How do we as Christians resolve the conflict of what we know to be right and just according to the bible, Romans 13 vs 1-7 and ruling authority which is not Christian and in some cases antithetical, potentially hostile or down right deadly?
Cases in point, Dr. King’s protests regarding unfair laws and political practices which unfairly discriminated against Blacks in America during the 1960’s. Christians who will be living under the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation.
This is a tough one. The only cases of civil disobedience in the Bible that seemed to have the approval of God took place in Daniel 3 & 6 and in Acts 3-4. All involved governments who were trying to suppress or outlaw the worship of God.
In Daniel 3 it was the associates of Daniel who refused to bow down before the statue on pain of death. In chapter 6 it was Daniel disobeying the order to pray only to the Persian King, and in Acts 3-4 it was Peter and John refusing to obey the High Priest’s command to stop preaching about Jesus.
Paul wrote that all governing authorities are established by God and should be obeyed (Romans 13:1). Earlier he said that in so far as it depends on us to live at peace with everyone. We are not to take revenge, even on God’s behalf. He can do that Himself and will when He’s ready. We’re to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21)
The notion that God needs or even wants our help in making the world a better place comes from the minds of men. This world is hopelessly corrupt and beyond repair because the hearts of those who populate it are that way (Jere. 17:9). It’s the next one that will be perfect.
Although He called Israel to be the agency of His judgment against the nations of Canaan, to my knowledge God has never called the Church to a similar task. The job He’s given us is to preach the gospel and demonstrate by our behavior how different we are from the world, so that our example will draw men to Him. Anything else is a vain attempt to make ourselves seem more important than we are in His plan.
I think Dr. King’s commitment to non-violence was consistent with the Biblical examples I cited, and prophecy tells us that there will be a lot more of the same during the End Times, as people are once again martyred for refusing to renounce their faith.