John MacArthur recently spoke against social justice as one of the most dangerous current threats to the gospel. There have been three sermons as well as some blog posts, but the quotations in this post here are all taken from sermon #3, which is here.
In my previous post, I emphasized that victimization really is a thing, and “Mary” responded from personal experience to tell that one can rightly claim to be a victim without denying that one is a sinner.
So one of my questions for John MacArthur is, does he really believe no one can rightly claim to have been victimized as a child? It takes my breath away.
Nearly everyone now is searching for some kind of victimhood. Psychologists would tell them they were probably victimized as children but they can’t remember it so they should go into repressed memories just for the sole purpose of uncovering some supposed victimhood so they can have some place to belong in this completely victimized culture. If you’re not a victim of anything you have no moral authority and nothing to say, get out of the conversation. Everyone needs to have had at least a micro-aggression, some category of victimhood to divest yourself of the responsibility for the fact that your life is the way it is because of your own sin.
Maybe sometime I can talk about recovered memories, but for now all I’ll say is that he is clearly mocking people who have memories of severe child abuse.
One of my big puzzlements is that he builds his whole argument in his examination of social justice on the following foundation, which to me seems beyond shaky:
- A person claims that someone has done something bad to him.
Remember that the dominant human sin is pride, love of self, self preservation. . . . If something’s wrong in his life, somebody else did something that caused it, not him.
- That person will call himself a victim.
This victim mentality has literally taken over our entire society. And it’s sad to see the evangelical church accepting the fact that all these victims seem to deserve legitimate consideration for their victimhood.
- Because God is sovereign, the person will blame God for his victimization, or as MacArthur says, “victimhood.”
This is the default position of all sinners, they find someone else to blame, and ultimately blame God. “God made the world the way it is, God made me the way I am, God put me where I’ve been, God subjected me to this course of history that has turned me into a victim.”
And as long as sinners think they are good people who have been victimized, there is no interest in the gospel, particularly if they have been victimized by God. Why would they run to God to be delivered from their sin when he’s the one who made them victims to start with. If Christians preach there’s only one true and living God and God is absolutely sovereign, God is the author of history and God determines everything and every life and every event is within the framework of his purpose, then “I am what I am where I am in the circumstances I’m in because of God. It’s His fault.” You not only blame the sinners around you, the sinners in your house, those that gave you birth, the sinners of past generations, but ultimately you blame the larger context, which is who you are where you are when you are in the world, that’s when you start blaming God. [Examples of Adam and Eve.] This is what sinners do.
Later in the sermon . . .
And if you’re being told there’s only one true God, the sovereign God of Scripture, then it’s the sovereign God of Scripture that got you into this mess, and you’re going to shake your fist in His face and deny your culpability. He’s certainly not going to be the one you go to for salvation. You’re not going to see Him as a God of love and mercy and grace and tenderness and compassion. In fact, you’re actually going to think that He gets some pleasure out of this.
- So, to counter that problem, the person should not call himself a victim, but should call himself a sinner. After all, the fact is that no one is a victim, so that’s the important thing for evangelical preachers to preach.
The Bible does not define us as victims. It defines us as perpetrators of crimes against God, as criminals, as culprits, as blasphemers, as haters of God, as enemies of God. . . . People are not victims. They are sinful.
The wages of sin is death. Stop blaming the world. Stop blaming who you are, where you are, the circumstances you’re in, and thereby blaming God.
At the very outset of gospel preaching, you want to deliver sinners from the delusion that they are victims of the sins of anyone else. They are on the way to being victims of their own sin and their own sin only.
This line of reasoning was so puzzling to me I would have thought I was misunderstanding, except that he stated it several times throughout the three very similar sermons.
This all becomes doubly confusing when I compare it with MacArthur’s statements about the persecution and attack he says that he has come under in the past months, in his statements in chapel at The Master’s Seminary. (In this post I commented on some errors/untruths Marci Preheim showed in that chapel statement.)
The audio of his statement is here and the following quotations are taken from the first half of the recording. (In the second half he is reading Scripture and answering questions from the audience.)
These are the best of times for us. We know that, because the enemy is working so hard.
I’ve been under attack.
And starting about minute 26 of the first recording:
If you wonder who’s behind the conspiracy, ask one question: who has the most to gain. When people come after me, come after you as a pastor, just ask who has the most to gain. . . . There’s an overthrow going on, there’s a coup going on. Somebody wants your position. Somebody wants to make the decisions you’re making. It’s not the ground troops that started these things. It’s the people with ambition. . . .
So this is just par for the course. It might be a minor detail if there were no internet . . . but there is an internet. It reminds me of the book of Revelation, when hell is opened and all the foul spirits come out. I think that’s a metaphor for the internet.
(No worries, there, though, because he assures students they don’t need to look at the internet regarding these issues.)
First of all, when someone is accused of wrongdoing, it could be from the enemy, of course, as MacArthur says.
But could it also be that something wrong has actually been done? (I’ve kept up with some of the accusations being made against the Master’s University and/or Seminary and believe there is credibility to them.)
And another question, if MacArthur wants to honor the sovereignty of God to the extent that no one who has been harmed should talk about what happened, should not talk about justice, but should only talk about himself as a sinner, then shouldn’t he be doing the same?
Instead of talking about the people of ambition who want to overthrow him and other pastors, shouldn’t he just be talking about his own sinfulness?
Am I missing something?
But perhaps the most important . . .
I can’t help but notice that MacArthur can talk about bad things that have happened to him without blaming God for it. He says he has been attacked, and he attributes it to the enemy and to ambitious people, but nowhere does he hint that God is at fault.
Couldn’t it be that those who have been harmed (even someone who uses the inexplicably verboten word “victim”) can do the same thing?
They could attribute the harm they’ve experienced to wicked and possibly ambitious people. They could acknowledge that ultimately behind it is the enemy of our souls.
And they can see that God in His three-person manifestation is truly good and wants to rescue them, without seeing Him as to blame for the wickedness of man.
Even while acknowledging the battle with evil, even while acknowledging that some have given themselves over to evil, even while acknowledging that they themselves have been victimized, they can still acknowledge that God is good and wants to save them and heal them. They can see that this is who Jesus Christ really is.
This is what the Bible teaches, and it is just as true for every person as it is for John MacArthur.
But it seems that John MacArthur is trying to lay a foundation for future pastors graduating from The Master’s Seminary to see the people in their churches as never being allowed to claim that they were victimized, while setting the stage for these pastors to see themselves as probable targets of a coup planned by anyone who claims to have been wronged by these same pastors.
Does it look to you like that’s what he’s doing?
Ezekiel 18, the passage that he has used as the basis for all three of these repetitive sermons, is saying that no person will be punished by God for the sins that his forefathers committed. Each person will be justly judged for his own sins. (This is in line with the character of God, who is characterized by justice.)
It is not saying that no one can legitimately claim that someone else harmed him.
How in the world can John MacArthur, a respected Bible teacher, draw such conclusions?
I’m filled with bewilderment.