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John MacArthur, Jr.

, an Arminian in
Calvinist Clothing!

Let me say right up front that I am not posting this write up because of any
personal grudge or animosity towards John MacArthur, Jr., But lately I have come
across many Reformed websites which are providing links to MacArthur and
portraying him as a Reformed Calvinist! This not only grieves my heart but upsets
my spirit. It is not what the man himself claims to be or what the people believe
him to be, but what he really preaches that betrays his true identity.

It was John MacArthur who once said, “It is not unkind to analyze doctrinal
differences in the light of Scripture. It is not necessarily factious to voice
disagreement with someone else’s teaching. In fact we have a moral imperative to
examine what is proclaimed in Jesus’ Name, and to expose and condemn false
teaching and unbiblical behaviour.” He further goes on to say, “The apostle Paul
felt it necessary at times to rebuke people by name in epistles meant to be read
publicly [Phil. 4:2-3; I Tim. 1:20; II Tim. 2:17]. John, the apostle of love, wrote a
scorching condemnation of Diotrephes, a church leader who was ignoring the
apostles’ teaching [III John 9:10]. The biblical challenge is not to avoid truth that is
controversial, but to speak the truth in love [Eph. 4:15].” (Charismatic Chaos pp
15).

The above is something MacArthur neither believes nor practices, nevertheless


the material you are about to read in this article is a result of doing exactly what
MacArthur has exhorted us to do [Matt 23:3]. Having examined for the past ten
years what he has spoken in Jesus’ Name, we have discovered serious errors,
compromises and a lot of double talk! Now there is a lot of truth in his teaching,
but there are also destructive heresies, blasphemies, and doctrines of demons which
need to be exposed.

“For many, John MacArthur is a champion of the faith whose voice is correcting
many of the ills of Christianity. For others, his teachings border on heresy, if not
blasphemy (see below). Nevertheless, MacArthur’s charm, charisma, and abilities
have combined to make him very appealing, even to those who should otherwise
know better. MacArthur’s proclamation of much truth can also create in one’s
mind a delusion. In the following quotes, MacArthur rightly reveals the deceptive
ways of false teachers, yet in the process, he unwittingly describes himself:

“… they are dangerous when they tell truth because often they cannot be
distinguished from true teachers. The key to being a successful false teacher is to
tell as much of the truth as possible” (MacArthur’s Bible Study Guide, Joy And
Godliness, p.17); and

“The subtlety of false teaching is that it uses the Word of God but misrepresents its
teaching. Those who teach something explicitly and overtly anti-biblical, anti-
Christ, and anti-God pose no real threat to the Christian church. But subtle teaching
that appears to be biblical yet pulls unwary souls away from the faith is a great
danger to the church” (MacArthur’s Bible Study Guide, Avoiding Spiritual
Counterfeiters, p. 17).”— Rick Miesel of Biblical Discernment Ministries

MacArthur confesses that when he entered the ministry at Grace Community


Church his main goal for the church was “not to lose too many people” but “to
keep the ones who were already there.”Beloved, any man who enters the
ministry with such a goal is already on the wrong track. A preacher who enters the
pulpit with a goal—‘not to lose too many people’, will willfully preach unsound
doctrine, for he knows full well that this is what will retain the members of his
‘church’. Incidentally, such unsound doctrine does more than retain the nominal
church-goer, it also attracts hypocrites of every sort who have an appetite for ear-
tickling expository preaching. His winsome personality coupled with his eloquence
and oratory skills has enabled MacArthur to deceive multitudes with his erroneous
teachings. Apart from his worldwide ministry he has a Church attendance of more
than seven thousand members on a Sunday morning, and when asked to comment
on this, he simply says “I keep coming here on Sunday to preach, and all these
people show up. Frankly I don’t know why. But we know why, and so does every
truly born-again child of God who has received light on II Tim. 4:2-4. In fact this
is one of the clearest proofs that MacArthur is a false prophet. [see Luke 6:26 and
compare with John 16:2]. The late William Parks B.A. of Openshaw said it well
“Where ‘the Word’ is faithfully preached, no crowds or masses will be found”.

Claiming to be a Champion of Reformed Orthodoxy, John MacArthur Jr., has


subtly smuggled into the Church the entire cargo of Arminian Heresy. He denies
the total depravity of man and teaches that man has a “free-will” to either accept or
reject the gospel. Now, this is not a light matter. The whole gospel of the grace of
God stands or falls by the way one understands the truth about ‘free-will’. All the
leading protestants of the Reformation clearly understood and earnestly contended
for the truth that salvation is “not of him that willeth” [Rom. 9:16]. They held that
the doctrine of the ‘Bondage of the Will’ was the cornerstone of the gospel and the
very foundation of faith.

He is an Arminian who denies the Total Depravity of man and insists that man
possess a free-will to believe in Christ and be saved by a decision of his own. Such
a man directly repudiates God’s Words as found in John 1:13; 6:44; 8:36; Rom.
9:16, and other passages. And where any teacher or preacher is unsound on these
basic truths, no confidence must be placed on him on any other subject. If he is all
wrong at the foundations, his superstructure is bound to be faulty.
If the heresies of MacArthur could be easily discerned by the man in the pew, a
book such as this would not be needed. But as always, the old Serpent conceals the
error with a whole lot of truth and beguiles the souls of unwary men by his subtilty.
[II Cor. 11:3]. The Master himself warned us to beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees. [Matt.16: 6]. Leaven or Yeast though it be a considerably small amount,
has the pervasive influence to leaven the whole lump. [Gal 5:9]. Truth plus error
does not equal truth but heresy!

MacArthur claims to be a Reformed theologian, by which he means that his


position in theology is that of a Calvinist. In fact there are many who unwittingly
hold him to be a Calvinist, because he often quotes extensively from Reformed
and Puritan writings. But be not deceived. MacArthur is a snake in the grass who
uses the Reformed writers only to suit his purpose but is in reality one who refutes
the first four points of the Reformed faith and preaches a gospel of works just like
his Arminian counter parts. Although the main burden behind this write-up is to
“contend for the Faith which was once delivered to the saints” [Jude 3], it is also
written to reject and repudiate MacArthur’s claim to be ‘Reformed’, and plainly
show that what he actually holds and teaches is the Arminian heresy!

For all that we have said in this article we would not be surprised if MacArthur or
those who belong to his ministry allege that we have misunderstood him and have
quoted him out of context. But God is our witness that we have not falsely accused
MacArthur of error or misquoted him as saying something he never meant. We
request those who are interested, to patiently refer to the tapes and books from
which his quotes have been taken and decide for themselves. The apostle said, “We
believe and therefore speak” [II Cor. 4:13]. Even so, whatever MacArthur has
spoken on tape, he has said it because he believes it.

Before this article was compiled, we discussed these errors and inconsistencies of
MacArthur with one of his seminarians who visited our city for a ‘Study Seminar.’
We were surprised to see that this seminarian was fully aware of all these
inconsistencies, and he comforted us, saying, “MacArthur has now changed his
position on ‘free-will’ and ‘limited atonement,’ and believes as a true Reformed
theologian. If this is true, then MacArthur should demonstrate the spiritual
guts to withdraw all his tapes and books which teach error and publish his
current biblical beliefs.

The contents of this article will shock many Christians who have come to rely on
John MacArthur, Jr., as a faithful Bible teacher and expositor. Simple, naïve
Christians have believed in him for many years, seeing in him a Rock in the storm,
a monument to Christianity in a fearfully evil world, a true, reliable man-of-God
when other weaker church leaders may have let us all down. Nothing could be
further from the truth. Many others, especially, well known ‘Pastors’ and ‘Bible
teachers’ will be offended, and some even infuriated, as this expose´ on MacArthur
will expose their own compromise and hypocrisy.

Beloved, we have come to a day when we cannot trust in any man, especially some
one who is esteemed highly and ‘well-known’ in Christian circles. For that which is
highly esteemed among men (even in Christendom) is abomination in the sight of
God [Lk. 16:15]. And the one of whom all men speak well must be a false prophet
[Lk. 6:26]. One might ask, were not men like the apostle Paul and Peter held in
high esteem? Are they not well spoken of? Does that mean they are false prophets?
It ought to be remembered that it is only long after their death that men realized the
worth of these godly men. But in their day, they were not well known, neither were
they held in high esteem, but on the contrary they were counted as fools for
Christ’s sake; were despised, were buffeted, had no certain dwelling place, were
reviled, were persecuted, were defamed, were made as the filth of the world and
were the off scouring of all things until their death [I Cor. 4:10-13].

The apostle said, that the time will come when men ‘will not endure sound
doctrine’. They will still endure evangelistic meetings, study seminars, even
expository sermons; but ‘sound doctrine’ they will not endure. ‘The infallible test
by which the poor child of God may measure the things now going on in
Christendom is this: Any thing which is endured today in the religious world
cannot be sound doctrine; anything which is approved of, well-attended,
popular, is not sound ‘doctrine’. When God raises up His servant, equips him
and sends him forth to preach, that servant will necessarily preach the Word,
and denounce all that is opposed to the world: hence his message is bound to
be unpopular, in fact hated by all who are not regenerated. Was it not thus with
Old Testament prophets? Would even the Israelites of their day endure sound
doctrine? Would they do so when the Lord Jesus preached it? Would they when
the apostles taught it? Would they in the time of Luther and Calvin? And poor,
fallen human nature is the same now! Mark it well beloved, that the people to
whom the Old Testament prophets, Christ, and the apostles preached were not
irreligious! No, indeed, far from it! They were very religious: but they were
determined to have a religion of their own, which suited them and they would not
tolerate anything which condemned them. Even so, it is now!’ (A.W. Pink).

It would be foolish for us to expect that this article will meet with general
approval. For what is condemned as heresy and hypocrisy in this book is the same
that is prevailing and pervading practically every established ‘Christian’
denomination and institution with few exceptions. Our appeal then is not to the
popular beliefs of the day, nor to the creeds of the churches, but to the Law and
Testimony of Jehovah. Therefore beloved, take heed of the contents of this work,
ponder them, prayerfully consider them. For “he that answereth a matter before he
heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” [Prov. 18:13]. All we ask for is an
impartial and attentive examination of what we have written. For controversy we
have no taste, and we shall not accept any challenge against those who desire to
debate the truths discussed in these pages.

Nothing personal is intended towards MacArthur or his ministry, and a write-up


such as this would not have been necessary had his teachings been confined to his
church; however, since he is spreading Arminian errors under the cloak of
Calvinism, we find it necessary to voice disagreement and clearly set forth what
Calvinism really teaches. Many will judge this to be unloving, divisive and a
hindrance to the cause of Christ. However, those who judge thus, do so because
they are ignorant of the fact that God is more concerned about preserving the truth
of His Word in the church than so-called ‘peace’ and ‘love’. As John Owen once
said, “For what peace in the Church without truth? All conformity to anything else
is but the agreement of Herod and Pilate to destroy Christ and His Kingdom”. And
again, “An agreement without truth is no peace, but a covenant with death, a
league with hell, a conspiracy against the Kingdom of Christ and a stout rebellion
against the God of Heaven”.

In the development of this article much use has been made of other articles in order
that this one may contain the very cream and quintessence of the best authors on
the subjects. The author does not pretend that any of the material contained in this
article is his own. Except for a few paragraphs here and there and the direct
criticisms of MacArthur’s theology, the whole section on Calvinism is quoted
verbatim from the writings of Arthur Walkington Pink and other Reformed
authors.

It is not the intention of the author or the editors of this article to defame
MacArthur or any others who may find themselves teaching the same errors that
are exposed in this article. Rather, that every preacher may examine his doctrine
and ministry in the light of God’s Word as to whether he be preaching the truth as
it is in Jesus, for “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall
declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s
work of what sort it is” [I Cor. 3:13]. This article is dedicated to the One who loved
us and washed us from our sins with His own blood and hath made us kings and
priests unto God and His Father. And it is sent out with a prayer that He may use it
as ‘meat in due season’ to feed the children of God that are scattered abroad.

MacArthur’s denial of Total Depravity!


MacArthur says, “I believe in volition (free will). I believe, anybody who wants to
anytime, can come to Jesus Christ and receive Him as Saviour” (Tapes- GC 2001;
GC 45-73). The reader should bear in mind that MacArthur is not an ignorant or
misguided preacher who preaches heresy for a lack of instruction. No, no.
MacArthur is a well read hypocrite who constantly quotes from faithful Calvinist
and Puritan writers whenever it suits his purpose. But like his Arminian ‘brethren’
he hates the doctrines of grace and the absolute sovereignty of God and has
therefore corrupted the word of God and changed the truth of God into a lie.
When preaching to the unsaved, Arminians often draw an analogy between God’s
sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in bed, with some healing
medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is to reach forth his hand and
take it. It is interesting to note that John MacArthur, as a true Arminian uses this
very analogy in trying to prove that God has done all that He can and now it is up
to mankind to appropriate it and be saved. [GC 54-13].

MacArthur teaches that fallen sinful man who is dead in trespasses and sins has the
potency or ability whereby he can comply to the demands of God. Listen to his
own words : “The God of the Bible is not a God who makes demands on impotent
people who are unable to comply and then crushing them because of their non-
compliance.” [GC 50-21]. Beloved, this is the great Arminian heresy. It directly
repudiates the doctrine of Total Depravity and the Bible which teaches that “the
carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither
indeed can be [Rom. 8: 7].”

Concerning the teaching on Total Depravity, the Roman Catholic Church warns
—”If anyone shall affirm, that since the fall of Adam, man’s free-will is lost and
extinguished; or, that it is a thing titular, yea a name, without a thing, and a fiction
introduced by Satan into the church; let such an one be accursed”! Hence we see,
though MacArthur avows to dissent from the teachings of Rome, at least in this
aspect he walks hand in hand with them.

MacArthur’s perversion of ‘Unconditional Election”!


MacArthur pretends to hold and teach unconditional election, but he only uses this
doctrine whenever it suits him and does not believe it in the biblical way. The
election he teaches is not an unconditional election but a conditional one. It is
based on the condition that men choose God. His own words are “God does not
save them whether they like it or not, He will not save them against their will. He
does not universally save all men, because he does not violate their choice”. (GC:
54-13).

MacArthur’s view of election is nothing but God choosing those who choose Him,
which is not properly election. If man’s will is the ultimate factor in his choice
between believing and not believing in Jesus, then it is rather absurd to go on
talking about unconditional election. However, some people do, indeed, indulge in
such absurdity. According to them election is nothing but God’s choice of those
whom He foresaw would believe. This is a contradiction of terms, for if God
chooses those who choose Him, it is not God’s election of man but man’s election
of God.
Commenting on the verse, “Jacob I loved, but Esau have I hated” MacArthur
erroneously teaches that the decree is on their posterity and not on Jacob and Esau
themselves (se his commentary on Romans).

MacArthur’s perversion of ‘Sovereign Reprobation’


The Bible explicitly teaches an election unto damnation as surely as it teaches an
election unto salvation. Sadly, even many professing Calvinists who fervently
uphold and teach the doctrine of election either ignore or outrightly deny the
doctrine of Reprobation.

John MacArthur, Jr., not only ignores the doctrine of reprobation but at times out
rightly denies it. To quote his own words “You’ll never find any place in the Bible
that God sends people to hell, you’ll never find any place in the Bible that God
damns people. If men choose to go to hell, they go there because they pronounce
their own sentence in rejecting Jesus Christ” (Tape GC 1746). Well, that is true,
but it is only a part of the truth. It is the truth from the human side. But there is a
divine side too, and this side of the truth needs to be stressed or God will be robbed
of His glory.

Again MacArthur says, “MacArthur, “Those who perish and go to hell, go because
they are depraved and worthy only of hell and have rejected the only remedy, Jesus
Christ; not because they were created for hell and predetermined to go
there.”( MacArthur Commentary Bible on 2Pt 3:9)
Writing to the saints at Thessalonica the apostle declared “For God hath not
appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” [I Thess.
5:9]. MacArthur deliberately misinterprets the plain truth of this scripture by
saying “May I mention that their disobedience is not destined, their unbelief is not
destined or appointed, their doom is appointed because of their unbelief.” [ Tape
GC 60-20]

MacArthur’s perversion of ‘Limited Atonement’


MacArthur outrightly rejects and refutes this doctrine. He flatly states “I believe in
an unlimited atonement” (Tape GC1514). And again “Jesus Christ in His death
purposed to die as a substitute for every man” (Tape GC 1606). And again, “Since
Christ gave His life a ransom for all men, and God wants all men saved, we need to
pray for all men.” (Tape GC 54-11).

Having rejected the Biblical teaching of Limited Atonement, MacArthur has no


choice left but to hold and teach erroneous views of the Atonement. According to
him “Jesus Christ made a sufficient sacrifice to cover every sin of everyone who
believes. Out of all humanity, only those who believe will be saved” (MacArthurs
commentary on Titus 2;11). And again, “(Jesus Christ) tasted death for everyone –
everyone who believes that is” (Commentary on Heb 2:9) . All through his
teaching MacArthur sickeningly substitutes the word ‘believer’ where the word
‘elect’ or ‘called’ ought to be used, and such manipulation is employed in order to
remove the offense of the Gospel. For ‘believer’ implies any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’
who believes of his own so-called free will, where as ‘elect’ means only those
whom God hath chosen as opposed to the majority He hath not chosen i.e., the
‘non elect’. But plainly speaking his theology of the Atonement is reduced to this.
“If the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then
Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object,
as though his believing would make that to be which otherwise was not. To such
insane absurdities are the opposers of grace driven” [Pink- The Satisfaction of
Christ].

MacArthur’s perversion of ‘Irresistible Grace’


MacArthur is so thoroughly convinced on the doctrine of Free will, that it pervades
and influences every aspect of his theology. He denies that there is any persuasion
from God in the salvation of sinners. He says “God does not save them whether
they like it or not, He will not save them against their will”. Again “He does not
save universally all men, because he does not violate their choice”. And again
“Some people are judged and go to hell because, God’s desire, for men to be saved
is not always man’s desire, and God will not ignore the volition of man” (GC:54-
13) And again in the same sermon – “The greatest single proof that God wanted to
save all men was the death on Jesus Christ on behalf of all men.” (Tape GC 54-13).
MacArthur’s inconsistency on the ‘Perseverance of the saints’

Unlike his Arminian counterparts MacArthur holds and teaches the doctrine of the
Perseverance of the Saints. This would have been commendable had he faithfully
preached all the five points of the Reformed Faith as they are taught in the Word of
God rather than preach what seemed more agreeable to his feelings and plausible
to his understanding. In modifying and denying the harsher and controversial
doctrines of Calvinism he has developed a theology that is inconsistent and
contradictory. Having denied the doctrine of ‘Total Depravity’ and ‘Limited
Atonement’ his illustrious and profound teachings on the ‘Perseverance of the
Saints’ amounts to nothing but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

It is a contradiction to contend for the free-will of fallen man and yet at the same
time the eternal security of the believer. They both cannot be true. Jesus taught that
our will is determined by our nature. He said “Every good tree bringeth forth good
fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil
fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” [Mt 7:17,18]. The tree is not
free to produce good or bad fruit at random but is governed by its nature. But, if
according to the Arminian, the fallen, depraved sinner is free to choose God and
holiness against his nature, then there can be no guarantee that the believer who
has partaken of the Divine nature will cease to choose that which is evil in the life
to come. In fact a person whose will is “free” would be a dangerous associate even
in heaven; for his acts would be irrational and we would have no way of knowing
what he might do under any conditions. That which guarantees the permanence of
the states of the saved and the lost in the next world, is the fact that volition’s are a
true expression of the person’s nature.

The born-again child of God will forever continue to choose that which is holy and
good because his nature (heart) has been changed and God has made as it were the
tree good and its fruit good’ [Matt.12:33]. Whereas the wicked, after the
restraining influences of the Holy Spirit are withdrawn, become bold, defiant,
blasphemous, and sin with an irremediable obstinacy. “Only the Calvinistic
principle that the will is determined by the nature of the person and the
inducements presented, reaches a conclusion in harmony with that of Scripture
which affirms that “there is a great gulf fixed”, so that none can pass over, — that
the states of the saved and the lost alike are permanent.” [Lorraine Boettner ]
Again, it is a contradiction to speak of an Unlimited Atonement saying, “Jesus
Christ in His death purposed to die as a substitute for everyman” ( Tape GC 1606)
and at the same time contend for the eternal security of the believer. For if Christ is
the propitiation for those that are lost equally as much as for those that are saved,
then what assurance have we that believers too may not be lost? If Christ is the
propitiation for those now in hell, what guarantee have I that I may not end in hell?
The blood-shedding of the incarnate Son of God is the only thing that can keep
anyone out of hell, and if many for whom that precious blood made propitiation are
now in that awful place of the damned, then may not that blood prove inefficacious
for me! Away with such a God-dishonoring thought!!

MacArthur’s deliberate Scripture twisting


“Jacob have I loved Esau have I hated” [Rom. 9:13].
Consider his commentary on this verse: “With regard to Esau, I say, nowhere in
Genesis does it say that God hated Esau, it doesn’t say anywhere that he hated
Esau. It was only after Esau had chosen sin and abandoned God, for many many
years, over a thousand years, before God would look back and say “Esau have I
hated”. By that time it was clear to all where Esau stood. So once the sinner is
inexorably, and finally identified with his sin, then the sinner feels the hatred of
God.( Tape GC-70-11).

This perversion of God’s truth regarding reprobation fully satisfies the


unregenerate multitudes who gather around MacArthur’s teaching, for there is
nothing offensive about God hating a man after he has lived out his sinful life. But
the scriptures under consideration do not teach that God hated Esau after he had
chosen sin and abandoned God. But what saith it? “For the children being not yet
born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to
election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth” [Rom. 9:11]. Beloved,
this is one of the most offensive and hated truths revealed in the Word of God i.e.
that God loves or hates a man before he comes into the world. And because this
truth of God’s sovereignty in regards to election and reprobation are so offensive to
the carnal mind, the Holy Ghost through the apostle has heaped one expression
upon another throughout Romans 9 to establish this truth. The whole ground of
preference in regards to election or reprobation is not in man, but in Him who of
the same (unfallen) lump maketh one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor;
and hath mercy on whom He will and hardeneth whom He will.

So beloved, do not go by what the preacher claims he believes or what the


people believe him to be. You be like the Bereans and examine the man’s
preaching and compare it with the Scriptures to see ‘whether these things be
so!”

For further reading see –

The spirit behind John MacArthur’s ‘church’!