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Faith of a Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“Our Western experience has been an ongoing conflict with loyalties. Western society derives its deepest commitment from the scriptural concept of covenant which binds the community of the faithful to the laws of God. For well over a thousand years before Christ— indeed, from the time when Moses defied Egyptian law to lead the Children of Israel into a covenant relationship with Yahweh— man has struggled with the tension between obedience to the ‘laws of God’ and the ‘laws of man'”. (J. Christian)

“We give credibility to unjust laws by obeying them.” (A. Boesak, protesting Apartheid Laws in S. Africa)

“We have another tradition in this country which is in danger of passing away: dissent. The responsibility to object. We might all do well to remember in these days of national distemper the comment of Pastor Niemoeller a quarter of a century ago in Nazi Germany. “They came after the Jews, and I was not a Jew, so I did not object. Then they came after the Catholics, and I was not a Catholic, so I did not object. Then they came after the trade-unionists, and I was not a trade-unionist, so I did not object. And then they came after me, and there was no one left to object”. (H. Stowe)

“I think we all have moral obligations to obey just laws. On the other hand, I think that we have moral obligations to disobey unjust laws because non-cooperation with evil is just as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.” (M. L. King, Jr.)

“Look at it this way. Suppose that while we were preparing to run away from here the Laws and Constitution of Athens were to come and confront us and ask this question: “Now Socrates, what are you proposing to do? Can you deny that by this act which you are contemplating you intend, so far as you have the power, to destroy us, the Laws, and the whole State as well? Do you imagine that a city can continue to exist and not be turned upside down, if the legal judgements which are pronounced in it have no force but are nullified and destroyed by private persons? How shall we answer this question, Crito, and others of the same kind?… Shall we say, “Yes, I do intend to destroy the laws, because the State wronged me by passing a faulty judgement at my trial”? Is this to be our answer, or what?” (Plato)

“The constitution is the supreme law of our land and it governs our actions as citizens. Only the laws of God, which govern our consciences, are superior to it.” (G. Ford, The Nixon Pardon)
“Thus, concerning the Church and her power, is the prophecy of Jeremiah fulfilled, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms,” etc. If, therefore, the earthly power err, it shall be judged by a greater… Furthermore we declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII)

“Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not? But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin; and let me look at it.”

And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark)

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