Thursday, August 7, 2008

Frazer Defends MacArthur at WND

I blogged about Dave Welch's WorldNetDaily article attacking the anti-dominionist position of John MacArthur here. I alerted Dr. Gregg Frazer -- who teaches at the college where MacArthur is president -- to the article and suggested that he submit his reply to WorldNetDaily. Well he did and to their credit, WND published it.

Read the whole thing. There's lots of great stuff in it like the orthodox biblical case for anti-dominionism, how America's Founders arguably violated Romans 13 by rebelling against Great Britain, and how many of the patriotic preachers supporting the American cause were not orthodox Christians and used an unorthodox interpretation of Romans 13 to attempt to justify rebellion against Great Britain. Here is a taste from the article on Jonathan Mayhew, one of the most important pro-revolutionary preachers:

It is also instructive to point out that Mayhew is not exactly the most reliable authority on what the Bible says. His reputation for unorthodoxy was so pronounced that his ordination had to be rescheduled because not enough ministers attended. He was a unitarian (did not believe in the deity of Christ) and a rationalist who believed that reason was the ultimate determiner of what counts as revelation. He specifically denied the doctrines of imputation, justification by faith, the virgin birth and original sin and held an unorthodox view of the atonement. He denied them because he found them to be unreasonable. Doctrines, which he called "niceties of speculation," were not of particular interest to him, though, because he believed that there were many roads to God and that one walked them through works. He listed Plato, Demosthenes, Cicero, Sidney and Hoadly among his intellectual influences. His quoted remark in the article that a king can "un-king himself" is completely without biblical foundation. Mayhew's view of Romans 13 had nothing to do with what Paul said and everything to do with what Mayhew found reasonable under the circumstances.

9 comments:

Pinky said...

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So, what do you make of all that?
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Jim Babka said...

Congratulations to Frazer for poking holes in Kennedyesque Dominionism and getting a byline on the very well-read WND. But he’s “kicking a cripple” here. Welch’s lack of historical knowledge, combined with his bad theology, made him less formidable than a straw man.

Frazer accurately relays MacArthur’s position, and that position is correction in one very important specific when Frazer writes, “MacArthur believes that the best way for pastors to positively impact society is to do what God has called them to do, which is to convert people – not try to redeem society. Welch cannot point to a single verse in the Bible instructing pastors to be politically active, but MacArthur can point to dozens instructing pastors to preach the word of God (not the words of Jefferson) and to embrace spiritual warfare with spiritual weapons (not competing bumper stickers).”

There is a trade-off, and the Christian Right has not only set the wrong priorities, but it’s harmed the reputation of the Gospel.

But Frazer gets a lot wrong in this piece.

* He never mentions the Doctrine of Interposition and he ignores its development in Calvinist circles, which is crucial to this discussion.
* He also gets his history of the revolution wrong — it was the King of England who declared his subjects to be in rebellion, not our Declaration of Independence.
* And then he quotes anti-secessionist Harry Jaffa, as if that’s somehow persuasive in either a historical or theological sense.

A much more complete and sound approach was outlined, by Yours Truly, at the Positive Liberty blog, back in April. http://www.positiveliberty.com/2008/08/frazer-defends-macarthur-at-wnd.html#comment-717947

Frazer should respond to that instead.

Jim Babka said...

Geez. I used the wrong link! I had such a hard time getting Blogger to accept my password (what a terrible commenting system Google has -- how does anyone remember all their hundreds of passwords), that I screwed up something much more basic.

Here is the correct link...
http://www.positiveliberty.com/2008/04/romans-13-interposition-from-one-christians-view.html

Jonathan Rowe said...

Jim,

If you'd like you can tweak those articles into a featured post on American Creation. (And double post it on PL; sometimes recycling posts on web is fine, like a professor who repeats his lectures from year to year; or what I learned from D. James Kennedy, pastors who repeat their sermons year after year, with tweaks and changes each time).

Pinky said...

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Do I understand these guys correctly? Is the famous John MacArthur saying America should have never fought the War for Independence? Does he believe we should continue as part of the U.K.?

I have a sibling that thinks the sun rises and sets on MacArthur and she and her family attend meetings where R.C. Sproul speaks whenever possible. He holds big conventions once a year down there in Orlando.
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http://www.ligonier.org/about_founder.php
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Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes, that's exactly what he is saying. You may find that interesting discussion with your sibling next time you two speak. :)

Tom Van Dyke said...

There is a trade-off, and the Christian Right has not only set the wrong priorities, but it’s harmed the reputation of the Gospel.

Oh, I find that a bit harsh, Jim.

There are two discussions getting slobbed together in the MacArthur-Welch debate, in my view.

The first, per the American revolution [folks like MacArthur simply hopscotched up to Canada anyway], is whether the Bible [Romans 13, whatever] permits rebellion. The flat answer is no; however, Christian thought had been developing for hundreds of years about the derivation of power: that God gives the people the sovereignty, who then invest it in a sovereign.

When the sovereign goes against natural law, he has lost his legitimacy. This going back at least to Aquinas in the 14th century:

Objection 5: "Furthermore, Romans 13, 2: he who resists authority, resists what God has ordained. But it is not licit to to resist the ordination of God. Therefore neither is it licit to resist secular authority..."

"I answer, it is to be said, that as was said, obedience concerns the precept that one keeps to observe a debt. But this debt is caused by the order of someone in authority who has the power to coerce, not merely in a temporal sense but also in a spiritual sense by conscience, as the Apostle says in Romans 13.

As the order of authority comes down from God, as the Apostle suggests in the same work...And so insofar as it is from God, a Christian is held to obey such authorities, but not insofar as the authority is not from God...


Rev. Richard Hooker, whom John Locke speaks so fondly of, was quite the Thomist, you know. But more on that some other time. The fact is the debate had already taken place in England in the 1600s: one king was executed, the other booted.

Second, that Romans 13 does not contemplate our contemporary situation of democracy: the citizen-as-ruler. The citizen-ruler is held to natural law---and to the highest standard of the good per Aquinas, and following, Rev. Hooker---just as any monarch would.

It is not unreasonable that it's his duty under natural law to pursue the greatest good as ruler, legislator, citizen, according to his conscience.

Now it's so that I would fight the Dominionists tooth and nail---politically or physically---as I imagine their idea of Christianity is inimical and downright hostile to my own. But short of them using jackboot tactics, I'll defend in principle not their rights, but their discharge of duty as they see it, according to the dictates of conscience.

Pinky said...

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Are we to believe that men like MacArthur and R.C. Sproul believe that America was created out of the sinful acts of the Founding Fathers in that they were in direct violation of God's Revealed Word in Romans Chapter 13?
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In that case, some of our most admired Evangelicals cannot believe that America was created as a Christian nation; but, one created in sin against God.
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Should we put ourselves back under the English Monarchy? Of course, after we confess our sin of rebellion against God?
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Jonathan Rowe said...

MacArthur yes. Sproul I don't think so. Kennedy definitely no. But yes, the point is, just as evangelicals can reasonably dispute the finer points of Calvinism, they also should be able to reasonably dispute whether America's Declaration of Independence was a sin. Believing it was is a perfectly respectable evangelical orthodox Christian notion; though it is not a respectable "American" notion. They are two different things. And they are is because America was NOT founded as a "Christian Nation."