Johnny MacTruth – Heaven’s Gatekeeper

kinnon —  December 15, 2007 — 25 Comments

I really do have better things to do. (Like put IKEA cabinets together. So. Maybe I don’t have better things to do, then.) But this stuff just frosts my extremities.

John MacArthur has set himself as the arbiter of who is and isn’t a Christian. With the company I keep, I’m sure I’d be outside of MacArthur’s heaven. In this interview with Paul Edwards, he announces that Doug Pagitt is not a Christian. (I’m not a Pagitt fan. In fact, he tends to get on my last nerve when I read him, but as confusing as I find him, it is hardly my place to announce him to the world as a non-believer. Ridiculous.)

I think you know it’s most helpful, Paul, to go back and kind of recast how we view these people. He’s not a pastor; he’s not a Christian; that’s not a church. When you call yourself a Christian and you call yourself a pastor and you say you have a church, all of that has to be—to be legitimate—defined biblically. And if it’s not, that’s not a church and you’re not a pastor and you’re not even a Christian.

What you have here is a form of false religion … A form of paganism that basically wants to be thought of as Christian because it gains a certain ground. But the underlying bottom line of this whole emerging movement is they don’t believe in any doctrine, they don’t believe in any theology. They don’t want to be forced to interpret anything in scripture a certain way and the out is, “Well the Bible isn’t clear anyway.” In other words, we don’t know what it means; we can’t know what it means.

Jonny Mac then goes on to tell us what the sole role of the church is,

I believe the church has one function, and that is to guard the truth, to proclaim the truth and to live the truth. So you take the Word of God, you teach it, you proclaim it, you protect it, you defend it, and you live it, and that’s a church. The Word of God rightly divided, rightly understood.

And apparently Johnny Mac’s the only one who can do that.

At the end of Matthew, this is what Jesus says to his disciples,

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

There is no Truth War in Jesus’ command. Let me be blunt. MacArthur is as much promoting another gospel as he claims the emergent crowd are. His Darbyist dispensational theology has as many holes as the theology of Brian McLaren. I wouldn’t deign to say that MacArthur isn’t my brother. But I would say this. The man is an… I can’t even say that. Though I wish I could.

Might I suggest, however, that it is time for the more irenic of the Calvinist wing of Christianity to disassociate themselves from the man who wants to be Pope of the Truly Reformed. [HT: the BHT]

UPDATE: I had to drag this up from the bowels of the comment section. From the always brilliant mind of Brant Hansen.

I’m not one of these namby-pamby, post-mod types who think Truth will be just fine, thank you. I know it’s much, much weaker than that.

If it weren’t for men like John McArthur, the Truth would disappear into thin air. It is not enduring on its own. It will not last without bold leaders to defend it, to much applause, by preaching it to the same people week after week and selling books about it to them.

The Truth is very, very fragile, indeed. If anything, Paul himself was weak-kneed. He claimed he couldn’t even judge himself, and it was up to the Lord to look at men’s motives, not him. McArthur realizes the folly of that kind of false humility.

Chesteron thought that we should be confident of Truth, but less confident about our own selves. McArthur doesn’t fall for that post-mod ruse, either. He’s quite confident that his own take is the Truth, period.

McArthur knows that the church is to do one thing: 1) Defend the truth. 2) Proclaim the truth. 3) Live the truth. That’s it. One thing.

I used to be one of those mod-hip guys who think that Truth will last without McArthur, but now I know better.

Hanster artwork that I originally wanted to steal for this post:

Hansterworshipsignage

kinnon

Posts

A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

25 responses to Johnny MacTruth – Heaven’s Gatekeeper

  1. OH MY GOSH! This whole time I thought the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit, but apparently I was wrong, apparently it’s John MacArthur. I’m such an idiot!!!!

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  2. Lori,
    You should have read Johnny MacTruth’s Charismatic Chaos. His level of scholarship is so high that he can conflate the theology of Wimber with the Word of Faith people.

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  3. I have often found MacArthur a little off target in his criticisms. I don’t want to defend many of his views at all.

    I’m sometimes concerned, though, that we’ve lost a good word: heresy. Some throw it around a little too easily, and some don’t use it at all. I’m still looking for that middle ground.

    In school we used to throw it around in jest until Michael Haykin, a church historian, told us that it means that a view is so unorthodox you can’t hold it and be a Christ-follower at the same time. So it’s not a word to be used lightly – but we shouldn’t throw it out either.

    Oh my – please tell me I’m not defending MacArthur here? Please!!!

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  4. Bill, Johnny’s selling a book. His quote is his last book. Hype helps. But I’m sure you knew that.

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  5. Darryl and Bill,

    This one calls for a beer. Johnny Mac gets us all a little hot under the collar. But so does Doug.

    Bill, try not to get caught up in making the same kind of Pope- esque comments that Johnny does. Matt 28 means many things, but it does not definitively solve the Johnny Mac- Doug issue. There are strong verses in the Bible that could be thrown around to support a Truth War, as you put it; for example Galatians 1:8- 9:

    Gal. 1:8 “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, rlet him be accursed.”

    So we need to see that Paul, the Great Commission missionary par excellence, does guard the purity of the gospel with some strong language and actions. When the gospel i at stake, he makes Johnny Mac look like Darryl.

    The real question is: what is the gospel – and then, how do we go about guarding it? My own thoughts are from my own personality; that is the problem. I cannot in good conscience make my own style of guarding the gospel normative for everyone. That would be arrogant. I personally don’t know what Pagitt teaches, so I cannot comment upon it. I DO know what Benny Hinn has taught – and it is/was heresy with a capital H. Benny may have recanted of teaching that there were 9 members of the Trinity – I certainly hope so. And he may have recanted on his health-wealth heresy as well. I hope so again. But there is a place to call heretics what they are. So maybe a better direction for this discussion would be to show what Doug teaches, and how it is within the bounds of orthodoxy – or not. Otherwise, all I see are you and johnny Mac throwing lightning bolts at each other, and that is not helpful. But, then again, that is my style of entering doctrinal debates. Maybe I am being too unfair to ask you to be like me. You certainly are more entertaining and conversation-provoking!

    Dan

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  6. Bill, I’m looking forward to next Thursday.

    I think it really is about truth Bill, the truth is so important. MacArthur is a defender of the truth and he’s not afraid to call people on their heresy. He does so using the Word of God. I thank God for people like MacArthur, he tells it like it is and I for one appreciate that big time.

    Bill, you said, “MacArthur is as much promoting another gospel as he claims the emergent crowd are?”

    How so?

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  7. Whenever I read about these kinds of blowups I get a vision that is similar to Prometheus and the vultures. You know the myth? Prometheus was the god who gave fire to humans. His punishment was to be tied to a boulder where the vultures ate his liver each day. Every night it was renewed.

    I’m really not certain that truth is so important that we need to feast on other people’s livers with it.

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  8. George:

    When I was in seminary, MacArthur’s book Charismatic Chaos was fairly new. Our theology professor gave it to us to read and critique. A lot of it sounded OK at first. Our theology professor then showed us that the book was full of straw men and faulty logic. It was humbling.

    I believe MacArthur is attractive because he is willing to take a stand for truth. That desire is admirable. But at the same time, we need to make sure that what he stands up for is in fact the truth. I’ve seen some sloppiness from him since those days.

    Let’s avoid the anything goes mentality on one side, and the opposite view which is those who speak loudly and dogmatically are always right. We need boldness coupled with sound reasoning – always harder to find than one would like!

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  9. Commenting on Mr. MacArthur; Pass.
    Commenting on Mr.Pagitt; Pass.

    Finding myself in company of sinners and heretics; Priceless

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  10. “I believe MacArthur is attractive because he is willing to take a stand for truth.”

    Right on Darryl, and so many are abandoning the truth, or they are watering it down, or they are waffling about it, or they are full of doubt and ambiguity and reveling in that, posturing this false humility. Not sure about what they are sure of.

    Thank God for the truth, and men like MacArthur who stand for the truth, come what may. The truth is what sets people free.

    The proof is in the fruit. Show me a church where lives are being transformed and it will be one where the truth is proclaimed. It’s so clear, you start waffling on the truth, and the Holy Spirit starts backing away, saying go ahead, do it your way, but I can’t help you with that. The Father is seeking worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

    Hey Bill, maybe you can help me out. You are obviously quite connected with things emerging. I know the emergents talk a lot about the inner city, they set up some ministries in the inner city and that sort of thing. I’m still trying to find one where you will see transformed lives. I don’t mean some surface changes or people who are being served practically by the church but where people are getting saved. In the emerging church. I’ve mentioned the Brooklyn Tabernacle to you before and you are familiar with that ministry. Well, a lot of that ministry is about reaching out to the marginalized and God is using it big time, bringing about total transformation in people you would never think it could happen to. (apparently with God all things are possible) I mean the worst of the worst, 30 year heroin addicts, crack addicts, crack addicted prostitutes, alcoholics, hardcore homeless with mental health issues, so many of them finding their way into the Brooklyn Tabernacle and finding salvation in Jesus Christ as His truth is proclaimed and they are loved on.

    Where in downtown Toronto is that happening? Where in the emerging church in downtown Toronto is that happening?

    Where are the pastors in downtown Toronto on their knees on Saturday night asking God to bring them in on Sunday morning so they can love on them with the gospel of Jesus Christ and see them get saved, brought out of incredible darkness and into His marvelous light. Is that happening anywhere that you know of?

    Bottom line – where is God’s amazing grace being poured out on the marginalized within a church setting in downtown Toronto and they are finding that salvation that you received 25 years ago and that I received 6 years ago?

    Forgive me if I drifted too far from your post, maybe this will set things up for our conversation on Thursday, its all good, God’s at work

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  11. Bill, thanks for your godly restraint and grace. Thanks for not dissing Brian or Doug and holding your tongue regarding Dr. Mac. There is so much confusion. A little restraint is a good thing! Even though it’s hard!

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  12. Maybe I’ll read charismatic chaos while listening to Hank Hannnegraf(sp);-) Actually, I can’t do that it’s bad for my blood pressure LOL

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  13. Thanks to Dr Mac, at least I now know the role of the church;D To know and proclaim truth sounds so much like the writings of the ancient greeks. All these years, I thought our role was to run around with Jesus and get others to join our group of little rascals.

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  14. I’m not one of these namby-pamby, post-mod types who think Truth will be just fine, thank you. I know it’s much, much weaker than that.

    If it weren’t for men like John McArthur, the Truth would disappear into thin air. It is not enduring on its own. It will not last without bold leaders to defend it, to much applause, by preaching it to the same people week after week and selling books about it to them.

    The Truth is very, very fragile, indeed. If anything, Paul himself was weak-kneed. He claimed he couldn’t even judge himself, and it was up to the Lord to look at men’s motives, not him. McArthur realizes the folly of that kind of false humility.

    Chesteron thought that we should be confident of Truth, but less confident about our own selves. McArthur doesn’t fall for that post-mod ruse, either. He’s quite confident that his own take is the Truth, period.

    McArthur knows that the church is to do one thing: 1) Defend the truth. 2) Proclaim the truth. 3) Live the truth. That’s it. One thing.

    I used to be one of those mod-hip guys who think that Truth will last without McArthur, but now I know better.

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  15. Dan,
    I agree that you, Darryl and I should enjoy a beverage together as soon as possible. Thanks for the “entertaining” compliment.

    Glenn,
    Not sure it was Godly restraint. Probably more fear of my dear wife. 🙂 But perhaps that’s why God brought her into my life, eh.

    George,
    You might want to requote Darryl. I look forward to our conversation this week, as well – though don’t expect me to be an apologist for the emerging church. Interesting that you are knocked out by Brooklyn Tab, whose Charismatic leanings would raise the ire of Johnny MacTruth. (Read Charismatic Chaos.) And I don’t believe there is any church in Toronto doing what they are doing in New York. Though my friend, Rickard, is working hard amongst broken kids in Eagle, ID. Maybe he should move here (with Lori and kids, as well.)

    Sonja,
    Great image. Well said.

    Jimmy,
    Love the little rascals imagery.

    Brant,
    I thought of your drawing of people worshipping the sign when I wrote this post. With a tiny bit more effort, I would have stolen it from your site.

    Jonathan,
    Good point.

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  16. Bill, I’ve read Charismatic Chaos. I don’t think MacArthur would have much of an issue with the BT at all. It’s a different syle for sure, but the most important similarity would be the proclamation of truth.

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  17. George,
    If you’ve had the misfortune of reading Charismatic Chaos – which really should come with a warning label that reads – Beware the Straw Men arguments – then please take the few minutes necessary to read this response to the book from a Vineyard Church pastor who holds a Doctorate of Laws degree.

    Please also note Darryl Dash’s earlier comment on this book – the one where you took his MacArthur comment out of context.

    And if Dr. MacTruth is consistent, he would certainly have more than stylistic issues with the theology of Jim Cymbala and Brooklyn Tab.

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  18. Bill, I think we live in incredible times.

    It is so important to have good discernment when we consider all the voices out there.

    Only God can give us that discernment. What I have come to know about God over these last 6 years is that the more we focus on Him and His revealed truth the more we get perspective, His perspective. Colossians 3: 1-4 have impacted me greatly over these last weeks; “1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

    When we do that, we get perspective.

    There are so many in our day who waffle on the truth and so many are being led astray. But it is so subtle, it can sound so good, but it is a turning away from God’s truth. I believe more than ever we need to stand for His truth.

    What an indictment on the church, that in the inner city of Toronto you can not find a church that God is using in a powerful way. The question is, why is that?

    I believe it’s because so many are turning away from God’s truth.

    It is after all, God’s truth that sets people free.

    But I also believe with all my heart that God is going to do a new thing in Toronto. I believe He is bringing like minded people people together and He is going to use them in this new work.

    Wouldn’t you love to be part of a church where God is moving powerfully, bringing about new life to those who were so lost and living in such darkness. Where things are happening that cannot be humanly explained?

    I believe there are many solid Christians in Toronto who are in lame churches and lame ministries, who would latch on to something like that.

    But anyways, I digress.

    By the way, I deliberately quoted what I did from Darryl, I figured it might get a reaction and apparently it did.

    Cheers, see you Thursday

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  19. George,
    I do look forward to our chat. We can discuss your gift of discernment at that time.

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  20. All the usual suspects aside, MacArthur, MacLaren, Pagitt, Bell, and the usual menu of theologians, something is transpiring. Like the 1960s, “There’s something happen here, what it is ain’t exactly clear”.

    There is no denying either the entrenched are hindering enlightenment, or the doctrinal Magellans have veered off course. God is well capable of preserving His truth, but we are locked into a myriad of doctrinal battles, some generic, some redemptive, but all on the interpretive battlefield nonetheless.

    Let us not be coy and careless about the situation, it transcends personalities and book authors. Being a free will monster myself, it very well might change the eternal destiny of many souls. We must be sensitive yet strong, loving yet reproving, humble yet confident, and most of all like Him. That in and of itself is a difficult journey worth traversing.

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  21. Don’t see where I said I had the “gift” of discernment. I said discernment was important, considering all the voices out there.

    So my point was, the more we take in God’s truth, the more we focus on Him, the better discernment we will have.

    The police expert in counterfeit money – he studies the real thing so intently, he is so familiar with it, he knows it so well, that when a counterfeit comes along, he spots it right away. So it should be with we who claim to follow Jesus Christ, we should become so familiar with His truth, His Word, that we can spot the fakes when they come along with their slick, appealing messages. There are a lot of fakes around.

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  22. Bill,

    “Frosts my extremities” — priceless!

    I agree that Pagitt is not one of my favourite authors, but for Johnny Mac to promote himself to the position of God in deciding who is and isn’t a Christian…

    Wow. Wasn’t it pride what got Lucifer in hot water once upon a time?

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  23. Truth? What is truth?

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  24. I believe there are many solid Christians in Toronto who are in lame churches and lame ministries, who would latch on to something like that.

    There’s a church ad waiting to happen.

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  25. Thanks for allowing me & the kids to come with Rickard;-)

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