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John MacArthur needs an Editor November 5, 2012

Posted by Daniel Benjamin Smith (dsmith77) in Politics.
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1 comment so far

Reference: The Campaign for Immorality, Decision Magazine, November 2012.

Noted pastor, seminary president, and radio voice John MacArthur recently wrote an article that was included in Decision Magazine, an outreach of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. With all due respect to the elder Reverend Graham, his organization, and Dr. MacArthur, I think the article could have used some editing. Let this blog post be the notes he should have received.

We’ll start with some small issues:

  • A reader of this article might get confused when they read, “…the government passes out condoms so people can fornicate at will. For those who happen to get pregnant in the process…” Condoms are not necessary for humans to engage in sex. People can and do engage in sexual intercourse pretty much all the time both with and without condoms. The primary benefit from using a condom is to prevent pregnancy yet the second sentence makes it sound like pregnancies are an afterthought. This is strange wording.
  • “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” is indeed in the bible. It’s found in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 but it’s generally best to include the source rather than make the reader take the author’s word for it.
  • “In this current campaign season…”, “…to the culture in which we live”, and the like are sloppy writing. Like the ubiquitous ‘free gift’, these phrases are duplicitous and wordy. Avoid them. Rather, use “in this campaign season” and “to our culture” which are better due to their simplicity.

Unfortunately, we quickly come to more significant problems:

  • The author writes, “And if you think homosexuality, abortion, sexual freedom, and hating God are not evil then you’d better go back and check your bible again. How can people with that kind of agenda protect those who do good and punish those who do evil? (That’s the Romans 13 definition of the role of government.)” except  Romans 13 doesn’t say that. It says:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” – Romans 13:1-7 (NIV)

  • As an aside, I think Christians in general, and the TEA Party faithful in particular, should pay attention to these verses and I thank president MacArthur for bringing them to our attention. However, they seem to speak a different message from the claims espoused here. (Verses 6-7 are essentially a command to pay taxes which many TEA Party advocates have spoken out against. And verse 7 is a command to respect and honor whomever God establishes in positions of authority as I’ve blogged about before. And I don’t see any exceptions to be made depending on which political party is in power.) Using this verse to support these political claims is very shaky.
  • “Romans 1 is not politics. The bible is not politics.” The bible is everything. It includes politics, sex, predictions, history, military history, origin stories, and more written in a variety of forms: prose, poetry, etc. To arbitrarily state that it doesn’t include political statements when it clearly does (See Romans 13 above) is ridiculous.
  • The beginning of the article dances around identifying itself as a political statement however the ending clearly calls out the Democratic Party on their campaign issues.

But the biggest flaw has to do with the underlying assumptions:

  • Assumption #1: Everyone registered as a Democrat and everyone that votes for a Democrat is against God. Not at all. There are democrats who are Christians. The concept is not an oxymoron. The south of the United States including large chunks of the bible belt was dependably blue for decades until Reagan in 1980. Is has been dependably red ever since but there are signs that North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida are becoming less red.
  • Assumption #2: Everyone registered as a Democrat and everyone that votes for a Democrat is voting for homosexuality, sexual perversions, etc. Also patently false. The LGBT community wants their voices heard and they have chosen the Democratic Party. There are gay republicans. Don’t overstep your argument by thinking all democrats hold the views of our President (or all republicans are Christian fundamentalists). Humans are more complicated than that.
  • Assumption #3: God is focused on abortion and gay marriage (to the exclusion of all other issues) and these should dominate every all political decisions by Christians. Baloney. Horse-hockey. Not. Even. Close. God is specifically described in scripture as not being a respecter of persons which means he loves non-Americans as much as Americans, Israelis as much as Arabs, Democrats as much as Republicans. He has our best interests at heart. All of our best interests. Yes, abortion and sexual orientation are included, but they certainly aren’t alone. Many democratic platform staples like access to universal healthcare, a good education, and environmentalism are Christian positions.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Things that are right with this article:

  • Romans 1:18-32 does describe the wrath of God in relation to those who engage in and promote sexual perversions.
  • “…politicians have stepped – overstepped – into spiritual and moral areas, promoting horrific wickedness and blasphemous immorality.” Hear, hear Dr. MacArthur and I’d like to bring one more to your attention. Until the meeting between the Reverend Billy Graham with Governor Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, the parent organization responsible for publishing this article, identified Mormonism as a cult on their website. Now it’s gone. I thought Christianity was supposed to work the other way around.
  • “Our corrupt culture will not be transformed for the better by political movements or pop culture…” True. Jesus basically said that a culture can only be changed by changing the individuals that inhabit it. Thus the concept of being born again.
  • The whole hate speech versus love speech dichotomy at the end is technically correct…but in my opinion it won’t sway the people it’s aimed at for at least three reasons:
    1. Pastor, you’re preaching to the choir. You’re telling Christians to speak out, but by and large they won’t. Furthermore, some of the most vocal have also been the most detestable so the people that could have been reached have been turned off to Christianity.
    2. “…if they affirm that direction, knowing that it will take them to hell” (emphasis mine). No, they don’t. They don’t understand biblical concepts or recognize them as valid in the same sense that all Christians do. This is the primary reason in my opinion why Christian arguments fall flat to a lost person. Christians mistakenly believe that everyone thinks the same way they do, but non-believers think in fundamentally different ways. They do not evaluate their choices in life by our standards so any argument that defers to any Christian belief comes across as empty and hollow and the lost person usually ends up thinking the believer is a fool.
    3. Romans 1:18 states that God gave them over to a debased mind. Like Saul, if He has already judged them how can we possibly explain their folly to them? Still, God continued to intervene in Saul’s life in ways that reminded him of Himself. So who am I to say we shouldn’t try? Just don’t get your hopes up too high. Perhaps there will be a few who will hear but the majority certainly will not.

In summary, there is good writing here but the errors, mistakes, and wrong assumptions are glaring, particularly coming from the president of a place called the Master’s College and Seminary. Again, with all due respect to Dr. MacArthur, you need an editor. And someone to be your sounding board. Paul had Barnabas. The disciples were sent out two by two. And it might be a good idea to reread all of Romans.

For further reading, I encourage visitors to read What’s Wrong with the Democrats (and Republicans) and “The American Dream” by Rich Deem as it covers several important points not included here.

UPDATE

I posted a link to this post on the BGEA website – the link is above the picture – but my comment has not been posted. The message beside the comment box says:

BGEA encourages you to participate in this discussion; however, please be aware that your comment will not appear immediately. Also be aware that we reserve the right to edit comments for spelling, grammar and clarity. User comments that include personal attacks or other inappropriate comments will not be approved for posting. Thank you for your patience.

It’s been long enough for my comment to be moderated so baring a technical glitch this means my comment did not meet the BGEA’s standards.

For shame! I think my post was biting, yes, but it wasn’t meant as a personal attack. Quite frankly, this post is full of constructive criticism. I even wrote it in a playful manner but you know some of these Christians – no sense of humor even though God created that too.

Now if my comment was excluded because it was deemed inappropriate, please define what that means. Furthermore, why is this the stance of the BGEA since it isn’t a biblical position. Where did God ever censor anything in the bible except the seven thunders in Revelation 10:1-4? Scripture includes death, dismemberment, and an entire book of erotic poetry.

Is it any wonder why Christians are viewed as hard-headed bigots in this country when dissenting opinions aren’t allowed? Well, I’m big enough to deal in a mature fashion on this topic and my God is big enough too so I welcome all comments. Unless a comment is wildly off topic, it will not be deleted or edited here including any comments from Dr. MacArthur, the BGEA, or a representative thereof.

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