What the Scriptures "actually say" pertaining to Romans 13, may or may not be consistent with Natural Law, thus, did the Founding Fathers have the right to rebel against Great Britain? Inasmuch the literal reading of Romans 13 is inconsistent with the American Revolution, as it could be; along with the Founding Fathers, the Heterodox, Elite, 18th Century Christian Preachers, are an important dynamic within Founding American Political Thought. Regardless of the correct biblical exegegis; righteous rebellion from Natural Law, espoused by Thomas Aquinas to the Founding Fathers, has a strong historical tradition.
In my last post, I overlooked Founding Father John Jay's defense of the Natural Law tradition of Romans 13, by ignoring the correct context of of John 18:36, which Mr. Jay apparently missed:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." [bold face mine]
Mr. Jay understood a right to rebellion by Jesus' disciples (the people), granted that universal right for any nation, was couched in Natural Law. But Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world, until the start of the Millennial Age. Jesus' Kingdom has been called by God. It appears the text says "Every" governing authority is granted by God. If the right to rebel against any authority has support in Romans 13, it's in the Greek rendering of the word "resist." That word, refers only to "standing against." It is never used in the New Testament for fighting. If fighting against governing authorities is granted by God to the people, why didn't Paul use a different word? That point, however, may be incidental, as the text seems to imply the people should submit to every authority they are under.
The "Old Lights" referring to New England Preachers of the liberal bent, include: Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766), Charles Chauncy (1705-1787), Simeon Howard (1733-1804), Samuel Cooper (1725-1783), Ebenezer Gay (1696-1787) and Samuel West (1730-1807). West, was a member of the committee which framed the Constitution of Massachusetts, and member of the Mass. Convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1788. These men are interesting characters, in that most of their theological reasoning discarded sixteen-hundred years of Church tradition for the freedom to interpret the Scriptures in their own way. This is all fine and dandy involving the incidentals of Christianity. These men owe our respect for their involvement in the Revolutionary cause; risking their lives, and promoting freedom of conscience to all men.
These men ranged from Arians to Socinians, having denied the Trinity as unreasonable, they rejected seemingly Calvinist principles promoted by Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies et. al. in the Great Awakening. Having free reign to interpret the Scriptures, and rejecting Church Creeds, led these men to deny the fundamentals of Christian Theology. The departure of fundamentals did not start at rejecting inerrancy, but rejecting the Deity of Jesus Christ, which led to rejecting Christ's Vicarious Blood Atonement for Sin. To them, only God can forgive sin, and Jesus was not God, negating Jesus' capacity for blood atonement. Scripturally, they rejected the atonement, looking to God's forgiveness through character. Amazingly, they discarded the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament, along with God's promise of a final sacrifice for sin. A little leaven leavens the whole lump, which begs the question, "How much virtue does it take to outweigh one sin?"
This exaltation of character over, or even to partner, the free gift of grace, took them off track in God's plan of Salvation. Character is not a part of salvation, but is an evidence of salvation. Character is an evidence, not a requirement. These "Old Lights" mixed grace and works, perhaps due to their emphasis on Natural Law.
They preached in Congregational Churches limited to the Boston area of Massachusetts, before the Unitarian split in the early 19th Century. A good question to these men is how did they get around taking communion? If membership required adherance to Church ordinances, how did Samuel Cooper for instance, get around not taking communion when he adminstered it at Brattle Street Church in Boston? Brattle Street Church was Baptist that eventually became First Baptist Church. His congregation was seemingly more secretive in its Unitarianism than Jonathan Mayhew's Church, with past communion members such as: John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.
A small group of Elite Founding Fathers embraced the psuedo-arminianism of the Unitarian Preachers, some of these men included: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Massachusetts men: John Adams, his son John Quincy, William Cushing, James Bowdoin, and Paul Revere. The division in Unitarian theology did not happen until the 19th Century, with William Ellery Channing. The key to unlock the religious views of the Founding Fathers is tied to their position on atonement-depravity. The pseudo-arminians viewed man as good, the Calvinists or nominal Calvinists viewed man as depraved.
Whatever theological beliefs they had, they were instrumental, along with the Orthodox Preachers, in arousing fervor for revolution against Great Britain. These Old Light preachers are an important element in the American Revolution.
If righteous rebellion is not correct biblical exegesis as some commentators insist, the American Revolution was un-biblical, no matter its inclusion into Natural Law. If the Revolution was un-biblical, does an incidental in Christian theology affect the Christian Nation Thesis?