UPDATE: Read this “Open Letter to John MacArthur” from an Egyptian American at Recovering Evangelical.
I hope this doesn’t ruin your upcoming weekend, but I’m going to post some remarkable words by John MacArthur for your consideration and discussion today.
I came across this interview with brother John at the Christian Post today. I’m still shaking my head. Frankly, I am stunned and speechless at the moment, and don’t even have an introductory comment to make. So I will punt at this point and hand it over to you, our thoughtful Internet Monk community.
I. . . uh . . . well . . . I will try to join in as able, but . . . wow.
CP: Currently weâ€™re seeing sort of a revolution in the Middle East with protesters opposing authoritarian rule. They want their freedom. I wanted to get your response to the uprisings â€“ what are we seeing, what does it signify?
MacArthur: I think there are a lot of ways to approach that but if you just talk about a biblical thing, they are all in violation of a biblical command â€“ to submit to the powers that be because theyâ€™re ordained of God. Iâ€™m not saying Moammar Gadhafi is the best leader, Iâ€™m not saying that Mubarak is a great, benevolent and just leader, not when heâ€™s got $70 billion in his own pockets at the expense of people.
But what I am saying is that whatever the government would be, even if it was Caesar in the New Testament, that the believers are commanded to live orderly lives, peaceful, quiet lives, subjecting themselves to the powers that be because theyâ€™re ordained of God. And the reason is any form of government is better than anarchy. You get a little bit of a taste of whatâ€™s going on right now â€“ people are dying, property is being destroyed. You canâ€™t have this. And inevitably whatâ€™s going to come out of this is going to be less order, more chaos, and perhaps what will come out of less order and more chaos is a worse kind of control, more dominating power that. Youâ€™d like to think that nothing but freedom would come out of this. Thatâ€™s not what happened in Iran. Itâ€™s not likely to happen there because you got to bring all this mass, the violence, and this volatility under control; that becomes then a military issue. So I donâ€™t think the future looks good.
But biblically speaking, I would have wished the American government, which has a history of Christianity, would have risen up and said â€œthis is wrong, this is forbidden for people to do this, this is intolerable.â€ Look, if you live in Iran and you obey the law, youâ€™re safe because thatâ€™s what happens. You might not like the law, you might not like a lot about it, but â€¦ obviously there are times when you have to break the law because the Lord commands us to do something the law forbids. I just think the upshot of all of this is more instability, more chaos, you canâ€™t make a transition to democracy this way; itâ€™s impossible. After all, who said democracyâ€™s the best form of government? No matter what the form of government is, the Bible doesnâ€™t advocate anything but a theocracy. Any form of government is going to self destruct because youâ€™re dealing with corrupt people, sinful people. The Kingdom of God advances without regard for the government but from a Christian standpoint, a biblical standpoint this kind of behavior is not approved in the Scripture and freedom â€“ certain freedoms, liberties and democracies â€“ is not a justification for this kind of mass rioting and disobedience and overturning of governments.
The illusion is that these people are going to get freedom. But what we have to understand is that youâ€™re either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ. As Martin Luther said in The Bondage of the Will, no sinner is free; that is the great illusion that the sinner is free. Heâ€™s only free to choose the sin. In other words, heâ€™s only free to choose the course of his own damnation but he canâ€™t do anything about it. This is another form of bondage. Theyâ€™re going to end up in another form of bondage; theyâ€™re going to end up the same, sinful, corrupt, unsatisfied, unfulfilled people taking their same anxieties in a different direction. So itâ€™s not a solution to anything. Itâ€™s a momentary reaction. I understand that like the French Revolution when they had enough. You know the story when Marie Antoinette they said to her the people need bread. She said well, let them eat cake and mocked their hunger. Thatâ€™s what brought the revolution about. That doesnâ€™t justify the anarchy but it explains it.
MacArthur: I donâ€™t think religious freedom is even an issue in the advance of the church. If you look at China, I donâ€™t know what the numbers are, tens of millions of believers in China when it was forbidden. Look at Japan which was open and free and youâ€™ll search forever in any city in Japan to find one Christian. So democracy, freedom of religion or persecution, if you had to pick your poison I think you might want to pick persecution because you get a purer church. Now Iâ€™ve been to Russia a dozen times and the church there was so pure and so devout and yet you can go across the border from Russia into Western Europe and the church is dead, almost non-existent. And they had all the freedom. So you canâ€™t make a case that religious freedom is a right. The powers that be ordained of God, God is the one who determines that â€“ Acts 17 said the boundaries of the nations â€“ these things happen within the purposes of God and God will rule through these things and overrule these things. But they donâ€™t really have anything to do with the church and the advance of the Kingdom. Itâ€™s not tied to any form of government.