The Antics of John MacArthur

macarthur

John MacArthur is back at it again.

His most recent comments were directed at Beth Moore, well-known Southern Baptist teacher-preacher. Here they are in the clip below.

For starters, let’s just say it’s extremely painful to listen to this clip. So. Very. Painful. Well, let’s go further and call it what it is: MacArthur and team reek of arrogance. I believe the aroma is not just an appaling stench in my nostrils, but also Christ’s. Yes, Christ loves John MacArthur and colleagues. But he surely is disgusted with this kind of hubristic rhetoric.

You see, MacArthur has become one of the self-appointed gatekeepers of evangelical Christianity. By self-appointed, I’m not sure he has ever publicly donned himself such. Rather, it’s his public actions that let us know he has appointed himself for this role. He, and many others like him, believes Jesus has appointed him to defend the faith at all costs, call out everyone who is “wrong,” use super-charged rhetoric to emotionally stir his fan base, and other such antics. One great example of this was his Strange Fire Conference 6 years ago, which I wrote about.

What’s even more ironic is that he is now calling out the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), one of the most conservative branches in all of Christianity. That is somewhat shocking.

I honestly believe John MacArthur is a sore spot within the evangelical church due to regular tactics as he engaged in just a few days ago. But let me take a moment to examine what he – and his colleagues – recently offered in the above clip regarding Beth Moore and women. I have 6 specific points.

1) “Go home.” – John MacArthur

For starters, what a statement. What. A. Statement. He offered some pretty conceited soundbites throughout the session, but this is probably the most arrogant thing stated in the clip, simply because it was his first words.

With this retort, I imagine he is offering that either a) Beth Moore needs to go home and learn from her husband or that b) the best place for Beth Moore, and women in general, is the home. Or both.

Yes, yes. I am aware of a couple of passages that speak to “women in the home” (1 Tim 5:14; Tit 2:5; and perhaps 1 Cor 14:35). To keep this article from getting too long, I won’t address this at length for now (I have written extensively on the blog here about women in leadership). Suffice it to say, MacArthur and complementarians of his ilk need to read about the likes of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Mary, Priscilla, Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Junia, Nympha, Euodia and Syntyche. They are in the Bible they say they adore so much. These ladies weren’t just focused “on the home,” or in focusing on their home, some were house church leaders. Wonderful stuff!

Unfortunately, these women get glossed over or explained away as having some “lesser” roles. That’s not what is going on in the Scripture.

2) “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.” – John MacArthur

Did I mention these women? Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Mary, Priscilla, Philip’s daughters, Phoebe, Junia, Nympha, Euodia and Syntyche.

Oh, wait. I did.

Again, it’s easy to explain away these women as “not preaching.” So let’s think this through.

All were leaders. Some prophesied major messages from the Lord (Huldah was chosen over the men!). One was responsible for delivering and reading a letter to a church (Phoebe, which also meant she’d have to be the one to explain things if there were questions). One was an apostle (Junia may not have been in the vein of the original 12 and Paul, but nonetheless an apostle). Some led house churches (like Nympha in Laodicea). Priscilla is normally mentioned first in Scripture when coupled with her husband, so she may have had a strong lead role. She was one who taught Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), who then became a pillar of the church in Corinth.

Pretty wonderful leadership here.

As one person once remarked: Paul did not ask, “What is your gender?” Paul asked, “What is your calling?”

Women can lead, teach, prophesy, and more – including preach. Very much so.

3) Accusing Beth Moore of being narcissistic – Phil Johnson

Good grief! This is just as bad as MacArthur’s statement, “Go home.”

As I saw one person post this past weekend: It is interesting that Moore is being pegged as narcissistic when MacArthur is the one who has a Study Bible named after him. Beth Moore has written Bible studies. But, I mean, the authorized MacArthur Bible is out on shelves.

I’ll let you decide who is more narcissistic here.

Phil Johnson continues: “In fact, she has said that: ‘I read the Bible and I try to find myself in the narrative. I put myself in the narrative.’ And that is exactly what she does.”

The ironic thing is, I would venture to say, that just about everyone in the audience practices the same exact thing. That is the American way. Phil Johnson lambasted the entire audience present in the same breath that he piled on Beth Moore. They just didn’t get it – or perhaps they did and it created an uncomfortable moment.

Now, while I would actually want to guard against an overly American, individualistic interpretive lens of seeing ourselves in the narrative of Scripture, since the Bible was written thousands of years ago to a very different, ancient culture, there is the long-standing, valid practice in church history of reading Scripture for our spiritual formation. We read Scripture to be transformed by the Spirit, which means we see ourselves as being spoken to by God and we also bring our questions of application. That is what any pastor would offer in any homiletical setting.

Unfortunately, the audience didn’t – couldn’t – catch the narcissistic belittling that took place right in front of their noses.

4) The comparison of Beth Moore to Paula White. – John MacArthur

My good gracious! To compare Beth Moore to Paula White is ludicrous. Nothing of the sort is comparable. Moore does not peddle the prosperity gospel – at all. That’s primarily what Paula White does (as well as excuse Donald Trump from any accountability). That water doesn’t hold. Not in a million years.

Next, please!

5) The equating of feminism with power. – John MacArthur

I am not going to spend time addressing feminism, other than to say there is healthy feminism and unhealthy feminism. As with anything.

But let me note this very clearly: Beth Moore is no feminist. She’s never been connected with the movement. Ever.

Still, what’s more interesting is that these older white men are sitting there loathing women who reach for power, while at the same time these men are the actual spiritual power brokers. It’s hilarious. MacArthur has been wielding his power for decades – now spending so much time shaming those with whom he disagrees. His thirst and lust for power is a million times more real than Beth Moore’s. I’d actually say Moore is one of the more humble leaders out there – female and male.

Moore (and most women) don’t want power. They want dignity and an opportunity to live out God’s calling and gifting.

6) Use of the word “liberalism.” – John MacArthur

This is the ploy of many evangelical leaders today. If you disagree with someone, just use the l-word (liberal) or the even nastier h-word (heresy).

While it makes for a great emotional show, it bears very little weight. It shows that people don’t actually know what these words mean within church history. They’re just rhetorical bombs to throw in to mess up what could be a good conversation or debate.

If you want to know how best to chart out whether someone is a liberal or a heretic, start with the church creeds, like the Apostle’s or Nicene creeds. Don’t start with people’s perspectives on women’s roles. It’s laughable and downright immature. It’s actually called bullying, which again, shows that MacArthur and team are the more power-hungry, narcissists.

Honestly, I could offer more: regarding the ironic blow he lands on the Southern Baptist Convention or his comments about engaging culture in efforts to properly interpret Scripture. But what I have offered will have to suffice for now.

Let me end with this.

It is interesting that MacArthur’s “ministry” is called Grace to You and his church is named Grace Community Church. But I find absolutely no grace from him – not just in this clip, but in his normal, public communication efforts. Grace seems more an ethereal entity to pontificate about rather than something to live out. Grace is to be lived out and lived out mirroring Jesus. No, not the “hippie Jesus,” but the real Jesus we find in the Gospels. Interestingly, some of Jesus’s harshest words were to a) his hard-headed disciples and b) the religious leaders of the time. Where would MacArthur fall?

I am convinced that Jesus himself has been truly displeased with MacArthur’s antics for many years now. Thankfully his voice continues to have very little significance in the work God is doing in the church today.

4 thoughts on “The Antics of John MacArthur

  1. Praise God for people like Rev. John MacArthur. I do not have to agree with everything he believes in order to see him as a man who loves God. The truth is often distasteful and he faithfully attempts to translate and declare the Word of God as best he can and from where I sit, he attempts to respond in ways that do not offend, but so be it. A person is not a heretic or a gatekeeper simply because they disagree with me on an interpretation of Scripture.

    • Thank you for your comment. I, too, believe MacArthur loves God, which I note in my article. But I do stand by the conviction that he has here – and has continued to – belittle those with whom he disagrees. I’ve seen it – and his team – do this on multiple occasions.

      It may be too easy to cop-out by saying things like, “The truth hurts,” or something similar. But just because something hurts or offends doesn’t it mean it’s stamped with Christ’s approval. I do not believe Christ would approve what he did.

  2. Hi Scott
    thanks for your post!

    I think there are a number of issues bundled up here, and it is really important to try and separate them out lest we throw the baby out with the bath water. That, unfortunately would require far too large a reply!!

    So, my thoughts briefly – I would entirely agree with you that the way Macarthur (and to a lesser extent, Phil Johnson and the interviewer Todd Friel) dismissed Beth Moore was far too much of a rhetorical, crowd-pleasing, belittling scorn designed to appeal to his fan-base. I think this was really sad – as I respect all three of these men, and I have benefited from their ministries – even when I don’t agree with some of their teachings.

    There is a place for public condemnation – as we see Paul and Peter and Jesus viciously verbally destroying the deceiving wolves in sheep’s clothing that masquerade as angels of light in the community of believers. Paul even names specific individuals for such condemnation. If condemnation needs to be done publicly, then ( – unlike what we see in this clip – ) I would want to see it done in a spirit of godly humility, while taking great pains to present the clear biblical truth as to why any such condemnation is considered deserved. Scott – I think you try and do this in your blog, and I appreciate that. And like you, I am concerned over the honesty of Macarthur’s motives. However – unlike you, I am also concerned that Beth Moore is also in the “prosperity gospel” camp – even if she is more biblically centred than many others who promote these teachings – or so a little internet research indicates … [On this note – I appreciate John Piper’s comments in a Youtube clip you can find entitled: “Why I abominate the prosperity gospel” -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLRue4nwJaA]

    As the anger of men does not achieve the righteousness of God, the act of public denunciation must always first be about trying to identify the truth from the error. This requires from each of us a special commitment to careful and prayerful thinking and understanding before we open our mouths to either condemn or to approve of the condemnation of others. And even then – we first we must condemn bad theology and not engage in judgement of the individual – unless we are happy for the same examination of ourselves to be made. The Christian public platform must always be a vehicle for truth seeking and not a channel for our own individual frustration and anger.

    [ps. thanks again for your post – most interesting! I still haven’t got my heard around the complimentarian / egalitarian discussion 🙂 ]

  3. Pingback: Applying Conservative Secular American Culture to the Bible | The Official Blog Of God's Only Inerrant Party

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