Taxes, Church, Govt. and Ned Netterville

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Afamasaga M. F. Toleafoa

Thank you Mr. Ned Netterville. This discussion is going around in circles and I believe there is not much more of value to be added to what’s been said already. 

So this will be my last comment unless something new comes up that calls for a response. It’s also a last comment made for a very particular reason. 

Someone with your self-professed anarchist, anti-tax and anti-government politics can do considerable harm by distorting biblical truth on the subjects of taxes and government, when we as a country are grappling with the issues ourselves. 

These subjects are tearing your own country apart where dissimulation of the truth and reality is an accepted weapon of mass deception and political control. It’s something we don’t want to see happening in our little part of the world.

I have responded fully to your intervention on the basis of Scripture and how it is to be interpreted correctly, and must now leave it to the readers to make up their own minds about where the truth lies.

As a start to today’s response, I refer you Mr. Ned Netterville to your very first letter and what you said about the content of my column. Perhaps when you do, you won’t feel so self-righteous and wounded at my labeling your use of Scripture distortion and fabrication.  

And if you found my last response long winded (your words), it is because interpreting the Bible correctly must involve a process described in Isaiah 29: 9.10 of “….. precept upon precept, line upon line upon line, here a little, there a little” That is a much more time consuming and lengthier process than taking a word, a verse, a comment, a passage on its own as you do, and using it in a literal narrow sense to support your pre-conceived anarchist, anti-government and anti-tax positions. It is also less susceptible to error and falsehood.

An example is your misuse of the passage in Luke to support your anti-tax anti- government views. Please read carefully my response with the background and context of what was said in Luke and why. It explains the meaning of the “dominion” Satan claims he had over the world kingdoms.

It also explains why your interpreting that to mean all human governments are evil is a distortion of truth. Yes, “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23)  Please read my response about the ongoing struggle between God and Satan over fallen man’s final destiny, and God’s plan for man to win that struggle if they wish to accept it. (John 12:31, 14:30; 16:1116:11. Ephesians 2:2, 6:12)  

The same is true of your use of the passage from 1 Samuel 8. I have fully explained the background and   meaning in its right context; the relationship between God and the people he specially chose to be his light bearers in the world.

Your narrow misuse of the word “rejection” of God to suit your anti-government views is totally at odds with God’s leading role in the long history of the government of Israel.  It also does not fit in with God’s leading role in choosing a king (to replace Him) and in  establishing Israel’s new king so soon after his being “rejected.”  Please read the long winded but biblical explanation in my last comment. 

As for the kingdom of God which Jesus preached about and established when he was on earth, that is something else.  It is most certainly not Israel’s government before the event in 1 Samuel 8 as you seem to suggest. I suggest you read the following few texts about that kingdom.

There are many more but this one statement by Jesus himself should provide a helpful start; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come ( Mathew 24:14) ( Acts 1:2,3; Mathew 28: 18, 19, 20; Revelation 14:6,7; 21; 1-4.) The Gospel, the New Testament and the Old Testament as well all speak about that kingdom and how we can enter it.

As with any passage of scripture, there is a proper context and background to Jesus telling his listeners to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” 

The Jews were a subject people, under Roma rule. To suggest as you seem to be saying that they might “owe Caesar nothing” flies in the face of all reality. At the very least, the Jews owed the Roman government taxes and respect for the rule of law like all other people of the Roman Empire.

So just as Paul was doing  in Romans 13 with the Christians of Rome, Jesus was telling the Jews in Jerusalem to respect the rule of Caesar and that would include paying their taxes which like a lot of people, they hated to do as shown by their doleful view of tax collectors. He did not say so in so many words, but he did not have to.

To do otherwise is rebellion, and retribution and correction by force if necessary.  

Forty years after Jesus (70 AD), Jerusalem was totally raised to the ground with great force and violence by Rome for persistently not “rendering to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” that is respect for law and order and payment of taxes. It would be wonderful if governments did not have to use force and violence to enforce law and order in a fallen world, but how else are they to be” a terror to evil?”

Paul had more to say about governments than Jesus and in 2 Timothy 2: 2-4; he has this advice for Timothy in the church in Ephesus; “Therefore I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men (2) for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. (3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” Scripture can’t be any clearer and the idea that I am suggesting a difference between what Paul said and what Jesus said is an example Mr. Ned Netterville of the dissimulation of truth and reality that is seen today in the divisive politics of your own country.

The apostle Peter another leader of the early church also had similar advice in his letter to all Christians at the time; “Submit your selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake whether to the king as supreme, or to governor as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of those who do good. For that is the will of God that by doing good, you may set out to silence the ignorance of foolish men”

Your concern about bad governments like Hitler’s and so many others in history and even today misses a key point in this discussion. What God ordained is the “institution of government” in the same way that he ordained the “institution of his church” and the “institution of marriage” 

He does not ordain or approve of governments that don’t follow His principles of living and governing. (Israel was finally destroyed by its enemies after persistently failing to honour the covenant with God)  

But we live unfortunately in a fallen world where “your adversary (Satan) walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Many governments fail to live up to Gods standards and revealed principle for governing, as do the church and marriages. 

 But there are also many others that follow God’s principles of living and governing and are a blessing to themselves and to the world. For a long time, the government of your own country was founded on principles that reflected its Christian beginnings. 

It proved to be a blessing to the world. We see different principles of governing emerging today along with the inevitable divisions and hostilities and who knows may be even catastrophic violence! In other words, a curse!

 I must apologize for another long-winded response. 

But what is one to do when faced with either genuine misunderstanding or deliberate distortion of one’s argument? 

Your taking part in this discussion is a novel thing for us.

I note that you have denied being a Trump supporter but make no mention of your anarchist and anti-tax, anti-government politics. Which makes it all the more reason for your interpretations of Scripture to be held up against the litmus test of truth, the Bible.

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