Render unto caesar

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Essay:  Assignment Instructions

Overview

This essay requires you to demonstrate an understanding of jurisdiction that is consistent with a biblical worldview. The civil government does not have authority to govern over all the affairs of man. It is critical that we understand that the government does not have jurisdiction to punish everything that is “wrong.” In other words, all sins are not crimes. For example, James Madison believed that religious liberty exists because the government does not have the authority to punish citizens for their beliefs. This principle of limited jurisdiction is consistent with a biblical worldview because it recognizes that God has instituted government, and He has given it authority to accomplish a particular, and limited mission on the earth, which is to punish those who do evil and reward those who do good (See Romans 13:1-4). 

Instructions

In response to a rise in violence, the state of Wisconsin passes a law that enhances the penalty for any offense committed against a victim where the crime is committed “because of hatred for the victim’s race, sex, or religion.” Taking into consideration that hating your brother is prohibited in both the Old and New Testaments, explain whether this “hate crimes” enhancement is a proper exercise of the civil government’s jurisdiction according to the biblical worldview discussed in the course materials. Fully explain your position.

You will write a 3–5-page (double spaced) research-based paper in current Bluebook format that fully analyzes the essay prompt. In your essay, you must include citations to at least 3 scholarly sources in addition to the course textbook and the Bible. Your citations should be placed in footnotes and you do not need a reference or bibliography page. You also do not need a cover page.

 

  • Acts 4:19
  • Acts 5:28–29, 39
  • Daniel 6:6–23
  • Luke 10:25–37
  • Proverbs 23:13
  • Colossians 3:18–21
  • Proverbs 6:20
  • Exodus 20:12
  • 1 Corinthians 5:9–11, 13
  • 1 Timothy 3:1–13
  • Acts 17:26–27
  • Isaiah 33:22

 

Article I. Bill of Rights

Section 16. Free exercise of religion; no establishment of religion

That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. And the General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this Commonwealth, to levy on themselves or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house of public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry; but it shall be left free to every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support such private contract as he shall please. 

 

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to: 

  • Recognize that the civil government has only been given limited authority for limited purposes.
  • Express the biblical limitations on the jurisdiction/authority of the civil government.
  • Assess when the civil government is exceeding its jurisdiction and usurping the jurisdiction of other authorities appointed by God such as the church, family, or self.
  • Explain how the biblical principles of jurisdiction have been incorporated into the American legal system.

Foundations of Law: Week 3

Key Principle of Jurisdiction

• God has all authority
• Romans 13:1. “For there is no authority except

from God, and the authorities that exist are
appointed by God.”

Mark 12:17. Christ recognizes
jurisdictions.

• Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and
unto God that which is God’s.

State has jurisdiction over wrongful
actions. Romans 13:3-4

• For rulers are not a terror to good works, but
to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the
authority? Do what is good, and you will have
praise from the same. For he is God’s minister
to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid;
for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he
is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath
on him who practices evil.

Hating your brother. Matt 5:22

• But I say to you that whoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of
the judgment. And whoever says to his
brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the
council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be
in danger of hell fire.

Jurisdiction over the Heart
• God claims absolute jurisdiction over the heart.
• Psalm 7:9. “For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.”
• 1 Samuel 16:7. “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man

looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
• Genesis: 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was

great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his
heart was only evil continually.

• 1 Corinthians 4:1-5. “For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am
not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore
judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both
bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels
of the hearts.”

Law of Faith: God Has jurisdiction over
matters of faith to the exclusion of the

State
• See Exodus 20:2-8.
• 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Commandments.
• What about 4th commandment—the Sabbath?

Example: 1st Commandment

• “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no
other God’s before me.”

• It is still binding as law upon all people and all
times, b/c it is part of the created order (The
Creator and His creatures).

• However, America’s founders believed that
this commandment created a duty that was
between God and man. The State could not
interfere with this duty.

Art. 1, Section 16 VA Constitution

• That religion or the duty which we owe to our
Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can
be directed only by reason and conviction, not
by force or violence; and, therefore, all men
are equally entitled to the free exercise of
religion, according to the dictates of
conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of
all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and
charity towards each other.

Memorial and Remonstrance

• The free exercise of religion is, “in its nature
an unalienable right. . . . It is unalienable, also,
because what is here a right towards men, is a
duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of
every man to render the Creator such
homage, and such only, as he believes to be
acceptable to Him; this duty is precedent,
both in order of time, and degree of
obligation, to the claims of civil society.”

Conclusion on Religious Freedom?

• State has no power to enforce the duty man
has to worship his Creator.
– Biblical support: “Render unto Caesar, that which

is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.”
Mark 12:17

– Acts 5:28-29. “We must obey God rather than
men.”

• What about 10 Commandments prohibitions
against heresy, apostasy, blasphemy and
idolatry?

Recap: Limits on Civil Government’s
Jurisdiction

• Gov’t can only punish evil conduct, not evil desires alone.
Romans 13:1-7.

• Law of the heart
– Gov’t has no jurisdiction over the heart.
– I.e. Gov’t can’t punish mere hate or other bare sinful desire.

• Law of Faith/Freedom of the mind
– Gov’t has little or no jurisdiction over matters of faith.
– Note: There is some disagreement here. Calvin believed the

state could punish heresy. Blackstone believed only church could
do so. Blackstone did believe gov’t could punish apostasy, but
not by death.

– Consider whether civil gov’t can enforce first 4
Commandments?

The Jurisdiction of the Civil
Government

• Punish evil conduct
• Protect health, safety, and morals
• Military
• Taxes
• Negotiations with other nations

Good Samaritan Laws/Duty to Rescue

• Does civil gov’t have jurisdiction to force us to rescue
others?
– I.e. Good Samaritan laws.

• See Luke 10:25-37.
• Tough question, but answer is probably quite limited to

no jurisdiction b/c:
– In scripture neither Christ nor OT law prescribes a

punishment for failing to rescue.
– Duty to rescue is born out of love, which gov’t cannot

compel.
– Slippery slope: What other “loving” things could the civil

gov’t compel?

Who else has God given governing
authority/jurisdiction to?

• Self
• Church
• Family

Self-Government

• Scriptures assume we are beings that can
make moral choices.

• I.e. Scriptures impose the duty to rescue upon
the individual, not upon the gov’t.

Church Government

• 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Example of qualifications
for “rulers” of the church.

• 1 Corinthians 5:9-12. Example of church’s
jurisdiction over “anyone named a brother
who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an
idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an
extortioner.”

• Enforcement mechanism: Excommunication
from fellowship with the church.

Family Government

• Colossians 3:18-21. Wives submit to your
husbands, husbands love your wives, children
obey your parents in all things, fathers don’t
provoke your children to wrath.

• Proverbs 6:20. My son, keep your father’s
command and do not forsake the law of your
mother.

• Enforcement mechanism for children: The rod.

Family Hypo 1

• Virginia passes a law making it a crime for
children to disobey their parents. Does
Virginia have jurisdiction to enforce this law?

Presenter
Presentation Notes
A: The Virginia law reflects a principle of LONANG, binding on all people everywhere per 5th Commandment and Ephesians 6:18, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”
But is discipline of children granted to the parents or to the state? It is granted to the parents: Proverbs 23:13. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.”

Family Hypo 2

• Virginia passes a law making it a crime if a
husband fails to love his wife. Does Virginia
have jurisdiction to enforce this law?

Presenter
Presentation Notes
A: The Virginia law reflects a principle of LONANG. See Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:25, 33, “Husbands, love your wives.”
Probably not. Seems to infringe upon the family jurisdiction and/or God’s jurisdiction. In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter tells husbands to honor their wives, “that your prayers may not be hindered.” This implies that God will hold husbands accountable for failing to love and honor their wives.

Territoriality

• Q: Why does England have jurisdiction over
persons within its territory? Isn’t that arbitrary?
– B/c God laid it out that way.
– See Acts 17:26-27. “And He has made from one blood

every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the
earth, and has determined their preappointed times
and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they
should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might
grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from
each one of us;”

Hypo: Separation of Powers

• Virginia Governor passes a law making it
illegal to drive while texting. You violate this
law and the Governor arrests you. You then
face trial before the Governor and he finds
you guilty of a felony and sentences you to
prison time. What is wrong with this picture?

Presenter
Presentation Notes
A: Governor is exercising all three powers of government: Legislative-judicial-executive

Separation of Powers

• Isaiah 33:22. The American government gets
its judicial, lawmaking, and executive power
from the Bible. Our government reflects the
powers exercised by God.

• Note one big difference. God embodies all
these powers in one person. We separate
these powers into different branches b/c
man—unlike God—is sinful.

3 Major Principles to take from this
Chapter

• Power must be expressly granted to civil gov’t,
else, it does not exist. Genesis 9.

• Christian view of gov’t provides great liberty.
• When considering whether a law is valid, must

also consider who has been granted
jurisdiction to enforce it.

Civil Government’s (or Magistrate’s)
Jurisdiction Summary

• Start with Romans 13
• No jurisdiction over heart or mind
• No jurisdiction over matters of faith/religious conduct
• No jurisdiction to force one to rescue another
• No enforcement mechanism in Old Testament is hint

that there may be no jurisdiction in modern times;
Likewise, existence of enforcement mechanism in Old
Testament indicates there may be jurisdiction.

• Territorial limits on jurisdiction
• Presumption against civil jurisdiction

Is Mosaic Punishment Binding on All
Nations?

• If there is a civil punishment in Mosaic law for a
particular wrongful act, how can we tell if that
punishment is binding today?

• Same way that we analyze whether a Mosaic
prohibition is binding—by examining its
purposes.

• Binding: If purpose of punishment is to preserve
created order

• Not binding: If purpose of punishment is to
reflect Israel’s redemptive/holy purposes

Textual Tips indicating that a Mosaic
law/punishment may only bind Israel

• Biblical language to the following effect:
– Be holy as your Father is holy
– Israel as an inheritance/special treasure
– God’s act in redeeming Israel from Egypt
– Language regarding the promised land

  • Foundations of Law: Week 3
  • Key Principle of Jurisdiction
  • Mark 12:17. Christ recognizes jurisdictions.
  • State has jurisdiction over wrongful actions. Romans 13:3-4
  • Hating your brother. Matt 5:22
  • Jurisdiction over the Heart
  • Law of Faith: God Has jurisdiction over matters of faith to the exclusion of the State
  • Example: 1st Commandment
  • Art. 1, Section 16 VA Constitution
  • Memorial and Remonstrance
  • Conclusion on Religious Freedom?
  • Recap: Limits on Civil Government’s Jurisdiction
  • The Jurisdiction of the Civil Government
  • Good Samaritan Laws/Duty to Rescue
  • Who else has God given governing authority/jurisdiction to?
  • Self-Government
  • Church Government
  • Family Government
  • Family Hypo 1
  • Family Hypo 2
  • Territoriality
  • Hypo: Separation of Powers
  • Separation of Powers
  • 3 Major Principles to take from this Chapter
  • Civil Government’s (or Magistrate’s) Jurisdiction Summary
  • Is Mosaic Punishment Binding on All Nations?
  • Textual Tips indicating that a Mosaic law/punishment may only bind Israel
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