John MacArthur: The People of the Hispanic World “Don’t Know Christ.”

John MacArthur: The People of the Hispanic World “Don’t Know Christ.” May 9, 2016

Screenshot 2016-05-09 07.30.14

John MacArthur, the Calvinist teacher who previously argued Christian parents should turn their gay children “over to Satan,” has some new thoughts on who is in and who is out: and most Hispanics don’t make the cut.

In the lead up to a conference later this month in the Dominican Republic, John MacArthur has put out a video announcing that he’ll be unable to attend as he planned, but that he will still address the conference using technology.

In the recent video, MacArthur ends his announcement with a mind-numbing statement about why he is so supportive of this conference he’s not personally attending:

“I want to say also that I support that conference 100 percent. I’m deeply committed to the tremendous importance of proclaiming the true Gospel in the Spanish speaking world. We all understand that people in the Hispanic world know about Jesus Christ. They know about the Bible. They know about God. They know about salvation– at least, in some ways. They have biblical terminology because of the impact, historically, of the Roman Catholic church. But they don’t know Christ. And they don’t know the Gospel of grace. And they don’t know the full revelation of Scripture. So, this is a critical, God-ordained conference.” (Original video, here.)

Besides the racist, paternalistic nature of his statement, such blanket statements are universally untrue on the surface– always. One cannot make an absolute, universal statement about an entire group of people– especially a group of people that numbers in the millions– and have it be close to true.

In addition to such an ignorant generalization, the irony in this case is that the truth is the opposite of what MacArthur claims, and I don’t know of a single Missiologist, no matter how conservative, who would disagree.

While MacArthur has painted the Spanish speaking world as somehow being “unreached,” the facts are that the center of Christianity has shifted, and is continuing to shift, to the global south.

In the past, the vast majority of Christians in the world have been from Europe and North America. But today, that’s no longer the case: Christianity is now a predominantly African religion, with the Hispanic world not far behind, in terms of growth rates. The trends we expect to continue in my lifetime speak to even more dramatic shifts globally, including the expectation that China (where Christianity is horribly persecuted) is on pace to become the largest missionary sending country in the world.

Now, I’m going to be generous and assume MacArthur knows this, because I honestly don’t know anyone who argues against these data-driven facts. So here’s what I think is the deeper issue: the fastest growing form of Christianity in the Spanish speaking world is charismatic Christianity, and as you may remember, MacArthur was the force behind the Strange Fire conference a few years ago. At this conference, MacArthur made it clear that he doesn’t believe charismatic Christianity is really Christianity at all– and that’s what I believe this is ultimately about.

Charismatic Christianity is exploding across the Spanish speaking world, and its growth dramatically outpaces the traditionally dominant Roman Catholic tradition.

Thus, when MacArthur says Hispanics don’t know Christ, that they don’t know the Gospel, and that they don’t know Scripture, what he’s really saying is that they don’t know Calvin.

It’s Calvinism, not Christianity, that isn’t growing well in the Spanish speaking world.

This is a classic case of believing that Calvinism is the one, true, pure Christianity, and a failure to even pay mental assent to the diverse traditions of the Christian faith.

It reminds me of that old joke where St. Peter is giving a new person a tour of all the churches in heaven. When they walk by the Calvinist church, St. Peter turns and says, “Shhhhhhhh. Be very quiet.

The individual asks Peter, “Why do we need to be quiet?

St. Peter answers, “Because they think they’re the only ones here.

The reality MacArthur would do well to realize is that Christianity is no longer a white, European or North American religion. It’s a religion deeply rooted in the global south, and now Asia.

And it’s not we North Americans who need to be sending missionaries to them. It’s not MacArthur who should be speaking at their conferences.

We should not be speaking, but listening.

We should not be sending missionaries, but receiving them.

For they are the new foundation of what it looks like to be Christian, and it’s time for folks like MacArthur to sit back and learn from them, instead of dismissing our Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ as being some unreached people group.


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  • Realist1234

    I dont know much about MacAarther, but rather than making implications against the charismatic part of the church, is it not more to do with Roman Catholicism given his statement above? Although I believe the catholic church is fundamentally Christian, I do disagree with a number of its central teachings, which in my view do tend to detract from grace/faith in Jesus being the basis of salvation. I therefore think some criticism is justified.

  • Not sure why a Calvinist would be so concerned about evangelism in the first place. If the elect are already chosen and the rest of us are screwed, then what’s the point?

  • Matthew

    Can’t charismatics also be Calvinist in theology?

  • jack

    I’m not a Calvinist. I’m not particularly a MacArthur fan. I disagree with his generalizations. However, having spent a lifetime studying Charismatic and Prosperity theology (and they are the same), my concern is do these “Christians”, be they Hispanic or any other ethnic group really understand the doctrine of grace? Pentecostalism is built on works theology…”If I will … God will”. Prosperity theology is absolutely heretical and foreign to any financial teaching of Scripture. I would not make a general statement about any group like MacArthur did, but we must maintain the Scriptural doctrine of SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE – and that is NOT a part of Charismatic/Pentecostal theology.

  • Stephen M.

    Did the thief on the cross understand the “Scriptural doctrine of SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE”?

  • jack

    No, but that’s a moot point.

  • Stephen M.

    Ah. Wonderful. I’m sure MacArthur would agree with you.

  • jack

    So you don’t believe in salvation by grace alone? If not, I’m sure the Apostle Paul would disagree with you.

  • Stephen M.

    Obviously I do, given my example, but you’re smart enough to know that so i’ll take your little passive aggressive jab in stride. What I’m not invested in is the idea that one must have the perfect understanding of someone’s idea of perfect doctrine, which clearly to people like MacArthur is far more important to salvation than anything else.

  • Wow.
    In Old Testament times, extreme pride in leaders was cured with a big dollop of temporary insanity. I’m wondering if putting certain arrogant teachers out to pasture until their hair grows long like eagles’ feathers and their fingernails get gnarled and clawlike would finally put this offensive anti-Catholic narrative to rest. (Okay, now I’m giggling as I picture MacArthur with fluffy dreads…)

  • There isn’t an inherent contradiction and there are definitely lots of people who overlap. With that said, I don’t think it’s that surprising that charismatic practice is strongest in the developing world and other less privileged communities (everybody is invited to take part in God’s gifts) while Calvinism is strongest in affluent white parts of the world (the status quo that conveniently benefits us is exactly God’s plan).

  • Salvation by grace isn’t part of charismatic theology? That’d be news to a lot of Charismatics.

  • ^^ Exactly ^^

  • There’s a strong argument that Calvinism is inherently – if maybe not intentionally – racist. It’s awfully convenient that 99% of the elect come only from affluent white communities, while the rest of the world’s struggles are part of God’s plan, and obviously not elect anyway by virtue of the fact they don’t believe in Calvinism. It’s a very convenient system to hang on to your privilege and look down on everybody different than you.

    Edit: clarification from a couple of good comments. I mean the hyper-exclusive versions of Calvinism, like MacArthur’s comments here. A lot of people in the Reformed umbrella do believe that all Christians are elect – a Nigerian Pentecostal is equal to a neo-Reformed academic white American.

  • If he’s operating off the assumption they’re all Roman Catholic, it shows an ever greater ignorance of the people group he’s talking about.

  • jack

    They may believe in initially being saved by grace but they also believed it is maintained and kept by works. Hence, why they believe you can lose your salvation by sinning too much. Pentecostal/Charismatic theology is built on a quid-pro-quo / reciprocal relationship with God. I’m not being argumentative…just trying to defend the same faith Jesus died for and the Apostle Paul (and other early Christians) gave their lives for. We must get the doctrine of grace correct.

  • Gretchen Smith

    I live and work in the spanish speaking world and I am 100% in agreement with John MCArthur. There has been no real transformation the hearts and the lives of the people here and the missionaries sent to serve here are doing an absolutely horrendous job. They need to go back to Numbers 13 and start again. It is the church leaders that are most in need of transformation.

  • Why must we get the doctrine of grace correct?

  • jack

    I certainly believe you can progress in your understanding of grace. I have. I used to be an Independent Fundamental Baptist = legalistic to the core. Now I’m a recovering Pharisee…all because of God’s continued revelation to me of salvation by grace alone. But let me be quick to say that that revelation has come to me through the study of Scripture (Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, etc.)

  • My first introduction to Calvinism was through the Federation of Reformed Churches. David Chilton’s crew. Theonomic Reconstructionist Calvinistic Charismatics. We wanted to institute God’s Law in America and weren’t afraid to use our spiritual gifts to do it.

  • jack

    Because it the doctrine of grace that sets CHristianity apart from every other world religion. Christianity is about what Christ did for us at the cross…not what we do for him now. The Gospel IS grace. Nothing more. Nothing less. Salvation is absolutely a gift … nothing that we earn.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Pentecostalism is not “based on works theology” except in the sense that all Arminianism is (and you say you’re not a Calvinist). Prosperity doctrine is heretical, but it’s not central to Pentecostalism.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    You said you’re not a Calvinist, but you appear to hold to eternal security, which is the most distinctively Calvinist of the five points (well, maybe limited atonement as well). I understand that that’s not what “Calvinist” generally means today, but having grown up as a Wesleyan we certainly thought of eternal security as Calvinist, and historically we were right to do so.

    Luther did not believe in eternal security either. He didn’t think that you could lose salvation by “sinning too much” directly, but he thought you could stop placing your faith in Christ, and in the 1531 Galatians commentary he says that people who “don’t struggle against the works of the flesh” will inevitably stop believing in Christ eventually, and will go to hell if they don’t repent, even if they once believed.

    I recognize that you aren’t bound to agree with Luther, but surely you would find it a bit odd to accuse him of a “works theology”?

    Eternal security without the broader Calvinist framework boils down to “salvation by one work,” which is the worst of both worlds.

  • How long did your field research take you to examine the hearts and minds of Christians all throughout Central and South America, in order to determine that Hispanic Christians have failed to experience a “real transformation”?

  • Ok, I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, but leaving that aside, you do believe God can and will save people regardless of having a proper view of the nature of grace and works, right? I’m not saying working through our beliefs isn’t important, but someone can 100% be part of the kingdom of God and not have a proper grace/works theology, correct?

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    That’s an old canard that misinterprets Calvinism badly. Calvinists don’t believe that what we choose is irrelevant. They believe that only the elect will choose rightly.

    Without evangelism, no one will believe. Yes, it will turn out that those who are not evangelized and don’t believe were not among the elect. But that doesn’t change the causal relationship between the lack of evangelism and the lack of faith, and between the lack of faith and the damnation of the unbeliever.

    God’s decree, in Calvinism, is executed through human actions.

    I understand that this can be a bit counter-intuitive. (Also, I am not expounding my own beliefs–I am neither a Calvinist nor an exclusivist. I’m just explaining how conservative Calvinists who are exclusivists think.)

  • jack

    Like Calvinists, I DO believe in salvation by grace alone. However, I also believe in free will. Any theology that says you must do / not do something to earn salvation is a works theology. I listen to Charismatic / Pentecostal preaching all the time that says this over and over again.

  • jack

    How is that not entirely accurate?

  • KentonS

    I grew up charismatic, and I would say our theology was a soft form of Calvinism. We definitely were not on board with Perseverance of the saints, but the other four points were either accepted at face value or significantly influenced in our doctrine.

  • jack

    We can argue about Luther and Calvin all day, but salvation is either a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) or it isn’t. Jesus either “finished” it at the cross or he didn’t.

  • Matthew

    Thanks. There seems to only be only two theological choices in Christian circles … calvinism or arminianism … but Lutherans seem to have a more nuanced, balanced approach that embraces contradiction and a little mystery and offers itself as a third alternative:

    http://justandsinner.blogspot.de/2008/08/lutheran-evaluation-of-five-points-of.html

  • Alan Christensen

    I agree that Charismatics believe in salvation by grace, but I’ll go along with jack to some extent. A lot of the Prosperity “Gospel” teaching seems to boil down to “you are sick/not prospering/etc. because you don’t believe hard enough.” Which, it seems to me, contradicts the professed belief in grace.

  • Alan Christensen

    I’m with Phil Ledgerwood on this one. Our salvation is based on our trust in God, not in getting our theology just right. Or do you just mean that the church needs to get the doctrine of grace correct?

  • But you’re assuming that prosperity gospel is = Charismatic, which is an assumption I reject. They are two separate things, so one cannot levy a criticism at all charismatic traditions simply because one disagrees with prosperity gospel nonsense. I was part of a charismatic tradition, and we didn’t believe in salvation by works and we surely didn’t believe in the prosperity gospel. What I’m pushing back against are the absolute statements about entire groups of people.

  • Alan Christensen

    Roman Catholics not being above criticism does not, of course, mean they don’t know Jesus.

  • Neil Carter

    For a minute there, I thought that the man in the screencap was Martin Scorsese.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    It’s a “no true Scotsman fallacy” for one thing. It sets a particular brand of Christianity apart from other brands of Christianity, which you then label as not really Christian. What sets Christianity apart from other world religions is our belief about Jesus.

    Furthermore, Pure Land Buddhism also has a doctrine of salvation through the grace of Amida Buddha received in faith.

    Furthermore, consider this paradox: making a doctrine about how we receive grace the center of your religion actually transforms your religion into a religion of works.

    If you are a universalist, you can claim to have a religion of pure grace. Otherwise you can’t. (And please don’t start the red herring of saying that your brand of Christianity “isn’t a religion”–substitute whatever word you like and move on.)

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Do what? Earn salvation how? And listen where? In local churches? Seminaries? Or radio/TV? One shouldn’t judge a tradition by its radio/TV representatives. That way you wind up with John MacArthur as the representative of Calvinism. :)

  • liberalinlove

    My dad is a Pentecostal preacher who has long and heartily preached against the doctrines of prosperity. So much so that we as children thought it was a sin to be successful. I’m gonna say maybe many of the early prosperity gospel preachers came out of that “lower-than-a-snake’s belly, oh-what-a worm-am-I” kind of teaching. For every dogmatic thought there is an equal and opposite dogmatic thought which springs from it.
    Pretty dangerous to paint a group with a broad brush.
    I’m more about examining fruit which is born from doctrine. If it is consistently rotten, the foundational truths, must not be grounded on the corner stone of Jesus. Grafted into the vine always bears the fruit of the spirit.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Catholics and Orthodox also don’t fit the dichotomy.

    The Arminian/Calvinist split is a split within the Reformed tradition. Most Protestants (all except for Lutherans and the descendants of the early radical groups such as the Anabaptists) come from the Reformed tradition.

    Catholics have their own controversy (Molinism/Thomism) but it’s somewhat differently configured. The Orthodox, like the Anabaptists, fit in an “Arminian” camp but frame things very differently.

  • Answer my question first.

  • Ha! Good one!

  • liberalinlove

    We were saved by grace but had to work like HE double toothpicks to keep hold of our salvation. Losing it weekly and being re-saved at every hell fire and brimstorm sermon isn’t wholly grace teaching.

    Would you say that charismatics and Pentecostals are separate?
    I have always believed first generation Pentecostals still have their first love. With an entire second and third generation in my extended family totally screwed up with the fear of losing our salvation at the drop of a hat, I am wondering if the message of grace is often unrealized by those who are saved by grace and also extreme legalists?

  • “Calvinists don’t use most of their brain”. A categorical statement that holds true. ;-)

  • Have you considered the root of the perceived ‘problem’? That is, do you recall how the ancestors of these Hispanics’ were ‘converted’? You know, convert or die? Nice way to spread the faith. Perhaps they are not so sure that they wish to continue the legacy.

  • Timothy Weston

    It is no coincidence that Calvinism was born in a place and time when mercantilism was taking off and a middle class was expanding.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Quite the reverse in my experience.

  • mountainguy

    As a latinamerican (though not a catholic one), there is some truth in the fact that “hispanics don’t know Christ”, which is simply a part of the more expanded argument that, as human beings, we simply dont know Christ, we are apart from God, sinners, etc. Moreover, we can make the case for “what makes latinamericans dont know Christ” (I suppose the way we don’t know Christ is different to the way culturally calvinists dont know Him), and the catholic church (a human institution, with all its flaws and good things) certainly has much to add there. The problem is mostly a man like McArthur, whose dogma (which is not necesarily bad) doesn’t let him see how his statement is based under colonialist suppositions about those savage and unapproached latinamericans.

  • Ron McPherson

    Totally agree with you Phil. I’ll go so far as to say that one can be so dogmatic on grace theology (which I affirm) that this itself becomes no less of a ‘work’ than other things, ironically. Same for biblical inerrancy, eternal security, Calvinism/Arminianism, denominationalism, atonement theology, eschatology, etc

  • Timothy Weston

    That is very hard to tell, but I have seen gatekeeping in both camps.

  • RonnyTX

    Jack, the good and best news is, Jesus Christ not only finished it at the cross; but he did that for every last person, from Adam on down! :-) A good article about that, on the following link.

    http://www.tentmaker.org/Dew/Dew7/D7-InAdamAllDied.html

  • I would say that all Pentecostals are charismatic, but not all charismatics are Pentecostal. “Charismatic” is the big umbrella, where Pentecostal is a specific denomination.

    It would be similar to Protestant and Baptist. One is a big tradition, and the other is a denomination. Thus, critiques intended for a specific denomination or sub-set of beliefs (like prosperity gospel) are unfair when levied at the big umbrella (Charismatics in general).

    Even as an Anabaptist, I am still a charismatic as I believe all of the spiritual gifts are available for the church today.

  • Rea

    Well, if we’re going to go with the transformation argument, we could probably argue that most English speaking Christians don’t really know Christ either.

  • Michael Doherty

    Got lost with all the comments, It seems that the std we are setting for others of “Knowing” Christ are greater than what Christ intended, It seems the apostles were never rebuked by Christ, the early church never had theological arguments, Acts 15 comes to mind. Salvation is a path to perfection in Christ, Good works is a consequence of our faith in Christ, those good works done through the holy spirit to glorify GOD.

  • Realist1234

    I don’t see you how you could think that. If Calvinists believe that all Christians are ‘chosen’, then they believe all those millions of Chinese and Indian Christians are the elect too. Not to mention all the Christians from just about every country in the world. Hardly racist.

  • Michael Doherty

    Johnnie’s comments are par for the course, for a person that has never lived outside of the USA, and lives within a square mind.

  • Realist1234

    You need to separate charismatic and Pentecostal. They are not the same, and prosperity theology is certainly not the same as charismatic theology which you assert. One is certainly saved by grace, but that does not mean that ‘works’ or obedience are unimportant for being a Christian- if that was the case, neither Jesus nor his apostles would have mentioned them much, instead they talk about them a lot.

  • Realist1234

    I don’t think charismatics believe salvation is ‘maintained and kept by works’ but rather that ‘perseverance’ shows real faith. And it is hard to argue against that given Scripture (I too believe in eternal security). Many non-charismatics such as the great JI Packer would also emphasize perseverance. Even though I believe in eternal salvation, I do wonder about the likes of ‘scholar’ Bart Ehrman who supposedly was a genuine Christian who then effectively gave up his faith and now argues against much of Christianity in his well-known books. Assuming he continues doing that, is he really ‘saved’?

  • Realist1234

    Who is this Scotsman I keep hearing about?!

  • Realist1234

    I would agree with that, even if I do believe in salvation by grace. But I suppose it is important that Christians and ‘potential’ Christians do understand that they are a child of God because the Lord has saved them – that is the security of their position.

  • VisionaryJax

    Yay! Thank you, Benjamin. So true! Thank you for pointing out the truth here.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    The “no true Scotsman” fallacy is an attempt to redefine a term in order to evade a counter-example. I don’t know how it became connected with Scottish people, except that English people like to generalize about Scottish people :)

    So if you say, “No Scotsman is a total abstainer from alcohol,” and I say, “my father is a total abstainer from alcohol,” you can respond “well, he isn’t a true Scotsman.” This would actually be valid in my father’s case, because while he was born in the Shetland Islands, he has spent most of his life in Australia, England, or the U.S., and many Shetlanders don’t think of themselves as Scots anyway!

  • liberalinlove

    And what an endorsement of God’s inclusiveness when he gives His gifts to those “other” kind of Christians. Very early in my life, dad became a part of the Charismatic Catholic movement. Long-held beliefs that a Catholic was not capable of belonging to the body of Christ, had to be set aside. Of course he assumed they would all leave the Catholic church and become one of the more enlightened brands of Pentecostals. I love how the Lord works.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    The standard response would be that he was “never really saved at all.”

    In my opinion, this response vitiates the supposed spiritual value of eternal security. The claim made by its advocates is that the doctrine gives confidence that we unbelieving Arminians can’t have. But if it’s possible to think oneself saved when one is not, where is this supposed confidence?

    I would not grant the premise that abandoning Christianity necessarily leads to damnation, but that would take us farther afield :)

  • VisionaryJax

    Prosperity Gospel and Pentecostal/Charismatic are not the same. I grew up in the Assemblies of God tradition, which is Pentecostal, and prosperity theology was not part of it at all. If some Pentecostal preachers are teaching prosperity gospel, that is wrong-headed, but it is NOT an organic part of Pentecostal/charismatic theology. You say, ” I would not make a general statement about any group like MacArthur did,” but you have already made an erroneous blanket statement about Pentecostals … :(

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    So everyone is saved?

    If you have to “accept the gift,” then you are saved by one work, which is still “works righteousness” by the strict standard you’re applying to your fellow Christians.

    In other words, believing in eternal security does not in itself have anything to do with believing in salvation by grace. It means that you believe in the eternal value of one specific free choice to respond to :God’s grace.

  • VisionaryJax

    Thank you again Benjamin, I made the same argument above without realizing you had already answered it.

  • Realist1234

    Thanks and yes I have heard that about the ‘islanders’. I went to Glasgow University and that was the impression given by some students from the isle of Lewis!

  • otrotierra

    Yes John MacArthur, Jesus is calling the entire Hispanic World to live according to the opinions of First World, white bigots.

    Thank you for clarifying that your Calvinist white privilege is more important than The Greatest Commandment.

  • Ron McPherson

    Ben,
    I’m a 4.5 point Calvinist, progressive fundamentalist, charismatic, preterist, annihilationist. Should I start another denomination? Would that be number 40,001 LOL?

  • That’s the irony, right? Belief becomes a work. God won’t save me unless I believe the right things, but if I do believe the right things, then I’m in.

  • If you did, I’d join it if you got rid of that 4.5 stuff ;-)

  • I agree that everyone should understand that their sins do not keep them outside the kingdom of God and their self-proclaimed acts of “righteousness” do not get them into it. I think Jesus made both of those things painfully clear to both of those groups of people.

    But I also think someone could be completely screwed up on that theologically and still be well within the kingdom of God, which is defined much more along the lines of being a sort of person than propositional assent.

  • I think is his point is that they don’t actually see all those other Christians in the world as being legitimate Christians– which is exactly what MacArthur essentially said in the video I referenced. This would mean that essentially, the “true” church is really, really white.

  • Ron McPherson

    Exactly. I used to tie myself up in theological knots on this stuff. I can’t count the times I’ve heard over the years well-meaning preachers spend an entire sermon stressing that salvation is by grace alone, nothing we can do to merit it, only to then wrap the whole message up contingent on one’s performance, be it works, belief system, degree of faith, etc

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I grew up about 3 blocks from Grace when it was a little local church, with synagogues and even a Thai Buddhist temple in the neighborhood, co-existing nicely…

    It’s gotten big… really big… a couple of city blocks big… His preaching, back in the day, never seemed to be much different from a lot of non-Pentecostal Protestant places…

    The bigger it’s gotten, the more strident, rigid and really strange he’s become… I knew a few folks a few years ago that are members… Got some interesting conversations attempted, regarding my long hair and 3 ear-studs…

    This kind of rigidity, coming from the guy, doesn’t surprise me, but it is sad.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Regardless of where they are now, they share a common, comparatively recent source… the Azusa Street Revival with Aimee Semple McPherson, and share many traits in common, moreso than, say Northern and Southern Baptist.

    McArthur’s particular brand is properly neo-Calvinist, and rather anti-Pentecostal/Charismatic/Prosperity, rather than just not; and what he seems to have focused on, for more than 50 years, is a particularly strict, and strident form of “it just is and there is no argument.”

    Nothing new, of course, but Grace Community and associated bear his own unique stamp.

    No horse in this race, aside from interest and some life history, but I kinda see the inklings of a genteel form of heresy hunting and sides taking…. Not you, Jax, although perhaps… ?

  • Artistree

    When I was a young man I used to read and listen to John MacArthur a lot. I also read a ton of Charles Finney, the great evangelist of the 1800’s and the leading figure of the “2nd Great Awakening” and a towering voice in the abolitionist cause.

    Then I read one of John MacArthur’s books, ” Ashamed of the Gospel”, where MacArthur included an entire appendix on Charles Finney, and that it was Finney’s fault that the Calvinist “Pure Gospel” had been destroyed in American evangelism.

    According to MacArthur, Finney was an enemy of the true saving Gospel because Finney believed that the human will participated with God’s grace in salvation. I could go on in more detail, but when I read MacArthur’s attack on Finney, I could tell that he had never read Finney for himself but was relying on Finney’s hyper Calvinists opponents for his distorted info and out and out lies about the 18th century evangelist. Because I found MacArthur to be so sloppy and because of the misrepresentation of his opponents who believe in the freedom of the will, I have never read good old Johnny the Calvinist heretic again .I hear of him lying about Catholic theology and Pentecostal Christians and misrepresenting and distorting their views, even to the point of putting the ax to a scheduled Michael Card concert at his church because John Michael Talbot, a RC Franciscan, would also be performing with Michael Card at the concert.

    I used to be a fan of John MacArthur when I was young and foolish and influenced by “every wind of doctrine” because he sounded so authoritative.Now, I would not pay a nickel for a John MacArthur Study Bible.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Please see my comment above yours… they both share a recent common root, of Aimee Sempel McPherson’s Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in the early 1900’s. There are many many more things in common than there are differences.

    Unaffiliated Jewish guy, here, and, as such, non-partisan for even Dr. Ben’s path, but whatever the individual congregation’s expression and their pastoral policies, there’s really not that much difference…

    Kenneth Copeland still claims Assemblies of God, BTW.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It’s not central to historic Pentecostalism, but it is comfortably under the umbrella.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I think it’s in the 45Ks now, Ron…

    Doesn’t even count all the storefront independent congregations, even here in El Paso, seemingly every couple of blocks…

  • Paul Julian Gould

    So are you 3.2 beer or 8% stuff? Oh… wait… *grin*

  • Paul Julian Gould

    And, yes, I’ve read some McArthur, and rolled his program on the radio back in the day, so it’s not all about the appearances… just an illustration.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    The man spoke the truth, in love, based upon the truth of the gospel, that most people, including Israel of old, are religious but lost, and the Catholic church has taught them a lie – denying justification by faith, election of grace, the supremacy of Scripture, the finished work of Christ in atonement, the denial of another name given among men whereby we must be saved including Mary, promoting celibacy in “priests”, etc, etc, etc. He’s been more loving and truthful than the author of this article, Mr Corey, nor can you defend your position of scripture against a Calvinist because all he believes is rightly divided truth. Men have errors, but election, predestination, irresistible grace, and perseverance are gospel doctrine. Hatred is telling a man a lie and damning his soul.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    You’re right, Mr Tait. An open bible proves it.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    This article isn’t about Latin Americans as inferior ignorant humans compared to others. MacArthur knows that most white, black, and yellow people don’t know God based upon ignorance and rebellion. People who can’t see Christ can’t see love.

  • One4Life

    John MacArthur also made a ridiculous video against infant baptism and baptismal regeneration. I suspect this extreme ridiculous re-baptism ethic is at the bottom of his rejection of most Christian’s faith in this world. The Bible says a lot about the benefits of baptism; Jesus tells his follows to go out and baptize, the Apostle Paul equates it with circumcision – the mark of the children of God. Infants are circumcised in the Jewish faith, as infants are baptized in the Christian faith – it’s the initiation of God’s work in their life. John MacArthur rejects all of this – and this lies at the foundation of his peculiar modern believers baptism sect.

  • bobbygrow

    I agree with part of your critique; I don’t think the racist point (while maybe sub-consciously informing for MacArthur) is the dominate point. I think MacArthur would say, and has said (as have his many minions whom I have engaged with for years in the past) that ANYONE (not just Latinos) who does not affirm TULIP (and in the idiosyncratic Gospel According Jesus that Mac understands that) would be labeled as someone who does not truly know Christ. My guess is that MacArthur most likely has the Roman Catholic influence in mind rather than the charismatic (or it could be both) when he states what he does in his sweeping generalization. Growing up in Los Angeles my whole life I heard many hispanics (who became Protestant evangelical believers) say the exact same thing about their heritage as MacArthur does here.

  • Ron McPherson

    IMHO, Jesus never defined “gospel doctrine” under the terms of “election, predestination, irresistible grace, and perseverance.” Neither did Paul for that matter. Though the apostle certainly addressed election/predestination, I can’t think of any passages in the epistles suggesting that these must be core elements of the gospel. Jesus stressed faith in him (and talked about the chosen), love God, love others (he didn’t focus much on doctrinal issues, at least where I can see). The thief on the cross merely uttered ‘remember me’ and that was enough. Pretty sure he didn’t have much grasp on the ancillary elements of doctrine. In fact, the salvation accounts in Acts (beginning of the church) didn’t have much doctrine either. Pretty much just turn to God, believe upon Christ.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    The new testament church worshiped under the Apostle’s doctrine, and Paul, Peter, and James, always defined faith – both to its object (Christ risen) and it’s fruit (love) – so that all things are defined by God in His worship, as Nadab and Abihu tragically learned too late. Honestly, Jesus taught, “All the Father gives Me will come to Me”, and, “I pray for them, I pray not for the world”, and “My sheep hear My voice and follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they will never perish”. The door is wide open, but it is narrow, the one way as taught by Jesus Christ through those who heard Him, whom He appointed to build the church, deliver His message, and establish the truth. Ty, Mr McPherson, for your humble reply..

  • Dean

    I think the same can be said for American Evangelicals, maybe we start in our own backyard?

  • Dean

    I’ve made this point before but it seems to fall on deaf ears, how weird is it that the Elect are mostly white, suburban and male? The thing is John Piper was asked this very question (specifically why so few blacks have adopted Calvinism) and his answer was that black people have historically been less educated and poor so they have had less opportunity to reflect on and process theology systematically. I’m paraphrasing, but I am seriously not making this up, that was the gist of his answer. I guess Jesus really should have said, “Blessed are the privileged, for they will have the leisure time and education needed to properly systematize my teachings and therefore, fully understand them.”

  • James

    I wonder how many Christs we will find in heaven. We all know the true Jesus and others need to find that our truth is the truth. I can remember being a young believer and being so confident that my truth was the only correct one. Boy, was I wrong. Anyone who thinks that they have a superior understanding of God, over others who are actively and honestly seeking God, is at best arrogant. More often than not, they are also dangerous.

  • otrotierra

    Thankfully, Jesus is saving the Spanish speaking world from people like you and John McArthur. And *that’s* good news to celebrate!

  • One4Life

    As a note here I would say in defense of Calvinism, Calvinism is very popular in Korea and in the underground Chinese Church. I am not a fan of Calvinism — but it seems to go well with authoritarian cultures and honor based societies for some reason. But MacArthur’s Calvinism is an odd blend of Baptist belief and Calvinist belief. Those in Korea are truly Calvinists Presbyterians and practice infant baptism – and I think the Presbyterian underground church in China does as well – in other words, neither are Baptist in belief and would be rejected by MacArthur because according to his beliefs 1) baptism is meaningless for salvation and 2) one MUST be immersed. In other words, it’s critically important how you do it – even though it’s basically nothing.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Ahasuerus, I don’t know about Mr. Corey, but I and many other people have plenty of experience defending our doctrines against Calvinists. Calvinists have an ingenious system of human devising which they impose on Scripture. We all have theologies that shape how we read Scripture–there’s nothing wrong with that. But you guys refuse to see your system for the fallible, imperfect, human thing it is.

    Catholicism denies no doctrine found in Scripture. It denies doctrines founded in novel 16th-century interpretations of Scripture. But I doubt Mr. Corey wants us to get into that here!

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Well no, I disagree with that too!

    Calvinists use their brains plenty. Only brainy people could come up with or even accept such a complicated theology. This is precisely because your theology isn’t just founded on an “open Bible.” I don’t think there is any such theology. “Restorationist” and Anabaptist theology come closer than anyone else, probably, but both groups keep things simple by focusing on the NT.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    We should start with the doctrine of the Pope, or Mary the “mother of God” and mediatrix, or indulgences, or justification by works instead of faith only, or the countless rules and rituals imposed in ceremonial worship not prescribed by scripture, or the confession booth!

    No human on earth can deny the Bible teaches election and justification by faith alone, at least not by scriptural proof. Martin Luther wasn’t deceived.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Ahasuerus, plenty of people do deny just this.

    As you’re probably aware, the only place justification by faith alone is explicitly referred to in Scripture, it’s rejected (James 2:24). I’m quite aware of the complex exegetical moves Protestants make to explain this. I am not necessarily saying they are wrong. I don’t find mainstream, orthodox Protestantism to be fundamentally heretical on this point. At worst, it’s overly convoluted in order to drive home a very important truth that has indeed been neglected too often in Catholicism (as Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa has acknowledged). But the Protestant teaching is certainly not self-evident from Scripture.

  • Larry TheKeyboardist Blake

    So a white, sanctimonious, privileged shyster who makes millions by conning people into believing he’s speaking the gospel suddenly has the best interests of the Hispanic community in mind…riiiight.

    This reminds me of that ludicrous “bibles for Iraq” program (or whatever it was called) from about a year or so ago.

  • JimmyJ

    A comment: Calvinists preach Grace yet act like they have been given a special decoder ring and a secret handshake that gives them insight into the Bible that only they have. Arguing with a Calvinist is like playing chess with a pigeon. It walks around the board knocking pieces over and leaving a mess. Then flies off thinking it won.

  • JimmyJ

    J.I. Packer had Calvinists in mind when he wrote: The entrenched intellectualists in the evangelical world: a second familiar breed, though not as common as the
    previous type. Some of them seem to be victims of an insecure temperament and
    inferiority feelings, others to be reacting out of pride or pain against the
    zaniness of experientialism as they perceived it, but whatever the source of
    their syndrome the behavior-pattern in which they express it is distinctive and
    characteristic. Constantly they present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical
    Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all. Upholding and
    defending their own view of that truth. Whether Calvinist or Arminian,
    dispensational or Pentecostal, national church reformist or Free Church
    separatist, or whatever it might be, is their leading interest, and they invest
    themselves unstintingly in this task. There is little warmth about them;
    relationally they are remote; experiences do not mean much to them; winning the
    battle for mental correctness is their one great purpose. They see, truly
    enough, that in our anti-rational, feeling-oriented, instant-gratification
    culture conceptual knowledge of divine things is undervalued, and they seek
    with passion to right the balance at this point. They understand the priority of
    the intellect well; the trouble is that intellectualism, expressing itself in
    endless campaigns for their own brand of right thinking, is almost if not quite
    all that they can offer, for it is almost if not quite all they have.”

  • KentonS

    ^^ Comment of the month! ^^

  • Michael Mangis

    COULD HIS RACISM BE ANY MORE OBVIOUS!?

  • Artistree

    Is Jesus Divine ? Is Mary the mother of Jesus ?
    Is Jesus the Son of David, the Davidic King? Is Mary the Queen Mother of the Davidic Kingdom if her son is the King of the Kingdom?
    Seems to me that Revelation says that Mary is the Queen of Heaven ( chapter 12) and the Ark of the New Covenant ( end of Chapter 11 and into 12).
    Maybe you would want to be a child of the first Eve, but I would rather my mother be the New Eve, Mary, the icon of Mother Church.If Jesus is your brother, what does that make Mary to you ?

  • Artistree

    John Calvin would have had John MacArthur’s head cut off because of his beliefs/denials on baptism.

  • Artistree

    According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, they also believe in salvation by grace alone.

  • Hugh McCann

    Too bad Patheos is so slanted & jaundiced.

    I’m not a card-carrying MacArthurite, but he clearly meant the false Roman Catholic religion, which has great sway over many people.

    He could have said the Irish, and it’d be as true.

    He should not have named a people group, granted. But it’s not racist or paternalistic. Except to those who want it to be…

  • Paul D.

    I expect MacArthur mainly means Catholics when he says Hispanics don’t “know Christ”. His reference to them not knowing the “Gospel of grace” or having “the full revelation of scripture” is obviously a criticism of Catholicism based on the typical Protestant misconception of Catholic doctrine as being “works-based” and its failure to adopt the sola scriptura views of Calvinism. (It’s harder to find consistent theology among Pentecostals, though they affirm broadly Protestant views.)

    Criticism of the broader — and historically, more original — Catholic Bible canon may also lie behind his words. (But perhaps not; it’s surprising how often Protestants forget the diversity of the biblical canon between different denominations.)

  • otrotierra

    Yes, and his poor choice of words is a direct result of his poor choice of xenophobic theology.

  • It was very common to hear this sort of thing when I attended his undergraduate college. Roman Catholics weren’t considered Christians (I mean, “maybe some were, if they weren’t in it for long yet,” etc etc). It was insinuated strongly during chapels that the pope might be the anti-christ or “an” anti-christ.

    Same thing for Charismatics and Greek Orthodox and certainly those pagan mainlines traditions.

    When I discovered in seminary that 1/2 the Christian world was Catholic, 1/4 Orthodox, 1/4 Protestant — it blew my mind. It was like finding out that you, in fact, are the weird cousin in the family.

  • Brandon Roberts

    Um the majority of Mexico and spain are Christian

  • Petronius_Arbiter_II

    “…through the study of Scripture (Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, Hebrews, etc.)”

    Why is it that for so very, VERY many who call themselves Christian, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are seldom even mentioned as part of the picture? Why do even the more obscure points of the Torah legal code so often get shoved in the foreground, along with Calvin, or Luther, or the latest fashionable megachurch leader, while the Gospels are shoved quietly in the background?

    Why is it that when the Gospels ARE mentioned, it is far more likely that the Jesus of the Passion and the Jesus of the Nativity will be brought to the foreground, with a few token appearances by Jesus the Miracle Worker, and Jesus the Teacher will STILL be in the background, dimly lit and meekly silent?.

    And why is it that the real go-to guy for what the religion is supposedly all about will almost invariably turn out to be some ex-gangster named Paul-Who-Used-To-Be-Better-Called-Saul?

  • Matthew

    I have studied both Eastern Orthodox and Anabaptist theology. What I discovered is that Lutherans draw a strict line of separation between justification and sanctification, whereas the Orthodox and Anabaptists do not. I´m thinking this difference (among other things) exists between Roman Catholics and Lutherans as well?

    It seems that Lutherans, though not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, have a very unique theology that preserves the doctrine of grace while avoiding the pitfalls of both calvinism and arminianism as well as evangelical fundamentalism.

  • Matthew

    I think that´s why I heard a Lutheran professor say that many Christians are “decision theologists” meaning although they believe in salvation by grace alone via faith alone, they emphasize “accepting” the gift which actually amounts to a work.

    Lutherans (I think) believe that God via baptism is the one who works faith — whether in an infant or a professing person. There is no human work involved in the Lutheran salvific position I do not think.

    That said, even though Lutherans have a stong sacramental viewpoint regarding baptism and its regenerative power, I think they also say that if one is not baptized they can still be saved. Strange.

    Maybe a Lutheran reader can address this possible contradiction?

  • Bones

    Actually the Marcan church were big into social justice, less into doctrine.

    The doctrine stuff came later when Christianity separated from Judaism and had to battle different sects.

  • Bones

    Johnny Mac is another guy who’s full of their own importance.

    People who have nothing better to do than write books against other Christians need to get a life.

    The guy’s a nobody over here.

  • Realist1234

    Whilst on balance I think infant baptism is justified (Michael Green’s book ‘Baptism’ is a good overview) I can also understand why some churches reject it, particularly when the parents do not appear to be believers. My sister is a minister in the Anglican church, and the other Sunday they held an infant baptism (usually now called ‘christening’) as part of the main service. The baptism of the baby was held at the beginning of the service and as soon it was completed, all of the relatives got up and left! The babys head was probably still wet. Apart from the rudeness of it, it didnt say much about the family’s attitude towards what baptism actually means (or is supposed to mean). Some argue that infant baptism can draw unbelievers to the church, but Im not convinced.

  • Realist1234

    ‘unaffiliated Jewish guy’ – does that mean youre not a Christian believer, or are you a so-called Messianic Jew?

  • Jeanne Fox

    I’m with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I was taught it was unbelief that condemns one to hell, not the lack of baptism.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It means that I am not a ‘Christian’ believer, but that I do not identify with any of the usual designations of Jewish faith. I am no atheist, and I am not ‘anti-Christian,’ else I wouldn’t bother with commenting on Ben’s or any of my other Christian friends’ blogs, as I am also not a troll.

    I lived, loved and worked in the midst of the American Evangelical Protestant world for more than a decade, during the ‘glory days’ of the 80’s, and have, as such, a fair perspective of the vibe in all it’s expressions, though.

    My personal convictions and expressions of faith are different from my Christian friends, as well as emphasis and then there’s the matter of the Holy Carpenter himself…

    Personally, I view him as a wonderful and wise rabbi who synthesized the teachings of learned rabbis before him, and tailored them to his time and his audience… the amplification of such made him more than just a mere rabbi, and I’ve considered him a sort of teacher and learned friend for all my life…

    But that does not mean I consider him God, nor necessarily the one and only Messiah for all time.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    It depends on the Lutherans. LCMS Lutherans wrestle with the case of unbaptized infants and I think are generally in the “leave them to God’s mercy” school. They tend to be more negative about non-Christian adults.

    More moderate/liberal Lutherans would indeed argue, I think, that LCMS Lutherans are betraying Luther’s best insights here. Baptism isn’t something that saves by its own right. It’s the sacramental seal of God’s promise. It saves by instilling faith. But God can act outside His own covenants. That would be my position at least and I think a lot of Lutherans would agree.

  • Thanks for the clarification. I did not mean to make broad strokes of everything under the Reformed umbrella. I meant specifically the hyper-exclusive neo-Reformed Calvinism, like MacArthur’s comments here.

  • Yes, thank you. Many in the Reformed umbrella would consider all those people elect. I should have been more clear that I meant specifically the hyper-exclusive variations like MacArthur.

  • KentonS

    All good points, P_A_II.

    I almost jumped in earlier on jack’s comment, but laid off when I saw that his journey was out of Independent Fundamental Baptist. That’s one of the few situations where Neo-Calvinism is actually an improvement. :)

  • Realist1234

    Ok. Its interesting to see your background. From my point of view as a Christian, I follow the Jewish God as revealed in Old and New Testaments. Have you read Brant Pitre’s book ‘The Case for Jesus’? I found it very illuminating from Jesus’ Jewish roots perspective.

  • Realist1234

    Is that not the problem though? Most of America for example would be considered ‘Christian’ but noone in their right mind actually believes the majority of Americans are believers. Theres a big difference between nominal Christianity and Christianity.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Yes, I’ve read it, and, as I’m a book geek, and a lifelong student of what people believe and why, I’ve immersed myself in the apologetic writings of many Evangelical authors over the years (among quite a few of various other faith paths)… I tend to keep my own counsel, and go into few details as to specifics with folks, especially on a blog whereon I really have not much connection apart from being a friend, conversational, and not specifically averse to the premise of the blog.

    I don’t troll the more conservative Evangelical blogs on Disqus, nor have I any interest in the strident and reactionary right-wing political blogs, as I have no interest in food-fights, and I have little-to-no patience with internet trolls, and, thus, refuse to be one.

    I said here, over a year ago, that I lived deeply in the midst of the current incarnation of American Evangelical Protestantism, and still remain cordial and close with some from my 30+ year ago adventure…

    Although I retained fascination of the faith of my paternal forbears, ever since having been a little guy, I really didn’t pursue the faith of my late and beloved Pop, uncle, grandfather and such until comparatively recently. Grandfather was from a shtetl in Galicia, my Pop was a proudly cultural Jew, and, while not an atheist either, was a very eclectically spiritual guy… My mother was a Southern Baptist from Oklahoma who wouldn’t have been welcome in the current vibe, due to some important social differences, if not fiscal. (considering that she married a very ethnic-looking Jewish attorney in Los Angeles, and that they stayed together for 52 years until my late Pop’s passing in ’04, I’d say that says it a bit… LOL)

    I was raised with the freedom to find my path, and, since I lived without diagnosis for my own personal medical issues until I was 40 (I’m 59), needed the rigidity of the current Evangelical expression and was married for 14 years to a woman who was a Tea Partier’s Tea Partier before there was such a thing, and who still is. (While the TP is not strictly Evangelicalism, it seems to be an important part of that entire package of ‘stuff’, apart from which one is accused of being ‘deluded, deceived and maybe demonic’ and which, while having really little to do with the guy by whose name they presume to be called, seems to be a very strict dividing line for so many)

    I don’t feel any need to do much more than state my own vibe, know that it will likely be misunderstood, but really don’t have to answer for such. The supreme Personality knows my heart, and I know that for me, at least, learning all I can and trying to live the ‘Golden Rule’ as taught by R. Hillel, and Jesus a generation after him is a good barometer of my own spiritual state. Loving God above all else, in all its implications, and my neighbor as myself, also in all its own implications, takes up too much of my life to bother getting into ‘Holy Testosterone Spewing’ as seems to be the focus of so many.

    (FWIW, I much prefer the writings of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), than those of the trendy and strident modern Evangelical apologists, but I have and do read them… Hell, I prefer C.S. Lewis to that of whom you named and so many of the others… I can’t read MacArthur and such without having my stomach tighten over the rigidity, stridency, and the seeming insistence that there is no other way, apart from the interpretation and so I don’t much any more, BTW.

    As stated by the Holy Carpenter, the way may be narrow that leads to eternal life, but, to me, that just means that most folks don’t give a damn, and, as such, don’t want to pursue it. I don’t think it means adhering to a reactionary set of dogma and doctrine. Just my take, of course, and others’ mileage obviously varies.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Jeanne Fox.

    I had some good experiences with the LCMS. As I said in an earlier post Lutherans seem to have a balanced theology that avoids the pitfalls of calvinism, arminianism, and evangelical fundamentalism, but it´s the issue of baptism as a regenerative sacrament and the rite of confirmation that still trips me up a bit.

    I think you are right about baptism and salvation from a Lutheran perspective. They get the teaching straight from Mark 16:16, but if as another person has commented the Lutherans also believe God can act outside the sacraments, why such an emphasis on the sacrament of baptism?

    A Lutheran pastor where I live is very often telling the congregation to look to their baptisms as a sign that they are saved. He is also very attached to “means of grace” theology, so much so that he is quoted as saying he is a “means of grace” fundamentalist (“means of grace” meaning the Holy Spirit working primarily through the sacraments of the Lord´s Supper and baptism).

    If, for example, Lutherans believe professing adults who are not baptized can be saved, why (I ask again) the emphasis on baptism? If Lutherans believe God can forgive a sinner directly, why the emphasis on receiving forgiveness in that of the Lord´s Supper?

    As much as I respect Lutheranism, these issues still trouble me somewhat, though maybe the Lutherans hold onto these distinctives in order to differentiate themselves from the evangelical world even if to some the distinctives appear to be a bit illogical.

  • One4Life

    Understood. I have friends in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and their church actually has more members in Pakistan than in the U.S. I think Calvinism is not so white when looking at the non-Baptist varieties. I would place MacArthur more firmly with the Baptist tradition than Calvinist. I think Calvinists are misguided in their theology – its more of a philosophy than theology, but worldwide there are a lot of Calvinists, especially in Asia.

  • One4Life

    You’re probably right

  • gimpi1

    “… special decoder ring …” Up-vote for that phrase alone! You good points are almost just icing on the cake. Good icing, though. Well done!

  • Matthew

    Thanks Edwin Woodruff Tait.

    Check out my latest response to and questions for Jeanne Fox. I would appreciate your input as well.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    I once heard the Methodist theologian Geoffrey Wainwright say in a lecture (after expressing a lot of sympathy with Karl Barth’s criticism of infant baptism) that he thought a good practice would be to refuse to baptize the child of anyone whom you wouldn’t baptize if they were an adult convert. That always seems like a sensible position to me. But yes, some argue that baptizing the infant is an unconditional expression of grace and will offer the child and the parents a connection to the Church even if the parents’ commitment is wavering or lacking at this point.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Very often, people who see conservative Christians running around presumptuously condemning people for not fitting their nice doctrinal boxes can’t see love either :)

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    1. Saying that Catholicism is a “false religion” is a self-defeating and clearly erroneous claim when made by any Trinitarian Christian.

    2. As others have pointed out, if he thinks that Latin America is still solidly Catholic, he’s astonishingly ignorant on the subject.

  • One4Life

    As a Lutheran, I can say there are a few reasons for the emphasis on baptism. One is – Jesus emphasized – go and baptize. If it was important enough for Jesus to place such an emphasis on it then the Church should as well. If you study what is said about baptism in the Scriptures, there are a lot of promises associated with it.
    God has promised to active and working in baptism – sealing his children to Himself. Jesus finished work on the cross is given to us in our baptism.
    Baptism throughout the New Testament is seen as the entry point into the Church – it is when God calls you his own. The sinners prayer is not found in the New Testament and there is no sinner’s prayer sacrament of church entry in the New Testament. But there is baptism and God’s promises given in baptism. Baptism is God’s work, not man’s work. It is a gift of God.
    How do I know I am saved? Have I been baptized? Do I trust God’s promises given there? Yes, I do.
    When you ask about why emphasize baptism when God could possibly save someone who has come to faith but dies before they are baptized? Because the intent and heart of the person was to trust God’s promises – their intention was to get baptized – God had already given them faith in his work on the cross and created a faith in His good gifts. Baptism delivers to us the gift of Christ’s finished work on the cross. In communion, we receive Jesus body and blood, the sacrifice for sin given by Christ. All of these things point us back to the cross – and Jesus work for us. All these gifts are sure and can be trusted. We can’t trust our own efforts to reach out and grasp God – was I sincere when I prayed? Why am I still wrapped up in the same old sinful life if I was sincere when I walked the aisle? So God can save apart from baptism and his means, but it is not the norm. It is not what He desires for His children.
    In the last supper, Jesus said, take eat and take drink, that his body and blood was given for the forgiveness of sins. Go to the altar trusting in His promise. It’s really an amazing gift to know I am eating and drinking God’s forgiveness. Christ is giving Himself for me at the altar.
    As far as diversity in Lutheranism, I find it interesting that there are more Lutherans in Africa than in all of Europe – and the Lutheran Church is growing more quickly worldwide in other countries than in nations of European descent.

  • Matthew

    The question(s) is:

    Does water baptism of an infant work faith in the child — regardless of the attitude of the parents?

    If we believe that saving faith is entirely God´s work and not ours, doesn´t that then say something about the power of baptism? Even if an adult eventually professes faith in Christ, but is never baptized, wouldn´t it be consistent to say that the faith was worked by God and not by the adult´s decision?

    I was recently at what would be considered a liberal Lutheran church by American standards. During the service, there was an infant baptism. I have no idea re: the belief or unbelief of the parents or the godparents, but I do know the infant received a trinitarian baptism. Why?

  • Matthew

    Thanks so much One4Life for the comprehensive response. Can you offer some insights into confirmation? Why the need to confirm people if the promises of God were already received in baptism?

  • Alan Christensen

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to equate “Charismatic” and “Prosperity Gospel.” I was part of a charismatic church as a teenager and I know it’s a good deal more complicated, although there is overlap between the two. I was “on a break” at work when I typed that first comment.

  • One4Life

    I have 2 sons going through catechism in preparation for confirmation right now. It is really a time when you learn the basics of the faith – the creeds, the ten commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacraments and their meaning.
    Confirmation is not a part of salvation or even required – it’s really an organized method of teaching the faith and for making a statement that I believe these things I’ve been taught. After confirmation (and in this point not all Lutheran churches are consistent) the confirmand takes first communion. Our church does first communion on evening of Maundy Thursday – the night when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper right before Easter – so it is of great significance. The catechism is a lot to memorize and go through – it also prompts questions that the boys ask the pastor (or me) when they meet weekly. You should take a look at Luther’s Small Catechism (there’s an app if you want to download it) – this is the book used for confirmation prep. They will definitely be Lutheran when they’re done! Does this mean they’ll be Christian – yes, I think so – maybe not Evangelicals, but Christian in belief and practice. Their faith will be strengthened and they’ll have an understanding of basic Christian doctrine that many Evangelicals kids lack.

  • Matthew

    Thanks again.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    My take is that they share a common root, but branched off from each other as related paths in the 1970’s.

  • Hugh McCann

    1/2 like (for pt #2)

  • Jeanne Fox

    Ten years ago, a Calvinist once told me that only Calvinists worship the true God and everyone else, including non Calvinist Christians, do not worship the true God and will go to hell. I could never be a Calvinist. I get depressed enough as it is.

  • One4Life

    No problem!

  • Matthew

    What saves from a Lutheran perspective? Baptism?

  • One4Life

    1 Peter 3:21 Baptism now saves you. For a full explanation of baptism I suggest reading Luther’s Small Catechism: http://www.christlutheranchurch.org.uk/site/2007/06/23/small-catechism-4-the-sacrament-of-holy-baptism/

    What saves is Christ’s finished work on the cross. How are we saved? – through baptism and God’s work in the sacraments. So yes, baptism works salvation – it is God’s work to create faith in Jesus – putting us in Christ as our Savior. Can we reject this faith? Reject the faith baptism creates? Yes – we can. Our pastor says one cannot say “yes” to salvation or grasp it themselves as it is God’s gift, but we can say “no” and turn away and reject. I hope this makes sense to you. It’s a different way of thinking than Evangelicalism.

  • The reason it’s attached to Scotsmen is simply because that was the principle example used to explain the fallacy. If I recall correctly, it went something like this:

    There was a series of grisly murders happening in Edinburgh. As two friends were discussing it, one declared “it must be an Englishman. No Scotsman would do something so barbaric.” It just so happened that the friends then saw a newspaper, with the headline declaring that the killer had been found – naming him, and identifying him as a Scotsman. The one friend then declared to the other, “well, no true Scotsman would do something so barbaric.”

  • Granted that MacArthur was probably talking about the Roman Catholic Church not knowing Christ (being the true Baptist that he is) rather than Latinos as such, the statement is frame to be blatantly racist rather than theological. For someone who has such a wide audience-base, I find it dismaying that MacArthur communicates so poorly.

    Then again, he gains a lot of attention by making inflammatory statements, I suspect this is more a marketing strategy rather than racism or theology.

    Just another of the many reasons why MacArthur has no credibility in my eyes.

  • Dan Tucker

    Wow. I try not to say negative things about people, especially Christians, because I hear too many Christians bashing other Christians already. HOWEVER, this man makes me think words that I normally don´t use, and certainly won´t write. . . . In short, and understated, I say that I strongly disagree with this man. Wow, in his minds no Latin American knows Christ. Wow. Wow. Wow. God help anyone who thinks this man speaks the truth. Wow.

  • Dan Tucker

    Yes, JJ! Hope you write or have written a book.

  • Noah

    Glad to see you responding to and backing up your statement.

  • Realist1234

    Thanks for that. You’ll probably hate me for saying it but He is the Way…

  • Paul Julian Gould

    How could I hate you? I hate no one… I merely disagree, is all, but I’m pretty certain, from reading your other commentary, that we’d likely agree on much else that really matters.

    It is your path, and, as such, it requires such a conviction. I just don’t happen to share it, in certain specifics, is all.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    For what it’s worth, I’m not averse to the possibility that the 2nd coming of the Christian idea of Messiah could be the 1st coming of the Jewish idea of Messiah… I don’t happen to think so, personally, but I’ve been wrong before, and quite probably will be presently and in the future… I just don’t subscribe, as some do (not, necessarily you, but many of my acquaintance) that the possibility I may have some things completely wrong will cause my life to come crashing down around my ears…

    The God in whom I do firmly believe (and unshakeably do, for my own deeply personal but unprovable reasons), although I may perceive such differently, has no interest in condemning anyone for seeking and maybe erring in the attempt at the search. That’s all.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I’m just one that has found in my own search that it is the search and the journey that matter more, eternally, than the perceived destination, whether individually or as an entire species.

  • Dean

    “Calvinists preach Grace yet act like they have been given a special decoder ring and a secret handshake that gives them insight into the Bible that only they have.”

    I’ve often argued that despite what Calvinists say, subconsciously, they have to believe there is something special about them which is why they are part of the Elect and others are not. I don’t think the human brain can process the concept of “unconditional election”, it’s not something that makes any sense to us, it’s not even clear to me that it makes any theological sense. So it should come as no surprise that Calvinists are often some of the most arrogant SOBs you can ever meet, the doctrine necessarily seeps into you (or on the other hand, attracts a certain personality type).

  • Dean

    I’m not sure what Bible program you are referring to, but I think if you ask most Iraqis they would rather us not have bombed their country into the stone age than get a free Bible.

  • On the other hand, it’s hard to see superstitious Pentecostalism as much of an improvement on syncretic Catholicism.

  • Ahasuerus Christian

    Mr Woodruff, you are ill informed. Justification by faith, the exact term, is mentioned 6 times in Scripture and taught throughout. In fact, no man is justified by works UNTIL he is justified by faith, so that God accepts no works that aren’t faith motivated, and He accepts no love that doesn’t come to Him by the cross, whereby Christ’s love constrains us. 2 Cor 5

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans 3

    But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Gal 3

    Good works SHOW our faith; Christ’s work is the object of faith, that He established us righteous in the One Man’s obedience, even as Adam established us as damned and depraved in one man’s disobedience. You lose all peace fighting against God’s justification of the ungodly because you cannot present yourself – lustful, proud, and hateful – to an infinitely holy God that punishes every transgression of thought, word, and deed. It is impossible to stand before His holiness, even as Mt Sanai smoked and thundered and God threatened to kill anyone who approached it. Beware, lest your righteousness, which is self-righteousness, take you to the pit. The righteousness of God is how He saves sinners by the infinitely worthy shed blood of the Son. Do not compare or add what you do to Him. Work because you love Him for forgiving you freely, and then your works are accepted, wrought in humility, and you’ll be infatuated with the Son instead of yourself, and prayers will be offered in Jesus’ name, rather than in the name of your best efforts, which are filthy rags. Let’s compare freedom and holiness. The apostle’s worked as free men, voluntarily enslaving themselves at His command.

  • Bones

    Condemning Johnny Macs nonsense is a good work.

  • Artistree

    According to Clement, a companion and fellow worker with Paul, infant baptism was the practice of the Apostles. Clement claimed that Paul and the Apostles instructed the Church to baptize infants….which would make sense because all of the early church communities baptized their children and no one argued against it.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Where did St. Clement say this? I’m unaware of such a passage, and I’ve read his First Letter to the Corinthians several times and the so-called “Second Letter” (not a letter and possibly not by Clement) at least once. Could you give me a specific reference?

    The first explicit mention of infant baptism I know is by Tertullian, and he was against it.

  • Artistree

    Actually Origen claims that Clement said it. Although Origen could be mistaken, I think his handle on Church tradition is probably pretty solid. Origen’s mind was sharp and if he said that Clement claimed this baptismal tradition of the Apostle’s, I think it’s likely.

    There is a statement by Polycarp that scholars claim implies that he was baptized as an infant. Otherwise the first clear
    reference affirming infant baptism is Irenaeus ( Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1.391)

    Tertullian was against it because of the belief that arouse that if one committed serious sin after baptism they would be lost, therefore it followed at one should put off baptism until late in life….but this is heretical.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Of course justification by faith is mentioned. But only in James is justification by faith alone mentioned, using the common Greek equivalent for the English “alone” that is. Luther, of course, famously argued that the phrase “by faith and not by works” implies “by faith alone,” but that isn’t self-evident. It’s a theological argument resting on premises that themselves aren’t self-evident from Scripture, and of course it has to be reconciled with James.

    I’m quite aware of the theological constructs that Protestants have created in order to show that Scripture teaches justification by faith alone, and that the “works” excluded by St. Paul include works worked in us by the Holy Spirit. I’m not convinced of that last point. But as I said above, I don’t think the question needs to divide Christians–I don’t think, in Protestant terms, that it’s an “essential.”

    Your moral/spiritual argument was a very powerful one in Luther’s day. It no doubt has a lot of power with some people and in some social/religious contexts. Self-righteousness takes many forms, and it certainly may take the form of trust in one’s own merits under the guise of acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s own heart. The Catholic language about all our good works being worked in us by God may become window dressing for a presumptuous pride in one’s own works.

    But the past 500 years have shown that Protestant language doesn’t exclude self-righteousness either. The claim that faith is a gift of God and that we have no merits of our own may also become window dressing, justifying us in claiming to be spiritually superior to our neighbors. And the present discussion seems to be an example of this. MacArthur seems to see no irony in declaring that large numbers of people are going to hell because they don’t follow his particular brand of religion while still claiming to believe in justification by grace alone. And you seem to see no irony in defending him. To most people who are not already indoctrinated in your particular theological tenets, your tone would seem quite self-righteous. I know that _to you_ it can’t possibly be self-righteous, because you are extolling the grace of Christ. But to people outside your theological paradigm, it sounds as if you are saying “all of you who fail to see things as I do are wicked and self-righteous, and I am humble and pious.” The fact that the particular kind of spiritual superiority you’re boasting of consists in “faith” and not “works” does not seem as significant to many of us as it obviously does to you.

    We are all self-righteous to some degree. That’s one of the many reasons why, indeed, we all need God’s grace. I do not believe that God waits till we have all our theological ducks lined up before giving us His grace (nor am I convinced that if our ducks were lined up they would look like your ducks). And that’s good news for all of us.

    All schemes purporting to show how we receive God’s grace are forms of “works righteousness” if we absolutize them. There is no escape, except to turn away from our own theology and even our own faith just as much as from our moral or ritual works, and look to Christ alone.

  • I was taught that it originated from a refrain spoken against Scots who allied with Britain during its many, many conflicts with and within Scotland. “No true Scotsman would betray his people!”

  • Really? From my data points from interaction with the LCMS, that unbelief can take the form of even so much as minute differences in faith. The hip word I saw bandied about a lot was “pagan,” as in other Christian churches are actually pagan churches in disguise, and the faithful should avoid any contact with them whatsoever, lest it be construed as acknowledgement that there may be merit to those minute differences.

  • Brian Kellogg

    I led worship in Charismatic churches for a couple decades. Though some of the laity subscribed to the prosperity gobbledygook many others didn’t. In the churches I was in it was merely tolerated by the leadership.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    I know that Origen claimed that it was apostolic tradition, and he may well have been right. I’m not aware of a specific claim he made about Clement. Any specific reference? I believe the apostolic tradition passage is in his homilies on Luke. Is this what you have in mind?

    Yes, Polycarp’s claim to have served Christ for 86 years does seem to take him back to infancy, unless he was very, very old indeed! It may imply that Polycarp was baptized as an infant. Indeed, I think it probably does. But it’s not explicit.

    I think the Irenaeus passage you have in mind is the one where he’s arguing for recapitulation by saying that Christ came to save all those “who are reborn into God,” including infants. This seems to imply infant baptism, again, but again it’s not explicit.

    I think it’s very likely that infant baptism was practiced throughout the second century, and it may indeed go back to the apostles. But it’s hard to prove. There are alternative explanations for these second-century passages.

  • JimmyJ

    Well said Dean, It’s a struggle for me to lash out in anger which is equally as hypocritical as the Calvinists arrogance. Walk worthy Dean

  • JimmyJ

    Thanks!!!

  • Artistree

    Regarding the Clement statement, I trusted the Anglican “The Prayerbook, Reasons Why” by Rev. Nelson R. Boss. I have the book but I found it on line. There are no footnotes ….http://www.episcopalnet.org/TRACTS/tractsbaptismboss.html

    “What does St. Clement say upon the subject of baptizing children?
    He says, “Baptize your infants, and educate them in the knowledge and admonition of God.”

    What does Origen say?
    He says, “The Church received an order from the Apostles to give Baptism even to infants.”

    I read it some place else also and it blended the two statements, but I can’t remember the source, sorry.

    Yes, that is the Polycarp reference I was referring to.
    Here is the quote by Irenaeus from ‘The Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs ” under the “infant baptism” heading:
    ” He came to save all persons by means of Himself –all, I say, who through Him are born again to God–infants, children, boys, youth, and old men”.
    Cyprian writes a whole lot on infant baptism.
    In my opinion, if infant baptism was a new innovation, not practiced by the Apostles, I think you would have seen a great objection to it arising from the Christians who would have seen this new practice as contrary to the “faith once delivered”. But you don’t see that. And since it follows in implication from “8th day worship” ( Sunday being the first day of the new creation Week) and the corresponding circumcision on the 8th day as the Old Covenant sigh that points to the giving of the Holy Spirit, the circumcision of the heart and being born from above through water and the spirit….I think it is only logical that the first Jewish Christians would have seen that baptizing their children into the household of God was good and right.

  • JimmyJ

    Dan, haven’t ruled a book out someday…thanks for the encouragement.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    Thanks! I Googled the Clement quote and it turned out to be from the “Recognitions,” which scholars agree isn’t by Clement but is probably quite a bit later (maybe third century?).

    Of course we first _explicitly_ hear of infant baptism through opposition, though it is significant that Tertullian never says it’s a new practice (which he surely would have done if he could have).

    I think the chances are good that it does go back very early, and took some hits because of the concern with post-baptismal sin. But given the state of the evidence I don’t think there’s any way to be sure.

  • Edwin Woodruff Tait

    That’s certainly an argument that needs to be taken seriously.

    But of course the tradition _is_ that baptism is supposed to involve faith, and the traditional way to apply this to infant baptism is that the parents’ faith stands in for that of the child.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Edwin Woodruff Tait.

    With all due respect though, how a parent´s faith can “stand in” for an infant is beyond me.

  • Matthew

    I do know that the LCMS has this thing they call “pulpit and altar fellowship” which basically boils down to what you said.

    However, I was part of an LCMS church that was more progressive in some areas, even partnering for mission with an ELCA (liberal Lutheran) church.

  • Matthew

    Thanks again One4Life. You have been very helpful.

    O.K. … I think I get it. From a Lutheran perspective, Christ´s finished work on the cross is what saves us and baptism is what applies the justifying work of the cross to us — even though one can also be saved without baptism and even though God can work outside the sacraments (Lord´s Supper and baptism).

    Also, even if an adult comes to a Lutheran church and says “I have accepted Christ as my Saviour”, but refuses to get baptized, Lutherans would say that God worked faith in the adult even though the adult “accepted Jesus”. I suppose this has to do with the ministry of the Word, which is not a sacrament, but very powerful nevertheless?

    You did mention, however, that God´s “work in the sacraments” is what also saves us. How does this work with the Lord´s Supper? Would Lutherans say that one has to continually partake of the Lord´s Supper (Holy Communion) in order to remain justified? Sounds a bit Roman Catholic to me, but I could be misinterpreting things a bit.

    I can understand that Lutherans take seriously the Lord´s Supper and the promise of forgiveness found there, but I also think one can receive God´s forgiveness by simply asking for it.

  • Matthew

    The LCMS has pretty strict guidelines as well Jeanne Fox. They are not in pulpit and altar fellowship with too many church bodies, although I don´t think the LCMS officially says that if you are not LCMS you will go to hell. I do think, though, that the LCMS has strict rules about who can partake of communion. Being a believer in and follower of Jesus is not enough I don´t think, although as I said in an earlier post I was part of a more progressive LCMS church in the southern part of America.

  • Realist1234

    I didnt really mean ‘hate’, its a manner of speech.

  • Larry TheKeyboardist Blake

    This is the organization I’m talking about: http://www.biblesforiraq.org/

    And yeah, you’d think they could offer things that might actually HELP the Iraqis they’re trying to “reach out” to – like food, water, shelter, or clothing, but apparently heaven forbid they do that. It’s like they’re saying “I’m sorry we bombed the hell out of you, we’ll make it up to you with a book we want you to believe will solve all your problems.”

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I know that. And I meant that I’m not threatened by anyone stating their spiritual position… I’m not a Muslim, but it doesn’t bother me when a well-meaning Muslim shares her/his views, or a Jain, or a Theravada Buddhist, or even when an atheist states her/his position.

    I don’t have a need to try to argue anyone out of their beliefs, is all.

    I subscribed to Dr. Ben’s blog a couple of years ago, as there is much commonality… we each are veterans, while I’m likely older than Ben, it seems that many of the same generational references apply, and I’m always interested in seeing things with which I either agree, or have never thought about from the perspective of someone coming at it from a slightly different direction.

    I state my own views, when pertinent to a conversation, but the specifics normally don’t enter in… Among all people of goodwill and decency, there are many, many more points of agreement than there are hot-button issues.

    Just that there have been times on various blogs, especially on those with a Christian focus, I’ve been addressed and chided for various things for the sole reason that it’s thought I happen to be in the ‘in-group’

    (The in-person chiding I cited elsewhere on the thread was from a guy that owned the service place where I’d long taken my car, and Bruce and I were cordial, so he felt free to “counsel” me regarding my hair and ear studs.)

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I state my own views, when pertinent to a conversation, but the specifics normally don’t enter in… Among all people of goodwill and decency, there are many, many more points of agreement than there are hot-button issues.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Just that there have been times on various blogs, especially on those with a Christian focus, I’ve been addressed and chided for various things for the sole reason that it’s thought I happen to be in the ‘in-group’

    (The in-person chiding I cited elsewhere on the thread was from a guy that owned the service place where I’d long taken my car, and Bruce and I were cordial, so he felt free to “counsel” me regarding my hair and ear studs.)

  • Gilsongraybert

    His comments have nothing to do with race; it has everything to do with the statistical analysis showing Roman Catholicism to have the highest percentage of adherents in these countries. MacArthur believes the RCC holds to a false gospel, therefore, many of their adherents would as well. Hence, why he supports the proclamation of the gospel of grace.

  • Jeffrey

    Except that his ‘gospel of grace’ contains nothing even remotely resembling grace. MacArthur is one of the most legalistic preachers you’ll ever meet.

  • Gilsongraybert

    So a call to biblical obedience is legalism? The apostle John seems to think otherwise…

  • Jeffrey

    MacArthur’s ‘biblical obedience’ involves very little that’s biblical, and a whole lot that’s centered around submitting to everything that comes out of his mouth as gospel fact.
    Countless other fundamentalists and evangelicals have nailed Johnny Mac on this; of course, I’m sure you would regard them all as heretics.
    Considering that MacArthur openly denied that Jesus was the eternal Son of God for nearly 40 years before two Baptist theologians called him out on it and demanded that he repent (which he did – sort of – while trying to soft-peddle his former beliefs), do you really trust him to be the masterful bible expositor he oh-so-humbly claims to be?

  • Oh, wow. I originally became aware of the differences in (at least parts of) the LCMS when a pastor got sorely rebuked for participating in an interfaith vigil for the victims of Sandy Hook. The thought of the LCMS and ELCA partnering together is kind of astounding.

  • Wainwright’s position is what’s recommended (though not mandated) by the Methodist Church in general, actually. Mostly for fairly practical reasons — during the baptismal liturgy for infants, the parents and congregation all vow to play a role in raising the child in the Christian faith. If a pastor knows that the parents won’t be keeping this vow, then the pastor shouldn’t go through with the baptism and thereby empower the parents to become liars and oath-breakers (and also force the congregation to break their oath, through no fault of their own).

    Of course, if a pastor chooses to baptize such a child anyways, it’s not the end of the world. Methodists also believe that the physical act of baptism is an outward and visible sign of God’s inward, invisible action, so an infant that is baptized has God’s grace moving in their heart, even if the parents refuse to ever again bring that child through the doors of a church.

  • You remind me of a graph I saw recently, comparing actual knowledge of a subject to confidence of one’s expertise. The graph spikes early on, then dips dramatically, and even at the highest point of “actual knowledge” never reaches the same level of confidence found in that initial spike.

  • RonnyTX

    You’re right Dean, in that at least some Calvinists, think there is really something special about them. I know that, on a first hand basis. For I was there and did that. I was taught to do that, in the Calvinist church I grew up in. But then God/Jesus Christ was merciful to me, showed me my sinful selfrighteousness and knocked that out of me. :-) Now, I am no longer Calvinist; but then, I am also not Arminian/free will in belief. Instead, I simply say that God/Jesus Christ, has elected every last one of us, to salvation. :-)

  • One4Life

    A Lutheran pastor would have trouble with the language of “I have accepted Christ as my Savior” — it may be a basic misunderstanding of who is doing the saving – you’re doing the saving by accepting it. God by his grace has made me his child in baptism. Someone that would reject baptism (as opposed to simply not having received baptism, not outright rejected) – there would be questions about why? They would not be allowed to take communion. If they reject baptism, perhaps they don’t understand the basics of the faith. (FYI: Lutherans believe baptism is a one time thing – if you’re baptized by any trinitarian church, your baptism is accepted as valid, it’s not who is baptizing that makes it valid, it is God’s work. So, even if the pastor turns out to be a fraud, your baptism is still valid in God’s eyes because it his work in adopting you. One should never get re-baptized unless there is some question about whether they were actually baptized or if they were originally baptized by a non-christian cult). If you look at baptism as adoption — when a baby is adopted he does nothing, and yet he gains all the rights of a natural born son. What does the baby do in adoption? Nothing. The child simply receives the gift and is placed in the family.

    The ministry of the Word is really what is behind all of the sacraments. Confession and Absolution is also sometimes referred to as a sacrament – an extension of the forgiveness received in baptism. The Word is the foundation of both baptism and the Lords Supper – without Jesus Words it would be just water and bread and wine.

    The reason holding on to your baptism and the Lord’s Supper are so powerful is that you are receiving from God. Christ’s body and blood is placed in your mouth for forgiveness. So, if you question – have I really been forgiven? Ask yourself, I am a baptized child of God? Do I believe it is valid? Yes, I do. Have I received the Lord’s Supper with the promise of forgiveness? Yes, I have. After the eucharist, the pastor says “The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you in the true faith to life everlasting. Go in peace.” We believe the sacraments (with Christ’s promise of forgiveness therein) strengthen your faith as you receive them. If your forgiveness is based solely on an internal dialogue of asking and receiving you can always question yourself.
    Now, Lutherans do believe one can turn away and reject the faith, despise their baptism, and deny God’s work in their life. However, this is an extreme condition and not something that happens due to our sinful lives. I am thankful for this because – man, do I ever have a problem with sin in my life.

  • One4Life

    I’ve read there are documented cases of infant baptism all the way back to the early 100’s – between 100 and 200 AD. So if the Church went astray with infant baptism, they did it immediately and without pause – immediately the Church went into error on baptism that went uncorrected until the 1500s. I don’t believe that. I think the error is “believer’s baptism only” and excluding children from baptism.

  • Dean

    Universalism?

  • Artistree

    I agree with you, One4Life, 100%
    I used to be “believer’s baptism only” because of the Baptist tradition that I was raised in. But as I studied the Bible and the Early Church beliefs, and began reading the Scriptures thru the lens of what the first Christians believed the Scriptures taught and the Apostolic tradition that they had inherited, I changed my viewpoint.
    Besides, given the theology of the Old Testament sign of Circumcision on the 8th day as the sign of being in the Covenantal Family of God, which points to Baptism in Paul’s theology– those first Jewish Christians would have naturally assumed that their kids would be included in the Covenant Family when Peter said, “this promise is for you and your children” and should be baptized as well.
    We know from Cyprian’s writings that the church debated about on which day their children should be baptized; right away ( within the 2nd or 3rd day after birth) or whether the children should be baptized on the 8th day ( the law of ancient circumcision being regarded). It was Cyprian’s and the councils opinion that the children should be baptized soon after birth, within a few days.

  • Gilsongraybert

    Typical deflection tactic; claim that I regard MacArthur as infallible or that I believe any who have criticized him are fanatical heretics. When you assume the other person’s stance before any legitimate conversation has taken place, you make it quite difficult to get to the crux of the issue. Take care.

    Straight from the horse’s mouth: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A235/reexamining-the-eternal-sonship-of-christ

    A google search pulled that up…seems people can mature and grow in understanding of the scriptures.

  • Artistree

    Matthew, good question, but recall in the Old Testament where Abraham’s faith “stood in” for his sons and his entire household’s receiving the sign of the Covenant, that being circumcision ( Genesis 17). The Scriptures also tell us that Moses was lax in giving his son the sign of faith ( circumcision) and that God sought to kill Moses for his lack of duty in giving his son the Covenant sign. Fortunately for Moses, his wife took matters into her own hands and Moses’ life was spared.

  • Shadowbelle

    That’s because the more you know, the more you realize there is to know, and you see your own knowledge as a smaller part of the whole.

  • Jeff Preuss

    I think one of the ways we as Christians should express humility is in the acceptance that we might not have ALL the answers. Sure, we have THE answer in some respects, but claiming to have every mystery of God all sorted, especially to the denigration of others with differing viewpoints, seems to contradict the message I’d think we want to convey.

  • Skeptical Christian

    Mature and grow? Evangelicals and the Reformed have now reduced proper Christology and Triadology to a bump in mature growth? Funny how the Reformed insist with the utmost exclusion that the gospel is Justification by a forensic declaration of the alien righteousness of Christ, imputed to the account of a sinner, extra nos. They write long tomes attempting to squeeze their deterministic system into a logical and airtight bulwark…..but getting Christology right? Meh.

    MacArthur refused to receive the witness of the ancient Ecumenical Councils. For decades!
    Similarly revealing Christological confusion is R.C. Sproul who refuses to admit God died on a cross. Even the Lutheran’s have long and rightly charged the Reformed of their Nestorianizing.

  • Skeptical Christian

    Interesting that Calvinism and Universalism are just two sides of the same deterministic coin.

  • In the Strange Fire conference the Charismatic Movements links to Roman Catholicism (which has never been cessationist) was used as an argument against the Charismatic Movement.

    So in a sense from JMac’s perspective Charismatics and Catholics are already in the (wrong) same boat.

    In a sense they are right. The Charismatic movement is a step towards Catholicism. I just don’t see that as a bad thing.

  • Artistree

    Maybe we can’t know for sure, but based on my understanding of the of Old Covenant signs that point to New Covenant realization, I’m pretty confident that children are to be included in the Covenantal promise of the Spirit….otherwise the Old Covenant sign posts make no sense to me.

  • Bones

    The Reformed are really just medieval Catholicism lite.

    At least most Catholics don’t have such a medieval view of God.

    The Reformed still do.

  • Bones

    That’s ironic.

    Johnny Macs god is the same as medieval Catholicism’s.

  • Matthew

    Interesting … though my new covenant side simply says “That´s Old Testament” :-).

    Also, after reading Genesis 17 I´m still not certain God was saying to Abraham something like “Your faith means your decendants will have faith too.” God still required that people received circumcision in those times, regardless of their parent´s faith position.

  • Matthew

    It is pretty astounding. I might be wrong, but I´m pretty sure we parterned with an ELCA church for a missions project. My pastor also seemed more ecumenical than most LCMS pastors. I think his kids even attended a Bible study at a calvinist church.

  • Matthew

    Thanks.

    An extreme condition you say? Aren´t there many people, Lutheran or otherwise, who were raised in such churches, were baptized as infants, went through confirmation, but who still come out on the other end unbelieving?

    I was raised Roman Catholic and went through all the hoops. I couldn´t wait to get away from church after confirmation.

  • Matthew

    I know there are those here who will disagree, but on the Gospel of grace I think the reformers got the crux of the matter correct. They ushered in a much needed correction in church teaching.

    That said, they did go too far in other areas and were far from perfect.

    I do agree that the Calvinists should be criticized for some things — especially Johnny Mac — but that doesn´t mean everything they believe in is incorrect.

  • RonnyTX

    Dean to Ronny:
    Universalism?

    Ronny to Dean:
    Yep. :-) But not Unitarian universalism; but instead, the kind that says before all is said and done, everyone will be born of God, by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) Below, some good links on that,

    http://bestpossiblenews.com/ http://tentmaker.org/
    http://www.tentmaker.org/FAQ/DoesJesusREALLYLoveLittleChildren.html

  • Artistree

    Hey Matthew, good point. When God baptized all the Israelites in the Red Sea coming out of Egypt, Paul says he was not pleased with most of them…( obviously not all of them had genuine and lasting faith) .Yet God baptized the whole household of Israel none the less, young and old .
    I guess it would be a question of continuity or discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants. From my perspective I see the New Covenant ( New Testament) as a restoration of the Davidic Covenant, with Jesus being the King of the restored and rebuilt Davidic Kingdom ( See James’ statement in Act 15 at the Jerusalem Council).
    Depending on which Christian denomination you belong to would place more or less emphasis on the continuity or discontinuity between the various Covenants God made with His people.
    Have a great weekend !

  • RonnyTX

    Darrin to Dean:
    Interesting that Calvinism and Universalism are just two sides of the same deterministic coin.

    Ronny to Darrin:
    No, Calvinism and universal restoration, are very different ways of believing. Sort of summed up quickly, in the following three versions, of a well know little song.

    JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN
    “Jesus loves the little children,
    All the children of the world,
    Red and yellow, black and white,
    They are precious in his sight,
    Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

    JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN (Arminian version)
    “Jesus loves the world’s wee children,
    Until they reach the age of twelve,
    Red and yellow, black and white,
    Most all are doomed for darkest night,
    For they will die in sin and burn in hell.”

    JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN (Calvinist Version)
    “Jesus loves some little children,
    That he’s destined to know Him in this world,
    Red and yellow, back and white,
    Some few are precious in his sight,
    All others He has doomed for endless hell.”

  • Matthew

    Thanks Aristree.

    I´m not really against infant baptism, as I can see and accept the arguments for it.

    That said, I do believe that eventually an infant who was baptized must — somehow — believe the promises therein. I understand what you are arguing (I think) from an OT perspective, but I still have trouble accepting that a baptized infant can be saved in adulthood because the parents are believers.

  • Artistree

    I believe you are correct; that child who is a member of the household of God at their baptism must continue on and mature and remain, embrace the spiritual light that he or she was graced with. Mother Church is responsible for nurturing that child and feeding that child with the graces of God but it is ultimately up to that child growing into adulthood as to weather or not he or she will cling to Jesus or not. Baptism is not a magic potion that guarantees saving faith. If that baptized person neglects the grace of “living water” there is a great risk of being “cut off of the Vine”.

  • J. Inglis

    Your use of the “superstitious” and “syncretic” indicates you know little about the meaning of those words or the nature of Pentecostalism and Catholicism.

  • Maybe this isn’t the best place to say this, but the Roman Catholics I know are much better Christians in every way than the fundamentalists I have known.

  • You don’t know me. I have had life experiences.

  • mallen717

    This is a classic example of the Calvinist pot calling the RCC lid black. Two heresies. One is justification by works, the other is Lordship Salvation and a God who decrees sin for His glory.

    Christians are right to reject both.

  • mallen717

    James McCarthy, “The Gospel According to Rome”
    and
    Laurence M. Vance, “The Other Side of Calvinism”

    MUST READS.

  • Did Jesus provide any corroborating evidence to show the police?

  • otrotierra

    Hopefully Jesus–dark skin, no citizenship, and no English fluency–was nowhere near the police.

  • Matthew

    Wasn’t Jesus a Roman citizen? He was born in Roman held territory wasn’t he?

  • One4Life

    Are you a Christian?

  • Matthew

    Yes … but not because of my church upbringing or because of anything religious.

  • One4Life

    That’s your perspective. Consider – maybe God was at work in his child since your birth and baptism?

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    First century Israel isn’t America. Where you were born had nothing to do with citizenry.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    If he “clearly meant” something, why didn’t he clearly *say* it? This is a prepared video that could be re-shot or edited. Any “that’s not what I meant” moments could easily be altered. This was not an interview where he had to think fast. It wasn’t even a sermon where he temporarily went off script. MacArthur has been in the pulpit for 45+ years *and* has always been very precise about what he says. I find it extremely hard to believe that what he said and what he meant are two different things.

    It should also be noted that this is hardly the first time where he has released a prepared video that caused a stir, and tons of people (except him) told us what he “clearly meant”.

  • Skeptical Christian

    Listen, it is here in Eastern Orthodoxy that there has been an impulse to hope for the salvation of all, and I appreciate it, but neither of your clever ditties would apply to us.
    I am not saying the ways of believing are the same on the surface, but when you get right down to it, to quote a friend, Universalism is just Calvinism for everyone.

  • It was a territory under Roman occupation but citizenship was generally something that either had to be purchased or rewarded through serving the state, if one did not have citizenship through parents.

  • Hugh McCann

    Ans: He erred. It’s hardly what Corey wants it to be. :)

    If he truly meant that all “Hispanics don’t know Christ,”then OK. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he spoke hastily, but if not, OK, then he really screwed up.

    Has our intrepid reporter [so rabid for fact-&-fault-finding] heard whether MacArthur later corrected himself? He has posted retractions and clarifications before. Because, yes, he has made mistakes in the past. Horrors.

  • jcarpenter

    this Christian with Calvinistic theology adheres to / recites the Apostles Creed—am I wrong in doing so?

  • cken

    Don’t you just love it when some person or even some Christian sect believes they are the only one with all the right answers. My experience has been that that person or sect is always the most riddled with hypocrisy.

  • Bones

    Then he needs to get his facts straight and work on his own communication if he’s going to publish nonsense.

    But this is a guy who leads seminars and writes books against other Christians so it’s not surprising at all..

  • Matthew

    Thanks Benjamin. Interesting …

    I´m wondering — then — how Saul (Paul) received his Roman citizenship? I don´t think the Bible tells us how, only that he indeed
    had such citizenship. Google it I suppose?? :-)

  • Matthew

    Thanks so much.

  • Matthew

    Maybe so. Like I said in previous posts, I´m still processing all this means of grace theology.

    If God did in fact work in me as a result of my baptism, I am truly grateful. That said, it´s been my experience that there are lots of people who were baptized as infants, then confirmed, who then have no interest in Jesus Christ as adults.

    Why did my baptismal regeneration work and theirs did not?

  • Bones

    Hitler and Stalin were baptised…………..

  • Bones

    Hitler and Stalin were baptised……..

  • Questioning

    To steal from True Grit, with a slight modification…..

    “who is this famous preacher whose name I was happily ignorant of 10 minutes ago?”

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    “Has our intrepid reporter [so rabid for fact-&-fault-finding] heard whether MacArthur later corrected himself? He has posted retractions and clarifications before.”

    Were said retractions and clarifications based on a prepared video? In other words, something that could be re-shot or edited, thereby not needing retraction/clarification? Something where there were several other people in the room at the time of the shooting, any of whom could have said, “Er, John, when you say ABC, it comes off as though you’re implying XYZ”? Something that still others edited to prepare for dissemination?

    Somehow I kinda doubt it. Like I said before, this wasn’t off-the-cuff (a live interview or a sermon that briefly goes off script — i.e. instances where one might “[speak] hastily”). This passed through several hands/ears before it was released. There was nothing “hasty” about it. And it’s not the first time.

    Case in point:

    In one of several promotional videos released before the Strange Fire conference, MacArthur stated that charismatics (as a whole, not some) were committing “the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” Now, the only Biblical reference to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is what is often called “the unforgivable sin” — i.e. go to hell, go straight to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

    Naturally, such a declaration of a mortal man as to the eternal destiny of hundreds of millions caused more than a little stir. We were told by salivating fans what he “really meant”, but when pressed about it, the man himself was silent for weeks (as was everyone else in GTY, some of whom are very prolific writers).

    Finally, two days into the conference, one of MacArthur’s minions briefly and obliquely addressed the issue by saying that MacArthur said “*a* blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”, not “*the* blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”, and spent a few minutes mincing words about how the indefinite and definite articles are different.

    Personally, I thought the mincing was silly, but I realize that some people are into that. So let’s just go with indisputable fact:

    HE DIDN’T SAY “A”; HE SAID “THE”.

    So we have:
    * a “clarification”
    * that comes weeks after the fact
    * delivered by a subordinate
    * that requires the finest of teeth in the comb, and
    * that’s a BALD-FACED LIE

    Yeah, “benefit of the doubt” time is over.

  • Matthew

    Good point.

    Yeah … if they were baptized Bones, and if baptismal regeneration is a true means of grace, then apparently they turned away from their baptismal gift and promise.

  • Hugh McCann

    MacArthur curses the Catholics and Charismatics, and BrentWayneWaters returns the favor?

    This thread is not getting very far very quickly.

  • Hugh McCann

    Which facts are you concerned about, Bones?

  • Hugh McCann

    Over where? And if he’s such “a nobody” over there, why all the concern?

  • One4Life

    Judas walked with Jesus and sat directly under his teachings.

  • Ron McPherson

    Also wasn’t baptism conducted as a form of Jewish proselytizing as well? In other words, it didn’t start with Christianity. I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • Matthew

    What are you getting at Ron McPherson?

  • Bones
  • Bones

    Anywhere really….

    It’s weird how US evangelicals think they wield some form of authority because they have a big church when they are essentially nobodies eg Mark Driscoll. .

    I’ve only heard of him through other reformists usually to condemn pentecostal, charismatic, catholics, people who make more money than him….

    Reformed have this Cromwellian idea that they are somehow defenders of the faith.

  • Bones

    The ones where he apparently has to correct himself…..

    I’d say he gets things wrong…..a lot.

  • Ron McPherson

    My thoughts are that water baptism is only symbolic of our union with Christ, but that it does not produce or lead to regeneration since the very act itself, even when Jesus decreed it, was apparently not unique to Christianity even at that time. I do see it as symbolically covenantal to being a citizen of the kingdom, essentially replacing the rite of OT circumcision. As such, I have no qualms with infant baptism, though my church teaches strictly believers baptism. Either way, I do see its importance because it is a directive of Christ’s. I think the critical thing, at least with respect to regeneration, is to be baptized by the Spirit. Anyway, just my thoughts. As I said before, I could be wrong.

  • Jerry Lynch

    His comments deserve no answer. An infant happens to pee in my face: is there a serious rebuttal?

  • Jerry Lynch

    Again with the useless retort. Sorry, have to repeat my frustration at this zero ninny getting press as if he had a real voice.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Ron McPherson.

    Some thoughts …

    Simply because baptism is not unique to Christianity doesn´t mean that in the Christian sense it cannot be regenerative.

    Also … I agree with you about Spirit baptism. Quite frankly, for the longest time I had real problems with infant baptism as I became a believer as an adult and was rebaptized. I´m just now revisiting infant baptism and baptismal regeneration as theological constructs.

    That said, I think those who support infant baptism outright would probably say that the Spirit is given to the infant in baptism, so they too are in fact “born of the Spirit”.

  • Al Cruise

    After several decades of serving the least among us, nothing of what he says has any bearing on the afterlife of others. In hospice care you see a lot things. Those who are in any kind of Spiritual danger are people like himself. Jesus said the same.

  • hoosier_bob

    Can we stop calling guys like this Calvinists. He’s just a fundamentalist who happens to hold to 1-2 points of Calvinist doctrine. Better exemplars of Calvinism include Karl Barth, Jurgen Moltmann, and the like.

  • cognitive dissonance much!? *~!!]:D

  • oh ron you are just Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious too much! *~\):•}

  • Ron McPherson

    Totally yes

  • Nathan Aldana

    Its almost cute watching a white guy insist he knows mexican religion better than mexicans

  • Gil

    The only rebuttal necessary, really, is a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer

  • dew

    It’s just old fashioned anti-Catholicism, which you appear to share. Bigotry by any other name is still ignorance.

  • dew

    Neither want to be accused of blatant bigotry against Catholics so they use weezle words.

  • Andrew

    “Johnny Mac is another guy who’s full of their own importance.

    People who have nothing better to do than write books against other Christians need to get a life.”
    *Grins, chuckles softly*
    No it’s just to easy, I’m not even going to go there.
    *Turns and walks away, still trying not to laugh*

  • P J Evans

    I seem to recall at least one place where he says he has born, not bought, citizenship.

  • Bones

    Happens to me when I drink too much as well.

  • Andrew

    Never really been one to drink ( although in a few months my buddies will probably be begging me to do it for my 21rst). Just think back to your original comment. Then think about who’s blog you’re commenting on :).

  • Eric Brown

    Wow….I’m a Conservative Evangelical Christian but the ignorance of John MacArthur here is just so painful that I think I may actually be getting a head ache from it. I’m really tempted to face-palm myself but I fear that will make my head ache worse.

    Christianity has very few essentials to believe to be considered a Christian and Calvinism certainly isn’t one of them.

  • Bones

    You better take another drink if you’re going to compare a blog post with Johnny Macs publications and seminars.

    Johnny Mac hates catholics, pentecostals, charismatics, liberals……..

  • Andrew

    “You better take another drink if you’re going to compare a blog post with Johnny Macs publications and seminars.”

    I’m refering to the entire blog in general, as well as a book (soon to be books, as in plural, from what I hear) by said blogger which are all aimed at other Christians. So based on your original post, BLC needs to get a life.

    “Johnny Mac hates catholics, pentecostals, charismatics, liberals……..”

    Yep and BLC hates Fundamentalists ( someday someone is going to have to tell me what makes you one of those), Republicans, Conservatives, Gun-owners, Patriots, Active Duty Military Personnel, People who oppose same-sex marriage, People who think that men should not be allowed to use the women’s restroom, People who think that self defense is ok……………..

  • RonnyTX

    Darrin to Ronny:
    Listen, it is here in Eastern Orthodoxy that there has been an impulse to hope for the salvation of all, and I appreciate it, but neither of your clever ditties would apply to us.

    Ronny to Darrin:
    I’m glad there is that impulse, to hope for the salvation of all, in Eastern Orthodoxy. :-)

    Darrin to Ronny:
    I am not saying the ways of believing are the same on the surface, but when you get right down to it, to quote a friend, Universalism is just Calvinism for everyone.

    Ronny to Darrin:
    To say that universalism is just Calvinisn for all, that makes no sense to me. For as I’ve said in another post, I was brought up in a Calvinistic teaching/believing type of local church. There, I was taught God had chosen to save a few people and at the best, the rest went to hell. Now the type of universalism I now believe in, it says that God has chosen to save all people and that by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. By God letting each person know they are lost/not in a right relationship with God, God bringing that person to repentance and then God taking them on, to faith in Jesus Christ. :-) And one thing I’ve found out, is that the hell in some bible translations, that wasn’t in the bible, as it was written in Hebrew and Greek. And the best I understand it now, hell was first added to a bible translation by Jerome, in his Latin Vulgate.

    So, those who believe in universal restoration, say and believe that before all is said and done, every person will be born of God and that there is no Jesus Christ created hell of eternal torment. Now on the Calvinist side, that I grew up in, I was taught that there was such a hell, that most people were going there and that the only ones that weren’t, were the ones God chose to save. So to me, there is a vast difference between Calvinism and universalism and or universal restoration.

    P.S.
    Sorry I was so long in getting back to you; but oldest Sis got off work early last Friday and we had a lot to do since then. Then yesterday, I had a sinus headache and didn’t post anywhere!

  • Everett Lunday

    I frankly didn’t find anything controversial with what John MacArthur said. He was referring to the heavy influence of the Roman church throughout Central and South America. To those who object may I remind that there was a reason that there was a Protestant Reformation.

  • Ron McPherson

    I’ll be honest here. I think MacArthur at times can be one of the most brilliant of bible expositors. But then something he says or writes becomes a head-scratcher. I work with a guy who has actually spent some time with him. Very cordial and pleasant, not arrogant. He fervently believes what he preaches (I understand that doesn’t make it right). Where it pains me however is him presuming to know who is excluded from the kingdom. When he declares who isn’t a real Christian (based on dogma), who is a false teacher, how parents should exclude their ‘unrepentant’ gay children, etc, etc, it just becomes downright maddening at times. I just wished for once when stating an opinion he could follow it by a “but I could be wrong here.” His rigidity on certain biblical and cultural issues turns a great many off, which then obliterates in the minds of many some very good work he has done in other areas. It creates a real struggle for me as I’ve benefitted much from some of his work, and then am completely perplexed and frustrated by some of his other stuff.

  • Eric Brown

    I understand and I will always try to find some good in every ministry even when I think they are in the wrong on important issues (Not salvation but other issues) but frankly John MacArthur just seems to be getting more and more unwilling to compromise. His brashness can get annoying and I’m shocked at the level of carelessness he sometimes employs.

    Maybe I am biased and less willing to be generous to him then you are but frankly his Lordship Salvation message (His version of it) has been the cause of much doubt and anxiety among Christians which includes me.

    I’m also a staunch believer in the charismatic gifts and the sloppy generalizations he makes about it are just so careless that it just makes me unable to take him seriously.

  • Ron McPherson

    I totally understand and can certainly appreciate what you say.

  • Eric Brown

    Well thank you and likewise you too sir.

  • Skeptical Christian

    In universalism, everyone is unconditionally elect and will receive a universally effective and applied atonement, that’s pretty much Calvinism for everyone.

    The Orthodox don’t hold that hell is a created “place”. Hell is the experience of the divine glory which is everywhere present and filling all things, but for those who have rejected Christ, God’s glory isn’t bliss but suffering. It is their disposition, not God’s, that determines bliss or suffering, while God is unchanging.
    This is similar to 1 Cor 11 where it is the disposition of the unworthy partaker of the Eucharist that brings him judgement. The same sacrament is received yet one “eats and drinks judgement” for himself.

    Personally, I am drawn to the conditional immortality position.
    The wages of sin is death, not eternal life….in hell.
    The soul that sins, it shall die, not live eternally in hell.

  • Herm

    Mr. Corey inclusively loves to encourage productively and constructively all human kind, as one single responsible body. We each have a temporal opportunity – that we had no choice to begin, cannot ever earn enough to repay the divine interest, and have a certainty that our loaned opportunity will end – to strengthen mankind, in the image of their Creator, or to weaken our body to grow our tribe as does a cancer.

    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Luke 14:25-27 (NIV2011)

    Patriotism and allegiance to any single family, community, tribe, or religion not supporting the whole of the body of mankind is cancerous. If any of us are not willing to follow Jesus, the Son of Man, carrying our own cross that mankind might live beyond us, then the body is weakened by our dedication to self centered indulgence.

    Jesus lives and can still save us, mankind, if we listen to Him as our only Rabbi. I believe that if you actually follow what Benjamin is so clearly pointing out as the destructive spirit of familial exclusivity you will come to a relationship with the Teacher as His beloved disciple.

    … then you will realize how silly it is to bar someone of any race, creed, religion or gender the opportunity to take a pee in any available stall. We are productive in protecting our own only when we realize mankind is the body of our own we are each responsible to.

    Love positively and constructively, without merit, as you have been loved in Their image, the whole that you have been graced through no choice or ability of your own … before you cease this gifted opportunity to influence as good or evil … your choice!

  • I’ve noticed some islands of intellectual and spiritual Lucidity are sometimes surrounded by polluted water. *~\):D

  • I wonder what you mean by ‘playing that race and privilege card’? you telling us you’re bored w these discussions about race and privilege? too many of them going on or what? sorry it’s not meeting with your approbation! you know there are other blogs you can follow about other things you might enjoy participating in.
    PEACE! *~\):D

  • Skeptical Christian

    The Reformation: A Schism from a schism.

  • Everett Lunday

    Before Jacob Arminius there were the doctrines of grace.

  • Skeptical Christian

    The doctrines of grace entail determinism, long prior rejected by the Conciliar church.
    Monergism is a repackaging of ancient heresies of Monotheletism/Monoenergism.

  • Skeptical Christian

    Meanwhile, poor Johnny Mac can go after everyone else, but defiantly held to a seriously defective Christology for decades.

  • Everett Lunday

    So what do you make of Ephesians 1:1-4, or John 17 or Romans 8:28-39? God has chosen his elect and has chosen the gospel as His means of calling His out of spiritual death into life in the Son.

  • Skeptical Christian

    All election is in Christ. If you have determinism in us, you have it in Christ’s humanity.
    You seem primarily interested in rushing to the defence of Calvinism, and hence MacArthur. Isn’t it a bit disturbing that he denied the eternal generation of the Son for decades?
    This isn’t restricted to him, though. Sproul refuses to affirm that God died on a cross due to the same Christological confusion.

  • Everett Lunday

    God did not die on the cross. theopassianism and patripassianism are two heresies that were condemned by the early church because it denies God’s immutability. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.

  • Skeptical Christian

    You have the same problem as Sproul. And why would you invoke the ancient church which delineated in the Council’s a proper Christology.

    Do you think a nature dies or a person? If a nature the Council’s rightly charge you with Nestorianism. And even the Lutherans have long charged the Reformed with this.

    Is the God man a Person? Is his Person human, divine, or both? Is the one who dies on the cross the second Person of the holy Trinity?
    Do Natures act, or do Persons act?

  • Everett Lunday

    And this is supposed to refute the doctrines of grace how?

  • Skeptical Christian
  • Brunette Latina

    I graduated 12 years from Grace Community Church, where John MacArthur is the pastor and all their doctrine traumatized me, only God healed me from it in my mid 20s. I wanted to write a book on what happened while I attended Grace Community but God told me not to. God told me that I’m no one to judge and He will reward me for doing the work of the Lord, which is serving “the lost”.

  • Kevin

    I find your statement, “John MacArthur just seems to be getting more and more unwilling to compromise.” Since when compromising biblical truth a good thing? Compromise is one of Satan’s greatest tools to dilute God’s Word and undermine the church.

  • Kevin

    Brandon, How do you define the word “Christian”? Here in Ecuador the Catholic Church calls their followers “Christians” Yet they are taught that Mary is the path to salvation. The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also call themselves “Christian” yet deny Jesus Christ as God. Being a true Christian (a life-long follower of Jesus Christ) is more than a loose affiliation with a church or a group, a self declaration, or a vague recognition of who Jesus is.

  • Kevin

    …And Benjamin L. Corey knows how to proof text another pastor’s message in effort to support his own bias and then malign those he disagrees with. Your choice of inflammatory adjectives lower the credibility of your message and intentionally taints the words stated by Pastor MacArthur. I am missionary in South America, For a decade I have seen exactly what Pastor MacArthur speaks. So I do not know how you are able to make your claims that Pastor MacArthur is wrong… or his statements are racist for stating the truth. It is obvious you do not agree with Pastor MacArthur; by making ad-hominem attacks and using biased and derogatory language only weakens your position. You may want to reconsider your choice of words and strive for a more cogent rebuttel / argument rather than malign the person who makes statement with which you disagree.

  • Dr P

    Our position is strong against MacArthur as he is the most sectarian exclusivist person. We must show his ugly face and false doctrine to the community… we need to defend our faith and the example that Jesus show to us…so far from this pharisaic egocentric. I lived in Argentina and I was missionary with Campus Crusade. I am a doctor in Houston Tx.
    Lets stop this “false prophet” he has damaged too many people already.

  • Dr P

    I am a conservative christian too… why so much egocentric pharisaic message from this sectarian guy, J. MacArthur need to be stop, he is hurting too many people.

  • Dr P

    I know him very well… he is just the opposite of what Jesus shows and teaches clearly in the Gospels.
    He reads the Scriptures under the light of his own egocentric candles.

  • Dr P

    Yes brother….! MacArthur is not just a rigid Calvinist. His message is hateful, exclusivist, so far from Jesus example. He is emotionally sick, I know him well.
    Yes we need to read the great theologians and “people with more knowledge” and willing to show His grace.

  • Dr P

    Mac Arthur is dogmatic, narrow minded and egocentric… Why he still heard by some innocent people… Pope Francis is much closer to the reality of the Gospel than this legalistic preacher…..

  • Dr P

    We must stop MacArthur.. he is the worst example for christianity. He needs to be shown as he is, legalistic, discriminatory, proud. He is like the older brother of the prodigal son, fortunately he will not attend the feast……our feast with the Master. He will not reach anybody with a little bit of brain…. still harming the innocents…..

  • Kevin

    So far, you have only proven my initial comment: “ugly face”, “sectarian exclusivist”, “Pharisaic egocentric”, false prophet”. These phrases do not support your position but are merely derogatory statements that prove nothing. Now if you could say something that can show how Pastor MacArthur is in error, I am willing to listen to what you have to say.

  • Eric Brown

    No, division over disputable matters if a greater tool of Satan and it is in fact a greater tool than “Compromise”. What I said was that I’m willing to look for good in ministries when they don’t have salvation doctrine problems and charismatic verses non-charismatic is not one of them. (No Charismatic theology does not demand that God be a genie in the bottle necessarily). Furthermore cessation ism doesn’t have a leg to stand on biblically anyway.

  • Kevin

    I agree with you on division over disputable matters. There are some issues that are more preferential than foundational. Where I see the cause of dangerous division is by the introductions of teachings from movements like Seeker-Driven and NAR. Satan not only wants the church divided but he also wants unity when it comes to compromising with the acceptance of false teaching. The accusation of being divisive depends upon what side of the division one is standing on. The division between truth and error is an ongoing battle. I would hope I would be standing on the side of truth rather than the side of error. both sides will claim the other side is causing division. We are to be in unity with biblical truth. some will unite with error and see compromise as a means of creating unity.

  • Kevin

    Dr P, Satan is also very familiar with John MacArthur and Satan agrees with everything you say about him. It should comfort you greatly to know that you have a powerful ally.

  • Kevin

    Why so much judgmental hostility towards a faithful servant of God? You do a very good job of slandering and bearing false witness. (hey… isn’t that a sin?) It appears he may have touched a sensitive nerve on one of your favorite unrepentant sins.

    Oh… and when you state, “He will not reach anybody with a little bit of brain…” you may want to check your own pride since it is spilling out of your words.

  • Misty Grey

    That’s the same thought I had.

  • Misty Grey

    Exactly!

  • Misty Grey

    Well said

  • Dean

    Just one correction on the Calvinist Version:

    “Red and yellow, black, but mostly white”

  • Dean

    I have to say that for people who say JMac is a great Bible teacher, I’m not sure what they’re talking about, he’s flat out wrong on lots of things. This Lordship Salvation business is probably heresy if you want to go there (and they’re the folks who usually want to go there!).

  • Brian Hager

    Pharisee!

  • Colin Swan

    this article is so laughable. People going around hating on Calvinism and everyone who promotes it will never lose its humor because they are being so divisive and anti-factual while at the same time falsely accusing their targets of the same thing. We love you anyways. We hope you stop what you are doing. We know that we are only different from you because God gave us the grace to be so. Think about what you are doing and pray with a soft and open heart before you speak.

  • As an Hispanic, I am insulted and much disturbed by MacArthur’s obvious bias, racial and religious. It seems obvious he will vote for Trump.

    I have no respect for him as a “Dr” or even a “pastor” since he seem to reflect neither the objective reasoning of the former or the practical intelligence of the latter.

  • Francesco Testa

    I was born and raised in a Catholic family, in Italy… A very similar spiritual ground, on many aspects. I totally understand John MacArthur’s point, and even if I was Hispanic, living in a deeply catholic culture, my reaction to this would be, ‘bring it on! Send people over to share the gospel’.

    The Roman Catholic Church has been wreaking havoc on Christian terminology, twisting it and depriving it of its original meaning, adding to and taking from scripture as they pleased. They are deceiving people with a “falsified” gospel, and as a result, when you try to share the gospel with the average Italian (personal experience), they think that they already know everything there is to know about Christ and the scripture, when they clearly have no idea what salvation even means! The bible is just another book, Christ is just another teacher, so basically ‘believe in whatever helps you get through life’. The gospel message is completely nullified!
    You walk around any town in Italy and see crosses and churches everywhere, but the gospel is nonexistent… Otherwise the worship of Mary and many other unbiblical practices wouldn’t have been tolerated, let alone survived and thrived for 2000 years!

    In my opinion these accusations against John MacArthur are preposterous to say the least, in addition to being entirely inconsistent with the remaining of his teachings. I really don’t think he’s suggesting that Christianity belongs to a certain race/culture, especially considering the way he exposes the struggle of Christians within the AMERICAN culture!

  • Raymond Smith

    You know him well? You used to work on his staff or something ?

  • GUCCI GOTDAMN IT

    God is not a religious tho…