church of England, wrote
Pilgrim’s Progress in his jail cell.

In almost every place where the Reformation had success there was some form of civil
disobedience or armed rebellion:
1. Spanish Netherlands: Battle of Leyden, 1574 [The Dutch led by William the
Silent won their independence as the United States of the Netherlands].
2. Sweden: Gustavus Vasa broke Sweden off from Denmark and established
the Lutheran church in 1527.
3. Denmark: The Protestant party of the nobility overthrew the Catholic
dynasty in 1536.
4. Germany: Martin Luther was protected by the Duke of Saxony against the
political and military power of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.
The Peace of Augsburg of 1555 established the ruler’s religion in the
German states. The Counter-Reformation led to the Thirty Years War. The
Peace of Westphalia (1648) ratified the Peace of Augsburg.
5. Switzerland: Cantons established Protestantism by vote of the community.
6. Scotland: John Knox openly defied the authorities by holding services on
weekdays to refute what the priests preached on Sundays. His Admonition
to England (1554) developed a theology of resistance to tyranny. He upheld
the right and duty of the common people to resist if state officials ruled
contrary to the Bible. [“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”]

Elsewhere, Protestantism was stamped out by force: Hungary, Bohemia (the site of Jan
Hus’s pre-Reformation revolt), France (the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572),
and Spain.


Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex: The civil magistrate is a fiduciary figure. The office is
distinguished from the man. [Medieval counterpart: The King’s Two Bodies]

Chapter Eight: The Use of Civil Disobedience

Rutherford: three appropriate levels of resistance: 1) protest [or petition: see
the First Amendment], 2) flight [note the Pilgrim church which settled in
Leyden], and 3) force.
1. For a corporate body, resistance should be under the protection of duly
constituted authorities [rule of the lesser magistrates].
2. John Locke drew from the Presbyterian tradition when he maintained: 1)
inalienable rights, 2) government by consent, 3) separation of powers, and
4) right of resistance.

A distinction must be made between force and violence. Os Guinness: responsibility
implies discipline.
1. [Speaker of the House Robert Winthrop (1849): “The less they have of stringent
State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. .
. . Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within
them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the
strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.”]

Illustration of the need for protest: tax money being used for abortion. The Hyde
Amendment removed the use of national tax funds for abortions.

The materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools.
Those holding it also seek to control Christian and other private schools.
1. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn: “The state will not tolerate any gods besides

Chapter Nine: The Use of Force

Bottom line: “If there is no final place for civil disobedience, then the government has
been made autonomous, and as such, it has been put in the place of the Living God.”

Evans, M. Stanton. The Theme Is Freedom, 1994.
Garman, Eliza Miner, ed. Letters, Lectures, and Addresses of Charles Edward
Garman, 1909. “Sovereignty from the Standpoint of Theism.”
Hall, Verna M., comp. The Christian History of the American Revolution, 1976.
“The Bible.”
Lieber, Francis. On Civil Liberty and Self-Government, 1853.
Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen. Out of Revolution: The Autobiography of Western
Man, 1938.
Rushdoony, Rousas John. Institutes of Biblical Law, 1973. “The Sixth



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