Brannon Howse: Welcome to the program. Glad you’re with us. Worldview Weekend Radio, and our guest today is Dr. John MacArthur. Much anticipated program today. I know many of you are listening through the radio stations, online, and then of course, many will be podcasting this later, and we’re thankful to have him on with us today. We have a lot of questions we’ve put together for Dr. MacArthur, so we’re going to go right to it.
Dr. John MacArthur is the senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He also oversees Grace To You ministries as well as the Masters College and Masters Seminary. Author of many, many books, and just completed the Bible commentary for the New Testament which I have and readily used.
Dr. MacArthur, welcome to the program.
John MacArthur: Thank you, Brannon. It’s a delight to be with you.
Brannon Howse: While we were talking before the program, got a chance to get acquainted a little bit during the program, and one of my reasons for having you on was to also introduce you to some folks.
I am increasingly shocked at how some folks think certain things named about Dr. MacArthur, but they’ve never heard him preach. They really don’t know. They’re just hearing what others have said or read on a blog. So one of my goals today was to introduce you to our audience. Many of them through VCY America, of course, hear your teaching every day. Many listen to us throughout the internet, and podcasts that maybe haven’t heard your teaching. Do you find that common? That some folks maybe make a character of you before they’ve even heard you, or heard your preaching? Have you found that to be true?
John MacArthur: Yes. There’s no question about that. I just can’t deal with it, Brannon. You know, I’m a pastor of a church. I preach. I live here in front of my congregation. I have for forty-three years. They know me. They know my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my life. And I’m more than blessed, and more than grateful to have a community of people where I can serve and love them, and be loved by them. And you know, in that sense you have some control over that environment because your life is an open book to them. What happens beyond that in speculation and assumption, you know, is dependent on other people’s agenda, and I can’t do anything about it.
The other thing to say is I shouldn’t really be a mystery since everything I’ve said in forty-four years of preaching here is available free on the Grace To You website, so people can know what I really believe if they want to download it. But for some reason you know, anytime you’re in the public eye, and you take firm stands on your convictions on the word of God, you’re going to have people who take issue with you, and that’s just the nature of it. And you know, you kind of have to leave that to the Lord and let that be resolved in ways that are beyond my control.
Brannon Howse: Yeah, well one reason, like I said, I wanted to have you on was to introduce you to some folks in our radio audience who maybe have never actually heard your voice, or heard your teaching. I hope they come away with the same respect for you that I have. I have a lot of questions here. Let’s get right to the first one.
There have been a lot of books written about Rick Warren, and I just completed this book Religious Trojan Horse, and I view with him in-depth, and Peter Drucker, and Bill Hybels, and so many of the men that have really kind of formulated this idea of this seeker sensitive church movement. And many of my radio audience by Facebook have even said hey, I know you’re going to be interviewing Dr. MacArthur. Would you ask him about the seeker sensitive church model?
We have some shocking things going on and really some disappointing things. An example, John Piper interviewing Rick Warren for ninety minutes in May 2011, and reaffirming his positions on issues like purpose driven life, and others as biblical. Can you talk to us a little bit about what are your concerns with Rick Warren’s theology, his methodology, as well as the whole seeker sensitive church model. I call it the sinner sensitive church model. But what are your thoughts on all this?
John MacArthur: Well, that is a huge question, Brannon, and I can jump in at a number of points. The bottom line is the life of the church is prescribed by the Lord of the church. The head of the church. The Lord Jesus Christ. And for the church, to follow the head of the church, it has to hear from him. Because he is the head of his church, he must speak to his church.
And what I see with these kinds of guys who are in the market-driven seeker sensitive church is that they have appointed themselves as head of the church. They are the ones who will define what the church needs to be. They will define the message the church needs to hear, the approach the church needs to take in the world. This is kind of a rebellion. This is a kind of revolution. And I see it at that very prime level.
You know, expand that just briefly. We would tend to believe that Christ is the head of the church. That you know, clearly in Ephesians 1, the one who is head over all things, the Lord gave to the church as head of the church. So he gave the church the one who is Lord over all things to be the head of the church. He must then direct his church. We have the mind of Christ. That doctrine which, you know, almost every minister would affirm has been the battleground over which a sea of blood has been spilt in church history. Who is the head of the church?
You know, if you go back in middle ages, there’s the declaration the Pope is the head of the church, and he has unilateral rule over the church. Catholics still believe that now. There was a time when the king was the head of the church and the English came up and massacred the Scotts because they wouldn’t affirm that the king was the head of the church. That has that as a battleground.
Now today it’s a bloodless battle, but it’s none different than those ancient times when men decided they would become the head of the church. And I think that when you begin to redefine the church in terms of what you think the church needs to be, and the message needs to be what you think it needs to be, that is a mutiny at a very high level. And it’s a very serious thing.
The underlying theological issues seem to me to be almost invisible to these people. For example, if you believe in the biblical doctrine of total depravity, then what in the world does your style have to do with anyone’s ability to be saved? If men are debtors and trespassers in sin, ignorant, blinded, double blinded, triple blinded by Satan, then just exactly what method are you going to use to rip the scales off their eyes and give them life?
So the underlying theology, if it exists, is aberrant and the intrusion into Christ’s headship over his church is a kind of mutiny, and I think it’s a serious thing. To back off of that and maybe make it clear on the positive side, I want to say to my church only what Christ says to his church. I want Christ to speak, and he speaks through his word. We have the mind of Christ on the pages of scripture. And my job is to be the human instrument through which Christ speaks to his church. The goal of the church is not to speak to the non-saved. The goal of the church is to gather together, to worship, hear from the Lord of the church, be edified, built up to be sent out to evangelize the world. So I think it’s a flawed approach. I think that the pragmatism of it is palpable. These people are pragmatists. They’re pragmatists.
There’s another thing to say about this, Brannon. There’s a new book that just came out, it’s a dissertation, called The Juvenilization of The Church. And I see that in this whole thing. You know, Bill Hybels used to say the only churches that he sees growing are the ones that appeal to young people. So that got launched into a new wave of the juvenilization of the church. Now these churches are juvenile in the way they think. They think superficially. They think shallow. They’re juvenile in the way they express themselves. They sing a kind of juvenile entertainment oriented, emotion driven kind of fun type music. And I think there’s some truth in that. So it takes a form of Christianity, an altered form, and takes it to the lowest level.
Brannon Howse: I know you’re familiar with Brian McLaren, correct?
John MacArthur: Yes. Absolutely.
Brannon Howse: And Brian McLaren was asked by someone on his website who started the Emergent Church? And he credited, and we have the printout of this off his website. He credited the Leadership Network, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the Leadership Network as well, which is largely known for pushing the whole seeker sensitive church model. And yet he credits them for helping found the Emergent Church. I guess if you take the Leadership Network, which in one publication has pushed C. Peter Wagner in the New Apostolic Reformation, but what seems to be happening here is you have the Leadership Network credited by Brian McLaren for having started the Emergent Church. The Leadership Network is largely known for the seeker sensitive church model. What I’ve been seeing is that maybe the goal is to take a traditional church, transform them or transition them into a seeker sensitive church, and then completely transform them into a Emergent Church. And I’ve seen, Dr. MacArthur, several churches go from being rather traditional churches to being seeker sensitive churches, and within a matter of a few years, they’ve gone fully Emergent. Do you think there is possibly a process that is deliberately laid out to transition and then completely transform Bible believing churches into what are really a false – we can’t call them a church, can we?
John MacArthur: Well you know, the answer is yes. But you have to assume that this is not a human strategy. If there’s any collection of powers and influence going in the same direction against what Christ wants his church to be, that is a pretty serious conspiracy. And it’s not a human conspiracy. The corruption of the church is the main agenda of the enemy. And yeah, I certainly agree with the implications of what you’re saying.
The Emerging Church I don’t even consider a church. I think you’re only confused by Brian McLaren if you think he’s a Christian. That’s what’s confusing. You take Rob Bell. The only reason Rob Bell would confuse anyone would be if they thought he was a Christian. If you understand you’re dealing with non-Christians. These people give no evidence of a regeneration. No love for the word of God. No love for the Christ of the word of God. No singular solid commitment to the exclusivity of Christ and the gospel, and the absolute sole authority of holy scripture. Those are the things that mark a believer. Because those are the works of the Holy Spirit in salvation, in regeneration, in conversion. And when you see someone who denies the authority of scripture, the inspiration of scripture, the perspicuity of scripture, the sufficiency of scripture, denies the exclusivity of Christ, that person is not a Christian.
But taking the label of Christian and calling your movement the Emerging Church, that’s only a deception if you grant them that they are true Christians.
So sure, is there a false church? Absolutely. Will there always be a false church? Of course. We’re warned about false teachers all the way back into the Old Testament. Deep into the history of Israel, God was laying down the warnings concerning false teachers. That’s just part of it.
And it goes all the way to the end of time. You know, at the end there are going to be false Christs, prior to the coming of our Lord. That’s all through the history of the church. And the closer they are to Christianity, the closer they are to the truth, the more they can sort of commandeer the labels that make them sound like Christians, the more effective they are.
There’s always going to be a conspiracy to lead churches astray, to lead ministers astray, to lead Christians astray. And having said that, maybe just a footnote. People ask me all the time, what’s the biggest problem in the church? And I’ve given the same answer for many years. The biggest problem in the church is lack of discernment. Lack of discernment.
We have spiritual AIDS. We can die of a thousand illnesses because the immune system doesn’t function.
Brannon Howse: I agree. Lack of discernment. Dr. John MacArthur is the voice you’re hearing. We’ll give you his website when we come back. We’ll get into some questions related to the New Apostolic Reformation when we come back as well as what I refer to as the New Religious Rights and some of their partnerships with the New Apostolic Reformation to “reclaim the culture.” What does Dr. John MacArthur think of this? Thanks for listening. We’ll be right back.
Dr. John MacArthur is my guest. His website is GTY.org. That’s Grace To You dot org. GTY.org again is the acronym, the initials for Grace To You. So GTY.org. All of his sermons from all of these years are there. You can download them for free. Dr. MacArthur, what is, I’ve heard now, how many millions have been downloaded from this since you started making everything free?
John MacArthur: I hesitate to say, but it’s crazy. I think a month ago they passed fifty million sermons have been downloaded. That is a lot more responsibility than I’d like to have for what I’ve said over the last forty years.
Brannon Howse: Well, on October 23, 2011, you delivered a sermon that I was really pleased with. In fact, one of the gentlemen in your congregation emailed me on a Sunday afternoon, October 23rd, saying Brannon, you’ve got to get hold of Dr. MacArthur’s sermon when it comes out. Today he really talked about the New Apostolic Reformation. He knew that I’d been talking about this for two, 2½ years, and what I call the New Religious Right, Dr. MacArthur. Because I just try to distinguish between the religious right of the ‘70s. I know you knew Dr. Kennedy, and Adrian Rogers. I knew both of those men. And I don’t believe that they today would be willing to compromise the gospel to “reclaim the country,” and so I kind of differentiate between the religious right of the ‘70s and the New Religious Right that really, in my opinion, seems to have very little regard for the authority of scripture, and will unite pretty much with just about anybody theologically in a political and spiritual cause if they can reclaim the culture.
And I particularly think that’s true with the New Apostolic Reformation, and what I call the New Religious Right. This young man said you will be encouraged by what Dr. MacArthur said in his sermon October 23rd today. And so I waited for it to come out and then played this audio clip. For our radio audience who maybe are not aware, let me just read a paragraph from that sermon.
You said, “Attributing the Holy Spirit the work of Satan, Satan is alive and at work in deception. False miracles. Bad theology. Lying visions. Lying dreams. Lying revelations. Deceptive teachers who are in it for the money, and power, and influence. Satan is alive and well, and the work of Satan being attributed to the Holy Spirit is a serious blasphemy just as attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit is a serious blasphemy.
The New Apostolic Reformation isn’t new. It is an apostolic, and it isn’t a reaffirmation, but it is a rapidly expanding movement being generated by some of the same old troubling false teachers and false leaders that have been around in Charismania for decades. Always dishonoring the Holy Spirit, always dishonoring the scripture. Always claiming miracles, signs, wonders, visions, dreams. Peter Wagner, the Kansas City Prophets, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, and on, and on, and on it goes. In fact, this is exploding so fast they have a fifty-state network that are now involved in this.”
That was really encouraging for me to hear that because I am stunned. I don’t know if you are, Dr. MacArthur. How many pro-family leaders, evangelical leaders, are uniting up with these? I’m looking at a brand new printout from a website. They’re getting ready to have another function coming up. America for Jesus 2012. And I see the pictures of Jim Garlow, and I see Cindy Jacobs, and Lou Engle, and so many of the normal characters. And Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. And I’m stunned. Whether it’s the Family Research Council, whether it’s the American Family Association. Whether it’s Dr. Dobson recently interviewing Lou Engle. I’m stunned at how people that you think should know better, would give any credibility to the likes of Cindy Jacobs, or C. Peter Wagner, or Mike Bickle. What say you?
John MacArthur: Well, what you read is exactly how I feel, and maybe I just need to let you know that we’re in the process of putting that into a book. This is an interesting thing to think about. There has not been a significant book confronting the Charismatic movement since the early ‘90s. Since the early 1990s, a significant book. But the evangelical church has gone silent on that.
When the nature of God is attacked, the omniscience of God is attacked in the new kind of approach that God called openness theology. The evangelical world rose up and answered that, and wrote books and articles, and we defended God the Father, and His omniscience and his sovereignty. When Christ is attacked, the gospel is attacked, the deity of Christ, we rise up. Gospel coalition. Together for the gospel. Books. Articles. But when the Holy Spirit is attacked, the holy evangelical church goes silent because they’ve been intimidated by all these false teachers in the name of unity, and love.
And I think you know, we’ve waited long enough. So by the end of the year, we’re going to have a manuscript completely done that is going to confront these blasphemous approaches to the Holy Spirit, and you read what I said. That Jesus condemned the leaders of Israel for attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. And I think today these are the works of Satan being attributed to the Holy Spirit.
So I can’t, from my perspective as a theologian, a student of the Bible, I can’t understand why people would link arms with these false teachers except that they’re biblically ignorant. They don’t have enough theology to protect themselves, and so they’re vulnerable. And I would go so far as to say this. If those people, those usual characters that you listen, that I talked about, are in charge of anything, it is full of heresy and misrepresentation.
And again we go back to that whole issue of discernment. If you can’t discern what’s going on, the church can die of a thousand diseases. If we have a deficient immune system, we can be killed with a thousand heresies. This is just the latest evidence of the lack of, the abysmal lack of discernment. And being a high profile evangelical, being somebody who’s had a wide hearing in ministry, doesn’t mean you have sound theology. It doesn’t mean you understand the word of God.
We’re talking a little bit about the idea of Christian manhood and Christian manliness. And you know, you hear people say well, that’s – like Eldridge says, you know, go out and fight a battle, and live an adventure, and rescue a beauty. Well, that is not Christian manliness, but that’s the current version of it. Christian manliness is knowing the truth and standing for the truth with all your might, uncompromisingly and unwaveringly no matter what the cost. That’s what Christian men do. That’s what Paul meant when he said act like men. Be strong. Be courageous.
So I just don’t see that in the church. I see people who don’t have enough theology to protect themselves from the invasion of their – the fact that anybody would be linking up with the Kansas City Prophets, or Cindy Jacobs, or Peter Wagner, who goes from heresy to the next over the decades, is just a testimony to the lack of sound theology. And of course, as the church continues to be concerned about style and being seeker friendly, and being all things to all men, and making unbelievers feel comfortable, the doctrine gets pushed into the background, and then people are just sitting ducks for error.
Brannon Howse: Well, you mentioned in that sermon on October 23, 2011 the prayer rally with Governor Perry in Texas, where many of these folks showed up and were on the website for the Response Prayer Rally, and pro-family groups were involved big time, and helped rent the stadium at reportedly a cost of $600,000. And we of course, spoke out against it. And I called some of these pro-family leaders personally and pleaded with them in some conversations ninety minutes, an hour. Giving them all the information by email as well with links to what these folks were up to.
Dr. MacArthur, I was told by several of them, or at least a few of them, well, we have to unite with a lot of people who have different theological beliefs in order to reclaim the culture.
John MacArthur: Yeah. First of all, they’re not going to reclaim the culture. That is a ridiculous concept. But let me give you a perspective on this.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees had created in the land of Israel a moral culture. The Pharisees in particular. Describes the Pharisees as the Rabbis. They had created a moral culture. In other words, they had created a fastidious culture in which all of the normal categorical sins were excluded from society. They had a kind of form of godliness the Apostle Paul called it. I would say that based upon you know, sort of Old Testament moral standards, that the culture of Israel when our Lord came was the most moral culture in the history of Israel and therefore, more moral than any other culture, because they at least had the Bible to base it on, the Old Testament to base it on. They’d gotten rid of idolatry after the Babylonian captivity. There were no idols in the land. They were living fastidiously by the law. The Pharisees were in control, and they were the rigid legalists. They had disseminated this religion throughout the land of Israel.
And Jesus came into that situation and basically condemned the entire thing, and basically said this is what is going to send you to hell. And Paul picks up on that and says that they’re going about to establish their own righteousness. They don’t know how holy God is. They don’t know how unholy they are. Romans 10. The only way to be saved is to call on the name of the Lord.
So what do you get when you’re done reclaiming the culture? What have you got? You’ve got 1st Century Judaism, and Jesus came and said your house has left you desolate. You’re going to be destroyed.
And in 70 AD the Romans were God’s divine weapon that came in and massacred and Josephus says that, we don’t know if the number’s exactly accurate, a million Jews were killed, 985 towns in Israel were sacked and people were slaughtered. The divine judgment fell on the most moral society maybe that the world has ever known based on the Old Testament morality and superficiality. So what do you get when you get a moral society? You get a society of people insulated against the true understanding of their own retched hearts.
Another thing to say about it is, look, I believe America is under divine judgment. And I’m not saying that just as a whim. Romans 1:18 says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Okay, we took America and asked, do we have the truth? We had the truth, yes. But we have held the truth in unrighteousness getting increasingly unrighteous. So what is the wrath of God against us? Well, it defines it in verses twenty-four, twenty-six and twenty-eight. He gave them over. He gave them over. He gave them over. This is not eschatological wrath. This is not eternal wrath. This is not sort of consequential wrath, sewing and reaping. This is not cataclysmic wrath like the flood or like a tidal wave. This is the wrath of abandonment. God gave them over. Gave them over. Gave them over. And you see a sequence. When this wrath acts, and according to Acts 14, he allows all the nations to go their own way, so this is the cycle of human history – when this wrath is in action, the first thing he says is God gave them over to fornication.
The first thing that happens you will notice a sexual revolution. You will notice that sexual behavior will begin to be accepted outside of marriage. Then he says in verse twenty-six, he gave them over to homosexuality. Women with women doing that which is unacceptable. Men with men. And it even talks about getting the due results of their sin, which would be something like AIDS.
So you can tell when a society has been turned over by God and abandoned. First there’s the sexual revolution. That’s the ‘60s, the whole playboy sexual deal, the hippie culture. Then you get a homosexual revolution. Then verse twenty-eight, God gives them over to a reprobate mind. Now nobody can think straight. And all the stuff that follows out of that. I think that’s what we’re seeing in America.
You’re not going to overpower God’s judgment on this country at that level. _____ is the gospel.
Brannon Howse: Dr. John MacArthur is our guest. His website is GTY.org. When we come back we’re going to talk to him about ecumenicalism. Evangelicals and Catholics together. That was something he and Dr. Kennedy, and Dr. Ankerberg, and I think Dr. R. C. Sproul did some television specials on in the early ‘90s. Does he think that maybe the political culture today, the culture war is being used to bring evangelicals and Catholics together? We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to the program. Glad you’re with us. Worldview Weekend Radio, our website is WorldviewWeekend.com. WorldviewWeekend.com. Dr. John MacArthur is my guest. His website is GTY.org. GTY stands for Grace To You. GTY.org.
Dr. MacArthur, I remember in the early ‘90s watching you, John Ankerberg was hosting it. D. James Kennedy. I think you were on the platform of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. I think R.C. Sproul was with you. And you guys were dealing with the issue of evangelicals and Catholics together. That document that said we don’t need to share the gospel with each other. That we’re all Christians. And quit proselytizing each other. You took a strong stand on that.
I’m looking at a website now called Two Weeks For Freedom, subtitled Catholics and Evangelicals Together For Freedom. And it goes on to talk about how Christians from across denominational lines joined together for a special newscast program that’ll make the beginning of a two-week period of nationwide prayer and action in support of religious liberty, and it goes on from there.
I believe, Dr. MacArthur, that really we talked about you know, Satan being the ultimate conspirator behind so much of this. What an interesting Hegelian dialectic process that has been set up here. You have Obama, President Obama, and his administration – and by the way, I’m not as afraid of his administration as I am a false dominant church that’s rising – but you have the Obama administration scaring many “self-professing Christians” right into the arms of Glenn Beck, a New Age Mormon. Working with “evangelical leaders” on one rally after another, scaring Obama is with the help of Satan I believe right into the arms of Glenn Beck, right into the arms of Rome, right into the arms of ecumenicalism, whatever it takes to make sure that our freedoms are secured, and that we don’t have tyranny here. And my great fear isn’t again tyranny. My great fear is that my kids come to know Christ as their personal Lord and savior, and if it takes tyranny to do that, then as we’ve seen with some revivals and with the church in Cuba, or in China, then fine. Bring it on.
But I believe, Dr. MacArthur, this whole political Christian activism has become another tool by which we now see ecumenicalism even to the point you now have a political action group calling for two weeks of freedom, Catholics and evangelicals together for freedom, and specifically talks about prayer. What say you?
John MacArthur: Well, I agree with you 100%. That’s a really astute observation. I think Obama or whoever that brings about the dramatic alteration in the America that we’ve known in the past, he is a force chasing people into the arms of Rome, into the arms of the Mormon church. There’s no question. You’re absolutely correct about that. We don’t have enough sense to get it. We don’t know when we’re being suckered, again because of the abysmal lack of discernment.
You know, when I was involved with that evangelicals and Catholics together, that wasn’t hard for me. That wasn’t some kind of challenge to my understanding of the word of God to embrace or not embrace Catholics. Catholics aren’t Christians. Unless they don’t believe what the Catholic church teaches. They believe in salvation by works. A combination of grace and works. That is a damning belief.
The Roman Catholic system is a false church. It hasn’t changed. It has always been a false church. It continues to be a false church. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. There’s no concord between Christ and Belial. It is ludicrous to assume to have a prayer meeting with Roman Catholics and to assume that they are communicating with God when the fact is they are not communicating with God. Their prayers are not heard by God. That’s kind of a sad thing about being Roman Catholic. The saints don’t hear their prayers because no saint hears anybody’s prayers. And God doesn’t hear their prayers because they have no access to him, which comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, and by grace.
So they don’t pray to anybody other than, as the scripture says, the things that the gentiles offered. They offered demons. They sacrificed the demons. So a false form of religion.
But again, Brannon, we come back to this same issue. The church is so ignorant and so indifferent towards sound doctrine that it is really shocking. Before that series that we did with John Ankerberg, we had just had a seven-hour meeting locked up in a room in Kennedy’s church, and it was with Bill Bright and Jim Packer, J. I. Packer and myself, and R.C. Sproul, and Chuck Colson.
And you know, we were talking about whether evangelicals and Catholics could get together based upon a common salvation. And it was maybe the seven most interesting hours of my life, because we kept saying, R. C. Sproul and I, we kept saying this is about whether you are saved or not. And we couldn’t even get that point across. That they have a false form of salvation.
One of the things that came out of that was a crazy statement that what we decide in this room is going to determine whether millions of people are going to go to heaven or not. Well, we almost fell off our chairs when that statement was made, as if by some decision we made in a room, somebody’s eternal destiny was determined. But that’s how strange the thinking was there.
But again, Rome always wants to be accepted. The false church wants to be seen as the true church. We need to run from Christianity and all its false forms, and any kind of an alliance with those false forms betrays our calling, betrays our Lord, and gives the illusion to the lost that they’re saved. And that is a tragic thing to convey.
Brannon Howse: I don’t know how much you’ve followed Tim Keller up at his Presbyterian church in New York. I’m sure you’re familiar with him.
John MacArthur: Yes.
Brannon Howse: We played an audio earlier this week where he was praising Catholics, which really were mystics, Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Teresa of Ávila, a mystic nun. And even referred to the counterreformation, these writers, of the counterreformation. I’m thinking what part of counterreformation do you not understand as you then go on and talk about these writers and say great stuff, great stuff.
Then you’ve got Mark Driscoll. And of course, I think Keller would consider himself of reformed theology background. Then you’ve got Mark Driscoll who claims he’s had visions, and can see what’s happened in someone’s past life. Why do you think there’s such outrage by Christian leaders, even in the reform community, by some of these folks and what they’re saying?
John MacArthur: You know, I think they’re embarrassed. I really do. I think that’s a component. I know guys who have stood behind Tim Keller, and you know, as soon as you start moving into mysticism, spiritual formation, you know, the Saint John. You know, you start talking about the Richard Foster, all that kind of you know, shear mysticism stuff, you have distanced yourself from true Christianity. And yet you find you know, they have classes in spiritual formation at Biola University, Dallas Seminary. The mystics have made end roads, and again, all you can say is there’s not enough critical thinking theologically to isolate people from those kinds of things when they should be isolated.
In the case of Mark Driscoll, I don’t know what motivates a person. I know that when he proclaimed to be reformed, it collected around him a tremendous amount of support from some very formidable people, which gave him a new level of credibility. Now when a guy starts saying things like the Lord gives me a vision of people having sexual relationships who aren’t married, and I see naked people doing this and doing that, that is so patently a lie. The Lord does not give pornographic visions. That is so out of bounds. So bizarre.
Then to take the non-Cessationist view that signs and wonders and visions have continued, and to describe all kinds of other bizarre visions and you see things, and you have insight into the spiritual realm that other people don’t have – you know, that’s just a ploy for power. You know more than everybody else. That you have a level of omnitions. But I think once you start doing that, it gets very embarrassing to respectable people, and all they can do is sort of maybe say nothing for the moment because it’s embarrassing that in the past they connected themselves with someone like that.
Brannon Howse: Do you think these guys, by doing this, are helping to lay the foundation for really a coming one-world religion, and do you think that mysticism of Saint Teresa of Ávila, and Ignatius of Loyola, and of course, the teachings of people like Richard Foster who we’re relying on some of these very same people – do you think that’s helping to lay the foundation for a one-world religion? And what role do you think Rome will play in that?
John MacArthur: Rome is a major player in it, but if you’re going to have a one-world religion, everybody’s going to be a player in it, and everything is going to contribute to it. Simply stated, anything that’s non-Biblical, anything that’s outside the bounds of scripture, anything that is not a true doctrine from the word of God, any falsehood in any form, sponsored by and propagated by any group of people is part of the deception. It’s either the truth or it’s not the truth.
That’s why Paul says look, we have to smash – I love that text in II Corinthians 10:3, the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly. And by that he means they’re not human, but mighty unto God. Why? Why do we need powerful weapons? Because we have to destroy fortresses is the word he uses.
And in the next verse he says, LoGimas. Ideologies. Ideas. Theories. Viewpoints. Raised up against the knowledge of God. So what is spiritual warfare? It’s not chasing demons around. It’s smashing any idea, any theory, any religion, any viewpoint, anything that is raised up against the knowledge of God. We have to crush those fortifications. Interesting word in the Greek, it means fortress. It means prison. It means tomb. Those ideological fortresses that people are in become their prisons and end up their tombs.
So we, using the truth, which is the weapon, smash error. And then I love this – and lead every thought captive to Christ. So anything that isn’t consistent with the revelation of holy scripture, which is the mind of Christ and the word of Christ, is part of the deception. How it all comes together, you know, in the end, you can’t necessarily predict, but it is either the truth or part of the deception.
Brannon Howse: And we’ve got a break coming up here, so we may have to have you get started with this answer and then finish on the other side.
John MacArthur: I give long answers, don’t I.
Brannon Howse: No, we’re use to that. That’s good. Many of our guests do that, and we like it. Okay, so when you do this, you destroy these arguments raised up against the principles of the Lord. You know, you recommended in a sermon at the Shepherd’s Conference in 2010 Iain Murray’s book, Evangelicalism Divided. Excellent book. I was impressed with Mr. Murray’s research and courage to explain what Billy Graham had been up to in that book, starting in ’54 when he had the choice between sponsoring his crusade in New York with traditional Bible believing people, or the modernists, and he chose to go with the modernists. You have also talked about some of this from your pulpit.
When you do that, naturally the average “Christian” out there thinks you’re harsh, and unloving, and unkind. How do we as Christians who listen to this program, laypeople, contend for the faith but yet deal with the criticism by our own family sometimes – not my family, thankfully – but their family which I hear often, and their friends, and maybe even their own pastoral staff? They tell them you’re just harsh. You’re unloving. You’re unkind. Yet they’re not being. Will you always be called unloving, unkind by people as a majority because they don’t like your message? Even when you’re being loving and kind.
John MacArthur: Oh, absolutely. Sure. What’s the most loving and kind thing you can do for someone? To tell them the truth. To expose them to danger. To warn them about being exposed to danger. Look, you can go back to 1976 and Billy Graham was saying things that equivocate on the gospel. That is why Iain Murray said he has spent his entire life preaching the gospel, and undermining it at the same time. He says that in the book. You have to warn people about that, because you know, that’s not benign to lead people about what is a Christian, who is a Christian. That is not a benign thing, and people need to be warned.
Brannon Howse: Absolutely. I’m glad you do it. And I know it’s an encouragement to many people. We have a few more minutes with Dr. MacArthur, and a few more questions so you don’t want to go away. It’s Worldview Weekend Radio. Our website, WorldviewWeekend.com. Dr. MacArthur’s is GTY.org. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back. Dr. John MacArthur is our guest. His website GTY.org. GraceToYou.org, which stands for GTY.org. Alright, a few more questions here. I’m going to get right to it.
Dr. MacArthur, did you ever think that you would see the current state of the modern church sink to the level that it has in your lifetime? And maybe another way to put it, did you ever think the church would sink to this level and the rapture still have not occurred? And if so, another ten years from now, if the Lord hasn’t returned, what do you see the modern “church” accepting and embracing?
John MacArthur: You know, no, I didn’t Brannon. I never thought the church would be like this. I grew up in a time when the church was pretty consistent. In fact, you could go in and out of almost any church and they would be worshiping the same way, singing the same hymns, preaching the same gospel. No, I never thought this.
I came out of seminary, I knew there would be battles. I was trained to defend the inerrancy of scripture. To defend biblical paradigms of sanctification. To defend the gospel. The deity of Christ. The nature of God. All of that. You know, against error. Against attacks. Against outsiders. I never dreamed that I would spend so much of my ministry life trying to defend the gospel from attacks by people who call themselves Christians.
People inside wrote the book called The Gospel According to Jesus to clarify the gospel, and took on the view that was being espoused in a Dallas seminary. Then wrote The Gospel According to Apostles. Then wrote Ashamed of the Gospel. Then wrote Hard To Believe. Then The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. Then the book Slave.
And all of those are defenses of the gospel, and even directed at the Emerging Church that we talked about earlier. It just seems that the attacks all come from inside the church in an effort to undermine and pollute and marginalize, cheapen, make the gospel superficial. And I’ve just had to fight that battle. I never thought it would happen to the degree it has.
And I also could never have anticipated the internet, which gives a hearing for every aberration at a level that’s exponential. Every heresy can now be articulated and spread like wildfire across the landscapes. So you can’t even keep up with the heresies. You can’t even keep up with the misrepresentations. So there’s never been anything like the ubiquitous nature of error.
And this culture is so about success, it’s so about the superficial, it’s so much about tolerance and love, and unity, and so little interested in truth. And that’s what grieves me.
Brannon Howse: And if the Lord doesn’t return in the next five to ten years, what do you think the “church” will be accepting?
John MacArthur: Well, you know, I couldn’t hardly even predict it, but I think what’s going to happen is homosexuality is going to be embraced. I think the church is going to widen the tolerances for who can be called a Christian. Roman Catholics are going to be called Christians. Mormons are going to be called Christians. Anybody who makes any claim to be a Christian is going to be called a Christian. And the false church will reach epic levels.
Brannon Howse: In 1949, the Assemblies of God kicked out the new order of latter rain movement. Today of course, this offshoot today, New Apostolic Reformation, is embraced by some of the biggest pro-family evangelical leaders in America. I think that’s a perfect example of where we’re going.
John MacArthur: Yeah. You’ve got this media kind of Christianity that’s espoused by people who don’t have any level of accountability. Who do they answer to? What group of theologians? What group of elders? That they’re not in a church where they have accountability with the people. Where they have accountability with elders and overseers. They don’t have any denominational connections. Nobody sits in judgment on them. You’ve got this entrepreneurial freewheeling kind of market-driven Christianity in which anybody can carve out his own little world, set up his own little deal, raise money, propagate his thing, and he answers to absolutely no one.
And this kind of independence is a serious threat to the integrity of the Christian faith. And because somebody is successful in developing something like that doesn’t mean they know the word of God, they know the Bible. And it’s proven that they don’t, or they would take stands where they don’t take them.
Brannon Howse: I don’t know if you saw the cover of Christianity Today, May 2012? A cover story about Heidi Baker. The subtitle read, there are credible reports that Heidi Baker heals the deaf and raises the dead. The article goes on to say, “She claims scores have risen from the dead, food has been multiplied, the crippled and blind have been restored.”
Yeah, this lady was just interviewed on a major Christian radio network out of the south. It seems to me whether it’s TBN, Daystar, evangelicalism, not just those who have been in the Pentecostal movement, or in the Pentecostal movement – by the way, there are Pentecostals who are speaking out against some of these very same people, by the way, which is very interesting.
But it seems that this is now gone mainstream. Why do you believe so many within evangelicalism today are chasing the signs and wonders movement? Have you noticed that it’s going mainstream?
John MacArthur: Yeah. Yeah. All that stuff about Heidi Baker I read which, of course, is not true. Just fabrications. But see, the charismatics have been working at this for a long, long, long time. Everybody’s afraid to alienate the charismatic leaders because they’ll be thought of as unloving, divisive, unchristian, intolerant. Everybody’s afraid to alienate the market, the charismatic people who buy their stuff and buy their books. So everybody’s afraid to say anything against the charismatics.
So by shear intimidation and force – this is what we were saying earlier – they have silenced the evangelicals who know better. Why isn’t there a together for the Holy Spirit movement? Why isn’t there a coalition for the sanctification of the believers? Why isn’t there an effort to bring people together and defend the Holy Spirit against these just horrible abuses that are heaped on him? And Heidi Baker would be you know, one of those.
Now it goes into Christianity today, which you think of as kind of an elite thinking man’s Christianity, because this is the fabric of evangelical Christianity today. It fully embraces everything. Christianity today will go from an article that is a legitimate historical study of something, and then come off with that crazy stuff of Heidi Baker. And they make no distinction between the two. One is shear fantasy. The other is some kind of research project. That is the nature of evangelicalism. Its willingness to embrace and accept.
Brannon Howse: Fifteen seconds, Dr. MacArthur. What closing encouragement would you give to our radio audience?
John MacArthur: Sound doctrine Know your Bible you’ll be able to protect yourself and defend the truth. And be a defender of the truth. Take your stand where you need to take your stand. Be strong.
Brannon Howse: Thank you for being with us. We really appreciate it.
John MacArthur: My pleasure, Brannon. Thank you.
Brannon Howse: Folks, Dr. John MacArthur. His website is GraceToYou.org. GTY.org. GTY.org. We’ll put this up on our website tonight. Send it out to 225,000 on our email list tonight as well.
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