Skip to comments.John MacArthur on Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Israel and Hermeneutics: A Few Comments
Posted on 08/20/2007 7:27:40 AM PDT by topcat54
In April 2007, I made my way through Dr. MacArthurs controversial lecture, Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist (given at the Shepherds Conference at Grace Community Church, on March 7, 2007). The lecture can be ordered here (Click here: MacArthur: Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist « Faith by Hearing).
Regrettably, I am just now getting around to completing my responsemy day job kept getting in the way. Better late than never, perhaps?
I. Dr. MacArthur on Premillennialism and Calvinism:
Now that leads to my title: `Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist [laughter and applause] Now it's too late for Calvin, but it's not too late for the rest of you. And if Calvin were here he would join our movement. [laughter]Upon hearing the lecture, it is apparent that Dr. MacArthur is being facetious when he claims Calvin for the dispensationalists. Thats a good thing because Calvin was very clear where he stood on chiliasm (millennialism). This fiction is too puerile to need or to deserve refutation. Nor do they receive any countenance from the Apocalypse, from which it is known that they extracted a gloss for their error, (Revelation 20:4,) since the thousand years there mentioned refer not to the eternal blessedness of the Church, but only to the various troubles which await the Church militant in this world (Institutes 3.25.5).
But bottom line here, of all people on the planet to be pre-millennialist it should be Calvinists; those who love sovereign election. Let's leave amillennialism for the Arminians. It's perfect! [laughter] It's ideal. It's a no-brainer. God elects nobody and preserves nobody. Perfect! Arminians make great amillennialists. It's consistent. But not for those who live and breathe the rarified air of sovereign electing grace. That makes no sense. We can leave amillennialism to the process theologians . . . or the openness' people who think God is becoming what he will be, and he's getting better because as every day goes by he gets more information. And as he gets more information he's figuring out whether or not in fact he can keep some of the promises he made without having to adjust all of them based upon lack of information when he originally made them. Lets leave amillennialism to the charismatics in the semi-Pelagians and other sorts of go in and out of salvation willy-nilly; makes sense for their theology . . .
As Richard Muller pointed out back in 1993, there is every likelihood that John MacArthur's "Calvinism" would probably not be recognized by Calvin himself (See Richard Muller's response to attempts like MacArthur's to co-opt the term "Reformed," Click here: Riddleblog - "How Many Points?").
Regrettably, Dr. MacArthur is not above using the fallacy of generalization to argue that amillennialism (based upon his faulty understanding of the amillennial position on Israelmore on this below) is more consistent with Arminianism, process theology and the semi-Pelagianism of much of the Charismatic movement. This is simply a cheap shot. Dr. MacArthur surely knows that it is confessional Calvinists (most of whom are amillennial) who have been the most outspoken critics of the open theism and the semi-Pelagianism of Arminianism, now making its way deeper into the evangelical blood stream.
It is rather ironic that the authors of the Canons of the Synod of Dortwho gave us the so-called five points of Calvinism in opposition to the first Arminianswere all non-premillennarians. There is no reason whatsoever to think that their amillennial eschatology ever played any role in the development of Arminianism. Whats more, the Arminians themselves never argued that this was the case. Frankly, this is an outlandish and ill-informed statement.
Along with countless others, I am very grateful for John MacArthur's bold and vocal defense of the Gospel. I am also grateful for his years of faithful service and willingness to tackle controversy in the evangelical church. But how I wish that Dr. MacArthur had chosen not to pick this fight. Sadly, he did.
This is hard to say, but in his lecture Dr. MacArthur set up and repeatedly attacked a straw man. His was a pyrrhic victory over a phantom foe.
If you are a dispensationalist, my plea is that you don't repeat the arguments Dr. MacArthur used in this lecture. Disagree as you will, you do have the responsibility to accurately represent the Reformed amillennial position. Dr. MacArthur did not.
My suggestion is to read the books listed here (Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - A Quick List of Amillennial Resources in Light of MacArthur's Charges), and then after doing so, make up your own mind. Interact with amillennial writers, weigh our arguments in light of Scripture, and see if we are truly guilty of the charges leveled at us by Dr. MacArthur.
While you may not be convinced of Reformed amillennialism (hopefully, you will!), at least you'll be better informed and realize that Reformed amillennarians are not anti-Semites who don't take the Bible literally or seriously.
Other points in his blog:
II. John MacArthur on Israel and Hermeneutics:
III. Is the Old Testament Amillennial?
IV. Israel and Replacement Theology
"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:22)
“Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist”
Actually, Every Self-Respecting Christian Should be a Premillennialist.
“Actually, Every Self-Respecting Christian Should be a Premillennialist.”
Actually, every premillennialist Christian who studies their Bible and interprets Scripture in light of Scripture should cease being a premillenialist.
Daniel 8:26: “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the DISTANT FUTURE.”
Revelation 22:10: Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is NEAR.
>Actually, Every Self-Respecting Christian Should be a Premillennialist.
>Actually, every premillennialist Christian who studies their Bible and interprets Scripture in light of Scripture should cease being a premillenialist.
Actually, every self-respecting Christian should really be a pan-millennialist, for God has His people firmly in His hand and it will work to His good purpose. Not that some study cannot get some good nuggets of truth, but rather we need to be careful of those things which could cause separation between those who should be in fellowship.
So in that light, I am still waiting for someone to organize the first Free Republic Religion Forum barbecue. I’ll bring the napkins! :o)
“Not that some study cannot get some good nuggets of truth, but rather we need to be careful of those things which could cause separation between those who should be in fellowship.”
I used to believe what you believe — i.e. that eschatology is an in-house debate that shouldn’t divide Christians.
However, I’ve come to agree with people such as Hank Hanegraaff, DeMar, and Sizer that believing in a future “Armageddon” could lead us into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I suggest you read “Apocalypse Code” by Hank Hanegraaff regarding dispensationalism and then see what you think. Not only is dispensationalism unbiblical, but I agree with the author that it’s also dangerous politically.
Read? Where do people get time to read?
Besides the bible, and FR forums that is...
As if God is not in control?
Of course God is in control. But man has free will to do either good or evil.
“Hanegraaf is a fraud.”
Right. “Investigation” and “accusation.” Where have we heard those charges many times before?
Many in the Christian community have been going after Hanegraaff for years because they can’t stand anyone who calls heresy what it is — heresy. Hanegraaff is a threat to their money tree.
God, who is in control, also said this:
Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
If God is in control then man cannot bring on an Armageddon that God did not intend to take place.
But man has free will to do either good or evil.
If God doesn't want something to happen, do you have the ability (by an exercise of your free will) to make it happen?
If God intends for something to happen do you have the power (through the exercise of your free will) to prevent it?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you do not believe that God is in control.
Again, Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
If you don’t think God allows things to happen to discipline His people, then I believe you don’t understand the Bible. There are cases all over the Bible as examples of that.
Hannegraaff has his own money tree problems. I wouldn't trust Hannegraaff as far as I could throw him. The methods he employed to wrestle control of CRI were dishonest. He may go after "heresy" but he is no Walter Martin. Walter Martin was an honorable man whom I listened to religiously. In my opinion Hanegraaff is not an honorable man. He came to our church to give a guest sermon one Sunday evening and he talked for about 5 minutes on the subject at hand and then spent the next 50 minutes of the lecture showing off his memory skills and trying to sell the congregation on his memory system (which he offered for sale on the patio after the service). What a snake oil salesman. Thankfully he has not been asked to speak again.
As you can see from the link I provided, he apparently plagiarized a lot of the material for his book.
There are a lot of fine Christians who may hold to the theological positions that Hanegraaff holds to. Hanegraaff is not one of them.
You didn’t answer the questions.