October 09, 2021

Our thoughts on "Resist Tyrants, Obey God"

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 

Romans 13: 1 - 5

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 


We've previously released our design entitled "Resist Tyrants, Obey God". Since then we've received a sincere question from a brother in Christ who asked how this would reconcile with Romans 13, and was concerned that the design lacked context and could create misunderstanding and be unhelpful. We first want to thank him for being open & transparent with us, open dialogue is so important for brothers & sisters in Christ! 

We'll share what we responded to him (with some minor grammatical changes) but want to raise the usual disclaimer that this is purely our conscience and how we view the issue. We hope that even if we disagree, we disagree in love and that we first come from a place of humility and our desire to be faithful to the Scriptures & our Christian witness. We'd love to hear your thoughts if you have something to share, whether you agree or disagree!

"Hi ____, thanks for reaching out, and we do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts!

We agree that this is a complex issue, and especially trickier in the context of COVID-19 with churches and pastors being demonized and penalized (legally) for seeking to faithfully obey Scripture. I have personally been quite disheartened when the government tries to legitimize online worship as something which works "just as well" as meeting in person and that our desire to meet in person is deemed selfish. Of course, we do understand that there were legitimate health concerns during the initial outbreak, and for the safety of the congregants, especially the older members, we thought that was the wise thing to do.

We also want to be clear that we do not support any form of violent protest, thinking of the Capitol Hill riots we would wholeheartedly say that none of what took place was Christian at all. I think this is also where Romans 13 comes into play for believers, that we do not seek to overthrow what God has instituted or do so in a way that would undermine our Christian witness. 

However, I believe the interplay between Acts 5:29 and Romans 13 is that our first and most important conviction is to obey God and His Word. If unbiblical laws that would cause us to sin are implemented, we must not participate as it would violate our commitment to God. Now of course Romans 13 would also then say that we should also not resist the punishment as a result for not participating in these laws. I think of our brothers & sisters in China who run the underground churches and have been arrested for doing so. They do not try and claim that their imprisonment was illegitimate, they know full well that they are breaking the law, but they are breaking an unjust & unbiblical law, and they accept the earthly consequences of doing so.
We did consider the possible misinterpretation of this design and what we're trying to get at, as with our other designs. We'll be the first to admit that while the designs on our apparel & products can spark conversations, they are inadequate to stand alone as the conversation itself (similar to Twitter posts!) This is partially why we have now introduced a Monday devotional newsletter that could hopefully clarify or expound on some of these issues further. But our view is that in an increasingly hostile world, we wanted this design in particular to be a reminder to believers that it is very easy to fall in line with the world due to the consequences. The question of how we resist tyrants, we agree that this requires careful thought guided by Scripture and right church leadership."