Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

The Power of Integrity


This book by Mr. MacArthur on Integrity is very well-written and covers some necessary ground for modern Christians. His points are backed up by Scripture and he explains them well. This response takes up his challenge to his readers to act with integrity.


John MacArthur has written a book called The Power of Integrity, published in 1997, describing the need for Christians to firmly stand their ground and defend the truth of the Bible against all attacks.


There is only one question I have. Why doesn't he follow his own advice?

To be honest, this writing started before I had even finished reading the book. However, in my opinion, the apparent hypocrisy is so evident, by his own standards, that each section of the book read so far just screams for a response. But, to be fair, let me reiterate that the book is well-written and each point is thoroughly explained with excellent references from the Bible.

Now that the word is out there, we should probably see the definition for hypocrisy. Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

Definition of hypocrisy plural: hypocrisies Definition of hypocrite

    1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

    2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

- hypocrite adjective

Not a whacko, just confusing

In fairness, I do not believe that John MacArthur believes that he is a hypocrite. This is not something that he does in order to deceive others, it is just apparent from the disparity between statements he makes in his book and the practice in his life. More specifically, my focus is on definition 2. If you say one thing and live something contradictory, to me that is hypocrisy. So, why make a statement like this page?


Of course, this page means nothing without a definition of what I mean when I refer to the hypocrisy of MacArthur. The Bible clearly specifies the Sabbath as a holy day set apart by God. The Bible clearly states that His people are not to worship Him in the way of the pagans. The Bible clearly outlines what is proper food for God's people.

Yes, these are all Old Testament concepts. Rather than just dismiss my "wild claims", there are other pages on this site where we really get into these discussions if you are interested. I quote the Bible there as well. But read below what Mr. MacArthur himself says about the Bible, both Old and New Testaments in quotes from the book.

The Bible spells it out

The Bible is also very clear about what God considers proper behavior. Mr. MacArthur reiterates not only the words of the Bible, but explains their intended meaning as well. But if you look at what he preaches in church and writes in many of his other books, his life does not match his words in some very big ways.

But, that doesn't matter?

Some specific statements from the pages of his book will make the point better than I ever could. Starting on page vii, the first page of the introduction, the author says this:

Unfortunately, the philosophy and practice of compromise has even invaded the church. Because tolerance is the operative ideology in our society, the church adopts a similar perspective to reach the unsaved. Many churches now look for ways to give the Gospel to people without offending them. Yet the very nature of the Gospel is offensive because it confronts sinners with their sins. Ignoring that, many churches willingly compromise God's Word instead of standing firm on the Gospel, and they give the world a watered-down version that can't effect any change.

Everyone shakes his head...

Many will read this, nod their heads sadly, and agree. That's exactly what I did, but my sadness came from the recognition that even his church does exactly what he condemns - under his own leadership.

Some history...just a little

The beginning of this compromise is clearly defined in history. Within 100 years after the death of Christ, the church started changing the precepts, indeed the meaning of the Gospel, of Christ (see Early Christians and Sunday for discussion of the proclamations of the "early church fathers", and history behind them). Not based on any commands or instructions from God to do so, mind you. Because of the "piety" of the church fathers, and some persecution prevalent at the time, people were willing to compromise His principles in order to protect themselves from the persecution of the Romans.

In the same vein, on Introduction page ix, Mr. MacArthur says this:

The church is now so adept at compromising with the world that it has forgotten how to be uncompromising. That's because we readily accept the world's value systems and indulge ourselves in them to the point where we personalize them and they become our desires. In essence our standards replace God's.

Absolutely true (note his use of the word we), but then what? Same page, skip one paragraph and he says this:

When God established the nation Israel, He built into the Israelite's daily living the principle of separation from the world. Their religious observances throughout the year served as safeguards to prevent them, as a unique people (Deut. 14:2
2for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

), from intermingling with pagans.

Likewise, God calls all His people to be separate from the world (1 Pet. 2:9
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

). Whenever we are tempted to compromise, we need only remind ourselves that God never compromises His absolute truths and principles for expediency. He always lives according to His Word. Psalm 138:2
2I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (KJV)

says, "Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name." God is committed to His Word, and as His children, we are to be also.

Notice that he did not limit his reference of obedience to "Israel's daily living", but included us Gentiles in the last line of the second paragraph: "God is committed to His Word, and as His children, we are to be also.". He uses Biblical quotes from the Old Testament to make His point about commitment to His word. Mind you, this is a man who claims that the fourth commandment is not a commandment, but is now just a ceremony that we do not have to keep (based on an email response from his staff at Grace to You church to an email from me). The NIV states Psalm 138:2 (referenced in MacArthur's book quote above) like this:

2I will bow down toward your holy temple
    and will praise your name
    for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
    that it surpasses your fame. (NIV)

Question: Is the box above this one not a statement by the author agreeing with David that we should identify with the people of God and follow His word (rules) and isolate ourselves from the pagans (world)? In the second paragraph he mentions Peter's letter to the Jews (1 Peter 2:9
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

) and follows with a statement of how we are to follow that advice. However, in other places, MacArthur says we do not have to do what God told the Jews to do. Who is doing the picking and choosing (and compromising) here?

Right! Now, what do we do?

Now, we see both Old and New Testament quotes in there speaking about what God expects from His people. MacArthur claims that we are to follow this expectation if we are to be one of His people. How does the "Christian" community respond? Most of us reject God's "recommended" religious observances and substitue our own. As John MacArthur said above, "we need only remind ourselves that God never compromises His absolute truths and principles for expediency". But, it is common in the church, his church, to do just that - in effect, making those principles not so "absolute". I guess that maybe some of His truths are not absolute for us when we need to compromise with the world in order to "save" them.


At this point, people say something like , "We don't do that!". How about ignoring the holy Sabbath day kept by the King of Israel who wrote many of the psalms, including Psalm 138 quoted above?

How about by regular celebrations of Christmas and Easter with all the pagan trappings? Not even MacArthur will deny that these are pagan holidays, but he will counter by saying that we are using them to introduce people to Christ. But, isn't the opposite happening here? The pagans have converted Christians to worship they way they do. I don't remember reading where God ever showed His people how to use the pagan rituals to worship Him or even to teach others about Him, but I do remember what He said not to do (Exodus 34:12-14
12Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

, Deuteronomy 12:4,30-31
30You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. (Deut 12:4)

30and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." 31You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. (Deut 12:30-31)
, and Jeremiah 10:2
2This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.


How about by eating what God told His people not to eat? The only reason we would disobey that "suggestion" is if we don't consider ourselves His people. (See a full discussion on this subject at Clean and Unclean Foods? elsewhere on this site) That disobedience directly contradicts what MacArthur said above:

God is committed to His Word, and as His children, we are to be also.

There's more, but you get the point

The list goes on and on. We follow Leviticus chapter 18, but we ignore Leviticus chapter 11. Our compromise is so complete that we see nothing wrong because everyone is doing it. Many of you disagree, but have you ever looked closely at the Biblical references, logic and reasoning in addition to the emotion and desire we seem to lean upon?

Speaking of reasoning, Isaiah 1:18-20
18"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

19If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
20but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

clearly relates a vision from God that shows the path to the blessings of the Lord and the gift of Jesus, as well as the broad path to destruction, and Isaiah had never read the New Testament. We find it so easy to reject God's clear "absolutes", as presented by even John MacArthur, and substitute something that is more comfortable for us, cleverly packaged to look acceptable.

Integrity requires a stand, without compromise

Whether you agree or not, now you can see what is meant by the use of the word "hypocrisy". Say one thing, do the opposite. Sounds good when you read the words of the compromisers, but misleads people when they are not clear about what is being compromised. Who would want to do that? Oh, that's right, there is one, serpent...he spoke to Eve in the Garden.

As was mentioned at the beginning of this page, I haven't finished the book as of this writing, but I will. I have already emailed Grace To You and asked these same questions. If the response is anything other than something like, "Go away, you crackpot!", I'll let you know.

UPDATE (but see below for the UPDATE to the UPDATE)

While I have not yet received a response to my email, I have recently discovered that there was a conference held in 2010, thirteen years after the book was published, called Christless Christianity: 2010 West Coast Conference. Among the lecturers regarding the topic of the conference was John MacArthur, who was mentioned as attending as one of the members who "analyzes this problem and provides solutions to help the church put Christ back at the center."

I applaud this display of Mr. MacArthur's integrity which allows him to take the proper action when a problem becomes apparent, even if he may not feel that it applies to his own church. While I would still like to speak to him about some of the more obvious issues displayed by his described actions based on the book, it is great to see this course of action. Well done, Mr. MacArthur.


It seems that the kudos given above must be withdrawn. I was able to watch some of the Christless Christianity: 2010 West Coast Conference, and it turned out to be three men who are just repeating the same thing that they have been doing in the past. As was shown in the context of this page, hypocrisy and compromise of integrity continue while accusatory fingers are pointed at others by the very ones who are doing the compromising. Nothing has changed. The compromise with the world continues unabated.

While I am not rich like Mr. MacArthur (estimated worth of $15 million in 2020), and do not have nearly the influence he does, that only means that he reaches more people with his hypocrisy than I can reach with my attempts to point at his compromises of the truth. He will stand before the Lord for His actions, as we all will. I'd rather be poor and honest. Let me know what you think.

Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at and give us your view.

Contact Us | Back to Top



Tell us your side.