On Revolutions

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Like you, I’ve watched with interest the Tunisian revolution and now the one percolating in Egypt.

I’ve thought a lot about revolutions over the years. I live in a country that was birthed in revolution. I’m a reformed-leaning Protestant, who is inspired reading Calvin’s writings on civil disobedience.

When I was younger I was deft at drawing distinctions between humanistic and godless revolutions like the French and Bolshevik on the one hand, and those I was taught were ordained by God, like the American version.

Now the distinctions are not as clear to me. Now I think my views in the past likely arose from a fleshly idealism rather than a Kingdom paradigm.

The problem is I don’t see a basis for the godly revolution in the Bible or the example of the early Church. The Lord never told Israel to revolt against its Egyptian oppressors; He persuaded Pharaoh to release them.

The Lord never told Israel to rise up against their Babylonian captors; instead He used Cyrus the Great to deliver them.

Jewish religious leaders tried to incite Jesus to engage in seditious talk against Israel’s Roman oppressors; He refused. (Matthew 22:15-22).

The Lord never told the Church to revolt against the Romans; instead he admonished them to suffer for the Kingdom’s sake until the gospel had transformed their oppressors’ regime into a Christian kingdom. The New Testament contains commands to respect those in authority, even when they are less than righteous.

I’m not going to say revolution is never proper–I’m a graded absolutist, not an absolutist (more on that tomorrow)–but not having any Biblical example in favor of one, I’m left presuming that sound kingdom mechanics counsel against revolution as a means by which the kingdom of God is advanced on the earth. GS