John MacArthur’s Accusations against NT Wright

This is a six minute clip from YouTube.

What is your reasoned response?

A few observations.

First, very few define “new perspective” well, including MacArthur. Few also know the principal voices. They begin with Krister Stendahl and then W.D. Davies and then E.P. Sanders and then James D.G. Dunn and only then N.T. Wright. Some, like MacArthur, don’t take the full body of work into view for in other places Wright discusses imputation and wrath. MacArthur’s choice of books is Wrights The Day the Revolution Began, where Wright is taking on caricatures of atonement and gospel. MacArthur would do himself and his audiences a favor by examining how Wright explains justification in his Paul and the Faithfulness of God as well as how he understands specific texts in Wright’s “Romans.” I don’t see evidence that MacArthur has read these books.

Second, the “new perspective” can be synthesized but it is inaccurate to gather them all into a similar sounding song: Sanders doesn’t agree with Dunn doesn’t agree with Wright doesn’t agree with Davies doesn’t agree with Stendahl. This is not a uniform theory.

Third, details in this YouTube set of accusations.

MacArthur says Wright’s writings are a “mass of confusing ambiguity, contradiction and obfuscation” and “academic sleight of hand.” MacArthur says he cannot tell people what Wright believes. But he does know what Wright “does not believe.” He says Wright calls “substitutionary atonement” “paganism.” MacArthur says Wright “rejects Jesus as the sacrifice that God chose to die for our sins.” Wright rejects, he says, “the idea that our sins are imputed to Christ” and the idea that his “righteousness is imputed to us” [SMcK: I wonder if MacArthur would say the same of Carson who says there is no unambiguous text in the NT about double imputation.]

He continues. Wright, he says, believes “no one will be justified until he reaches heaven.” He says Paul does not think the gospel is justification by faith. The gospel, he says of Wright, “is not an account of how people get saved.” After quoting 1 Cor 15 where gospel and salvation are connected, MacArthur says “NT Wright is NT Wrong.”

Such people he says are in the “state of Luther without the fear” and he further says “If you are without the fear you are going to hell.” He says he is “propagating a false gospel” and such persons are “void of the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin…” Luther, however, experienced the holy judgment of God and it led him to the truth.

In the church that fear doesn’t exist, MacArthur says. “Where are the terrified people … the terrorized sinners?”

“To propagate a false gospel and feel nothing but pride is to be in the most dangerous place possible.” “To have no interest in the true doctrine of justification, to be a happy heretic, and an ambiguous one at that is to be in a place of the most grave spiritual danger.”

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