Government, Gary DeMar suggests, is usually defined far too narrowly. In America, we use the term to refer to the three branches of the Federal system, or to describe the evil forces collectively known as The Man. As DeMar demonstrates, however, government isa fundamental element of human existence—the most basic governmental unit being the family, which exists for the government of children.
Other governments include the district, city, county, state and national governments, which DeMar puts collectively (along with the family and Church) under forms of civil government. This isn't your typical "government curriculum": DeMar's goal is to identify the biblical basis for government, what Scripture describes as its parameters and duties, and how Christians can promote and actualize a government rooted in Christian faith and ideals.
How Do These Work?
There are three volumes (illustrated in black and white) with text to read and discussion/review questions at the end of each chapter. While space is provided for recording answers to the questions in the books themselves, thorough responses will require moreroom than is offered. Answers to all questions are included; it's a good idea to have students read these after they've completed the exercises.
Each chapter begins with an introductory statement offering an encapsulation of that chapter's content. Then comes the text, then the questions and answers, then a summary wrapping everything up. This could be a student-directed course, though it's probably more productive if it's teacher-led, since part of internalizing ideas is expressing them to others, and the end-of-lesson questions really do provide plenty to talk about.
For each discussion question DeMar includespassage references forextensive supplemental Bible readings. These always correspond to the content of the questions, and either illuminate or support the claims and positions found in the text. You can skip these readings, but to get the full effect of the course (and really, to understand its purpose) you'll need to read each Bible passage and reflect on it while answering or discussing the questions.
No supplemental teacher resources are available, though the books are self-contained and you shouldn't need any. Tests for the first two books are available through Christian Liberty Press, with two-page tests for each chapter (and a final exam) gauging students' retention with multiple choice and true/false questions. Answers are included at the back of the packet.
While each volume has its own focus, all of them rely on the Bible and Christian doctrine, history, philosophy and critical thinking to make their collective point—that government is God-ordained, and ought therefore to represent godliness to its subjects. Volume I presents a biblical view of and standard for earthly governments, Volume II looks at particular governmental issues (like the economy and sovereignty, not "hot topics" like abortion and homosexuality), and Volume III offers a program and strategy for turning America back to God.
That's not to suggest DeMar believes simply changing governmental structure or laws will make Americans more godly; as he says repeatedly, the only path to true reform is the regeneration of men's hearts through Jesus Christ. There are some postmillennial overtones throughout the texts, and a fair amount of "America was founded on Christian principles" rhetoric that some will find fault with, but overall his approach is balanced and biblical.
The content of God & Government (now also available in a single-volume hardcover edition) is challenging for high school students and adults alike. It is designed primarily for an academic setting, though it could also work well as the basis for a Sunday school class or book study group. If you're having your kids work through it by themselves, we suggest waiting till they're high school juniors or seniors.
Our Honest Opinion:
If you're looking for a course to describe the specific machinations of the United States government, you'll have to look elsewhere. If, however, you're looking to understand government itself from a biblical perspective, this is an excellent starting place. DeMar's style is accessible yet wise, and the relatively short chapters will provide fuel for thought long after the books have been set aside.
Even if you find yourself disagreeing with certain statements, DeMar's rational and Scriptural arguments are difficult to dispute. (Not impossible necessarily, just difficult.) These aren't just good books from an academic perspective, however; these are the kind of books more Christians ought to read if they want to truly have an impact on society and not simply watch as our nation slips further and further away from any kind of Christian mooring.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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