Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oh no he didn't!

John MacArthur decided to let lose on his brothers in Christ right there in front of them at a pastor's conference. Tim Challes blogged about it here.

Well we weren't expecting John MacArthur to begin the conference this way. He decided to forego his usual opening sermon and speak instead on a touchy topic. His lecture was titled (and I'm not sure how much this is tongue-in-cheek) "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Pre-Millennialist." A couple of weeks ago, at the Resolved Conference, he mentioned this topic so it was interesting to hear him fill it out.
Obviously, this has set off quite a bit of controversy on the Internet. Jollyblogger has a bit of fun with it, so does this blog. This guy is a bit steamed and Pastor Shaun wondered why MacArthur would take this stand. And Kim Riddlebarger, Adrian Warnock and Michael Spencer all blog about it as well. I agree with Spencer:
-Macarthur may have orchestrated one of the great moments in the history of American dispenstionalism, and it will drive thousands away. As it should.
-The decision to make this the keynote of one of the largest reformed pastors conferences in the world says volumes about where the head and heart of Macarthur are at this point in his ministry. When I get up at a key moment in my ministry to tell you you aren’t legit unless you have my eschatology, something’s out of balance.
Even if he wanted to point out that it was inconsistent to be a Calvinist and an amillennialist, there are less rude and divisive ways to do it. I don't think that throwing unity under the bus for this issue is worth it.

I don't have time to defend Calvinism or the amillennialism position now because I should be studying for my midterm but needless to say there are many verses in the New Testament that speak about the fact that we are one with the Israel:
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit

Romans 11:13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Galatians 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
I could say a lot more since the Bible is filled with references to the church and Israel but won't. Needless to say, amillennialists have a reason for why they aren't dispensationalists and dispensationalist might want to keep that in mind before saying that we aren't "self-repecting Calivinists."

His point that Calvinists who don't accept dispensationalism deny God's election of Israel is easily refuted, we don't deny that God elected Israel, we just believe that Jesus is Israel and all of the promises made to Abraham, find their fulfillment in Him. I can give you many passages to back this up but I will make do with only two:
Galatians 3:16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
BTW, MacArthur lists his points here and this refutation pretty much covers it.

Update: I added one other point that I thought of after I turned my computer off so that I could prepare for my midterm :-) Go here for a very good response to whether Christ was an amillennialist.


  1. casey said...
    MacArthur is, in my opinion, the most arrogant person in theological circles today. I cannot stand listening to the man, and would never purchase any of his books, or resources, or probably any of the resources that come out of his seminary. The faster he fades into obscurity, the better off I believe North American Christianity will be.

    Why such the strong opinion, you might ask? In college I began listening to his radio program. After the program one day, they were selling something, as all Christian radio programs do, to "support the ministry." MacArthur stated, to the best of my recollection (and it stuck with me):
    "The Bible was meant to be understood. And if you want to understand it in its entirety, all you need to do is get my MacArthur Study Bible..."

    Talk about subverting a reformation principle...and being incredibly arrogant.

    At that moment I vowed never to read his stupid Study Bible, and never to listen to him again.
    Dr Mike said...
    I'm afraid I can't be quite as MacArthur-esque in my comment as some, but I must say this about Travis' "refutation" at BHT:

    The same argument could be used of Covenant Theology, i.e.,

    Is the Old Testament Dispensational Premillenial? No, Covenant Theology did not exist until the 16th century.

    The same could be said of Trinitarianism (4th Century), the deity of Christ, the canon of Scripture, or a lot of other things we now accept as true although not expressly stated in either the Old or New testaments.

    Travis is high on form but without substance. Which is a common ploy: if you can't prove someone wrong, use non sequitur ridicule.
    Dr Mike said...

    Is the Old Testament Dispensational Premillenial? No, Covenant Theology did not exist until the 16th century.

    Should read:

    Is the Old Testament Covenant Theological? No, Covenant Theology did not exist until the 16th century.
    casey said...
    Oh Dr. you mean me when you say mention MacArthur-esque comments?

    If so, in what manner, I would ask?
    casey said...
    And I would hasten to point out that Covenantal Theology can be said to not exist until the 16th century...unless you see it in the writings of, for instance, the Apostle Paul. Just sayin'.
    michele said...
    casey, I actually have the John MacArthur Bible :-) I stopped reading it after I switched to amillenialism.

    dr. mike, I think they meant it as a joke :-) but isn't MacArthur's assertion a non sequitur? I guess answer a non sequitur with non sequitur?
    michele said...
    Yeah, casey I was thinking Galatians 3 pretty much sounds like covenant theology to me.
    casey said...
    michele - (I don't know why I am leaving so many comments on this post...I guess I am looking for a distraction from doing what I am supposed to be doing at the moment!)

    I was convinced of the amillennial position after taking an exegesis course on Revelation in seminary from Greg Beale, who wrote the commentary in the NIGTC series on the book, and were were required to do an exegetical study of Revelation 20 for the final assignment. I especially appreciate Hendriksen's small book on Revelation, "More Than Conquerors." I think it lays out Revelation in a concise, and clear manner.

    I probably should go back to my school work now...or, maybe not.
    michele said...
    casey, I used Hendriksen's commentary the first time I taught Revelation and I'm using Beale now to teach Revelation this time.

    When I read books like Late Great Planet Earth and listened to Swindoll and then looked at the passages they referred to, I would think, "Where's that in the passage?" It really didn't make sense to me. And then I started listening to the White Horse Inn and then I realized that there was another way to look at Jesus' return.

    I've really examined all of the mill. positions and read the works of those in each of the camps and I can honestly say that the one that fits with what's in Scripture is clearly the amil position.

    And feel free to comment all you want :-)

    BTW, congrats on getting linked by lgf! Your stats must have gone through the roof.
    casey said...
    Yeah, for a couple of days there, and even still today, a lot of hits on that post. I doubt I'll keep many readers, as, I tend not to post as frequently as I want to. More comments on that one post, and all of them I think quite interesting, than I have had since last summer when there was a Hezbollah rally here in Toronto, and I posted pictures. I think it is funny that I got linked by LGF, and I still can't get a comments account there!

    Where do you teach Revelation, by the way?

    Oh, and, another interesting tidbit - I was inquiring last week with a couple of denominations about placement and ordination, as I am nearing the end of my PhD program, and will be looking to pastor a church...and I was completely dismissed, and told to look for a job elsewhere, based solely on my a-mil statement! I thought is was funny, and I was actually quite proud.
    michele said...
    I write my own studies and then teach them at the women's Bible study at my church. I've been writing studies and teaching for 9 years.

    I once met a pastor at Westminster Theological Seminary who had to leave his church (he was at an Evangelical Free church)because he came to understand that disp. premil was unbiblical. It's sad that the church makes this a condition of orthodoxy.
    ccr3 said...
    MacArthur does his homework. He mines the significance of each word in context and uses sound hermeneutical principles so that he understands what the words meant to the original recipients.

    I doubt if MacArthur was name calling like some of the commentors. He is a brother. We don't need to agree with him. All families disagree on issues.

    If we disagree with him we are responsible to bring our scriptures to compare to his and study them intently so we can rightly determine truth.

    Enough name calling and let's not sacrifice truth for our own definition of unity.

Post a Comment

Design | Elque 2007