Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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

Posted 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.

 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?"