Monday, July 14, 2008

'MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto' - 1

We have now read Samuel Waldron's book 'MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto'

Dr. John MacArthur is no stranger to controversy- quite the reverse, in fact. His works against modern-day antinomianism such as ‘The Gospel According to Jesus’ sparked a healthy debate about the connection of repentance and saving faith. And, on the whole, we have agreed with MacArthur in these controversies. Yet, as readers of this blog will know, we have been compelled to register our objections to the eschatology promoted by Dr. MacArthur.

Dr. MacArthur’s opening sermon at the 2007 Shepherds’ Conference, ‘Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is Premillennial’, sparked off quite a debate at the time, a debate that has finally reached the United Kingdom, if a recent letter in the British Church Newspaper is anything to go by. Therefore the appearance of Dr. Samuel E. Waldron’s book ‘MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto’ is most welcome. This is, as the subtitle states, ‘A Friendly Response’, certainly its tone is far more irenic than that of MacArthur’s sermon that is herein critiqued.
We are not in total agreement with Dr. Waldron. He holds to a form of Augustinian amillennialism that sees no future conversion of the Jewish nation as a nation to Christ, we hold to a Puritan postmillennialism that sees, on the basis of Romans 11, a future restoration of the people of Israel to the Land and to faith in the true Messiah. Those wishing to read a commentary on Romans 11 from that perspective will find it in David Brown’s contribution to the Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Bible Commentary. We find David Brown’s writings on this point every bit as convincing as we find his book on the Second Advent of Christ.

Having made these necessary critical remarks, we find much to appreciate in Waldron’s book. He demonstrates that an unconscious dispensational tradition has distorted MacArthur’s understanding of Amillennialism, so that when MacArthur says that all Calvinists ought to be pre-mil, in fact what he is saying is that they ought to hold one particular brand of pre-mil teaching. Certainly he would not consider the teaching of Justin Martyr to be preferable to Amillennialism on this point. In fact, he would reject all the pre-mil teaching that existed before the Reformation, as there was a consensus at that time that the purpose of God for the Jewish nation had ceased. Those who wish to examine the veracity of this statement should consult David Brown’s ‘The Restoration of the Jews’, Iain Murray’s ‘The Puritan Hope’, and Peter Toon’s 1968 Puritan Conference paper ‘Puritan Eschatology: 1600 to 1648’. Unfortunately, like Dr. Barry Horner, MacArthur considers his brand of pre-millennial Dispensational teaching to be just ‘pre-mil’ on this point, when it is not. Waldron shows this clearly by appeals to history.

More, God willing, next time.

No comments: