Lordship

split off from the "Let's Get Clear On This Thread"...

We'll start with http://www.sharperiron.org/article/lets-get-clear#comment-10815]Joel

Quote:
Conservative Evangelicals. These are the guys going "toe to toe" with left-wing and eccuminical evangelicalism, "out and out" liberalism, dangerous "new gospel," weird Christological Charismaticism (Odd Faith movement - not the variety of Piperism or Grudem-ism that frankly you can find examples of if you look deep enough in the Fundamentalists lake [btw]), not to mention every bed-brother of evangelical postmodernity [i.e. emergent movement "vis-a-vis" Bixby's emergent middle that is anything but emergent church!]). Where are the fundamentalists? Well....we are fellowshipping with the three other guys that part their hair the same way we do. We meet for a nice sub-movement chat where we determine to write resolutions so we can brow beat the other fundamentalists that don't think or sing or preach or whatever....just like we do (but of course we are not denominational)! We'll even call them names! Those "pseudo-fundamentalists" bad-guys! And why do we do this? Because to open our arms to conservative evangelicalism is the first step towards loosing the gospel? Have you guys actually been reading what's happening in the conservative evangelical world the last 15 years? If anything the conservative side of the movement is doing two things:

*It's starting to take back sections of the movement as a whole, discharging the liberal-evangelicals to main-line "bases" and

*Is becoming more and more interested in personal and ecclesiastical separation. In short it's getting more and more conservative and Biblical in the main. I'm done waiting.

They've walked far enough and close enough I'm willing to open my arms to some of them. I have more in common with some of them and they with me, than I do with some of you! Some of you are isolationist and worldly while they are "koinonia-minded" and separate (oddly enough!). MacArthur has not replaced Biblical salvation with a works salvation. He's just emphasizing repentance. To some of you who have down-played the volitional side (i.e. the "submission" part of saving faith), it sounds like works-salvation. This is nothing more than the gospel as spelled out in the Gospels (Repent if you want to be in the Kingdom) as well as James (Saving Faith results in a fruit of works). How in the world can you guys read works-salvation in that? Stop reading Lou and start reading you’re Bibles. To be fair, there have been a few passages that Mac has read his understanding of Lordship salvation that I don't see in the passage. It is true that one can emphasize repentance disproportionate to faith that you end up switching sanctification with justification. If you read John in context and widely, I don't believe John has crossed those lines consistently enough to make the charge that he has a false gospel. Remember his over-emphasis at times is within the context of fighting the cheap-grace, non-repentance views of Hodge et al

 

To which Bob replied:

Quote:
Joel stated:

 

"MacArthur has not replaced Biblical salvation with a works salvation. He's just emphasizing repentance. To some of you who have down-played the volitional side (i.e. the "submission" part of saving faith), it sounds like works-salvation. This is nothing more than the gospel as spelled out in the Gospels (Repent if you want to be in the Kingdom) as well as James (Saving Faith results in a fruit of works). How in the world can you guys read works-salvation in that? Stop reading Lou and start reading you’re Bibles. To be fair, there have been a few passages that Mac has read his understanding of Lordship salvation that I don't see in the passage. It is true that one can emphasize repentance disproportionate to faith that you end up switching sanctification with justification. If you read John in context and widely, I don't believe John has crossed those lines consistently enough to make the charge that he has a false gospel."

 

Joel, it is time for Fundamentalists to at least get the Gospel right and to have some understanding of the theology of the Gospel. MacArthur declares a false Gospel and has made his version of the so called Lordship Gospel a distinctive of his church. That makes it an uncompromising doctrine in his mind. He harshly criticizes any who disagree with him.  The problem is he misunderstands the biblical definition of faith, the place of repentance in salvation, the definition of repentance, and the place of works with regard to faith. As a result he also misunderstands assurance of salvation.. He has a blatantly false interpretation of many Gospel passages such as the Prodigal Son and the Sermon on the mount. On top of all that is the fact that he tries to sell this unorthodox Gospel as the traditional Gospel as believed by the Reformers and some other Reformed theologians. He is also absolutely wrong  in that historical perception. Now, just in case you think that I am being overly harsh please understand that everything I have just stated is also clearly stated with full explanation in the book "Christ The Lord, The Reformation and Lordship Salvation," Michael S Horton, editor and a co author, WIPF & Stock, Eugene Ore. 1992. Micheal Horton is presently Professor of Theology at Westminster Seminary West. All the authors are Reformed theologians and the forward is by Allister McGrath of Oxford and a world renowned historian, especially of the Reformation. 

 

MacArthur has claimed loyalty to the Reformers. He evidently appealed to some young Fundamentalists who may lack good  grounding in historical theology. He also appeals to some who come from what has been traditionally called a "legalistic" oriented Fundamentalism. In their escape from some of that legalism they may have a tendency to not fully apprehend the implications grace. They may have experience with decisional emphasis and a shallow gospel presentation and followup. MacArthur calls that easy believism. The fact is MacArhur's books declare a gospel that is contrary to the Reformers theology and based on extremely bad exegesis. He presents a gospel with almost no grace. The failure of so many in Fundamentalism to understand this may be one of the 21st century scandals of the Fundamentalist mentality. You mentioned "reading Lou." I have read his book and it is poorly researched and he does not understand the issues. Lou is a KJVO person. His is also a gospel of legalism. 

 

If you have not read the book "Christ The Lord" please do so. They do a good job of balancing the saving aspects of the Gospel and of our assurance. As a Classic Dispensationalist I do disagree with some of their views on sanctification and some (but not all) of their criticism of Chafer. They are fair in acknowledging that MacArthur does state that salvation is by grace alone through alone. However, they show that his main arguments and other statements refute those assertions and set forth a faith and works gospel. The book also deals with the errors of Zane Hodges.

 

Other interesting books on the subject are: "Getting the Gospel Wrong, Hixson; Getting the Gospel Right, Olson; Back to Faith, Lybrand.

 

In my opinion John MacArhur advocates an errant gospel that is sufficiently wrong to make us have a need to protect the flock from his misunderstandings.

 

I'm really surprised, myself, at how many Fundamentalists think that MacArthur is establishing some kind of works salvation. He's not, and someone who thinks that he is probably is not familiar with his preaching...it kind of reminds me about the BJU/MacArthur 'blood of Christ' issue that was referenced http://www.sharperiron.org/article/lets-get-clear#comment-10741]earlier in that thread , and how some people started a rumor that was patently false and still have not corrected. So - now that I've said that, we can begin.

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Charlie's picture

This is my Reformed, confessional Presbyterian perspective on the "Lordship" controversy: First, MacArthur's works have been endorsed by a number of Reformed men, including James Montgomery Boice. Second, aspects of MacArthur's works have been critiqued by other Reformed men, most notably Michael Horton. However, as a matter of general fact, Horton does not now express great concern over MacArthur's current position. Christ the Lord, edited by Horton, was far, far, harsher against Hodges and Ryrie than against MacArthur. Here are some snippets from the [URL=http://www.reformationtheology.com/2009/07/preface_to_christ_the_lord_th... ]preface[/URL ] of Christ the Lord:

Against Hodges and Ryrie:

Quote:
No respected, mainstream Christian thinker, writer, or preacher has ever held such extreme and unusual views concerning the nature of the gospel and saving grace as Zane Hodges. In this book, there is no doubt that we are taking a firm stand against what I would rather label the "no-effective-grace" position. While Hodges insists that he is only following the Bible, apart from any theological system, it is clear that he is missing the point of the gospel itself--to make enemies friends, to reconcile sinners to God, to break the power of sin's dominion, and to bring new and lasting life to those who before were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1).... There is not the slightest support for Hodges and Ryrie to claim the Reformers' favor for their novel views. The antinomians (that is, those who denied the necessity of Christian obedience) of the Puritan era so pressed the Reformers' defense of justification to the the point where there was no place left for sanctification. However, the modern antinomianism, represented by Ryrie and Hodges chiefly, appears not to be motivated by an unbalanced fear that any talk of human responsibility will take away from God's glory, but by fear that any talk of the effectiveness of grace will erode confidence in human responsibility and choice. In other words, the antinomians since the Reformation have erred by denying human cooperation to the point where every divine operation is while dependent on human willing and running, contrary to the words of the apostle Paul (Rom 9:16).

Concerning MacArthur:

Quote:
We will argue that MacArthur at certain points risks confusion on some fundamental evangelical convictions, particularly, between justification and sanctification. It must be said, however, that MacArthur has been most gracious in considering our concerns and we have been in dialogue with him for some time now. Significant changes have been made, as he has fine-tuned his definitions and applied a more specific theological framework to his exegesis. Revisions will appear in forthcoming editions of The Gospel According to Jesus and we are grateful for MacArthur's eagerness to discuss these issues. While other differences remain, there is a great deal of discussion taking place and there is every reason to believe that the chief differences lie in the realm of definitions and pastoral practice rather than substance. MacArthur's humility has been a lesson to us and we hope that we will be able to show our critics the openness he has shown us.... John has graciously allowed me to read the draft of his book, The Gospel According to the Apostles, which should be released about the same time as this volume. The sequel is clear, precise, and cautious, and it ought to correct the misunderstandings not only of those like Hodges, who have misrepresented MacArthur's position through caricature and hyperbole, but even perhaps the misguided zeal of some "lordship salvation" disciples as well.

For myself, although I am in general agreement with MacArthur, especially when compared to Ryrie or Hodges, there are still aspects of Lordship Salvation that I find troublesome, especially from a pastoral perspective. To qualify a bit more, there are at least some troubling potentialities in the system. First, at times the doctrine of regeneration seems to eclipse progressive sanctification, to the point that Christians are portrayed as constantly, visibly moving upwards, with only brief struggles or failures. The Christian life is a stream of successes, and any significant blockage or regression should be suspected of indicating the the person is still unregenerate. There can be a hermeneutic of suspicion regarding professions of faith, in which "guilty until proven innocent" replaces a more charitable rule.

Second, there seems to be a great deal of emphasis on proving salvation by "works," which could easily foster a more-spiritual-than-thou type of attitude. "What have you done lately to prove that you're saved? Look how much I've done this week... I must be saved." Reformed theology does teach that there are fruits of regeneration, but it approaches this issue with much more nuance and compassion than many Lordship writings. In particular, Reformed theology stresses that persons should not stop at examining their outward works, but should concentrate their self-examination on the working of the Holy Spirit in the deep places in the soul and on recognizing internal habits of grace. Reformed theology teaches that works are a means of assurance, among several others, but Lordship salvation comes very close at times to making works the basis of assurance. This is neo-nomianism, and I would direct readers to the classic Reformed work The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher, notes by Thomas Boston.

Third, there is little emphasis on faith in some works on Lordship Salvation. The two statements, "Faith works," and "Faith is works," sound similar but are quite different. There is always a danger of trying to work instead of believe, rather than correctly believing unto works. One way Reformed theology defines faith is "extraspective," literally looking outside of [something ]. Faith is at all times extraspective, looking outside of oneself to Christ. I wouldn't charge LS advocates with denying this, but I also haven't seen very much recognition of the need for daily extraspective faith as the engine that drives sanctification. At times in their writings, sanctification sounds more like a mere act of the will, an ironic "decisionism" related to repentance rather than faith.

Last, in Reformed theology, although faith is never without repentance, faith alone is the instrument to justification. Repentance does not serve in this capacity. Thus, Christ's work is the ultimate basis for assurance and where anyone who lacks assurance needs to be directed. The Marrow of Modern Divinity addresses this point as well.

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Bob T.'s picture

The following is taken from the IFCA International website and is under their "Distinctives" and then "The Nature of Saving Faith" subject tabs.

This statement was by the committee as a report to the IFCA as a response to the 1988 book "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ," by John MacArthur. The book had created controversy among IFCA members. This statement was accepted by 91% of members. Please note the members of the committee listed at the end.

STATEMENT CONCERNING THE NATURE OF SAVING FAITH

We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18, 19).

Constitution of IFCA International, Article IV, Section 1, Paragraph 6

I. THE PROBLEM OF FAITH THAT DOES NOT SAVE
Some individuals profess faith in Christ but have failed to trust in the person and work of Christ alone. This kind of faith will show no evidence of spiritual life.

A person must be prepared to believe in Christ. He must be aware of his need of salvation as was the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30). He must be conscious of his hopeless condition apart from God and the sinfulness that has caused this estrangement (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10, 11, 18, 23; Ephesians 2:12). He must also have had presented to him information about the death of Christ and His resurrection and the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice in dealing with his sin (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

True salvation requires the work of God. An unsaved man, who is spiritually dead, must be enabled by the Spirit of God to believe. This involves the convicting work of the Spirit of God concerning sin and unbelief, God's righteousness which can be bestowed on the individual, and that Christ died for the sins of the world (John 16:7-11; I John 2:1,2). The unsaved person must receive grace and enablement from God to believe as stated in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." That is, that salvation is a work of God, not a human work, "Not of works lest any man should boast." Such salvation is "unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

II. DEFINITION OF FAITH
Saving faith consists of two indispensable elements:

A. The intellectual, an awareness of the facts of the gospel, particularly about Christ's sacrificial death for sins and His physical resurrection, and a persuasion that these facts are true (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), and

B. The volitional, a total personal reliance upon Christ and the power inherent in His death to provide forgiveness of sins and everlasting life (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; Romans 1:16; 3:21-26). Thus, saving faith in Christ is an act of the person's mind and will.

The absence of either of these elements indicates that the seeker's faith is not of a quality that leads to salvation. The intellectual apprehension of orthodox doctrine alone will avail nothing (James 2:19). A volitional act of faith in the wrong object (e.g., John 2:23-24; 6:26-27; 8:31, 44) is useless. To save, faith must be directed toward the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).

Some suitable expressions equivalent to the reliance on Christ that brings salvation include "believe in," "trust in," and "depend on." Other terminology that may be misleading in representing this relationship include "submit to," "yield to," "dedicate [oneself ] to," and "make Jesus Lord of one's life." These are better reserved for a stage of sanctification that usually comes subsequent to saving faith. Two additional phrases, "make a commitment to" and "become a disciple of," are ambiguous because they could or could not refer to reliance on Christ, depending on how they are defined. "Repent" is not a suitable way to describe saving faith, because it only partially represents what it is to rely on Christ alone.

III. RESPONSIBILITY FOR FAITH

The exercise of saving faith is the responsibility of the sinner in need of salvation. For the one coming to Christ, saving faith (a) is uncomplicated (Acts 16:31). He decides to put his eternal well being into the hands of Christ as his Savior. Subsequent to regeneration, he has a growing awareness of the far-reaching effects of what he has done, but this fuller grasp of the implications of saving faith is not a condition for salvation. (b) Rests squarely on his shoulders. The responsibility for the choice is wholly his. At the time of or subsequent to regeneration, he realizes that the totality of the salvation process is a gift of God, including the grace of God and his own choice to believe (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is something for which he himself can take no credit.

IV. IMPLICATIONS OF FAITH

Faith that is saving faith carries with it certain implications, that is, characteristics of which the one coming to Christ may or may not be conscious at the point of initial trust in Christ. The one under conviction is persuaded that the finished work of Christ is sufficient and that nothing else is needed. At the time of his decision, he may be so overwhelmed with his dependence on Christ that the implications of such dependence are not his primary focus of attention. The absence of the following implications may indicate that his dependence is not on Christ alone:

A. Christ is God and consequently sovereign Lord over all things and as such is the object of saving faith (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Hebrews 1:8). Few people at the moment of salvation understand fully the implications of Christ's sovereignty for their own lives well enough to comply with the exhortation of Romans 12:1-2.

B. Obedience to the command of the gospel to believe in Christ (Romans 1:5; 10:16) is another way of looking at saving faith, but beyond that initial obedience is implied an absence of rebellion against what Christ stands for (John 3:36). One can hardly place his full trust in Christ while harboring enmity against Him or having a predisposition to oppose Him.

C. Repentance is a change of mind toward sin, self, and the Savior (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). A person can hardly seek forgiveness for something toward which he has no aversion (Acts 2:36; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; 1 Peter 2:24).

V. RESULTS OF FAITH

GOOD WORKS

At the time of saving faith, a believer is regenerated by the Spirit (Titus 3:5), indwelt by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), sealed by the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and baptized by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Always associated with saving faith is the impartation to the believer of a new nature (Romans 6:5-7; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:9-10) which displays its presence through good works (1 Corinthians 4:5; James 2:18, 21-26). Good works may not always be immediately discernible by man, but are an inevitable consequence of the new birth which occurs in conjunction with saving faith (John 3:3, 5; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-12, 14; 3:8; 1 Peter 1:3, 23). Salvation is in no way contingent on good works.

Faith in Christ which does not result in "good works" (Ephesians 2:9-10) is not saving faith, but is dead faith (James 2:17, 20, 26). The missing element in such faith may be intellectual, a failure to grasp or accept the truthfulness of the facts of the gospel, or it may be volitional, a failure to trust Christ wholly for forgiveness of sins. Failure to trust Christ completely may be traceable to attempts to accumulate merit through the performance of human works by attempting to add to the finished work of Christ (Romans 4:5; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:9).
SANCTIFICATION
Sanctification in the experience of the believer is the logical continuation of saving faith, namely:

1. The believer is expected to submit to the lordship of Christ over all things in his life (Romans 6:11-13; 12:1-2).
2. The implied obedience to Christ is expected to become an active obedience to Christ's explicit commands (James 4:7-10; 1 John 2:3-10).
3. The implied repentance is expected to become explicit, resulting in a purging of sinful behavior (1 Corinthians 5:7; 6:9-10, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Peter 4:15-16).

The lack of such progress in sanctification is characteristic of a carnal Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). God may tolerate this lack of response to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit for a time, but will eventually bring chastening against the delinquent saved person. Such delinquency without correction may serve notice that the person's profession was not saving faith (I Corinthians 11:30-32, Titus 1:15-16; Hebrews 12:5-11).

A biblical method of confronting a Christian with his carnality and a pretending Christian with the insufficiency of his faith is through presenting the fact that God judges sin (Matthew 16:24-28; 1 John 3:6, 9; 5:18). The carnal Christian is faced with the illogical nature of his behavior and forced to reevaluate his spiritual standing, and the pretending Christian is faced with the realization that he was never saved.
Assurance of eternal life is provided by God's written Word (1 John 5:13). Yet, the Scripture brings reminders and tests to cause those who have professed faith in Christ to examine themselves (1 Corinthians 11:28; 15:2; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10). When carnality creeps into the life of a believer, causing him to fail the test of self-examination, he may entertain doubts about whether he has met the biblical criteria of saving faith. The solution for such doubt is for the believer to confess the sin which has broken his fellowship with God (I John 1:5-10).

The Constitution of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (Article IV, Section 1, Paragraph 7) states:

We believe that all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God's power and are thus secure in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38, 39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; 1 Peter 1:5).

We believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word; which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Romans 13:13, 14; Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11-15).

IFCA Study Committee on Saving Faith
Dr. George Harton, Capital Bible Seminary
Dr. Robert Lightner, Dallas Theological Seminary
Dr. Leslie Madison, Calvary Bible College
Dr. Robert Thomas, The Master's Seminary
Dr. John Walvoord, Dallas Theological Seminary
Dr. Lowell Wendt, past president, IFCA International

August 21, 1990
Cicero, Illinois
Adopted by the IFCA Executive Committee, November, 1990

This statement is a corrective to the nature of saving faith and salvation set forth by John MacArthur. Other correctives have been made by James Rosscup THD, PHD a former professor of MacArthur's at Talbot and later a professor at Masters Seminary, who believed in the Lordship Gospel of the Reformers. There has been some disagreement by other Masters Faculty but not published.

As to my familiarity with John MacArthur and his preaching. I have been acquainted with John MacArthur since his days as a student at Talbot seminary when I played against him in intramural football. I was a student at Biola College from 1962 to 1966 after having served 4 years in the Navy during which I was saved. I was the same age as seminary students and some became my friends I have had four or five conversations with John subsequent to 1980. In addition, I have had close friends such as Paul Feinberg, Josh McDowell, and other Talbot graduates, who knew John and now know him fairly well. I presently live about an hour and a half by freeway from Grace Community Church and Masters Seminary. I do some research in their library. I have had recent conversations with Masters Graduates, including lunch with one on March 2nd. I Pastored a church here in L.A. County for over 20years. I was active in the IFCA from 1975 to 1985 and still have a few friends in that group. After leaving Pastoral ministry, my wife and I attended a church Pastored by a Masters graduate for three years and have high regard for that pastor. Considering all this I would say I may have a fair grasp of the ministry and preaching of John MacArhtur. There is no doubt he has had a very good ministry and is to be praised for his stand on several doctrines and issues. I do not take pleasure in opposing his view on the gospel. However, this does not abrogate the errors of his writings on the Gospel and salvation. It appears that several, including some close to him, have sought to issue correctives on his books and assertions in messages. In the latest version of his book "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ," he has changed some wording and rephrased some sentences in response to prior criticism. However, the changes were not sufficient and his main arguments, definitions, and interpretation of key passages appears to remain unchanged.

The slight error on the part of a teacher can lead to a greater error on the part of the pupils. This appears to also be the case with some who follow John MacArthur. It appears to be so with regard to the gospel and the emphasis placed on the English Puritan form of Calvinism or Reformed theology promoted by John MacArthur.

The Shepherds conference began with an emphasis on Pastoral ministry, expository preaching, and theology that was balanced and was also reflective of Dispensational theology. It has gradually changed to be most all Reformed Calvinist main speakers. Graduates of Masters Seminary often have a Reformed definition of "law" and the "Gospel" and emphasize the "Doctrines of Grace" as the foundation of their ministry and teaching. Reformed Calvinism becomes dominant and is, so to speak, "worn on their sleeves. Churches have and are being split by the emphasis and often imperious attitudes. This has occurred in Bible churches and Baptist churches where old line Dallas, Talbot, and Western Baptist graduates formally Pastored and who would have been characterized as Dispensational moderate Calvinists who were definite conservative Evangelicals by our present definition. Part of the problem is the inclination on the part of Masters graduates to see all others as compromisers on the Gospel if they have not considered MacArthur's definition of saving faith and self examination of obedience for assurance. There is also a tendency to see other Pastors and church members who do not emphasize the "doctrines of grace" as having inferior enlightenment and who need to change. This has split some churches. Some well taught church leaders have found themselves being pushed aside for those who would embrace a full 4 or 5 point Calvinism. John MacArthur himself has become ambivalent on limited atonement. In both his study Bible and his commentary on First John he appears to endorse limited atonement. This was noted in a recent review in Bib. Sac.

I believe I am aware of the preaching, teaching, and larger context of the ministry of John MacArthur. Probably much more so than most Fundamentalists and especially those hundreds and thousands of miles from here. Please consider the resolution of the IFCA I have posted here and the book "Christ the Lord," mentioned prior, as evidence that both Reformed scholars and Dispensational scholars have problems with the Gospel as taught by John MacArthur. What I see as a gospel with major errors has also been seen by many others. As presented verbally by John on the "Kirk Cameron" show on TBN, it was a false gospel of works (this was available online at UTube). Those in Fundamentalism who have embraced this Gospel need to step back and take another look.

Bob T.'s picture

My impression is different. There was no doubt in my mind that the first part of the book emphasizes the errors of John MacArthur. Since the writing of the book John has written other books and revised "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ." His main arguments, and interpretation of the Gospel passages, remains the same. He may have been cordial to Horton and others, but it really produced no changes of substance.

They did point out the errors of Hodges. However, they wrongly joined him with Ryrie and others as being essentially the same. There are major differences between Ryrie, Walvoord, and other Dispensationalists with some points of Zane Hodges. This has recently been expressed by "The Grace Alliance" which has come to differ with Zane Hodges, Robert Wilken, and the Grace Evangelical Society.

I would not expect the book to portray Dispensationalists or Dispensationalism in a good light. To me the value of the book is that as Reformed Lordship Gospel theologians, they point out differences between themselves and MacArthur and the Reformers and MacArhtur. As a Dispensationalist I agree with Calvin and Luther that faith involves knowledge, assent, and trust. Submit or commit, etc. are not involved. I agree with Calvin that Repentance is apart from faith and follows. It is not a condition for salvation or a part of faith. I also agree with Calvin that regeneration follows faith. His definition of regeneration as continuing and being sanctification does not set aside his view of what it is with regard to salvation. It starts at salvation following faith and is not prior to saving faith. The conviction of the Spirit is necessary for faith to be aroused in any person. but the work of regeneration occurs with Justification at the time of our union with Christ (Titus 3:4-7). Once there is an understanding of the pre salvation work of the spirit and of the salvation work of the Spirit, there is a better understanding of what saving faith is.

I do thank you for your impression.

JohnBrian's picture

Bob T. wrote:
I also agree with Calvin that regeneration follows faith. His definition of regeneration as continuing and being sanctification does not set aside his view of what it is with regard to salvation. It starts at salvation following faith and is not prior to saving faith. The conviction of the Spirit is necessary for faith to be aroused in any person. but the work of regeneration occurs with Justification at the time of our union with Christ (Titus 3:4-7). Once there is an understanding of the pre salvation work of the spirit and of the salvation work of the Spirit, there is a better understanding of what saving faith is.

So as not to derail the Lordship discussion, I am responding to Bob's statement on regeneration http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-regeneration-precedes-faith ]here .

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Pastork's picture

For what it's worth, I wasn't all that pleased when I first read MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus when it first cam out years ago. I felt that it did at points confuse justification and sanctification. But I thought he did a great job later with Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Of course, I read both books when they first came out, so my memory now is a bit weak. But when I recommend a book on the issue now it is always the latter one. In my opinion, he was more careful in the latter book.

Jay's picture

Pastork wrote:
For what it's worth, I wasn't all that pleased when I first read MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus when it first cam out years ago. I felt that it did at points confuse justification and sanctification. But I thought he did a great job later with Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Of course, I read both books when they first came out, so my memory now is a bit weak. But when I recommend a book on the issue now it is always the latter one. In my opinion, he was more careful in the latter book.

If I remember correctly, the purpose of the second book was done in order to make clarifications or do fix things that MacArthur felt needed to be addressed as a result of the first - I think he says so in the foreward / preface. Also, one section in particular [of Gospel According to Jesus ] wound up being problematic; MacArthur and Johnson claim that it was changed by the editor during the revision process; the unwanted and confusing changes that had been made led MacArthur to stop using that publisher. I don't remember the wording exactly, but I do know that some use that particular quote whenever they feel the need to address on John MacArthur or the Lordship Gospel. I don't think that anyone has noted that the statement has already been addressed by MacArthur or GTY; nor do some note that the particular paragraph from that book has been changed in later editions.

FWIW, I accept the explanation offered by Johnson for the GATJ statement and have let it rest.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Pastork's picture

Thanks for the information, Jay. I readily accept the explanation as well. I don't remember my issues with the first book having to do with just one paragraph, though. But I think that a new version of Gospel According to Jesus is out now, so I will want to read it. I suspect it will have more of the balance that Faith Works had. One very good thing about MacArthur is that he can admit he was wrong or put something badly and then make it right, such as when he altered his position concerning the eternal Sonship of Christ.

At any rate, MacArthur is a man for whom I have tremendous respect ... and so is Johnson.

Bob T.'s picture

BIBLICIST CHRISTIAN TRUTH
Thoughts on the Bible, Theology, History, Philosophy and other by Bob Topartzer.

CALVINISM TODAY (NEO CALVINISM) What is Neo Calv...

April 2006

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2006
CALVINISM TODAY (NEO CALVINISM)

What is Neo Calvinism?

It is an emerging emphasis on 5 point Calvinism that is highly argumentative, has a tendency to bash Dispensationalism, and has a temperament of pseudo intellectualism. Their time and efforts have little place for evangelism much to say about those who do.

Some will deny that there is such a thing. However, it is my impression that not only does it exist, but it is perpetuated by some in Pastoral ministry who endeavor to make this the great "sine qua non" of their ministry. Like the "old light" European Calvinism of the Puritans of New England, it is critical of many evangelistic efforts as having undesirable methodology and presenting an easy believism no Lordship Gospel. There is often some truth to criticism. There is some truth to their criticism. However, there is often the presentation of those they criticize with exaggeration and mis-statement of facts.

To the Neo Calvinist all scripture can be exegeted to fit into the wonderful world of the "5 points box." To them, 1Tim. 2:4 does not mean "all men" but rather "all kinds of men." Many other passages that do not quite fit into the 5 point box are given this insightful exegetical methodology. Actually, this is the same kind of methodology that is used by liberals to find monogamous homosexual relationships as approved in scripture. Approach the passage with a truth that you perceive as being true and find a way of explaining the passage according to that truth.

Neo Calvinism is not just Calvinism. Many historians do not find limited or particular atonement as that which Calvin advocated. Some would call it Hyper Calvinism because of that. But it is not just 5 point (or hyper) Calvinism. It is a mood or spirit that aggressively advocates the view against even a moderate Calvinism. American Evangelicalism (Gospel believers) have included many who would call themselves "moderate Calvinists." They believe that Calvin said much that was right about the Sovereignty of God. They also would agree with regard to the depravity of man. However, they declared the intent and sufficiency of Christ to die for the sins of all men. However, it was only applied to all who believed and were placed into Christ. They also saw in scripture a human accountability that made men accountable for behavior and choices. They were real choices. They realized that there were some inconsistent philosophical collisions in their position. However, they saw this as consistent with what God had revealed. Many good Bible teachers and Theologians of the past and of the present were and are comfortable with that presentation of Scriptural truth. The Neo Calvinist often seeks to present the moderate Calvinist as not understanding Calvinism and simply a Pelagian heretic or a universalist. They view them as philosophically ignorant because all that the moderate Calvinist states cannot be squeezed into the 5 point box.
Neo Calvinism is also a hazard to balanced Christian living and evangelism. They will show up anywhere with their "five shooters" ready for the quick draw debate. They have no time for the evangelism effort.

Neo Calvinism is not just 5 point Calvinism. It is 5 point Calvinism with an attitude! It harks back to the spirit of the last effort for a theocratic Christian government on this earth by New England Puritans. Most do not advocate a theocracy, but their spirit reflects the old lights Calvinism of those who did.

America needs another great awakening. Neo Calvinism presents a mood and spirit moving in the opposite direction.
posted by Bob Topartzer | 8:23 AM | 4 comments links to this post

Daniel's picture

Good article Bob. I have had a number of friends in the past who espoused similar beliefs. Luckily over the course of a few years, I was able to show two of my friends they were putting their system above scripture. I think it takes quite a bit of work to lead people away from this kind of thinking. (Both ends of the spectrum seem to come to their conclusions quite the same way, a desire to be logical and fit everything into a box.) One thing that helped my two friends was going through passages in a non-systematic approach. Asking questions specifically about the passage and not letting them go to their proof texts for their beliefs.

MikeC's picture

Hello all!

I'm a bit nervous since this is my first post on SI. Quick background on me before my post: I completed my seminary education at the Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, CA, so I am somewhat familiar with Dr. MacArthur's ministry and teaching. For what it's worth, I found "The Gospel Accordint to Jesus" to be very helpful in clarifying the Lord's demands for all true followers of Jesus Christ.

I guess my question for those who do not agree that submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a part of genuine faith and belief in the Biblical identity of Jesus Christ is: how do we explain these passages:

> Romans 16:18: For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

> 1 Corinthians 7:22: For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.

> 2 Corinthians 4:5: For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

> Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

> Jude 1:4: For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

> 2 Peter 2:1: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

> Luke 17:7-10: (7) “Which of you [apostles – v.5 ], having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? (8) But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? (9) He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? (10) So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

I hope I'm not coming off as argumentative or divisive... perhaps I can get some fresh insight into how others understand these passages. Smile

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Mike,

Welcome to SI and don’t be hesitant to walk right in and pursue discussion and debate. I would first and always appeal, when a prescriptive proposition is asserted such as in Lordship salvation (but any and all such propositions), what one must do in the validation process is actually the opposite of requiring others who reject the proposition to reconcile it with their own views, rather that the one making the proposition must reconcile his view with any and all elements that appear to demonstrate an exception to this rule. In other words if there is any textual evidence (passages) that appears in any way to conflict with the proposition, you must then resolve these before asserting or arguing for that proposition. BTW this is not to say your questions here are not valid or that you are necessarily asserting that you hold to Lordship salvation, you didn't specifically say this (but while I am clarifying here, do you hold to this view?) only that it appears you favor it, this is only a general comment on the process of discovery and the eventual views to which we propose.

And it has been my experience with many students of Lordship salvation that they often resist textual/exegetical arguments with submitted passages that are in conflict (at least in appearance) with their belief in Lordship salvation. Normally they will respond with pointing away from the rebutting passages and arguments to a passage and argument in the affirmative as if to say, “but what about _______, it affirms my view”. This is not always the case, of course, but it is a visible practice with a noticeable many in my experience. I am not suggesting in the least that this is the case with your inquiry here, btw, just a note of practice among some.

But with that prep aside one must first speak to the term Lordship salvation. There is not a universally agreed upon definition, though many are similar, therefore it is important one know precisely how you define Lordship salvation. What is your precise view of the meaning of Lordship salvation?

Additionally you have cited a number of passages without accompanying arguments to demonstrate how or why you believe they affirm Lordship salvation and how or why they do not afford reconciliation for opposing views. While some might believe they are self-explanatory they are only so to the one whose views agree with yours. As a member I look forward to your participation at SI.

Ron Bean's picture

Does someone who believes that if a person is converted that person will, as a result of his conversion, yield to the Lordship of Christ hold to Lordship salvation?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

MikeC's picture

Hello Alex (and all), thank you for your guidance.

In response to: "...the one making the proposition must reconcile his view with any and all elements that appear to demonstrate an exception to this rule..."

Got it.

Actually, to borrow from Brother Ron's post, I would agree that "if a person is converted that person will, as a result of his conversion, yield to the Lordship of Christ." I understand genuine "belief" or "faith" in Jesus Christ as sincerely embracing the Person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in Holy Scripture. If I "believe" that Jesus is God, an inevitable response is to worship Jesus as God. Worshiping Jesus does not merit my salvation, it is a part of truly believing that Jesus Christ is who the Bible claims He is. If Jesus is my Master, Owner, and Lord, then I will gladly, thankfully, joyously submit to Him and surrender every area of my life to Him as His humble (and thankful) slave. Is Jesus Christ EVERYONE's Master and Owner, or isn't He? If a sinner has authentically been born again, and if the Holy Spirit opens his/her eyes to the true Gospel message, won't he/she fully and gladly embrace the Biblical identity of Jesus Christ (to the best of his/her ability, solely by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit)?

Please forgive me for not elaborating on the passages I cited earlier. I did not mean to just dump them on everyone and run. I guess for now, we can see that those passages, for the most part, apply the term "Lord" (kurios) to Jesus Christ as a "Master" in the context of a master-slave relationship. Those passages also apply the term "slave" (doulos) to believers.

Two passages I've been meditating on recently:

> 1Th1:9: "For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve (douleuo - to serve as a slave, be a slave) a living and true God"

I think, based on the context of Paul's giving thanks for the Thessalonians' salvation ("election" in 1:4), and based on the Thessalonians' relatively newness to the faith, the infinitive of "to serve" in 1:9 indicates purpose. In other words, the Thessalonian believers repented and turned to God for the purpose of serving God as slaves.

> Mt 11:27-30: (27) All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (28) Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. (30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

I think the terms "yoke" (zugos) in vv.29 and 30 are clearly indications of slavery/bondage to Jesus Christ. The same term "yoke" is used in 1Ti 6:1 and Gal 5:1 to refer to the yoke of slavery. I'm sure the term zugos was particularly potent to a working, agrarian audience who were familiar with beasts of burden, and who viewed animals much differently than our culture does. This would roughly be akin to telling a dog-catcher/pet store owner to put on a dog collar.

I think it's telling that Mt 11:29-30 is prefaced by v.27 which reveals God's sovereignty in salvation/regeneration.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Mike,

I read with attention your response and there certainly are many elements on the plate, all that at some point the Lordship issue touches. I cannot say that I am persuaded that the term "yoke", in Matthew where our Lord refers to his yoke and burden, intend to communicate bondage. Rather I see it being used somewhat ironically. That is, yokes and burdens are not generally described as being easy or light or viewed in a preferential light, they are restrainers, binders, and weights as you noted. It appears that in his use, the yoke and burden to which our Lord was referring is the his work of accomplishing the gospel and our subsequent reception of it, our emancipation, which is no yoke or burden at all.

But I do acknowledge that Paul, for example, refers to himself as a slave to Christ therefore there is a context for such language but I am not sure its breadth is as great as is in view by some.

As to someone who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (the shorthand phrase in Acts for the gospel) and whether or not we can be certain that there will be subsequent "yieldedness" in that person's life, I do understand that Lordship salvation contains with it an extension into the post-salvational way of life that reflects the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance which asserts a true believer will indeed do this. However, while I agree that we should yield to our Lord, I do not believe the Scriptures indicate that any believer will, with certainty, make this choice in their post-salvational life. That is to be determined by them by means of the exercise of the volition.

And of course that brings us to the point of whether one can have believed in Christ and then live a life that is characterized in some way of not meeting the invisible Lordship salvation threshold that declares they did not yield to the Lordship of Christ or persevere due to the volume of disobedience/sin in their life, therefore were never really saved. Obviously, as I said, I do not believe the Scriptures affirm this.

Ron Bean's picture

Thanks for some clarification, Alex.

This was helpful:

Quote:
As to someone who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (the shorthand phrase in Acts for the gospel) and whether or not we can be certain that there will be subsequent "yieldedness" in that person's life, I do understand that Lordship salvation contains with it an extension into the post-salvational way of life that reflects the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance which asserts a true believer will indeed do this. However, while I agree that we should yield to our Lord, I do not believe the Scriptures indicate that any believer will, with certainty, make this choice in their post-salvational life. That is to be determined by them by means of the exercise of the volition.

From my humble perspective I don't believe that MacArthur and others are adding a work to faith as a condition of salvation. As one reformed man said, "To place even a tear between a sinner and the Savior is to alter the Gospel.

From its beginning, I think this debate has been over the results of saving faith. Alex seems to believe that one can be saved and with submission to Christ's Lordship as an option while others believe that such submission is a result of the work of conversion. If I recollect this was the essence of MacArthur's first book on the subject.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
From my humble perspective I don't believe that MacArthur and others are adding a work to faith as a condition of salvation. As one reformed man said, "To place even a tear between a sinner and the Savior is to alter the Gospel.
If one were to ask John whether a person can add works to gain salvation he would, and has, emphatically said no. However he has repeatedly, made statements that do reflect the placing of a tear and more between the sinner and gospel, that have, whether John wants to place himself there or not, placed John in exactly this spot.

Ron Bean wrote:
From its beginning, I think this debate has been over the results of saving faith. Alex seems to believe that one can be saved and with submission to Christ's Lordship as an option while others believe that such submission is a result of the work of conversion. If I recollect this was the essence of MacArthur's first book on the subject.
To be saved one believes the gospel which is contained in the shorthand, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". That is, believe that God (the Lord) in the form of a man, (Jesus) lived without blemish, suffered and was executed for our sins and was resurrected that those who believe on this are given the gift of salvation. The issue of Lordship with respect to the gospel only has to do with making clear Christ is the Lord, God himself. When a person believes the gospel, that God himself (Lord), in the form of a man (Jesus), died for their sins (Christ) they have submitted to his Lordship, his Jesusship and his Messiahship. John erroneously extends this beyond the gospel and requires a post-salvational disposition to be in view when one believes the gospel. I firmly do not believe this argument can ever be sustained though many try.

So to say a person like me who rejects John's view on Lordship believes one can opt whether or not to accept Christ as Lord but get saved is to misstate what I believe (I suppose I cannot speak for others but I believe I do here). If one properly communicates the gospel and a person believes that God (the Lord) himself in the form of a man (Jesus) is their Savior (Christ) then they have submitted to the extent of the Lordship of Christ that is required for one to be saved, irrespective of their post-salvational decisions.

MikeC's picture

Alex, you said:

"To be saved one believes the gospel which is contained in the shorthand, 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ'. That is, believe that God (the Lord) in the form of a man, (Jesus) lived without blemish, suffered and was executed for our sins and was resurrected that those who believe on this are given the gift of salvation."

If I'm not mistaken, you were probably referring to Acts 16 and the Philippian jailer:

(31) They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (32) And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. (33) And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

In the context, after telling the jailer to "believe in the Lord Jesus," v.32 explains that "they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house." I think the phrase "word of the Lord" refers essentially to the content of the Gospel message as used through Acts and Paul's epistles. However, I'm not so sure if we can minimize the content of "word of the Lord" to what you explained (i.e. "believe that God (the Lord) in the form of a man, (Jesus) lived without blemish, suffered and was executed for our sins and was resurrected that those who believe on this are given the gift of salvation" - what you said above). This may be true, and could have been exactly what Paul and Silas taught, or they could have more fully explained the identity of Jesus Christ, His absolute Lordship as God and Messiah, and the significance of His atonement, etc. I'm NOT saying what you said is wrong, Alex, or untrue. I am saying that we can't be dogmatic that what you listed equates to "believing in the Lord Jesus." This is narrative, and so I think we should be careful about what's prescriptive and what's not. Again, I'm not saying what you said is untrue, I'm just saying from Acts 16:31-32, we can't fully extract what Paul explained to the jailer and his household.

Jay's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Ron Bean wrote:
From my humble perspective I don't believe that MacArthur and others are adding a work to faith as a condition of salvation. As one reformed man said, "To place even a tear between a sinner and the Savior is to alter the Gospel.
If one were to ask John whether a person can add works to gain salvation he would, and has, emphatically said no. However he has repeatedly, made statements that do reflect the placing of a tear and more between the sinner and gospel, that have, whether John wants to place himself there or not, placed John in exactly this spot.

What kind of statements are you referring to, Alex?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Instead of posting what has been posted here at SI multiple times and in multiple threads (though don't take this as a view your request, even now and here, is invalid or inconvenient) I will look for links for these discussions containing the statements. In addition, Lou Martuneac, both here and at his own website has, in great detail, discussed this so while I look maybe you or other readers familiar with what I am referring to can help me find some of these. Now, it might be some people disagree with the conclusion that it places John in the position I described, but the statements themselves by John in his books have been cited multiple times. I will try and get a list of links instead of copying and pasting all of them since the links contain more comprehensive material and arguments of interest.

Jay's picture

While I understand that Lou has researched this issue on his blog, I'm still waiting for him to link to prima facia evidence of that Dr. MacArthur has said or done that proves he's a heretic. Lou continually links to his own stuff, but never links to his opponent's stuff directly, which makes it hard to find out if he's stating the truth or not. It would be fair for him to provide proof of what he says his opponent says, especially since he does appear to get some traffic. I asked him many times, while he was on SI, to do this but he never seemed to have the time to do that. He doesn't do it on his blog either - why?

--edit--
Just to prove my point, it took me all of sixty seconds to pull up this PDF from the web. (Google - Wikipedia - Links at the bottom of the page - download and reattach PDF.)

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Alex Guggenheim's picture

I certainly reject the label of heretic applying to John MacArthur (in fact I am still edified by much of John's teaching though, being a former Calvinist I now reject the tenets of Calvinism's TULIP) so if anyone asserts this, I disagree. But since there seems to be a dissatisfaction with your interaction with Lou, let me go ahead and construct what I believe are reflections by John that place him where we stated, though again, let me be clear, if you were to ask him if one can add a work or that it is required, he would respond with a no. I will also research Lou's material a bit more (though let me say he as a reference certainly is not essential seeing many others have contended this and documented what they believe are such statements) to see if I can find what are citations of John in their context and appear to be fair to both ends.

Jay's picture

I pulled this section from the book [I ]The Gospel According To Jesus[/I ] yesterday, and I think it might be helpful in the discussion of Lordship Salvation, since it's a statement of what MacArthur believes. It's taken from p. 177 of the 3rd Edition ( http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-Jesus-Authentic-Faith/dp/03102872... ]ISBN-9780310287292 ).

Quote:
Voices today continue to promulgate the same ideas. The Ryrie Study Bible includes a synopsis of doctrine that lists repentance as 'a false addition to faith' when made a condition of salvation, except 'when [repentance is ] understood as a synonym for faith' {Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible (Chicago: Moody, 1976), 1950}. Another influential teacher says essentially the same thing: "The Bible requires repentance for salvation, but repentance does not mean to turn from sin, nor a change in one's conduct...Biblical repentance is a change of mind or attitude concerning either God, Christ, dead works, or sin." {8} Even a seminary professor writes, "Repentance means to change one's mind, it does not mean to change one's life." {9}

These writers and others have thus redefined repentance in a way that evacuates its moral ramifications. They write it off as simply a change of mind about who Christ is. {10} This kind of repentance has nothing to do with turning from sin or abandoning self. It is utterly devoid of any recognition of personal guilt, any intent to obey God, or any desire for true righteousness.

That is not the kind of repentance that Jesus preached. As we have seen repeatedly, the gospel according to Jesus is as much a call to forsake sin as it is a summons to faith. From His first message to His last, the Savior's theme was calling sinners to repentance - and this meant not only that they gained a new perspective on who He was, but also that they turned from sin and self to follow Him. The message He commands us to preach is the same: "repentance for forgiveness of sins" (Luke 24:47).{11}

What is Repentance?

Repentance is a critical element of conversion, {12} but do not simply dismiss it as simply another word for believing.

The sections in the quoted section - marked here with { } - are footnotes; I didn't recopy the footnote with the exception of the first, since MacArthur was talking about the Ryrie Study Bible. I felt like the footnote for the RSB was important enough to merit re-typing the entire thing. All italicized sections in the quote are that way in the book.

The point that I think MacArthur is making (and I agree with him here) is that you can't rip repentance out of a confession of sin. Confession without grief or guilt for the original transgression isn't real repentance. I don't think that any members of this site would disagree with that. I do think that the problem is that people are busy going around talking about LS without actually consulting primary evidence (which is why I wrote that post above), so there's a bunch of misconceptions or mis-informed people who think that LS is some kind of heresy when it's not.

Finally, while I am glad that you don't think MacArthur is a heretic, I don't see how someone who disagrees with LS and attacks it as another gospel (as some do) can avoid calling it heresy. If LS is justification by works, as some say, then it is a heretical doctrine, and ought to be called such.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Pastork's picture

I think Jay has hit the nail on the head here. I also think he is right in citing Macarthur to demonstrate that the real issue is the nature of repentance, whether one is dealing with Ryrie's redefinition of the term or with Hodges' rejection of repentance as a necessary aspect of saving faith.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

I agree that a significant part of Lordship stems from what I believe is an earnest but erring view of repentance with respect to one's response to the gospel by MacArthur. But I certainly do not find it to be the lone cause but its piece of the pie is quite healthy. I do believe that other elements of Calvinism have influenced John MacArthur toward his entire view of how one communicates the gospel, what must be communicated and how one must respond including the sum of their acquiescence. Obviously I believe John MacArthur incorrectly inserts certain kinds of post-salvational dispositions and responses for one to believe the gospel in his summation. But as to what Jay said:[/quote]Finally, while I am glad that you don't think MacArthur is a heretic, I don't see how someone who disagrees with LS and attacks it as another gospel (as some do) can avoid calling it heresy. If LS is justification by works, as some say, then it is a heretical doctrine, and ought to be called such.[/quote]The reason I do not call it heresy is that I do not believe it falls under the category of "another gospel". That is, contained within its expression is the gospel, that is justification is predicated on Christ and Christ alone. My contention is with its implications. That is, if we see to their ends some of the positions and expressions of Lordship salvation, we will find ourselves in the place of having:

Quote:
Placed even a tear between a sinner and the Savior is to alter the Gospel.

*I am working on a post with some citations and quotes that I believe import the implications I am referring to.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Does Lordship salvation imply this? Has John MacArthur, a good and earnest brother, made statements that one can reasonably conclude frustrates the call of the gospel in this manner?

Quote:
"To place even a tear between a sinner and the Savior is to alter the Gospel.”
First, let me say that any man proclaiming the gospel, that is justification by faith alone in the one true God through Jesus Christ who lived, died and suffered for the sins of the world, may not always proclaim it with all peripheral considerations properly, hence he may be said to error without heresy or gravity because it is not the substance of the gospel on which he errors, rather conditions, preparations, contexts and so on which, though do not distort the gospel, certainly still function as unnecessary obstacles to the message of grace. Impurities in the process may be reflected without distorting the gospel message.

And it is here I believe that most proponents of Lordship salvation are positioned. And particularly with John MacArthur (again a good and earnest teacher whose greater gifting is observable) who has, nevertheless, introduced excesses in his description of the pre-requisites that must exist before a man or woman can believe the gospel. And here are some examples (and there are many other quotes one can list) of what one might find as cause to view John has having placed a tear, somewhat between the sinner and the Savior (bold and italics mine):
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg2115.htm The Assurance of Victory

Quote:
You need to believe that Jesus is God and that He died for our sins, committing your whole life to Him in sacrifice and serving Him as Lord.

Quote:
"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" (Hard to Believe, p. 93).

Quote:
Entrance into the kingdom requires earnest endeavor, untiring energy, and utmost exertion, because Satan is mighty, his demons are powerful, and sin holds us fast
(Hard to Believe, p.149).
From: John MacArthur
Master’s Seminary Journal
TMSJ 4/1 (Spring 1993) 5-24
Excerpt:
Quote:
A faith that is void of submission is a merely intellectual faith, ….. Those who adopt such a view must then scale back the definition of faith so that believing is something that even depraved sinners are capable of.

Now one can also very easily find multiple quotes by John and other such proponents making statements that affirm justification by faith alone and in fact quite dogmatic statements that no work by man is ever the source of salvation, thus removing the proverbial tear one might find suggested in other articulations. I will say again, too, that if one were to ask John how one is saved he would answer "by faith alone". In fact, here is the Grace to You website with his articulations on http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/2439 ]An Introduction to Lordship Salvation .

And I certainly do not make these very brief citations with the view it will convince those who argue otherwise. I was just making some observations and responding to a request for some documentation and I really am not interested at the moment in aggressively debating the issue.

The point is not whether sola fide is the view to which John or any other proponent holds but the implication of their contradictory statements. That is, many people will articulate a position and go to great lengths to state this is their view but then utter, once or more, contradictory views. I believe John is in this position.

My interest lies in why this occurs with someone like John who is a supremely gifted teacher. And it is my observation that it is due to the inescapable contradictions bound in Reformed and Calvinistic teachings which ultimately cannot be reconciled, hence forces its proponents to eventually utter conflicting interpretations or applications to the very set of doctrines they point to as their stated positions. And it is not only in the excesses that Lordship salvation (in the least at times) implies are necessary in its pre-requisites for one to believe on Christ which result in articulated contradictions to its stated position of sola fide that come to attention. But in its view of eternal security or that which is the source of our confidence by which we can know with certainty our salvation is irrevocable, indisputable and indissoluble, Lordship salvation repeats this scheme where it is forced to display its conflicting statements due to the views contained within Reformed and Calvinistic teachings. I

Jay's picture

This issue isn't about John MacArthur, although I'd like to look harder at those quotes tomorrow (esp. the Hard To Believe quote), when I have more time. This issue is about what does the Scripture teach?

Moses wrote:
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
(Numbers 21:4-9)

So when Moses tells the people of Israel to look at the bronze serpent to be saved from their deadly bites, is that a matter of works or is it a matter of faith? We all know that Moses commands them to turn and look upon the bronze serpent. Do they believe that doing so will save them? Or do they believe and not have to look at the Serpent?

I make this point because it is germane a right understanding of John 3, and I think we have to understand both the object of saving faith and also the process by which saving faith is "obtained" (although I don't like that term here).

Also, if you object (and I'm not accusing you of such) the concept of slavery to Jesus, how do you interpret Romans 6:15-23?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

MikeC's picture

Many understand Romans as Paul's exposition of the Gospel (Ro 1:16-17 being the thesis of the epistle).

> Ro 1:5: "through whom [Jesus Christ our Lord - v.4 ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake"

Apparently for Paul, true saving faith always produced obedience and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Obedience (hupakoe) and faith (pisteos) went hand in hand.

Not only does Paul start Romans with this "obedience of faith" understanding to the Gospel, but he ends the epistle with it as well, forming bookends to Romans with this thought:

> Ro 16:18-19: (18) For such men [from v.17 ] are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (19) For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you..."

We can see Paul's flow of thought in vv.18-19 (the "for" at the beginning of v.19 connecting it to v.18). The "slave" (doulos) - "master" (kurios) metaphor is clear at the beginning of v.18. Following this stream of thought, Paul uses "obedience" (hupakoe) as a synonym for salvation in v.19, which is evident from the phrase "therefore I am rejoicing" later in v.19, a phrase Paul often uses in response to the salvation of others.

Paul concludes the epistle with the amazing benediction:

(25) Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, (26) but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (27) to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Again, from the phrase "obedience of faith" at the end of v.26, we can see that for Paul, saving faith and obedience went hand in hand.

MikeC's picture

[quote=Jay C. ]This issue isn't about John MacArthur... This issue is about what does the Scripture teach?

Amen.

Don Johnson's picture

Jay C. wrote:
So when Moses tells the people of Israel to look at the bronze serpent to be saved from their deadly bites, is that a matter of works or is it a matter of faith? We all know that Moses commands them to turn and look upon the bronze serpent. Do they believe that doing so will save them? Or do they believe and not have to look at the Serpent?

This OT example isn't a matter of salvation from sin. But if you insist on making it an analogy to NT salvation, looking at the serpent has nothing to do with submitting to God as Lord or any change of life. It would parallel looking to Christ on the cross as the Saviour from sin, not to making a commitment to follow him as Lord (though a true believer inevitably will do so).

Jay C. wrote:
Also, if you object (and I'm not accusing you of such) the concept of slavery to Jesus, how do you interpret Romans 6:15-23?

As giving the final steps of sanctifying faith. Rm 6.1-10 KNOW what saving faith has done for you, 6.11 RECKON yourself dead indeed unto sin, 6.12-23 YIELD yourself to God (make yourself available for his service) and OBEY Him. These are all the consequences of a salvation that is already seen as complete and these faith decisions rest on the foundation of what has already occurred. (I am preaching through Romans 6 right now, so these truths are pretty fresh in my mind - did message #6 in the chapter and just finished Rm 6.5 last Sunday)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

MikeC's picture

Don,

You wrote: "As giving the final steps of sanctifying faith" in response to how you interpret Ro 6:15-23.

Of course, submitting to the Lordship of Christ is an on-going work of sanctification by God's grace and power. But in Ro 6:15-23, Paul's understanding of the exchange of masters (sin and righteousness), the exchange of swapping owners, seems to point back to the moment of conversion. In other words, having become enslaved to God/righteousness/Christ at the moment of conversion, Paul is pointing to the need for sanctification.

> Ro 6:17: But thanks be to God that though you were (imperfect) slaves of sin, you became (aorist) obedient from the heart...
> Ro 6:18: and having been freed (aorist passive participle) from sin, you became slaves (aorist passive indicative - douloo "to become a slave, enslave") of righteousness...
> Ro 6:19: so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification (based on the past reality of conversion, so now do)
> Ro 6:22: But now having been freed (aorist passive participle) from sin and enslaved (aorist passive participle - douloo) to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification...
> Ro 6:23: (Paul contrasts the payment sin gives as an owner/master with the payment/free gift God now gives as the new Master/Owner)

I think v.22 is key: The benefit of being slaves to God is sanctification, the outcome of which is eternal life.

In this section, Paul seems to view slavery to God/righteousness/Christ as having occurred (aorist) at conversion, when the lost sinner swaps masters.

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