John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul: A Good Word
As many of you know, we have written articles on this blog site addressing the fact that both R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur do not admit abuse as a biblical reason for divorce. We strongly disagree with them and others on this point (John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Voddie Baucham, and others). We conclude that in most of these cases, the men are simply uninformed as to the true nature and mentality and tactics of the abuser.
This last Friday and Saturday myself and numbers of others from our church traveled up to Seattle to attend the Ligonier Ministries Pacific Northwest Conference where Sproul and MacArthur were featured speakers, along with Pastor Steve Lawson from Mobile, Alabama. As I listened to Dr. Sproul and Pastor MacArthur, I greatly appreciated their teaching. They were speaking about standing firm for the gospel in an age when so many professing Christians and theologians and churches are forsaking the truth of Christ. Sproul reaffirmed the validity of the Reformation of the 16th century and told us that Rome has never changed its position on justification to this day. He called us to stand firm for the deity of Christ, as he reviewed for us the trinitarian battles that have taken place down through church history. John MacArthur emphasized the importance of not yielding to the notion that people need not actually hear of Jesus Christ to be saved.
This was a very good and profitable conference. And I wanted to tell you all about it on this blog because I think that we all need to beware of an error that can be a common pitfall to people who have had bad experiences with the church. The error, as I see it, is that of totally rejecting everything a Christian pastor or theologian teaches simply because we believe that they are in error on another particular point. Now, of course, if that point is an integral part of the gospel and they are rejecting it, then we must reject them entirely. But I have to say that anyone who totally discards every single book or DVD series or podcast ministry of teachers like Sproul and MacArthur is going to be short-changing themselves greatly.
I suppose that a significant part of this issue has to do with idolatry. What I mean is this: Christians are given to idolizing Christian leaders and turning them into celebrities. When we do this, we naively accept everything they say without searching the Scriptures to see if it is so. And this error has a flip side to it as well. Namely, when one of these idols is found to be less than perfect — such as not “getting it” when it comes to abuse — we cast them away in their entirety, just as we wrongly embraced them in their entirety in the first place. Do you see what I mean?
As a victim of abuse, you may well not choose to attend the churches that Sproul or MacArthur pastor. You would not go to them for counseling — at least on this issue for sure. We come right out and say to them “you are wrong on this matter of abuse.” But I can tell you, as I have found to be consistently true over the years, that if you want to know the doctrine of salvation, or the doctrine of the Person and nature of God, or to hear about the holiness of God and many other vital biblical truths, then I tell you — go listen to R.C. Sproul. And if you want to find out about the errors of the carnal Christian teaching that says a person can be a Christian yet never repent nor obey Christ as Lord, then get your hands on John MacArthur’s books such as The Gospel According to Jesus, or Faith Works, or Ashamed of the Gospel, and others. You won’t find anyone doing a better job than him in opposing that false doctrine.
Let’s not idolize anyone. No good ever comes from turning men into gods. It leads us to embrace error, and it can also lead us into the rejection of truth.