Skip to comments.John MacArthur's Prophetic Confusion
Posted on 04/26/2007 8:07:01 AM PDT by topcat54
I just received a book notice from Moody Press for a new commentary on Revelation by John MacArthur with the title Because the Time is Near. At this time I will forego a critique of MacArthur’s use of “near” to describe an event he believes is “near” while the use of “near” by New Testament writers (e.g., James 5:8; Rev. 1:3) did not mean “near” when they used the same word.
For years, I have been dealing with issues related to the last days. I got involved in this topic because Christians were using last-days theology as a way to explain the state of the world and why Christians can’t do anything to reverse present trends. MacArthur is representative of this view when he writes, “‘Reclaiming’ the culture is a pointless, futile exercise. I am convinced,” he writes, “we are living in a post-Christian society—a civilization that exists under God’s judgment.”1 A good case could be made that the people in Europe in the fifteenth century were living under a similar “post-Christian society.” Here’s how Samuel Eliot Morison opens his 1942 biography on Christopher Columbus:
At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune [immature] and lifeless. Institution s were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through the study of the pagan past.
Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. . . . The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna.2
Sound familiar? Change 1492 to any modern date, and the above description of the world of Columbus would fit just as well today. All the major characters and signs are once again in place, or so it seems.
Prophecy pundits in the fifteenth century were sure that the end was near, just as those five hundred years before them knew it was near, and five hundred years before them.
The end of the world: the idea was taken quite seriously by Europe of the late fifteenth century—not as a mere conceit, not as a metaphor or theological trope, but as a somber, ter rifying prediction based solidly on the divine wisdom of biblical prophecy and the felt experience of daily life. . . .[I]n the words of Joseph Grünpeck, the official historian to the Hapsburg emperor Frederick III, “When you perceive the miserable corrupt ion of the whole of Christendom, of all praiseworthy customs, rules and laws, the wretchedness of all classes, the many pestilences, the changes in this epoch and all the strange happenings, you know that the End of the World is near. And the waters of aff liction will flow over the whole of Christendom.”3
As history attests, it was the end of the world, the end of a stagnant worldview that left people without any future hope. But a mere 25 years later, history took a dramatic change in direction. Through a single act, Martin Luther reclaimed the Bible, the gospel, and culture when he confronted a corrupt church. The rest, as they say, is history.
What makes today’s speculations about the end any more reliable? Why are today’s prophecy writers any more trustworthy? They aren’t. Prophetic texts that applied to the generation of Jesus’ day (Matt. 24:34) are being misapplied to our generation. This is a huge mistake that has significant implications theologically and culturally. Prophecy books like those of Mac Arthur are only adding to the confusion.
1. John F. MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience: Drawing the Line in a No-Fault, Guilt-Free World (Dallas, TX: Word, 1994), 12.
2. Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1942), 3.
3. Kirkpatrick Sale, The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy (New York: Alfred F. Knopf, 1990), 29–30.
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
Sorry, Mr DeMar, I will go with Dr MacArthur. His position is biblical...yours is not. I have known Dr MacArthur since my seminary days in the late 1970’s. His track record is far more reliable than yours.
I would disagree with MacArthur here, (as would Paul the Apostle).
"Fight the good fight" and "run the race" do not exactly conjure up a vision of defeatism.
We are to be "salt and light", not just throw our hands up and say: "why bother - Christ will be here soon anyway".
We are disciples of Christ.
Our past is redeemed, our present makes sense and our future is secure.
We will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, or negotiate with the enemy.
We will give until we drop, preach all we know and work until He comes. (And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing us.)
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel". Romans 1:16
Track record on what?
And thus the Dispensationalist reveals his schizophrenia towards the Blood of Christ.
Those of us approaching this from the POV of Postmillennialism and the Reformation would say the blood of Christ is capable of redeeming everything affected by the Fall. As Christ's blood flows outward via the repentant/obedient soul, as it is compounded by an increasing number of repentant/obedient souls, His redemption will effect a progressive change in culture and politics and art and everything produced by man. It is never too late to repent, never to late to be redeemed, never to late to see positive change in both one's personal life and in society and culture, as the story of Jonah and Ninevah demonstrate for us.
But others (not all) approach this from other POVs, especially Scofield-flavored Dispensational Premillennialism, and they would say no, the Rapture-era culture will not (cannot?) be redeemed by anything - including a wholesale repentance and conversion of the population - other than by the physical return of Christ. If you extrapolate backwards from this position, you discover that living one's life for Christ in any era doesn't add up to jack squat statistically or sociologically, whereas living one's life for Satan has a statistically measurable, progressively successful effect on society in every era.
How effective do you think the Dispensationalist's sales pitch is re winning men and women for Christ, once the prospective convert discovers this a priori pessimism towards the efficacy of Christ's blood?
The irony here is the Christian Zionist subculture within the dispensationalist/fundamentalist group, which has a high regard for Israel as a political entity, a nation which is seen as capable of transforming itself based on a (highly flawed) interpretation of Gods Holy Word.
IOW, Gods earthly chosen people are able to affect their political and cultural surroundings while Gods heavenly chosen people are not.
Further, they admit that it is this carnal people who are superior to the spiritual. After all, in the futurist scheme of things it is not until Jesus physically returns to earth to carnally rule over the nations with a literal rod of iron from a literal throne in literal old Jerusalem that there is real gospel success. Christ is really incapable of making disciples of all nations until the futurist millennium.
I hear you knockin'
But you can't come in
I hear you knockin'
Go back where you've been
Quantity does not equate to reliability. And on this subject his "track record" is merely speculative since he does not know if any of these thing will happen as he suggests.
MacArthur does careful exegesis of the Book of the Revelation, and others (i.e., Daniel, etc)...and makes firm statements based on that careful study. My choice is to go with John...and I don't expect anyone else to follow me. That's just my choice.
Thanks for the ping. I too love Pastor John and have learned much from his Biblical exposition. However, I must part with him in the matter of Eschatology. I pray the Lord will open his eyes.
I was 23 years old before I became aware that Scofield’s notes were not “verbally inspired.” I now believe that “dispensationalism” is one of the worse heresies ever visited upon the Church. Praise God that today there are many rising up to refute this heresy.
The Church Militant will become, by God’s Grace, The Church Triumphant!!!!
No man knows the day or time. I happen to agree that the time is short but not based upon my surroundings or some prophetic writings strung together. I have my own personal heretical beliefs on this subject. But it doesn't matter what I believe. God is working out his will and when the time is right-that's all folks.
I'll have to email MacArthur. I'm disappointed he has this view. He needs to lighten up.
BTW-I wonder if Litekeeper would be so keen on MacArthur's view of election.
I adhere 100% to his teaching position of election.
I can assure you his position comes from diligent study of the Word, to which he devotes massive amounts of time and prayer. And it comes from 30+ years of studying and teaching the Word. He does not come by his positions lightly. He is one of the most diligent students of the Word that I know of...and it is always bathed in prayer.
MacArthur seems to have been born an independent fundamentalist dispensationalist who later adopted Calvinistic soteriology and modified his dispensationalism a bit. He still holds membership in the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) even though his soteriology seems to be at odds what that group’s position.
He just hasn’t gone far enough in his studies and chucked dispensationalism entirely.
I've listen to quite a bit of MacArthur. I heard him speak at the recent Ligioner Conference. He does a very good job exegeting the Scripture when the topic is soteriology. When he gets into eschatology, I find his exegesis very forced and less confident. I recently heard a sermon on 1 Cor. 15 and his forced explanation of four resurrections when the text only identifies two (Christ's and His people) was painful to listen to.
I get the impression that he is not very comfortable with his position.
Many people of many persuasions can make the same claims and come to different conclusions. It is Gnostic thinking to simply read the Bible and believe something pop into our heads. This view was never the church's view for over 1900 years. One should raise questions.
I think people get caught up in all sorts of issues regardless of age. David and Solomon both committed their greatest errors after years of walking with the Lord. And if you'll recall, Job and his friends were chastised by their younger friend. Age is a poor gauge of spirituality.
I agree. I actually like John MacArthur very much. I have a number of his books, his commentaries and we support his ministry. I just think he gets carried away at times (like his Lordship Salvation issue).
For the record, I believe the doctrine of election is far more critical to understand than eschatology. One is the milk; the other the meat.
??? My own experience with the IFCA has been that they are solidly Calvinist, as is MacArthur. Where is he at odds with the IFCA on salvation?
I wasn’t aware of MacArthur being adispensationalist. I have never read anything that shows he supports it, have you? Since he associates with many pastors who are, perhaps he just has not tackled it.
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