John F. MacArthur

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John F. MacArthur
John F. MacArthur Jr..JPG
Born John Fullerton MacArthur Jr.
(1939-06-19) June 19, 1939 (age 78)
Los Angeles, California, US
Residence Sun Valley, Los Angeles
California, US
Nationality American
Education Los Angeles Pacific College (B.A.)
Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1963)
Grace Graduate School (Litt.D., 1976)
Talbot Theological Seminary (D.D., 1977)
Occupation Minister, Writer, Broadcaster, Seminary & College President
Known for Clergymen, Relative of Douglas MacArthur
Spouse(s) Patricia MacArthur
Children 4

John Fullerton MacArthur Jr. (born June 19, 1939) is an American pastor and author known for his internationally syndicated Christian teaching radio program Grace to You. He has been the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since February 9, 1969.[1] He is also the current president of The Master's University in Newhall, California and The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles, California.

Theologically, MacArthur is considered a Calvinist, and a strong proponent of expository preaching.[2] He has been acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the most influential preachers of his time,[3] and was a frequent guest on Larry King Live as a representative of an evangelical Christian perspective.[4]

MacArthur has authored 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.[5] Other best-selling books include his MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series (more than 1 million copies), Twelve Ordinary Men, (more than 500,000 copies),[6] and the children's book A Faith to Grow On, which garnered an ECPA Christian Book Award.[7]


The son of Jack MacArthur (born in Calgary, Alberta)[8] and Irene Dockendorf, and a fifth cousin of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur,[9] John MacArthur attended Bob Jones University before transferring to 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. He graduated with honors. From 1964 to 1966, he served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church, in Burbank, California and, from 1966 to 1969, as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary. Then, in 1969, he became the third pastor in the then-short history of the nondenominational Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California.[10]

His daily radio program, Grace to You, which is now broadcast throughout much of the world, began as an audio recording ministry to provide audio cassettes of his sermons to listeners and then began to be broadcast in Baltimore, Maryland, starting in 1977.[11]

In 1985, MacArthur became the president of The Master's University (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college;[12] and, in 1986, he founded The Master's Seminary. MacArthur also received an honorary doctorate from Talbot Theological Seminary[13] and an honorary doctorate from Grace Graduate School.[14]

Nearly 43 years after beginning in the pulpit of Grace Community, MacArthur completed one of his own life goals[1] of preaching through the entire New Testament on June 5, 2011,[15] at the end of his projected target window, stated the previous January, to finish "some time in the summer."[1] In 2015, the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series was completed.[16] MacArthur is married to Patricia[17] and they have four children and fifteen grandchildren.[18]

Theological views

Young-Earth Creationism

MacArthur advocates young-earth creationism in his book, The Battle For the Beginning (2001), and in his sermons.[19] 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."[20]


MacArthur is a premillennialist and pre-tribulationist in regards to the timing of the rapture and other end time occurrences, and stated, "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." [21] However, MacArthur has tried to distance himself from others within the line of thought, such as minister Tim LaHaye and novelist Jerry B. Jenkins of fame for the Left Behind series. MacArthur remarked during a sermon, "...somebody out there is going to say, "Oh boy, he's in to the Left Behind series." No—I'm not in to Rapture-fiction and I'm not in to wacky charts. You don't see me up here with a big chart and a stick. And I'm not in to newspaper exegesis where...everything that happens in the news fulfills some obscure Old Testament prophecy...I reject the wacky world of newspaper exegesis and cartoon eschatology and crazy interpretation like the locusts of Revelation 9 being helicopters..."[22]

Law and Covenant

MacArthur describes himself as a "leaky dispensationalist."[23] While he holds to a premillennial and pre-tribulational rapture of the church and fulfillment of all the covenant promises made to the Jews at the end of the tribulation, he rejects some of the classic dispensational ideas, such as the Law having no application to the church. MacArthur stated, "I'm not in to all that is traditionally known as dispensationalism, seven dispensations, two kingdoms, two New Covenants, two ways of salvation, discontinuity between the Old Testament and the New."[22]


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)."[24] 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 American 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 their conclusion due to the disagreement over the nature of Christ's Lordship in relationship to Salvation. One can always refer the two tapes recorded in 1989 when he was asked to reason together with IFCA man.[25]

In December 1989, the Bible Broadcasting Network terminated MacArthur's Grace to You program. In explaining that step, BBN president Lowell Davey referred to MacArthur's teachings on the blood of Christ, and "Lordship Salvation." Davey called these teachings "confusing." In a letter dated January 15, 1990, Davey cited a, "....drift by Dr. MacArthur to a theological position that we could not adhere to," and said that MacArthur's sermon series on the theology of election "....convinced us that the direction of 'Grace to You' was toward Hyper-Calvinism...." MacArthur preaches "Salvation" by election of God's sovereignty.[26] However, the term "Hyper-Calvinism" is used by some to denote 5-point Calvinism or even any strong defense of Calvinism, rather than the historical "Hyper-Calvinism" position that only the "Elect" may be offered the Gospel (compare with the historical teaching of all Protestant denominations, including MacArthur, of the free offer of the gospel). This position does not seem to accurately reflect MacArthur's position in his sermons. The controversy concerning the efficacy of Christ's blood stems from MacArthur's statement that it is not the literal liquid blood of Christ that saves, but his sacrificial death on The Cross, a view that he espoused in an article titled, "Not His Bleeding, but His Dying," published in the May 1976 issue of the Grace to You family paper that is distributed to his church. MacArthur himself, though, later clarified what was stated of him in the article, noting his position concerning Christ's blood and death in atonement, mentioning that the efficacy of Christ's blood is not some particular physical property of the blood itself, but the fact that He shed blood in dying, and his affirmation that Christ's blood in death was necessary to satisfy God's holy requirement for atonement.[27]


Charismatic Chaos - one of the books where MacArthur argues for cessationism.

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 in support of his position: The Charismatics (1978), Charismatic Chaos (1993), and Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (2013). In October 2013, MacArthur 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.[28] In his opening remarks, MacArthur stated, "Watching the behavior of some Hindus who belong to the Kundalini cult. Their body movements are almost identical to that of people in the charismatic movement, the extreme behavior of pagans. This is the work of Satan, it is the work of darkness, and not to be attributed to the Holy Spirit." And that, "The Charismatic movement as such has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine ... It detracts and confuses." "It has only produced distortion, confusion, and error." "Have people truly been saved in Charismatic churches? Yes. But nothing coming from that movement has been the reason they were saved." "Evangelicalism has thrown its arms open and has welcomed the Trojan horse of the charismatic movement into the city of God. Its troops have taken over and placed an idol in the city of God."[29]

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."[30][31] 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 100 AD.[32]

In a subsequent teaching, "What has happened after the 'Strange Fire' Conference" (2013), MacArthur allowed that within the Charismatic movement there were those who believed in the authority of Scripture, honored the Lord, and pursued Godly living, and that the movement retained enough gospel truth so that souls could be saved within it. However, he saw its interdenominational presence as being "a testimony to the absence of any theology," and charged that "its theology is both heterodox and heretical...everything is defined by experience..and therefore has a weak view of Scripture, that's the charismatic movement." He further criticized the modern Charismatic movement, stating that "In 1967 a bunch of Jesus freak people in the beach areas of Southern California go to Calvary Chapel..and for the first time, the church, that I know of in history, the church lets the very defined subculture dictate what it will be. Out go the ties, out go the hymns, out go all the normal and formal things...and the hippie culture, you know, kids coming out of drugs, communal living, free sex, and all that kind of casual thing, and that's a charismatic church, that's a four-square church...That's where the movement becomes what we know as Calvary Chapel." "The first Calvary Chapel was essentially the church saying we'll let the culture tell us what we need to be...The charismatic movement has developed...its comfortable in Roman Catholicism, its comfortable in dead denominationalism...I think its a false form of Christianity." [33]

In the past (1991) however, MacArthur commended Chuck Smith (1927 – 2013), founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, for writing "a straight forward critique of charismatic extremism," and stated that "there are many like him who have taken their stand and I thank God for their courage and their desire to be Biblical."[34] In response to MacArthur's “Strange Fire” conference, Calvary Chapel expresses a fundamental disagreement with MacArthur's understanding of spiritual gifts among God's people today, but affirms "charisma, not charismania," and commends Chuck Smith’s book "Charisma versus Charismania" as being one of the best short, popular works on the subject.[35]

Three books have been written in response to the Strange Fire book and conference, arguing for the continuationist position: Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire by Michael Brown; Holy Fire: A Balanced, Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives by R.T. Kendall and The Essential Guide to the Power of the Holy Spirit: God's Miraculous Gifts At Work Today by Dr. Randy Clark. Addressing the “Strange Fire” conference, continuationist Calvinist Baptist John Piper concurs that there are many abuses in the charismatic church, however he adds that "we really need to keep in mind that every charismatic abuse has its mirror image in non-charismatic abuses...In some of these cases, the non-charismatic church is more guilty than the charismatic," such as, "the absence of emotion, which is probably more deadly than the excesses."[36]


MacArthur takes a stand against chauvinist and feminist views[37] with a complementarian view on gender roles and considers that the Bible does not allow women to preach to men or exercise authority in churches. He believes that the Biblical roles of elder and pastor are restricted to men by citing the biblical passage of 1 Timothy 2:11-12.[38][39][40]


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.[41]

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.... "[42]

His stance has caused several controversies, the most notable of which was the first time an employee of an evangelical church had ever been sued for malpractice. The case failed to come to trial because a judge ruled the case as having insufficient evidence.[43][44][45][46]

Other Christian movements and other religions

His writings disapprove of other modern Christian movements and ministers such as those who run "seeker-friendly" church services such as Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren.[47]

He has criticized popular Word of Faith pastor Joel Osteen, whom he has spoken of as a quasi-pantheist.[48]

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.[49] MacArthur has referred to Catholicism as the "Kingdom of Satan,"[50] and holds to the confession that the Pope is anti-Christ,[51] but the term, which he said, "applies to anyone who positions himself against or in place of Christ."[52]

MacArthur states that a person who truly believes all of what Roman Catholicism teaches does not believe in a 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.[53]

Selected publications

  • Twelve Extraordinary Women: God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur (October 5, 2008)
  • Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur (May 8, 2006)
  • One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus by John F. MacArthur (March 4, 2013)
  • Anxious for Nothing: God's Cure for the Cares of Your Soul (John Macarthur Study) by MacArthur, Jr., John (February 1, 2012)
  • Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child by John F. MacArthur (July 8, 2003)
  • Saved Without A Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation (John MacArthur Study) by MacArthur, Jr., John (January 1, 2010)
  • The Charismatics: A Doctrinal Perspective Hardback (1978)
  • Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur (February 24, 2009)
  • The Charismatics Softback (1978)
  • Gospel According to Jesus (1989) ISBN 0-310-28651-4
  • Charismatic Chaos (1993) ISBN 0-310-57572-9
  • Our Sufficiency in Christ (1998) ISBN 1-58134-013-3
  • Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (2001) ISBN 1-58134-288-8
  • Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview (2003) ISBN 1-58134-412-0
  • Fool's Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error (2005) ISBN 1-58134-726-X
  • The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ (2009) ISBN 1-4002-0206-X
  • Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (2013) ISBN 978-1-4002-0517-2
  • Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray: Finding Our Way Back to Biblical Truth (2017)
  • The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul's Teachings (2017)
  • Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (2017)
  • None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible (2017)


  1. ^ a b c "Theology and Ministry: An Interview with John MacArthur". January 16, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ MacArthur, John. "Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist". 
  3. ^ "The Top 25 Most Influential Preachers". Christianity Today. 2006. Archived from the original on February 1, 2006. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ ""God's Warriors": Fighters For Faith". CNN. Retrieved May 6, 2010. John MacArthur, a frequent guest, with us 
  5. ^ "1998 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved March 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Gold / Platinum / Diamond Book Awards - Past Award Recipients". Archived from the original on November 12, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ "2005 Christian Book Awards Winners – Elementary Children category". 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "When should a Christian fight for his country? - John MacArthur". Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  10. ^ "John F. MacArthur - The Master's Seminary". Archived from the original on August 22, 2014. 
  11. ^ "What's the history of Grace to You?". Retrieved September 22, 2009. 
  12. ^ Dart, John (April 9, 1985). "MacArthur Appointed Baptist College Gets New President, Name". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  13. ^ Diploma
  14. ^ Diploma
  15. ^ "A Historic Moment". June 16, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  16. ^ |john Macarthur - YouTube
  17. ^ "Questions and Answers -- Patricia MacArthur". Retrieved August 10, 2017. 
  18. ^ "John MacArthur". Retrieved August 10, 2017. 
  19. ^ John MacArthur (2001), The Battle For The Beginning, Nelson 
  20. ^ "How Important Is Genesis 1-3?". Grace to you official website. August 27, 2009. Archived from the original on December 25, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ MacArthur, John. "Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?, Part 1". 
  22. ^ a b MacArthur, John. "Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 1". 
  23. ^ MacArthur, John. "What is dispensationalism? And what is your position, from Scripture, on the subject?". 
  24. ^ MacArthur, John. The Gospel According to Jesus. ISBN 0-310-39491-0. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ MacArthur, John. "Chosen from Eternity: Chosen by God--Part 1". 
  27. ^ "What's All the Controversy About John MacArthur and the Blood of Christ?". Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. 
  28. ^ Menzie, Nicola. "'Strange Fire' Conference: John MacArthur Calls Out Charismatic Movement as 'Unfaithful'". The Christian Post. The Christian Post. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  29. ^ MacArthur, John. "Strange Fire – Session One – John MacArthur". The Cripplegate. DISQUS. 
  30. ^ "The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit". 
  31. ^ MacArthur, John (October 23, 2011). "The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit". Grace to You. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  32. ^ MacArthu, John. "The Temporary Sign Gifts, Part 3". Grace to You. Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  33. ^ "John MacArthur "What has happened after the 'Strange Fire' Conference"". YouTube. August 28, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  34. ^ MacArthur, John. "Does God Promise Health and Wealth? Part 2". Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  35. ^ Guzik, David. "Strange Fire: A Calvary Chapel Response". Calvary Chapel. Archived from the original on May 21, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  36. ^ Piper, John. "Piper Addresses Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos". Desiring God. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  37. ^ "The Loving Husband: A Portrait of Christ". Retrieved April 10, 2017. 
  38. ^ Grace to You. "God's High Call for Women". 
  39. ^ Grace to You. "Should Women Teach in Church?". 
  40. ^ Grace to You. "Can Women Exercise Authority in the Church?". 
  41. ^ Ganz and MacArthur (1993), PsychoBabble: The Failure of Modern Psychology--and the Biblical Alternative, Crossway 
  42. ^ John F MacArthur (1991), "THE PSYCHOLOGY EPIDEMIC AND ITS CURE", The Master's Seminary Journal, 2:1: 3–20 
  43. ^ Hammar, Richard R. , J.D., LL.M., CPA. "Clergy Malpractice". Church Law & Tax Report. 
  44. ^ "The Clergy as Counselors". Los Angeles Times. May 22, 2005. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  45. ^ Reinhold, Robert (November 24, 1988). "Justices Dismiss Suit over Clergy". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  46. ^ Carrington,Eddie. "Psychology – The Study of the Mind or the Study of the Soul". Hack Thyself. Archived from the original on February 21, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Our Sufficiency for Outreach". Christianity Today. October 1, 1991. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  48. ^ "The Bible and Joel Osteen - Produced by Truth Ministries & Ben Ditzel". 
  49. ^ "John F. MacArthur - The Scandal of the Catholic Priesthood". 
  50. ^ MacArthur, John. "A Timely Critique of the Catholic Church". Grace to You. Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Antichrist-John MacArthur". 
  52. ^ MacArthur, John. "Blog RSS The Pope and the Spirit of Antichrist". Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  53. ^ MacArthur, John. "Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church". 

Further reading

  • Jones, Karen (Nov–Dec 2009). "John MacArthur: Unleashing God's Truth—One Verse at a Time". Bible Study Magazine. 2 (1): 10–14. 
  • John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, Iain H. Murray
  • John Macarthur: Mainstreaming Paganism in the Church (Critical review)
  • Seven Leaders: Pastors and Teachers, by Iain H. Murray

External links

  • John – 40th anniversary legacy site presented by Grace Community Church
  • resources page – all of MacArthur's sermons (audio and text) available for download
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