October 20, 2020

I’m Speechless, How Do You Respond?

By Chaplain Mike

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 we’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 – 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 – to submit to the powers that be because they’re ordained of God. I’m not saying Moammar Gadhafi is the best leader, I’m not saying that Mubarak is a great, benevolent and just leader, not when he’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 they’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 what’s going on right now – people are dying, property is being destroyed. You can’t have this. And inevitably what’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. You’d like to think that nothing but freedom would come out of this. That’s not what happened in Iran. It’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 don’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 “this is wrong, this is forbidden for people to do this, this is intolerable.” Look, if you live in Iran and you obey the law, you’re safe because that’s what happens. You might not like the law, you might not like a lot about it, but … 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 can’t make a transition to democracy this way; it’s impossible. After all, who said democracy’s the best form of government? No matter what the form of government is, the Bible doesn’t advocate anything but a theocracy. Any form of government is going to self destruct because you’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 – certain freedoms, liberties and democracies – 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 you’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. He’s only free to choose the sin. In other words, he’s only free to choose the course of his own damnation but he can’t do anything about it. This is another form of bondage. They’re going to end up in another form of bondage; they’re going to end up the same, sinful, corrupt, unsatisfied, unfulfilled people taking their same anxieties in a different direction. So it’s not a solution to anything. It’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. That’s what brought the revolution about. That doesn’t justify the anarchy but it explains it.

CP: So you see nothing good coming out of this? Even if it means possible religious freedom for Christians in the Arab world?

MacArthur: I don’t think religious freedom is even an issue in the advance of the church. If you look at China, I don’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 you’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 I’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 can’t make a case that religious freedom is a right. The powers that be ordained of God, God is the one who determines that – Acts 17 said the boundaries of the nations – these things happen within the purposes of God and God will rule through these things and overrule these things. But they don’t really have anything to do with the church and the advance of the Kingdom. It’s not tied to any form of government.


  1. What would have been the loving thing for him to say? To wish for war or civil war in all nations where oppressive rulers have control?

    Mac loves people enough to know that to die for country or government is a sad thing, not a happy one. These people are willing to fight and die for something temporary. To him, the loving thing is to discourage such a thing.

    Of course, having an Irish last name, his tone sucks. But having grown up in Macarthur’s church, and knowing people who have been close to him, I can’t believe what he said was, at heart, unloving.

    And, he spend his early years in ministry in opposition to unjust rulers: http://www.wadeoradio.com/blog/videos/91-john-macarthur-and-the-civil-rights-movement. He doesn’t think it’s wrong to oppose unjust rulers–he just thinks it’s foolish to fight & die to overthrow an unjust, temporary ruler, only to set up another one. He believes that God can build the only lasting Kingdom without the aid of violent political revolts.

    • So were the early American patriots being ungodly and bad Christians when they tried to overthrow the English king and establish an American democracy? This so-called “Christian nation” was founded by an uprising. I’m perplexed by his comments. And I pray for those in the Middle East in all its turmoil.

      • That is what he would say. To say otherwise would violate his conscience, because of what he reads in Scripture.

        To say that those who fought against British tyranny were righteous in their actions because of the nation that resulted would to to say that the ends justify the means. Which Mac would certainly not admit.

        • I would concur with Mike.

          Ancestors on my father’s side moved north into Canada rather than stay in a country in opposition to their rightful ruler.


          • Tom I wholly concur…..
            After many years of dealings with American citizens online I see a pattern…. a pattern of rebellion and a lack of humility.
            Oh of course, I love all that is good and great in the USA, who wouldn’t …. but this rebellion against the rightful rulers (who ALWAYS are injust in a sense…..) doesn’t improve things one bit.
            Especially the lack of social compassion in the USA and the ideal of the egotistical self made man who doesn’t want to pay taxes (Boston Tea Party….) or support the weak in society to me is a proof of this.
            The Egyptian military regime of the now ‘free’ Egypt has allowed iranian ships to pass through the Suez Canal headed for Syria…. for the first time since the revolution of the Ayatollahs in 1979…..
            To me these revolutions can only lead to more suffering (also for local christians) not less.

      • Christine, we Canadians were also a British colony and gained our freedom without an uprising. This is why I don’t see the American Revolution as a righteous fight. That being said, nothing is ever black and white, but we have to trust God to be the judge of what is righteous. He sees what we cannot.

    • He didn’t say it was foolish. He said; “they are all in violation of a biblical command .”

      Interesting that a fundegelical (to borrow Eagle’s term) would expect non-believers.to act in accord with his understanding of the Scriptures.

      • I think that would be the only problem with Mac’s view. But he is not going to encourage them in their revolt, because to encourage the revolt is to say to them that what they desire is what they need. What they need is not democracy, it is Christ. So he must discourage the revolutionary spirit.

        Revolutionary spirit is not sinful because it topples unjust regimes; revolutionary spirit is sinful because it exalts a particular form of government or a political leader to the place of Savior. If we know that governments don’t save and that all governments are corrupt because they are human, it would be foolish to say that democracy, or any other human establishment, is worth dying for in rebellion against the human establishments God has put in place.

        • “in rebellion against the human establishments God has put in place.”

          But that would be assuming we believe that God put those establishments in place. I know we say things like “he’s got the whole world in his hands” and “God is sovereign,” but don’t we also think that God wants human beings to live on the earth in certain ways as opposed to other ways? “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Jesus taught us to pray. Would it be God’s will to have a people brutalized by their so-called leaders? Do we pray just for the heck of it or do we believe Jesus that we are participating in bringing about the will of God through our prayers and actions? I know where I stand.

        • “Revolutionary spirit is not sinful because it topples unjust regimes; revolutionary spirit is sinful because it exalts a particular form of government or a political leader to the place of Savior.”

          You’re kidding, right?

          Needing Christ has absolutely nothing to do with wanting out from under a brutal regime that is profiting from the misery of it’s people, and I think both you and “Mac” do them an injustice by reducing everything to a Fundegelical salvific formula.

          • Love of neighbor? Justice? Peace? Human dignity? Apparently Jesus and his church have nothing to do with these values.

            James, you nailed one of the main problems with the hyper-narrow worldview of JMac.

          • Mike (the other chaplain) says

            What is the point in calling someone a “fundegelical?” What purpose does being offensive serve? Just curious. I don’t agree with Mac and enough to sit at his feet, but I appreciate his integrity.

        • ” it would be foolish to say that democracy, or any other human establishment, is worth dying for in rebellion against the human establishments God has put in place.”

          Mike S, the logical corollary to that is that God put Muamar Gadaffi and Hosni Mubarak in power. This, I submit, is going a bit far.

          Besides, you’re talking to someone whose grandparents were subjects of the Queen-Empress of the British Empire and who is proud (despite our various governments and their failures) of being herself a citizen of a Republic.

          Today we’re counting the votes in our General Election. We didn’t need an armed revolution to kick out the government in power. However, in order to have elections of our own, we did need an armed revolution in the first place. Over the course of the Eight Hundred Years, the English preached that we were rebellious against the Pope (who, in the person of Adrian IV or Nicholas Brakespear, the only Englishman to be Pope to date, had in the Papal Bull “Laudabiliter” of 1155 allegedly given the Angevin King Henry II of England the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian Reforms in the Irish church, and hence the Norman Invasion); when the Pope was out of favour, we were rebellious against God for rejecting the righteous authority of the King/Queen (depending on which monarch was in power at the time), particularly in their role of bringing true, reformed, Gospel religion to the backward natives (this attitude persisted into the 19th century, as a significant minority – even those in power! – believed the Great Famine to be God’s punishment of the rebellious Irish: Sir Charles Trevelyan*, who was in charge of the administration of Government relief to the victims of the Irish Famine, limited the Government’s actual relief because he thought “the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson”) and when God was less significant in English policy (thanks to a combination of Darwinism as interpreted by social engineers and Victorian progressivism), we were ungrateful wretches who depended on English largesse and who bit the hand that fed us.

          Still not convinced I should be seeking to be a subject of the Queen 😉


          “In 1840 he became Assistant Secretary to the Treasury in London and held that office until 1859. This position put him in charge of the administration of Government relief to the victims of the Irish Famine in the 1840s. In the middle of that crisis Trevelyan published his views on the matter. He saw the Famine as a

          ‘mechanism for reducing surplus population’.

          But it was more:

          ‘The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated. …The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people’.”

      • Another Mary says

        I think that is precisely one of the key problems with this reasoning. At what point do we realize that our Anglo Christian perspective is not the only lens through which the Gospel can be perceived. ( Seems our missionary influence in Jamestown did the same thing to the Native Americans. What I mean is, that in the name of converting them they were stripped of their culture. How does that ever square with Scripture? )
        Just a thought.
        I found the article very troubling.

    • I think a very important distinction has to be made between peaceful, non-violent protest and armed uprising. In Egypt, the gov’t was brought down by peaceful means: a huge, non-violent protest before the eyes of the whole world pressured Mubarak to step down. If we lump peaceful protest in with violent actions, the discussion gets muddied. As a Christian I have to say violence is wrong; if I am shot at, I need to pray for the one shooting, not pick up a gun and shoot back. (Of course, this gets us into just war theory, which is a very big topic.)

      Also as a Christian, I believe I have a purpose to bless the world – but how does that work? How does that play out? Only in sincere devotion to God and prayer do I discern this so that I can be utterly purposeful and confident in what I do. When it comes to other peoples’ fights I have to acknowledge that the factors involved are very complex – only God knows what is right. The Christian leaders in these countries are leading their flocks and the flocks are responsible to listen to their shepherds. I believe the Coptic church was telling the Christians in Egypt not to protest. I also heard yesterday of a monastery which was shot at by military soldiers because the monks put up a protective fence in the absence of police protection. Several monks were shot while praying “Lord have mercy,” according to the report I heard.

      The other question: does John MacArthur get to say what ppl in the mid east should do? Is he the voice for the Copts and Orthodox in those regions? Well, no. He has his opinion based on Scripture and that’s all it is. He is not an international Christian authority. Let the middle eastern Christians be governed by their own spiritual fathers. Our job standing here at a distance is to pray for everyone involved. Lord have mercy!

    • VolAlongTheWatchTower says

      It now has been answered, the question, “So, John, just how beholden to pandering to corporate, white, right-wing “America” ARE you??” Admittedly, I’ve got about 4 of his sermons on my gym mp3 player, Grace To You, the college, the website, forgot more about Scripture than I’ll ever know, lotta good in this world…
      having said that, would it kill him to mask his giddy glee when the subject turns to hell and Damnation, just a TAD regarding his tone?

  2. Let’s say Christians live under such a regime. Instead of revolting, they pray for the murderous despot’s salvation or removal. Others, to save their country, families, and friends, become stirred up to oust or kill the tyrant, and they succeed in killing him and ending his reign of terror, thereby answering the Christians’ prayers. Who did God’s will – the prayers or the slayers?

  3. The angel of the Lord in Acts 12 busted the Apostle Peter out of jail. Oh no!! Did he violate a Biblical command to obey and honor the governing body?! (For anyone just visiting here for the first time…I am being sarcastic.)

  4. The Scripture appears to apply to believers – as a threshold matter, most Egyptians and others in the mideast are Muslims. I can’t understand MacArthur’s use of this Scripture for this situation.

    The application, even to believers, is problematic. Was HItler ordained by God? If so, were the valiant clergy who opposed him disobeying Scripture? What does it mean to submit to authority? Is civil disobedience a proper form of submission? I welcome reasoned discussions on this subject but, at least as summarized, Pastor MacArthurs application of the Scripture is disappointing.

    • Yes, it is not right to demand adherence to biblical teaching from unbelievers. But as a nation, we are encouraging the revolutions–and is that the right thing to do? If we, as believers, are to adhere to peaceful, non-revolutionary living under our rulers, is it not hypocritical to encourage the opposite in non-believers?

      There are many ways to oppose a ruler–some are sinful, some are not. It is not immediately clear to me which are which, but I find it believable that some valiant clergy may have sinned in their opposition to Hitler, while some may not have.

      Again, I think that it is not opposition in itself that is condemned–it is the revolutionary spirit which believes that some (presumably just) human ruler can save us from an unjust human ruler.

      • Ah, but let’s go back and look at what “Mac” said:

        “…if you just talk about a biblical thing, they are all in violation of a biblical command.”

        The clear statement here is JM expects non-believers to adhere to biblical commands. So how do you reconcile that with your statement; “…it is not right to demand adherence to biblical teaching from unbelievers”?

        JM is clearly attempting to apply a “biblical command” to non-Christians.

      • Mike S, as I said above, one reason why I’m not so impressed with Mr.(Dr? Rev?) MacArthur’s position (and I hope that we’re taking him up the wrong way, because I hate to think he’s really saying what he seems to be saying) is that we’ve had nice Evangelical-minded folk telling us here in Ireland much the same thing; Sir Charles pronouncing the will of God to the likes of these people:


        “… a vast number of impotent folk, whose gaunt and wasted frames and ghastly, emaciated faces were too obvious signs of the suffering they had endured. The little boys and girls presented a hideous sight. In many instances, their heads had become bald and their faces wrinkled like old men and women of seventy or eighty years of age. [Thomas Armstrong, My life in Connaught (London 1906) 13; repr. in L. A. Clarkson & E. Margaret Crawford, Feast and famine: a history of food and nutrition in Ireland, 1500–1920 (Oxford 2001) 140]

        … We entered a cabin. Stretched out in one dark corner … were three children huddled together, lying there because they were too weak to rise, pale and ghastly, their little limbs … perfectly emaciated, eyes sunk, voices gone, and evidently in the last stages of actual starvation. On some straw … was a shrivelled old woman, imploring us to give her something,—baring her limbs partly, to show how the skin hung loose from the bone. [William Bennett, ‘Extracts from an account of his journey in Ireland’, Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends during the Famine in Ireland 1846 and 1847 (Dublin 1852) 163; repr. Clarkson & Crawford, ibid.]”

        Telling people dying of hunger and the associated diseases during famines (typhoid, typhus, cholera) that this is God’s judgement on them for their rebelliousness against the established government – hmm. No.

        Telling people living under the spectre of petty tyranny in their everyday lives (remember, what flashed this whole movement across North Africa off was the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi: “Twenty-six year old Mohamed Bouazizi had been the sole income earner in his extended family of eight. He operated a purportedly unlicensed vegetable cart for seven years in Sidi Bouzid 190 miles (300 km) south of Tunis. On December 17, 2010 a policewoman confiscated his cart and produce. Bouazizi, who had such an event happen to him before, tried to pay the 10-dinar fine (a day’s wages, equivalent to 7USD). In response the policewoman slapped him, spat in his face, and insulted his deceased father. A humiliated Bouazizi then went to the provincial headquarters in an attempt to complain to local municipality officials. He was refused an audience. Without alerting his family, at 11:30 a.m. and within an hour of the initial confrontation, Bouazizi returned to the headquarters, doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire.”) – telling people that ‘I live under the benefits and protections of a Constitution developed under arms against our rightful Lord, the King, and his government, but you cannot have the same because it is against God’s will” – hmmm. No.

  5. Having lived in Egypt, having one of my kids born there, I think I know the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people, I find MacArther’s words sickening. In general, American Christians come across to the world as so arrogant and self centered. We demand the freedom to buy the chemicals for our hot tubs at a reasonable price, but when a people who have no rights, who’s family members are imprisoned for life without trial, for simply speaking against the president, ask for more personal freedom . . . then we have the nerve to criticize them . . . what gives? I’m very proud of the Egyptian people for taking great personal risks to stand up for freedom and doing it in peace. I was in touch with people on the ground on a daily basis during the whole ordeal.

    When I hear the right-winged rhetoric spouted as Christian truth, such as these are really Muslim extremist wanting to create another Taliban state, attack America and drain our hot tubs and kill our babies, I know they are ignorant about the rest of the world.

    I stood on the street in our small town holding an Egyptian flag in support of these people. Across the street were a bunch of people holding American flags, playing patriotic music and Gospel hymns over a loud speaker. Then the leader of the pro-American (and I certainly was anti-American, but supporting human dignity) spoke over the megaphone saying I was an asshole and I should “put down that shitty flag and hold up a real American flag” I just don’t get it. What would Jesus do? And I hate chiches.

    I won’t say more here because this hits such a raw nerve. Makes me so glad that I’m not an Evangelical anymore.
    I usually read all the posts before I post. However, MacArther himself got me so upset on this issue, that as I glanced at some of the postings who were saying the same things, I knew that my blood pressure would rise by reading them.

    Doesn’t anyone get it? These Egyptian people were created by God and have His breath in their nostrils. Christ would have died for each one of them. But Americans, and it seems like American Evangelicals more so (in a confused Evanag-o-patriotism) are the worst, see these Egyptians as pawns in some kind of glorious Hal Lindsey end-times fansey

    • +1

    • Incredible, Michael. Thank you so much for your perspective. I’ve been loving your blog pieces too.

    • Oh good heavens. I need a computer with bigger font. I meant to say “I certainly WASN’T Anti-American.” Having had a dad who served on the beaches of Normandy and in the military myself I am deeply grateful for the country in which I live.

      I’ve also had the chance to go back and read a few more posts. I’m glad that there are plenty of others who are not in the MacArthur camp on this one.

    • + another one!

    • David Cornwell says

      “These Egyptian people were created by God and have His breath in their nostrils. Christ would have died for each one of them.”


    • “Makes me so glad that I’m not an Evangelical anymore.”

      JMJ I agree….actually though others here may disagree its stuff like what MacArthur says that drives me away from Christianity alltogether. Macarthur is very prominent in the circles I once moved in…some of the people I knew pushed and encouraged me to read his material. I couldn’t stomach it. But when I read and keep hearing outragerous stuff by Christians time and time again in my mind I think, “Wow being a Christian means one has to be an asshole and difficult with the world and say outrageous stuff….”

      But I do enjoy your blog JMJ…you do a great job!!

      • Eagle: Quote:”actually though others here may disagree its stuff like what MacArthur says that drives me away from Christianity alltogether.”

        I understand your feelings….and agree….however, what this kind of stuff (and much more) does….is…..NOT drive me away from ‘Christianity’…..but certainly away from ‘CHURCHIANITY’. I’m entering my 3rd year of a ‘Sabbatical’ from ‘Churchianity’…..but I’m no less a ‘Christian’ than I ever was.

        Quote:”I read and keep hearing outragerous stuff by Christians time and time again in my mind I think, “Wow being a Christian means one has to be an asshole and difficult with the world and say outrageous stuff….”

        Nah…..assholes are assholes….simply because they are….and THAT appelation crosses all barriers. NO ONE has a ‘corner’ on that aspect of ‘humanity’.

        As a Canadian….it always amuses (and bemuses) me….to read some of the egocentic and zenophobic writings coming from Americans who ‘should’ know better…..who’ve often forgotten, IF they ever knew….that their very system of government….their very lifestyle….was founded upon rejection of ‘God-given and instituted ‘authority’….and outright rebellion (can anyone spell ‘murder’?) against such.


      • Builtononefoundation says

        ” But when I read and keep hearing outragerous stuff by Christians time and time again in my mind I think, “Wow being a Christian means one has to be an asshole and difficult with the world and say outrageous stuff….”
        I can understand how you can be upset by what some “Christians” are saying. I do not agree with a lot of people who call themselves Christians but I think you make a too generalized comment when you say “being a Christian means one has to be an asshole and difficult with the world and say outrageous stuff….”
        One thing you have to remember though is that we are all sinners. When we accept Christ as our Savior we become a new creation, the old is gone the new is come (2 Corinthians 5:17). This does not mean that we will be perfect. We will still mess up and some people will have some pretty strange ideas (like MacArthur and some others). All Christians are not like that…it is just that these “Christians” are seen more than the others. And like Walt said “NOT drive me away from ‘Christianity’…..but certainly away from ‘CHURCHIANITY'”. Every denomination will have its own downfalls because it is made up of sinful people who have been saved by grace. It all comes down to God’s Word. Whenever someone says something that seems questionable check it against God’s Word. Many times people take the Scripture out of the context in which it was written and use it in other places to support their points. You have to be careful for this and again double check it against God’s Word (sometimes you have to do your own further research). When we become a Christian God calls us to live in the world but not OF the world. We are to be holy, set apart, for God and His will. Sometimes this means going against the flow but in all cases we must ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?”
        So to close I’ll say again how I can understand some of your feeling but do not think that that generalized comment applies to all Christians.

    • another +1

    • Michael, I agree with everything you said. You said it so eloquently. As a Christian (Lutheran) American (Egyptian by birth), I feel compelled to affirm as a Lutheran not only what you said that “Christ would have died for each one of them.” but that He unequivocally did die for each of them!

      Thanks for your support of Egypt’s aspiration to freedom, equality and dignity, things we take for granted here! May the Lord have mercy on us and on the Egyptians and the rest of those in the Middle East.

    • Another Mary says

      Thank you. Couldn’t have said it better. Please be comforted by the many postings here who support your sentiments.

    • That is deep stuff. Thank you, Michael. Your words struck a deep chord within.

    • BRAVO!

  6. It’s surprising how few of us actually responded specifically to JM’s interpretation of Romans in our comments. I understand that Mike just asked us for our gut response, but still…

    Speaking of Hitler, this discussion does remind of some aspects of the Barmen Declaration. I think Bonhoeffer’s appraoch to Romans 13 was that the church was being obedient in its role of submission to rulers by helping the rulers see where they were going against God’s will for justice (my paraphrase).

    Bonhoeffer and Barth developed the Barmen Declaration in part through a theology that emphasized Jesus to be the Word of God, perhaps moreso (for Barth) than man’s interpretation of scripture to be the “word”, which then might ally God towards our human culture and how we manipulate the “word”. This was one reason that Barth was not a fan of biblical inerrancy.
    So I don’t think inerrantists (perhaps including JM) are big fans of Barth, even though the Barmen Declaration did provide the framework for the Confessing church in Germany to stand up to Hitler.

    • I think the folks over at Slactivist have it right when they identify one of the main problems about MacArthur’s approach:

      He’s relying on an absolutist reading of the opening verses of Romans 13 as holy writ to be consulted apart from all other scripture, theology and reason. He’s relying on the idea that the beginning of Romans 13 must be read as a unique and privileged prooftext that should be interpreted as overruling and nullifying the rest of the scriptures…

      • Kenny Johnson says

        Love that quote!

      • lol, I’m not saying this directly about MacArthur, but that general approach to Scripture always make me think…

        In the words of the great Obi Wan Kenobi: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

        • When I heard that line in the theater, my first thought was, “wait, isn’t that an absolute statement?” I would chalk it up to irony, but I’m not sure George Lucus knows what irony means.

  7. A friend of mine posted that.

    All I can say, is that I really hope that this hurts his credibility. That was incredibly callous and hurtful.

    MacArthur trying to understand the Bible is like someone with Aspergers Syndrome trying to understand love stories.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      No. I have several Asperger’s symptoms (missing the hyperfocus ability), and love stories spark this longing and understanding in me. Most of my fiction uses romance tropes. It’s something I’ve longed for all my life but could never have. I understand love stories, and I’m a borderline Aspie.

      • Headless, I hope I didn’t offend you with my analogy and apologize if I did. My point was made better for me by the poster just below.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          No, just take it as the example that “MacArthur trying to understand the Bible is WORSE than someone with Aspergers trying to understand love stories.”

    • In my experience, those in the MacArthur camp really aren’t much interested in Scripture as story because it isn’t particularly compatible with a literalist approach (stories don’t give you the answers or create a comfortable theological system within which one can exist; they often do the opposite). The sad irony is that this literalism is considered a high view of scripture but often misses the spirit of what Scripture as a whole is saying.

      I started to understand this when I gave Frederick Buechner’s book, “Peculiar Treasures” as a gift to a family member who is in this camp and they really didn’t know what to make of it.

      • Yeah, that’s basically what I’m trying to say. MacArthur and his camp do violence to scripture in their attempts to interpret scripture they way they do. As far as I can tell their approach is this:
        1. The Bible gives us everything we need to know about everything or anyone.
        2. We should not permit the lives and experiences of human beings to inform our theological projects because of premise 1.
        3. Everything we say is right.

        I mean, I though NANC, counseling was bad, but these latest statements are awful.

        • Agreed. This is just about exactly the pattern I’ve experienced (the family member is a NANC counselor, btw). The danger is that it’s can be easily used to rationalize and justify some pretty awful behavior. Won’t go into detail, but have seen this and seen other family members hurt pretty badly by it.

          It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s questioning this approach. Peace.

    • Joel: Quote:”MacArthur trying to understand the Bible is like someone with Aspergers Syndrome trying to understand love stories.”[/quote]
      I understand (I hope) that you didn’t mean anything ‘personal’ in that comment…..although often, ‘not personal’ merely means…..it wasn’t ‘personal’ to YOU.

      I’ve worked with children/youth with Autism and, yes, Aspergers….for 8 years now…..and I’ve known many who can exhibit far greater human compassion and, yes….love….than this man….supposedly WITHOUT debilitating ‘disabilities’ has exhibited.


      • It was hyperbole walt, and I hope that you’ll accept the apology that I already extended.

        Still though, I feel like when MacArther and his ilk look at the Bible I feel they just simply miss things that are intuitive to many others; much like someone with Aspergers cannot (or at least cannot initially) pick up on body language or other subtleties in communication.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Joel, you haven’t heard hyperbole until you’ve heard me speak (in person, not through Web comments) on something that really gets me steamed.

  8. I am stunned and saddened. I understand what he is saying, but part with his application of scripture. His reading is simplistic.

  9. This is American civil religion speaking, and the god he is describing is the civic deity. It’s a commonplace confusion of the Gospel today, and I am perhaps surprised at his take which mimics comments of another great politico-theologian, Sarah Palin.

    On a more sobering note, why should we limit the discussion to temporal authority? It seems to me, carried to the logical extreme, MacArthur opens an argument as to why the Reformation should ever have taken place. Was it scriptural to break from ecclesiastical authority?

  10. I finally found what I was looking for. I think his understanding (along with a lot of evangelicals) is based on a misunderstanding of Paul and first century Judaism. Politics then may not have been like politics now. N.T. Wright of whom I am a fan (yes fan) puts it this We should note carefully what is being said, and what is not being said. What is here ruled out is an attitude which would flout magistrates and police; which would speak and act as though it were above or outside all law and social restraint. What is enjoined is not a meek submission to whatever an authority wishes, but a recognition that, by being Christian, one has not thereby ceased to be human, and that, being human, one remains bound in ties of obligation to one’s fellow-humans, and beyond that to the God who, as creator, has called his human creatures to live in harmony with each other – and such obligations are, to a lesser or greater extent, enshrined in the laws which governments make from time to time. Paul’s point is not the maximalist one that whatever governments do must be right and that whatever they enact must be obeyed, but the solid if minimalist one that God wants human society to be ordered; that being Christian does not release one from the complex obligations of this order; and that one must therefore submit, at least in general, to those entrusted with enforcing this order.

    “This implies, I think, neither quiescence before, nor acquiescence in, totalitarianism. The history-of-religions background to Paul’s thinking is instructive: Jews holding views broadly analogous to his were quite capable of political activity in the Empire, and of reminding governments of their business. What Paul says is clearly anathema to the totalitarian: the point about totalitarianism is that the ruling power has taken the place of God; that is why it is always de facto, and frequently de jure, atheist. For Paul, the ‘state’ is not God. God is God, and the state is thus relativized, as are the powers precisely in Colossians 1:15-20, where they are created and reconciled but not divine.”


  11. I’m thinking about I Cor. 7:21. About being a servant, but if you can be free, then go for it.

  12. ” ‘Are our enemies men like ourselves?’ let me begin by asking. ‘Yes.’ ‘Upon what ground? The ground of their enmity? The ground of the wrong they do us?’ ‘No.’ ‘In virtue of cruelty, heartlessness, injustice, disrespect, misrepresentation?’ ‘Certainly not…Not because they do such deeds are they men. Their humanity must be deeper than those. It is in virtue of the divine essence which is in them, that pure essential humanity, that we call our enemies men and women. It is this humanity that we are to love–a something, I say, deeper altogether than and independent of the region of hate. It is the humanity that originates the claim of neighbourhood; the neighbourhood only determines the occasion of its exercise.’ ‘Is this humanity in every one of our enemies?’ ‘Else there were nothing to love.’ ‘Is it there in very deed?–Then we _must_ love it, come between us and it what may.’ ”
    – George MacDonald, from “Unspoken Sermons”.

  13. I’ve become more and more disillusioned by John MacArthur lately, and this is the last straw. Should the American congress disband, the president resign and submit once again to the British crown, as our very nation is illegitimate, being founded on a rebellion?

    This statement is quite heartless. Would he have just submitted to Hitler, saying “Sieg Heil” and condemning the Confessing Church for disobeying the Third Reich? There are more scriptures than just Romans 13, and his narrow interpretation of it, disregarding the rest of Scripture which speak of justice, is simply wrong.

    • Marc wrote;

      “Should the American congress disband, the president resign and submit once again to the British crown, as our very nation is illegitimate, being founded on a rebellion?”

      I respond…

      No more so than the British Parliament should disolve and the country return to a pure monarchy.

      Were Cromwell and the Puritans right? They thought so….

      When it’s all said and done Mac is right about one thing–all of us must be freed from the bondage of sin. After that the only important question is, “What will you do with this freedom?”


  14. I’m speechless too. Talk about living in an ivory tower …

  15. If a policeman (representing the civil authorities) entered my house and proceeded to assault my wife, would JM think I should submit per Rom 13? I hope not because I am going to do everything in my power to stop him. That’s what the Egyptians were doing (and in some cases literally). It’s really that simple.

  16. By MacArthur’s logic, John the Baptist should have knuckled under to the religious establishment (also the civil government anwerable to the Romans) in Jerusalem, and Jesus should have worn a “Support Your Local Saducee” T-shirt. Like so many evangelicals, he has a myopic, one dimensional view of scripture. Sad. The whole story is so much larger than that!

  17. Charles Fines says

    You people need to cut MacArthur some slack. He can’t help it, he’s totally depraved.

  18. Great to see all the comments. Given time limitations, I will admit, I scanned over most and read a few, so I might have missed something in the previous postings. I would like to see or hear of the perspective of various Middle East Christians on this subject and recent happenings. I have had some limited contact in the past with our brothers and sisters from this region and I always walk away with a deeper and better appreciation of what they have personally experienced both past and present. Just a thought.

  19. I have to be honest, according to Scripture, I have a difficult time disagreeing with JMac on this one.

    And according to what Scripture says, the founding fathers were in the wrong. Now has God used that mistake to further the Gospel? Yes but that still does not make it right.

    Here is a superb article on Christians and Politics. It answers many questions that have been posted here Scripturally.


    • The article you quote is good, but I don’t see how you can commend it and at the same time agree with JMac. It undercuts his entire approach. For example, this part of the article:

      Because of God’s common grace, Christians can work with unbelievers in attempting to promote justice and civic peace – and we can do so not only because it is good for believers and religious liberty, but because it is good for all people (Galatians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15). Writing on this very matter, the authors of The Search for Christian America have stated:

      Some Christians speak as though there is an absolute antithesis between Christian and non-Christian thought, neglecting the degree to which Christians themselves are hampered by sin and error, and the degree to which God’s common grace allows substantial room for communication and cooperation among all people in practical everyday life . . . Because we all live in God’s world, we have, in God’s common grace, some basis for discussing and shaping public policy without explicit appeal to the Bible. In fact, people from all nations of the world have been able to agree on many principles of justice and human interest, as for instance, in agencies and statements of the United Nations. That they violently disagree on other points or on the application of their common principles should not obscure this degree of commonality. So Christians and non-Christians may be able to agree on the value of charity toward the poor and the starving, on the undesirability of genocide, that literacy should be encouraged, on the virtue of loyalty to friends and parents, and on many other things (pp.135-136).

      The sentence, “Because we all live in God’s world, we have, in God’s common grace, some basis for discussing and shaping public policy without explicit appeal to the Bible” would be anathema to him.

      • I am confused as to exactly how they contradict each other. We can work peacefully with non believers but I don’t see where MacArthur says we cant. Could you point that out? I don’t want to remain ignorant on this, this question comes up a lot with the young people I minister to.

        • MacArthur claims his only source of authority is the Bible—the Bible, that is, as interpreted in a narrow, literalistic sense. If he believes in “common grace,” I have never heard or seen any evidence of that. McArthur is a fundamentalist in this sense to the core. To say, as the article does, that we can engage non-believers and work with them for justice without even making reference to the Bible would not suit him.

          • Thanks for the clarification!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            MacArthur claims his only source of authority is the Bible—the Bible, that is, as interpreted in a narrow, literalistic sense.

            Except it’s a Bible instead of a Koran, how does that differ from the justification for an Islamic Republic?

        • I think all you’d have to do is read or listen to MacArthur to get an answer to your question. His views seem to take the calvinist doctrine of total depravity to a whole new level (as do the premises on which NANC counseling is based). He’d probably view working with nonbelivers as a waste of time at best.

          He certainly doesn’t share BIlly Graham’s view of common grace (though I think he also misinterprets Graham’s statement pretty badly).

  20. Whoa, hold on a minute. “Any form of government is better than anarchy,” but “Any form of government is going to self destruct because you’re dealing with corrupt people, sinful people.” So aren’t we all doomed to anarchy anyway?

    It becomes very obvious to me that John MacArthur has never read the Declaration of Independence and is familiar with neither American history nor any history at all. This is my first encounter with him, and I’m glad that I know now not to take him seriously. The guy is dangerously ignorant.

    The author of the letter was wise when he pointed out that MacArthur denies the possibility of God using world events for good. This is the time to pray for Egypt and the other countries undergoing change, so that anarchy or more oppression does NOT happen.

  21. Liberty is not the standard. Respect for authority is not the standard. Both of those things are the fruit, resulting from faithful acceptance of what God says to do. When a society ignores what God says to do, and the grace in Christ enabling us to do it, the end result is what we see around us — the erosion of both liberties and traditions.

  22. Man…just when you think horriffic comments like this are going away…


    THEN up to bat steps up John MacArthur!!!! (clap….clap….clap…)

    Way to go John!!! Let’s create more atheists!!!! 😯

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I was expecting some Stupid Christian Tricks comment on the news. (Because in a nation of 300 million, somebody’s going to shoot off their mouth, no matter what.)

      Only, based on past track record, I expected it to be Pat Robertson. (When Robertson made his little comment about the Haiti Eathquake, somebody commented that PR might be in early-stage Alzheimers — said commenter related he’d seen similar symptoms in a former boss of his who DID have early-stage Alzheimers. This comment was not from this blog.)

      • no they seem to take turns – after all it was John Piper who had to chime in when the tornado hit the ELCA meeting and that whole blah blah blah…

  23. One more Mike says

    Have been off grid for a couple of days, logged on here, read the interview, skimmed the comments and can only say this: Why does John Macarthur have a following? I don’t get it and never will.

  24. At the risk of offending some, I would like to say this before commenting on MacArthur:

    Anytime someone tells me that this or that action or statement by a Christian is driving him to reject Christianity, I think to myself, NO. What is driving you to reject Christianity is the fact that you don’t think you need a Saviour, because you are not as stupid … offensive … sinful … as this Christian. You reject Christianity because ultimately, you don’t accept the fact that all of us are flawed, all of us are “cracked eicons” (images of God), with the cracks manifesting in different ways in different people. Because your “cracks” are not the same and perhaps not as visible as those of the Christian whose behaviour offends you, you think you don’t need fixing. From a merely human perspective, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I don’t buy your blaming it on the stupid or sinful behavior of other Christians.

    Now to MacArthur: Apart from the fact that his answers in this interview sound awfully insensitive, they are vintage MacArthur: what I gave always missed from him is the humility of holding his convictions in an open hand, because “now we see through a glass darkly”. Given his conviction, specifically his interpretation of those verses in Romans, I would understand his rejection of the American Revolution (even while benefitting from it), but I don’t think his application to the current situation in North Africa and the Middle East can withstand scrutiny:

    All of the countries now in the news pay lip service to the notion of government by consent, and their leaders are in more or less open violation of their own constitutions by the way they govern, enrich themselves, and cling to power through various means. Thus, people gathering on a square chanting slogans demanding change is nothing but their legitimate exercise of freedom of opinion and expression, and sending in goon squads, foreign mercenaries or the regular military is what is unlawful.

    It is also totally other-worldly to argue that people who are starving both for food and freedom (the uprising in Tunisia started with a desparate man who had been deprived of his livelihood by the arbitrary action of a corrupt government) should not seek to better their earthly lives because what ultimately matters is eternal salvation. Dear John, these people are not going to listen to the gospel message as long as they are pre-occupied with the struggle to survive.

    And as he specifically addresses Christians: the assertion that if you obey the law in a country like Iran you will live peacefully borders on the ludicrous: in iran, as well as in places like Afghanistan or Pakistan, people are TODAY in jail, threatened with execution, simply for being former Moslems who have converted to faith in Christ. Surely we can marvel and be thankful at the way God grows His church in countries where it is persecuted, but to recommend to anyone, from a vantage point of relative religious freedom in North America or Europe, to choose persecution over freedom because it is beneficial to the church — any words I could use to respond to this would be either extremely rude or woefully inadequate.

    • Your comments on MacArthur are spot on. However, I have a problem with this statement:

      “Anytime someone tells me that this or that action or statement by a Christian is driving him to reject Christianity, I think to myself, NO. What is driving you to reject Christianity is the fact that you don’t think you need a Saviour, because you are not as stupid … offensive … sinful … as this Christian.”

      What you say makes for nice theory. But some of us find it just a bit difficult to separate Jesus from the church He established on this earth to represent Him.

    • Thanks, Wolf Paul. Thoughtful and well said, as always.

    • Well said, but I have to agree with Kristin’s criticism that your analysis of what might drive people to reject Christianity is a little flawed. I think most would be willing to put up with flawed individuals. Everyone has quirks and foibles and failings. But what if the whole system and culture of what is presented as Christianity in a particular individual’s experience has something wrong with it? In other words, what if it’s a systemic dysfunction, at least in that portion of Christendom? I’d argue that this is the case sometimes and that it makes the whole question considerably more complicated. I also wonder how God will judge us if we continue to do things that drive people away.

      I think more people have rejected churchianity because of issues like this than have rejected Christ; at least at this point, I see the situation as perhaps salvageable if only we can get our act together.

      • My thinking exactly. When certain attitudes and behaviours are endemic throughout the evangelical culture how does one differentiate between the culture itself and the One that culture is supposed to represent?

    • After reading your insights, the thought suddenly occurs to me, would MacArthur extend his argument to include slavery? Because applying his logic to its fullest extent would have meant the perpetuation of this institution, and many preachers in the antebellum South did just that in supporting it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It is also totally other-worldly to argue that people who are starving both for food and freedom… should not seek to better their earthly lives because what ultimately matters is eternal salvation.

      I’m sure a LOT of kleptomaniac dictators like Gadhafi would welcolme such a “totally other-worldly” faith among their two-legged livestock.

  25. “Anytime someone tells me that this or that action or statement by a Christian is driving him to reject Christianity, I think to myself, NO. What is driving you to reject Christianity is the fact that you don’t think you need a Saviour, because you are not as stupid … offensive … sinful … as this Christian.”

    I think this oversimplifies. Many times people reject Christianity because of what Christians tell them– or show them– Christianity is all about. They want nothing to do with that– thus showing their sense of common sense and human decency. It’s so sad that there are forms of our religion that advocate throwing common sense and decency under the bus in the name of correct doctrines. It is those doctrines that good people turn from in disgust, thinking that that is Christianity.

    So I would say, “If an action or statement by a Christian is driving you to reject Christianity, please look again at Jesus and what He said following Him meant, in order to be sure of what you’re really rejecting.”

    • I admit that this may be an oversimplification, especially if applied across the board.

      My excuse is that

      (a) this is what I think, accept it or not, that’s your privilege, and

      (b) this was specifically written in response to readers of this blog saying such things; people who thus have not been exposed only to silliness and insensitivity but are fully aware that there are other types of Christians as well.

      On the distinction between Christ and Christianity: I use the term Christianity to indicate being a Christian, or a Christ-follower, and all that is tied in with that. And in that sense you can’t divorce it from Christ or Christ from it.

      • Wolf Paul: I liked all parts of your original post , and I know from reading your stuff the last few years that you are sensetive to those bruised by churchianity and hypocrisy. I still like the direction of your words, and at the judgment seat of Christ, all men (including and especially GregR) will be without excuse: Jesus is still present and available, and as the bumper sticker still says: “wise men still seek HIM”.

        Stay in the game Wolf Paul, we need you.

  26. It’s nice to be home. I missed you guys.

    I think Paul designed a loophole into Romans 13. Read how many times he “praises” the governing authorities as ordained by God. And they ARE ordained by God, if you believe in God’s sovereignty…but… there’s a certain irony in the sheer amount of times he says this:

    — “For there is no authority except from God…”
    — “… [Rulers] have been instituted by God.”
    — “…what God has appointed…”
    — “…rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.”
    — “…he [the ruler] is God’s servant…”
    — “…he is the servant of God…”

    It’s a bit like Shakespeare’s Mark Antony “praising’ Brutus: “Brutus is an honourable man.” He said that enough times for the crowd to catch the irony and become suspicious.

    Paul’s message works both ways, too. Not only did he remind Christians that their rulers are placed on the throne by God, he also reminded the rulers themselves—that they are indeed placed on the throne by God and can be removed by God. Problem is, the rulers don’t get the irony. In their own minds they become gods.

    “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm100:3) That was written by a king who finally got the irony.

    • I wondered where you were, Ted. From wherever you were…it’s good to have you back!

      • Ecuador, with the medical mission. Click the link on my name for more.

        • Thanks, Ted. I went to your blog and read all the blogposts posted while you were in Ecuador. It looks so colorful there! I have a high school friend who in the past two years has been studying Spanish and I think it is Ecuador that she has traveled to several times. I think her husband has been part of a group helping to do some building in that area. It would be funny if you folks “bumped” into each other there. She and her husband have lived in North Carolina all of her adult, married years.

          Thank you and the medical mission for the good work you do there.

  27. @Chap Mike: thanks for the Open Letter; very compact and powerful, and I would even say charitable. Good catch and share. One of my stronger take aways from all this is how easy it is to be dismissive of the larger themes of justice and the defense of the weak and disenfranchised, while leaning on a few isolated scriptures to hold onto an old prejudice. I think this can happen to anyone: may we all stay humble and alert, lest it be us.


  28. Too many opinions on how people “feel” about John Mc Arthur’s comment. Insensitive? No. Truthful? Yes.
    Paul says in II Cor 12:10: I take pleasure in ….persecutions..for Christ sake:for when I am weak, then am I strong”.
    We should be dead to what the world does and how they react. We have no rights. We only reach out in love to the world. “Christianity” is not a Biblical term, it includes too many ungodly behaviours and assimilations. True Christians dont rise up, protest, picket etc. We are to be a pleasant odour for Christ, dead to the world, alive to Christ, Thanks to John Mc Arthur. I agree fully with him. I have worked through the Bible about 30 times. Love to God and all people you meet is supreme. Halleluya! I am 73 years young in South Africa.

    • Pieter F: thanks for stopping by the imonastery.

      Where you see sin and self-interest, I see making a plea, even a strong plea, for others, for justice, for more of “His Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven..” You right “we have no rights..” and this may be true in our approach to the all holy GOD, but this is nonsense when dealing with the horizontal level, man to man: on that level of course we have rights, and it’s up to each country, city, province, family, to work that out.

      Many folks did weigh in with opinions, sure, but it’s not as if scripture didn’t form the basis of the points that his detractors (or proponents) made. I’m glad that GOD has given you an appetite for HIS Word, maybe you could use that to instruct us in where our criticism has gone away trom the bible and the heart and mind of Christ. ??

      As an aside, was Martin Luther King being a pleasant odor unto Christ when he encouraged disobedience to the Jim Crow era segregated south of the 50’s and 60’s ??


    • “True Christians dont rise up, protest, picket etc.

      Ah, but where did you get the idea we’re talking about Christians here? The countries on question are Islamic, and are not interested in hearing what either the Bible or John MacArthur have to say. John MacArthur is out of line to suggest that non-believers should be living like believers.

  29. I think MacArthur bringing his biblical views in muddies the water.

    There is a kernel of truth: The outcome of a revolution in Egypt does not necessarily mean they will move to a democracy. They could end up in a worse place than what they are in. And if this is what John means, I agree.

    I often shake my head when I see the crowd that sings the mantra that democracy is this great cure all for the world’s ailiments.

    The western world’s journey to democracy was a long process. And in the end, there had to be the right conditions and people had to submit themselves to it.

    I can give an example from Canada. About 15 years ago there was a public vote in Quebec as to whether they would separate and form a new country. They said NO by a very slim margin (sort of 55%). Those who voted YES for a new country were willing to abide by the results.

    At the time I was living in an area of the world where if it was similar circumstances, the separatist crowd probably would have said, we won’t abide, and probably cause a civil war.

    For democracy to take root anywhere, the population has to decide that they will abide by the decision of the majority. And what happens if they exercise their right and vote in an Islamist government?


    Dr. MacArthur makes a biblical application here to “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1).

    Which of the following additional three scenarios depict person(s) not “subject to the governing authorities”?:

    (1.) The Prophet Jeremiah experienced a profound leadership crisis in Israel and rebukes Judah for “offer[ing] up their sons and daughters to Molech” (Jeremiah 32:35). Jeremiah sees this as justification to start a 13th Tribe.

    (2.) A “taxation without representation” concern arises in the British Colonies. The Colonists view this as justification to throw off the King.

    (3.) Certain 16th Century Catholic leaders are selfishly allowing the sale of indulgences. Various Christians throw off the Pope and start a Reformation.

    Perhaps Dr. MacArthur is correct, “if you just talk about a biblical thing, they are all in violation of a biblical command – to submit to the powers that be because they’re ordained of God.”

  31. I truly don’t understand how a Christian can use Romans 13 as a pretext to prevent peaceful demonstrations of an oppressed people against their oppressors! Although I don’t think the story of the Exodus is merely about worldly oppression (it’s about Christ freeing us from the shackles of sin), I fail to see how one can look at the Exodus story and claim that Moses and the Israelites’ defiance of Pharaoh was unbiblical. Is anyone going to really argue that there were different rules in the Old Testament for civil disobedience? If so, the onus is on the one who makes that claim to prove it. Even the Coptic church which initially sided against the protests (advising its members to refrain from protesting) for fear that they would turn violent, eventually said that peaceful protesting was up to the individual.

    That’s my understanding of the distinction Paul makes in Romans 13. Paul’s admonition to the Romans has to do with civil insurrection. The Egyptian demonstrations were peaceful, except when the pro government, rent-a-mob types attacked them. But, by and large, these were peaceful protests.

    A demonstration is one way for the governed to air their wishes, desires and grievances to their rulers; i.e. to communicate. There’s nothing wrong with that! That’s what the people of Israel do in the psalms. They communicate to God to rescue them from defeat and oppression. See Ps. 44 for example. That’s yet another argument that peaceful protest would be biblical since it communicates to the representative of God (the authorities) the needs of the people.

    If this were an armed or violent revolution (a la Libya), that it would be unbiblical. However, the bible does not admonish us to keep silent when injustices occur. It actually admonishes us not to keep silent. That’s what most of the protesters were doing whether or not they were Christian, Muslim or atheist.

    There probably were some who harbored sinful motives and perhaps violated the point of Romans 13, but, it seems to me that the Coptic church did the right thing eventually by leaving it up to the individual to demonstrate peacefully.

    I would also argue that Paul talks about not “doing wrong” and refers to “wrongdoers” as those who will be punished by the authorities. But, who’s a wrongdoer and what is doing wrong? Is a wrongdoer one who resists evil? If so, Moses was a wrongdoer. I would argue that doing wrong should be defined in a biblical way. In other words, whatever you do, do not steal, cheat, destroy, murder, etc. Those protesters were not sinning against the Law of God in any way.

  32. Well, dirty word. The whole let’s-comment-on-a-book-nobody’s-read non-issue took this off Pyro’s map. I was soooooooooooo looking forward to their reaction. 😉