Reformed Theology Opposes John MacArthur
John MacArthur has a series of messages entitled “Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist.” I don’t want to give the links, because I’d rather you not read them, but there it is. The transcriptions to his series are interesting, yes, but filled with non-biblical fancy and false presuppositions, which, needless to say is disappointing from such a man.
Certain areas of John MacArthur’s theological teaching rests on a confutative use of Scripture. That is regretful. I highly admire the man, insofar as his teaching is in accord with Scripture.
It is at that particular point, “insofar as his teaching is in accord with Scripture” that we part ways.
In regards to eschatology, premillennial dispensationalism, being of recent origin, has never been the orthodox position of historic Christianity, yet it has grounded itself firmly within evangelical circles disguised as such. John MacArthur of course, is a strict adherent and teacher of said doctrines.
MacArthur maintains the foundational positions of the system:
- The distinction between Israel and the Church: God is pursuing two distinct purposes, Israel’s is earthly, and the Church’s is heavenly. ”Dispensationalism views them as two different bodies of saints each having its own promises. responsibilities, and expectations” (Earnest Pickering, Dispensational Theology, p.35).
- Employing a ‘consistently literal principle of interpretation’ (which, obviously, neither MacArthur nor any dispensationalists does in reality)
- Declaring God’s purposes center in His glory rather redemption
Now I have no interest, at least for now, of trying to dismantle dispensational teaching. Actually, it would be too easy, and has been done so many times already ad infinitum.
However, the title of MacArthur’s posts intrigued me. It’s just ironic really. “Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist”. It’s just too funny. It’s like Darth Vader asking Luke to come over to the dark side.
Earnest Pickering, whom I quoted above, also said: Reformed theology is basically at odds with the major principles of dispensationalism. (Pickering, Dispensational Theology, p.30)
That is more than just an interesting statement, it is also telling of a long historical opposition of Reformed theology towards dispensationalism, which MacArthur would have us all embrace. This is the point of my post. MacArthur’s position has been opposed by Calvinists since the proverbial Day 1. Unfortunately, few seem to have noticed.
Prior to the 1930’s and 40’s, believers became so united in opposition to modernism and evolution that the errors of dispensationalism were yet to be brought to the forefront. In 1944, the Eighty-Fourth General Assembly of the Presbyterian church adopted a report dealing with “whether the type of Bible interpretation known as dispensationalism is in harmony with the Confession of Faith.” It’s conclusion was as follows:
It is the unanimous opinion of your committee that Dispensationalism as defined and set forth above is out of accord with the system of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith…it attacks the very heart of the theology of our Church… (Presbyterian Church in the U.S., Minutes of the 84th General Assembly, May 25-30, 1944, pp. 123-127)
I have not even begun to scratch the historical surface of quotes of Reformed theologians in opposition to MacArthur’s position on eschatology.
The historical facts are, if anyone would bother to research it, that since the inception of dispensationalism to this very day, reformed theology, or Calvinism has opposed premillennial dispensationalism. Yet John MacArthur would have every ‘self-respecting’ Calvinist embrace it? I don’t think so.
Dispensationalism is unbiblical. It is a lie. It is therefore, quite disheartening to see an expositor of God’s Word with such public influence as John MacArthur, who has done so much in the cause of Truth, to invite those who adhere to the doctrines of grace, to water them down and embrace man-made teachings that denigrate the church, deny fulfillment of prophecy according to God’s Word itself, deny the Kingship of Jesus Christ, etc, in favor of a system of teaching, recent in origin, that opposes the central tenet of Scripture, that of redemption.
A man may hold to those notes of the Scofield Bible, or he may hold to the reformed faith, but he certainly cannot hold to both. He must make his choice (Guardian, Nov. 14, 1936, p.43).