Thursday, February 10, 2011

John MacArthur on Public Criticism

Blogger Tim Challies conducted a ten question interview - on various topics - with evangelical pastor John MacArthur, and has split the interview into two parts on his blog,  In part 2 of this interview, Challies asks MacArthur the following question:

How can we best critique people who are “in our camp” and yet believe things different from us? Or behave in ways we do not appreciate? How can we know where to draw those lines?
In his response, which touches several aspects of criticism, MacArthur gives his own interpretation of people "in our camp," which he "understand[s] to mean those who affirm a biblical gospel but differ with us on secondary issues."  A final thought MacArthur gives on this subject is the following:

One final thought to add is this: I believe that it is appropriate to respond publicly to that which has been taught publicly. If someone has published something in a book or on a blog or preached it in a sermon (which has then been made available online), it is now subject to public critique. I certainly believe this is true with regard to my own teachings. Anything I have preached or published (and therefore made public) is consequently subject to public criticism. And I don’t consider my critics to necessarily be unloving just because they disagree with me. In fact, I welcome their feedback, because it is part of the sharpening process.

Very interesting.  Very interesting, indeed.  I think I'm going to hold on to this quote for those people who have been critical of the times other people have been critical of MacArthur and other public figures.  How do you criticize a critic for being critical?


  1. Nice, I think that every time I comment over at the Pyromaniacs I'll have this quote from Mac "copied", read to "paste" at moments notice ;-).

  2. I'm guessing John has some interesting exceptions to this thinking in his church. If a brother there is a good Berean who examines what he is told with the scriptures to see if it is true (Acts 17:11) finds an error, offers his correction to John, John and the church board reject his correction, this brother will now need to be quiet about his correction or he must leave the church or be found "divisive" should he continue to make public his corrections. He will no longer be valued as a brother - he will be seen as a trouble maker. John and his board can tag any correction giver as divisive should they be too prideful or blind to receive the correction. "Iron sharpening iron" has tight limits in the institutionalized faith setting. When there is a pyramid of power in a church, many scriptures become nullified to protect the power pyramid.

  3. Tim,

    While I can't give first-hand testimony to what you're "guessing," I have read and heard some things by him that would make me wonder. Also, I DO have first hand experience with this from some of his adherents, and it can be brutal.

  4. It's all part of the system. Here is the scripture verse that was used on me and my wife as we challenged the saints to follow God's word, not men's traditions.
    2 Thes. 3:6-11. What "disorderly" conduct is Paul specifically speaking of here? Is "disorderly" a contextual translation of the term to begin with? Paul is talking specifically about lazy slackers who don't want to work a job or actually serve in the example of Paul. It has nothing to do with seeking to bring correction to a fellow believer who may call himself "your pastor".

    When this was quoted to us by the Admin Pastor and Chair of the board I looked it up and almost fainted. Here was another scripture where Paul teaches believers to "follow his example" in refusing the right to be paid and not being lazy but meet your own needs as you minister. This is an apostolic example that institutionalized staff completely reject.

    I have read several books written by pastors on how to handle "troublemakers". They all have the same MO and proof texts. Try to make it look like you care about them personally and at the same time help them leave your church. It's all very sad.

  5. Tim, I'd say that was a gross misinterpretation of that passage. I'd be interested in checking out those books on troublemakers. Do you remember the titles and authors?

  6. I found one right away. "Well Intentioned Dragons" Ministering to Problem People in the Church by Marshall Shelley. He is high up in Leadership Journal and Christianity Today.

    My copy is all marked up. It's loaded with deprecating comments about the lay folk and highly pedestalizing of the clergy - high calling vs low calling - intelligent shepherd vs stupid carnal sheep.

    I subscribed to Leadership Journal for many years. The comics were great but the writing was so pyramid power oriented leadership, even when they bring up servant leadership. It's all so deeply imbedded in the clergy mindset and they have so many twisted texts to justify it all.

  7. If you makes some comment,and you've never gone to deep enough in your studies, or maybe ,you've just only confined to your own twisted theology, I love someone who is fully committed for the cause Of christ and that change my life into a fruitful one.

  8. It is better to be criticize by preaching the truth,in an expository way, than a shallow none sense,unbiblical messages full of human wisdom.

  9. And false teachers have their own place in the lake of fire!