Two passages from the New Testament tend to reinforce the idea that Christians have a duty to obey the state. “Give to the emperor this things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God’s.”- Mark 12:17“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is not authority except from God, and those authorites that exist have been instituted by God.”- Romans 13:1
“Whoever wishes to take up the problem of a Christian ethic must be confronted at once with a demand that is quite without parallel. He must from the outset discard as irrelevant the two questions which allow him to concern himself with the problem of ethics, ‘How can I be good?’ and “How can I do good?” and instead of these he must ask the utterly and totally different question: “What is the will of God?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Ethics(1955/2005), p161
The nature of this will of God can only be clear in the moment of action; it is only important to be clear that every man’s own will must be brought to be God’s will, that his own will must be surrendered if God’s will is to be realised, and therefore insofar as complete renunciation of personal claims is necessary in action before the face of God, the Christian’s ethical action can be described as love.Dietrich Bonhoeffer: No Rusty Swords (1965)
Obedience to God’s WillHow does one know what the will of God is? The will of God is an act of faith: a complete ridding of one’s own ambitions and submitting every day to what God wills. He is therefore critical of Autonomous Christian Ethics because love is not knowable as a self-evident principle. This theory makes love a human principle which in turn makes people slaves to an ideology, rather than being liberated.
LeadershipThe idea of leadership is not the same to the idea of being a leader.Leadership is rooted in community and focusses on matters beyond the leaderThe idea of a leader is specific to a specific person“it is virtually impossible to give a rational basis for the nature of the Leader.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer: No Rusty SwordsBonhoeffer believed Germany created an idea of perfect father and teacher in their leader and were prepared to give up their freedoms and identity in obedience to this.
Justification of Civil DisobedienceFor the sake and purpose of Christ there is and ought to be worldly order in state, family and economy. For the sake of Christ the worldly order is subject to the commandment of God. It is to be noted that there is no question here of a ‘Christian state’ or a ‘Christian economy’, but only of the rightful state and the rightful economy as a secular institution for the sake of Christ. There exists, therefore, a Christian responsibility for secular institutions, and within a Christian ethic there exists propositions which relate to this responsibility.