September 26, 2010
Last week I discussed MacArthur’s list of “The Fruit/Proofs of Authentic/True Christianity“ (http://www.gty.org/Resources/Questions/QA162) (which is taken from “The MacArthur Study Bible”, p. 2190), posted on his website under the title, “How can we know if our faith is real?” I noted that MacArthur had put forth a false standard of judging saved and lost, because “there is absolutely nothing here about belief of the Gospel, the person of Christ, the work of Christ, or indeed any doctrine at all”.
Given that MacArthur has such a superficial, non-doctrinal standard of judging saved and lost, it should not be surprising that is unable to clearly warn his listeners and readers regarding others who believe in blatantly Gospel-denying doctrines. Take for example his confused judgement regarding the Promise Keeper’s movement:
There’s no denying that the Promise Keepers (PK) movement has been instrumental in turning unbelievers to Christ and stirring Christian men out of spiritual lethargy. Many men who have participated testify that they have found a new excitement about their responsibilities in the family. Wives have given equally enthusiastic testimony of the change in their husbands and their homes. We are grateful to God for whatever eternal fruit has resulted from Promise Keepers and the rallies the movement has sponsored.
We also believe there is a legitimate place for men’s gatherings. Men need to be challenged spiritually as men, to be faithful in the headship of home and church. This is particularly crucial in a culture such as ours, which is overtly hostile to biblical standards of masculinity.
Nonetheless, some aspects of Promise Keepers are troubling. Chief among our concerns would be the overt ecumenicism of the movement.
Some aspects of Promise Keepers are troubling? Seriously? In his article Is Christian Psychology Christian?, Marc Carpenter has this to say about a book that was endorsed by the PK movement:
In a book entitled The Masculine Journey, which is endorsed by Promise Keepers and was handed out to all Promise Keepers attendees, Robert Hicks uses his “stages of manhood” theory to condone sin and even to blaspheme. One of the stages he puts forth is the Zakar stage, which is a phallic stage. He says, “The phallus has always been the symbol of religious devotion and dedication” [referring to pagan sexual rites] and that every man has “the deep compulsion to worship with our phallus.” He says that a teenager’s first sexual sin should be thought of as a “rite of passage” and says that “we usually give the teenagers in our churches such a massive dose of condemnation regarding their first experiences with sin that I sometimes wonder how any of them ever recover. … I believe Jesus was phallic with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as men.”
This isn’t merely troubling, it is blasphemous, and revolting. Yet MacArthur is “grateful to God for whatever eternal fruit has resulted from Promise Keepers”. This is about as uncertain a sound as a trumpet can make. And yet, it all comes back to the fact that MacArthur is unwilling or unable to condemn Promise Keeper’s on the basis of doctrine.
For more on this topic see:
September 19, 2010
Previously, I have looked at John MacArthur’s redefinition of the doctrine of Faith. Today I want to look at his standard for judging saved and lost.
The necessity of judging saved and lost is discussed in section V.C.1-3 of the Christian Confession of Faith:
1. God requires of His people that they love and fellowship with each other. Love of the brothers in Jesus Christ is an inevitable fruit of salvation. [Psa 101:6; Psa 133:1; Joh 13:34-35; Joh 17:20-21; Gal 6:10; Phi 1:27; Phi 2:2-4; Phi 3:16; 1Jo 1:7; 1Jo 2:9-11; 1Jo 3:11,14-16,23; 1Jo 4:7,11,20-21; 1Jo 5:1]
2. One of the main proofs that believers love their brothers in Jesus Christ is that they do not speak peace to their brothers’ enemies. They obey God’s command to separate themselves from the world and false Christians. [Exo 34:15-16; Deu 13:1-3; Psa 1:1; Psa 26:4-5; Psa 101:3-8; Pro 4:14-15; Pro 9:6; Joh 15:19; Rom 16:17-18; 1Co 5:11; 1Co 10:21; 2Co 6:14-18; Eph 5:7-12; 1Ti 6:3-5; 2Ti 3:5; 1Jo 2:15-16; 2Jo 10-11; Rev 18:4]
3. For these reasons, as well as to witness the gospel to the lost, it is necessary for believers to make judgments concerning who is unregenerate (including who are false Christians) and who is regenerate. The standard by which believers are to make these judgments is whether or not the person being considered believes the gospel. [Isa 8:20; Isa 45:20; Mat 7:15-20; Mar 16:16; Luk 6:43-45; Joh 7:24; Rom 10:1-3; 1Co 5:11-12; Ga1 1:8-9; 1Jo 4:1,6; 2Jo 1:9]
Note that making judgements regarding who is a true Christian, and who is a false Christian, is a necessary fruit of regeneration. Those who refuse to do it are disobeying God, and showing hatred towards Christians. Also note that Christians are not free to choose any standard they want for making these judgements; the standard is belief of the Gospel.
In The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 2190 (reproduced on his website), John MacArthur gives us a very different standard for judging whether a person is truly a Christian:
The Fruit/Proofs of Authentic/True Christianity:
- Love for God: Psalm 42:1ff; 73:25; Luke 10:27; Romans 8:7
- Repentance from Sin: Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 7:14ff; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:8-10
- Genuine Humility: Psalm 51:17; Matthew 5:1-12; James 4:6, 9ff.
- Devotion to God’s Glory: Psalm 105:3; 115:1; Isaiah 43:7, 48:10ff.; Jeremiah 9:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Continual Prayer: Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18ff.; Philippians 4:6ff.; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16-18
- Selfless Love: 1 John 2:9ff, 3:14; 4:7ff.
- Separation from the World: 1 Corinthians 2:12; James 4:4ff.; 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5
- Spiritual Growth: Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Ephesians 4:12-16
- Obedient Living: Matthew 7:21; John 15:14ff.; Romans 16:26; 1 Peter 1:2, 22; 1 John 2:3-5
The standards that MacArthur has listed here definitely qualify as fruit of genuine faith. But they cannot be adequate proof of genuine faith for two reasons. First, some of these “Fruit/Proofs”, such as “Genuine Humility”, are impossible to verify objectively, making true judgements of saved and lost impossible. But more importantly, note that there is absolutely nothing here about belief of the Gospel, the person of Christ, the work of Christ, or indeed any doctrine at all. In fact, there are multitudes of people who appear to meet every standard on this list, all while believing blatantly heretical doctrines.
In Romans 10:3, the apostle Paul said of the Jews:
For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God.
Sure they were zealous, devoted to God’s glory, and continually in prayer. And obedient to a fault. But they were missing something specific: knowledge. And the specific kind of knowledge they were missing was the righteousness of God revealed in the Gospel (Romans 3:21).
Contrary to MacArthur’s pseudo-spiritual judgement based on various forms of works, Paul was willing to judge these Jews, his kinsman, to be lost, based on the fact that they didn’t believe the Gospel. For a Christian, there is no other standard.
For more on the necessity and standard of judging, please see: