McAtee Contra Pattengale on the Legacy of Dr. Glenn Martin on Tyranny

You can read the whole article I’m interacting with over at

The Capitol offense: A Christian professor’s warning 50 years ago


It seems today is a day to go after the Wesleyans. I didn’t plan it that way. As many readers of Iron Ink know Dr. Glenn Martin of Marion College was the closest thing I ever had to a mentor. As such you can understand my desire to see that the man is not misrepresented in the media. Unfortunately, that is what happened back on 27 January Religious News Service ran an article by an old friend, Dr. Jerry Pattengale, who was trying to tell us what Dr. Martin would have thought about the protest at the Capitol on 06 January 2021. I went to Marion College with Jerry. He was two or three years ahead of me. We were acquaintances — neither friends nor enemies. We both ran in the same circles sharing a common major.

Jerry did a fantastic job giving Dr. Martin’s eulogy in 2004. I was there and I wept as Jerry recounted the life of Dr. Martin. I was glad for Jerry’s words that day.

However, I am not glad for this piece that Jerry wrote in January. It mischaracterized Dr. Martin’s teachings on Government.

Jerry starts the article by reminding us of Martin’s conviction that the US Capitol was not impregnable. Martin was consistent on this score. He did not think that any institution was necessarily permanent. Martin taught repeatedly that only God is eternal.

Next Jerry quotes from Martin’s 2004 book, “Prevailing Worldviews of Western Society Since 1500,” where Martin wrote,  that American Christians should “reverence government as a gift of God for the orderly procedure of man in a fallen world.” Martin went on to note that the reason is that “to deny government leads first to anarchy, but ultimately back to tyranny. Out of anarchy must necessarily come authoritarianism, because anarchy produces nothing but a vacuum, and a vacuum must and will be filled.”

This is all true but Jerry has absolutized Martin’s words in a way that Dr. Martin would not have countenanced. Actually, Jerry Pattengale in this article has not given us the whole Martin here. Having been a student myself of Martin and having sat under every course the man taught save one and having taken one on one projects for credit with Martin I would remind Jerry that Martin clearly articulated his support for the Southern uprising in 1861 against the Jacobins and the proto-Marxist Lincoln.

Jerry thus is cherry-picking from Martin and giving a twisted account of the Man’s convictions. I am not convinced that Martin would have said that there is never a time and a place for Godly revolt against ungodly government. Jerry’s words in this article suggest that is exactly what Martin thought.

Jerry is in error to state categorically that Dr. Martin believed categorically that all government should be reverenced. I don’t believe that Martin believed that. Certainly, a godly government should be reverenced but would Jerry have us believe that an ungodly government of the stripe of a Stalin or a Lenin or a Trotsky should be reverenced? How about Mussolini, or Mao? Jerry has to deal with the reality that at some point a biblical Christian has to draw a line to remind wicked magistrates that they are not in the seat of God. John Knox understood this principle. Oliver Cromwell understood this principle. The Huguenot Admiral Coligny understood this principle.  I believe Dr. Glenn Martin understood this as well as evidenced by his refusal to condemn the antebellum South.

There are many other things wrong with Jerry’s article. There are things we know now that we did not know when Jerry wrote this. One example is that we now know that LEO Brian Sicknick was NOT murdered at the rally on 06 January in DC. Jerry should have waited before drinking the Media kool-aid.

Jerry also suggests that Martin only feared that the liberal view would exalt the state. Martin repeatedly said that the liberal view had exalted the state and that we were living in times where the State had taken the place of “God walking on the earth.” Martin did not merely fear that the liberal view would exalt the state. The man directly said repeatedly that modern man had come to see himself as “living and moving and having his being in the State.”

Also, Dr. Pattengale suggests that Martin would have been squeamish about the vitriolic exchanges during the Trump impeachment hearings. Certainly, no Biblical Christian is happy about that but Martin no less than any other Biblical Christian would have been a realist about the nature of politics. He knew that politics did not follow the queen of marquess boxing rules. Martin knew that politics was a dirty game that included “any means necessary,” when pursued by the pagan. Martin did not live in some kind of idealistic world.

Pattengale goes on to say,

“The attack on city, state and federal property and the killing of innocent people in the process — including civil servant defenders such as Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick — is always criminal. Somehow, many Americans have digressed into calling the same criminal actions by different names.”

The simple fact of the matter is that we really do not know yet what happened on 06 January and it is unlikely we ever will. Many accounts tell us that Police Officers opened doors for the protesters. Other accounts insist that many of those pursuing the mayhem were not Trump supporters but were Antifa as imposter Trump supporters playing the devil’s game. Next, in the above-italicized paragraph, Jerry speaks of the killing of Brian Sicknick — a Capitol police officer. We now know that Officer Sicknick’s death had absolutely nothing to do with what happened on 06 January 2021. We now know that the whole narrative about Sicknick was a Marxist Media dog and pony show in order to increase the putative guilt of Trump supporters. The Marxists created that narrative to shame Trump and His supporters. Jerry should have waited before swallowing that torpid media narrative.

Next Jerry takes a swipe at those who have not yet been convicted of killing Ahmaud Aubrey. Clearly, Jerry is writing this piece from a left-of-center mindset. I promise you … Martin was anything but left-of-center. Jerry’s left-of-center mindset shows through again where he supports Peter Berger’s pluralism. Jerry, along with Berger, has not yet realized that the classical liberal worldview that birthed pluralism is dead dead dead. It only continues to exist as a Zombie now. Pluralism was never a particularly Christian idea — at least not as it has come down to us from its Endarkenment origins.

Jerry goes on to say how “Martin called biblical Christians to look first to Jesus to repair our society.” This is true. However, this looking to Jesus to repair our society doesn’t happen apart from the context of Biblical Christians pressing the crown rights of Jesus Christ in every area of life. A wicked government will stand against Biblical Christians who are looking first to Jesus to repair our society.

So, following one of Martin’s heroes Biblical Christians have to understand there comes a time when we reverence God by not reverencing the government.

The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.

(A Christian Manifesto, in The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, 5:468–69)

If Jerry disagrees with this he is falling into the same sacred/secular mindset that Martin warned against and that by making the government sacred and so not to be touched under any circumstances.

My old acquaintance Jerry ends by quoting Martin again as saying,

“All should reverence government as a gift of God for our orderly procedure in a fallen world.”

I think that Jerry is trying to rescue the tattered remains of the social compact that has glued Americans together for decades now by repeatedly invoking this mantra. We noted earlier that Jerry is misrepresenting Martin here. We would only offer here that our government is pressing down upon our brows chaos and not orderly procedure and as such Biblical Christians have a responsibility to start asking the question that the Southerners that Martin supported asked. That question is, “How long do we keep reverencing a government that is trying to kill us and our posterity.” If Jerry can’t see that our current government has been pursuing that for decades and now is pursuing it in spades, well, he’ll just have to read back entries to Iron Ink.

Dr. Glenn Martin is no icon for tyranny and I resent more than a wee bit Jerry trying to turn him into that kind of icon.

Postscript: I can see all kinds of people accusing me of writing this as a Trump supporter. I was not and am not a Trump supporter as many articles on IronInk will attest. I preached, from the pulpit, that Christians had no business voting for Trump. I thought, and still think, that Trump talked a great game but legislated as a 1960’s liberal. In brief, I did not support Trump because as a Biblical Christian I am a genuine conservative. Trump was and is no conservative.

It’s ok… not many people are.



Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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