God’s Truth Does Not Need to be Unleashed.

Today I followed a link to an article on John MacArthur’s website and found this statement at the top of the home page:

“Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time”.

Excuse me Mr MacArthur, the bible wasn’t written in “verses”. It wasn’t written to be addressed “one verse at a time”. That approach is guaranteed to lead to error, resulting in false doctrines that are supported by out of context proof texts.

It’s therefore not surprising that MacArthur has fallen for (and promotes) some very harmful theology (including, but not limited to, an unholy trinity of Calvinism, Cessationism and Supersessionism), a very scary thing when he has such a devoted following, and no less dangerous than the extreme charismanics he has been targeting recently.

spirit and truthjpgGod’s truth doesn’t need to be “unleashed” – He has already revealed His truth and it just needs to be received. A good starting point for us is to ask God to give us a love of the truth, and then receive that love when it is given. Another helpful step is to respect the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who has been sent to teach and equip followers of Jesus instead of denying His continuing work.

May our love of the Truth and desire for it exceed our love of any theology we may have been taught – and be greater than our love for the theologians and teachers who introduced us to it.

19 thoughts on “God’s Truth Does Not Need to be Unleashed.

  1. That IS weird wording. Odd things like that can be clues for followers to re-think what they’re following and pray for truth (not just some truth or something like truth). I do think the place to start is asking for and accepting love for truth and the Spirit of Truth. And I agree with your final prayer here.

  2. Over recent years, in the Christian forums I’ve frequented, there has been a lot of opposition to extreme charismania. That opposition has come mostly from charismatics/pentecostals who were horrifed by the path being promoted by people like Todd Bentley.

    However, while the Bentleys, Hinns and others have received a lot of (deserved) opposition, people like MacArthur who present doctrines no less false than the practices of the charismanics, are still seen as respectable and revered bible teachers.

    It’s difficult to understand why anyone would follow either of these extremes – until the truth of this sinks in: “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”.

    Some desire the extreme “spiritual” experiences offered by charismanics. Others desire to experience God in a more staid and “respectable” atmosphere offered by “theologians” and scholars. In both cases God’s Truth is pushed aside as a less desirable option.

  3. I see David Pawson as teaching in a way that I prefer in most cases, staid and respectable (and smart)… by which I don’t mean a person pushes aside God’s Truth. I’m not against charismata (as Steve’s been putting it because of Greek), but I don’t find “charismatic” settings to be safe in most cases. At least in a calm environment you listen and evaluate. Like Paul said, the assembly should make sense for someone walking in. But the “heaping up of teachers” seems to me to be about people who are looking for permissions to sin as they have desires that can’t stand under sound doctrine, and thus unsatisfied ears that itch for bolstering to stray, so they go looking for someone, via teacher upon teacher, to give them that environment of mind, in whatever style, that no one is supposed to judge them, or something more overt. And there is plenty more overt (while the blanket no one “judging” has been readily accepted for a long time). Besides sins more along the line of the man in Corinth that Paul said should be rebuked rather than celebrated, we also have muckrakers who say things like a plane with a man of faith and his children on it crashed because there are gay people in his country (they find their identity in such charges). I don’t know to what extent MacArthur is falsely accusing; I haven’t been listening to him. But his “unleashing” terminology sounds sensational in a vein charismania tends toward, so he ought to evaluate himself.

  4. And, of course, yes, the “one verse at a time” concept will not tend toward sound theology. It is scary.

  5. That approach is probably at the heart of most if not all false teaching.
    I’m sure we are all very aware of John 3:16 and have developed a particular view of God and His love from the understanding we have of that verse. But to what extent is that view of God and His love challenged by the preceding verses? Maybe that’s why those preceding verses aren’t so well known and memorised as verse 16.

  6. I used to listen to John MacArthur until the Holy Spirit of truth opened my eyes to the deception that is being casually spread about the church by the so-called leaders of the church. It was very interesting that the Lord revealed to me that C. S. Lewis is a false teacher, and yet MacArthur quotes Lewis in his book Hard to Believe where MacArthur warns against the very error the Lewis embraced and taught! Additionally, when experiencing a family crisis, I went to his church hoping for encouragement. Instead the message was very condemning. On my way home to Northern California I listened to the Bible on CD, and the Lord greatly encouraged me by Galatians 6:1-3. The Lord showed me the difference between the darkness of ungodly exhortation and the glory of encouragement from His beloved Word. By the way, following the encouragement that God gave from His Word has had many blessings in regard to our family problem. I am thankful for what God is doing. He gets the glory! God bless you:)

  7. Eliza,
    I think all teachers (even good ones) can teach false things, because no one has a full understanding of the truth. Even good teachers need to continue learning and have the opportunity of maturing in their beliefs and teachings. So I’d be wary of saying “The Lord showed me” that a teacher was false.

    I assess a teacher by his overall teaching and by what can be determined of his underlying theology.

    I’m not really familiar with Lewis’s teaching, I tried reading some of his essays but while they made some good points, I found as a whole that they didn’t interest me. I am more familiar with his Narnia books, which have some interesting biblical allusions, but also include some very unfortunate pagan references too.

    With MacArthur, I find his foundations faulty, and this comes out in some seriously flawed teaching. And not only flawed, his attack on the work of the Spirit is outright dangerous; to himself as well as to his hearers; considering what Jesus said about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I find his teaching false because on too many foundational points he is in serious error. That assessment comes not from the Lord telling me – but by testing his teaching with the Word, as we are instructed in scripture.

  8. We ought to be open to learning from others, but not as a substitue for searching the scriptures.
    We definitely need to do more than merely check a preacher’s proof texts.

    In my past experience, often the teaching that appealed to me immediately I later found out it was wrong. In other cases, teaching that I resisted as being “unbiblical” proved to be TRUE to scripture as I read more of the scriptures. The first example of teaching usually came with a good supply of “supporting texts” – that I discovered had nothing to do with their biblical context. The second example came with no “supporting texts” but was actually full of bible.

  9. Thank you for your response. Yes, the Lord showed me through His Word, but it was by His Holy Spirit. We are all easily deceived and completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit to show us the truth, even when we are in His Word. Lewis is a false teacher for the following beliefs that he held to and taught: baptismal regeneration, rejection of the inerrancy of the Scriptures, rejection of the penal substitution of Jesus Christ, belief that the Genesis account of creation and the fall are a myth, belief that purgatory is necessary for purification, belief in theistic evolution, he belief in auricular confession, he didn’t believe in hell, belief in prayers for the dead, rejection of the depravity of man, belief in ecumenicism. Believing these false doctrines leads to a false faith.

  10. I forgot one of the most important heresies that Lewis taught and believed, he taught in Mere Christianity that a person could be saved apart from conscious faith in Christ. This is the one false teaching that MacArthur was refuting in his book, Hard to Believe, and yet he quoted a proponent of this heresy. Yes, Lewis was a false teacher.

  11. Hi Eliza,
    Not having read much of Lewis’s theology, I wasn’t aware he believed those things. By that account there’s a lot of reason for concern about his teaching.

  12. Hi Onesimus,
    Which is why his false teaching is so insidious. First, most people read him when they are not well grounded in the Scriptures so they can’t really understand and discern his error. Second, so many “Christian” leaders are willing to give him a pass saying he wasn’t a theologian. Third, these same leaders approvingly quote him which means many unsuspecting immature believers read his works out of curiosity and are led astray. His works well appeal to the flesh.
    On the second point, no one has to be a theologian to understand and believe what the Bible says about Jesus Christ and salvation, they just have to be born again and filled with the Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus rebuked the trained theologians of His day and called them white washed tombs and vipers. So to say that Lewis wasn’t a theologian to excuse his error, is placing too much emphasis on the ability of man and too little emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. I am not a trained theologian, but by God’s gracious work in my life through His Son Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, I can understand God’s Word and then by the Lord’s enabling discern truth and error. So can any child of God who has been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. God bless you:)

  13. Have read a lot of C. S. Lewis’ apologetics and other Christian writings, and much biographical material on him. I don’t see evidence that he taught, or believed, falsely on that long list of doctrines.

    Tim’s caution seems a good one: “…all teachers (even good ones) can teach false things, because no one has a full understanding of the truth.” But with that caveat, Lewis is probably as orthodox as anyone.

    I’m not much of a fan of his fiction,but know his use of pagan mythology followed from his belief that God had built Christian myths (in the strict sense: “patterns of belief”) into the beliefs of all nations and tribes as preparation for them to receive the gospel. It seems the same understanding on which in the New Testament Paul approvingly quoted pagan philosophers of Mediterranean civilization: but certainly not because he believed in their theology.

    Was always impressed with the perceptiveness of Bob Jones, founder of the hard-fundamentalist university in America’s South which bears his name (!), after he met Lewis. There probably couldn’t have been two prominent Christians of the time more divergent in their beliefs. But after a long visit with Lewis, an urbane Oxford (and Cambridge) don, Jones told an associate in amazement, “That man smokes…that man drinks liquor. But I DO believe he is a Christian !”

    I think Jones was right.

    In Jesus, Steve

  14. Hi Eliza,
    one aspect of the “church” system is to convince the everyday believer that scripture is too hard to understand without the help of an ordained professional. This makes those believers dependant on “professional” clergy, less able to search the scriptures for themselves and therefore more susceptible to falling for false teaching.

  15. HI Steve,
    Well, Lewis did teach these false doctrines which are espoused in Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and The Great Divorce (where he promotes purgatory and denounces hell). I have the actual quotes from the first two books of these false teachings that he promoted. Even Christianity Today says that Lewis was not an evangelical. They also verify that he believed a number of false teachings that I listed. Just because the man is popular doesn’t mean he is orthodox. If you read Mere Christianity you would see that his so-called apologetic has nothing to do with the Scriptures but is rooted in human philosophy. He didn’t quote any Scripture in the book. How can one be an apologist for the Christian faith without quoting Scripture. You may have read certain works of his, but I am amazed that you can say with a straight face that he is orthodox. That is not the case.

  16. God has given teachers to the church, but they are God-given, not man-made. So much is done with the profit margin in mind and has nothing to do with the glory of God and the edification of the saints. So many fall for this false fare because they are not rooted in God’s Word; they don’t let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly. If we want to be true to our Lord and Savior, then we must become men and women of the Word of God. Studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word of truth. God bless you:)

  17. As I said earlier. I don’t know enough about Lewis’s theological writings so I have no way of considering the validity of what you say, therefore I’d prefer not to carry on with views of Lewis.

  18. Yes there is big business in religion. I think westerners in particular have been so conditioned to accept consumerism that consumerism in the church is almost expected and accepted.

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