Who Do We Submit To?

There has been a ton of talk about how the Presidential election might turn out. Among the talk is that both sides may claim victory. It may be very questionable on who actually has won. Accusations of fraud will be made. Here is my question and one we should think about. If both sides were to lay claim to victory and began to issue orders, which would have the right to lay claim to authority and who would we be obligated to submit to.

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Are you assuming that the appeal process goes all the way to the Supreme Court, is decided, and the losing party refuses to accept the decision and sets up an opposition government?

I think the chances of that are exceedingly small.

I agree that it seems unlikely. And why would anyone be receiving orders from national politicians? Unless you are in military or federal agency police command, your life should continue as normal in nearly any domestic political crisis.

Perhaps exceedingly small.

But if something goes to the Supreme Court, two very real possibilities are a 4-4 tie on the Supreme Court with the current configuration, or a Trump nominee being the one who takes it to 5-4. Neither one would be met with acquiescence from the Left.

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Yes, but have we had anything that can honestly be described as acquiescence from the left under our current President? Truthfully, I think we are growing ever closer to political anarchy in our divided nation, and that’s why I’m sympathetic to those who refuse to honor the left’s COVID-19 flag although I remain supportive of submitting to the civil and church authorities in its regard. Love,

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I still don’t think this is going to happen, but I must acknowledge that you were right to ask the question, @JosephSpurgeon.

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I was thinking the other day about situations in history where there have been two different entities claiming to be the legitimate authority over a sovereign state, and considering that against Christ’s call to submit to the governing authorities.

One example I think of is Vichy France during World War 2. After the Germans had effectively overrun the French, Reynaud resigned as Prime Minister. Pétain ended up assuming his place, and an armistice was signed. Shortly thereafter, through an actual act of Congress, Vichy France was established. Brief summary from Wikipedia:

The Chamber of Deputies and Senate, meeting together as a “Congrès”, held an emergency meeting on 10 July to ratify the armistice. At the same time, the draft constitutional proposals were tabled. The presidents of both Chambers spoke and declared that constitutional reform was necessary. The Congress voted 569–80 (with 18 abstentions) to grant the Cabinet the authority to draw up a new constitution, effectively “voting the Third Republic out of existence”. Nearly all French historians, as well as all postwar French governments, consider this vote to be illegal; not only were several deputies and senators not present, but the constitution explicitly stated that the republican form of government could not be changed, though it could be argued that a republican dictatorship was installed.

Of course, shortly thereafter, the Free France resistance was born, led in exile by de Gaulle, and acknowledged by the British as the true French government. Which is also fascinating, isn’t it, since de Gaulle was no elected official of the French, and rather represented the spirit of what Britain and the rest of the “free world” wanted to see France remain. Did this make him any legitimate authority?

When a capitulated government, acting under duress, submits to the pressure of a foreign aggressor, do the decrees of that new puppet government become binding? Should Christians in that scenario have honored the Vichy government as their rightful authority, or should they have remained loyal to the Republic, which now lay effectively gone? When do we accept that a binding transition of civil authority has actually occurred?

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These are interesting questions, Jason, and things that I’ve wrestled with also. Any kind of conquest or monarchical succession crisis falls under this similar question. Even the American Revolution went through this. The answers that the Founders came to (“consent of the governed” and such) all seem to me to be rank rebellion and excuse-making. But I can identify with it.

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Wild that if 45,000 votes in the 3 closest states had gone the other way, we would have had peak 2020 and a 269-269 split. We came close.

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What is prescribed if the EC vote is even? Does it go to the Supreme Court?

If there is no winner in the Electoral College, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 3 states that the decision goes to the House of Representatives while the Senate picks the vice president. But the voting in the House is different from the Senate. In the vote for vice president, each Senator has one vote. But in the House each state has only one vote for president—regardless of its size—and a presidential candidate needs 26 states to win. [from here]

But it’s the 2021 House that votes.

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The EC vote doesn’t have to be even, it goes to the House and Senate (per Joseph’s blurb) if no candidate reaches a majority. That can also happen when third-party candidates split the electoral college vote or if one or more state withholds its electoral votes.

I believe the House and Senate have to select from the top three electoral vote-getters for their respective offices, ruling out something like the Speaker of the House being elected President as a “compromise candidate” or some other such shenanigan.

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Whom
smiling

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Knock knock.
Who’s there?
To.
To who?
Actually, it’s “to whom.”

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Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Prig.
Prig whom?
No, prig who.

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I am curious why you say this? Romans 13 is an important passage but it isn’t the be all end all of biblical teaching on civil government. Both it and 1st Peter 2 leave several questions unanswered such as who exactly is the lawful governing authority. In the time those passages were written it makes sense that they would not answer that question. The context was the Roman Empire. Furthrmore there are more passages in scripture including the Old Testament that help us. I believe the founders of our nation were wrestling with these questions in a long line of reformed tradition. Even men like John Locke were attempting to work out the foundational element of what makes a civil authority legitimate.

Here is a thought experiment. If the viking dude and his posse had managed to hold the capitol building for say over night. And they sent out a memo saying he was the new president of the United States and the other authorities didn’t put up much fight? Would we claim Romans 13 means we must submit to him. Would we oppose some civilians standing up and removing him from the building and restoring order? Now what if Viking dude was more sophisticated and just stole an election and had the media censor his opposition? Does your answer change and why?

It seems like to me that consent of the governed is baked in the pie somehow.

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@FaithAlone, the American Revolution was built on the theological developments of the English Civil Wars. Protestant and reformed theological developments. It’s simplistic and dismissive to call the view that came from that lineage ‘rank rebellion and excuse making.’

Disagree with it if you will. But show you actually understand what it is first.

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Romans 13 may not be the “be all end all of biblical teaching on civil government” (because there are other passages on it elsewhere) but it is the most explicit passage in all of Scripture on the topic of how Christians are to relate to the State and what power the State has as given to it by God. And that after the gospel had gone out to the Gentiles and the Church’s context expanded out of a theocracy.

So, using the old analogy of faith, any interpretation of less explicit passages that contradict the clear and explicit passages must be ruled out. I’m happy to give Romans 13 a prominent place. I’m not embarrassed by it and looking for excuses to undermine its clear doctrine.

As to your example, it’s absurd. Breaking the law to take a secure building and then writing a memo from that building does not a President make. He’s just a rogue individual taking what does not belong to him. If Mr. Biden and his team rigged the election, he’s doing the same thing. But that must be proven. In the case of viking dude, his power grab is obvious. In the case of Biden and Dominion and 150 million votes, only time and litigation will tell, maybe. God knows and while render perfect justice to Biden one day.

In the end, and when/if there is no definitive proof, Biden can legitimately claim the consent of the governed and our calling as Christians living in a pagan state will be to yield to that authority for four years, attempt to elect more righteous individuals the next election, and hope we aren’t in the pitiable position (sarcasm) of the people written about in the book of Hebrews, those who accepted joyfully the seizure of their property, knowing that they had for themselves a better possession and a lasting one.

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I just want to be clear that I’m not saying that there is a deficiency in scripture but rather am saying that Romans 13 must be taken in it’s context and if we are going to answer a question like the one posed in the original post, we will need all scripture. Romans 13 does help with the question because as John Knox and others have shown it is not just descriptive but prescriptive for civil government.

Therefore scripture is sufficient and efficient. What I find deficient are views of Romans 13 that turn it into a playbook for Hitler.

Btw thanks Joseph Bayly for acknowledging I wasn’t that stupid to ask the question in the first place. I think we have most likely dodged the question in its fullest extent though things were close.

A good corollary to Romans 13 is David steadfastly refusing to kill Saul, and then executing the man who falsely claimed credit for killing Saul.

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