Is John MacArthur Totally Confused, or Simply a Liar?
Yesterday, I was sent a link from a series going on at Grace to You Blog. Of late, advocating the free and civil exchange of ideas is in vogue among the Neo-Protestants. Susan and I heard this theme echoed at the recent TGC conference in Indianapolis by Kevin DeYoung.
As one who has painstakingly documented Neo-Protestantism’s claim to God’s authority by proxy for years, the need to respond to such an absurd notion; specifically, that Protestantism advocates the free exchange of ideas, is much like getting motivated for oral surgery at the dentist’s office. Nevertheless, I will take one for the team.
However, instead of comparing MacArthur’s criticism of Pentecostalism’s authority claims with his own claims of authority and thereby painting a picture of gargantuan hypocrisy, I will instead explain what is really going on here.
First, the basics. All disagreements flowing from the church in general are disagreements over different expressions of the same basic doctrines. Whether Catholicism, Protestantism, or all other flavors that flow from church ice cream, the fundamental doctrines are exactly the same. Let me name them: collectivism and progressive justification. For that matter, even religions that are of temple worship like Hinduism and Islam are predicated on the same basic doctrines.
Collectivism is based on particular presuppositions concerning mankind and reality. Like all churchians and templetons, MacArthur is neither confused or a liar per se, but totally driven by these exact same fundamental doctrines. Am I saying that when it’s all boiled down MacArthur is little different than a Hindu priest? Pretty much.
Collectivism is the idea that mankind cannot comprehend reality. The epitome of wisdom is defined by knowing that you can’t know. Those who think they can know are defined as having a god complex and are detrimental to the world in general and the collective good of others specifically. Hence, those who know that we cannot know should rule over those who struggle with the temptation of thinking they can know, and this for the common good of mankind and its ultimate survival. In other words, individual knowing is the destroyer of wellbeing that will eventually annihilate mankind. Therefore, all collectivists whether Protestant, Catholic, or Hindu are on a mission to save mankind from itself.
For the most part, reality is interpreted through Plato’s two worlds. The material world is a totally separate existence from the invisible world. Those granted wisdom via whatever spiritual/invisible realm authority seek the best wisdom for existence in the material realm, and of course, because they have been granted this wisdom from the other realm they should be vested with rulership over the great unwashed.
Farfetched? Keep these basic principles in mind and go to church on any given Sunday and listen carefully. Pay attention for a change and you might be surprised. Though the religious systems for our best material realm life now are innumerable, Protestantism claims an “objective” truth. What is that “objective” truth? All reality is interpreted through Christ’s redemptive act for the glory and self-love of God and this “truth” is “experienced subjectively.” It’s an ingenious system that posits Plato’s two world philosophy as objective truth. Sure, you can know something: here it is; “I know nothing but Christ and him crucified.” Reality, according to Protestantism, is a metaphysical movie produced by God to reveal one thing only: God’s holiness as set against mankind’s total depravity. The goal of all reality is a greater revelation regarding the dichotomy between mankind and God. Accordingly, you may note that the logical conclusion is the same outcome of all collectivist religions that make up the vast majority.
Now, Aristotle confused things a little. He made authority into authority light by making expertism a synonym for authority. Aristotle believed that the material world reflects reality in totality. Man can know reality. That glass sitting on the table is really a glass. A=A. Man can ascertain knowledge of reality through empirical observation and study. However, those who do the hard work of study and are able to comprehend should rule over the ignorant. This is where we get the following: “Dr. John Doe is a leading authority on…[fill in the particular discipline].” Unlike Platonism, authority is not mandated by force, but you are deemed an idiot if you do not obey the experts. This is why expertism is so prevalent in Western culture. Until Americanism came upon the world scene, freedom to ascertain reality for yourself could get you executed and often did. In contrast, Americanism didn’t go far enough with individualism; you are not executed for daring to think for yourself, but you are looked upon as ignorant. It’s character assassination versus physical assassination, and those who do the challenging work of study are rewarded with higher pay, attractive spouses, spacious living abodes, and collective accolades.
Either way, it’s a caste system. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that America’s tacit node towards individualism completely turned the world upside down for the better. It is fair to say that the historical metaphysical pendulum swung from Platonism to Aristotelism, but in regard to religion is swinging back to Platonism. And by the way, this issue, Plato verses Aristotle, and collectivism verses individualism is what sparked the Protestant Reformation. That’s just plain historical fact. If you believe that freedom of religion and sola scriptura sparked the Protestant Reformation, I have some oceanfront property in Xenia, Ohio that I would like to sell you.
Speaking to the secular realm, not so much; Brexit and the election of Donald Trump signifies a rejection of expertism in exchange for collective individualism, or the ability of the individual versus “total inability.” At least in the secular realm, we may be seeing a movement that will go beyond Americanism. This probably poses an opportunity for the home fellowship movement which is greatly hindered by the idea of expertism. Home fellowships promote the idea of individuals contributing spiritual gifts to a body that is led, not ruled over by experts or those claiming authority over individual conscience in the name of God.
This brings us to the second fundamental, progressive justification. This is the basic soteriology of all religions. Why? Because if the new birth changes the individual’s state of being to a literal child of God and a family heir to Christ’s kingdom, where does that leave mere men regarding knowledge and authority? Answer: totally out in the cold with no clothing. In addition, authoritative institutional religion must have what we call reoccurring monthly revenue (RMR) to support infrastructure where the gods or cosmic authorities over men meet to dole out salvation on the installment plan. Salvation becomes a lifelong goal instead of being spiritually birthed into God’s family as a onetime finished, and permanent transaction. This lends no authority whatsoever to men claiming coregency with God.
So, MacArthur et al are not confused or lying per se, but are practicing Platonism’s “noble lie.” What they teach is driven by trending “concerns” coming from the great unwashed herd. Of late, it’s the idea that the church doesn’t tolerate critical thinking. What in the world might give them that idea? Therefore, the herd is calmed by statements of crass contradiction. Regardless of the obvious, MacArthur is the expert. Any contradictions must be “truth masquerading as a contradiction” otherwise known as “paradox.”