Tories, Patriots, and Romans 13

  • Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  • vs. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…”

Does the reader remember the Tories/Loyalists and Patriots of the USA’s Colonial era? Before America’s War for Independence, the Tories were colonists who were loyal to the British crown no matter what. The Patriots, after suffering repeatedly from Britain’s mistreatment of the colonies, called for a split from Britain’s king. Many well remember “No taxation without representation”, but the final nail in the coffin for America’s Patriots was the Prohibitory Act of 1775 which ended all trade between England and the 13 colonies and removed the 13 colonies from King George III’s protection. The path toward the Revolutionary War had begun.

Were you aware that there were Christians on both sides of the colonial issues? Were you aware that both Christian Tories and Christian Patriots quoted Romans 13:1-5 as the basis for their beliefs? Actually, it seems that most contemporary Christians hold to the Tories’ view of Romans 13 previously called, “The Divine Right of Kings” philosophy. The Tories believed in loyalty to Britain’s crown no matter what…despite lawless mandates, removal of freedoms, pillaging, raping, murder, breaking of laws, warrantless investigations, house seizures, imprisonment without trial, etc… that was happening from Britain’s troops in the colonies. Many believers today likewise believe, based on their view of Rom. 13, that no amount of lawless mandates, removal of freedoms, contradictions of present laws, land seizures, murder, etc… should deter them from complete, unquestioning obedience to any leadership though that leadership be criminal.

The Patriots, however, as seen from their various writings, took the entirety of Scripture in their interpretation of Romans 13. The Patriots were not anti-government, but rather, anti-tyranny. John Locke’s famous “Two Treatises on Government” addressed this issue. John Locke’s book which heavily influenced our founding fathers was likewise heavily influenced by a French Huguenot, Phillipe Mornay’s tract (pseudonym Stephen Brutus) “The Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants.” The highly respected pastor of Boston, Jonathan Mayhew, preached, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” The Patriots believed Romans 13 taught honor for the institution of government, not the individuals of government. Their conclusion was that when Government (“the higher powers”) removes its protection from its citizens and does indeed become a terror to good works, government has disobeyed God and lost its authority to rule. With the Prohibitory Act, Britain did exactly this. As Thomas Jefferson stated, “That, as to the King, we had been bound to him by allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his assent to the late act of parliament, by which he declares us out of his protection, and by his levying war on us, a fact which had long ago proved us out of his protection; it being a certain position in law, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceasing when the other is withdrawn.

The entirety of Scripture also agrees with the Patriots interpretation of Rom. 13. Numerous examples of God’s people practicing civil disobedience include Peter and John defying the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:19; 5:29), the Hebrew midwives refusing to practice infanticide (Exodus 1:15-17), Daniel ignoring the Persian law concerning prayer (Daniel 6:10), and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refusing to bow to the king’s image (Daniel 3:14-18). There are also others including Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah. Of course, there is also the Christians’ principle in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Isn’t it interesting how we Christians enjoy the freedoms of a country that wouldn’t even exist if our founding fathers interpreted Romans 13 incorrectly the way many modern Christians do? Many contemporary preachers teach Christians should not ever defend themselves nor fight against a depraved, lawless, harmful government. This is quite the opposite from the many preachers during the Revolutionary War who not only preached against Britain’s tyranny but also fought against Britain’s tyranny. Preachers like the forementioned John Mayhew as well as John Witherspoon, John Muhlenberg, and Baptist pastor John Gano. I guess a lot of John’s in the colonies were fighting preachers! 😉 Actually there was a Baptist pastor from Virginia, Elijah Craig, who encouraged many young men to fight in the war. One whole regiment of the Virginia Militia had the last name Craig! 🙂 We need that type of Baptist today who fights for truth!!

As criminal leaders disobey present laws on the books and callously remove protections from its own citizens, Antifa, BLM, the Taliban, ISIS, gangs, etc… are hurting the law-abiding while police and military are ordered to simply watch without interference or protection. Our civil servants are instead being used all around the world to enforce unsustainable lockdown mandates, unhealthy mask mandates, deadly vaccination mandates which are in violation of the Nuremberg Code and federal law, and unlawful, unconstitutional church closures.

So, is your Romans 13 interpretation similar to the Tories (“Divine Right of Kings”) or to the Patriots (“Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants”)? Remember: Without the Patriots’ Romans 13 view, the USA would never have existed.