Justin Peters interviews Phil Johnson about John MacArthur's Lavish Lifestyle

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pmachapman

Puritan Board Freshman
There has been some speculation about JMac floating around the Internet, fuelled by an article and various Youtubers commenting on it.

This interview was posted earlier today, and I found it to be an interesting insight into the GTY/GCC world.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
While I do have concerns with highly paid celebrity pastors and legacy ministries, what is the purpose of the Roys site? How do they evaluate doing a story? It looks a bit like scandal hunting. With the guy still not out of the woods they did a report with a lot of questions and no answers returned that seem to imply there's something wrong with the gofundme for Voddie Baucham. Do they report on all such medical gofundme drives for ministers without the means or is it because of the amount, who he is? I thought it was poor taste to not wait at least instead of doing a report and getting it out before the guy had gotten stabilized and out of the woods at least.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
While I do have concerns with highly paid celebrity pastors and legacy ministries, what is the purpose of the Roys site? How do they evaluate doing a story? It looks a bit like scandal hunting. With the guy still not out of the woods they did a report with a lot of questions and no answers returned that seem to imply there's something wrong with the gofundme for Voddie Baucham. Do they report on all such medical gofundme drives for ministers without the means or is it because of the amount, who he is? I thought it was poor taste to not wait at least instead of doing a report and getting it out before the guy had gotten stabilized and out of the woods at least.
My thoughts are similar overall. I'd like to see a methodology and a statement of faith. I think she conflates having wealth with necessarily being a prosperity gospel advocate. That is fallacious. If she has in mind a ministry disqualifying threshold, of income or net worth, that needs to be declared.

Also, I don't think Roys can be summarily dismissed. She and her team seem to be a significant step up from the typical drive-by discernment bloggers. Having a board gives her some accountability. There are also many articles on her site that most of us here can appreciate. There seem to be folks other than Calvinist that she investigates unlike some discernment (accountable to no one) bloggers who are obsessed with the Reformed.

In this case, I can understand Phil and JM thinking they might just be Cathy Newmaned or London Timesed (another more recent bad faith interview of Jordan Peterson) in an interview. Phil did give a couple of examples where she didn't do her homework. She appears to have JM targeted. Personal wealth, Covid or whatever it goes in the JM section. No one wants to subject themselves to that. If she would clean that up and put her own cards on the table, Phil or JM may talk to her.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
While I do have concerns with highly paid celebrity pastors and legacy ministries, what is the purpose of the Roys site? How do they evaluate doing a story? It looks a bit like scandal hunting. With the guy still not out of the woods they did a report with a lot of questions and no answers returned that seem to imply there's something wrong with the gofundme for Voddie Baucham. Do they report on all such medical gofundme drives for ministers without the means or is it because of the amount, who he is? I thought it was poor taste to not wait at least instead of doing a report and getting it out before the guy had gotten stabilized and out of the woods at least.
A lot of discernment sites are like this any more...Not sure about Roys but, everyone is waiting for someone to mess up somewhere. I avoid them now.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
A lot of discernment sites are like this any more...Not sure about Roys but, everyone is waiting for someone to mess up somewhere. I avoid them now.
Roys is more fire starter than light bearer. Roys is wasting her skills at this point.
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Roys is better than most. I haven't kept up with her since she exposed the Doug Phillips sex scandal.
She’s fishing now.... Becoming a glorified Wartburg Watch but more trivial in her content.

But check it out for yourself (if you are inclined) don’t go by me....
 
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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
So this Roys is the best at publicly blogging about the sins of others and even those bearing the title of brother/sister in Christ?..... Not a title I would want.
 
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ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
How a pastor spends the money the elders of his church have paid him is no one's business. Calling someone's lifestyle "lavish" is little more than an ad hominem attack, one with little to no Biblical basis. It is nothing but an unnecessary judgment based in covetousness.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I don't know if I'll make it through an hour, but I will observe two things:

Lavish lifestyle is a relative term. Some folks on this board, based on their circumstances, might consider the same lifestyle to be lavish, comfortable, or frugal.

I'm not sure what "living like a millionaire" means. I knew one that had a flip phone when most folks had smart phones. He finally upgraded to a used iPhone. The most expensive cars in the church parking lot frequently don't have the richest owners.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know if I'll make it through an hour, but I will observe two things:

Lavish lifestyle is a relative term. Some folks on this board, based on their circumstances, might consider the same lifestyle to be lavish, comfortable, or frugal.

I'm not sure what "living like a millionaire" means. I knew one that had a flip phone when most folks had smart phones. He finally upgraded to a used iPhone. The most expensive cars in the church parking lot frequently don't have the richest owners.
Since when is it a sin to be a millionaire or live like one (whatever that means) if you happen to be a millionaire? Numerous believers in scripture were incredibly wealthy: Job, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Lydia etc. There's no sin in being wealthy, only in trusting in riches over God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So this Roys is the best at publicly blogging about the sins of others and even those bearing the title of brother/sister in Christ?..... Not a title I would want.

That's literally the definition of every single discernment blogger: JD Hall, Reformation Charlotte, Roys. That's why I normally avoid all discernment bloggers, though Roys is less obnoxious than the other two. I'm not endorsing her claim. I am completely indifferent to JMac and have been for about five years. On one hand, complaining about other people's wealth is Marxism (and so I expect Big Eva to start any time soon). On the other hand, this is endemic of Christian Celebrity culture.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
There has been some speculation about JMac floating around the Internet, fuelled by an article and various Youtubers commenting on it.

This interview was posted earlier today, and I found it to be an interesting insight into the GTY/GCC world.
Thank you for posting this informative video. I first heard J Mac in 1984 preaching a sermon called 'Examine Yourself' that cut me to the quick.

I had read a blog post a week or two ago with the accusations of inordinate wealth/covetousness, and thought about posting it here on PB for opinions.

Spoke with my pastor about it and he dismissed it. I also thought about it in perspective.

While I don't agree with some of his theology, John MacArthur has been preaching the gospel for over 50 years, written so many books, and will go down in

the annals of church history as one of the great men of God along with Charles Hadden Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

If Bernie Sanders can excuse his millions, though he is a not so humble congressman, by best selling books he's written, how much more is

John MacArthur worth to the Kingdom!
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
So what biblical principles apply to how much a pastor, celebrity or not, should earn from his ministry?
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
So what biblical principles apply to how much a pastor, celebrity or not, should earn from his ministry?

Biblically speaking, wealth (even great wealth) is not in itself sinful for a man of God (Joseph, David, Daniel). So, it is wrong to assume that a pastor that is wealthy must be guilty of some moral failure. A brief search online for how much a pastor should be paid centers on a few basic questions about the size of the church, the cost of living in a given area, the education and experience of the pastor, and the number of years he has served. And while these matters vary greatly, it is easy to see that John MacArthur ranks very high in all of these considerations.

It goes without saying that John MacArthur has been a unique gift to the Church in general, but especially to the congregation there in Sun Valley, CA. He has served this congregation faithfully since 1969! That's fifty-two years. Very few ministers can claim anything close to that. But it must also be noted, that under his pastorate, the church's ministry has continuously increased and broadened, and that to the furtherance of the biblical Gospel! He has sown a profound spiritual good to the church there, should it be thought blameworthy by us if they sow to him much temporal good? (1 Cor. 9:11)

With all that said, every pastor must jealously guard against anything that would prejudice his name and undermine his ministry. And sometimes that means a man of God forgoing things, which in any other vocation, would be perfectly acceptable. Not because he is obligated to, but for the cause of Christ...

Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.—1 Cor. 9:13-18​

So, am I offended by John MacArthur's standard of living? Not in the least! But that doesn't mean that he shouldn't be. This is something every minister of Gospel must wrestle with.
 
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pmachapman

Puritan Board Freshman
I think Justin Peters was very apt when he opened with Proverbs 18:17.

There is often a race in publishing content online to be the first to "break" a story (much like print media I suppose), and the racy nature of exposing others' sins will result in lots of clicks, ad revenue, and publicity for the journalist involved.

I personally think that the new crop of discernment bloggers do need to be more gracious in their treatment of people such as John MacArthur, or whoever else they decide to expose without having raised matters through the appropriate ecclesiastical or civil courts.

I can only imagine what they would have written about Charles Spurgeon (and I imagine some probably did in Victorian Britain):

Shock! Wealthy London Mega-Pastor Holidays on the Med while wife stays home with the kids in bed! Is this how a man of God should act!?!?!

We all know, of course, the truth that Charles Spurgeon lived on a modest income, and gave away his massive royalties. A holiday as far away from the pollution of Industrial Age London in Menton (with other Godly men who encouraged him) was a blessing from God so that he could have the strength to serve as he did.

Finally, I think it is difficult for us "have-nots" to grasp when churches have wealthy congregant "haves", who wish to express their love for God by donating assets, such as land or cars to churches or pastors. I know very closely a pastor who on retirement was gifted the large manse (with a very small mortgage I think to renovate some of it) in a very expensive part of one of the world's most expensive cities. The church could do this, because the many congregants had been blessed by his ministry, some of whom were very wealthy. Should the poor pastor in a neighbouring suburb or city look enviously on this act of kindness? Obviously not. In the same vein, I know of ministers who have given up wealthy churches and generous pension funds to minster in a new, poor denomination, foregoing many earthly comforts. I can attest that all of these pastors are seeking to serve God with all of their strength and resources.

At this time I am content to solely discern whether or not the Fruit of the Spirit and Call of Ministry is evident in the life of the pastor (as I believe is true for John MacArthur), rather than whether their finances match my definition of "pious living". Thankfully, God sees the heart and chequebook clearly.
 

pmachapman

Puritan Board Freshman
Finances and how we use them ARE a part of pious living.
I don't deny that, I guess more my point is that it is hard to judge this from the outside. The constraints my family lives under in our pursuit to place all things under Christ's subjection (not saying we are all there yet...) are not requirements I judge others for not following.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
We often use Joel Osteen's lavish lifestyle as an argument against him. Why not Macarthur then? Because he spouts halfway decent doctrine? What if he employs and pays his own relatives more than they are worth on a regular basis? Oh, but he has a good commentary!
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
We often use Joel Osteen's lavish lifestyle as an argument against him. Why not Macarthur then? Because he spouts halfway decent doctrine? What if he employs and pays his own relatives more than they are worth on a regular basis? Oh, but he has a good commentary!
Because Osteen is something we call an apple, and MacArthur an orange.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
We often use Joel Osteen's lavish lifestyle as an argument against him. Why not Macarthur then? Because he spouts halfway decent doctrine? What if he employs and pays his own relatives more than they are worth on a regular basis? Oh, but he has a good commentary!
Osteen is a heretic peddling heresy and making millions off peddling same. It's not the riches that are the problem, it's the heresy that leads to the riches that's at issue. The fact that MacArthur may be well paid or may have made money off of his books is irrelevant in light of the fact that his books are generally Biblically sound.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
We often use Joel Osteen's lavish lifestyle as an argument against him. Why not Macarthur then? Because he spouts halfway decent doctrine? What if he employs and pays his own relatives more than they are worth on a regular basis? Oh, but he has a good commentary!
If the argument against Osteen is that he lives a lavish lifestyle then that person is likely not a Christian or is covetous. If a Christian is arguing against Osteen is should be because of his heresy and that he does not preach the gospel and is leading millions to hell. His money is not leading people to hell, his false teaching is.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't follow the man, and I know very little about his exact d.i.s.p.y thinking. But I did find this page on a quick search:


it is obvious God promised a future kingdom to Israel. And when somebody comes along and says all the promises of the kingdom to Israel are fulfilled in the Church, the burden of proof is not on me, it's on them. The simplest way that I would answer someone, who is what is called an "amillennialist," or a "Covenant Theologian" that is, believing that there is one covenant and the Church is the new Israel, and Israel is gone, and there is no future for Israel--an amillennialism, meaning there is no kingdom for Israel; there is no future Millennial kingdom.

My answer to them is simply this, "You show me in that verse, in the Old Testament, which promises a kingdom to Israel, where it says that it really means the Church--show me!" Where does it say that? On what exegetical basis, what historical, grammatical, literal, interpretative basis of the Scripture can you tell me that when God says "Israel" He means the "Church"? Where does it say that? That's where the burden of proof really lies. A straightforward understanding of the Old Testament leads to only one conclusion and that is that there is a kingdom for Israel.


So why do so many people here keep saying he preaches good doctrine? I don't get it. In my personal experience he is the go to appeal for the Calvinist d.i.s.p.y.s I know. JM is their final word. He represents what it is to be Calvinist while hanging onto the d.i.s.p.y. error.

Is your mindset that as long as you have a Calvinist soteriology then you are a good teacher and eschatology or Covenant theology is irrelevant? I do wish people here would stop saying he is such a good preacher. I see him as having done enormous harm, based on the Calvinist folks I know who adore JM and are waiting for the rapture any day now, and then we can get back to the geographic Israel plan.

Also- about the money- I agree that his salary is his business. But what about church tithes and what they pay the son in law? I don't feel like looking for links right now, they are all over the place. It appears to be highly questionable at best. And then making the guy head of the JM trust going forward? With no pastoral experience and no financial experience in that realm? He was chosen because of his qualifications....or because he is a relative?
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think we all agree that his Dispensational stuff is wrong, but it is not damnable heresy. And, it does not invalidate everything else he says. We all have error mixed in with truth.
 
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