John MacArthur’s Closet Retraction (Did Phil Johnson Really Post This?)
I read these retractions this morning, allegedly from John MacArthur, concerning some teachings of his from earlier years. All of these retractions are in regard to MacArthur’s book “The Gospel According to Jesus”, and are claimed to have been posted by Phil Johnson years ago.
My question is, did Phil Johnson really post this? There’s only one person I know of who can answer that question. And if he did publish the following, why were such serious errors not made known widely public for the good of the Church who were reading this book?
On October 31, 2000, Phillip R. Johnson, aide and ghostwriter for John MacArthur, posted this notice to a small discussion group on the Internet:
“Several years ago I [John MacArthur] made some inaccurate statements that have unfortunately confused people about where I stand on the doctrine of justification by faith. While teaching a series on this crucial issue, I made the point that God does not justify anyone whom He does not also sanctify. That is true. Unfortunately, however, I also implied that God’s sanctifying work in us may in part provide the ground on which He declares us righteous. That is not true. I also suggested that God’s righteousness is infused into believers in a way that makes their justification something more than a forensic declaration. That is emphatically not true.
“This error was confined to a single series preached several years ago. But some of the misstatements were published in a study guide and in the first edition of my Romans commentary. When I realized my error, I withdrew the study guide from publication. It is no longer available. Furthermore, I immediately corrected the Romans commentary. Only a few relatively minor changes were necessary, and those revisions appear in later printings of the book.
“For the record, I have never believed that we can be justified because of anything good in us (Phil. 3:9). Scripture clearly teaches that God accepts us and declares us righteous only because of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to us by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-6). God’s ongoing work of making us righteous is properly labeled sanctification–and should be carefully distinguished from justification. I hereby retract any earlier statements I ever made to the contrary.
Although Mr. MacArthur does not mention “The Gospel According to Jesus” or other works criticized in this Review, nor has this statement ever been published in any of his books (at least MacArthur’s aide Phillip Johnson failed to provide us with a citation after repeated questioning), we are glad that MacArthur has made at least some attempt to acknowledge and correct the false ideas on justification he taught in tens of thousands of copies of “The Gospel According to Jesus,” his commentary on Romans, and other books and tapes. We only wish he had published this closet retraction as widely as he had published his errors.
Phil, did you post this? Enquiring minds want to know, and ___of thousands of people who read the book should know.
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Twas the Trinity Foundation that provided me the most cogent analysis of C.S. Lewis’ theology – most excellent work on their part. The page you linked to is also excellent, I will have to visit it again to finish reading it, once I check my bookshelves to see if “The Gospel According to Jesus” is one of the few books from MacArthur that I own.
I dare say none of us could write as much as MacArthur without making errors, but his – as with Piper’s – seem to have a lot in common, so as to clearly develop a theme which one cannot ignore.
Amen….and thank you.
The best critique of John Macarthur’s confusion of justification and regeneration/sanctification is the Michael Horton edited volume, Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation. The writers tell how they have discussed Macarthur’s errors with him and that he has promised to make changes. As far as I can tell, there have been a few subtractions from the next editions, but no repentance and no attention to the errors. I think Macarthur still has the errors. He still puts regeneration in priority over justification in such a way that he confuses the two.
Even if Phil Johnson can’t agree with Arminians about regeneration being after faith, or about regeneration being purchased for the elect by Christ, they can still all unite in faith that the Jesus who died for everybody and the Jesus who died only for those who are saved are in the end one and the same Jesus.
Because in the end, it’s not the death that matters to them. It’s regeneration, and most of us them think they can see the evidence of that!
Hey, didn’t you know the Trinity Foundation is a cult? 🙂 (at least, according to Chris Rosebrough… who can’t tell the difference between John Robbins and Ole Anthony.) That being said (tongue in cheek of course) I know I have read that same retraction before… though I can’t remember where.
Phil Johnson did post MacArthur’s Clarification on his Spurgeon site here: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/jfmonjbf.htm….
Thank God, that MacArthur and Johnson have the the guts and good character to admit when they are wrong on a subject but they also do everything possible to correct their mistakes.
Thanks, but it is not true that MacArthur and Johnson “have the guts and good character to admit when they are wrong on a subject”
Both still claim to this day that Jesus does not fully exercise His will over and on this earth, both to this day deny that Jesus is King sitting on David’s throne, and both, to this day, teach, preach and believe that there will be opportunity for repentance and salvation AFTER the second coming of Jesus Christ. These things are heresy.