Friday, March 16, 2007

Why John MacArthur is not "Reformed"

John MacArthur's opening lecture at the Shepherd's Conference created two main points of contention. The first has to do with the on-going debate over eschatology (specifically the millennial question). MacArthur--who is an ardent dispensationalist--stated and defended his position. That's OK and no one is surprised or upset about that. But people are upset because MacArthur so badly misrepresented amillennialism, and because he defined "premillennialism" as though it were dispensationalism. Not true. The loud howls of protest to MacArthur's dispensationalism coming from historical premillennarians is proof. We'll talk more about this matter in the coming days.

The second point of contention is MacArthur's questionable attempt to co-opt "Calvinism" from amillenniarians and claim it for the dispensationalists. This is seen in MacArthur's remarkable claim that amillennialism is inherently "Arminian."

As I thought about drafting a response to this claim, it occured to me that it has already been done. In 1993, Richard Muller--who was my Ph.D. dissertation advisor and acknowledged by all as the leading authority on Reformed scholasticism and Calvin (Click here: The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition (Oxford Studies in His)--published a short essay entitled, "How Many Points?"

In this essay, Muller demonstrates why people like MacArthur are not Reformed. MacArthur may hold to the "five points", but Muller shows why MacArthur is not "Reformed" nor a "Calvinist" in any meaningful or historical sense of those terms.

Before you read Muller's essay, please remember that the issue he's tackling is not whether those outside the Reformed churches are truly Christians (they are, if they are trusting in Christ). Muller is not saying that they have nothing good to contribute to the cause of Christ, nor any other such thing.

The specific issue Muller tackles is "who is Reformed?" And John MacArthur is not.

For full article click here.

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