Tuesday, September 25, 2012
John MacArthur - and Other “Reformed” Teachers
A non-Calvinist reader of my blog questioned my favorable citation of John MacArthur and other “Reformed” teachers in various articles, especially since MacArthur has had some problematic teachings in the past.
Some points I want to start with:
1. The Reformation was started by men before Calvin showed up, so I find the fact that Calvinists call their specific doctrine “Reformed” to be arrogant. Calvin was a “johnny-come-lately” in the Reformation. So Calvinists, quit ascribing that title to your TULIPS.
2. I personally feel that Calvinism (more appropriately termed “Augustinism”), as summed up by the acronym “TULIP,” is one of the worst things that ever happened to the Church. BUT, it is not an issue I care to discuss on this blog because it can run a million rabbit trails and take too much time - time which can be better used elsewhere.
3. Some of my favorite teachers are Calvinists. When Calvinism doesn’t come up as the subject matter, these people can have some really, really good teachings.
4. I am a non-Calvinist. This does not make me an Arminian, nor does it make me a semi-Pelagian, and it certainly doesn’t make me deny the complete sovereignty of God. So any Calvinists who read this can keep those accusations to yourselves. Nor do I believe Calvinism to be heretical - as Calvinists have called me for being a non-Calvinist. (I believe Calvinism to be misguided and aberrational.)
5. There are mature Christians, both non-Calvinists and Calvinists, who read this blog, neither of which I think will be likely to change their foundational belief system because of my blog.
6. There are also recent converts and immature Christians who read this blog and probably have no idea what the Calvinism/non-Calvinism debate is about; and if THOSE readers are interested, they can e-mail me for an explanation as to why I consider Calvinism an erroneous belief system.
Now to specifics:
I will continue to cite Calvinists when I feel there are good teachings expressed, but will never cite them teaching anything Calvinist. Just beware that if the teacher is a Calvinist, and you aren’t, and you want to read other things by that author, you will have to watch for the Calvinist mines. Even with non-Calvinists you also have to use discernment when reading their material; after all, no one will be right all the time!
About John MacArthur. I understand that he had a teaching in the past, which he later recanted, about Jesus not always being the Son of God. I have no problem with a teacher having a previous bad teaching for which he recants; I don’t hold it against him and will not use that as a reason to caution against him as a teacher.
However, MacArthur still teaches what is called “Lordship Salvation.” My understanding when I first heard this term was that he was simply teaching that, if one is truly a Christian they will have works demonstrating that fact; i.e., they will have a change of life. Sort of like what James 2:17-18 is talking about. Of course it won't always be an instantaneous change, because God continues to sanctify us our whole lives. However, I have also read where MacArthur is teaching works-salvation with this subject.
I recently perused a site which had numerous quotes by MacArthur on the subject of “Lordship Salvation,” and, quite frankly, I found them to be a contradictory and confusing mess, and it’s really difficult to know exactly what he IS saying!
Overall, I think John MacArthur has some good teachings when Calvinism isn’t the subject. I think he is especially strong when it comes to teaching about Christian worldview subjects, which were the context of my previous citations.
One last point to make: I will never cite favorably any author who has heretical teachings or whose teachings are more bad than good. I may, however, cite a teacher who has some bad teachings, but which are far outweighed by his good teachings - in my opinion. This can be very subjective, of course. The important thing is that I do not necessarily agree with everything taught by any teacher I cite! And you may not necessarily agree with everything I teach!
We all must be Bereans, and check everything against the Word of God.