The following statement introduces the book Truth War by John MacArthur:
"Who would have thought that people claiming to be Christians - even pastors - would attack the very notion of truth?
But they are."
And it goes on from there. Now, readers of this site will know that my comments always point to those statements by the "scholars" of the day that seem to contradict their own actions. Don't get me wrong. I find a vast majority of the statements made by John MacArthur to be right on target. In fact, there are very few statements he makes in this book with which I disagree. So what is my problem, you ask?
Saying something is one thing...
Let's say that I make a statement on my web site, "Stealing is wrong!" Everyone who reads the site will say, "Right on, bro!", or maybe something a little more current. However, let's say that I am a professional thief, and someone who reads my site knows that. Well, that fact would not change the statement about stealing and make it into a lie. The statement is still true, even if I didn't live my life in accordance with my statement. That's the point I am trying to make here.
MacArthur's book is bullseye on target. His explanations make perfect sense. The references he uses are accurate and the quotations from the Bible are accurate and well-used. There is just one problem. He does not live by many of them. Rather than just make a blind statement and expect people to agree or even believe me, let's take a look at some of the things I noticed.
Some he gets right
Fortunately, he does not follow the crowd in the current "Emerging Church" (I'll call it EC from here on) fad. To be honest, I had to look it up, but after a few sites that danced around the definition of EC, I found this at What Christians Want to Know:
The emergent church is pro-active in its desire to change and influence society. This may include using political power to bring in the "Kingdom," create or work from a platform of social activism, and trying to overcome the public and private system that is presently held in society. The "world biblical view" in missions and presenting the gospel is to emphasize the love of God as one of the primary attributes of God. It is not quite the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, but it often is the gospel stripped of its need for the necessity of a Savior because they frequently fail to mention sin, repentance, confession, church discipline, and fruits showing regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
Emergent Church Theology
It is hard to define the emergent church's theology because it varies from church to church. What concerns me is the neglect or absence of the sacraments. That is, the Lord's Supper is often missing in these churches even though Jesus said in Luke 22:17-19, "Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Jesus is not hoping that the church will observe and partake of the Lord's Supper but this is an imperative command.
Paul likewise repeated the importance of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." Paul made an important statement in the last verse saying that when we "eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." In other words, we are commanded to do this and that when we do, we are actually proclaiming His death up until the time that "He comes."
We'll do it our way
Once again, we see "Christians" who are out to change the world, but not in the way Christ said to do, so they make up their own ways. MacArthur criticizes this EC theme, and rightly so. He also criticizes some authors on their books that redefine the Christian faith - books like Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Ron Bell of the Mars Hill emerging church, and Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. At Good Reads, one reviewer of the second book listed, "Adventures in Missing the Point", says this:
This book is biblically unsound in many different ways. The authors present a number of different subjects, and "rant" on their idea of how things ought to be. The book at first appears to be a great read as you begin the first few chapters, but it soon digresses into the ultra-liberal biblical doctrine which both authors seem to hold. It screams "Emergent-Church" movement as the authors attempt to persuade you to their point of view which is in most chapters to discard logical and biblical thinking and embrace post-modernism thought. They use very little scripture to back up their points in some cases.
Practicing what you preach is another...
So, John MacArthur seems to have a good track on what is going on in the twisting of Christianity today. So, what is my issue? Well, in a book from 2018, Marxianity by Brannon M. Howse, the author presents some clear evidence that Mr. MacArthur is indeed supporting some very socialistic activists - even to the point of putting them up on his stage to address the congregation. While he does not appear to outright support their stated views, he does give them a pulpit form which to present them.
The entire theme of the book is to present the concept that supporters of social activism are prompting the pastors of the churches to get involved in "bringing God's Kingdom to earth now" through things like resolving the world's poverty issue through the actions of the churches. The whole point is to commandeer the financial resources of the rich in order to eradicate poverty. Try to find that concept in the Bible. If you are interested in some pretty shocking and revealing information, you might want to give Marxianity a look.
So, what's the problem?
Well, if you have read any of the other pages on this site, you'll have an idea of where I am going. Let's look at what MacArthur practices.
Just staying with the major issues, Sabbath, Easter, and Christmas, MacArthur has the following stands:
We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses' law that prefigured Christ.
Even the most glorious sunset, when gazed at long enough, will eventually lose its appeal. The scenery becomes so familiar that the senses grow dull to its vivid color and beauty. The scenery doesn't need changing--only your perspective.
Such is the case with Easter. Our modern eyes have gazed on the wonderful story for so long that we've lost our appreciation for its richness. What's worse, we've missed the real story--the forces at work behind the scenes that make the crucifixion and resurrection defining moments for all mankind.
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. But it's not just a poignant story about a baby born in a stable because his family was turned away from the inn. According to the New Testament, that baby is God in human flesh, voluntarily stepping down to live among humanity, as a servant, in order to take the burden of others' guilt and pay the price for it by sacrificing his life for them:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:1, 14).
Now, many will look at the list above and wonder, "What is wrong with that stand?" Well, the whole book he wrote is about the Truth War that is going on as we sit here. His entire point is that, as modern Christians, we are getting away from the Truth as it was written in the Bible.
Truth? MacArthur says that the Sabbath is ceremonial, not Moral. Now, bear with me here, but aren't the Ten Commandments considered the Moral Law? They teach the way to live a good life and treat both God and your neighbor as you should. The ceremonial laws say cut this, kill that, sprinkle here, all the ways to practice ceremonies. The Moral Law says live like this, don't live like that, exactly how to live your life for God and your neighbor. The Sabbath is listed in them.
Just so you don't think I'm making this up, a Christian answer site at Got Questions? that often disagrees with me says this:
The moral laws, or mishpatim, relate to justice and judgment and are often translated as "ordinances." Mishpatim are said to be based on God's holy nature. As such, the ordinances are holy, just, and unchanging. Their purpose is to promote the welfare of those who obey. The value of the laws is considered obvious by reason and common sense. The moral law encompasses regulations on justice, respect, and sexual conduct, and includes the Ten Commandments. It also includes penalties for failure to obey the ordinances. Moral law does not point people to Christ; it merely illuminates the fallen state of all mankind.
Please notice the third sentence, "As such, the ordinances are holy, just, and unchanging." Does that sound like we can just get rid of one we don't like? Also note that they are not going to get us to Heaven, just keep us aware of our fallen state. By deciding that we are not going to keep the Sabbath tells God we think we can just ignore Him because we don't feel "fallen" any more.
Find somewhere in the Bible where God said to discard keeping His Holy Sabbath day. I don't mean where your pastor convinced you that Sunday is the new day because of the Resurrection. Jesus rising on another day is not a command to disobey God. Find somewhere where God said we don't have to keep His commandments.
Truth? Go to the Bible and find one mention of the word Easter in the Bible. You will find the word in the King James version, but the word translated "Easter" was "pascha" which is the word used for "Passover". Keep looking and find the references to pagan fertility symbols Eggs and Bunnies for the worship of God or Christ. As you will find on the Holidays page on this site, Easter and Passover Sunday do not always fall on the same Sunday, but Easter in this country is never celebrated on the first Sunday after Passover when they do not coincide with each other. What is the significance of that? According to Christians, "Easter" is supposed to be the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. That happened on the first Sunday after Passover, not on the Spring equinox. And, God never referred to that day as having the pagan name of a fertility goddess.
Truth? Now, go find the word Christmas in the Bible. Keep looking and find a reference to pagans and the use of trees decorated with gold and silver. The only reference to anything to be done with trees is to make idols out of them. I hear you, we don't worship the trees. OK, but the pagans did. And what did God say to do with all the artifacts of those pagan worshipers? Burn, smash, break...
3Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
4You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. (Deuteronomy 12:3-4)
Does MacArthur do that? Worse than that, Jesus was born earlier in the fall, somewhere around September or October, coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles. Not December. Are we even told to celebrate birthdays? Nope. That is a pagan ritual in itself (see Birthdays on this site in the center Menu on the Holidays page).
What does God think about this?
Now, if John MacArthur continues to refuse to keep the correct day made Holy by God, celebrates fake holidays using pagan symbols, but uses them to worship God, how does that line up with his search for Truth and following it when he finds it? Ever read Deuteronomy 12:3-4
3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way.
or Deuteronomy 12:31
31 You 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.
Of course, hopefully we don't sacrifice our children that way, but God didn't say we could worship Him their way "if we don't sacrifice our kids." He just said, "Don't do that!" Of course, that's Old Testament, so He probably didn't mean it, right?.
I guess what I am trying to say is that, while many people, including book authors, sound faithful to the word of God, often it is just lip service. This book Truth Wars says everything you would expect a man of God to say. However, wouldn't you expect him to actually then follow his own advice, find the Truth, then follow it? When the word says do something, and then you don't, aren't you really hoping that God doesn't notice? Not to make Him a Monster in the sky, but when He gives us the rules, shouldn't we at least try to keep the big ones?
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