There is no shortage of controversy when there is a preaching service in a public building. Controversy was the centerpiece as the Montana Legislature met Sunday January 4th in the Rotunda. They gathered for the fifth annual Election Sermon. The event was sponsored by the group Project Liberty Tree.
The keynote speaker was the sometimes controversial pastor, Rev. Matthew Trewhella. Pastor Trewhella is the pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church, Milwaukee Wisconsin. He has recently released his new book, The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates. In it Trewhella advocates the resistance of tyranny by the civil leaders to higher authorities when called upon by them to enforce unbiblical and sinful laws.
In his sermon, “The Duty of the Lesser Magistrate in the Face of Tyranny,” Trewhella told legislators, “The cold-blooded murder of the preborn, the imposition of homosexual marriage upon our states, no-fault divorce, the decriminalization of adultery, the phalanx of laws created by the State to invade our domestic affairs, disarm the people, seize our property, and harass our persons—all point to the growing tyranny in America.”
He called on the more than 30 legislators present to resist this tyranny through disobedience to unlawful laws. He means that Montana should ignore any law passed that is not based first in the Law of God. Trewhella makes this point clear when he said: “As God’s ministers you are to govern according to His rule,” using Romans 13 as proof.
This is good news for the Christian, even though there will be some who feel that this is not what God wants. It is those who believe that the Christian has no place in the political process who find themselves at variance with historical Christianity. John Knox did not think that any law that the magistrate passed was lawful, he said this: “But hereof be assured, that all is not lawful nor just that is statute by civil laws; neither yet is everything sin before God, which ungodly persons allege to be treason.”
And further, we see this taught by John Calvin. Concerning Romans 13:4, Calvin wrote, “He is a minister of God’s appointing and commissioning, that acts under him, and for him, is a kind of a vicegerent of his, and in some, sense represents him; and which is another reason why men ought to be subject to him; and especially since he is appointed for their “good”, natural, moral, civil, and spiritual.”
This is also something that has of late been taught by Christian teachers of our day. R.J. Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, and Gary DeMar have amply written and debated on the subject. This is the Christian faith of our forefathers, the Puritans, Presbyterian, and Particular Baptist all agree that only God can make or proclaim law.
This understanding of law and justice lived out in the lives of Christians is the only hope for any nation. “And you will swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ In truth, in justice and in righteousness; Then the nations will bless themselves in Him, And in Him they will glory (Jer. 4:2).”