Taxes, the Church and Govt: Distorting the Truth.

By Afamasaga M. F. Toleafoa 31 March 2018, 12:00AM

Thank you Ned Netterville for your response. 

You say you did not distort the truth but let me point out where you did so again. 

Firstly, when confronted with chapter and verse (seven verses in fact of Romans 13:1-7) from Scripture where the apostle Paul in plain, clear simple language tells the Christians in Rome to subject themselves to civil authority because among other things, “there is no authority except from God”, “whoever resists authority resists the ordinance from God” and “Rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil” you claim without scriptural substantiation that Paul meant to say the opposite!  

Pure fabrication and distortion. But Paul did not stop there, and I refer you to 1 Timothy 2: 1-2 where he exhorts Timothy who served as leader of the church in Ephesus, (Verse 1) “Therefore, I exhort that supplications, prayers……be made for all men. (Verse 2) for kings and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. (Verse 3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of our God and Saviour……” Plain simple language, but if you are to be believed, this too is Paul speaking ironically!

 And in case you wonder why I keep quoting from Scripture, let me reminder you that it is the only true guide to the truth that you accused me of distorting when you first joined this conversation. I refer you to John 17:17 where Jesus himself prays to his father about his disciples and asked “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” In other words, Scripture is our only source of truth. And Isaiah 8:20 also gives us the litmus test for discerning error; “to the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them!”

Secondly, you then suggest that my quoting what Paul says here would refute Luke as if Luke supports your views on the subject. That is distortion of the truth. What it refutes is your misuse of Luke’s account of Jesus and Satan in the wilderness which I have already dealt with, to discredit government by human agencies. I quoted Paul because it is God’s word, the only reliable source of truth and it speaks plainly and directly to the subject amidst all this sea of opinion and clever, but unsubstantiated interpretations.   

Thirdly, when confronted with Jesus also telling his listeners to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”, (in other words, be subject to government rule at the time) you then suggest Jesus and Paul had different understanding of Roman government, inferring that is why they said what they said. Yet again more personal opinion to distort clear and plain language from the Lord himself. And in any case, it is not clear what relevance the suggested difference has as Paul and Jesus are both telling their listeners the same thing, that is, subject yourselves to the institution of government. 

Your opinion that their experiences with Rome were different, not that it matters in this case, is also not borne out by the facts. Apart from Paul being a Roman citizen, which protected him from being scourged at one point, and afforded him a hearing in Rome where he appeared and testified twice about Jesus in Nero’s court, they both suffered persecution and death at Roman hands.

Fourthly, you merely repeated but with your own conclusion, what I had explained earlier, relevant parts of the history of the Jewish nation as God’s chosen light bearers, and their government. It was a government which God himself had set up from the start (see the five books of Moses) and supported all through its history (see the books of the Old Testament prophets that God used as his mouth pieces). It was a history of repeated apostasy followed by suffering by famine or at the hands of their enemies. It was about repentance and redemption followed by peace and prosperity when they heeded God’s commandments and covenant. It was also a history of government ordained and supported by God until its eventual destruction by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC, for persistent failure to live up to the covenant which had set them apart as a special people. (Jeremiah 52.)  

And yet in the face of all that long history spanning almost 2000 years  from Genesis to the book of Malachi and in spite of Jesus telling his Jewish listeners to be subject to the rule of Caesar, you continue to claim, that this was a government that neither God  nor Jesus ordained or supported! That is distorting the truth.

Fifthly, your insistence on attributing rule by “violence, force and coercion” to all forms of government apart from the Kingdom of God and in spite of evidence to contrary suggests a need to know what exactly you mean by “violence force and coercion”. For me rule by coercion, force and violence describes a government that has no legitimacy to govern because it has not received such a mandate through the ballot box or by some other democratic and  constitutionally determined selection process. In other words, the people have not given their assent to be ruled by such a government. As a result, it must resort to use force, coercion and violence to impose its will. That is what I call government by force, violence and coercion, and we do have examples of them today.But it does not negate the fact God has ordained the institution of government.

The other more common form of government is the modern democracy where governments are in office through the will of the governed normally expressed through the ballot box. With that assent from the governed, governments then collect taxes and other obligations from the people to make it possible to govern and to be “a terror not to good works but to evil” as Paul called it. I don’t see that as rule by force, coercion and violence, in any shape or form.  But it appears that you do, in which case we are dealing with semantics and personal opinions, an unprofitable discussion that leads nowhere. I leave it to the readers to decide.

As for the kingdom of God and rule without force through Gods Commandment of love that you mentioned, the bible tells us that this is only going to happen when Satan and sin have been cleansed from this earth by force and violence it must be pointed out, in the form of fire that falls down from heaven. (Revelation 20:9,10) “………And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The Devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…..”  Until that happens and the kingdom of God is set up on earth,(see Revelation 21:1-5) we live in a world where evil and lawlessness abound and  where God has ordained the institution of government by human agencies to be “a terror to evil”

Finally, your statement about “people loyal to their governments” is misplaced in this if it had me in mind also. I refer you to my past writings in the Samoa Observer under the heading “Democracy maketh not a Democracy” to see for yourself if I fit into that category as you seem to have assumed.  It was not long ago that I was congratulated in these columns for supporting government this one time according to the writer, on the issue of taxing the clergy in Samoa. But I am curious about you Ned Netterville, a self- professed anarchist, author, anti- tax and anti-government Trump supporter. I am curious about your interest in the subject of taxes and the clergy in Samoa.

 We know that taxes and government are two highly politicized and divisive subjects in your own country the USA today. Only recently, the rich and powerful awarded themselves a hefty tax present for example amidst much condemnation. We also know that fake news, lies and distortion of the truth have become accepted weapons of mass deception and political control in the USA, and now it seems elsewhere as well with revelations about the work of Cambridge Analytica and others. We have our own form of state control and manipulation of information for political purposes. But one can’t help but ask if your interest Mr. Ned Netterville in this conversation, is the beginning of US styled use of fake news and lies in public affairs in our little corner of the world.

By Afamasaga M. F. Toleafoa 31 March 2018, 12:00AM

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