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I’m not very happy at John MacArthur right now

March 14, 2007

Every year John MacArthur puts on a conference for pastors. This year he was the opening speaker and made some remarks on eschatology that saddened me. The title of his opening address was “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Pre-Millennialist.” You can listen to the audio here. Some of you may read this and have no idea what these terms mean. Pre-millennialism refers to the belief that Jesus will return before his 1,000 year reign. There are different pre-millennailists viewpoints and they are confusing and I have little space to talk on it now. I don’t like to take time and refute something said or preached, but MacArthur is a powerful, influential preacher who some take all he says and banks on it. I don’t want to refute pre-millennialism here, simply because a lot of my living heroes are pre-mill, and I don’t think it is an awful theological stance to believe in. However, to make a sweeping statement like MacArthur did is of little value and I believe unwise.

“It’s too late for Calvin,” he said,” but it’s not too late for the rest of you. If Calvin were here he would join our movement.” MacArthur references that it is too late for Calvin. What he is saying is that Calvin did not take a stand on any belief on the end times, only that Christ will come bodily and in glory. John Calvin did not even write a commentary on Revelation. Why? Because the Bible is not explicitly clear on this subject. Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, C. S. Lewis, and Martyn Lloyd Jones all were godly men and had great spiritual and theological influences on the Church, all were Calvinists, yet all had different views on end times. While I think there are theological and exegetical problems with MacArthur’s view of the end times, I would not regard his view as un-Calvinistic. What is ironic of MacArthur’s statement is that only a small amount of reformed Calvinistic churches or denominations hold to his view of dispensational pre-millennialism.

In a time when pastors need to be encouraged to preach the glory of God, truth amongst acceptivism, sin and hell, the cross and glory, and the importance of missions, separating yourself from the rest of the reformed community over one of three major evangelical eschatological viewpoints is not a very wise choice.

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