November 11, 2014

ICYMI: #askJMac

by C-Gate Links

Last week, John MacArthur dusted his twitter account off, and opened it up for business. Part of that was hosting a Q&A session in real time. Here are the highlights:
















C-Gate Links


  • elainebitt

    What? No even one from a woman? =)

    • Are you on Twitter Elaine? You should have asked!

      • elainebitt

        I am on twitter, but I was referring to the ones posted here.

    • And from one animal (although not listed above).

  • Jason

    My favorite response was to the one asking about how to avoid debt while going into missions or ministry. Also, the Great Commission one.

  • Señorita Daffy

    “Preach the word, Love Dad”


  • Karl Heitman

    “How important is it for the music minister of a church to be theologically trained?”
    John MacArthur: “Trained or not trained, it’s essential that he’s theologically accurate.”

  • Karl Heitman

    Oh…and here’s the reason why The Master’s Seminary is not a cemetery:

    “There is some benefit from reading Karl Barth and those who follow him?”

    John MacArthur: “The church has suffered immeasurably from the resurrection of dead German apostates. We don’t read him at @mastersseminary”

  • Dan

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic at all, this is an honest question…does anyone know if John MacArthur is actually the one using this Twitter account, or is it someone else on his behalf? Just asking because he’s a busy man and I know that he doesn’t write some of his books that have his name on them as the author.

    • elainebitt

      Here’s the answer to your question, by Phil Johnson:

      Btw, MacArthur does write his books.

      * it is very strange to me that you think JM and others would willingly deceive other people into thinking he is tweeting or he writes books if he didn’t do it. Can’t reconcile that sort of thinking with being a Christian.

      • Dan

        Umm…wow. You severely jumped the gun on this one and I find it shocking that you would assume by my question that I’m not a Christian. I asked an innocent question and your response was completely judgmental and unkind. I’m not interested in debating with you, but I do know, for a fact, that John MacArthur does not completely write ALL of his books. There isn’t anything wrong with that either by the way. I just wanted to know if it was, in fact, he himself on Twitter. Now I know.

        • I do know, for a fact, that John MacArthur does not completely write ALL of his books.

          You’re either mistaken on this one, or not using the same definition of “completely write” as is common in nearly all publishing. The content of all of John MacArthur’s books is generated by him — in most cases by his sermons. That raw material is then assembled into book form by an editor, and a first draft is sent to MacArthur for personal review and further editing. There are usually a few more rounds of that, where things get added or subtracted.

          None of that means that MacArthur is not the author of the books with his name on them. It means he benefits from the services of an editor who arranges his content into a serviceable form before he himself does further editing.

        • elainebitt

          I did not assume that you were not a Christian, quite the contrary, I assumed you were.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Dan, gty did have a twitter account in MacArthur’s name and did post comments on his behalf. But MacArthur did recently begin using the twitter account himself. Rumor has it he still prefers his fountain pen to social media.

      • Dan

        Thank you for your kind response.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Dan, regarding MacArthur’s books, Mike is correct in how they are compiled from sermons that MacArthur wrote. Phil Johnson explains the process for how he does it in the attached link. I can’t even imagine how knowledgeable Phil must be after doing that job for decades!

  • Lyndon Unger

    Yeah! I got my question all answered!

    Well, my 0.015 seconds of fame are over.

    I should have made T-shirts and capitalized on the moment.


    • Dan

      I’m really confused right now honestly. I legitimately wanted to know if John was really the one on Twitter, why is that such an outlandish question?

      • Lyndon isn’t referring to you or your question, Dan. He tweeted a question to Pastor John during the Q&A, and John chose to answer his question. It’s the 8th one from the top in the original post.

        • Dan

          Whoops, my mistake. Sorry :/

    • Karl Heitman

      Lyndon, you’re a C-gate blogger, which means you’ve pretty much achieved celebrity status.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Karl, I’m thinking of the “infamous” definition from the movie “The Three Amigos” right now…

        So you’re saying that I’m like the evangelical El Guapo?

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          With a “plethora” of biblical wisdom.

    • I think mine is worth 0.030 seconds of fame, considering JMac answered AN ACTUAL raccoon!
      I might put the twitter timeline screenshot on a t-shirt.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Put me down for an XL.

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  • MikeeK

    I know it’s constrained by twitter rules but most of this is either useless or counterproductive. Here’s a radical idea on how to prepare for ministry without going into debt, have churches actually train the next generation of leaders rather than shipping them off to a bunch of strangers at a seminary.

    • I get what you are saying, but…most churches don’t have access to world-class theologians/Greek scholars. I know, I know. Every pastor should be a theologian, and every pastor should be proficient in Greek to teach others (Bitzer was a banker, and whatnot). But you have to admit that not every pastor is Schreiner, or Wallace, or Busenitz. So I would say that the best thing for those in my church who want to be trained for seminary is to not learn Greek and history from me, but to go to a place where they get the best Greek and history profs around. I love the local church, but I also get that it is not the end all of education. Just like professors often make boring preachers, pastors often make boring professors.

      • MikeeK

        I don’t have any idea who those people are, and perhaps that’s the problem. We need pastors who are primarily shepherds relying on the Holy Spirit more than their Greek diagrams.

        • Lyndon Unger

          What does that mean? Who relies on Greek rather than on the Holy Spirit?

    • Lyndon Unger

      I totally agree.

      Does your church have guys who are able to adequately train men to reach a proficient level in church history, theology, hermeneutics, exegesis, counseling, homiletics and the original languages?

      I can pretty much guarantee that the answer is “no”.

      That’s been the answer that most churches gave (as in 99.99998%) over the last several centuries, hence the need for seminaries.

      I wish I didn’t have to go to seminary, but more than one church I attended before seminary actually was pastored by a guy who liked to preface his comments with “well, I’m no professional theologian, but…”.

      I also have never been under a pastor who DID know his original languages, with my exception of the time when I lived in Los Angeles.

      That didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in their ability to train me (in all the fields that they knew little about) for some reason.

  • Chad

    Interesting on the question regarding joining Grace and not having to agree with all the doctrinal statement. Does that hold for baptism? Can a Presbyterian who has repented and believed and is part of the Kingdom of God join Grace without being rebaptized?

    • elainebitt

      Chad, you missed the important point. GCC does NOT have a “doctrinal statement”. It’s called “what we teach”, and it’s under “distinctives” on their website.


      Now you may be able to answer your own question. =)

      • Chad

        Well, call me dense but that still does not answer my question. The statement, “If you’re in the Kingdom of God, you can join our Church” is a very broad statement. I know MacArthur holds that only believer’s baptism is true baptism – as do I. So if a Presbyterian came to join and they gave clear evidence of being a child of God, would they have to be baptized before joining or no?

        • elainebitt

          “The statement, “If you’re in the Kingdom of God, you can join our Church” is a very broad statement.”

          I understand. The statement means exactly what it says though. I can’t speak for them (someone soon will jump in and answer you with the necessary authority, or you could email GCC directly), but I’d say the answer to your question is yes.
          Your question was “Can a Presbyterian who has repented and believed and is part of the Kingdom of God join Grace without being rebaptize?” You said “repented, believed, is part of the Kingdom of God”. MacArthur said that such person can join GCC. I don’t think they would ask the person to be rebaptized.

    • Actually, they would ask that you be baptized before becoming a member. Baptism being the public mark that you are indentifying yourself with God’s kingdom, to give a tweak to the MacArthur language above. Another way of putting it: baptism is the means by which you join the church. To give an analogy, an airline can say “anyone can fly us.” Well, what about someone who doesn’t want to get on an airplane? Can he fly too? Yes, but only by getting on the plane. On obviously limited analogy, but the point is that John can say “anyone believer can join the church” but the means by which you do that is baptism. Does that make sense?

      • elainebitt

        Since I have clearly put my nose in someone else’s business, I am going to consider myself part of the conversation. =)

        But it’s only because I have a question for you Jesse. Your answer is to “anyone” or specifically to a Presbyterian (because they have been baptized as children)?

        • Nope. One baptism when you join your first local church. Then from that point forward you move membership based upon the profession of faith in your baptism.

    • Chad,

      Another of MacArthur’s tweets that morning was in response to a question from someone who was in the position you’re describing. They asked, “Baptised as baby, saved as adult. Baptise again? Or for first time? Or ok to leave alone? Or…???” MacArthur’s response was: “There’s only one baptism in the New Testament. Believer’s baptism. you need to be obedient to that command.”

      In addition to acknowledging that one won’t teach against our “What We Teach” statement, as well as acknowledging agreement with our Bylaws, Grace Church does ask that all members be baptized as believers before our church. That’s a bit different than disagreeing about a doctrinal point. It’s disagreeing about a very practical aspect of membership. The New Testament knows nothing of a non-baptized member of a church. Neither does the NT know anything of a baby-baptized member. So that’s where we’re coming from on that.

      Having said that, these things are always case-by-case at Grace Church. If there was someone who was very convinced that their baby “baptism” was following Christ in obedience (even though they had no conscious choice in the matter, but I digress), and they were on board in all other areas (unlikely, because Paedobaptism usually means covenantalism and amillennialism, but I digress again), and they really felt strongly that Grace Church was their home and where they needed to be, there may be a special dispensation (heh) in that case.

      • elainebitt

        Let’s say I am moving to California, and it just happens to be very close to where GCC (one can dream, right) is. To become a member I’d have to be re-baptized, even though I’ve been biblically baptized a few years ago?

        • Sorry Elaine. I noticed that there was a typo in my comment. It said, “…baptized as believers before our church.” I meant, “…baptized as believers before joining our church.” I’ve edited the comment so it says that now.

          So no, if you’ve already been baptized as a believer at another church, we do not ask that you be baptized again. Sorry for the confusion.

      • Chad

        I’m replying to Mike and Jesse both in this. I do understand the doctrinal point – and agree with it actually. Baptism is the way you “profess” and “declare” that you have repented and believed and been saved. * And just to make clear: this is not “pie in the sky” for me – I am a pastor of a small rural church in which this very thing is an issue. So I have “skin” in this game.

        I guess the initial statement is what is still tripping me up somewhat. Jesse, you said, “John can say, ‘Anyone who is a believer can join the church,’ but the means by which you do that is baptism.” I get that – and get your analogy as well, but what if someone does not agree with that? Are we then willing to declare them not a believer? I assume not. In which case, how can we make the blanket statement, “If you are part of God’s Kingdom, you can join this church.” At best, the statement seems to be far too simplistic, and at worst, it runs the risk of declaring (or at least implying) that certain people are not Christians because they will not be baptized.

        Mike, your comments are helpful as well. So to ask very practically and specifically – is it the case that Grace could (I get that this would be atypical and unusual, but nonetheless…) have as a member someone who had not been baptized as a believer because they are convinced in their heart and mind and conscience that they have already been baptized?

        • That is a conceivable possibility, yes.

          But what happens more often is that those folks sit down with a pastor and/or lay elder, and they talk out their concerns. I’ve told people who are convinced paedobaptists that they need to be members somewhere, even if not at Grace Church, and if they feel as strongly as they do about not being (what they would call) “rebaptized,” I encourage them to look into a sound paedobaptist church. I always try to communicate that we love them and want them as part of our church family, and that we believe Grace is the best place for them. But if their conscience is that active about it, I suggest they might consider a church where their conscience is not being challenged.

          In cases that I’ve been involved with, they either move on to a paedobaptist church or they go ahead and get baptized as a believer. And though I don’t know anyone personally, I do know that there are members who have had their infant “baptism” honored by the church, and so have not gotten baptized as a believer. As I said, it’s case by case, and that’s one of the things I love most about Grace Church: they understand that people are real people and not just objects to be categorized.

          Having said all that, I think it’s a little persnickety to quibble with Pastor John’s comment. It’s an accurate statement as a general rule, and the exceptions prove that he doesn’t think a Presbyterian is necessarily not in the kingdom of God.

          • Chad

            Mike – thanks so much for the comment brother. I do apologize for being “persnickety”. My intention was not at all to be argumentative or troublesome. As I said earlier, this is not a theoretical discussion for me. I am a pastor of a local church, and there are people I know and love who would admit of NO exceptions and would require the person to be rebaptized. I also know of some who would go so far as to say they might not be believers if they refuse “rebaptism”.

            I really was asking because I want to honor the Lord while faithfully shepherding His people – as you said: people who are not objects but real people.

            Thanks again – grace and peace on you, John, and Grace Church.

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  • brad

    Great post! I both strongly agreed and strongly disagreed with John MacArthur’s answers. So glad the Bible is our authority and at the same time God has given us godly and intelligent teachers like John MacArthur!

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