Why John MacArthur Is Not "Reformed"

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govols

Puritan Board Junior
Sometimes I think he would like to be Reformed (beyond his soteriology), but his "independent fundy" background (inherited from his late father, Jack MacArthur) is what's holding him back. Early life influences, and all that...


How can that be compared to Sproul Jr.?
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
PRIME example:

[video=youtube;2BZ-N4pruFo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BZ-N4pruFo[/video]


"It has nothing to do with America, I would say that if I was French!" :lol:

Go John!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I believe there's a certain boldness and zeal much of the reformed in America do not have that is made up for by their non-reformed brethren. :) And that's a good thing. Notable exceptions are the Paul Manatas of the world. :)

Could we get Brother Paul on Larry King? That would be fun! :banana:
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
As a Baptist, I'm not really so attached to the term Reformed, and I don't think MacArthur is either. However, it is good and useful for Baptists to call ourselves Calvinists. Just like the term "Arminian," it's generally understood in terms of soteriology only and not in terms of Covenant Theology or view of Baptism. If you take the view that you have to be paedobaptist and non-dispensational in your theology to be a Calvinist, well, you need to stop calling all Baptists and dispensationals "Arminians" and find a better term, because Arminius was covenantal and paedobaptist.

As far as Amillennial eschatology being necessary to being Reformed, it should be noted that the Historicist view of eschatology was the eschatology held by the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) and codified in the original Westminster Confession. Should Preterists, Futurists, and Spiritualists not be considered Reformed?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
As far as Amillennial eschatology being necessary to being Reformed, it should be noted that the Historicist view of eschatology was the eschatology held by the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) and codified in the original Westminster Confession. Should Preterists, Futurists, and Spiritualists not be considered Reformed?

I did not know that! :think: :think: :think:
 

johnny_redeemed

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as Amillennial eschatology being necessary to being Reformed, it should be noted that the Historicist view of eschatology was the eschatology held by the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) and codified in the original Westminster Confession. Should Preterists, Futurists, and Spiritualists not be considered Reformed?

Could you point us to the sections of the confession that you have in mind that codify the Historicist view point? :handshake:
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, The Non-Preterist Historicalism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards:

The anti-preteristic historicism of the Belgic Confession (arts. 28 & 29)
Declares the Calvinistic Belgic Confession in its articles 28 & 29: AWe condemn the papal assemblies, as the pure Word of God is banished from them. Their sacraments are corrupted or falsified or destroyed. And all superstitions and idolatries are in them.... Some trace of the Church is left in the Papacy, and the virtue and substance of baptism remain.... But, on account of its corruptions, we cannot present children to be baptized in it, without incurring pollution. AAs to the true Church, we believe that it should be governed according to the order established by our Lord Jesus Christ.... There should be pastors, overseers, and deacons -- so that true doctrine may have its course; that errors may be corrected and suppressed and the poor and all who are in affliction may be helped in their necessities; and that assemblies may be held in the Name of God, so that great and small may be edified.

The anti-preteristic Preamble to the Canons of Dordt
States the Preamble to the Canons of Dordt: AThe good Shepherd, Who loves His flock for which He laid down His life with the greatest perseverance, constantly held back the rage of its persecutors at the right time and frequently bridled it with His outstretched hand in a wonderful way. He also uncovered and destroyed the crooked paths and deceptive counsels of the seducers.....

By a similar benefit, our faithful Saviour has at this time showed His gracious presence to the Church in the Netherlands which was heavily persecuted for a good few years. This Church was always redeemed by the might hand of God from the tyranny of the Romish Antichrist and the terrible idolatry of the Papacy. In the midst of the dangers of such a long-lasting war, she was frequently protected in wonderful ways. And, by unitedly holding fast to the true doctrine and discipline to the praise of her God, she greatly blossomed. She was expanded unto admirable growth of the Republic and joy of the entire Reformed World.

The anti-preteristic historicism of the Puritans' Westminster Standards
It should not be necessary to need to add that, just like John Calvin himself, so too the Calvin-istic Westminster Standards -- the official teaching of all Presbyterian Churches worldwide -- are not preteristic but historicistic. Nowhere do they assume that the predictions of Daniel were fulfilled in Daniel's day, nor that the predictions of John's Revelation anent the Roman beast were primarily fulfilled in the apostolic age. For to Westminster, Antichrist alias the Roman beast is not first-century Pagan Rome -- but the later Romish Papacy!

Just before the Westminster Assembly, the 1639 Confession of Faith of the Kirk of Scotland equates "Papistry" with "that Roman Antichrist" -- and later again "that Roman Antichrist" with "the Papistical Kirk." Similarly, the 1645 Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God urges prayer: "for the propagation of the gospel and kingdom of Christ to all nations; for the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles, the fall of Antichrist, and the hastening of the second coming of our Lord; for the deliverance of the distressed churches abroad from the tyranny of the antichristian faction and from the cruel oppressions and blasphemies of the Turk; [and] for the blessing of God upon the reformed churches" etc.

The 1647 Westminster Confession 23:4 cites Second Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 13:15-17 against the political pretensions of "the Pope" -- in A.D. 1647. Indeed, chapter 25:6 cites Second Thessalonians 2:3-9 and Revelation 13:6 to show that "the Pope of Rome...is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalteth himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God."

Finally, the 1648 Westminster Larger Catechism (QQ. 191 & 195) makes it plain that in the Lord's Prayer we are not to pray preteristically -- thanking God merely for preserving the first-century Hebrew Church against Pagan Rome. To the contrary, we are to pray historicistically -- "that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed (Psalm 68:1-18 & Revelation 12:10-11), the Gospel propagated throughout the world (Second Thessalonians 3:1), the Jews called (Romans 10:1), the fulness of the Gentiles brought in (John 17:9-20 & Romans 11:25-26 & Psalm 67); [&] the church...purged from corruption (Malachi 1:11 & Zephaniah 3:9)" etc. For we are to "pray that God could...over-rule the World and all in it...and restrain Satan" -- till he be "trodden under our feet...for ever!"

Also:

Additionally, the Reformational confessions have adopted the Historicist interpretation including the Irish Articles (1615), the original Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the Savoy Declaration (1658), and the London Baptist Confession (1688).
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
... "that Roman Antichrist" ...

So, if Romanism and the papacy fade away in history what does that say about our Reformed forefathers other than they were men captivated by their times?

"All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred."
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As a Baptist, I'm not really so attached to the term Reformed, and I don't think MacArthur is either. However, it is good and useful for Baptists to call ourselves Calvinists. Just like the term "Arminian," it's generally understood in terms of soteriology only and not in terms of Covenant Theology or view of Baptism. If you take the view that you have to be paedobaptist and non-dispensational in your theology to be a Calvinist, well, you need to stop calling all Baptists and dispensationals "Arminians" and find a better term, because Arminius was covenantal and paedobaptist.

Don:

If one were to say that in order to be a Calvinist one must be paedobaptist, non-dispensational AND a believer in sovereign grace, then this would exclude Arminius and Baptists. (problem solved) Arminius is excluded from the Reformed or Calvinist label precisely because he denied the Reformed standards (the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism) which themselves exclude his soteriology as well as credobaptist and dispensational theologies. So we don't need to include the baptists (of any stripe) under the term 'Reformed' any more or any less than we need to include Arminius under the term 'Reformed'.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Don:

If one were to say that in order to be a Calvinist one must be paedobaptist, non-dispensational AND a believer in sovereign grace, then this would exclude Arminius and Baptists. (problem solved) Arminius is excluded from the Reformed or Calvinist label precisely because he denied the Reformed standards (the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism) which themselves exclude his soteriology as well as credobaptist and dispensational theologies. So we don't need to include the baptists (of any stripe) under the term 'Reformed' any more or any less than we need to include Arminius under the term 'Reformed'.

I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm just saying that if you exclude Baptists from being "Calvinist," you ought to exclude someone like Dave Hunt from being "Arminian."

Being a Calvinist or an Arminian is almost universally understood as relating to soteriology exclusively, and they are useful definitions as such. I see the attempts of many Reformed types in trying to "redeem" the term Calvinism as being somewhat misguided.
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
So, if Romanism and the papacy fade away in history what does that say about our Reformed forefathers other than they were men captivated by their times?

"All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred."


Which is why I'm premillennial.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm just saying that if you exclude Baptists from being "Calvinist," you ought to exclude someone like Dave Hunt from being "Arminian."

Being a Calvinist or an Arminian is almost universally understood as relating to soteriology exclusively, and they are useful definitions as such. I see the attempts of many Reformed types in trying to "redeem" the term Calvinism as being somewhat misguided.
Don, I guess the problem many of us (Paedobaptist Confessionalist Reformed) have with the terms losing meaning is that, just as I just had to do with those descriptions of my own views, is that words that have been definitive and accurate descriptions of one's theological persuasion for centuries are losing all meaning.

Witness the utter lack of meaning found in the word Evangelical, at least in America. The term Calvinist has also been marginalized a lot, even in the strictly soteriological realm - witness the 4-pointers from DTS or others of that ilk, even though many 4-pointers' worldviews is anything but Calvinist in the sense of God's Sovereignty in Election.

Should not the "owners" of a particular term or shorthand description fight for the original meaning of those words? After all, when we as a society still let and mostly defend Coca-Cola's stringent defense of its old trademark, in spite of how generic a term it has become for a cola, especially in the South, why shouldn't we - arguing a vastly greater cause - fight for the words?

After all, if we lose these, then where shall we go?
 
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BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
I assume you mean futurist, i.e., you believe in a future, currently-unidentified antichrist. One could be futurist amil or futurist postmil.

Futurism has its own set of (significant) problems.

No, I'm premillennial. :) (which of course means I'm also futurist).

Aren't you futurist ? (thought you were either amill or postmill)
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
No, I'm premillennial. :) (which of course means I'm also futurist).

Aren't you futurist ? (thought you were either amill or postmill)


Whether one is futurist/preterist/historicist is independent of whether one is amil/postmil/premil. I happen to be preterist postmil.

The futurist vs. preterist debate has to do with the timing of the antichrist and the "great tribulation" events of the Olivet Discourse and book of Revelation. These are mostly independent of ones views of the timing and nature of the millennium.

Thus one can be, for example, a futurist amil or preterist premil.
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
Don, I guess the problem many of us (Paedobaptist Confessionalist Reformed) have with the terms losing meaning is that, just as I just had to do with those descriptions of my own views, is that words that have been definitive and accurate descriptions of one's theological persuasion for centuries are losing all meaning.

Witness the utter lack of meaning found in the word Evangelical, at least in America. The term Calvinist has also been marginalized a lot, even in the strictly soteriological realm - witness the 4-pointers from DTS or others of that ilk, even though many 4-pointers' worldviews is anything but Calvinist in the sense of God's Sovereignty in Election.

Should not the "owners" of a particular term or shorthand description fight for the original meaning of those words? After all, when we as a society still let and mostly defend Coca-Cola's stringent defense of its old trademark, in spite of how generic a term it has become for a cola, especially in the South, why shouldn't we - arguing a vastly greater cause - fight for the words?

After all, if we lose these, then where shall we go?

Hi Scott,

I see your point, but I'm afraid I'm not very sympathetic. Terms can and will change meanings -- note some KJV-only advocates trying to bring back the KJV definitions even though some of the words in the KJV now mean the opposite of what they meant when it was published.

Moreover, I don't think the definition for the term "Calvinist" has ever been "definitive and accurate." (If it has been, please definite the historical usage with at least one citation). There is no "owner" of the term Calvinist. Calvin's writings live on, but Calvin is dead. Nearly all self-proclaimed Calvinists differ with Calvin's theology in some respect whether it is in his Continental Reformed view of the Sabbath, or his historicist approach to eschatology, or his view on civil governments, or his view on the sacraments/ordinances. None here should presume to speak for Calvin.

The term "Calvinism" has been used for generations now as a term regarding soteriology in contrast to the term "Arminianism." It has become reasonably precise (TULIP, in contrast to the 5 points of the Remonstrance) and is a useful term to which there is no really good equivalent.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
The issue is not whether JM is Reformed. He doesn't claim to be. The issue is wh(y Reformed folk keep calling him Reformed.

The problem is with us more than it is with him or his congregation or followers.

My theory is that we (NAPARC) are like the ugly girl at the dance. We sit in the dark corner waiting for someone, anyone, to speak to us. If someone will speak to us we latch on to them with sweaty palms and won't let go. If they'll use the same adjectives as we use to describe themselves, we seem more than happy to let them do so.

Rather than being the girl in the corner we should think of ourselves as a boutique restaurant or shop of some kind. The only real value we have to the rest of the ecclesiastical world is to do well what we do and be fully what we confess.

If, however, we continue to license every poor imitator with our brand name, the latter will come to have no significance whatever and it will be very confusing to the marketplace.

"Hey, this coffee doesn't isn't what I expected all! It tastes just like the stuff down the street. I came in here for Reformed coffee. If I wanted generic evangelical coffee I could get that anywhere."

rsc
 

JasonGoodwin

Puritan Board Sophomore
Johnson doesn't get to define terms for himself. A soteriology without the means of grace (word and sacrament) and outside of the sphere of the covenant is by definition not classic Reformed soteriology.

A few years ago, someone wrote an article (that Phil Johnson promoted) called "are you sure you like Spurgeon?". The author was trying to make the point that Spurgeon held to the so called "five points", and that Arminians needed to come to terms with Spurgeon's historical identity. So MacArthur et al need to be asked "are you sure you like Calvin?" The same Calvin who said that no man can have God for his Father who didn't have the visible church for his mother. How many "Calvinistic" Baptists have read Calvin's (and every other Reformed theologian's) denouncements of all who oppose infant baptism? Baptists need to come to terms with the historical identity of Calvin and the rest of the Reformers.

Even Ergun Caner stated that Calvin had an intense hatred toward Baptists for their refusal to perform paedobaptism. (Caner himself is a Free Church advocate.)

Having said that, just because Dr. MacArthur may not be considered "Reformed" in the classical sense (and according to the standards set forth in this board) does not in the least bit make him any less of a Christian. Same could be said of AW Tozer and J. Vernon McGee.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
At least MacArthur got "5" things right about Christian Theology.

He has a lot more than 5 things right, but he is not Reformed. I haven't followed him that closely in recent years, but I don't know that he refers to himself as "Reformed" very often anyway, or if he does it's solely in reference to Reformed soteriology.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
The issue is not whether JM is Reformed. He doesn't claim to be. The issue is wh(y Reformed folk keep calling him Reformed.

The problem is with us more than it is with him or his congregation or followers.

My theory is that we (NAPARC) are like the ugly girl at the dance. We sit in the dark corner waiting for someone, anyone, to speak to us. If someone will speak to us we latch on to them with sweaty palms and won't let go. If they'll use the same adjectives as we use to describe themselves, we seem more than happy to let them do so.

Rather than being the girl in the corner we should think of ourselves as a boutique restaurant or shop of some kind. The only real value we have to the rest of the ecclesiastical world is to do well what we do and be fully what we confess.

If, however, we continue to license every poor imitator with our brand name, the latter will come to have no significance whatever and it will be very confusing to the marketplace.

"Hey, this coffee doesn't isn't what I expected all! It tastes just like the stuff down the street. I came in here for Reformed coffee. If I wanted generic evangelical coffee I could get that anywhere."

rsc

Great post. Sweaty palms :lol:
 
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