This article is a response to an article Gary DeMar wrote in response to an article over at the TMS Blog written by Carlos Chung.
Gary DeMar is at it again. DeMar once again only tells half the story. This seems to be a routine practice for DeMar. He seems to have a very difficult time keeping everything in its proper context. In this case, it isn’t Scripture he lifts out of its context, its Carlos Chung and Michael Brown. Chung is concerned with biblical submission. In this case, it is the biblical submission of the church to the state. In this effort to refute Chung’s argument, he refers to some Michael Brown comments in an article Brown wrote regarding the new California LGBT sex-ed curriculum. Browns comments were not interacting with Chung’s article at the TMS blog at all. It seems to me that DeMar not only takes Scripture out of context, he takes bloggers out of context as well. DeMar offers this quote of Brown:
“As followers of Jesus, we are called to submit to the laws of the land and to honor those in authority. The New Testament is very clear on this (see especially Romans 13:1-7). It is also very clear that there are exceptions to this rule, namely, when the authorities require us to disobey the Lord (see Acts 5:40-42). In that case, with respect, we say, “We must obey God rather than man” (see Acts 4:18-20; 5:29; to be perfectly clear, I’m speaking of non-violent resistance to the law.)”
DeMar applies Chung’s argument to the area of education. Chung never mentions the area of education and it obviously is not the point of his post. The point of his post is quite simple: submission. Chung quotes Peter four times and Daniel once in his short post. I searched for a single biblical quote from DeMar and the closest I could come was the Michael Brown quote which contains Scripture. Outside of Brown’s quote, DeMar did not bother himself with Scripture.
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Not only did DeMar not bother himself with Scripture, he didn’t even provide a critique of how Chung employed Peter and Daniel in his post. He chose to ignore the biblical data and ran to the weakest possible red herrings: education and the rapture. Neither of these were even remotely related to Chung’s argument.
Should parents just surrender their children to the secular education system? Of course not! I don’t see anything in Chung’s article that suggests they should. There is no connection between submitting to civil authorities and turning you kids over to the pagan education system to do with as it pleases. The tactic is a red herring.
DeMar then puts his finger on the source of his disagreement with Chung and with MacArthur for that matter: eschatology. DeMar throws in the rapture theory as if this is the ground for Chung’s argument. He clearly believes that MacArthur and Chung’s eschatology is primary reason they take the position they do where church-state relations are concerned. But again, DeMar seems to overlook the fact that between them, Chung and MacArthur call on Romans 13 and 1 Peter repeatedly to ground their understanding of the church-state relationship.
DeMar offers up a MacArthur quote to support his argument that it’s MacArthur’s eschatology that is the culprit:
“I can’t get engaged in a culture war if you are just shifting around the furniture of the deck of the Titanic. This thing is going down, and it doesn’t matter how we arrange the moral furniture. What matters is that we have lives that impact eternity that bring people the gospel that saves them forever.”
“There you have it. All the stored moral capital built up over centuries didn’t mean a hill of beans because “this thing is going down.” How long have we been hearing the end-time mantra that Jesus is coming soon to rescue His church from a Great Tribulation?”
This is to take MacArthur’s eschatology and relocate it to the center of his argument on church-state relations. What DeMar fails to understand is that the eschatology of Scripture fits seamlessly with MacArthur’s view on church-state relations because Scripture is noticeably clear on the latter. I say this as one who rejects MacArthur’s rapture theory itself as a very weak view at best on how the end will finally transpire. My own eschatology fits more closely with historic premillennialism or amillennialism. I have not settled the matter in my mind and probably never will.
It is fascinating to me the number to logical errors in DeMar’s post. We have already demonstrated the use of the red herring in a couple of places. DeMar, in quoting Os Guiness, employs the non-sequitur. DeMar writes:
Os Guinness writes that “dispensational premillennialism … has had unfortunate consequences on the Christian mind,” including reinforcing an already developing “anti-intellectualism” and a “general indifference to serious engagement with culture.”
It does not follow that premillennialism in any form ipso facto promotes anti-intellectualism not does it follow that such thinking lends itself to a lack of engagement with the culture. What it does at best is shape howproponents go about engaging the culture but not whether or not they actually engage it. This is the very same non—sequitur employed in criticisms against Calvinism around the practice of evangelism. DeMar would certainly decry that tactic but seemingly when it is convenient for him, he employs it here.
In summary then, what about DeMar’s view that we can have a “Christian” society? As I read DeMar’s article, the glaring absence of a single quote from Scripture struck me as odd. What is the basis of DeMar’s objection other than his own wish that American society were Christian? I wish American society were Christian too. But my wish cannot serve as the ground for my argument nor can it serve as the basis for how I conduct myself. That ground and basis must be the Word of God which is forever settled in the heavens.
If you want to see how the church should relate to the state, look no farther than the divine revelation of Scripture. It is there that God tells us what that relationship should look like. It is in Scripture that we find our basis for how we should relate to everyone, and that includes the civil authorities. Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, and 1 Peter 2:13-20 clearly spell it out for us. Whatever eschatology one embraces, it must be consistent with these clear teachings handed down to us from the Apostles.