John F. MacArthur
MacArthur in 2013
|Education||Los Angeles Pacific College (B.A.)|
Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1963)
Grace Graduate School (D.D., 1976)
Talbot Theological Seminary (D.D, 1977)
|Occupation||Minister, writer, broadcaster, pastor, seminary, and college chancellor|
|The Gospel According to Jesus|
John Fullerton MacArthur Jr. (born June 19, 1939) is an American pastor and author known for his internationally syndicated Christian teaching radio and television program Grace to You. He has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since February 9, 1969. He is also the chancellor emeritus of The Master's University in Santa Clarita, California, and The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles, California.
MacArthur is a Calvinistic Protestant and a strong proponent of expository preaching. He has been acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the most influential preachers of his time and was a frequent guest on Larry King Live as a representative of an evangelical Christian perspective. MacArthur has written or edited more than 150 books, most notably the MacArthur Study Bible, which has sold more than 1 million copies and received a Gold Medallion Book Award.
The grandson of Episcopal minister Harry MacArthur (d. 1950) and son of Baptist preacher Jack MacArthur (born in Calgary, Canada) and Irene Dockendorf (and a fifth cousin of U.S. Army general Douglas MacArthur), MacArthur was born in Los Angeles. While pursuing his passion for football (which he played in high school and at university), MacArthur followed in his father's college footsteps and studied at two colleges: the fundamentalist Bob Jones University from 1957 to 1959, then transferring to the Los Angeles Pacific College (now Azusa Pacific University). In 1963, he obtained his Masters of Divinity from Biola University's Talbot Theological Seminary, in La Mirada, California, graduating with honors. MacArthur also holds honorary doctorates from Talbot Theological Seminary (Doctor of Divinity, 1977) and from Grace Graduate School (1976).
From 1964 to 1966, MacArthur served as an associate pastor at the Harry MacArthur Memorial Bible Church (now Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, California), the church his father Jack had planted and named after his own father. From 1966 to 1969, MacArthur served as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary. On February 9, 1969, he became the third pastor at the nondenominational Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California.
MacArthur's daily radio and television program, Grace to You, which is now broadcast throughout much of the world, started as a ministry to provide audio cassettes of his sermons to listeners, and then starting in 1977 began to be broadcast in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1985, MacArthur became the president of The Master's University, a four-year liberal-arts Christian college. In 1986, he founded The Master's Seminary.
Nearly 43 years after beginning in the pulpit of Grace Community, MacArthur completed one of his own life goals, that of preaching through the entire New Testament, on June 5, 2011, at the end of his projected target window, stated the previous January, to finish "some time in the summer". In 2015, the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series was completed.
MacArthur is a cessationist and is one of the most prominent voices in the church against the continuationist beliefs of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement. He has written three books on the subject, and in October 2013, he hosted a conference called "Strange Fire" at his church to mark the launch of his book of the same name. The event featured a number of speakers who argued for a cessationist theology and strongly critiqued the Charismatic Movement.
He broadly calls modern "visions, revelations, voices from heaven...dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out-of-body experiences, trip to heaven, anointings, miracles - all false, all lies, all deceptions - attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit." And that "The Charismatic movement has stolen the Holy Spirit and created a golden calf, and they're dancing around the golden calf as if it were the Holy Spirit." He has made a list of Gifts of the Spirit, mostly from 1 Cor. 12-14, but holds that "once the New Testament was finished, those sign gifts ceased to have a function", and ended with the conclusion of the Apostolic Age, around AD 100.
In 1983, MacArthur first published his belief in the doctrine of "incarnational sonship." In 1989, after some criticism, he defended his views in a plenary session of the annual convention of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. A decade later, he announced he had retracted this view via an article from Grace to You.
MacArthur has stated that he opposes "male chauvinist and feminist views". He has a complementarian view on gender roles and considers that the Bible does not allow women to preach to men or exercise authority in churches, and believes that the Biblical roles of elder and pastor are restricted to men. To this end he cites the biblical passage of 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
MacArthur holds to the Dispensationalist school of Premillennialism and to the pre-tribulational view in regards to the timing of the Rapture and other end-time events, stating, "I'm committed to the fact that Jesus will come to set up a literal earthly kingdom and that He will come seven years before the kingdom, He will come prior to the tribulation." However, he has distanced himself from others within this school of interpretation, such as minister Tim LaHaye and novelist Jerry B. Jenkins of Left Behind series fame.
MacArthur describes himself as a "leaky dispensationalist". While he holds to the Dispensationalist school of premillennialism and a pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church and literal fulfillment of all the covenant promises made to the Jews, he rejects some of the classic dispensational ideas, such as the Law having no application to the Church.
His writings disapprove of the modern "seeker-friendly" Christian movement, as well as ministers who run this style of church service, such as Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren. He has criticized popular Word of Faith pastor Joel Osteen, whom he has called a quasi-pantheist.
In May 2002, in the midst of significant media and public attention focused on Catholic sex abuse cases, MacArthur gave a message highly critical of the entire system of the Roman Catholic priesthood. MacArthur has referred to Catholicism as the "Kingdom of Satan," and holds to the confession that the Pope is anti-Christ, but the term, which he said, "applies to anyone who positions himself against or in place of Christ." MacArthur has stated that a person who truly believes all of what Roman Catholicism teaches does not possess saving faith because the Roman Catholic way of salvation is works-based and is a "twisted system of satanic lies" presided over by the Pope.
MacArthur is also an advocate of Nouthetic Counseling, which stresses the Bible as a sufficient tool for counseling people with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. MacArthur does not reject all forms of psychological theories and techniques, though he considers some psychology and psychiatry as contrary to the Bible.
He has argued that "True psychology (i.e. "the study of the soul") can be done only by Christians, since only Christians have the resources for understanding and transforming the soul. The secular discipline of psychology is based on godless assumptions and evolutionary foundations and is capable of dealing with people only superficially and only on the temporal level... Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based. Like theistic evolution, Christian psychology is an attempt to harmonize two inherently contradictory systems of thought. Modern psychology and the Bible cannot be blended without serious compromise to or utter abandonment of the principle of Scripture's sufficiency."
MacArthur was a key person in the Lordship salvation controversy in the 1980s, arguing against free grace theology. He states, "You must receive Jesus Christ for who He is, both Lord and Savior, to be truly saved (II Peter 2:20)." Regarding eternal security, he states, "It should never be presented merely as a matter of being once saved, always saved--with no regard for what you believe or do. The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord's presence." MacArthur's views raised controversy within U.S. evangelicalism and were challenged in print by non-lordship dispensationalist theologians Charles Ryrie and Zane C. Hodges, who argued that MacArthur was teaching a form of works-based salvation. MacArthur has denied the charge, as attested on two tapes recorded in 1989 when he was asked to reason together with the IFCA man.
MacArthur advocates Young Earth creationism in his book The Battle For the Beginning (2001), and in his sermons. Speaking about evolutionary theory, he writes that Christians "ought to expose such lies for what they are and oppose them vigorously". He argues that "the battle for the beginning is ultimately a battle between two mutually exclusive faiths - faith in Scripture versus faith in anti-theistic hypotheses. It is not really a battle between science and the Bible."
MacArthur has been involved with multiple controversies regarding his outspokenness on certain topics. MacArthur is very open about opposing same-sex marriage, against female pastors, and the social justice movement. He has delivered multiple sermons where he discusses these issues.
In 2012, at The Shepherd's Conference, MacArthur was participating in a word association questionnaire where the moderator gave him the name "Steven Furtick." MacArthur proceeded to argue that Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, was "unqualified". Furtick responded to this comment in his 2016 book Unqualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things.
In 2019, at the Truth Matters Conference, where, during a word association questionnaire, the name, "Beth Moore" was given. Reiterating his stance on 1 Timothy 2:12, MacArthur responded by stating that Beth Moore should, "Go home" and that, "There is no case that can be made Biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of Discussion." Moore responded to this stance by stating on her Twitter account, "I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus - and Jesus alone - all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!"
MacArthur defied the California state orders set in mid July, 2020 for indoor activities, which prohibits indoor meetings of more than 25% capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. MacArthur welcomed people to what he called a "peaceful protest" with around 3,000 attending the Grace Community Church in Los Angeles county, the first weekend and approximately 6,000 the second weekend. MacArthur said that the church has hired attorneys to do what they can within the court system to continue to meet. On August 12, 2020 he filed a lawsuit against L.A. County public health officials, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and a group of California health officials challenging the restrictions on indoor events. The next day a countersuit was filed against Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur for violating the county health officer's order. Despite the church having an outdoor tent, most worshippers went indoors, did not social distance and most did not wear masks. MacArthur disputes the accuracy of the number of cases in California.
John MacArthur, a frequent guest, with us
I was born down in Los Angeles at St. Vincent's Hospital, which is still a functioning hospital in the city.