In the last post Brad came out with a baseball bat and swung it at Johnny Mac, hitting him right in the “grandpa is a racist, just like the rest of those old white guys” soft spot. This post will supersede that one.

Let me start by saying Racial Reconciliation isn’t a topic I’m an expert in, or something I know a great deal about—so I try to tread lightly if I can help it. As a minority Californian born in the 80’s I’ve never experienced, or really even seen, the damaging racial problems that are reportedly commonplace elsewhere. And since I don’t feel qualified to speak on it, I generally don’t. But the last post was a bridge too far, and so I am now compelled to write this.

My grandparents were both Church of Christ (which is a Christian unity movement that made a terrible mash of doctrine and is now something like a haunt for bad ideas in the final stages of decay) and so believed that pretty much every Christian denomination was in serious error. Us Church of Christ folks can be a… narrow minded bunch. So needless to say the wider Christian community was not to be listened to or submitted to. That is, except John MacArthur. Of him they bought every cassette tape, of every sermon, and to him they listened religiously. They played J-Mac mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, folding laundry, and when they weren’t at home they’d still put on J-Mac on for their dogs Winnie and Buffy to listen to. My grandparents bought every book he wrote, then a second and third copy to hand out to friends. And when my Grandpa, who was an elder in the Churches of Christ, became frustrated by the other elder’s obviously bad behavior and terrible doctrine, it was John MacArthur who steadied him to stay the course. Both my grandparents are in glory now, and I’m convinced that they are where they are because of the faithful preaching they heard. And because of their perseverance in the faith (no small feat in the Pelagian community), I am here today. I owe him a debt of gratitude—in addition to cutting my teeth on his preaching from a young age.

John doesn’t know me. He never met my grandparents, but I’m pretty sure even if he were to hear this story it would be a very ordinary one for him, one he hears all the time. So it was with great chagrin that I read what my friend Brad wrote, and to correct this I’d like to reroll the post as follows:

Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church, The Masters Seminary, and Grace to You has recently posted a blog, “Social Justice and the Gospel,” where he decries the current social justice movement within evangelicalism. In his words:

“This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.”

It is a short piece, really only an introduction to a series of posts he intends to write on the subject, so I don’t have much to say yet. What I would like to briefly address however is the claim that the movement today is fundamentally different than that of the 1960’s and 70’s. I don’t believe it is, but John argues that now Christians advocating social justice are mirroring “the jargon of worldly politics.” He writes,

The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as “social justice” seem to have a very different perspective. Their rhetoric certainly points a different direction, demanding repentance and reparations from one ethnic group for the sins of its ancestors against another.

Upon reading the above I have concerns that he will encourage white evangelicals to stop in a convenient place before full racial healing with their black brothers is accomplished, and that he will use the right doctrine as the reason for it. Unlike John, I don’t believe social justice advocates are harming the gospel but are demonstrating it, and I’m further concerned that his being too general in the upcoming series will not address the real problems we actually face.

John isn’t perfect, his dispensationalism comes on too strong much of the time. His doctrine with regards to covenants leaves something to be desired. He seems to purposely misunderstand the reasons we baptize our infants. But John was right about the no lordship salvation people. He was right about Strange Fire. He was right about the Emergent Church. He is the Spurgeon of our day, and his work and continual focus on heaven is unparalleled. For that reason I look forward to listening deeply to what John says in the upcoming days. If there is anyone who has earned the right to change my mind it is John MacArthur.


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2 Responses

  1. DA

    “He is the Spurgeon of our day, and his work and continual focus on heaven is unparalleled. For that reason I look forward to listening deeply to what John says in the upcoming days. If there is anyone who has earned the right to change my mind it is John MacArthur.”

    Phillip, you said it all in that last paragraph. I am a huge fan of John MacArthur. But I recognize that he is still a man and accordingly is imperfect. I am surprised by how many people (evangelicals and others) are quick to shoot him down before even reading ALL he has to say. I will wait patiently to read the posts and then I will also make my conclusions then. Thank you for this post. God bless you!

  2. Al

    I would just like to point out on that Lordship salvation issue, it seems John was in error (not in the same way) along with his opponents. According to one person, he went too far and lacked clarity. Neither he nor his opponents expressed the Reformed understanding, and perhaps it could be said the general and classical Protestant view (I’m really thinking of Lutherans here).

    He also has a history of lacking careful thought in some of his words (that includes on the Lordship issue if you listen to the linked podcast), including some of his combative stances. He has conviction, but he seems to lack persuasive abilities. In a one-on-one debate, I don’t think he would fare well. Phil Johnson seems to be more the brains of GTY, and I think that can be seen in Phil’s engaging John’s critics in his stead.

    Remember, John was person that picked a fight and titled a sermon as “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist.” In response, Kim Riddlebarger wrote the following linked article. Many of John’s supporters got upset with Kim, including the people that blogged at Pyromaniacs (Dan Phillips and the others), due to this and the further clarification on correct Reformed teaching.


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