To Hell With “To Hell With Romans 13”?

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

There has been a little reaction out in the blogosphere to Brian’s post on Romans 13. Some of the posts are charitable, and others think we’re lunatics. That said, when you get down and dirty in the comments, it seems like some people have simply missed the point.

Arguments about whether the word “hell” is profanity, blasphemy or heresy seemed to stir the pot, as well as some blithe assumption that the post would actually have us remove Romans 13 from scripture. It’s apparent that those commenters didn’t actually read the post in its entirety.

As I mentioned in the comments over at Mike Todd’s blog,

The overall message of the post is not one that just writes off Romans 13 as though it should be expunged from the bible, but rather, that it should be situated contextually within the entire sweep of scripture, from creation to eschaton.

If anything, it points to the fact that we cannot pull random pieces of scripture out to support our own causes without reading those in the context of the verses and chapters that surround. With all that said, there are accusations of a disrespect for scripture.

If anything, this post is exemplary of our aspiration towards a more holistic understanding of the scriptural narrative, one that we cannot manipulate to our own purposes.

Why this has been lumped in with a critique of emergent (something Josh Brown recently highlighted in an excellent series) and the low view of scripture they’re accused of having, I’m unsure. But there we have it. At least it keeps things interesting.

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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

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