John MacArthur's opening salvo yesterday morning to the 2007 Shepherds' Conference was certainly one of the most intriguing and perhaps even entertaining of all the conference addresses I've ever heard. When he said that his topic would be sovereign election, Israel, and eschatology, I'm pretty sure he already had everyone's attention. When he stated his title as “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist,” well, that raised the game to a completely different level.
As a convinced premillennialist, I agree with the basic structure of MacArthur's eschatology, although I'm certainly not going to make a fool of myself and display my own ignorance by trying to defend his conclusions here.
MacArthur did argue that those who do not articulate a premillennial understanding of Scripture content themselves to be in a "happy and playful" pattern of thinking about the end times, "as if the end didn't matter much." I simply disagree vehemently that this is necessarily or universally the case.
For a good example of a sermon on an apocalyptic text that spends virtually no time whatsoever on the details of apocalyptic visions, but still manages quite well to articulate the primary theological points (and eschatological message) that are clear in the text, listen to Mark Dever's sermon on Daniel 7-12. In fact, I think that this sermon is more helpful than many that focus on explaining the details of the vision, and in the process minimize the God-centered, theological comments in the seams between the apocalyptic passages. Is it not possible that dogmatic assertions about and unbalanced emphasis on apocalyptic elements of a text can be profoundly confusing and distracting from the main point of the text?
Incidentally, this sermon is the sequel to Dever's sermon on Daniel 1-6, which I understand will be the text for his message tomorrow morning at Shepherd's Conference.