“I’m not concerned about that (2008 presidential election) for five seconds. It has nothing to do with the kingdom of God. … His kingdom has nothing to do with this world.” Those words spoken by renowned pastor, author and speaker Dr. John MacArthur recently as part of a radio interview, combined with his belief that our Declaration of Independence was an unscriptural act of rebellion, cry out for a biblically and historically accurate response.
The breathtakingly unscriptural nature of his position is tragically held by many evangelicals who have bought into the “sacred vs. secular” dichotomy referenced in the works of the great theologian Frances Schaeffer as a departure from biblical Christianity. The most compelling reason why he is wrong is that his position is contrary to the Dual Mandate of the Great Commission as described by Dr. D. James Kennedy:
“God’s answer to the question of human purpose and meaning centers around two great mandates He has given us in His Word. A mandate, of course, is a directive or command that points us in a specific direction. The first of God’s two mandates – the Cultural Mandate – is found at the very beginning of the Old Testament, in Genesis 1:26-28: ‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’
“… We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and intrusion of human society.”
We are blessed beyond measure that great preachers of the past such as Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Jonathan Mayhew, Samuel West and legions of others adhered to that mandate rather than the “Abandonment Theology” position Dr. MacArthur is espousing.
Edwards stated, “There is no leveler like Christianity, but it levels by lifting all who receive it to the lofty table-land of a true character and of undying hope for this world and the next.” Wesley’s Rule asserted, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
That good must include the governing authority, which rests with the people. Prominent Congregationalist Pastor Samuel West, in his 1776 sermon “On the Right to Rebel Against Governors,” declared, “The necessity of forming ourselves into politic bodies, and granting to our rulers a power to enact laws for the public safety, and to enforce them by proper penalties, arises from our being in a fallen and degenerate state. The slightest view of the present state and condition of the human race is abundantly sufficient to convince any person of common sense and common honesty that civil government is absolutely necessary for the peace and safety of mankind.”
He continued that, “Had this subject been properly attended to and understood, the world had remained free from a multitude of absurd and pernicious principles, which have been industriously propagated by artful and designing men, both in politics and divinity. The doctrine of nonresistance and unlimited passive obedience to the worst of tyrants could never have found credit among mankind had the voice of reason been hearkened to for a guide, because such a doctrine would immediately have been discerned to be contrary to natural law.”
Mayhew gave a sermon in 1765 in which he said, “The king is as much bound by his oath not to infringe upon the legal rights of the people, as the people are bound to yield subjection to him. From whence it follows that as soon as the prince sets himself above the law, he loses the king in the tyrant. He does, to all intents and purposes, un-king himself.”
MacArthur also overlooks Jesus’ words to Pilate in John 29:11, when Jesus proclaimed, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” All authority comes from God and is accountable to God. Governing authority in the United States of America is delegated from God to the people, who choose our leaders to exercise that authority on our behalf.
Dr. Samuel Langdon, president of Harvard College, said in 1775: “When a government is in its prime, the public good engages the attention of the whole; the strictest regard is paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of state; virtue prevails; everything is managed with justice, prudence and frugality … and all the people are happy … but vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire. …”
Government cannot save us eternally and is utterly dependent upon the spiritual and moral condition of the people, which IS the business of the church. Government does, however, have a God-given purpose temporally, and few reasonable, thinking people would disagree that in this country it has vastly superseded that limited purpose of protecting the innocent and punishing the evildoer. The consequences include destruction of innocent lives, celebration and legal promotion of moral depravity, injustice in criminal and civil laws, the unjust taking of property and freedom from citizens, and educating generations of children in atheistic, amoral and academically bankrupt schools.
The abject failure of most contemporary evangelical churches in the U.S. to accept the God-given duty as stewards of all creation, every sphere, all institutions and the moral, cultural – and yes, political – condition of our nation from a sound, biblical worldview is a catastrophe. EVERY baby that is murdered in its mother’s womb, every child who is physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually damaged or destroyed by the rampant sin we have tolerated, every person oppressed by tyrannical, burdensome, power and money-hungry government will be laid at the feet of not only the followers of Christ but primarily at those of the shepherds who conform to the description found in Ezekiel 34:10:
“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.'”
I recently spoke to a long time pro-life, pro-family leader in the Midwest who related that in 2006 his pastor had arranged to allow the Christian, strongly pro-life attorney general to give a sermon in his church – but after the AG was subsequently defeated by the massive amount of money from infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, the pastor, because of typical complaining from a few members and the defeat of the candidate, has now withdrawn and does nothing to promote active, godly citizenship.
The military has “Rules of Engagement” during time of war to govern conduct of the armed forces regarding offensive action against an enemy. We owe profound gratitude to our Lord and to the countless martyrs of faith and military who persevered even unto death for the causes of Christ and of freedom and who did not apply the same “Rules of Disengagement” followed by too many pastors today. With the rise of aggressive secularism, religious plurality, “hate speech” and Islam in this country, there is no longer latitude for God’s generals to stay comfortably away from the field of battle while the enemy marches freely forward.
We are calling on every man filling a pulpit, regardless of church size, denomination, ethnicity or geography, to fear God, not men, follow His call, not that of your donors and preach, teach and obey His word, not that of the IRS. Anything less is the equivalent of a military officer abdicating his post and abandoning his troops during time of conflict.
Choosing governing leaders who fear God, are able men and hate dishonest gain is not a political party platform plank – it is a directive from the Most High. It DOES matter, God DOES care and His people WILL be responsible for our voting decisions.
Elijah’s call rings out through the centuries as crystal clear today as it was on Mount Carmel to the people of Israel. We must choose God and follow the steps of our predecessors of the pulpit like Martin Luther who, when faced with compromise or likely death said, “Here, I stand. I can do nothing else. God help me. Amen.”