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John MacArthur's Damning Doctrine
"By covetousness they will exploit you . . . ." (2 Peter 2:3). For a few examples of MacArthur's income, in 2006 MacArthur made $160,363 with $13,828 in benefits from his "Grace To You" ministry, and also in 2006 MacArthur made an additional $123,785 with $25,757 in benefits from "The Master's College." In 2011 MacArthur made $402,444 from "Grace To You," and $92,985 with $10,295 in benefits from "The Master's College." For proof of these figures, see page 5 in 2006 IRS Form 990 for "Grace To You" and page 5 in the 2006 IRS Form 990 for "The Master's College" and page 7 in the 2011 IRS Form 990 for "Grace To You," and the last page in the 2011 IRS Form 990 for "The Master's College."
John F. MacArthur is the pastor teacher of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California. He is one of the most popular Bible expositors and Bible conference speakers in the country, and serves as president of The Master's College and Seminary. Heard daily on the national radio program, Grace to You, MacArthur is the best-selling author of such books as The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According To Jesus, and Faith Works. (back inside dust jacket of MacArthur's book, Successful Christian Parenting, copyright 1998).
To many (Matthew 7:13), John MacArthur is a champion of the faith whose voice is correcting many of the ills of Christianity. To a few (Matthew 7:14; Luke 13:23-24), he is a wolf in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) whose "Master" is the Master of deception (Revelation 12:9).
MacArthur's very popularity should be enough for any discerning Christian to be wary. But, sad to say, most people do not understand the context and warning Christ gave in Luke 6:26, nor the present reality of chapters 3 and 4 of 2 Timothy (particularly 3:1-5 and 4:3). Plus, MacArthur's appearance of proclaiming much truth also creates for the minds of men a delusion that is ever so strong. Nevertheless, he has taught and does teach damning doctrine.
I. Damning Doctrine on Christ
[In 2007, speaking in the context of denying the deity of Christ, MacArthur wrote,
My salvation and yours depends on a true understanding of Christ and who He is. A false christ is a damning deception (1 John 4:15; 5:1, 5, 10-12, 20; 2 John 7-11). The doctrine of Christ is no mere academic or secondary truth. (p. 115, The Truth War, copyright 2007, Thomas Nelson; see also MacArthur's statement in The MacArthur Study Bible, in the footnote for 1 John 2:22-23)
MacArthur claims his salvation "and yours depends on a true understanding of Christ," and a "false christ is a damning deception." MacArthur still teaches a false christ to this day (e.g. see MacWars). Yet, for years MacArthur taught what he now admits was not "a true understanding of Christ" (see below), but he believes this false christ that he taught was not "rank heresy." MacArthur lies against both himself and God's Word.
This report was originally written in 1995. MacArthur has since (1999) changed this teaching about Christ (Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ). In his recantation (hard copy on file), MacArthur speaks of Augustine (a Catholic) as if he was a man of God, and MacArthur says that his error is not "rank heresy." Yet, as already noted, elsewhere he says, a "false christ is a damning deception" (bold added). Evidently, according to MacArthur, "rank heresy" and "damning deception" are not the same.
In his commentary on Hebrews MacArthur wrote,
Jesus is Son in resurrection as as (sic) well as in birth. It is His human title, and we should never get trapped in the heretical idea that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. He became Son for our sake - (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Hebrews, copyright 1983 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, p. 29, bold added, italics in original)
Being always the Son of God (Hebrews 13:8), Christ has always been subservient to God (John 5:19, 30; 6:57; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:27-28), as Jesus Himself said, "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Nonetheless, MacArthur called Christ's eternal Sonship and subservience a "heretical idea."
We have left the below section on MacArthur's false christ intact so that people can see that MacArthur does not speak the truth when he claims his false teaching was not "rank heresy." Also, we have kept the warning alive because this false teaching is still being sold (2 Corinthians 2:17) via MacArthur's commentary on Hebrews, and his study Bible (The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 744). Since this false teaching is still out there, and MacArthur is still selling it (although he says he now does not believe it), we thought it best to keep it in our report. The following is left as it was originally written.]
In Ephesians 4:12, Paul gives the reason God gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. They were given for the building up of the body of Christ, so "that we should no longer be tossed to and fro . . . by the trickery of men" (Ephesians 4:14). One doctrine mentioned in this context is the "knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:13). In his "cunning craftiness" (Ephesians 4:14), MacArthur perverts this knowledge.
In fact, as hard as it is to accept (especially by those who have been under his teaching), MacArthur deceitfully preaches another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). In MacArthur's Bible study guide, The Superiority of Christ (Hebrews 1-2) on page 52 and following he says,
Did you know that when 2 Samuel was written, Jesus Christ was not the Son of God? Why? The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Christ did not become the Son until He was begotten into time.
In his commentary on Hebrews he says, speaking of Christ,
He was always God, but He became the Son. He had not always had the title of Son. That is His incarnation title. Eternally He is God, but only from His incarnation has He been Son. (p. 27-28)
And, "Christ was not Son until His incarnation." ("not" is emphasized in the original, p.28) MacArthur has good sounding arguments for his statements above (he even has an official paper on this subject entitled "The Sonship of Christ" dated November 13, 1991 that is very deceptive), but the fact remains that Jesus Christ has always been the Son of God. When speaking of whether Christ was the Son of God from all eternity or not, we are speaking of His very nature, i.e. WHO HE IS. He has always been the Son of God (Hebrews 13:8).
It should be noted that hundreds of years before the incarnation the Psalmist warned the kings of his day to "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish . . . " (Psalm 2:12). Proverbs 30:4 also speaks of God and His Son hundreds of years before the incarnation with no prophetic reference to the incarnation ("What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if you know?").
Also, Hebrews 7:3 speaks of the Son of God in complete opposition to the incarnation. Speaking of Melchizedek, it proclaims,
Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, . . . .
In the incarnation, Jesus had a "father" (Joseph), a "mother" (Mary), a "genealogy" (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38), "beginning of days" (Luke 1:31), and "end of life" (Luke 23:46). When speaking of the Son of God in Hebrews 7:3, the Lord clearly points to the fact that Christ was the Son of God before the incarnation. The Son of God did not become the Son of God (as MacArthur deceitfully teaches). The Son of God has always been the Son of God. And, it is THIS Son of God who saves (Acts 4:12)! The Son of God of MacArthur is an impostor. The Jesus of MacArthur became the Son of God at the incarnation. As MacArthur puts it in his official paper mentioned above, ". . . the terms 'Father' and 'Son' would have no significance before the incarnation." (p. 5). Such a statement is a deceitful denial of the Father and the Son, i.e. a denial of their very nature and person as the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22-23).
This is another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4,15). This Jesus cannot save your soul, because He is not the Christ of Scripture.
The Jehovah's Witnesses change the definition of who Christ is, and the Mormons change the definition of who Christ is. MacArthur has done the same thing, but much more deceitfully. He refuses to recant on this teaching (many have confronted him on it). Those who do not love the Truth (i.e. Jesus, John 14:6) think it is no big deal to teach erroneously about the Son of God. What could be a more important subject, but WHO IS CHRIST?! MacArthur does just as the Scripture says men like him would do.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, . . . . (2 Peter 2:1)
II. Damning Suicide
As so many (e.g. Stanley, Smith, Hayford, Catholicism, McGee, Graham) MacArthur believes a person can kill themselves and still end up in heaven. As stated in his article entitled "Can one who commits suicide be saved?" (hard copy on file).
Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:13; 21:23), but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins--past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14). Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
So if a true Christian would commit suicide in a time of extreme weakness, he or she would be received into heaven (Jude 24).
This goes directly against Matthew 24:13; John 15:1-6; Romans 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 12:25; and 1 John 5:4. Committing suicide is not enduring to the end (Matthew 24:13). It is not abiding in Christ (John 15:1-6). It is not continuing in His goodness (Romans 11:22). It is not holding fast the word (1 Corinthians 15:2). It is definitely being moved away from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23). It is not holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end (Hebrews 3:6). It is not holding the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end (Hebrews 3:14). It is refusing and turning away from Him who speaks from heaven (Hebrews 12:25). And, it is not overcoming the world (1 John 5:4), but rather being overcome by the world and the devil (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 5:18).
MacArthur's teaching on suicide opens wide the door of death and Hades (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15) to those in despair. This is certainly a destructive lie (2 Peter 2:1).
MacArthur's second to last sentence reads:
So though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence.
One unusual belief in this doctrine will result in one long eternity in hell! [See also MacArthur's statement about God & Hell.]
III. Damning Fundamentals
MacArthur believes that there are certain doctrines in Scripture, as opposed to other doctrines in Scripture, that are the deciding factor in determining whether a person is a false teacher or not, or in the faith or not. In his books, Reckless Faith (copyright 1994), and Truth Matters (copyright 2004), speaking of verses like Galatians 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1; 2 John 9-11, he writes,
They instruct us how to deal with false teachers who have gone astray with regard to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. (Reckless Faith, p. 107; Truth Matters, p. 84)
MacArthur speaks of "fundamental" doctrines. Scripture proclaims,
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God. (John 8:47)
Yet, MacArthur holds onto his own teaching (i.e. the traditions of men, Colossians 2:8) and asserts,
All who call themselves Christian should agree that there is a body of doctrine that is non-negotiable. The articles of faith that make up this constitutional body of truth are the very essence of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). These are the real fundamentals of the faith. They are doctrines so indispensable to true Christianity that we ought to break fellowship with those who profess Christianity but who deny them (2 Cor. 6:14-17). (ibid., p. 106-107; p. 83-84)
You will search in vain to find such teaching in the Word of God. In fact, just the opposite is taught. Paul says to Timothy, "no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3). That is, any doctrine that is contrary to any Scripture! Jesus put it this way, (making no distinction),
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words (John 14:23-24).
In 1 Timothy 6:3, Paul says the standard is "wholesome words," "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the doctrine which accords with godliness," not some man-made list of "essentials" or "fundamentals"! This false teaching of "the fundamentals of the faith" falls by MacArthur's own hand in these same books on page 115 (Reckless Faith) and 91 (Truth Matters).
It is not my purpose here to attempt to give an exhaustive list of fundamental doctrines. To do so would be beyond the scope of this book, and certainly beyond my own abilities as a theologian. As Witsius has written: "To point out the articles necessary to salvation, and precisely determine their number, is a task, if not utterly impossible, at least extremely difficult."
So, on the one hand MacArthur says there are doctrines that are so essential "we ought to break fellowship with those who profess Christianity but who deny them." Yet, when called to give what all of these important "fundamentals" are, he cannot tell us!
In addition to this folly, MacArthur further declares that it doesn't matter if we know what they all are, even though they are "necessary for salvation." In quoting Witsius, in the context of the above quote (i.e. speaking of "articles necessary to salvation") he writes,
It is of no great importance, besides, to the church at large, to know quite correctly the precise number of fundamental articles. (Reckless Faith, p. 115, Truth Matters, p. 91)
So, these articles are "necessary for salvation" and so important we "ought to break fellowship with those who . . . deny them," yet we cannot know what all of them are, nor does it matter! This is a classic case of hypocritical stupidity, especially when MacArthur continues on in his reckless faith and states,
Nothing is more desperately needed in the church right now than a new movement to reemphasize the fundamental articles of the faith. (Reckless Faith, p. 117, Truth Matters, p. 93)
In other words, there is a desperate need to emphasize "fundamental articles," some of which, we do not know what they are, nor do we know how many they be of what we do not know.
Also, in the midst of all this folly, MacArthur writes as well,
We must also remember that serious error can be extremely subtle. (Reckless Faith, p. 117, Truth Matters, p. 93)
Indeed it can be! And so, all who follow this deceit are sitting ducks for subtle error. Since there are fundamental articles that exist, but they (MacArthur and company) do not know what they are, serious error can easily be taught in regards to an unknown fundamental article. Being that they do not know it is a fundamental article, they can easily regard it as a "secondary" issue, not fundamental, and find themselves either believing the lie or allowing others to believe the lie, and thus denying a fundamental article of the faith that is "necessary for salvation."
This is exactly what has happened. The most "fundamental article of the faith" is denied by this "fundamentals" lie.
What does Jesus say is "necessary" for salvation? The answer is found in John 8:31-32.
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
It is "the truth" that makes us free (i.e. free from sin, John 8:34-36), not some of the truth (i.e. "the fundamentals"). James put it this way,
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
In his teaching on the fundamentals, MacArthur diverts people away from a zealous love for the truth (all of the truth), thus leading to the damnation of souls. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 bears witness to this reality. There is a damning delusion that will soon come upon all those who refuse to "receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." In this same vein, MacArthur's "Fundamentals" doctrine deceitfully denies the words of Christ who said,
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4; note also Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, "every thought." For further study, see also www.atruechurch.info/macwars.html under III. The Teaching of Scripture, www.atruechurch.info/unity.html and www.atruechurch.info/savednot.html)
IV. Damning Fear
Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10 declare, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and Job likewise proclaims, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." In order to have wisdom, you must fear God. If you do not fear God, you do not have wisdom. If you do not have wisdom, you will be destroyed! So says the wisdom of God in Proverbs.
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, . . . Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, . . . . For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; (Proverbs 1:28-32).
For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:35-36)
Again, in this matter also, MacArthur diverts people away from the truth onto a path that leads to hell.
The Scripture declares the fear of God to be exactly that, fear (i.e. to be afraid). Job, who properly feared God (Job 1:1,8), describes his godly fear in Job 23:13-16.
But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him. Therefore I am terrified at His presence; when I consider this, I am afraid of Him. For God made my heart weak, and the Almighty terrifies me.
Hebrews 12:28 says we are to serve God "with reverence and godly fear." MacArthur's "godly fear" is taught in hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).
In his book, Successful Christian Parenting, on p. 78 MacArthur writes,
Therefore, in the presence of God, true wisdom trembles with a holy, healthy sense of terror and apprehension. Fear is the right word for it.
In his book , The Love of God (copyright 1996), on p. 11, MacArthur writes,
Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly that fear of God is the very foundation of true wisdom (Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Mic. 6:9). People often try to explain the sense of those verses away by saying that the "fear" called for is a devout sense of awe and reverence, but it does not exclude literal holy terror.
Both before and after MacArthur wrote these words in The Love of God, he himself explains away "by saying that the 'fear' called for is a devout sense of awe and reverence," and he excludes a literal holy terror.
In his commentary on Matthew (copyright 1987) in his interpretation of Matthew 10:28 he speaks directly against the literal holy terror Christ commands. MacArthur writes,
Fear is used here in two senses. The first has to do with fright and terror, while the second has to do with awe and veneration. (p. 221)
Then on page 222 he states,
. . . this fear is not that of terror or fright, but of reverential awe and honor. (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 8-15)
Please note the verse he is commenting on. Christ says to the twelve disciples,
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Two kinds of fear? MacArthur says the opposite of the Words of Christ! Jesus' whole point is that those who can kill the body (i.e. men) are not the ones to fear. The One to be afraid of is the One who can destroy both body and soul in an eternal hell! In other words, there is far more to fear (terror, fright) when it comes to God and what He can do, than any man. Jesus put it like this in Luke 12:4-5,
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you Whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
Clearly, Jesus is talking about a fear towards God that most profoundly includes terror and fright!
MacArthur's words in his commentary were copyrighted in 1987, nine years before 1996 when the The Love of God was printed. In 1997, one year after The Love of God came out, MacArthur produced The MacArthur Study Bible (copyright 1997). In this study Bible MacArthur writes more words that explain away the sense of the true fear of God. In this study Bible, on page 1771 MacArthur footnotes 2 Corinthians 5:11 with these words:
5:11 the terror of the Lord. This is more clearly rendered, "the fear of the Lord." It is not referring to being afraid, but to Paul's worshipful reverence for God as his essential motivation . . . . (p. 1771)
Here again, MacArthur denies the plain text. What Paul calls "terror" (or "fear") MacArthur calls "not referring to being afraid," and does the very thing he declares others wrongly do. He explains away the sense of this verse by writing that it is "not referring to being afraid," but it is referring to "worshipful reverence." In other words, according to MacArthur, when it says "terror" or "fear" "It is not referring to being afraid." Or, to put it in other words, "You can't believe what the Bible says."
Philippians 2:12 says we are to work out our own salvation with "fear and trembling." In Isaiah 66:2, the Lord says, ". . . on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." The Psalmist writes, "My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments." (Psalm 119:120) This is godly terror! This is true "holy terror." This is far more than "reverential awe" or "worshipful reverence"! This is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), is wisdom (Job 28:28), and "is the instruction of wisdom" (Proverbs 15:33).
MacArthur twists (2 Peter 3:16) the fear of God into a "reverential awe" that supposedly includes some kind of "holy terror," but excludes the holy "terror" Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 5:11, and the literal fear (terror, fright) that Jesus commands in Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5. What we have here is a classic case of the warning Christ gave to his disciples.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1)
MacArthur's teaching on the fear of God is double-talk. He speaks of "holy terror," but then excludes true holy terror. Clearly, those who follow his teaching found in his commentary and study Bible will be moved away from the wisdom of God (the true fear of God) into a false fear of God that cannot save, because, in intense deceit, there will be "no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18).
V. Damning Forgiveness
Compounding the above deceit, MacArthur's teaching on forgiveness further dissuades his followers away from a Biblical fear of God. In his Bible study guide, The Anatomy Of A Church, he states,
Matthew 6:14-15 is not talking about the eternal, redemptive forgiveness we receive when we accept Christ as our Savior. It's talking about a parental, temporal forgiveness. It's forgiveness related to current sin. We need to have a forgiving attitude if we want to have pure, blessed fellowship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. (p.72-73)
What does MacArthur mean by "parental, temporal forgiveness"? Commenting on this same passage in his commentary he explains, "the parental forgiveness, which keeps fellowship with the Lord rich and blessings from the Lord profuse," (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, p. 397). In other words, he teaches that Matthew 6:14-15 is NOT speaking about "eternal, redemptive forgiveness" (i.e. the forgiveness that is unto salvation), but rather forgiveness that simply maintains "sweet fellowship with Him" "on a daily basis" (The Anatomy Of A Church, p. 73).
In the verse MacArthur is addressing, Jesus says, ". . . if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." An appropriate question to ask is, "If your trespasses (sins) are not forgiven, where do you go?" The answer? Hell! This is exactly the picture Jesus paints later on in Matthew as He deals with the same subject matter in Matthew 18:21-35. At the end of this section, Jesus says,
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
That is no picture of salvation! It is a picture of eternal torment. Note Jesus' words, "until he should pay all that was due to him." When someone is in prison, they have no way of ever being able to acquire funds to pay any debt! This is a description of hell!
Here again, MacArthur diverts people away from the fear of God stating that the warning Jesus gives in Matthew 6:14-15 (and Matthew 18:23-24, p. 73, ibid.) "is not talking about the eternal, redemptive forgiveness," but is "talking about a parental, temporal forgiveness." Jesus' warning about forgiveness in both Matthew 6:14-15 and Matthew 18:21-35 (and Mark 11:25 26) is a serious warning! MacArthur waters it down, and opens up the gate to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). [This same error can be found in MacArthur's book The Freedom And Power Of Forgiveness, copyright 1998, on page 58, 97-99-105, and 109-111, and in the MacArthur Study Bible, copyright 1997, p. 1403 and 1427].
VI. Damning Psychology
MacArthur himself rightly revealed about false teachers,
. . . they are dangerous when they tell truth because often they cannot be distinguished from true teachers. The key to being a successful false teacher is to tell as much of the truth as possible. (MacArthur's Bible study guide, Joy And Godliness, p. 17).
The subtlety of false teaching is that it uses the Word of God but misrepresents its teaching. Those who teach something explicitly and overtly anti-biblical, anti-Christ, and anti-God pose no real threat to the Christian church. But subtle teaching that appears to be biblical yet pulls unwary souls away from the faith is a great danger to the church. (MacArthur's Bible study guide, Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters, p. 17)
In these two quotes, MacArthur describes himself. One example of his own "subtle teaching that appears to be biblical" is his teaching on "self-worth" (a disguised form of "self-esteem").
Though MacArthur claims to be against psychology and its message of self, he himself subtly proclaims it. For example, in his commentary on Ephesians on page 6 he writes,
The only way a person can achieve a true sense of self-worth, meaning and significance is to have a right relationship to his Creator.
Where in all the Word of God are we ever exhorted to "achieve" a "sense of self-worth"? The answer? Nowhere! Such teaching is humanistic and self-centered.
You can find this "self-worth" teaching scattered throughout MacArthur's material. For just a few examples, you can find it in the Bible study guides, Alive In Christ, p. 22-23; The Believers Life In Christ, p. 27, 36, & 70; The Anatomy Of A Church, p. 29; and in the book, The Vanishing Conscience, p. 90.
Furthermore, in MacArthur's daily devotional, Drawing Near, you can find more self-centered humanistic teaching as he perverts the fall of man into a self-focused "identity crisis." At the head of the page in bold print he writes (for January 7),
A true sense of identity comes from knowing that God himself personally selected you to be His child.
Then, speaking about the fall of man (i.e. when Adam and Eve disobeyed God) he writes,
That created within man a spiritual void and an identity crisis of unimaginable proportions.
This is what MacArthur thinks, not what God thinks. Such "identity crisis" teaching is completely "void" from Genesis to Revelation.
More teaching on self can be found in his Bible study guide, Alive In Christ, where he teaches the psychological concept of self-forgiveness [Although, in his book The Freedom And Power Of Forgiveness, copyright 1998, on page 190, he teaches against self-forgiveness.]. On pages 66-67, he exhorts in bold print, "Do you have a problem forgiving yourself?" Then he states,
In Christ, we're all beloved sons . . . totally forgiven. Therefore, if you can't forgive yourself, you've got a God complex. . . . God has already accepted you - so accept yourself!
So, if God can accept us, we can accept ourselves. Our sense of worth comes from knowing that we matter to God. And if we matter to God, we should matter to ourselves . . . Self-worth and a firm self-image . . . come from a knowledge of what God has done for you in Christ.
Although MacArthur has taught against selfism for quite some time (see the 1979 psychologically oriented "The Fulfilled Family" tape series and Bible study guide, tape GC 1947, and study guide pages 73-86, or Successful Christian Parenting, p. 42), he also hypocritically teaches "self-worth", and self-centered concepts of self "significance" and "identity." His teaching sounds appealing to the human mind, but it is completely outside the bounds of holy writ (2 John 9).
What is so destructive about this self-focused doctrine is that it not only flows from the well of godless humanistic ideology (a Satanic spring), but the subtlety in which it operates is extremely delusive. Those who believe and follow these concepts are deceitfully diverted from a simple (2 Corinthians 11:3) focus on Christ (Hebrews 12:2) to a focus on self. Yet, the subtlety is that they think they are focused on Christ, yet they are following destructive self-focused doctrines that in reality diverts them off of a pure focus on Christ. Whether it be a matter of "self worth," self "significance," or self "identity," it is all the exact opposite of Christ's exhortation to "deny" self.
Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Mark 8:34)
Christ's call in Mark 8:34-38 is a call to salvation (note verse 36). If someone comes to Christ, but yet they fail to "deny" themselves, and take up their cross, and follow Him, they cannot be saved! Thus, Paul warned in Colossians 2:8,
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Likewise, Peter warned,
. . . beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked (2 Peter 3:17).
This subtle focus on "self" ("self-worth", etc.) is exactly that, "the error of the wicked."
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