After the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), faculty from the University of Leiden spent years disputing reformed orthodoxy to create a synopsis that defined the norm of reformed orthodoxy.
During these disputations, Johannes Polyander (1568–1646) rejected the Roman Catholic position, as expressed in the Council of Trent and elsewhere, that “clerics are entirely and unconditionally exempt from the yoke of the political magistrate” (§50.21).
In its 25th session, the Council of Trent maintained “the immunity of the church and of ecclesiastical persons has been established by the authority of God and the ordinances of the canons” (25.20).
Yet Polyander will deny such a claim because even clerics fall under Romans 13:1. There is no absolute distinction between the two but rather a harmony:
“The greatest possible harmony should be fostered between the two administrations, i.e., the political and the ecclesiastical one, so that each may be supported by the assistance of the other, and so that the foundations tou hosiou, or of the sacred religion, and of the divine law in the church may be supported no less by the authority of the magistrate than in civil society the principles tou dikaiou, or of justice, and of common right may be supported by the ministry of the elders of the church” (§50.49).
Polyander is not ignorant of unjust leaders. He develops a theory of the lesser magistrate and speaks of living under unjust rulers while reposing in God’s Providence.
But the point here is that Polyander representing a reformed consensus (with obvious nuances and exceptions here and there) affirmed God’s single rule through two administrations (civil magistrates and churches).
God reigns. Christ is on the throne.
And by common grace, we are meant to have harmony. That does not always happen. Sometimes Providence is bitter. But it also brings the blessed fruit of holiness for the children of God.
 Cited from Synopsis, 473n21
Dan Sudfeld says
“Greatest possible harmony should be fostered.” I like that. I have been telling our folks that our posture toward the magistrate should be one of subjection AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. That, however, leaves it open for times when it is not possible to be in harmony. And I know you disagree, but I believe we find ourselves in one of those times.
I actually agree with your major premise, but yes: I don’t see this as the time (yet). One thing I should note: I love that Rom 13:5 says we should submit for conscience’s sake, which (I think) leaves room for you and I disagree on the exact timing and circumstances of resistance. For me, I still think resistance looks like appealing to MPPs/MLAs, writing letters, protesting (as citizens), etc. I do so largely because I think the Bible and reformed theology entail uses available and valid civil structures for resistance. I really appreciate you, Dan. And it stinks that we disagree. I hope, genuinely, that we can maintain accord (not just and you and I but the larger groups) after the pandemic.
Dan Sudfeld says
Yes. I hope our larger agreements will survive these lesser disagreements, though the lines seem to be getting thicker and the fences higher.