The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

General MacArthur

with 4 comments

A couple of MacArthur-related bits that I appreciated follow.

First, Kevin DeYoung speaks of his pulpit authority, quoting Hughes Old’s work on reading and preaching to demonstrate why he is so compelling:

Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens. (Vol. 7, 557-58, emphasis added)

Second, Tim Challies has interviewed MacArthur, and in answering a question about dangers to the church, MacArthur said:

A third major issue that I see is the Arminian methodology that seems to characterize many in the Young Restless Reformed crowd in contradiction to their Reformed credo.

If you ask me (and I should point out that nobody has), this is spot on. Kevin’s post and Tim’s blend nicely together: a man who believes in the sovereignty of God should preach as if he believes in the sovereignty of God and leave a sovereign God to provide the blessing.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 10 February 2011 at 17:21

Posted in Pastoral theology

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4 Responses

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  1. I wasn’t sure about reacting to this but, find my reply here –


    Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 08:22

    • Thanks for this, Mike, and thanks for your response. It seems that you have some personal experience of the issue of a failure to interpret the Bible in a Christ-centred way. Is that a reflection of MacArthur’s Dispensationalism? Your comments left me not so much confused as unenlightened: it’s a serious concern that you identify, but perhaps you can fill it out? I don’t have a MacArthur Study Bible, and have read only a few volumes of his (mainly commentaries and one or two other bits) so I am not equipped to grasp what you say from the hints you provide.

      Jeremy Walker

      Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 08:58

  2. Is that a reflection of MacArthur’s Dispensationalism? Yes it is. Because of the emphasis on Israel they end up with an Israel Centred Bible. The principle of interpretation is unless there is a direct quotation or direct reference to a particular OT passage then there is no warrant to interpret it in a Christ Centred way. There is an article on the Masters Seminary website that deals with this – but I don’t have access to it right now. What it ends up in though, is a very law centred way of interpreting. This is my direct experience anyway. I have found that trying to argue for a Christ Centred interpretation is like arguing with a JW or Mormon in defence of Christ – it’s a very weird situation. There is also a great emphasis on the authority of the Pastor that makes it very cult like and as I say ends up very close to if not another Gospel. I realise what I’m saying is very much against the trend – but, if a ministry is fine apart from the fact that it often leaves Christ out… I mean what are we saying, it’s ok to leave out THE main theme. Others may like to respond but this is what I have found. It’s very distressing.


    Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 15:54

    • Mike goes much further with the “cultic” references than I would want to, but I agree with him in lamenting the “Israel Centered Bible.” The MacArthur approach actually steals Ezekiel 36 from the Gentile Christian, and rather than a promise of the New Birth, it becomes a promise to someone’s DNA strand. The notes in the MacArthur Study Bible are downright depressing. Every time you read something exciting in the prophets he takes it right back away again with “this will be fulfilled in the Millenium.” In other words, “never mind, this isn’t about you.”

      I did find DeYoung’s post on MacArthur’s confidence in the Scriptures very interesting and worthy of reflection – not that I doubt them but that a simple raw assertion of truth has it’s own peculiar power.

      As to the comment about Arminian-acting Neo-Calvinists? Meh. He’s just being insulting rather than offering a substantive critique. Reducto ad absurdum says we don’t have to translate the Bible either. Sovereignty, baby. Truthfully, we all contextualize. He’s just contextualized to California 30 years ago.

      Nate Garvin

      Thursday 24 February 2011 at 05:47

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