- Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., (born 1940) is the pastor of Grace Community Church (GCC) in Sun Valley, California, as well as the president of both The Master's College and The Master's Seminary. His first two years of college were spent at Bob Jones University. His undergraduate work was completed at Los Angeles Pacific College, followed by seminary training at Talbot Theological Seminary. Grace Church has grown from 450 members when MacArthur accepted the pastorate in 1969, to over 12,000 today. Much of MacArthur's influence is derived from his sermons that are edited and aired over more than 700 stations daily across the U.S. and Canada on the "Grace to You" (GTY) radio program. First aired in 1977, GTY now has a full-time U.S. staff of approximately 45, and has produced and distributed more than ten million audio cassette lessons. In addition, the "Grace to You Weekend" broadcast now airs on almost 100 outlets. MacArthur is also a prolific "writer," authoring a New Testament Commentary series, various issue-oriented books, and most recently, a study Bible. (Many of MacArthur's most recent works are merely re-edited sermon messages.)
For many, John MacArthur is a champion of the faith whose voice is correcting many of the ills of Christianity. For others, his teachings border on heresy, if not blasphemy (see below). Nevertheless, MacArthur's charm, charisma, and abilities have combined to make him very appealing, even to those who should otherwise know better. MacArthur's proclamation of much truth can also create in one's mind a delusion. In the following quotes, MacArthur rightly reveals the deceptive ways of false teachers, yet in the process, he unwittingly describes himself:
"... they are dangerous when they tell truth because often they cannot be distinguished from true teachers. The key to being a successful false teacher is to tell as much of the truth as possible" (MacArthur's Bible Study Guide, Joy And Godliness, p. 17); and
"The subtlety of false teaching is that it uses the Word of God but misrepresents its teaching. Those who teach something explicitly and overtly anti-biblical, anti-Christ, and anti-God pose no real threat to the Christian church. But subtle teaching that appears to be biblical yet pulls unwary souls away from the faith is a great danger to the church" (MacArthur's Bible Study Guide, Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters, p. 17).
We will focus primarily on Dr. MacArthur's psychological teachings and his
neo-evangelical associations, and leave most of the other theological issues to
others (e.g., a works-oriented approach to the concept of Lordship Salvation;
dispensational inconsistencies; confusion concerning the two natures of the
believer; confusing statements on the "blood of Christ"; denial of
Eternal Sonship (since recanted); confusion concerning unlimited atonement; and
the use of contemporary Christian music). (Portions of the above were adapted
from a 1988 OBF Visitor Feature Article by Pastor Peter Foxx.)
- Through books and in various sermons (heard via The Master's Fellowship tape ministry -- over 11 million produced), MacArthur has continually claimed (since at least 1985) to be adamantly opposed to psychology and its message of "self." Yet at the same time these anti-psychology books and messages were published and recorded, respectively, MacArthur was fully employing the teachings of "Christian" psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb (see details below). Likewise, in direct contradiction of this claim of being against psychology, MacArthur has preached other sermons teaching various psychological, and thereby, non-Biblical concepts and dogma, such as self-esteem, self-image, self-worth, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, etc., all clothed in deceptive Christian garb. (See the "Radio Tape Index" for details. It should be noted that many of the exact statements in this radio log can be found in anywhere from two to four written sources, authored by MacArthur, and still being sold in the GCC bookstore!)
For example, check out the following blasphemous psychobabble from the man who not only claims to understand the psychological seduction of Christianity, but also claims to be solidly in the camp of those of us actively opposing it:
"A true sense of self-worth comes from understanding our position in Christ. We have been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Knowing this gives us a sense of our significance and value to God. We were so important to God that He gave up His Son to die on our behalf. ... Thank God for considering you valuable enough to bestow such riches upon you. ... If you're struggling with a lack of self-worth, remember that you were important enough for God to give you to Jesus as an inheritance" (The Believer's Life in Christ, MacArthur Bible Study Guide, Eph. 1:1-2:10 [Word of Grace Communications:1989/1995], pp. 27, 36, & 69-70). (Emphases added.) [Tape series also offered in GTY's 51-page, 1996 tape and book resource catalogue.]
God died for us because we were "important enough"?! This is a tragedy of immeasurable magnitude that we have people who claim to belong to the living God, and churches that claim to be Bible-believing churches, that are robbing God of that which belongs to Him and Him alone -- all the esteem, all the honor, is His for the work of salvation -- and directing it back to themselves. What blasphemy is being promoted from within the church today! -- that pastors like John MacArthur can find a way to say, "You want to know how valuable I am? You want to know how much worth I have? You want to know what gives me self-esteem? God thought I was valuable enough to die for." That's blasphemy. That's robbing God of that which is His alone. God did not die for us because of our great worth, but because of our great sin! He died because of who He is, and in spite of what we are (cf. Rom. 5:8). He died to demonstrate His righteousness and His divine justice (Rom. 3:23-26). There is no mercy if it had to do with my worth. It is not of grace if it had to do with my value. Anyone who would try to divert some of that glory, honor, and esteem to man is robbing God of the worship due Him and Him alone.
[Elaborating on MacArthur's erroneous interpretation, he is clearly saying that we should feel good about ourselves because God was enriched through gaining us as His children! The context of Eph. 1:18, however, is all about the blessings we receive from God, not the blessings He receives from us. Clearly, the "riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" refers to what God has given the saints, not, as MacArthur teaches, to an inheritance they have bequeathed Him. Nowhere in the Bible is God enriched by man. It is man who is always benefited by God. Common sense also makes that clear. God, being infinitely rich and needing nothing, cannot be enriched by anyone or anything. (Adapted from the 9/93 TBC.)]
- An elder of Grace Church once said the above self-worth/significance to God quote from MacArthur was "admittedly a poor way for John to state his point" (September 1994 letter on file). Well, MacArthur's point was -- what the fact that God the Father sent his Son into the world, says about man's value. And it is the opposite of what the Scriptures teach! It's like saying that since a person claims to be an ardent capitalist and then states, "hence I believe there should be no private ownership of property," is choosing a poor way to make his point. His statement proves the exact opposite of what he said he believed. [For clarification on this issue, see "The Parable of Heathen," which is a section in Jim Owen's book Christian Psychology's War on God's Word (pp. 62-64). Owen is an associate professor of history at The Master's College.]
In further contradiction to what MacArthur teaches, Dr. Trevor Craigen, also of The Master's Seminary, questions the doctrine of redemption being used "to proclaim that man is something worth dying for, and that one may now attribute to himself dignity, worth and significance or may see himself as something worthwhile." Yet, this is the exact concept that his employer, John MacArthur, is teaching! Craigen says:
"In Scripture no context presenting the wonder and grandeur of salvation even remotely suggests or attempts to apply the doctrine in such a way so that anyone may now validly conclude himself to be worth dying for, or himself to be worthwhile and significant. ... Salvation is, in all of its aspects, a testimony of the grace of God toward those who were unworthy of eternal life and of His love. Salvation signifies, not the worth of man, but the sinfulness of man" (T. Craigen, An Exegetical Foundation for a Biblical Approach to Thinking of Oneself, doctoral dissertation for Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN, 1984, p. 43).
MacArthur would be wise to run his writings by Dr. Craigen before publishing.
It would save him considerable embarrassment and perhaps even help him to
straighten out his theology on this crucial matter.
- In the mid-1980s, Grace Community Church, with MacArthur's full knowledge and approval, and at the same time MacArthur was claiming to be adamantly opposed to the psychological teachings that have invaded the church, was deeply involved with the teaching and counseling ministries of so-called Christian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb. (Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs that supposedly motivate human behavior, which system is derived from Freudian and humanistic/Maslowian psychology with its hierarchy of needs, with greatest emphasis on so-called emotional needs, the fulfillment of which supposedly result in a sense of personal worth and psychological healthiness. Counseling under Crabb's model takes the form of delving into the unconscious by peeling away the "self-protective layers" [i.e., defense mechanisms] and getting at the "real pain and sorrow of unmet needs.") MacArthur had endorsed Crabb's film series, Inside Out; allowed Crabb to hold seminars on the Grace Church campus on at least two different occasions (while having Crabb as a co-speaker/teacher on at least two different "Christian cruises"); allowed his church counseling staff to use Crabb's model in-house, as well as recommended Crabb's materials to radio listeners who would call in for counseling; carried multiple copies of each of Crabb's books in The Master's College and Seminary and Grace Church bookstores, while, at the same time, refusing to carry books critical of Crabb's teachings; and had staffed the College and Seminary with a considerable number of pro-Crabb supporters (as well as having had Dr. Crabb as an adjunct professor on the Seminary faculty).
Between August 1988 and July 1989, MacArthur's official policy regarding Larry Crabb was changing from one of active support to one of declaring Dr. Crabb "persona-non-grata" Along with this policy change, MacArthur claimed to have retracted the above "endorsements" of Crabb's teachings, and to have removed all identification with Crabb's name and materials. Nevertheless, an attendee at MacArthur's March 1990 Shepherd's Conference reported the following:
(1) many of Crabb's books were recommended as "helpful resources" in the Conference Notebook's annotated bibliography; and
(2) Crabb's materials and/or teaching concepts were still being used extensively at Grace Church, particularly in the adult Sunday School classes (one of which, "Marriage Builders," appeared to be named after a Crabb book title, The Marriage Builder), and was being taught by a Grace Church staff member and Crabb follower, John Zimmer. (Zimmer has since left Grace Church.)
Later on in the 1990s, MacArthur employed even more men teaching Crabb-like concepts and/or trained at Crabb-influenced/-led institutions (see sections on Gary Ezzo, Wayne Mack, and David Harrell). Therefore, regardless of his claims to the contrary, it is doubtful that MacArthur has ever abandoned his fondness for the psychological teachings of Larry Crabb.
- In 1985, MacArthur's tape ministry produced a two-tape audio series, The Day God's Word Went on Trial, describing the public court trial of Grace Church relating to the Church's counseling relationship with a Talbot Seminary Extension student who had committed suicide. The tape is not only replete with favorable references to psychology and psychiatry, but at the same time, it makes derogatory comments concerning those who might desire to counsel using only the Bible.
- MacArthur's Grace Community Church owns and operates a bookstore (the Book Shack) on the Church's Sun Valley campus. Over the August 1989-1993 period, even though the books of some of the most psychologically-oriented authors (e.g., James Dobson, Dennis Rainey, Ed Wheat, Larry Crabb, and Minirth & Meier) were removed from the store, books still being offered for sale were those by pantheistic New Ager Tony Campolo; financial psychologizers Larry Burkett and Ron Blue; psychological "Christian Marriage Enrichment" counselor H. Norman Wright; self-love advocates Josh McDowell, Chuck Swindoll, and R.C. Sproul; four temperaments guru Tim LaHaye; right-brain/left-brain mentor Donald Joy; religious humanist Don Matzat; ecumenical Catholicism promoter and psychologizer Chuck Colson; New Age Roman Catholic psychologist, mystic, and universalist Henri Nouwen; Arminian revivalist Charles Finney; womens' ministries psychologizers Kay Arthur, Linda Dillow, and Carol Mayhall; and other lesser known psychologically-oriented authors. [Correspondence with the Book Shack manager in November of 1990 revealed that MacArthur's main reason for selling psychologically-oriented books was to teach his people discernment skills, and according to the manager, not to stock such books would be to adopt a "head in the sand" mentality! (To the contrary, the Bible teaches that the shepherd's role is to warn and protect the flock, not to expose them to dangerous heresies!]
The GCC bookstore also publishes a mail-order book catalogue, the "Grace Book Service" (GBS). Along with some acceptable titles, the 31-page, 1996 GBS edition included a significant number of books and commentaries by covenant theologians, plus a few books by some of the usual neo-evangelical, psychoheretical suspects -- Elisabeth Elliot, Tony Evans, Josh McDowell, Dick Eastman, Max Lucado, Howard Hendricks, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Walter Kaiser, Joseph Stowell, Ed Bulkley, Ed Wheat, Wayne Mack, etc.
- On a visit to the Grace Church campus on Sunday, 7/25/93, I came across an official Grace Church "tract rack" outside the main entrance to the Grace Church auditorium. All the tracts available were published by Good News Publishers of Wheaton, Illinois. One of the free tracts was titled "You're Special," written by Ted Griffin. Note the psychological concepts of self in this excerpt from the tract:
"... we are precious to God, for He continues to love us even when we pay Him no mind. He still sees us as individuals with great value. ... He considers each of us important enough to love. ... Because you and I are special to God, He wants to forgive us and give us a full, meaningful life. When we trust in Jesus Christ and let Him put our lives together, the Bible says that we become 'God's masterpieces, created in Christ Jesus.' Can anyone be more special than that?" (Emphasis added.)
Can John MacArthur really believe this psychobabble? Apparently so, or why else would such a tract be made available free of charge to the thousands of people who pass through the Grace Church doors each Sunday? (There is little doubt that MacArthur does believe this. The above quote reads like a paraphrase of the MacArthur quote cited previously in this report from The Believer's Life in Christ series.)
- In September/October of 1989, MacArthur's radio tape ministry re-aired a 1979 series, The Fulfilled Family, in which MacArthur spends considerable time quoting from and recommending the works of so-called Christian psychiatrist Paul Meier, with whom MacArthur now claims to disagree (see below). When asked in August of 1989 why the Meier references (as well as the other considerable psychological material in the series; i.e., favorable quotes from Carl Rogers, James Dobson, Psychology Today, and various other "human behavior experts") were not being edited-out of the radio messages nor the Bible Study Guide, MacArthur's top assistant at the time (who claimed to speak with "the full authority of John MacArthur") replied, "It would cost too much; maybe we'll catch it next time." The "next time(s)" occurred in March/April of 1991; February/March of 1993, and again in March/ April of 1995, again with no editing-out of the psychological teachings. [The Fulfilled Family was also offered in GTY's 51-page, 1996 tape and book resource catalogue. Although a new Fulfilled Family 9-tape audio cassette series was recorded in 1996 and aired on Grace To You (GTY) radio in 20 segments in early-1999 (2/8/99-3/5/99), MacArthur still refers to the 1979-series as "the biblical model for family life," and claims the new series "includes principles from the original ... plus new information and insight -- some gained through the successes and failures of a whole generation of American families since then" (4/18/96, GTY ministry letter).]
- In the late-1980s, with the financing of a "ministry friend," MacArthur even sent The Fulfilled Family 8-tape cassette album and Bible Study Guide to every U.S. Senator, Congressman, and Supreme Court Justice, and to every state governor and every "special person in the [Bush] White House" (Source: GC50-45 -- "The Secret of Contentment -- Part 3" [Phil. 4:14-19]). MacArthur is apparently convinced that unbelievers can benefit from "the truth that God has designed for marriage and the family" (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1) and/or he believes (like James Dobson) that we can reform the heathen's behavior without God first regenerating the heart.
- On 5/21/91, MacArthur debated "Christian" psychiatrist Paul Meier on John Stewart's Los Angeles radio program (KKLA), rightly portraying Meier as a psychiatrist/psychologist with whom he [MacArthur] had serious disagreement. Yet at the same time this debate took place, MacArthur was in the process of distributing a free tape in the mail (GC80-69: "Shade for Our Children") that was recorded on Mother's Day, 1990. On that tape, MacArthur again quoted favorably, and at great length, from Paul Meier's book, Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development, much of which was taken directly from the transcript of MacArthur's 1979 The Fulfilled Family series! If this wasn't bad enough, MacArthur even added more psychological references that are in direct contradiction with some of what he says he believes in his April 1991 book, Our Sufficiency In Christ (see the attached notes on the "Shade for Our Children" message). [Tape GC80-69 was redistributed (@$4.75/each) and aired again on GTY radio in May of 1997; none of the psychological references were edited out. In June of 1997, MacArthur distributed another free tape titled "A Crash Course in Christian Parenting" (no tape number). MacArthur begins the message by affirming that Christian parents need to turn to God's Word for parenting instructions, not the world. Ignoring his own advice, he then goes on to cite many of the same psychological sources as in "Shade for Our Children." One of MacArthur's psychological platitudes was "If you want an accident prone child, ignore him and fight with each other so that he hurts himself to get your attention." Where is this psychological nonsense in the Bible?!]
- In August of 1989, MacArthur's top assistant at the time (again, the same man who claimed to speak with the full authority of John MacArthur) privately stated that the psychology curriculum at The Master's College was going to be eliminated as early as the Fall 1990 semester, and that MacArthur was in the process of informing concerned parties at the College of this decision. In November 1989, however, the top administrator of the Master's College was questioned concerning the completion of this notification process, to which he replied, "To answer your question concerning the elimination of our course offerings in Behavior Sciences, the answer is no." (As an indication of the highly psychological content of the College's Behavioral Sciences curriculum at the time, the following concepts were routinely taught: "coping mechanisms of human emotions"; "identity formation"; "adaptive techniques"; "mid-life crisis"; "treatment of abnormal behavior and personality disorders"; "group counseling"; "psychological motivation"; "the psychology of human potential"; etc.; etc.)
The psychology curriculum was significantly altered for the Fall 1991 semester, but not eliminated entirely -- a new program in so-called "Biblical counseling" is now being offered, but MacArthur announced at the time that the new courses, "will be supported by courses in the social sciences" (July/August 1991, Masterpiece, p. 28). In fact, the 1996-1998 The Master's College Catalog still indicates that every Master's College degree-program student must successfully complete an introductory social science course (p. 46), which includes course offerings in Psychology and Sociology (pp. 158-159). In addition, students in the Liberal Studies and Teacher Education programs must take both of the psychology courses offered in the Behavioral Studies department -- "Introduction to Psychology" and "Child Development" (pp. 163, 207). (As of the Fall 1995 semester, the Biblical counseling program at The Master's College had 80 students and two full-time faculty members.)
[One still needs to ask the question, "Why is the answer to 'getting rid of psychology courses in the curriculum' to replace them with 'Biblical counseling' courses?" Shouldn't the answer be to teach the Bible? What goes on in The Master's College theology and Bible classes if its graduates won't be able to care for their sheep without taking special classes in psychology or Biblical counseling? The message being communicated by The Master's College is this: Studying theology and the Bible does not adequately prepare pastors, teachers, and missionaries "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). (The Master's College continued reliance on "counseling" rather than the Bible to solve problems of living can bee seen from the following statement on page 244 of The Master's College 1996-1998 Catalog -- "The college reserves the right to require a student to seek a medical examination or counseling assessment and treatments or ongoing counseling to maintain student status.")]
- Wayne Mack was hired in 1993 to head up the Biblical counseling program at The Master's College and to train Grace Church staff members in Biblical counseling methodologies. (Mack is now Chairman of the Biblical Counseling Department and Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master's College and an elder of Grace Community Church.) Mack was formerly employed as a counselor/instructor by the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), an institution with a highly compromised Biblical stand (i.e., psychological integrationism). (See Bobgan: Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible for an excellent critique of the "Biblical counseling" movement in general and CCEF in particular.) Evidence of Mack's psychological leanings can be gleaned from his 1991 book, Your Family, God's Way. The book is loaded down with Larry Crabb-taught concepts and terminology such as: touchy-feely child rearing methods; "significance" and "security" needs; "self-image" and "self-worth"; "dysfunctional families"; "unconscious habits"; feelings of "rejection"; "listen to your inner-man"; "give yourself permission to feel and think"; "homophobia"; "inferiority feelings"; etc.; etc.
Another book by Mack, Preparing for Marriage God's Way, is also used as a text at Grace Church. (The book is subtitled A Step-By-Step Guide for Marriage Readiness and After the Wedding Conflicts; it is designed to be used as a premarital counseling manual.) One only need look at Mack's "Resource List of Helpful Books and Tapes for Marriage and Family Counseling/Teaching" listed on page 153 of Preparing for Marriage God's Way to understand the extent of this man's psychological bent -- Mack recommends books and tapes by Adlerean psychologizer John Bettler (the director of CCEF); Freudian/Adlerean/Maslowian psychologist Larry Crabb; four-temperaments gurus Tim and Beverly LaHaye; right-brain/left-brain psychologizer Gary Smalley, Christian "sexologists" Ed and Gay Wheat; and psychologizer and admitted adulterer Gordon MacDonald.
The book is also replete with self-centered tests no different than the personality/temperament tests used by secular psychologists. In fact, on one of the "worksheets" (p. 15), the reader is asked to fill in the blank for: "What I like best about myself is:" (cf. 2 Tim. 3:2). The book also teaches the pagan idea that it is "essential" to "know yourself" and your partner "in a deep and accurate way" in order to have a successful marriage. ("Pagan" because on the walls of the Temple of Delphi "... was inscribed the most famous of all Greek precepts -- 'Know thyself!' Man has been preoccupied with such admonitions, and his partially successful response is reflected in the discipline of contemporary psychology" -- Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 15, 1978, p. 149.)
[It appears that the CCEF influence (i.e., a psychological integrationist influence) is becoming dominant at Grace Church and The Master's College and Seminary. This was reconfirmed in July of 1994 when Word Publishing brought out a 21-chapter, 407-page book co-authored by MacArthur and Mack -- Introduction to Biblical Counseling. The back cover proclaims that the book presents "an alternative to secular psychology" -- certainly a bad beginning to a well-intended book. (Since when is the Bible an alternative to anything, especially an "alternative to secular psychology"?) The book includes five chapters by John MacArthur, seven by Wayne Mack, and six by various other then-current MacArthur employees. In addition, one of the chapters was written by David Powlison (as well as a portion of the Q&A chapter), another psychological integrationist also employed at CCEF. Again, those interested should obtain the Bobgan's 1994 book, Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible and/or BDM's report on CCEF.]
- The basically flawed, psychologically-oriented counseling program at The Master's College took a turn for the worse in 1995. (See PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Jan-Feb 1996, "The Master's College: On the Downgrade?," pp. 1,4.) Not only are the College's Biblical counseling courses not Biblical, its rush to develop and expand programs led to the employment of another psychologizer, David Harrell, as a faculty member in the expanding Department of Biblical Studies. According to Dr. John Stead, who was Vice President of Academic Affairs at the time of Harrell's hiring, Harrell was hired at the recommendation of Dr. Wayne Mack.
Harrell has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling. He earned the M.A. under the leadership of clinical psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb at Grace Theological Seminary (GTS). This is a one-year degree program compared with an M.Div., which usually takes three years. At one time, Harrell attended Tennessee State University and was majoring in Psychology. Harrell also has a D.Phil. degree from Oxford Graduate School, which sounds rather prestigious until one learns that this Oxford is unaccredited and is essentially a correspondence school in Tennessee.
Harrell was also co-founder and Executive Vice President of Buyer's Healthcare Cooperative, Inc. (BHC) from 1989 through 1995 until he left for The Master's College. The health care services provided by BHC include the usual psychiatric and mental health services that similar plans offer. The fact that Harrell's business, BHC, negotiates mental health care services for employees seems a bit contradictory if one supposedly stands for the Bible as the source for dealing with problems of living. It is understandable how this would occur if one were merely an employee, but legitimate questions arise when a professing Christian, who is an owner, is doing it. One wonders how many Christian employees have used so-called mental health services as a result of Harrell's company's negotiations.
Harrell also lacked the educational and experiential background requirements for teaching in a Biblical Studies department at an accredited Christian college. What little teaching experience Harrell does have occurred as a part-time hourly instructor under Crabb at GTS during 1984-85, which actually required very little teaching. Moreover, with a B.A. in Psychology, an attempt at a doctorate in Psychology, and an M.A. in an integrationist Biblical counseling program under Crabb, there is a definite incongruity between Harrell's educational interests and his hiring at The Master's College.
The question is: Why would Wayne Mack recommend someone as a faculty member to teach classes in Biblical counseling when Harrell's counseling experience is so limited and the majority of his prior counseling was Crabb-inspired? With all of the deficiencies discussed above, it is startling that Harrell was employed at The Master's College in the first place, and as an Associate Professor, when the usual entry level is that of an Assistant Professor. This unusual hiring of Harrell and his immediate elevation to Associate Professor causes one to wonder why he was chosen over others. [While earlier Biblical Counseling department materials did show Harrell as an Associate Professor, the 1996-1998 Master's College Catalog shows Harrell as an Assistant Professor. We have no idea which is correct.] Why were the usual hiring standards set aside? Why wasn't someone with a better academic and experiential background employed? Our guess is that Dr. Wayne Mack, who has more than a taint of integrationism about him, selected someone who would be compatible with his own position on recycling of psychological teachings ("recycling" is CCEF's euphemism for the integration of psychology with the Bible). Considering Harrell's interest in psychology, with a B.A. and attempted doctorate augmented with an integrationist M.A. under Larry Crabb, this surely makes sense.
[Harrell left the employ of The Master's College in 1996; Dr. Timothy Turner took his place. Turner died in May of 1998.]
- Gary Ezzo held the position of "Pastor, Family Ministries" at Grace Community Church from early-1985 until mid-1993, and taught the "young families and single parents" Sunday School class ("Joint Heirs"). (Ezzo also heads up "Growing Families International," a Chatsworth, California-based firm, founded by Ezzo in 1989, that distributes the materials of Gary and his wife, Anne Marie Ezzo.) Despite no longer being on the Grace Church staff, Ezzo remained a "lay elder" at Grace Church until July of 1995, and as of November of 1995, the church was still teaching his materials in church classes and selling his materials in its bookstore (11/19/95, Grace Today). In June of 1996, the Ezzos resigned their membership at Grace Church.
Evident from Ezzo's teachings is that he is a Freudian/Maslowian/Adlerean psychologizer, promoting many of the same concepts taught by Dr. Larry Crabb. It is not clear whether MacArthur's tape ministry still distributes the 1985 four-part video series, How To Raise Your Family: Biblical Essentials for No-Regret Parenting, a series featuring John MacArthur and Gary Ezzo. [At our most recent visit to the Grace Church Book Shack (7/25/93), this video series could not be found. However, the same series was available on four audio cassettes (GTY34-37) through the 1993 "Grace to You Catalog."] This series is highly psychological in nature, teaching various principles of humanistic and Freudian psychology, specifically Larry Crabb's "need theology." (See the sub-report summarizing the first two tapes in this series.)
Psychological materials by Ezzo that were available in the Book Shack (as of 11/19/95) were Godworth and the Self-Worth Crisis (12-message audio series); Reflections of Moral Innocence (8-tape audio series); Preparation for Parenting (loose-leaf notebook); The Bible and Common Sense Parenting (booklet); and Growing Kids God's Way (19-message audio cassette series and workbook). Moreover (and contrary to the rumor at the time that "Ezzo is on his way out"), Ezzo's highly psychological "Growing Kids God's Way" (GKGW) classes were scheduled to be taught again at Grace Church in the fall of 1993 (as advertised in the 7/25/93 Grace Today, p. 3).
Besides the psychological content problems with all of Ezzo's materials, Ezzo has run into problems with some in the medical profession concerning his Preparation for Parenting series -- "Some physicians and nurses are concerned that the rigidity of the feeding program the Ezzo's advocate may put some newborn infants at risk of inadequate weight gain, especially in the first weeks after birth" (8/16/93, Christianity Today, "The Brave New Baby," p. 34). This "program" (six/60-minute videos or 7-message/4-tape audio cassette series, and a student workbook), was created in 1987 under the auspices of MacArthur's Grace Community Church, and is now in its fifth edition, being used in about 3,500 churches is the U.S. The Ezzos claim that about 600,000 parents have gone through Preparation for Parenting; and that all their materials in total are being used by one million parents in some 95 countries throughout the world. Strange in all this is John MacArthur's response to Christianity Today's editors when asked his opinion of Preparation for Parenting -- "no comment."
[Ezzo/MacArthur Update: On 8/15/96, BDM received an e-mail from John MacArthur's daughter, Melinda (with a "Grace To You" e-mail address), stating that "Gary Ezzo and John MacArthur are not associated in any way ... John does not agree at all with his [Ezzo's] methods." She provided no specifics as to when or why this separation occurred, nor what steps John MacArthur had taken to publicly advise his and Ezzo's supporters of the decision. A friend of BDM called the Grace Church Book Shack on 8/16/96 and asked if the bookstore still offered any Ezzo materials. The employee said they did not, but eagerly volunteered the toll free number of Ezzo's Growing Families International in case the caller wanted to place an order! (Does this sound like a "disagreement with Ezzo's methods"? Is it not appalling that there was such a lack of concern -- or just plain incompetent leadership -- for the spiritual well-being of those wanting to purchase Ezzo's materials that there was no communication with bookstore employees concerning the Church's policy?) A few days later, a designated spokesperson of Grace To You e-mailed me on the Ezzo matter, but refused to answer any of the above questions.
John MacArthur's Grace Community Church Board of Elders finally published a statement (dated 10/16/97) detailing the reasons for their mid-1996 split with Gary Ezzo. The four areas of "more serious concerns" to the elders were: (1) Throughout GFI's material there is a blurring of the line between that which is truly biblical, and simple matters of preference; (2) GFI materials tend to be unclear on certain fundamental doctrinal issues -- particularly the issues of original sin and human depravity; (3) The GFI curriculum gives insufficient attention to the child's need for regeneration; and (4) There is a tendency on the part of some GFI-trained parents to isolate their children from others not involved in the program. My concerns with Ezzo are primarily his psychological teachings, but since these teachings were not addressed at all in the Grace Church statement, one can only assume that John MacArthur and his elders were not concerned about Ezzo in this area. That is not to say that the four areas of disagreement the elders have with Ezzo are not important, but what about all the psychological heresies Ezzo taught for more than ten years under the protection of the MacArthur umbrella? -- Ezzo's psychological teachings don't even get a mention on the list of "serious concerns"! I think the obvious answer is that John MacArthur does not oppose these psychoheresies. [In fact, in an 11/97 statement posted to the GFI website by Gary Ezzo, Ezzo provided evidence that MacArthur (in a letter from MacArthur to Ezzo dated 7/18/95) did not question his (Ezzo's) theology -- in MacArthur's own words: "... in my mind we're not dealing with issues of foundational doctrine. I don't question your theology."]
At the end of the GCC Elders' statement, the elders profess their desire to handle things "privately," but that it was now "profoundly unfortunate" to have to issue a public statement. But Ezzo's teachings were not private sins, requiring private consultation. His teachings were not only public, they were publicly endorsed and supported by Grace Church and John MacArthur for over ten years! It is "profoundly unfortunate" that a public statement was withheld for over two years after Ezzo's resignation from the elder board. In my opinion, it all goes back to MacArthur's incompetent leadership, which manifests itself in his reluctance to expose and expel grossly unbiblical individuals such as Ezzo.
In March of 1998, Grace Church and Gary Ezzo made a truce of sorts. In exchange for Ezzo removing his detailed response from the GFI website, Grace Church withdrew its 10/97 Statement and replaced it with a new statement (sans the Ezzo character assassination and much of the detail of the 10/97 statement). The new GCC Elders' Board Statement (dated 3/21/98) is very brief (only four short paragraphs totaling about 175 words), and covers only three areas of disagreement with Ezzo's teachings (infant feeding methods, insufficient evidence on the doctrine of depravity, and GFI-parent group isolationism); again, Ezzo's psychoheretical teachings are not mentioned as an area that concerns the GCC elders.]
- Hired to fill the position of GCC's Pastor of Family Ministries after Gary Ezzo's resignation in 1993 was Associate Pastor Stuart Scott. Scott has the title of "Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministries" at GCC. Scott is an avid promoter of the MacArthur/Mack/NANC philosophy of so-called Biblical counseling. In early-1998, a man from Ohio received a letter signed by Stuart Scott; it was in response to a copy of the Bobgans' book (Against Biblical Counseling: For the Bible) with a letter sent to John MacArthur. In his reply to the man from Ohio, Scott said, "John MacArthur wishes to thank you for your letter. He asked if I would respond since I am the pastor of the Biblical Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Community Church." The remainder of the letter was a severe critique of the Bobgans' book.
Martin Bobgan then sent two letters to Scott requesting information about his letter and the critique. Scott did not answer either letter. Bobgan then wrote a response to Scott's letter and sent it to him, with a copy to MacArthur and one to the man from Ohio. Scott then responded with a two-hour phone call and a subsequent letter, along with a written summary of his phone-call admonishment of the Bobgans, regarding what he considers to be the Bobgans' sinful attitudes, arrogance, etc. It was also learned that Scott claims NOT to have written the letter quoted above nor to have written the critique. In Martin Bobgan's letter to Scott, Bobgan says, "Throughout your letter ... you use the first person pronoun 'I' referring to yourself. The fact that you signed a letter you did not write, which is a criticism of a book you did not critique, is more than problematic. ..." [It is patently dishonest!] (Source: July-August 1998, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter.) [Since Scott has not responded to Martin Bobgan's latest letter, Bobgan has posted (to the PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries website) his response to Scott's so-called critique of Against Biblical Counseling:]
- It appears that MacArthur employs typical Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)/12-step recovery "Support Fellowships" at Grace Church. In an 8/11/91 worship service handout, under the heading of "Special Ministries," two support groups are listed -- one for people experiencing "Drug and Alcohol Problems" [not "sins"?], and another titled, "Empowered Family Support Groups," for those apparently in so-called codependent relationships. (See the sub-report summary taken from the 8/11/91, Grace Today.)
In addition, both Grace Church and The Master's Seminary have recommended and used a book by Dick Eastman, The Hour That Changes The World, which offers a "12-step prayer program," complete with a call to pray that the lost will "contemplate the possibility of a Higher Power" [sounds like AA-talk to us]. The book also encourages believers to listen to their "inner voice" within, in order to ascertain God's will for their lives, and encourages "journaling" to record God's audible instructions! The book is loaded with other New Age references, is heavy in charismatic pseudomysticism, and is highly ecumenical in its approach. (MacArthur's top assistant at the time even favorably quoted from this book in one of his 1993 speaking engagements, plus the book is offered in the 1996 edition of the Grace Book Service.) [Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of the "codependent"/12-step recovery heresy sweeping the church today would be 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110, 1991, 247 pages.]
- Charles M. Sheldon's classic In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? is believed to have sold about 30 million copies in over 15 languages in the past 100 years. One publication warned: "... In His Steps may be a great novel, [but it] promotes a social gospel rather than the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Walking in the steps of Jesus [as if an unregenerate man could!] is not sufficient. One must trust in His saving merits and vicarious satisfaction to get to Heaven." Sheldon, a Congregational minister, followed the liberal teaching of his day that Christ was merely an example. In the past, this book has been heavily promoted by John MacArthur and Grace Church.
- MacArthur's April 1991 book, Our Sufficiency In Christ, has an entire section devoted to the errors of psychology. Nevertheless, MacArthur not only accepts many psychological tenets and is quite psychological in his terminology, but he also reveals numerous contradictions between the realities of his ministry (past and present) and his recollection of the facts pertaining thereto.
- Bob Vernon was Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and one of the leading candidates to become the next Chief-of-Police when Darryl Gates was forced to "retire" over his handling of the 1991 L.A. riots and other matters. Instead, Vernon was also politically pressured to "retire" on the pretense that his religious views were too extreme. Vernon was, and is now, an elder at Grace Community Church. Vernon is also the author of a book being sold in the Grace Church bookstore, L.A. Justice. The book is published by James Dobson's Focus on the Family Publishing, and is full of the false gospel of self-esteem so prevalent in Dobson's teachings. (See specifically Cha. 17 of the book -- "Root Causes: The Abandonment Of Our Children"; Vernon is also an occasional guest on Dobson's radio program.) Vernon claims his teachings are not contrary to Scripture on the self-esteem issue. John MacArthur apparently agrees, or why would Vernon continue to be on the Grace Church Elder Board, his book available in the Book Shack, and MacArthur favorably quote from it in his (MacArthur's) 1994 book, The Vanishing Conscience (pp. 56-58)?
- In a 1991 interview with Los Angeles Times religious reporter, John Dart, MacArthur sheds some light on perhaps why he carries so many books of psychologically-oriented authors in the Grace Church bookstore: "MacArthur said he respects Christian psychologist James Dobson," and that "he is not critical of Dobson because he [Dobson] is not a purveyor of psychotherapy." (Incredible statement! -- Dobson is the purveyor of psychotherapy in the church today.) Also quoted is Focus on the Family spokesman Paul Hetrick, who states that "MacArthur and Dobson are friends and 'do not disagree on primary issues'" (9/6/91, Los Angeles Times). (Emphases added.) [MacArthur later confirmed, in his answer to a Master's Seminary chapel question, that he had not been misquoted by Dart, and that he indeed did not have a problem with James Dobson's teachings!]
- In the same Los Angeles Times article cited above, MacArthur is also quoted as saying that he has "a lot in common" with Jack Hayford, the ecumenical, hyper-charismatic, psychologically-oriented pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. (Hayford has not only appeared at conferences with "signs & wonders" charismatics John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner, but also claims to have once had a vision of Jesus seated in heaven at the right hand of God, and then rise up in preparation for His Second Coming, promising to give a "double portion of anointing to those who rise up with Him.") MacArthur also stated that he and Hayford "get together and talk about ministry, agreeing to disagree." (Reported in the 9/6/91, Los Angeles Times and the 9/15/91, Calvary Contender.)
We do not find the Apostle Paul suggesting a get-together to "talk about ministry" with Hymenaeus and Alexander -- on the contrary, they were delivered to Satan in order that they might "learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20). [One would think that, at a minimum, MacArthur should apply 2 John 7-11 here somewhere?] We think that Miles Stanford's 3/93 open-letter warning to MacArthur is appropriate in this instance:
"Your association with Jack Hayford may seem ever so innocent and interesting, but you have a responsibility to a tongue-vulnerable Church. You certainly should back up the stand of your Charismatic Chaos. I would think by now you have received an inscribed copy of Hayford's latest book, The Beauty of Spiritual Language. As you may have noted, it is a strong pitch for 'pseudo-tongues,' and certainly has the potential for enticing many more into the present-day charismatic chaos that has long plagued and devastated the Body."
- In Jack Hayford's 1997 book, Pastors of Promise: A Practical and Passionate Call for Faithful Shepherds, MacArthur is found praising Hayford along with 29 other so-called "Christian" leaders (among whom are Neil Anderson, Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, James Ryle, Greg Laurie, and the late John Wimber). At the beginning of Hayford's book, under "Praise for Pastors of Promise" (six pages of praise for Hayford and his book) MacArthur's "praise" reads (on the fourth page of quotes):
"Jack Hayford is a model of diligence, faithfulness to the Lord and enduring loyalty to a local church. It's the long haul that manifests integrity and proven character. Many have fallen in the battle. Hayford is still standing-a tribute to God's marvelous grace."
Yet, five years prior (1992), MacArthur wrote in his book Charismatic Chaos the following:
"Lest you think cranks, obscure eccentrics, or naive charismatic believers are the only ones who would make such claims, listen to Jack Hayford, internationally known author, media minister, and pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. Hayford told the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America that God has told him a new era is coming:
'Hayford ... related a vision in which he had seen Jesus seated on His throne at the right hand of the Father. In Hayford's vision, Jesus began to lean forward and rise from his seat. As the anointing caught in the folds of His garments, it began to splash out and fall over the church. Jesus said, "I am beginning to rise now in preparation for my second coming. Those who will rise with Me will share in this double portion of anointing."'" [Charismatic Chaos, pp. 48-49; footnote on Hayford, "Pentecostals Set Priorities," Charisma (January 1991), p. 44.]
MacArthur says Hayford is a man of "integrity" and "a model of diligence, faithfulness to the Lord ..." yet Hayford claims to have seen Christ and received a revelatory message from Him! Not only is Hayford's claim contrary to 1 Peter 1:8 ("though now ye see Him not"), it is also contrary to MacArthur's own words (i.e., "Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Jude 3; Rev. 22:18-19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal [Charismatic Chaos, p. 51]). Proverbs 30:5-6 says, "Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar." Even though Hayford has added to "His words" (Proverbs 30:6) and claimed to have received a vision of Christ, MacArthur says Hayford is "a model of diligence" and "faithfulness to the Lord"!
On page 50 of Charismatic Chaos, MacArthur asks, "Did Jack Hayford actually see Christ rise from his seat next to God?" The obvious answer to that question (in the context of MacArthur's book) is "NO!" Jack Hayford lies about seeing Christ (the true Christ), yet MacArthur says, "Jack Hayford is a model of diligence" and "faithfulness to the Lord"! It took only one false prophesy in the Old Testament for a man to be found to be a false prophet (Deut. 18:20-22). Hayford is a model of a false prophet! He is NOT a man of "integrity and proven character" as MacArthur says. He is a false teacher who is leading thousands down the broad road to hell! This should be obvious to even those who follow MacArthur.
- As detailed elsewhere in this report, MacArthur claims to be against psychology and its message of self, yet he himself proclaims it. For example, in his Commentary on Ephesians MacArthur writes:
"The only way a person can achieve a true sense of self-worth, meaning and significance is to have a right relationship to his Creator" (p. 6).
Moreover, in MacArthur's daily devotional, Drawing Near, he perverts the fall of man into a self-focused "identity crisis." At the head of the page in bold print he writes (for January 7):
"A true sense of identity comes from knowing that God himself personally selected you to be His child."
Then, speaking about the fall of man (i.e. when Adam and Eve disobeyed God) he writes:
"That created within man a spiritual void and an identity crisis of unimaginable proportions."
This is what MacArthur thinks (and his friend Greg Laurie also teaches), not what God thinks. Such "identity crisis" teaching is devoid from Genesis to Revelation.
- Greg Laurie is an author, crusade evangelist, and charismatic pastor of the 12,000-plus member Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. Laurie is an ecumenical psychologizer and speaker for and endorser of the unbiblical Promise Keepers movement. Laurie conducts 5-6 evangelistic crusades every year (Harvest Crusades) that draw about 50,000 people each. Laurie's gospel is a man-centered psychological gospel; his message is one of finding a "deeper meaning in life," with Jesus as the One who came to "fill the void."
Since it has been documented that John MacArthur teaches that Christ came to die for us because "we were so important to God," it should not be surprising that MacArthur also endorses Laurie's man-centered gospel and the ecumenical Harvest Crusades:
"I want to invite you to be a part of the Harvest Crusades -- a wonderful opportunity for you to bring friends who will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ presented by Pastor Greg Laurie. I believe God has His hand on this man, and I believe that the Word of God which he preaches is clear and penetrating. I want to encourage you that this is an opportunity for you to touch the life of someone for eternity. Bring them, and let them sit under the anointed preaching of God's Word and the gospel of Christ." (Source: 8/96 Harvest Crusade brochure on the Harvest Crusade Internet web site.)
Along with MacArthur, other endorsers of the Los Angeles Crusade held 11/17/96-11/20/96 at Universal Studio's Universal Amphitheater were hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford, Jerry Falwell, and Billy Graham.
[Another Laurie Harvest Crusade set for Sept. 20-22, 1999 includes as speakers: John MacArthur, Franklin Graham, Joe Stowell, Tony Evans, Anne Graham Lotz, and Alistair Begg. MacArthur and Begg also spoke at last year's Crusade (which had the usual "Christian" rock music), along with Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith, and David Jeremiah. (Source: 6/15/99, Calvary Contender.)]
[MacArthur/Laurie Update: In late-January, 1997, a friend faxed me a copy of a letter sent him by a MacArthur spokesperson (Grace Church's Associate Pastor of Community Evangelism, Stephen Lonetti, dtd. 1/15/97), which was an attempt to justify MacArthur's involvement with and support of Greg Laurie and his Harvest Crusades. Before quoting directly from MacArthur's correspondence with others who had also expressed concerns over the MacArthur-Laurie association, Lonetti reveals that not only did MacArthur and Grace Church endorse the November 1996 Los Angeles Harvest Crusade, but Grace Church provided and trained crusade counselors to work the event! Lonetti defines this as involvement on a "limited basis," and thereby, acceptable.
Apparently, it doesn't matter to MacArthur that at Laurie's Harvest Crusades between 500 and 800 churches are involved in providing various forms of support. The Harvest web site states that: "The type of support would range from financial support to providing volunteer workers to promoting attendance at the crusades. Many denominations and associations are involved, including Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Free, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Calvary Chapels, and independent churches." Typically, Vineyard and Roman Catholic churches also participate.
In the letter, MacArthur admits to having developed a close relationship with Laurie over the years, and to "have had the privilege of helping him [Laurie] in the areas of doctrine and practical theology." (Could this be where Laurie got his man-centered gospel -- from MacArthur?). More recently, MacArthur has allowed Laurie to videotape him and use the tapes "as an endorsement" for Harvest Crusades! MacArthur admits to having "kept in touch" with Laurie and to "have been encouraged by his [Laurie's] heart for the lost and his desire to present a clear gospel message." So, according to MacArthur, Laurie's charismatic, feelings-oriented, man-centered, psychological gospel is a "clear gospel message"! Absolutely incredible!
MacArthur goes on to justify Grace Church's involvement in the L.A. Harvest Crusade on the basis that Laurie allowed Grace Church to train its own counselors and to provide "overall direction for the follow-up process. ... [giving] us the freedom to use our own 'ground rules' for follow up ..." In other words, MacArthur says it's okay to involve your church with a false psychological gospel and a myriad of false churches, as long as the false teacher lets you play by your rules instead of his! Finally, all is well in this relationship because, according to MacArthur, "God has placed [Laurie] within our sphere of influence" making it crucial that they (MacArthur and Grace Church) "do all that we can to build a relationship ..." Where in the Bible do we find anything that would justify evil associations in order to do some perceived good? In fact, just the opposite is taught (1 Cor. 15:33).]
- Greg Laurie has also concocted a new "ministry," PREACH THE WORD. Its first event was held August 26-29, 1998, titled "Leader's Training Seminar." Laurie states the purpose of the Leader's Training Seminar is to bring in "some of America's most powerful communicators to spend three days teaching on the topic of how to effectively bring God's Word to our generation." (Source: Greg Laurie/Harvest Crusade Internet web site, 4/98.) (The event was held concurrent with a Laurie' Harvest Crusade.)
Besides Laurie speaking at the Leader's Training Seminar, four other neo-evangelical psychologizers agreed to participate: David Jeremiah, Chuck Smith, Chuck Swindoll, and John MacArthur. It should be emphasized here, this event was not been touted as a debate. These were five men speaking on the same platform in supposed agreement. This would seem to be a problem only for John MacArthur, since the others have never spoken out against psychology, but instead have taught many psychological concepts openly. Or, perhaps MacArthur has abandoned his hypocrisy on the psychology issue and now openly wishes to identify with it and its infamous teachers?
- MacArthur has also taken-up with Chuck Smith in a political activism event. Smith and MacArthur joined with pastors in the state of California at the 1999 "Pastor's Day at the Capitol" gathering on May 18 and 19, 1999. Capitol Ministries, which organized the event, believes pastors can influence the lives of legislators by either sharing the Gospel with those who are unsaved or worshipping with those who profess to know Christ. An invitation to the event, mailed to over 16,000 California pastors, says:
"We are asking you, the men of God in our state, to come to the Capitol ... for a time of relationship building and outreach to our elected officials. We plan to unite in a special time of fellowship, worship and prayer all centered on the clear proclamation of God's holy Word by two of our State's leading pastors, Chuck Smith and John MacArthur Jr."
While MacArthur speaks out against the Charismatic Movement and even many church growth programs, it is evident that he certainly has no reservation about joining with those who believe otherwise. (Source: May-June 1999, Foundation.)
- Besides taking nontraditional/unorthodox theological positions on the blood of Christ (that the "blood" is only "symbolic" for death) and the eternal sonship of Christ (an eternal Jesus, but a "non-eternal" Son of God ["incarnational sonship"] -- since recanted), MacArthur's contribution to neo-evangelicalism is to cross all barriers and bridge all gaps in diverse fellowship. In fact, MacArthur has stated, concerning himself and his Grace Community Church staff, that they consider themselves evangelicals, not fundamentalists. A glance at MacArthur's itineraries demonstrates that he is indeed "evangelical" -- neo-evangelical, that is.
MacArthur's speaking engagements range from supposed fundamentalists to confessed new evangelicals. He has spoken in Southern Baptist circles at such places as Memphis' Bellevue Baptist Church with Adrian Rogers, at the First Baptist Church of Atlanta with psychologizer Charles Stanley, and at a Medical Ethics conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission at the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville. He has been an SBC Pastor's Conference speaker prior to annual Southern Baptist Conventions (once with pro-Catholic Chuck Colson from 6/18/95-6/19/95), and addressed an Evangelical Free Church of America Pastor's Conference. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the new evangelical, psychologized Moody Bible Institute, and has been a frequent speaker at Moody Founder's Week and Pastor's Conferences (taking the platform with psychologizers such as Howard Hendricks, E.V. Hill, Bill Hybels, Billy Graham's daughter, Joni Tada, and Tony Evans). He has spoken for and endorsed the ministries of psychologizers R.C. Sproul and Jerry Falwell, and at various churches and institutions affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). He has been a featured speaker at Wheaton College (on the same platform with a Catholic speaker), Cedarville College, Dallas Theological Seminary, California Graduate School of Theology, Word of Life, Tennessee Temple University, National Religious Broadcasters Convention (with Pat Robertson and Rex Humbard), and the National Fellowship of Conservative Baptists. (Reported in part in New Neutralism II, pp. 66-67.) MacArthur (via the radio program Grace To You) is also a member of the highly ecumenical National Religious Broadcasters (MacArthur spoke at the 1/97 NRB Convention), which is an arm of the neo-evangelical (and increasingly charismatic) National Association of Evangelicals.
[MacArthur has even taken to quoting sympathetically from German neo-orthodox theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer! MacArthur favorably quotes from Bonhoeffer four times in a half-page article in the Winter 1994, The Master's Current. This in spite of the fact that Bonhoeffer was a rank apostate who denied or questioned nearly every major doctrine of the historic Christian faith! He was also one of the fathers of the "Death of God" theology. (See "The Riches and Responsibilities of Fellowship," The Master's Current, Winter 1994, p. 2.) In the past, MacArthur has also quoted favorably from neo-orthodox theologian Soren Kierkegaard ("Praying for the Right Things -- Part 2," Grace To You audio cassette, GC53-6, 1992 -- redistributed 2/95), and from mystic Watchman Nee ("The Path to Pleasing God," Grace To You audio cassette, GC45-89, 1992 -- redistributed 5/95).]
To top all this off, Billy Kim was a Missions Conference speaker in 1986 at John MacArthur's Master's College! Billy Kim speaks and travels with hyper-charismatic Paul (David) Yonggi Cho, and is vice president of the apostate Baptist World Alliance, an organization which has conducted on at least three occasions "theological dialogue" with the Vatican Secretariat for promoting Christian unity (5/1/93, Calvary Contender).
- The lead article in the Spring 1995 The Master's Current details how the Political Studies major at The Master's College is one of the newest and fastest growing on campus ("Christian Perspective Lights Up Legal Careers," p. 1). The first seniors majoring in Political Studies graduated in the Spring of 1991. The College states that two of its 1992 graduates work in Washington, D.C., one on the staff of a congressman and the other for an interest group (euphemism for "lobbyist"), while a 1993 graduate works for a California State Legislator.
The Political Studies Department is apparently proud of the fact that they present a "non-theological" analysis of issues, and that the course list "is very similar to that of a major university." But never fear, "the courses are taught by committed Christians with a Christian perspective and world view. So while factual information remains the same, The Master's College courses are value-oriented." The College also works with the politically active Christian College Coalition in order to allow students to participate in an internship/study program in Washington, D.C.
So here we have a so-called Christian college training its students in the ways of a godless nation's political system, then actively working to place them in employment in the system, all the while convinced that the College faculty's so-called Christian world view, as well as a little Bible training thrown in along the way, will protect them against the wickedness of their worldly walk. The fact that the Bible knows nothing of the acceptability of this type of worldly employment for Christians seems not to phase MacArthur. Doesn't this approach represent a detour from the straight path Christians are to walk before the world, not with the world (cf. James 4:4)?
[In the same Master's Current issue, the College points out proudly that The Master's is "listed in the 1993-94 Templeton Foundation for Character Building Colleges. The honor roll recognizes these colleges and universities which presently teach character development and value building. Across the U.S., 111 colleges and universities were chosen for this special honor." (Emphasis added.) A "special honor"?? From the Templeton Foundation? -- founded by New Age pantheist/science-of-mind universalist/investment guru John Marks Templeton! The same John Marks Templeton who funds the yearly $1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion!]
- Each year in January, MacArthur's Master's College usually holds a five-day Bible conference with various neo-evangelical and/or psychological speakers. Two of 1995's most notable were David Jeremiah and Russ Moir. At the time, Jeremiah was president of Christian Heritage College and Bible teacher on the "Turning Point" radio and television programs. His orientation is thoroughly psychological, and in recent years he has started speaking at charismatic men's conferences as well as hosting blasphemous "Christian" rap groups at the church he pastors. Moir pastors the psychologically-oriented Blackhawk Baptist Church (GARBC) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is a supporter of the psychological, ecumenical, charismatic Promise Keepers organization (personal letter on file); Moir also has AA-type 12-Step programs in his church. Also performing at the 1/95 Conference was CCM star Steve Camp. (See the Winter 1994, The Master's Current.)
[In March of 1998, the psychologizer and ecumenical president of Moody Bible Institute, Joseph Stowell spoke at MacArthur's International Conference on the Bible. (MacArthur returned the favor and spoke at MBI on 5/20/98.) Other speakers included Tony Evans, Stephen Olford, Adrian Rogers (SBC), and David Jeremiah.]
- Announced at a press conference on 3/29/94 was an ecumenical
declaration titled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian
Mission in the Third Millennium" (ECT).
The negotiations toward the declaration were initiated in 9/92 by Chuck
Colson and Richard Neuhaus (former liberal Lutheran clergyman [ELCA] turned
Catholic priest) under the auspices of the ecumenical and theologically liberal
Institute on Religion and Public Life (headed by Neuhaus). The declaration
starts with "We are Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who have
been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about
Christian faith and mission." It goes downhill from there. The coalition
specifically called for an end to aggressive proselytizing of each other's
flocks (in effect, a mutual non-aggression pact). The signers of the Accord also
confessed their past sins against Catholic/Protestant unity.
The declaration said: "All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ." This conveniently ignores the fact that Catholics espouse a works-salvation false gospel! In a revealing admission of what brought these groups together, some signers said it was the experiences of worshiping together in the charismatic movement and working together in political causes such as anti-abortion [Moral Majority for example]. In fact, one writer correctly assessed that the declaration "amounts to a truce on theological issues so that the parties can continue to cooperate on political issues."
Forty people signed or endorsed the document (20 Catholics and 20 so-called evangelicals), including Protestants J.I. Packer, Pat Robertson, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, and Mark Noll (a historian at Wheaton College who said, "Evangelicals can no longer consider Catholics as ogres or anti-Christs"). Catholic endorsers included six priests, three bishops, one Archbishop, and one Cardinal. By joint declaration, then, J.I. Packer and friends have, in effect, declared the Protestant Reformation a tragic mistake!
In the summer of 1994, MacArthur preached a message warning of the dangers of the ECT Accord. He also distributed free to anyone requesting it an audio cassette tape of the message. We, therefore, found it strange when the neo-evangelical host of the John Ankerberg Show announced in January of 1995 that MacArthur would be part of a 2/8/95 seminar to be held at Catholic-sympathizer D. James Kennedy's church (Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida). Other participants in the seminar (to supposedly expose the errors in the ECT document) were Ankerberg and Kennedy along with psychologizer R.C. Sproul. [Ankerberg produced a 6-part video series of this seminar (titled "Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?"), and aired it on six consecutive Sunday evenings beginning 3/5/95. MacArthur was seated on the grandiose stage in between Kennedy and Sproul, while Ankerberg stood at a table in the audience, serving as host-moderator.]
The ECT Accord generated so much heat in Protestant ranks, that Colson found it necessary to call a meeting in January of 1995 to try "to achieve a measure of understanding, clarification, and harmony around the truth recognized by historic orthodoxy" (1/25/95 Prison Fellowship News Release -- "Evangelical Leaders Resolve Differences On Evangelical-Catholic Paper"). Attending the 1/19/95 peace meeting (also held at Kennedy's Coral Ridge facility) were ECT signers Colson, Packer, Bright, and Kent Hill, along with a group of so-called evangelicals critical of the ECT (i.e., the "anti-ECT group") -- John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, D. James Kennedy, Joseph Stowell, Michael Horton, and John Woodbridge.
After the meeting, Colson, Bright, Packer, and Hill issued a joint doctrinal statement supposedly clarifying their position on the ECT. However, no changes to the ECT were recommended, nor would any of the original ECT signators remove their names from it. Ankerberg, MacArthur, Kennedy, Sproul, et al., did not sign this clarification agreement, but they did help write it, and the clear implication was that they agreed that this new statement satisfactorily answered any concern one might have over the content of the original ECT! [See Colson's 1/25/95 news release; the 3/6/95 Christianity Today, "Evangelicals Clarify Accord with Catholics," pp. 52-53; and the 6-part John Ankerberg Show video series (titled "Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?"). Concerning the latter, Ankerberg states eight different times over the course of the six programs that he and the others in the anti-ECT group [which included John MacArthur] helped write the so-called "clarification agreement."]
On Ankerberg's second program, the program's participants agreed that it was possible to have "parachurch cooperation with evangelically committed Roman Catholics for the pursuit of agreed objectives" without implying "acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrinal distinctives or endorsement of the Roman Catholic church system"! (1/19/95 "Statement By Protestant Signers To ECT," paragraph #1). It didn't seem to bother them that this statement, which, by their own admission, they helped write, does not agree with what God's Word says! (Amos 3:3 states: Can two walk together except they be agreed?) MacArthur and his neo-evangelical brethren have now, in effect, stipulated to words that are in direct conflict with the Word of God! God says if you fellowship with unbelievers in joint projects, you have identified with the doctrine of the co-participants (see also 2 John 9-11)! [At one point on this program, MacArthur boldly stated that Roman Catholicism is a false religion with which no fellowship is possible. Yet when Ankerberg replied, "That's why we put paragraph #1 in this new doctrinal statement" (which permits and encourages ecumenical fellowship for worthy objectives), MacArthur did not object! Nor did he object to any of the outrageous statements made by Kennedy or Sproul throughout the series. (MacArthur has endorsed Sproul's teachings thusly: "R.C.'s teaching brought me face-to-face with the awful splendor of God's majestic holiness in a new and fresh way" -- Ligonier Ministries Internet home page.)
"MacArthur and the others thus lend credence to, serve as 'bridges' to, and refuse to separate from, those who promote ecumenical endeavors with Roman Catholics. The 'clarified' ECT Doctrinal Statement changed nothing" (5/1/95, Calvary Contender).
- Dr. Bill Jackson, president of the Association of Fundamentalists Evangelizing Catholics (AFEC), prepared a 6/18/99 statement on "The Gospel of Jesus Christ -- An Evangelical Celebration" (EC) (see the 6/14/99 Christianity Today for the full text of the EC). This document has been endorsed by Charles Colson, Bill Bright, and J.I. Packer, all of whom also signed the controversial ECT documents of 1994 and 1997; as well as endorsed by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur and D. James Kennedy, all of whom publicly [albeit weakly] challenged and criticized them for signing the ECT documents (see above). There are a number of helpful statements in this latest document which deal with areas which were not fully dealt with in the ECT documents (e.g., imputation is now dealt with favorably, but has been consistently opposed by Roman Catholic Councils and Catechisms). EC says, "We cannot embrace any form of doctrinal indifferentism by which God's truth is sacrificed for a false peace." But there is certainly no better example of "doctrinal indifferentism" than the ECT documents themselves (James 1:8)! Because ECT I stated that "Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ," in order to be relevant the new EC document should be submitted to the Roman Catholics who signed ECT I and II. It is difficult to see how a person could subscribe to both ECT and EC. The only logical conclusion is for all who signed EC to remove their names from ECT. It also appears that the so-called "evangelical" ECT endorsers have been "let off the hook" by former critics such as MacArthur. We believe EC will be used to rehabilitate those who erred in 1994 and 1997, without their having to admit or ask forgiveness for their error. (Source: 7/15/99, Calvary Contender.) [Other "evangelical" endorsers of EC among the 15 members of the Drafting Committee and 114 members of the Endorsing Committee include John Ankerberg, Kay Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry Falwell, Bill Hybels, David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, Woodrow Kroll, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, Erwin Lutzer, Bill McCartney, Luis Palau, Pat Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, Bruce Wilkinson, and Ravi Zacharias; also endorsing EC were hyper-charismatics Jack Hayford and Steven Strang.]
However ignorant MacArthur and fellow endorsers may be of all this, his participation in EC makes him a party to its consequences. It is also important to note that the EC document (which is supposed to be a definitive and comprehensive statement of the true saving Gospel of Christ), never mentions repentance for salvation, and never mentions the total depravity of man (thereby leaning towards a decisional regeneration). Moreover, the EC promotes an ecumenical unity (via "trans-denominational cooperative enterprises") with all professing believers who attest to the EC's "essentials" of the faith. But this is not the unity of the faith taught in Ephesians. While we are instructed by Scripture to be of one mind, the evangelical today scoffs at the idea of true Biblical unity based on complete agreement with, and submission to, God's holy Word. The only use of the word "unity" in the New Testament is found in Ephesians chapter four. It is a "unity of the Spirit" (v. 3), not of men. It is a "unity of faith" (v. 13) based on sound doctrine for which believers are to contend, not water down nor reclassify into essentials and non-essentials (Jude 3). No real spiritual unity can exist apart from doctrinal unity, and we are to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Rom. 16:17).
- MacArthur, in his 1994 book The Vanishing Conscience, continues to teach various "psychological truths," while at the same time claiming to be opposed to psychology and self-esteem. For example, in the context of total depravity and condemning self-esteem, he writes:
"How does one feel good about himself [as if this is a legitimate concern or need] when God Himself declares us worthy of His wrath? There is an answer to this dilemma [p. 94]. ... The liberation from sin those verses describe [Rom. 8:1-2] is the only basis on which we can really feel good about ourselves" (p. 104).
MacArthur obviously still believes that man has a "dilemma"/need to "feel good about" himself. But where in God's Word are we ever encouraged or exhorted to feel good about ourselves, either before one comes to Christ or after? (There is nothing really new here for MacArthur. What is new is the long list of book jacket endorsements [hard-back copy] by a bevy of psychologizers and neo-evangelicals: glowing endorsements from the likes of hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford, Adrian Rogers, Joseph Stowell, Kay Arthur, Larry Burkett, J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, Greg Laurie, Joni Eareckson Tada, Bill Hybels, and Elisabeth Elliot!)
[See the following sampling of pages from The Vanishing Conscience for more of MacArthur's psychological teachings: (1) p. 32 -- "healthy self-image" and "true self-respect"; (2) p. 33 -- Karl Menninger's concept of good "mental health"; (3) p. 37 -- following one's conscience brings "self-respect"; (4) p. 90 -- here MacArthur even seems to outdo himself and take leave of his senses by stating that the Publican left the temple with "a new sense of self-worth" [Luke 18:10-13]. All this in a book with a chapter in which he claims to be against self-esteem!!]
- Another humanistic psychological concept of which MacArthur is quite fond is that of self-forgiveness. In his Bible Study Guide, Alive in Christ, he exhorts in bold print, "Do you have a problem forgiving yourself?" Then he states:
"In Christ, we're all beloved sons ... totally forgiven. Therefore, if you can't forgive yourself, you've got a God complex ... God has already accepted you -- so accept yourself!" ... So, if God can accept us, we can accept ourselves. Our sense of worth comes from knowing that we matter to God. And if we matter to God, we should matter to ourselves ... Self-worth and a firm self-image ... come from a knowledge of what God has done for you in Christ" (pp. 66-67).
What is so damning about this self-focused doctrine is that it not only flows from the well of godless humanistic psychology, but it is subtle and deceptive. Those who believe and follow these selfism concepts are deceitfully diverted from a simple (2 Corinthians 11:3) focus on Christ (Hebrews 12:2) to a focus on self -- the exact opposite of Christ's exhortation to "deny" self.
- Word Publishers (now a Thomas Nelson division) released in late-1997 The MacArthur Study Bible, a 2,200-page, New King James version of the Bible with John MacArthur's personal study notes explaining key words and verses. Besides choosing a publisher well-known for the publishing of psychoheretical authors and their books, MacArthur chose a bevy of neo-evangelicals, ecumenists, and psychologizers to endorse his Study Bible. Among the endorsers were Adrian Rogers (former SBC president), Joseph Stowell (president of Moody Bible Institute) Max Lucado (psychospiritual author and Church of Christ pastor), Franklin Graham, Tony Evans, Erwin Lutzer (pastor of Moody Bible Church and teacher of charismatic spiritual warfare methodologies), and self-love teacher Josh McDowell. Obviously, MacArthur wants to be identified with this hodge-podge of heresy, or why else would he have chosen them to endorse this extensive theological work?
- In an advertisement in the Christian Booksellers Association trade magazine, Marketplace, The MacArthur Study Bible is described as follows:
"Unlike past 'classics' burdened by outdated theological systems, The MacArthur Study Bible strives to let the systems go, and let the Word of God speak. And day after day, year after year, you can always count on hearing something new."
On the historic, orthodox, creedal view that the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is immanent and eternal, this new Bible did indeed "let the systems go." The notations on Hebrews 1:5 and 7:3 demolished the historic creedal view that Christ is the Eternal Son of God, hence there is no eternal and immanent Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not "new," but compared to the view of Bible doctrine expressed in the Creeds, Confessions, and Theological "standards," it is heterodox. In other writings, MacArthur has also expressed the view which makes the Trinity a "nameless" unity, as he believes the "Son" is a "role" assumed by the "second person" in the flesh, which also implies the "Father" is a "role" assumed by the "first person."
MacArthur contends in his Study Bible that "Sonship" refers to Christ in the "role" of "Son" which supposedly began in a "point of time" when He was incarnated via the virgin birth. This birth constituted Him as the "Son." This is sometimes called "incarnational sonship." MacArthur uses the Syriac Pershitta translation on Hebrews 7:3 to bring the reading of the passage more in line with his theory. We view Hebrews 7:3 as one of the strongest Biblical affirmations of the Eternal Sonship of the "Son," and the MacArthur note demolishes this great truth from that passage. (Excerpted from a 7/21/97 e-mail from Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications.)
In contrast, the Bible teaches the Eternal Sonship of Christ -- that He was the Son in eternity past. To deny that the attribute of eternality is inherent in Sonship (rather than conferred by incarnation), is, in effect, a denial of the "equality" of the "Son" with God -- a very serious heresy!
To make matters worse, MacArthur branded as "heretics" those who held to the historical, orthodox, Biblical view of Eternal Sonship -- he labeled the Biblical view as a "heretical idea" and he associated it with "cultists who deny Christ's deity." Based on his concept of "Sonship," MacArthur specifically denounced the Eternal Sonship of Christ as follows:
"He [Christ] is no 'eternal son' always subservient to God, always less than God, always under God. ... It [Son] is his human title, and we should never get trapped in the heretical idea that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God" (Commentary on Hebrews, 1983, pp. 28-29).
In that same Commentary, MacArthur associated Eternal Sonship with "cultists" who imply that eternality of the Son means "inferiority" to God. Also, in his The Sonship of Christ booklet (published by the IFCA), MacArthur so defined and distorted the "eternal generation" of the Son that he felt justified in branding it as being "meaningless and confusing" (p. 9). He alleged that "orthodox teachers" who hold to "eternal generation" "echo an element" of the "false belief" of "cultists who deny Christ's deity." He equated this with the idea that Christ was "created." [Excerpted and/or adapted from a 11/17/97 e-mail from Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications.]
[12/99 Update: In late-August of 1999, MacArthur released an extensive statement recanting his position of Incarnational Sonship. A key portion of that statement read as follows:
"I want to state publicly that I have abandoned the doctrine of 'incarnational sonship.' Careful study and reflection have brought me to understand that Scripture does indeed present the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son as an eternal Father-Son relationship. I no longer regard Christ's sonship as a role He assumed in His incarnation."
Sadly, MacArthur's statement gave no indication how widely he planed to publish this doctrinal change, if at all. Moreover, MacArthur showed no remorse or regret or repentance for the many he has misled on this vital doctrine over the years, including, but not limited to, the damage that took place in the IFCA. (It was the same story when MacArthur broke off with Larry Crabb and then Gary Ezzo -- absolutely no repentance for the many thousands led into the clutches of these two psychoheretics.)
Reading the entire August, 1999 statement, MacArthur compared his theological review process to that of Augustine's before his death. But MacArthur's words come off more as a trivialization of a crucial doctrine than genuine remorse for teaching falsely; MacArthur's "repentance" reads more like: "Me and Augustine -- just doing a little theological review before we die." In his statement, MacArthur even said it's no big deal for others to hold to a mere Incarnational Sonship -- NOT "rank heresy" or anything like that -- and still falling within the boundaries of orthodoxy. As if the doctrine of Eternal Sonship is some insignificant gray area that believers have the liberty to accept or reject!
It would have also been helpful if MacArthur had given his followers a little of his thought process in coming to this change in theology to which he had held so adamantly for so many years, in speaking and in writing. Should we now expect a recall of MacArthur's Hebrews Commentary, his 1991 booklet The Sonship of Christ, and The MacArthur Study Bible? Don't hold your breath.]
- After John MacArthur changed his position on the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ, he wrote a letter in which he explained how he could sign the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) doctrinal statement even during all those years when he strongly denied the Eternal Sonship of Christ. These are his words (in a letter to a Pennsylvania pastor dated 9/30/99):
"Frankly, I don't think the breach in the IFCA is merely a matter of the incarnational sonship. That's such an isolated issue. It seems to me that the people who created the rift are, by disposition, divisive. Also, the statement on sonship in the IFCA doctrine is simply that Christ is the eternal Son of God without any explanation. Even people who believe in an incarnational sonship, such as I used to, could affirm the statement that He is the eternal Son of God with qualification."
Pastor George Zeller (Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, CT) makes the following observations concerning MacArthur's statement of recantation:
(1) I know the men MacArthur is referring to, and these men are not divisive. It was never their desire to bring about a division in the IFCA. Their only desire was to defend and uphold the IFCA doctrinal statement and not to broaden its meaning so as to allow for contrary views. Also these men were not the ones who caused the rift. It was MacArthur's "Incarnational Sonship" teachings that triggered the controversy and the whole problem could have been easily solved from the beginning if the IFCA leadership had simply enforced its own doctrinal statement;
(2) The IFCA doctrinal statement simply says "that Christ is the eternal Son of God without any explanation," because we believe exactly what these words mean. We take these words at face value. Such a clear statement of doctrine does not need any explanation. The words mean what they say. MacArthur once taught the following: "The Bible nowhere says that Christ is the eternal Son." This denial of eternal Sonship is also very clear and needs no explanation;
(3) The problem that we have had with MacArthur is his affirmation of our [the IFCA] doctrinal statement "with qualification." -- "I affirm the Christ is the eternal Son of God with the qualification that He did not become the Son of God until Bethlehem." What if someone said, "I affirm the full deity of Christ with the qualification that I don't really believe He is God!" Or, "I affirm the eternal security of the believer with the qualification that those who depart from the faith will be lost and lost forever." Or, "I affirm the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the church with the qualification that I really hold to the Pre-Wrath view." Or, "I believe that Christ died as a Substitute for all mankind with the qualification that He died as a Substitute only for the elect." Or, "I believe that the believer has two natures with the qualification that the believer really only has one nature, the new nature in Christ." If the IFCA allowed for such qualifications, as MacArthur contends, then any person holding to any deviant or heretical view could sign the IFCA statement!
- MacArthur (who is a "member in good standing" of the increasingly neo-evangelical/ecumenical IFCA), when speaking to a gathering of Indiana GARBC churches (also now highly inclusivistic) in January of 1991, commented on his then recent trip to the Soviet Union. While in Russia, MacArthur preached in the "registered" church. Since a registered church is one that has already agreed to compromise the Scriptures by allowing itself to be controlled by an atheistic government, MacArthur has apparently accepted the Communist propaganda concerning "freedom of religion," and in effect, has stabbed the persecuted church in the back (much as Billy Graham did during his trip to Russia in the early-1980s). (See the 6/15/91 Calvary Contender for Georgi Vins' accurate analysis of the Russian "registered" church. Vins had refused to speak in the pulpits of Russia's registered church "where liberals have also spoken," because his conscience would not permit him to do so. Apparently MacArthur's conscience is not as sensitive to error as is Vins'.)
- John MacArthur continues to sign the IFCA International's (formerly Independent Fundamental Churches of America) doctrinal statement, even though he contradicts it in his public tapes and writings. Three examples:
(1) The Two Natures of the Believer -- IFCA Statement: "We believe that every saved person possesses two natures, with provision made for victory of the new nature over the old through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit." MacArthur: "I believe it is a serious misunderstanding to think of the believer as having both an old and new nature ... there is no such thing as an old nature in the believer" (Freedom from Sin: Rom. 6-7, pp. 31-32);
(2) The Extent of the Atonement -- IFCA Statement: "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice." MacArthur: "He is the Substitute only for those who believe. ... In the substitutionary sense He bore only the sins of those who ultimately would put their faith in Him" (Tape GC47-36);
(3) The Eternal Sonship of Christ -- IFCA Statement: "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man, without ceasing to be God." MacArthur: "The Bible nowhere speaks of the eternal Sonship of Christ ... only from His incarnation has He been Son. He was not a son until He was born into this world" (MacArthur Commentary Series: Hebrews [1:4-5]). [Recanted 8/99 -- see above.]
Can the IFCA leadership ignore such glaring contradictions? Apparently so. The 6/97 IFCA national convention was held at the Word of Life facilities (NY), with John MacArthur as main speaker! (1/15/97, Calvary Contender). So the issue with MacArthur continues to be not whether one agrees with the IFCA Doctrinal Statement, but the hypocrisy of John MacArthur in signing the IFCA's Statement of Faith, thereby attesting to the doctrines therein, and then teaching what amounts to an outright denial of those very doctrines!
- MacArthur's top assistant at the time (who, you must remember, claimed to "speak with the full authority of John MacArthur" and was an elder at Grace Church) was preaching at a large Midwestern "evangelical" church on 7/25/93. One of his messages was titled "Learn to Discern," in which he lamented the failure of today's spiritual leaders:
"[Where is the] spiritual discernment to successfully evaluate and distinguish the wisdom of the world from the wisdom of God? ... The church is in such a paltry state because they ape the things of the world ... just like the issue of psychology ... [The world] is jumping off the bandwagon of psychology just at the time when the church is running toward it full bore. [Yet] spiritual discernment says that you're able to distinguish between ... that which is right from that which is wrong ... that which is true from that which is false. ... Biblical separation is the process by which you say, 'This is what God says and all others are false, not true.' ... The discernment of evil is a byproduct of learning to identify truth."
One only has to browse around the Grace Church campus and/or listen to tapes or read the various publications emanating from The Master's Fellowship complex of ministries to come to the conclusion that spiritual discernment there is a commodity in extremely short supply. (For example, in MacArthur's 1994 book, The Vanishing Conscience, he begins chapter 3 by quoting favorably from Chuck Colson's acceptance speech for the 1993 "Templeton Progress in Religion Prize," delivered at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago!) By applying MacArthur's own definition of discernment, MacArthur and staff need to spend a great deal more time learning to identify truth. Perhaps then they will be able to discern what is evil.
In John MacArthur's (et al.) 1994 book from Word Publishing titled Introduction to Biblical Counseling, MacArthur says on p. 378:
"Is it inherently unkind or condemnatory to say someone else's view is errant? Not if one has biblical authority for saying so. In fact, to remain silent and allow error to go unexposed and uncorrected is an abdication of the elder's role (Titus 1:9). The apostle Paul publicly called Peter a hypocrite for compromising biblical principles (Gal. 2:11-15). Peter had been publicly hypocritical; it was right that he be rebuked publicly (cf. 1 Tim. 5:20). To disagree with or critique someone's published views does not constitute a personal attack. If the Church cannot tolerate polemic dialogue between opposing views -- especially if Christian leaders cannot be held accountable for whether their teaching is biblical -- then error will have free reign."
(This same teaching on public criticism can be found in MacArthur's 1994 book
Reckless Faith, pp. 20-21, 40, 44, 47, 81.) From the following account,
it is obvious that MacArthur means this public criticism is for others
and not for himself. This is gross hypocrisy:
In February and March of 1994, a pastor of a small house church in Southern California (herein referred to as HCSC) confronted John MacArthur, both publicly (via three warning messages preached to HCSC's congregation) and privately (the tapes of the messages were personally handed to MacArthur as well as personal letters sent him), concerning his (MacArthur's) erroneous teachings on psychology. MacArthur's response (via official action of the Elder Board of Grace Community Church) was to label HCSC's pastor a "factious" man (i.e., a "heretic" -- Titus 3:9-10 [KJV]), to deem him unqualified to teach or preach the Word of God, and to tell him he was on his way to hell. Moreover, in a private meeting with three members of the Grace Church Elder Board (in which two other men from HCSC were refused admission), they completely refused to discuss with or correct HCSC's pastor in regards to what he taught in his exposition of MacArthur's teachings. Moreover, in a subsequent scurrilous letter to HCSC's pastor from one of these elders ("scurrilous" because of the elder's unfounded charges that HCSC's pastor was a child-beater, was sponging off other people, had never held a steady job, and was a cult leader much like David Koresh and Jim Jones), it was specifically contended that the Scripture forbid the elders from engaging the pastor in a doctrinal dispute over the specifics of MacArthur's teachings until he (HCSC's pastor) would admit and repent of being "factious"! In other words, HCSC's pastor had to first admit he was a heretic before MacArthur would defend his own heretical teachings!*
Similarly, since 1988, Biblical Discernment Ministries privately contacted Dr. MacArthur by personal letter on three different occasions, each time asking him to justify his various psychological teachings in light of his professed belief that psychology is not of God. On each occasion, I have received only generic responses from various designated spokespersons in his ministry, never from Dr. MacArthur himself. Nor have I ever received a public or private response "correcting" me, from the Word of God, of any erroneous reporting or improper interpretation or analysis of Dr. MacArthur's teachings.
11/97 Update: There has been some recent "contact" with MacArthur's people. An elder at Grace Church has posted to an Internet web site personal attacks against both the pastor mentioned above and against BDM's editor. (See BDM response.) Yet, the question still remains to be answered -- "Are MacArthur's teachings true to Scripture?" I contend that they are not. I have documented my contentions is this report and the posted sub-reports. Other than these personal attacks leveled by the leadership of Grace Community Church, MacArthur's defenders remain silent.
* The pastor's name has been withheld from this "Note" beginning with the 8/96 revision to this report in an attempt to nullify MacArthur's continued use of a red herring argument. "The fallacy of red herring gets its name from the practice of using a herring, a particularly smelly fish when cooked, to divert hunting dogs from the scent of a fox. To commit the fallacy of red herring in an argument is to draw attention away from an issue by raising some other, seemingly related issue. In so doing, the arguer attempts to sidetrack the opponent's argument. (Source: Robert M. Johnson, A Logic Book, 2nd Edition, [Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1992], p. 262.) MacArthur seems to think that if he can discredit those who challenge his teachings (i.e., making the issue the person challenging him rather than the specifics of the challenge), then that makes his teachings immune from scrutiny. In today's neo-evangelical environment, he has thus far been successful.