Thursday, June 18, 2009

Concerning Chuck Phelps' Concern that John MacArthur Teaches Works Righteousness

In his address at the FBFI Conference this week, Chuck Phelps criticized a portion of John MacArthur's Hard to Believe. Here's the key quote from the book:
Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it’s the fruit of actions, not intentions.
I think Phelps is right in the substance of his concerns on this portion of the quote. If one were to suggest that this statement proves something about MacArthur's true beliefs that's contrary to everything else he's ever taught would be ridiculous. But these words, taken at face value, don't teach a biblical understanding of how we receive salvation.

For what it's worth, I do agree with MacArthur that salvation is not easy and it will cost you your life. If we need to talk about some biblical texts on that point, we can do it another time, but that's not the thrust of this post (and it won't be the subject of debate in the comment thread).

Here's the point. I did a little research and found that Tim Challies raised the same question in his review of the book. Challies actually a little research of his own and discovered an explanation from Phil Johnson, MacArthur's editor. Read all about it here.

And for what it's worth, it seems to me that Grace to You/John MacArthur/Phil Johnson should release a public explanation and clarification. If it already exists, I'd love to know that.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

How is MacArthur's view of reformed sanctification different from Schreiner and Canaday's view as set forth in "The Race Set Before Us"? They essentially argue that salvation is not by works, but in accordance with works. In other words, there is no salvation that is not accompanied by works. Thus, no "carnal" Christian exists, as all who are true believers will persevere in love and good works.

Christopher Watson

Kent Brandenburg said...

Ben,

I say this with utmost sincerity. I congratulate you on the independent-minded criticism of MacArthur.

Ben said...

Christopher,

I'm not sure what angle you're coming from, so I don't know if my answer will be satisfying. I also don't remember if "in accordance with works" is a term they used," but your next sentence that explains the term strikes me as a fair representation.

So the primary difference between Schreiner/Caneday and the MacArthur/reformed view isn't theological. They would agree that genuine salvation is invariably accompanied by some fruit, regardless of how visible or measurable it is to other humans.

Rather, the difference is exegetical. Schreiner/Caneday view the warning passages—particularly in Hebrews, but elsewhere too—as real warnings that function as means to spur believers on to growth and fruit. They recognize that creates a certain tension, which they refuse to resolve, though they clearly deny that those passages teach that a genuine believer can lose his salvation.

At least that's my memory of "The Race." Others may correct me or fill in gaps.

Ben said...

Kent,

Not to imply that I would not or have not disagreed with MacArthur, but you read that explanation in the Challies post, right?

Kent Brandenburg said...

I read it, Ben, thank you. I saw your criticism of MacArthur as calling for some kind of public retraction of false doctrine in one of his books. That showed independency. You also did not smack Phelps silly, because according to Challies' article, Johnson and MacArthur see it as false doctrine too. Phelps was accurate in his read of the quote.

If there is one thing that MacArthur doesn't need in his explanation of the gospel is any more perception that he frontloads works. That quote fosters the wrong perception, so that if MacArthur doesn't come out strongly against it, it grows that perception.

Lou Martuneac said...

Hello Ben:

I’d like to share some thoughts the paragraph in question from Hard to Believe (HtB). This thread comment will be just one of several specific items I have in mind for the paragraph from HtB.

For starters I have read the Challies article and have had it in my possession for about three years. I also have the Gilley material. I also have the Phil Johnson’s explanation of the alleged publishers tampering with the manuscript. Furthermore, over two years ago in private discussion with Dr. Phelps on the p. 93 paragraph from HtB I informed him that there was a revised version of the original. Phelps read the revised at the FBFI fellowship.

Now, I want to address the question/comment from you and Ken.

You wrote, “And for what it's worth, it seems to me that Grace to You/John MacArthur/Phil Johnson should release a public explanation and clarification. If it already exists, I'd love to know that.”

Ken wrote, “That quote fosters the wrong perception, so that if MacArthur doesn't come out strongly against it, it grows that perception.”

These comments reflect an effort I have made on more than one occasion. To date MacArthur has never personally disavowed the original.

I have e-mailed both Nathan Busenitz (JM’s personal assistant) and Phil Johnson requesting some documentation from JM himself disavowing the original. No response from either.

On a related note: In regard to Macarthur’s previous position on the eternal sonship of Christ, which caused a huge flap in the IFCA and a number of resignations, JM publicly retracted his former view and apologized for the teaching.

Now we have the Gospel and the original version in HtB is clearly a works FOR salvation paragraph. With something as serious as that I can’t imagine why MacArthur himself will not come out publicly and disavow the original.

To reiterate, MacArthur has never come out openly to personally disavow the original version of the p. 93 paragraph from HtB. Dr. Phelps citing the paragraph has raised the level of awareness on this issue once again. Your blog article here shows that there are unanswered questions that as Kent noted, “fosters the wrong perception.”

Maybe it is time for another open call on MacArthur to go on record himself, in his own words, on the paragraph under scrutiny.

If anyone is interested, I did an article on this subject following Dr. Phelps message at the FBFI. I posted the controversial paragraph in both the original and revised forms. You can read it/them here.


Lou

PS: FWIW, the revised version still is IMO very problematic, which I will deal with later.

Lou Martuneac said...

Men:

I just sent Nathan and Phil a new e-mail requesting clarification on whether or not MacArthur has ever personally and publicly disavowed the controversial paragraph.


Lou

Phil Johnson said...

Lou: "These comments reflect an effort I have made on more than one occasion. To date MacArthur has never personally disavowed the original."

That's simply untrue, and Lou knows it. Lou raised this issue over at the Pulpit blog in October 2006, and Nathan Busenitz answered him:

http://www.sfpulpit.com/2006/10/12/common-questions-about-the-lordship-position-part-1/

Nathan's first reply to Lou in that thread quoted a statement from me that was posted on the GTY website about a week after the book's release. That statement was displayed prominently and continuously at the GTY website until a year after the corrected edition was in circulation. Here is that statement in full:

A Word of Clarification about Hard to Believe

One paragraph in Hard to Believe contains a glaring error that has the potential to mislead readers about the book’s whole intent. The problematic passage is the opening paragraph of chapter 6 (page 93), which seems to suggest that salvation is the fruit of godly living. The truth is exactly the opposite.

The error was inadvertently introduced into the manuscript in the late stages of the editorial process, when (in order to simplify the book) four chapters were deleted from the original manuscript and one of the remaining chapters was severely abridged. John MacArthur approved the abridgments.

Apparently, however, in an effort to make a new transition that would smooth over the deletions, an editor involved in the process made significant revisions to the opening of chapter 6. Unfortunately, that change was not submitted to John for approval. We believe the error was an oversight, and not anyone’s deliberate attempt to tamper with the book’s theology. The result, however, severely muddled the message of the book.

A revision has been sent to the publisher for future editions of the book. In all subsequent printings, here is how the opening paragraph of chapter six will read (revisions are in bold):

"Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.

Phil Johnson said...

___________________

Here's an expanded version of the facts behind page 93 of the original edition:

It's well known that I have been John MacArthur's primary editor for some 27+ years. I help him assemble most of his major books from sermon transcripts.

Hard to Believe is one of only three or four books since 1981 that I had no part in during the editorial process. At the publisher's behest, the editor of that book was a free-lance editor with no connection to our ministry. He was a highly competent man whose editorial skills are impressive and whose work is generally excellent. He assembled and edited the first draft of Hard to Believe.

John MacArthur read the manuscript, made revisions and corrections, and was generally pleased with the editor's efforts. I read a few samples only and agreed that the portions I read were excellent. (If you want to compare the book with the sermons it was drawn from, the process is fairly simple, and the sermons are on-line and downloadable for free.)

However, some reviewers on the publisher's side felt there was too much repetition in the book and the book was too long, so during a meeting to discuss final details about the book just before it went to press, they decided to delete four chapters from the heart of the manuscript.

John MacArthur agreed to the deletions, assuming it would be a simple process. The problem was that the original opening of (what is now) chapter 6 referred to some of the material that was deleted. So the chapter-opening was rewritten to make a different transition. To this day I don't know if it was an editor on the publisher's side or the free-lance editor who rewrote that opening paragraph. No one ever wanted to 'fess up.

But somehow, owing to the late deletion and the need to keep printing on schedule, the revision (deemed "simple" by the editors involved because it was less than 8 sentences) was never sent to John MacArthur for approval. Obviously, the paragraph was written by someone whose grasp of doctrine is minimal.

That botched paragraph contradicts what John MacArthur teaches everyhwere else about justification by faith. He immediately issued a corrective statement. In light of all that, the fact that the same critics keep raising this issue anew every three years or so raises question in my mind about the real agenda of the critics.

PT Barnum said...

Lou has is wrong on his blog--shocking isn't it? Phelps cited the unrevised version of the paragraph and not the revised one. Get it right Lou!

Matthew Richards

Lou Martuneac said...

Matthew:

I am doing additonal research, back to you later.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

Thanks for the clarification. I trust it is helpful, but maybe you can ask Dr. MacArthur to publicly issue the same clarification just as he did when he publicly acknowledged that he erred grievously on the eternal sonship of Christ.

Anyway, I will contest this note from you, “That botched paragraph contradicts what John MacArthur teaches everywhere else about justification by faith.”

No, it does not! MacArthur is on record with numerous statements, that even some of his supporters wince at, suggesting they are mere “overstatements.” Statements that clearly show that LS as MacArthur defines it requires of a lost an upfront commitment to perform the “good works” expected of a born again disciple of Christ to BECOME a (Christian) born again disciple of Christ. This is an irrefutable fact!

In both versions of the controversial Hard to Believe paragraph it opens with, “Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian.” Right? So, MacArthur is speaking of what is required of the lost to BECOME a Christian.

And he says in the revised paragraph, “…salvation for sinner’s cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing.” And what is that cost, “to become a Christian?” MacArthur tells us, “behavior.”

I never claim MacArthur says the lost must behave to become a Christian, but he does condition salvation, the reception of eternal life, on the sinner’s upfront promise to behave as a mature disciple of Christ. With Lordship Salvation the key to eternal life is behavior, NOT believing. That is MacArthur’s (LS) man centered, non-saving, WORKS based salvation, a message that frustrates “grace” (Ga. 2:21). And, Phil, before you try the mantra buttonholing me in the Hodges/GES camp you better read my blog first.

Now, in the next comment I’ll list the additional examples that verify MacArthur is not preaching “justification by faith” alone. Clearly he has added a commitment to works for the reception of eternal life.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

All quotes below are from Dr. John MacArthur as he defines his Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (TGATJ, p. 78).

He (Jesus) wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for full-scale self denial-to the point of willingness to die for His sake if necessary. That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for Him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior.” (TGATJ [Revised & Expanded Edition], pp. 226, 148.)

And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.” (Hard to Believe, p. 9.)

Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross. . . . It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith.” (TGATJ, p. 140).

One of the most comprehensive invitations to salvation in all the epistles comes in James 4:7-10... The invitation in 4:7-10 is directed at those who are not saved...” (From the 20th Anniversary edition of TGATJ (p. 250).

In his revised and expanded version of The Gospel According to Jesus John MacArthur uses the term “saving faith” through this section (page 147). He is clearly referring to the salvation experience. The word “exchange” is used twice in the two sections (pp. 147-148), and also in connection with his definition of what constitutes “saving faith.”

That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior. It is the only response that will open the gates of the kingdom. Seen through the eyes of this world, it is as high a price as anyone can pay. But from a kingdom perspective, it is really no sacrifice at all.”

Following is another quotation from the chapter entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship” in MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition], pp. 221, 226.

Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation. . . . Those who are not willing to lose their lives for Christ are not worthy of Him. . . . He wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for full-scale self-denial—even willingness to die for His sake if necessary.” (bold added)

Phil Johnson said...

Lou: "maybe you can ask Dr. MacArthur to publicly issue the same clarification just as he did when he publicly acknowledged that he erred grievously on the eternal sonship of Christ."

I'm at a loss to see how reissuing MacArthur's retraction on the sonship issue has anything to do with this. In any case, that statement on the sonship issue is still online in numerous places.

The two things are totally different, anyway, and I have explained this to you repeatedly. MacArthur taught "incarnational sonship" for years before changing his view. That required an exhaustive explanation. The botched paragraph in Hard to Believe was a mistake in the editorial process. The statement he issued about that was sufficient.

If you want to pretend you still don't get it, or try to fan it into a whole new controversy again three years hence, fine. When you keep doing that sort of thing over and over, you'll start to find it's hard to get anyone to take you seriously. Just a thought, Lou: after the way you hectored Dr. Bauder a few weeks ago, I don't think you have a lot of change left in that piggy bank.

Phil Johnson said...

Lou: "over two years ago in private discussion with Dr. Phelps on the p. 93 paragraph from HtB I informed him that there was a revised version of the original.

Seriously?

So why did he read the uncorrected version and deliberately leave his hearers with the impression that it is a correct representation of John MacArthur's view?

Lou: Phelps read the revised at the FBFI fellowship."

No, he didn't, Lou. I listened to the tape. How many facts are you going to misrepresent before YOU issue some kind of apology and retraction--rather than simply spamming the thread with fresh accusations against MacArthur?

Ben said...

Lou,

I heard the tape as well. Any further comments from you will be deleted until you explain and retract your false statements.

Lou Martuneac said...

Over two years ago in private discussion with Dr. Phelps on the p. 93 paragraph from HtB I informed him that there was a revised version of the original.

 Seriously?



Answer: Yes, “seriously.” We did have that conversation.

So why did he read the uncorrected version and deliberately leave his hearers with the impression that it is a correct representation of John MacArthur's view?



Answer: I don’t know- ask Dr. Phelps.

Lou: Phelps read the revised at the FBFI fellowship."

No, he didn't,

Answer: This evening I was also told by another person that I got that wrong, that Phelps cited the original. An honest mistake in my article preparation. I just noted this in the thread and corrected the main article.

FWIW, the live blogger Greg from SI also attributed the revised version to Phelps. See- http://www.sharperiron.org/filings/6-16-09/7526

Ben, I trust this is satisfactory; OK?


Lou

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

Now, here are you from far outside of the FBF and the IFB community commenting on what is going on in Fundamentalism.

Hectoring Bauder?” Rather, documenting his repeated personal forays into controversy by going after the legacy and reputations of Dr. Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice.

And since you are commenting from the bleachers on the FBF there were not a few who called for Bauder’s removal from the national platform, I was a public voice.


LM

Pastor Steve said...

This issue is so old it is laughable at this point. It is clear what MacArthur teaches, and it's not works salvation.

I get the feeling that some FBF type people have to keep taking shots at others like MacArthur to show their own group that they are fundamentalists and are still carrying the torch of separation, even if they have to trump up fake charges and re-fight old battles.

But I guess this type of talk gets you a "big" job at Colonial Hills in Indianapolis. It's really a shame. Hopefully, Phelps was just in error and uninformed and will apologize, but he has been around the block too many times for me to really believe this is the case.

Honestly, the FBF needs a good house cleaning, starting with ethics in preaching (see Sweatt).

Phil Johnson said...

Lou:

You have misrepresented several things throughout this exchange--claiming, for example, that your questions 3 years ago went unanswered; claiming Phelps read the corrected version of HTB in his speech at FBFI; pretending it’s still not clear to you whether John MacArthur has disavowed the wording Phelps read; and demanding a retraction when you are the one who should be making retractions.

When your errors are pointed out, you ignore one and dismiss another as "an honest mistake"--and then you carry on with your attack.

After three or four years of these shenanigans from you (while you were repeatedly spamming my blog and the Pulpit blog with ads for your self-published book long after I asked you to stop), you're not really not in a position to complain that my “tone” isn’t cordial enough for your tastes.

You need to do some serious self-examination. Seriously.

Ben said...

Lou,

I want to encourage you to keep talking and posting. Keep affirming your close associations with contemporary movement fundamentalism. Of course, you need to be more careful about getting your facts straight.

But by all means keep yelling at the top of your lungs. You do more than I ever could to draw attention to the fact that thoughtful fundamentalists have more in common with MacArthur and Phil Johnson than they ever will with vast swaths of the movement. You hasten my dream—that fundamentalists will realize the inconsistency of skewering Conservative Evangelicals while maintaining indefensible associations within their own movement.

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

Where is John MacArthur’s personal statement against the controversial quote, in its original form, from p. 93 of Hard to Believe (HtB)? Is it available for the public to consider? If not; why not?

I have to imagine there are many copies of the original HtB on bookshelves in homes and college libraries across the country. Whether it is me or someone else the nagging question is going to keep surfacing.

Will you ask Dr. MacArthur to reproduce his personal statement disavowing the original, highly controversial paragraph from HtB?


LM

Todd Wood said...

Lou, you are like a tenacious bulldog chomping on the pant leg of John MacArthur, year after year.

I have stopped taking this seriously.

But I would wish for you to retract that grip, clone yourself 14 more times, and then clamp on to the pressed suit pant legs of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles in Utah and the gospel they preach to the millions.

Lou Martuneac said...

Todd:

You have your ministry to the unsaved Mormons and I thank God for your being there among them to do that difficult work. I am not called to that work.

I will, however, do what I can to expose and refute from the Scriptures the works-based non-saving message of LS. JM just happens to be the most prolific apologist and widely known advocate for that teaching.

FWIW, in this thread I presented to Phil what I believe is solid argumentation and illustrations of JM’s doctrinal error from both versions of the page 93 passage in HtB. I am curious if Phil wants to engage that discussion.


LM

James Kime said...

Lou, could you post on here more about your book and what is wrong with Lordship salvation? I think it will help Ben see where you are coming from. In fact, I know Ben to be a person who really enjoys reading. Would you be willing to maybe send him a copy of your book free of charge?

Lou Martuneac said...

Hi Jim:

You wrote, "I know Ben to be a person who really enjoys reading. Would you be willing to maybe send him a copy of your book free of charge?"

Interesting idea, but here is how I think. Why should I absorb the cost of my book and the mailing when I can get the kind of criticism that has been and is certain to continue coming from Ben for free?

Thanks anyway, but if he loves to read, I suggest he waits until later this year when the revised and expanded edition is released.

Kind regards,


Lou

James Kime said...

Yeah, I can understand that. I have grown rather tired of blogs. I find though that on blogs so little can actually be said to really help instruct others. Typically there is that one guy who doesn't seem to get it despite it being obvious to everyone else.

Do you have some articles or something then if not the book?

Lou Martuneac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou Martuneac said...

James:

You wrote, “Typically there is that one guy who doesn't seem to get it despite it being obvious to everyone else.

Yeah, I know what you mean.

I’m just glad to read in Scripture where men like Noah, Elijah, the little band of disciples in the upper room and Paul on Mars Hill weren’t deterred by the crowd(s) who thought they saw and knew the obvious; aren’t you?

And Spurgeon took his stand in his day; didn’t he? Thank God for him!

I'm grateful we have men in the NT church today who will not cave in to the “everyone elses” who think they have the market cornered on truth; aren’t you?

The ironic thing is that the ones who think they are the “everyone else” don’t have “everyone else” with them. They just don’t see it. Or maybe they don't want to see it. I don’t know which.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

James:

You asked, “Do you have some articles or something then if not the book?”

Sure I do, glad you asked! I’m actually writing a new book as well. It is titled, Memoirs From Deputation: It was Fun, Most of the Time. I shared the outline with several pastors who seem very enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, here is a sampling of articles from my blog by category, with the number of articles in each. Some are totally about the subject, some include mentions of the subject, some categories have overlapping articles.

The “Crossless” Gospel (71)
Includes the Grace Evangelical Society, Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin.

The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism (10)
Evaluations of Zane Hodges’s final article just before his passing. This is a tragic look at what became his legacy of a slide into reductionist heresy.

Lordship Salvation (43)

Separation (18)

Rick Warren- Saddleback (7)

Mark Driscoll (2)

Charles H. Spurgeon (3- linking to 1)

Ordo Salutis (1)

There are many more for your consideration.

Thanks again for asking.


LM

Phil Johnson said...

Lou: "Where is John MacArthur’s personal statement against the controversial quote, in its original form, from p. 93 of Hard to Believe (HtB)? Is it available for the public to consider?"

See above, where I posted it in full. Are you suggesting you're not obliged to accept it as a legitimate statement of John MacArthur's position until I send you an autographed copy?

Lou, the utter lack of integrity in your approach to this is transparently obvious to most. The fact that you yourself don't see that explains why you have such a hard time getting serious people to take you seriously.

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

You wrote of a, “John-MacArthur-approved clarification.” That obviously means it was not written by him. He approved another individual’s explanation for the original.

It would take Dr. MacArthur 5 minutes to draft a memo disavowing the original and 5 minutes for you to post it at GTY, Pulpit Magazine or wherever you like. But it seems that original version has never been deemed important enough for him to go to the trouble himself; why?

And with that, I’ll move on to the doctrinal concern with the versions that I directed to your attention earlier in this thread.

I have already shown in this thread that even the revised is NOT a message of “justification by faith” as you claim it to be. The revision simply sanitizes the blunt terms of the original. Is it possible this is why he has NEVER personally and publicly disavowed the original?

In both of HtB and in the additional quotes from various works of his (provided above) I have shown irrefutably that JM is not preaching “justification by faith” alone as you Phil claim for his view. He is teaching faith, plus a promise to perform as a Christian to BECOME a Christian, just like it says on p. 93 of HtB, in both versions. This is a fact that is verified by his own writing across the last 20 years in which he has reiterated and reinforced that same teaching.

Now, Phil: are you going to deal with the documented argument I have presented to you?


LM

PS: I never have concerned myself with your opinions of me or my work because you have never demonstrated the kind of maturity that I can respect. As I reminded you yesterday- you are widely known for a kind of speech and internet behavior that is antithetical to the otherwise good reputation of the GTY ministries for graciousness and decency in its communications. You might want to try to emulate Dr. MacArthur’s and Nathan’s good example in your future communications, especially the private ones.

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

This year I have twice sent an e-mail to Nathan Busenitz (JM’s personal assistant) asking him to forward to JM a copy of a transcript of a recorded sermon in which he (JM) is preaching on child conversion.

Later this year I am going to publish this and my commentary. This transcript is IMO nearly as controversial as the p. 93 from HtB.

I sent the transcript to JM through Nathan to give benefit of the doubt. To see if JM might like to edit, explain or retract what is there before I publish.

For the third and final time I am going to resend and you will receive a carbon.

In this thread you wrote, “If I had received a personal e-mail from you about this matter, I most certainly would have replied to it.”

You are going to have that chance again. If you ignore it, don’t give JM a chance to review it, then you have no defense this time around.


LM

PT Barnum said...

Ben,

So since a public explanation already exists and a revision has been made (a long time ago) what should Charles Phelps do? Pastor "A" specifically criticizes Pastor "B" over an issue that is a non-issue and simply a mistake by an editor of a book he wrote. The critique was done by Pastor "A" in a very public manner and is in fact still online for more to hear the incorrect attack. Does Pastor "A" owe a very public apology to Pastor "B"? I am curious as to what others think about this.

Matthew

Jeremy said...

To anyone reading and posting,

I'm not a Pastor and didn't go to seminary or anything, I was Saved later in life, and I am currently involved in various ministries deeply, and I would call myself a Biblicist. I understand the human error in publishing something that was taken out of context. I'm not perfect, so I understand all of that, completely. But...if I go to my local Christian bookstore and pick up a copy of 'Hard to Believe', will it still lead it's audience to believe that there's a works for Salvation necessity? And if so, when will this be revised. As I said earlier, I was Saved later in life, so my voice would be from an audience of first generation Christian's who are seeking God and the teachings of men like MacArthur (who I respect) for Spiritual growth.


-Jeremy

PT Barnum said...

Jeremy,

From what I can gather it appears that a revision was made. Phil Johnson mentioned that it was also on the GTY website for a full year after the revision was put into circulation. It is an unfortunate mistake that has no perfect solution. Anyone familiar with his body of work could figure it out but those who were not would be left a bit confused.

I think the issue here is really the fact that MacArthur was attacked by someone who should have known better. I feel that anyone familiar with JohnnyMac's ministry has no business using a paragraph like the one in question to beat the stuffing out of him. It is unacceptable IMHO.

Matthew

Lou Martuneac said...

Jeremy:

You asked a good question, which was, “if I go to my local Christian bookstore and pick up a copy of ‘Hard to Believe’, will it still lead it’s audience to believe that there’s a works for Salvation necessity?”

The answer is “Yes,” definitely, if it is read with discernment. Most people don’t read his books carefully figuring if it is by MacArthur- it must be OK! In either the original or revised version of HtB you will find a works based message from John MacArthur as he expounds on his Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

Earlier in this thread that not only from either version of the page 93 controversial paragraphs, but when comparing that to a number of other statements from JM’s various LS books, the theme is the same: the lost man must make a commitment to perform as a Christian to BECOME a Christian.

That theme runs like a thread through all of Macarthur’s 5 major apologetics on Lordship Salvation.

Go here to read the two consecutive comments I posted in this thread that irrefutable proves that, contrary to Phil Johnson’s claim, “MacArthur teaches everywhere else…justification by faith,” alone is not at all the case.

Phil is not interacting with my argument for good reason: It is irrefutible because it is from MacArthur himself with no commentary necessary to illustrate LS, as JM defines it, is a message of justification by faith, PLUS commitment of life.

That message corrupts the simplicity that is Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and it frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Kind regards,


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Matthew:

I don't think you realize just how many men, in Fundamentalism, men who are primarily Calvinistic in theology, have been questioning why JM has NEVER personally addressed the controversial paragraph from HtB.

I receievd an e-mail today, an hour ago, from another pastor who is high profile in the IFB camp. He wrote, "To my knowledge JM has not commented on that statement. I think he should."

JM has NEVER personally, publicly commented on and disavowed the original; why not???

As serious a doctrinal error as the original is, which appears in a book bearing JM's name, why would a man not rush to personally disavow it? Why? Is it possible JM does not entirely disagaree with the original?

Phil can complain and bluster all he wants, but this is an issue that has never gone away and as long as JM refuses to personally go on public record it is not going away anytime soon. I don't suggest I am going to stay on this, but it is always going to be an undercurrent, IMHO.

You just saw a new comment by Jeremy who is questioning this.


Lou

Mike said...

Lou,
You've made the dead horse into glue. No, there aren't a bunch of us out there wondering when Johnny M is going to personally come out and say what Lou M wants him to say. I'm sure he's not losing a bit of sleep over it. It's been dealt with long ago as per Phil's emails and posts here. Let it be.

PT Barnum said...

this isn't about JM and HtB. this is about a pastor who criticized JM regarding a paragraph that was an editor's mistake and that has been revised long ago. If Phelps had a problem with JM and his view of salvation at least he could have just taken him to task instead of using a paragraph from a book that obviously was not correct. Lou is trying to take things back to his pet issue--stalking JM and PJ. Don't let him take the focus away from the issue at hand in the original post here at Paleoevangelical--Charles Phelps wrongfully went after another pastor and should apologize publicly and swiftly. I challenge anyone to refute this fact.

Matthew

PT Barnum said...

Lou,

JM revised the paragraph--do you not understand english? Maybe Phelps will offer a revision of his statements at Bethel in Schaumburg. Amazing that nobody else is asking for Phelps to apologize--you are trying to focus on your pet issue. Your fetish with JM and PJ is sickening--you hijack any conversation in order to push your agenda--sickening IMHO.

Matthew

Lou Martuneac said...

Matthew:

do you not understand english? ...pet issue...your fetish...sickening...hijack...push your agenda...sickening.

When you write in terms like that, it should be no wonder as to why most have hard time taking the YF seriously. You YF types can be far more vitriolic and condescending in speech in the blogs than most of the men from our IFB heritage ever were in their newspapers. Plus, those remarks go against the grain of Matt. 7:1-2, which has consequences.

When I read that kind of thing, I immediately see immaturity and emotionalism. I don't even take any of that seriously, no more than I do Phil when he resorts to his bluster.

I suspect that in time and with maturity you'll look back at statements like that with sorrow unto repentance for having expressed yourself that way.

I expect that kind of speech from teens at Facebook or My Space, but from men who claim Christ as Lord, well...

You might memorize Col. 4:6 before you post on line. That passage helps me. And before you post you might ask yourself if you would say to me in person the things you write in these blogs.


LM

Peter said...

If none of you take each other seriously, then why do you keep responding to each others posts? Just a thought... :)

James Kime said...

Lou, I am curious about something. Is John MacArthur a false teacher then who is deceiving many, many young pastors and one day will himself be in hell?

Kent Brandenburg said...

I hadn't been back here for awhile, but I skimmed this thread, and I want to make note that I'm happy to hear that MacArthur has retracted that statement. If he had done so, and Phelps knew about it, Phelps owes a retraction and an apology to MacArthur. If he knew that it had been changed and stated the former version (not even written by MacArthur) anyway, that would be a very bad thing to do. I don't know Chuck Phelps. I've had one small email exchange with him, but I would be interested in finding out if someone has looked to see if this is true, that is, that he purposefully read a false quote to misrepresent MacArthur. That's a very serious claim.

PT Barnum said...

As I understand it pastor phelps knew of a revision...I think he owes johnny mac an apology as well.

Matthew