Jesse Johnson is tackling the thorny topic of Christians and obedience to government. He examines the design of government by God, stating that it was established to protect mankind from injustice (pp. 28-37). Even though no government is without flaws, Christians should submit under normal circumstances because it is the Lord who has created all authority for our good. As long as government stays in its lane all is well, but when it steps out of that lane or overreaches, then choices have to be made. Believers must realize they are citizens of two kingdoms and owe allegiance to both. However, when the kingdoms come into conflict, it is God’s kingdom that must be obeyed. Unfortunately, it is more complicated than that because many laws are morally neutral, and the Christian must determine if submission to such laws is required (pp. 64-65). And if people choose to disobey, they must be willing to suffer the consequences (p. 65). Not all believers will make the same decisions, Therefore, Johnson encourages everyone to follow his or her own conscience under such situations (pp. 65-67).
The author identifies several limits to government imperatives: when authorities command us to sin, when they infringe on the function of the church, when they ignore biblical commands, and when they overreach (pp. 69-77).
As a general rule, we should not disobey government; and any exceptions should be remarkable and rare. After all, God temporarily allows evil to prosper because He is using our broken world for His own greater purposes, and He does not always clue us in on what He is doing (p. 96). A case study in the life of Jesus drawn from Matthew 22:17-22 is insightful. City of Man is a thoughtful book examining a difficult subject, especially since the COVID-19 shutdowns and all that went with them. Christians are wondering, as they have seldom done in recent times, how and when they should submit to government. This little book is helpful in working through these issues.
by Jesse Johnson (Jesse Johnson, 2022), 134 pp., hard $22.44
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel