State Absolutism and Christian Resistance: Steve Forkin’s ‘Slaying the Dragon’

“…it would be cultish to consider obedience to a Christian leader absolute… Paul never calls for absolute submission to any form of human authority.”

Steve Forkin’s tome to Christian resistance is a 127-page argument in favour of reading Romans 13 in context.

His self-published, Slaying the Dragon: Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God in sum, reexamines the relationship between the Roman Principia, and Christian submission.

Forkin was arrested during COVID for defending an elderly Jewish woman, as he was walking in a local park.

With this bull-headed medical totalitarianism in mind, Forkin wrestles with the concept, and butchering of Romans 13.

Specifically, how Paul’s letter was sliced, diced, and served up by churches to force compliance with overreaching government decrees.

Here Forkin applies the key caveat of exegesis proper – a warning against reading current events, and modern government into the chapter.

“Jesus and the early church viewed government very differently to us who live in the 21st Century.

“There simply is no state in this passage, and most certainly not the kind of states most Christians live under, the kind with a “monopoly on coercion.

“We must allow Paul to speak to us about government through the lens of what government was like in his day,” he explains.

Not all governments are equal.

Because of this, a Christian response to civil governance isn’t as simple as stating, “Romans 13 says submit!”

“The civil magistrate has ‘lawful’ powers, and when the magistrate wields the sword outside these lawful powers the Christian is not obligated to obey.”

Additionally, Churches should be teaching civics.

“The Church fails,” says Forkin, “if it doesn’t teach Christians what the rightful exercise of civil governance is.”

Churches should also be teaching Christians “when there is an obligation or duty to disobey or resist the wrongful exercise of power.”

Monopolised states are their own arbitrators. This makes those forms of government a law unto themselves.

Therefore, right resistance is a Christian duty, when guided by the right reading of Paul’s epistle.

“Romans 13 is not making an argument for or against any particular political theory, it’s demonstrating what the clear boundaries of Biblical civil governance are, and what the Christian response must be.”

For instance, Christians cannot initiate violence against a government, though they have a right to resist that government as an act of non-violent self-defence, such as speaking the truth when truth is being censored or legislated against.

Important to living out Romans 13, Forkin states, is understanding the difference between “moral and legal authority.”

Christ is King! In Paul’s day, and beyond such a declaration was considered to be treason.

From Polycarp to the French Huguenots, Forkin finds a consistency to Christian resistance in relation to civil governments governing outside their God-given authority.

As John Calvin asserted, yes, Romans 13 calls for Christian submission to government, but only as long as the government submits its authority to God-given imperatives for civic rule.

This is supported by the bible as a whole, argues Forkin.

Romans 13, when cross-referenced with other texts brings to life a chain of command, where God is at the very top.

God has absolute authority. Man is delegated a portion of that as a means of mediating that authority through good government.

As Forkin states, “The bible ascribes absolute authority to God. All human authority is derived from God and is therefore not absolute.”

Governments who “believe themselves to be, and behave as if they have absolute authority” are governing outside God’s commands and authorship of it.

“Citizens render submission to the king in relation to God. A king who demands absolute obedience is a tyrant,” Forkin asserts.

If obeying the king, means offending God, Christians have permission to resist the abuse of power vis-a-vis statist absolutism.

As Scripture declares: “God blesses correct resistance to tyranny.”

2 Chronicles 18:12-13 grounds this assertion.

Micaiah, the prophet, is ordered to not offend the King of Israel with God’s Word. Instead, he’s told to repeat the scripted narrative.

He replied, no: “As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak.”

Concluding, Forkin notes that “unquestionable, and unlimited obedience to authority would render much of the law of God” inert.      

God sets the standard for government. It’s clear, Forkin writes, “God never intended His law to be tyrannical.”

As for rulers, “God appoints, not nature.”

Romans 13 emphasises “not what submission to government should look like, but rather the ground or reason for submitting.”

There is zero “suggestion or confirmation in this text for the kind of obedience to a government that has no limits.”

For example, “it would be cultish to consider obedience to a Christian leader absolute…Paul never calls for absolute submission to any form of human authority.”

Romans 13, wrote Forkin, does not command Christian “submission to a government demanding compliance with immoral laws.”

Submission to government must fit in the context of submission to God.

Steve Forkin’s Slaying the Dragon: Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God achieves a lot in a short amount of space.

What the apologetics podcaster, turned author, offers here is a succinct argument.

In it, he clarifies the all-important qualitative distinction: God is God, we are not.

Forkin brings home an implied rebuke of natural theology, as much as he does a fierce Nein to a theology of glory – self-deification.

He also reminds us of the beauty of the theology of the cross.

These applaudable assertions borrow from a right reading of Romans 13, and speak to the importance of Christ’s Lordship, in any pathway of Christian resistance to State absolutism.

As such, Forkin’s book not only speaks to a COVID-era government, it lends its scriptural guidance to the approaching battles against censorship czars, “hate speech” laws, and Australia’s grotesque nanny state.

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