Peaceful demonstration?

Q. My friend sent me a video from 5 years ago, of a Hong Kong pastor defending the protests for democracy during “Occupy Central” by saying that although the word “democracy” does not appear in the Bible, the idea does. He cited examples of the Bible against authoritarian rule e.g. God creating angels and men with freewill; Moses against Pharaoh; Samuel warning the Israelites against being ruled by kings, David being chastised by the prophet Nathan, and Herod slaughtering the babies. He argued that democracy is the Christian way to govern. Is that true?

A. No, that’s not true. I watched that video and disagree with his premise and conclusion. The Bible’s system of government is theocracy (ruled by God), not democracy (ruled by people). What that pastor tried to do is to use selective incidents to establish a biblical basis for democracy, but his methodology is flawed, as he did not look at the whole picture, only the parts that suit him.

He started by claiming that when God created man, He gave him freewill, the right to choose. The supreme example is that He allowed His angel Lucifer to rebel, who became Satan. Yes there is freewill, but what that pastor did not say is that whatever man’s choice, he must bear the consequences of what he chose.

  • Gen 3:16-17  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

God gave Adam a wide degree of freedom (any tree he chooses), with only one exception (the tree of knowledge), to test whether he would obey. But he disobeyed, with dire consequences. The result is the fall of man and spiritual death, the penalty for sin. So freedom to choose is not the ideal to pursue, obedience to God’s command is.

With respect to Satan, yes, he wasn’t punished immediately. However, he will be cast into the lake of fire, showing that while the time of his judgment is not up yet, it is inevitable.

  • Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

All rebellion will be punished, sooner or later. Do not assume delay means approval.

The pastor then cited several Old and New Testament examples against authoritarian rule by a dictator. Yes there are dangers in being ruled by one person with absolute power, but the Bible’s system is theocracy, not autocracy. Essentially, he is attacking a straw man (autocracy) to justify democracy, thus evading the core issue of theocracy. I refute his examples as follows:

  • Moses against Pharaoh. God always cares for His people.
    • Ex 3:7-9  The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, … Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
    •  Theocracy is never man’s real problem.
  • Samuel warning against monarchy.
    • 1 Sam 8:7  The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. 
    • The sin of the Israelites was in rejecting theocracy. This has been the sin of mankind ever since Adam & Eve.
  • David chastised by Nathan. Yes, David committed adultery and murder, but ultimately his sin was against God.
    • 2 Sam 12:7  Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. Ps 51:4 Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.
    • Rejecting God is man’s ultimate problem.
  • Herod slaughtering babies.
    • Mt 2:2-3, 13 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. … Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”
    • Herod rejected Jesus as King. In rejecting theocracy, autocracy raised its ugly head to cause all sorts of evil.
  • In summary, autocracy is not good, so is democracy, which is basically the rich controlling the poor using democracy as a front.
    • Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. (Also Judges 21:25)
    • When men reject God as King, everyone did their own thing. This is democracy at its worst. But eventually every man must face God for what he has done.
    • Prov 21:2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.

Let me wrap up with the pastor quoting Rom 13:1a Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities as if it is conditional. He asserts that we only need to submit to the authorities if they are good and upright. If they are bad, then you overthrow them, which he labels as liberation theology. However, the context of Rom 13:1 is not conditional. When Paul wrote Romans, the Empire was persecuting the Christians, yet Paul did not ask Christians to overthrow the government. God will punish the evil government in His time.

Similarly, when Peter and John were threatened by the Council not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, their reply was:

  • Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Civil disobedience is justified when men’s rules go against God’s commands, but the apostles never resorted to violence, as the rioters did in Hong Kong.

I also watched a video from a week ago of that same pastor leading some masked thugs knocking down a person filming their illegal activities. His action speaks louder than his words:

  • Mt 7:15-16a Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.
  • 2 Pet 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
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  • Nancy Wu  On October 16, 2019 at 12:02 am

    Wonder if that pastor gets paid to deceive the simple-minded and the ill-informed.

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