John F. MacArthur
John Fullerton MacArthur Jr. (born June 19, 1939) is an American pastor and author known for his internationally syndicated Christian teaching radio program Grace to You. He has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since February 9, 1969. He is also the chancellor emeritus of The Master's University in Santa Clarita, California, and The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles, California.
John F. MacArthur
MacArthur in 2013
John Fullerton MacArthur Jr.
June 19, 1939
|Education||Los Angeles Pacific College (B.A.)|
Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1963)
Grace Graduate School (D.D., 1976)
Talbot Theological Seminary (D.D, 1977)
|Occupation||Minister, writer, broadcaster, pastor, seminary, and college chancellor|
MacArthur is a fundamentalist Calvinist and a strong proponent of expository preaching. He has been acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the most influential preachers of his time and was a frequent guest on Larry King Live as a representative of an evangelical Christian perspective.
MacArthur has written or edited more than 150 books, most notably the MacArthur Study Bible, which has sold more than 1 million copies and received a Gold Medallion Book Award. Other best-selling books include his MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series (more than 1 million copies), Twelve Ordinary Men (more than 500,000 copies), and the children's book A Faith to Grow On, which garnered an ECPA Christian Book Award.
Early life and educationEdit
The grandson of Episcopal minister Harry MacArthur (d. 1950) and son of Baptist preacher Jack MacArthur (born in Calgary, Canada) and Irene Dockendorf (and a fifth cousin of U.S. Army general Douglas MacArthur), MacArthur was born in Los Angeles. While pursuing his passion for football (which he played in high school and at university), MacArthur followed in his father's college footsteps and studied the Arminian theology of John Miley and Henry Orton Wiley at two colleges: the Fundamentalist Bob Jones University from 1957 to 1959, then transferring to the Los Angeles Pacific College (now Azusa Pacific University). In 1963, he obtained his Masters of Divinity from Biola University's Talbot Theological Seminary, in La Mirada, California, graduating with honors. At Talbot, MacArthur was influenced by Dispensationalism, Amyraldianism (so-called "4-point Calvinism" or "moderate Calvinism") and by Dispensational Premillennialism via Charles Feinberg.
From 1964 to 1966, MacArthur served as an associate pastor at the Harry MacArthur Memorial Bible Church (now Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, California), the church his father Jack had planted and named after his own father. From 1966 to 1969, MacArthur served as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary. On February 9, 1969, he became the third pastor at the nondenominational Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California.
MacArthur's daily radio program, Grace to You, which is now broadcast throughout much of the world, started as a ministry to provide audio cassettes of his sermons to listeners, and then starting in 1977 began to be broadcast in Baltimore, Maryland.
Nearly 43 years after beginning in the pulpit of Grace Community, MacArthur completed one of his own life goals, that of preaching through the entire New Testament, on June 5, 2011, at the end of his projected target window, stated the previous January, to finish "some time in the summer". In 2015, the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series was completed.
MacArthur is a cessationist and is one of the most prominent voices in the church against the continuationist beliefs of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement. He has written three books in support of his position: The Charismatics (1978), Charismatic Chaos (1993), and Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (2013). In October 2013, he hosted a conference called "Strange Fire" at his church to mark the launch of his book of the same name. The event featured a number of speakers who argued for a cessationist theology and strongly critiqued the Charismatic Movement. In his opening remarks, MacArthur stated, "Watching the behavior of some Hindus who belong to the Kundalini cult. Their body movements are almost identical to that of people in the charismatic movement, the extreme behavior of pagans. This is the work of Satan, it is the work of darkness, and not to be attributed to the Holy Spirit". And that, "The Charismatic movement as such has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine ... It detracts and confuses." "It has only produced distortion, confusion, and error." "Have people truly been saved in Charismatic churches? Yes. But nothing coming from that movement has been the reason they were saved." "Evangelicalism has thrown its arms open and has welcomed the Trojan horse of the charismatic movement into the city of God. Its troops have taken over and placed an idol in the city of God."
He broadly calls modern "visions, revelations, voices from heaven...dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out-of-body experiences, trip to heaven, anointings, miracles – all false, all lies, all deceptions – attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit." And that "The Charismatic movement has stolen the Holy Spirit and created a golden calf, and they're dancing around the golden calf as if it were the Holy Spirit." He has made a list of Gifts of the Spirit, mostly from 1 Cor. 12-14, but holds that "once the New Testament was finished, those sign gifts ceased to have a function", and ended with the conclusion of the Apostolic Age, around AD 100.
In a subsequent teaching, "What has happened after the 'Strange Fire' Conference" (2013), MacArthur allowed that within the Charismatic movement there were those who believed in the authority of Scripture, honored the Lord, and pursued Godly living, and that the movement retained enough gospel truth so that souls could be saved within it. However, he saw its interdenominational presence as being "a testimony to the absence of any theology," and charged that "its theology is both heterodox and heretical...everything is defined by experience..and therefore has a weak view of Scripture, that's the charismatic movement." He further criticized the modern Charismatic movement, stating that "In 1967 a bunch of Jesus freak people in the beach areas of Southern California go to Calvary Chapel..and for the first time, the church, that I know of in history, the church lets the very defined subculture dictate what it will be. Out go the ties, out go the hymns, out go all the normal and formal things...and the hippie culture, you know, kids coming out of drugs, communal living, free sex, and all that kind of casual thing, and that's a charismatic church, that's a four-square church...That's where the movement becomes what we know as Calvary Chapel." "The first Calvary Chapel was essentially the church saying we'll let the culture tell us what we need to be...The charismatic movement has developed...it's comfortable in Roman Catholicism, it's comfortable in dead denominationalism...I think it's a false form of Christianity."
In 1991 however, MacArthur commended Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, for writing "a straight forward critique of charismatic extremism," and stated that "there are many like him who have taken their stand and I thank God for their courage and their desire to be Biblical." In response to MacArthur's "Strange Fire" conference, Calvary Chapel expresses a fundamental disagreement with MacArthur's understanding of spiritual gifts among God's people today, but affirms "charisma, not charismania," and commends Chuck Smith's book "Charisma versus Charismania" as being one of the best short, popular works on the subject.
Three books have been written in response to the Strange Fire book and conference, arguing for the continuationist position: Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire by Michael Brown; Holy Fire: A Balanced, Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives by R.T. Kendall and The Essential Guide to the Power of the Holy Spirit: God's Miraculous Gifts At Work Today by Dr. Randy Clark. Addressing the "Strange Fire" conference, continuationist Calvinist Baptist John Piper concurs that there are many abuses in the charismatic church, however he adds that "we really need to keep in mind that every charismatic abuse has its mirror image in non-charismatic abuses...In some of these cases, the non-charismatic church is more guilty than the charismatic," such as, "the absence of emotion, which is probably more deadly than the excesses."
In 1983, MacArthur first published his belief in the doctrine of "incarnational sonship." In 1989, after some criticism, he defended his views in a plenary session of the annual convention of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. In an article on MacArthur's web site Grace to You entitled "Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ," he retraces his views from 1983 onward, concluding, "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."[original research?]
MacArthur has stated that he opposes "male chauvinist and feminist views". He has a complementarian view on gender roles and considers that the Bible does not allow women to preach to men or exercise authority in churches, and believes that the Biblical roles of elder and pastor are restricted to men. To this end he cites the biblical passage of 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
MacArthur holds to the Dispensationalist school of Premillennialism and to the pre-tribulational view in regards to the timing of the Rapture and other end-time events, stating, "I'm committed to the fact that Jesus will come to set up a literal earthly kingdom and that He will come seven years before the kingdom, He will come prior to the tribulation." However, he has tried to distance himself from others within this school of interpretation, such as minister Tim LaHaye and novelist Jerry B. Jenkins of Left Behind series fame. MacArthur remarked during a sermon, "...somebody out there is going to say, 'Oh boy, he's into the Left Behind series.' No—I'm not into Rapture-fiction and I'm not into wacky charts. You don't see me up here with a big chart and a stick. And I'm not into newspaper exegesis where...everything that happens in the news fulfills some obscure Old Testament prophecy...I reject the wacky world of newspaper exegesis and cartoon eschatology and crazy interpretation like the locusts of Revelation 9 being helicopters..."
Law and CovenantEdit
MacArthur describes himself as a "leaky dispensationalist". While he holds to the Dispensationalist school of premillennialism and a pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church and literal fulfillment of all the covenant promises made to the Jews, he rejects some of the classic dispensational ideas, such as the Law having no application to the Church. MacArthur stated, "I'm not into all that is traditionally known as dispensationalism, seven dispensations, two kingdoms, two New Covenants, two ways of salvation, discontinuity between the Old Testament and the New."
Other Christian movements and other religionsEdit
In May 2002, in the midst of significant media and public attention focused on Catholic sex abuse cases, MacArthur gave a message highly critical of the entire system of the Roman Catholic priesthood. MacArthur has referred to Catholicism as the "Kingdom of Satan," and holds to the confession that the Pope is anti-Christ, but the term, which he said, "applies to anyone who positions himself against or in place of Christ."
MacArthur has stated that a person who truly believes all of what Roman Catholicism teaches does not possess saving faith because the Roman Catholic way of salvation is works based and is a "twisted system of satanic lies" presided over by the Pope.
MacArthur is also an advocate of Nouthetic Counseling, which stresses the Bible as a sufficient tool for counseling people with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. MacArthur does not reject all forms of psychological theories and techniques, though he considers some psychology and psychiatry as contrary to the Bible.
He has argued that "True psychology (i.e. "the study of the soul") can be done only by Christians, since only Christians have the resources for understanding and transforming the soul. The secular discipline of psychology is based on godless assumptions and evolutionary foundations and is capable of dealing with people only superficially and only on the temporal level... Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based. Like theistic evolution, Christian psychology is an attempt to harmonize two inherently contradictory systems of thought. Modern psychology and the Bible cannot be blended without serious compromise to or utter abandonment of the principle of Scripture's sufficiency."
His stance has caused several controversies, the most notable of which was the first time an employee of an evangelical church had ever been sued for malpractice. The case failed to come to trial because a judge ruled the case as having insufficient evidence.
Statement on Social Justice and the GospelEdit
A critic of what he describes as the social gospel (defined as a trend to combine the Christian Gospel with social gospel), MacArthur is a founding signatory of the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, or simply the "Dallas Statement". Of the social gospel, MacArthur has said: "Over the years, I've fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far."
MacArthur was a key person in the Lordship salvation controversy in the 1980s, arguing against free grace theology. He states, "You must receive Jesus Christ for who He is, both Lord and Savior, to be truly saved (II Peter 2:20)." Regarding eternal security, he states, "It should never be presented merely as a matter of being once saved, always saved—with no regard for what you believe or do. The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord's presence." MacArthur's views raised controversy within U.S. evangelicalism and were challenged in print by non-lordship dispensationalist theologians Charles Ryrie and Zane C. Hodges, who argued that MacArthur was teaching a form of works-based salvation. MacArthur has denied the charge, as attested on two tapes recorded in 1989 when he was asked to reason together with the IFCA man.
In December 1989, the Bible Broadcasting Network terminated MacArthur's Grace to You program. In explaining that step, BBN president Lowell Davey referred to MacArthur's teachings on the blood of Christ and "Lordship salvation." Davey called these teachings "confusing". In a letter dated January 15, 1990, Davey cited a "drift by Dr. MacArthur to a theological position that we could not adhere to" and said that MacArthur's sermon series on the theology of election "convinced us that the direction of 'Grace to You' was toward Hyper-Calvinism." MacArthur preaches salvation by election of God's sovereignty. However, the term "Hyper-Calvinism" is used by some to denote 5-point Calvinism or even any strong defense of Calvinism, rather than the historical "Hyper-Calvinism" position denies the doctrine of duty faith. This position does not seem to accurately reflect MacArthur's position in his sermons. The controversy concerning the efficacy of Christ's blood stems from MacArthur's statement that it is not the literal liquid blood of Christ that saves, but his sacrificial death on the Cross, a view that he espoused in an article titled "Not His Bleeding, but His Dying," published in the May 1976 issue of the Grace to You family paper distributed to his church. MacArthur himself, though, later clarified what was stated of him in the article, noting his position concerning Christ's blood and death in atonement, mentioning that the efficacy of Christ's blood is not some particular physical property of the blood itself, but the fact that He shed blood in dying, and his affirmation that Christ's blood in death was necessary to satisfy God's holy requirement for atonement.
MacArthur advocates young-Earth creationism in his book The Battle For the Beginning (2001), and in his sermons. Speaking about evolutionary theory, he writes that Christians "ought to expose such lies for what they are and oppose them vigorously". He argues that "the battle for the beginning is ultimately a battle between two mutually exclusive faiths – faith in Scripture versus faith in anti-theistic hypotheses. It is not really a battle between science and the Bible."
MacArthur has been involved with multiple controversies regarding his outspokenness on certain topics. MacArthur is very open about opposing same-sex marriage, against female pastors, and the social justice movement. He has delivered multiple sermons where he discusses these issues.
In 2012, at The Shepherd's Conference, MacArthur was participating in a word association questionnaire where the moderator gave him the name "Steven Furtick." MacArthur proceeded to argue that Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, was "unqualified". Furtick responded to this comment in his 2016 book Unqualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things.
In 2019, at the Truth Matters Conference, where, during a word association questionnaire, the name, "Beth Moore" was given. Reiterating his stance on 1 Timothy 2:12, MacArthur responded by stating that Beth Moore should, "Go home" and that, "There is no case that can be made Biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of Discussion." Moore responded to this stance by stating on her Twitter account, "I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus - and Jesus alone - all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!" Her response caused a lengthy discussion on social media and elsewhere on the inerrancy of Scripture and whether the Bible has changed in meaning since it was first written (which has not been substantiated.)
- Twelve Extraordinary Women: God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur (October 5, 2008)
- Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur (May 8, 2006)
- One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus by John F. MacArthur (March 4, 2013)
- Anxious for Nothing: God's Cure for the Cares of Your Soul (John Macarthur Study) by MacArthur, Jr., John (February 1, 2012)
- Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child by John F. MacArthur (July 8, 2003)
- Saved Without A Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation (John MacArthur Study) by MacArthur, Jr., John (January 1, 2010)
- The Charismatics: A Doctrinal Perspective Hardback (1978)
- Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur (February 24, 2009)
- The Charismatic Softback (1978)
- Gospel According to Jesus (1989) ISBN 0-310-28651-4
- Charismatic Chaos (1993) ISBN 0-310-57572-9
- Our Sufficiency in Christ (1998) ISBN 1-58134-013-3
- Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (2001) ISBN 1-58134-288-8
- Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview (2003) ISBN 1-58134-412-0
- Fool's Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error (2005) ISBN 1-58134-726-X
- The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ (2009) ISBN 1-4002-0206-X
- Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (2013) ISBN 978-1-4002-0517-2
- Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray: Finding Our Way Back to Biblical Truth (2017)
- The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul's Teachings (2017)
- Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (2017)
- None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible (2017)
- Worship: The Ultimate Priority (2012)
- Parables (2015)
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- "The Top 25 Most Influential Preachers". Christianity Today. 2006. Archived from the original on February 1, 2006. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
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John MacArthur, a frequent guest, with us
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- MacArthur, John F. (February 9, 2004). "John MacArthur's Life Testimony" (Interview). Interviewed by Phil Johnson. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
I was born down in Los Angeles at St. Vincent's Hospital, which is still a functioning hospital in the city.
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- MacArthur, John. "Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ". Grace to You.
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- Grace to You. "Can Women Exercise Authority in the Church?". gty.org.
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- MacArthur, John. "Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 1".
- MacArthur, John. "What is dispensationalism? And what is your position, from Scripture, on the subject?".
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- MacArthur, John. "Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church".
- Ganz and MacArthur (1993), PsychoBabble: The Failure of Modern Psychology--and the Biblical Alternative, Crossway
- John F MacArthur (1991), "THE PSYCHOLOGY EPIDEMIC AND ITS CURE", The Master's Seminary Journal, 2:1: 3–20
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- MacArthur, John. The Gospel According to Jesus. ISBN 0-310-39491-0.
- https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-37/ifca-meeting-62689-part-2 https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-36/ifca-meeting-62689-part-1
- MacArthur, John. "Chosen from Eternity: Chosen by God--Part 1".
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- John MacArthur (2001), The Battle For The Beginning, Nelson, archived from the original on July 6, 2011, retrieved May 18, 2011
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- Buttel, Cameron (May 9, 2016). "Unqualified, Not Unworthy". Grace To You. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- MacArthur, John. "Go Home Beth Moore". YouTubw. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
- Jones, Karen (November–December 2009). "John MacArthur: Unleashing God's Truth—One Verse at a Time". Bible Study Magazine. 2 (1): 10–14.
- John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, Iain H. Murray
- John Macarthur: Mainstreaming Paganism in the Church (Critical review)
- Seven Leaders: Pastors and Teachers, by Iain H. Murray
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