If you were harmed, does that mean you’ll blame God? And other questions for John MacArthur

John MacArthur a long time ago

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.

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Kayla
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Kayla

The more I read about John MacArthur and his “sermons” on social justice and the topic of “victimhood,” the more convinced I am that he is scared because of the recent accusations against The Master’s University (ugh, I hate typing that name because it just sounds arrogant, as if that specific school is chosen of the Lord), and has his own evil he doesn’t want exposed. My question for him would be: What sins/evildoing are you trying to keep hidden?

Noble Sword
Guest

This is spiritual abuse 101. Victim blaming is one of the biggest underlying structures enabling the culture of rape. It is the biggest reason that survivors do not speak out. One only has to look at the statistics on exploitation of women released by WHO to understand that a huge amount of sin is perpetrated against innocent people. I have to wonder what this man is doing behind closed doors.

Julie Hauser
Guest
Julie Hauser

I have been victimized my whole life…by my mother, mother-in-law, and husband (34 years of marriage). But in all those years, I NEVER blamed God. At times (lots of times) I believed He was the only one in my corner. He has been my Protector, my Friend, my Advocate. How dare this man say these things. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Sigh…..

Forrest
Guest

I knew MacArthur had an enormous ego. I hadn’t realised just how far his Calvinism had moved him away from God … the real one I mean, not MacArthur’s. It would have been better for MacArthur thad a huge millstone be hung around his neck and he had been drowned in the sea.

Alison
Guest

I used to admire John MacArthur. I’ve long since changed my view. His arguments are so illogical as to be absurd. Logic demands that, if he believes what he’s saying, there should be no prisons or civil/criminal law because all the people who have been victims of any crime got what they deserve because they are sinners or perhaps committed those crimes against themselves.
This is so twisted. Yet, there are probably thousands who accept this nonsense as “gospel ” truth.
How can he make these claims, then turn around and claim he’s being attacked? It’s completely hypocritical. The man speaks with a forked tongue! What else is he hiding and lying about?
I get really angry about these lies told from pulpits across our nation.

norinebleakley
Guest

I’ve listened to him, from time to time, with interest because at a time when I particularly needed sound doctrine from an assured voice, his and others similar in style and approach, weren’t afraid to be unequivocal about the revealed word of God. THIS I find the more alarming because of that. My thoughts are that he is, in all likelihood, parroting the esteemed but too often maligned and misunderstood, Dr Jordan Peterson who says something similar about SJWs and the Social Justice ‘movement’ which has gone WAY too far in a direction that sounds compassionate but is a front for radical and sometimes violent identity politics. JP, I believe, would have no truck with John McArthur’s crass and immoderate view that implicitly calls upon the authority of God to support and back up his rather cruel and (I would suggest) abusive, interpretation.

Mf
Guest

Jesus’ debut into ministry was announced with Isaiah’s quote of setting the oppressed free … if this isn’t a validation by God Himself that “victimhood” exists, then what is? Furthermore, How about when Jesus tells the story of the woman and the unjust judge?! Everything about MacAurther’s teaching exposes his own callousness and lack of knowing the heart and grace of God. He’s an angry preacher whose sermons exude bitterness toward the hurting & oppressed, while unbelievably blaming the victims for being victimized. He preaches the opposite of the gospel; he imposes guilt and condemnation. How can he even be considered a respected bible teacher?

Forrest
Guest
Forrest

I agree completely, Mf.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Rebecca,

I have a hunch that McArthur’s isn’t the only preacher that embraces his ideology. It comes down to the root of what he believes, which is his doctrine. We can isolate McArthur, but there are many like him, in small and not so small churches who have been indoctrinated or been mentored to spread their Reformed Calvinistic or Hyper-Calvinistic Theology.

I haven’t read what your profession of faith, but I will say Calvinism appears to be a very complicated as there are many dialects that a self-professed Calvinist will pick and choose what they believe. Some might believe Point #1 of TULIP, some might believe Point #2 while others might believe other various combinations of the 5 Points of Calvinism or all 5 Points, Some believe in 7 Points.

I’ve even witnessed preaching that is works, law and sin centered base where the Calvinist preacher expect their congregation to openly wear suffering of their sleeve, which must mean no smiling, otherwise they lack evidence of suffering.

I contend, how are we going to reach the loss, if by appearance the loss see those in Reformed Churches being more miserable or lack joy of knowing who Christ than those that don’t know who Christ is?

Daniel Scott
Guest
Daniel Scott

Ultimately this is a result of MacArthur’s mix of Manichean and Stoic philosophy, which we today call Calvinism.

In his mind, God specifically deems some people to suffer the torment of hell for His glory, so it’s not far off for someone in that mindset to think that victimization is also a result of God. So therefore MacArthur likely thinks he’s doing God a favor by saying these things. He already makes the argument that God specifically picks and chooses some people for heaven and the rest for hell “out of His tender love and compassion”.

Calvinism and Lordship Salvation is so twisted.

Jeanette
Guest
Jeanette

The link to Sermon # 3 isn’t working

Ruth
Guest
Ruth

MacArthur has many granddaughters. Knowing the statistics, there’s a probability that abuse of some form could have come to someone in his family. I wonder how he’d react to this?

If he remains calloused on this issue, I have no choice but to believe that he is a perpetrator of abuse himself. It’s the ones who slam their fists down against the abuse/victim conversation who are hiding their own sins against others.

TS00
Guest
TS00

Sadly, this reminds me of the realization I finally came to – after over a decade – that my Calvinist pastor was profoundly illogical and inconsistent. Not once, not occasionally, but systematically. I was forced to conclude that the man had a semblance of religion, a set of doctrines which he held to, but that he did not truly know God in the deeply personal way that I view as ‘walking with God’.

There are many, particularly in the Reformed world, who carefully adhere to and proclaim a systematic set of doctrines. They study the scriptures, ardently debate their interpretations and talk the talk of righteous living. This is no different from the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They knew the law. They could recite it backwards and forwards, and for good measure, they tacked on a boatload of additional commands to make men even more ‘holy’ – just as modern day legalists do. But, as Jesus charged, they never knew his Father; for if they did, they would accept him and humbly love others.

Reformed Theology (a.k.a. Calvinism) is a harsh, destructive theology that constructs a false picture of a tyrannical, controlling, heartless monster of a God, who pretends that he desires that none perish while creating countless millions for that very purpose. Any Calvinist who will not acknowledge this is simply dishonest. I realize that there are many (including many of my family members) who do not understand this, and who do not understand what consistent Calvinism demands – because their Calvinist teachers deliberately keep the truth from them, as did mine.

Such teachers, like MacArthur, will claim one thing one minute, and its exact opposite the next. They will pretend to adhere to the common understanding of scripture, or the deeply held beliefs of their members, while knowing full well that their theology asserts something entirely different. They simply cannot be intellectually honest without driving away every single member of their congregation, for no one would trust or love the God they have manufactured. I am sorry if that sounds harsh. Again, it is not so much a condemnation of those who have been ensnared, as the wolves who have corrupted the gospel of salvation.

Their theology is so unlivable that they must either become schizophrenic or dishonest in order to escape the cognitive dissonance of ‘believing’ scripture while asserting completely unscriptural philosophies. Eventually, these teachers – like MacArthur – become so calloused that they simply do not even see how inconsistent and incoherent they are. For years, literally, I persuaded myself that I simply misunderstood things, that this inconsistency, and that claim could not possibly be what was actually said – I must have gotten it wrong. Finally, I was led by God to open my eyes and face the truth.

TS00
Guest
TS00

The ugly little secret of Reformed Theology, which MacArthur is desperately trying to hide, is that one not only could but MUST blame God for whatever happens to them, for he is, in their view, the indisputable sole causative force for whatsoever happens in his creation.

Oh, Reformed theologians will try to muddy the waters by speaking of secondary causes, and man simply following his greatest ‘desire’, but what cannot be plausibly denied is that all things were planned, ordained and brought to pass from the controlling, causative mind of God.

So, in answer to your question, and in direct contradiction to MacArthur’s pretentious righteous indignation, of course God is to be blamed for any and all harm that comes to anyone. According to Reformed Theology, he planned all things in eternity past, before any human being ever came into existence, every rape, murder and heinous action come from his ordaining will, just as surely as every blessing. It is just such unavoidable assertions that Calvinism has long sought to escape, despite being the foundation of their systematic theology.

harrisjoy77
Guest

How could I blame the One who kept me alive and strengthened me to live another day every time I ran to Him? I knew what an evil man did had nothing to do with my good God. He was my Rock and Fortress. I asked “why” and “how long” sometimes but never blamed Him. Excellent rebuttal, Rebecca!

Stephen Walsh
Guest
Stephen Walsh

MacArthur doesn’t seem to understand the gospel he says he defends. “The gospel doesn’t open up until the sinner takes full responsibility for his sin” Uh excuse me the sinner is incapable of taking full responsibility for his sin until he is regenerated by the Spirit and Word of God, and out of a new heart he is convicted and repents. “They were cut to the heart and cried out ‘what must we do to be saved.”

Freedom
Guest
Freedom

This is in response to Stephen Walsh:
Can you clarify what you are saying?
It is not true that we can be ‘saved’ and yet still be a receipient of ‘injustice or wrong doing’ because of a broken world?
I am a believer of Jesus, saved and a believer in His work, yet this didn’t shield me from not receiving ‘wrong doing from others’.

Are you saying the MacArther doesn’t have the Gospel or the Word of God? Otherwise if he did, he would understand the very basic principle of taking responsibility of one’s own sin. He would have a regenerative heart and see the Scriptures from God’s eyes and heart understanding?

PlayingWithFire
Guest
PlayingWithFire

Amen.

Bev Sterk
Guest
Bev Sterk

I wonder if it has something to do with JMac’s understanding/quenching of the Holy Spirit as he seems to be so hostile toward those who believe in the full expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today…

Freedom
Guest
Freedom

This comment is primarily to Kayla and of course all here on this thread.
Kayla, you bring up a good point on the sermons of ‘victimhood’.
I haven’t followed much of John MacArthur but these spiritual flavored sermons are dangerous because I believe they are far more about a political agenda than spreading the Gospel. The agenda to blame the victim or the offendee is such the pattern of a bigger systemic problem we have culturally with abusive postures and mindsets! It’s no doubt much more dangerous to spiritualize and teach with spiritual elements such a statement as ‘victimhood’.
The lack of empathy and compassion that John M. shows for injustice reveals just how far his sermons are from the posture and character of Jesus. John M seems to be using ‘or rather misusing’ his spiritual pedestal to be an opportunity to spread more of what is nothing short of … ‘worldly beliefs’, made to sound spiritually flavored.
Ultimately, it can be an example of either a very immature or long time ignorant professing Christian (no regeneration) or not a Christian at all if one study’s the book of Hebrews.

Freedom
Guest
Freedom

Rebecca,
Not only does he mock the victims of child abuse and their memories but he is mocking ‘psychologists’ in general and I believe that posture is more about an agenda against Professional Therapists, etc as a whole.
Those who ‘misuse’ and tend to be on the offender end of relational dynamics do not consider professional counseling something that has value or importance. In fact, this has been under attack in many direct and covert ways for decades. This profession that does tend to assist and advocate for victims or plenty of dysfunctional homes and church systems is quickly dismissed and or discredited as things like ‘psycho babble’ etc.
Abusers and those that are hiding or covering for others… the last place they want to be is with a professional that can often quickly see some dangerous thinking and mindsets.

It isn’t just the danger in what he is preaching about but his tone is the covert behavior that I believe has an ever deeper impact to produce ‘bystanders’ and collaborators of abuse.