Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why I Admire John MacArthur More than Gary DeMar

Readers of this blog will know that we are not dispensational, and have been quite critical of John MacArthur's commentary on the Book of Revelation. Yet we do not think that MacArthur is outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy, nor do we think the less of him for his strongly-held views that we think are wrong.

Gary DeMar is another kettle of fish. While we have found some of his books, and his radio show (though the length of the commercial breaks is excessively excessive) quite useful, yet there is a problem with him. Not that he is a heretic, but that he has so reacted against dispensationalism that he is willing to join with heretics who deny the visible, bodily Second Coming of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, and the Last Judgment, in order to oppose dispensationalism.

DeMar is a Preterist, an orthodox one, we hasten to add, at least by all appearances, though one would be hard pressed to tell that from reading his books. We at first thought that his book against the 'Left Behind' series was hyper-preterist, so little time does he devote to the truth that Jesus really is coming back.

And here is the rub. Probably no-one has been more active in opposing the excesses of antinomian dispensationalists than John MacArthur. He is the sworn enemy of the so-called 'Non-Lordship' teachers, who deny the need for repentance, and say that Christians do not have to follow Christ. These heretics (A.W. Tozer called it heresy, so do I) are dispensationalists, like Dr. MacArthur, but he does not let that stop his opposing them. On the other hand, Gary DeMar actively partners with heretics in opposing Dispensationalism, and has said hardly a word against the hyper-preterists and quite a few words for them!

We should be most active against those heretics who are closest to us, not the other way around! Yet I see in DeMar the same attitude that allows Dr. J.I. Packer to partner with Anglo- and even Roman Catholics against the liberals.

Only the Liberals are denying the Bible. At worst the Dispensationalists are misinterpreting it. But the hyper-preterists are worse than the dispensationalists, for they are re-interpreting the Bible so as to empty language of all meaning, and to deny the 'blessed hope', namely the appearing of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So I'll go with MacArthur any day.

[Note on Preterism. Orthodox Preterism states that many Biblical prophecies which have been understood by many to refer to the Second Coming actually refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. All orthodox Preterists put part of the Olivet Discourse in that category. Some put the whole of the Olivet Discourse in, and some take the book of Revelation as referring to AD 70. All of these do, however, hold that Christ will come back visibly and bodily to judge the living and the dead, and to bring an end to the present age. They hold that the prophecies in 2 Peter (for example) are yet to be fulfilled, and refer to the Second Coming of Christ. They are therefore our brothers in Christ, like the moderate Dispensationalists.]


phatwebs said...

I too love John Macarthur and have studied many of his sermons, word by word and one a week for ten years.

In the Preterist, Futurist debates there are two main issues that determine whether a person is a Preterist or a futurist.

One is the location of heaven; Futurist, in order to be consistent ultimately will conclude Heaven and eternal life will take place on earth and not in the spiritual realm called heaven. They have to accept this heaven on earth dichotomy because they fixate on Christ’s physical resurrection and do not accept that Christ’s physical body has been transformed into something called a “spiritual body” and is now a living spirit ruling from the throne next to the father in heaven. N.T. Wright seems to be leading the charge in this new reality. Of course he completely ignores the many verses that show he is wrong.

Mac Arthur in a few of his lectures taught that we will be transformed at the very instant of our death into spiritual beings and our spiritual eyes will be opened and we will see the entire spiritual world.

Mac Arthur’s teaching could not be more Preterist. Instantly in a spiritual world called heaven at death demands that judgment has already taken place.

It really is too bad that Macarthur did not learn all this stuff before he became a teacher. I think eventually he will realize the bible was written to a first century generation and not a generation thousands of years later. Futurism means that it was written to a future generation so we should interpret it from our own worldview instead of that generation’s worldview.

I think it was Macarthur that said like “don’t hold me responsible for what I used to teach because I may have changed”. Don’t we all.

Highland Host said...

Dear Phatwebs. Sorry about the length of time before I posted this response, but I have been engaged in real work (the sort that pays), and in responding to a charismatic with liberal tendencies (a strange creature if ever there was one).

I am concerned that your view of heaven seems to owe more to Plato than it does to the Bible. The Scriptures teach that our physical bodies will be transformed, not discarded, and that there will be a new heavens and a new earth.

Theologians commonly refer to the 'intermediate state' when they speak of the present condition of those who have died. That is to say, there is something still to come even for us. The Lord Jesus Christ has yet to return 'in like manner' (Acts 1) as he went up into heaven, and the Day of Judgement for the whole earth has yet to happen.

I honestly have no idea what you mean by "Futurist, in order to be consistent ultimately will conclude Heaven and eternal life will take place on earth and not in the spiritual realm called heaven." Historic futurists have always admitted that in the future world there will be no separation between us and God.

MacArthur is, unlike N.T. Wright, willing to learn from the Bible and not ashamed of the Gospel of a crucified Messiah. Thus he does not teach the false doctrine of 'soul-sleep', that is, that the soul without the body is unconscious, but rather he teaches according to the Bible that the souls of those who have died in Christ go to paradise when they die.

But the hyper-preterist teaches that's it. The Bible does not, and that is why the hyper-preterist is a heretic. He denies the blessed hope, which is the appearing of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. MacArthur just muddles it.