Thursday, March 02, 2006

John MacArthur on the church


John MacArthur's first message at the Shepherd's Conference was on biblical ecclesiology from Matthew 16. In the process of outlining several (7) foundational principles on which a church is built, he very helpfully described the "hermeneutics of humility" (that characterizes a belief in certitude as arrogance) as an attack on the perspicuity of Scripture.

This is definitely a CD worth purchasing.

32 comments:

The Sinner said...

Okay, I'll be the dumb one. You said, MacArthur "very helpfully described the 'hermeneutics of humility' (that characterizes a belief in certitude as arrogance) as an attack on the perspicuity of Scripture." I don't feel like pulling out my dictionary, so would you put that in southernese please?

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, The Sinner.

I'll help. :) The "hermeneutics of humility" appear to be the fact that people try to put forward the idea that we cannot really know with certitude what the Bible is saying, and to insist we can is proud and arrogant. "hermeneutics" is a $2 word for "interpretation" and is often used to describe methods of biblical interpretation, though if referring to good interpretation it is often left unmodified.

...at least I'm pretty sure I answered your question properly (grin)

SDG,
David Hewitt

jmattingly said...

certitude- freedom from doubt; certainty

perspicuity- clarity; transparency

Essentially someone who says that you are arrogant if you are certain about what the Bible teaches, is really attacking the fact that the Bible (as given to us) is clear and plain on its essential teachings.

He is terming this false idea the "hermeneutics of [false] humility" (my bracketed word added).

I think this is the gist of what he is saying, though I stand ready for correction if I am misinterpreting.

Tom said...

Thanks David and Jmatt...and sorry about that. It was late, I was tired and I should have been more perspicuous, uh, clear, in what I said. MacArthur nailed it! He showed the fallacy of much that takes place in the name of culture wars as well as addressing this new arrogance that parades under the banner of spiritual humility. I have been thinking a bit on the latter for many months. It is pernicious and, from where I sit, looks to be spreading. MacArthur gave a very helpful, concise antidote in his 3rd point (I think it was his 3rd one).

hashbrown said...

Will a transcript of that message be made available?

LawyerDad said...

I have not listened to MacArthur's message. Perhaps I will soon. But, I'll take the bate- I'm one of those people who doubts "perspicuity." Some questions:
(1) What, exactly, is supposed to be "clear?" The "essentials?" and what are those?
(2) Does the Bible itself teach "perspicuity," or is it something I am supposed to conclude after reading the text? Am I allowed to consider anecdotal or empirical evidence? (pointing out confusion or disagreement)
(3) If so, how do you explain the disagreements among even "conservative evangelicals" over various points of doctrine or interpretation? Not to mention the other people we would call "Christian" - if the teachings (and proper interpretation) of scripture are "clear," why do they get it so wrong?
(4) Why were the most basic points of Christian agreement (the early councils) so hard-fought?
(5) If Spirit-led, honest, inquiring Christians are regularly led into error about the proper interpretation of Biblical passages, what does it mean to say the Bible is 'clear?' That in a hypothetical, pre-fall world we would all agree as to the proper interpertation and application of every passage?
(6) Is there any reliable way to distinguish my personal certitude which is based on correctly interpreting/understanding the clear teachings of scripture, and the improper certitude that arises around my wrong beliefs, interpretations, and prejudices? In other words-- my personal certainty about a belief might have no connection to whether it is true or false; surely you all know people who are "certain" of various false beliefs. What about their certainty? Wouldn't the "hermeneutics of humility" serve them better?

Sorry, I don't mean to sound so combative but this is something I have been wrestling with lately.

GeneMBridges said...

If Spirit-led, honest, inquiring Christians are regularly led into error about the proper interpretation of Biblical passages, what does it mean to say the Bible is 'clear?' That in a hypothetical, pre-fall world we would all agree as to the proper interpertation and application of every passage?

That supplies its own answer. If you screw up installing a new printer on your computer because you don't read the instructions carefully or go your own way even after reading the instructions, this is in no way a commentary on the clarity and perspecuity of the instructions.

(4) Why were the most basic points of Christian agreement (the early councils) so hard-fought?

Answer: Because of Arians, Gnostics, Montanists, and Modalists who rose up and denied the perspicuity of Scripture.

"When however, they (the Gnostics) are confuted with the Scriptures, they turn around and accuse the same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradtion."

jbuchanan said...

The question I have is did he say anything about the use of theater style seating in churches. I am sure that MacArthur is a pewist.

Uncialman said...

Tom:

I pray that you have a wonderful time in getting "ministered to" and taking part in all the great fellowship of "like-minded" folks there.

Make sure you get one of those free shoulder massages, and while your at it, get one for me too!

Blessings,

Mike O.

Scripture Searcher said...

In my opinion, there is no finer teacher (expositor) of the Bible living on the earth today than MACARTHUR!



I thank God for this beloved
brother and fellow Berean (scripture searcher) who does what God has called him to do with compassion and integrity and always without fear or favor!



He has never stuck his finger in the air to see which way the cultural winds were blowing before he
expounded the Word of God with boldness and wisdom! And he never whimpers and whines like so many modern
ministers!!



Every preacher on earth could learn valuable lessons from John MacArthur!
The last expositor I could say such truthful things about was Lloyd-Jones of England!



And neither is/was a Southern Baptist so I expect to be misunderstood and maybe stoned!



It will be a happy death!

jmattingly said...

LawyerDad,

Good questions. I’ll try to answer them fairly and with perspicuity. :)

(1) What, exactly, is supposed to be "clear?" The "essentials?" and what are those?

All the things that God requires us to believe and do are clear in the Scriptures. Now let me qualify that. Not all truths in the Scriptures are equally clear. Some appear quite confusing. But what appears as “unclear” is not due to any deficiency in the Scripture itself, but rather is due to the spiritual blindness that we as fallen men possess (Eph 4:18). Granted, when God opens our spiritual eyes to see truth (Acts 16:14), we can no longer be rightly called “blind”, but yet our remaining sin continues to cause us to not understand the truth perfectly.

Here are just some specific things that are clear in Scripture:

-God created the heavens and the earth and all things in them (Gen 1-3)
-Christ was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23)
-Jesus was fully God and fully man (John 1:1-3, 14)
-Jesus died on the cross as a substitute to bear the curse for sinners (2 Cor. 5:21)
-Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1-6)
-Christ is the only way to be saved (John 14:6) (no words over two syllables!)
-We are saved by faith alone (Eph 2:8-9)

If words mean anything, then these truths are taught in Scripture. Now, again, because of the sin in each of our hearts we want to suppress those truths, and therefore God must reveal these things to us, but that doesn’t make them less clear.

(2) Does the Bible itself teach "perspicuity," or is it something I am supposed to conclude after reading the text? Am I allowed to consider anecdotal or empirical evidence? (pointing out confusion or disagreement)

I believe the Bible actually does teach “perspicuity” itself (Deut 30:10-16, Deut 29:29, 2 Tim 3:16-17 [see also 2 Pet 1:3-11]). There is the assumption throughout these passages that there is a body of truth that is to be believed and specific commands to obey. The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. How can they be unless they are clear? How can we believe and do if we do not understand?

I’m not sure if I understand the question about anecdotal and empirical evidence. But if I understand what you’re getting at, I would say that there are many places where the Bible may “appear” to be in disagreement with itself to us, but that does not legitimately constitute lack of clarity on its part, but only a deficiency on our part. I would add that we must start by believing that the Scriptures are truly divine revelation from God. The other option is to assume that they are simply man-made writings (exempt from God’s involvement). Depending on our presupposition, our conclusions will be informed accordingly. If we believe the Bible to be the word of God, we will seek to understand how the seeming difficulties are to be reconciled. If we believe that the Bible is a production of man only, then we will view the difficulties as confusion or disagreement between authors/passages.


(3) If so, how do you explain the disagreements among even "conservative evangelicals" over various points of doctrine or interpretation? Not to mention the other people we would call "Christian" - if the teachings (and proper interpretation) of scripture are "clear," why do they get it so wrong?

See response to #1. I would add that the Scriptures teach that God is sovereign so that the things which are essential to believe are clear in Scripture and held by all true believers. On other issues God may sovereignly withhold light for some of us (for good purposes that we don’t understand).

I'll leave others to discuss the last 3 (your last question is very important, but I'm out of time for today!), but biblically I believe these are the issues (perspicuously). Hope this helps!

Nathan White said...

Tom,

I agree. MacArthur was on fire. What a wonderful sermon and a wonderful way to open the conference. This is definitely a must hear.

SDG

P. Chase Sears said...

I'm glad to hear others were as excited about MacArthur's Sermon on the Church as I was. What a great reminder of what we are to stand for and what we are to stand against. Great Conference!

Pastor Kevin said...

I can't wait for the rest of founders' community to read or hear Dever's sermon he preached this morning from John . . . absolutely glorious!

Stuart said...

Somebody should send Luther a copy of MacArthur's sermon. Maybe he could include it in The Bondage of the Will. Oh wait...
;)

hashbrown said...

p. chase sears,

how are you doing? do you remember having lunch with me in BG?

God Bless!

Kevin B

Jason E. Robertson said...

Tom, it is always dangerous for a Calvinist to blog late at night. I think Calvin said that somewhere.

P. Chase Sears said...

Pastor Hash -

Doing well moved out to L.A. to attend Master's. I was home over Christmas and saw Burton Mem. was doing some construction. Are you all adding on? I hope the Lord is blessing your ministry.

YnottonY said...

Hi Scripture Searcher,

You said, "In my opinion, there is no finer teacher (expositor) of the Bible living on the earth today than MACARTHUR!"

You may be right about that today. However, even though Dr. S. Lewis Johnson is now with the Lord, he was the finest biblical expositor I knew. Dr. Bruce Waltke said he was the best expositor in the 20th century. Feel free to check out his excellent audio teaching at Believers Chapel. There is a wealth of material there. I don't think you will be disappointed ;-)

SJ Camp said...

Tom:

Haven't heard the sermon yet, but saw the outline on T.C.'s blog. Really tremendous! How are you enjoying your time there? It would be great to see you preach at Shepherds Conference next year! You as well are a fine expositor, exegete and theologian and are appreciated greatly.

Thank you for the work you do here on this blog for the glory of the Lord and the building up of the body of Christ.

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Scripture Searcher said...

TB, you and I are in total agreement that my personal
friend (DR.LEWIS JOHNSNON - now graduated to glory) was a great, and consistent Bible expositor!! Precious are the many memories of this noble Berean, seminary professor and pastor in Dallas! And oh, what a beautiful Southern accent this remarkable gentleman did have ~ with a sense of wholesome Christian humor second to none!



I join you in recommending this prince of preachers to others - especially all the
younger, pampered, spoiled, whimpering, whining modern day ministers who know next to nothing about the price one must pay to be faithful
followers/servants of Jesus Christ!


BW has his opinion and I have mine. I would not want
to argue with Bruce about his error in judgment! LOL


Lewis Johnson was not a SBC either and for those who are
in the dark, I have been one
since 1953. So all the SBC denominational snippers are missing their target and wasting their bullets! LOL

LawyerDad said...

jmattingly-
thank you for your kind reply. for whatever it's worth, i think i agree with the statement of the doctrine in the lbcf...
"All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them."

The scope of "clear" teachings there is smaller than I often imagine -- only those things which are "necessary to ne known, believed and observed for salvation." Of course, we might still debate how large THAT category is... :v)
lawyerdad-at-gmail.com

Charles said...

How many did MacArthur baptize last year? Or does that mean anything?

Charles
The Calvinist Flyswatter

P. Chase Sears said...

I go to Grace church and every sunday night they baptize on average 3 adults who have come to saving faith in Christ. So based on that avg. 3 x 52 = approx. 156 a year. Plus I know other ministries sometimes do baptizisms elsewhere on special occasions (i.e. the ocean.) I hope that helps.

Charles said...

Hello, Mr. Sears!

Thanks for the report. Three adults per week is great!

What about Mark Dever and his church? Does anyone know how many Dever baptized last year?

Charles
The Calvinist Flyswatter

Scripture Searcher said...

Charles ??? aka The Calvinist Flyswatter -


SIC'M
PERSEVERE
PRESS ON


But stay focused, polite and
kind....you can be helpful to many....

Scott said...

Charles,

Your comments have really led me to pray for you. Just observing your replys over the last two weeks would lead anyone that sees that Salvation is of the Lord Jonah 2:9 would be asking God to help you see this all important truth. I understand your world when you say " How many has Dever baptized". That was the way I used to think six years ago.
We can agree that every christian is to be sharing the gospel of Christ all the time. Would you please answer this question for me : Lets say Dever shares the gospel with 100 people and You do as well. Lets assume out of that 100 people only 8 people are converted as a result of the sharing of Dever but 50 were converted by you sharing.So, Devers church baptizes 8 and your church baptizes 50 who has been more faithful to God?
Since you call yourself the" Calvinist Flyswatter" , would you swatt away what Jesus said in John 6:44 ? No man can... . Do you believe that this verse speaks to the total inability of man ? Do you really believe that man awakens himself from the dead ( Ephesians 2:1)? I'm not trying to make fun of you "Charles" .I was exactly where you are at one time. My evangelistic efforts have not decreased since God has revealed to me through His Word the truth of the total inability of man, unconditional election, particular atonement, effectual calling, and perseverance of the saints. These doctrines tell me that man is not going to chase me to hear the gospel. I have to chase him with the truth( the real gospel) not just " Pray this prayer with me".
Since the Word of God is all powerful it gives me confidence to continue to talk with you. Please read John 6, 10,and 17 , Ephesians 1,2. Please know I don't consider myself above you. I'm just a worm!

Tom said...

"Charles," or whatever your real name is:

This blog is not a billboard for you to advdertize your own blog. I am glad that you have one now (anonymous thought it is) and hope that you will continue to use it to post your rants there instead of here and on other blogs. You were given Capitol Hill Baptist Church's phone number weeks ago, which leads me to believe that if you really wanted to know something about the church, you would simply call them rather than posing here.

Consider yourself warned. Or rather, add this blog to the list of those who have already warned you. If you continue to post comments that are off topic or that are simply advertisements for your flyswatter, your "comments" here will be banned.

Scripture Searcher said...

Charles (CF) -


Your comments cannot be of
help to others if you write
untruths (lies) about the brethren who love, honor, serve and worship Christ.

Adam Cummings said...

My mom told me about that sermon on the phone... right after talking to her, I saw this post. Funny how things work. I guess I need to get ahold of that.

Dan Paden said...

What always bemuses me about those attacking perspicuity--usually on the grounds that flawed human beings inevitably skew even flawless communication--is that they are so completely inconsistent. They only attack scriptural perspicuity, even though if they applied their argument consistently, they wouldn't be able to so much as earn a driver's license or do their taxes.

Then again, maybe that explains a lot of the behavior I see on the road.

Landmarker said...

Does not MacArthur along with Alister Begg receive into membership those sprinkled or poured as adults