Who is our authority?

Mark Dever tackles the question of whether Christians should support the government

Convocation Wednesday, Feb. 17 hosted Mark Dever, the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

DUTY — Mark Dever spoke about how Christianity and government can be reconciled. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

DUTY — Mark Dever spoke about how Christianity and government can be reconciled. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

Dever’s talk was an exposition of Mark 12:13-18, and he focused specifically on the famous response Jesus gives to the Pharisees after they question him about paying taxes.

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17, ESV)

The first point Dever pulled out of the text was that Christians are called to be good citizens.

“In this short answer, Jesus picks up a biblical theology of government, and he applied it to the new phase in the history of God’s people that Jesus himself was commencing,” Dever said.

Dever continued by discussing how a pagan government can be legitimate and what the Bible has to say about the role government plays in God’s kingdom.

“God teaches us in the Bible that he is sovereign, and that the state is the servant of God in very particular ways,” Dever said.

Dever emphasized many times from Scripture how the authority of a government reflects God and how a government reflects the command God gave Adam in Genesis 1:28 to “fill the earth and subdue it.”

“As Christians we believe that government is one of a number of enterprises that we can be involved in that are not specifically Christian but that are good and mediate the blessings of God’s own authority in the life,” Dever said.

Dever then told the audience the importance of knowing that Christians are international. He pointed out specific texts, such as Genesis 12 and Matthew 28, which cast a vision of the church being for all people.

“The international (nature) of Christ’s church today … shows that it has never been just an American thing,” Dever said. “It’s never been just a Western thing. In fact from its very earliest beginnings the worship of the one true God has always been something that has been envisioned for all nations.”

Dever said while the Christian duty to the government above him or her is limited, the duty to God is comprehensive. In making this point, Dever referenced the famous quote from Dutch politician and theologian Abraham Kuyper on the totality of God’s authority.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign overall, does not cry mine!”

Dever concluded by reminding students of the importance of the gospel.

“The wonderful news of Christianity isn’t about government,” Dever said. “It’s about what God does with people who have offended and broken his laws, and that’s all of us.”

Sutherland is the opinion editor.

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