John MacArthur: “Who would have thought that John Piper would have Rick Warren at a Desiring God conference?”

By Christine Pack

from a discussion with Christianity.com Editor Alex Crain and Grace To You‘s John MacArthur, discussing Dr. MacArthur’s 2011 book Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ.

Christianity.com editor Alex Crain: If you could just take a quick glance across the landscape of evangelicalism in the United States, what do the next five to twenty-five years look like to you, based on what you see in ministries and methods, and what are your concerns?

John MacArthur: There is this growing sort of acquisition of reformed soteriology among these young guys.  And it seems to me the mood is, that if you have a reformed soteriology, you get a pass on everything else. You can have an Arminian ecclesiology. You can have an Arminian view of evangelism. In other words, how in the world can you have a true, reformed view of the doctrines of grace that relate to salvation, and then think that having holes in your jeans and an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt and a can of beer in your hand somehow gave you access to the lost? I mean, come on. That is irrelevant to what you’re trying to do. So because you affirm the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation, it seems to me that you can be an Arminian everywhere else you want to be. And what the fear is, is that the power of the world’s attraction is gonna suck these guys – and every generation after them – more and more into the culture and we’re gonna see a reversal of the reformed revival. This reformation has come in strong, this reformed-  I call it a real reformation of reformed theology. I go back twenty-five years. This wasn’t around. This wasn’t around twenty-five years ago. It’s just come like a flood in the last 15 years. It is wonderful. But it is being co-opted and commandeered by a bunch of these young guys who, because they affirm the doctrine of substitution, get a free pass on everything else. I don’t even think they have a biblical view of sanctification. I know they don’t have a biblical view of the church. Many of them don’t even know what a church is. They don’t even have a church: what they have is an ‘event.’ They have a rock and roll event with a reformed message built on cultural expectations. That’s not a church. It doesn’t have any of the demographics of a church, it doesn’t have any of the multi-generational life of a church. They’re ‘flat screen preachers.’ They’re not into the life of their people, they’re not shepherding their people, they’re not leading their people to the Lord’s table and Baptism, they’re not nurturing their people personally, they’re not holding the marriages of their people together, they’re not at the hospital praying with people when they’re losing a loved one, they’re not there when a father dies, and the family around is singing hymns. This isn’t shepherding the flock of God, this isn’t feeding the flock of God. This is creating a niche event, and the pass is, Well I’m reformed, which means I can swear and I can do the hardcore rock and roll and I can make the culture comfortable in my event.

This isn’t the church. This isn’t the church. Somebody said to me, there was one of these that was called ‘Grace Church,’ and they said, Does it bother you that they use the name ‘grace?’ And I said no, it bothers me that they use the word ‘church.’ Because I don’t think they get it. It’s not a biblical understanding of the church.

So what’s gonna happen is, the world has already pulled them that far. It’s pulled them into worldly music, R movies, all that stuff, and eventually I think it will pull them right away from their theology. I think for the time- it, it’s even macho. I think there’s a sense in which reformed theology is kind of strong and manly, you know it’s kind of airtight, and they like that. My fear is that the further this thing goes in trying to accomodate the culture, the less it’s going to be able to hang on to that core doctrine. That’s what I fear. And even when you have some of the people who are the most well known for reformed theology partner up in conferences with the people who are the most extreme pragmatists. I mean, this is happening. Who would have thought that, say, John Piper would have Rick Warren at a Desiring God conference? Those [teachers] seem like two completely polar opposities. So I don’t know that the heart of this reformed theology, kind of existing freestanding like an island, can really survive the pull of the culture which is attracting these young guys, and which these young guys are using to attract people. It isn’t that they’re not expository. It’s a kind of an exposition put in a context that they’re comfortable in, the audience they’re trying to reach.

So I don’t know what the future looks like, I just think there’s a lot of Arminianism mixed in to this, [the thinking] that you’re not going to reach them unless you adapt this. And I think it’s hard to say to that group of people: Hate yourself, hate your own life, hate all the things that are precious to you and come be a slave of Jesus. I don’t know how that message would fly. But that is the message.

Part two

John MacArthur: “Don’t Go To A ‘Flat Screen Church’.”

From a discussion with Christianity.com Editor Alex Crain and Grace To You‘s John MacArthur, discussing Dr. MacArthur’s 2011 book Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ.


Christianity.com editor Alex Crain: If you could just take a quick glance across the landscape of evangelicalism in the United States, what do the next five to twenty-five years look like to you, based on what you see in ministries and methods, and what are your concerns?

John MacArthur: I also have a great fear in the future that the churches that are going to suck up everybody are the churches with the most powerful personalities. There was a video circulating about a couple of these guys with their flat screen churches, counting how many flat screens there are on every Sunday, all across the country, multiplying flat screens. And the discussion was, you know, we’ve gotta do this, we’ve gotta do this, this is the future.  The Bible knows nothing of a pastor who isn’t there, whose family isn’t there, whose life isn’t exposed, who doesn’t touch the lives of his people on a regular basis, who can’t be evaluated so as to the fitting of the qualifications [of a pastor]. How do you evaluate a ‘flat screen preacher’ a thousand miles away? Where is his life on exposure? How do you know his children, his wife, his habits, his life in the community, all of which is critically essential? How does he develop leaders? How does he pour his life into others? This is an aberration. And again, the culture is pulling all of this, and I think it’s pulling it away from the core of sound doctrine.

Don’t go to a flat screen church, period. Don’t go. Don’t make it successful. Don’t feed that. Now, if you go to the original church, wherever the guy is, that’s an option. You can see his life, and you can see his family and his children, and the way he shepherds and cares for the flock, and whether he gives himself to the Word and to prayer, on a regular basis, whether he’s consumed with the spiritual direction and the feeding of the flock of God. That’s an option. Don’t go to a flat screen (church), don’t make those places successful.
Additional Resources 

John MacArthur: “Don’t Go To A ‘Flat Screen Church’.”

Rick Warren Gets John Piper’s Stamp of Approval

John Piper, A “Charismatic Calvinist?”

Critical Issues Commentary: A Biblical Look at Rick Warren’s Teaching

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9 thoughts on “John MacArthur: “Who would have thought that John Piper would have Rick Warren at a Desiring God conference?”

    • Lynn D.
      That is quite a statement you make. Can you substantiate this as to why you say so, that means you must provide solid Biblical proof for making such a statement. I do not believe you are speaking the truth.

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    • If anyone doubts that John MacArthur is a false teacher, they should research the referenced sources in his book, SLAVE. Nearly all of the endnotes in his book lead the reader to heretical works of modernist and postmodern scholars who deny the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. Some of these “scholars” are in fact rabidly anti-Christian, and their works, which Macarthur recommends as authoritative, are filled with slander and blasphemy of the Lord Jesus Christ. One homosexual scholar cited by Macarthur wrote a blasphemous book which attempts to prove that Jesus was a homosexual. (Sex and the Single Savior) Other liberal scholars quoted by Macarthur claim that Christians in the early Church, including the Apostles, not only condoned the institution of slavery but were abusive and immoral slave owners and slave traders just like Roman slave owners/traders. For documentation on these and other sources referenced in SLAVE, please read this critical review:

      “PAGANIZING” THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: PART 2 – JOHN MACARTHUR’S “SLAVE” BOOK
      http://watch-unto-prayer.org/macarthur-2-slave-book.html

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  1. To make a remark saying John MacArthur is a “false teacher” shows perhaps several things about someone claiming such: 1.) the claimant has none or very little true understanding of orthodox Christian theology; 2.) the claimant is an adherent of false teaching themselves and is perhaps is not a Christian or 3.) desperately needs a godly person to come alongside them and disciple them in true Christian disciplines.

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    • he is a false teacher because he is a dispensationalist and not a covenanter. dispensationalism is absolutely false. the bible does not separate the church and israel. god has only one people and the church is israel (read the book of galatians). he also rejects the bible, the TR and KJV, and goes in for the wicked, blasphemous, erroneous critical text and its translations. with his approval of the critical text he rejects the doctrines of preservation, inspiration, and innerancy. the critical text was found in a garbage can in a desert monastery in the 1840s and has never ever been the text of the church until that time. it is the most corrected text ever found and is missing two huge passages in mark and john as well as many words and verses throughout the text. in this respect he is as deceived as all the so-called reformed calvinists on the ESV translation committee. john macarthur is no good. he wrote a whole book condemning charismatics and has yet to condemn wayne grudem, john piper, cj mahaney, mark driscoll, and all the other reformed charismatics for their erroneous doctrines. in short macarthur is no good teacher because he rejects the scripture and its doctrines and simply because a broken clock is right twice a day does not make him sound at all.

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      • Thank you for your comment. You stated your points clearly, and even though I can’t agree with some of them, I am pleased to see that you take a strong stance on some serious issues. I have yet to find a Bible teacher who is not in error of sorts, and of course, all of those who claim to be infallible, are liars. We must refrain from being followers of men, and even in that we all fail at times. The only truth we can rely on, is Christ in us.

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  2. Pingback: Should we pray for God to comfort those who oppose the Gospel, like Rick Warren? | For the Love of His Truth

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