29 September 2006

Grace to You on television; John MacArthur in Calvin's Pulpit

John MacArthur Preaches from Calvin's Pulpit
John MacArthur Preaches from Calvin's Pulpit. Click on image for full-size photo.
f you're a subscriber to DirecTV, you have an opportunity tomorrow at 5:00pm EDT (2:00 PDT) to view the premier broadcast of "Grace to You TV" on channel 378. If you're not a DirecTV subscriber, there's no way to view the broadcast except by getting it on DVD from Grace to You.

At the moment, John MacArthur is in Europe leading a Reformation tour. He had the privilege this week of preaching in Geneva from Calvin's pulpit. Someone e-mailed the picture above. Click on it and you'll get a fuller version, showing a video crew. If the video is of sufficient quality, we plan to use this sermon on a "Grace to You TV" broadcast within a few weeks.

Incidentally, my other chief pastoral and theological mentor, Charles Spurgeon, spoke in Calvin's Pulpit in 1860. That was the only time in his entire ministry when he wore clerical garb of any kind. It was a Geneva gown, identical to the one Calvin wore. He said this about that experience:

That glorious man, Calvin! I preached in the cathedral. I do not think half the people understood me in the Cathedral of St. Peter's; but they were very glad to see and join in heart with the worship in which they could not join with understanding.

I did not feel very happy when I came out in full canonicals, but the request was put to me in such a beautiful way that I could have worn the Pope's tiara, if by so doing I could preach the gospel the more freely. They said,—"Our dear brother comes to us from another country. Now, when an ambassador comes from another country, he has a right to wear his own costume at Court; but, as a mark of very great esteem, he sometimes condescends to the manners of the country which he visits, and wears the Court dress."

"Well," I said—"yes, that I will, certainly, if you do not require it, but merely ask it as a token of my Christian love. I shall feel like running in a sack, but it will be your fault." But it was John Calvin's cloak, and that reconciled me to it very much.

I do love that man of God, suffering all his life long, enduring not only persecutions from without but a complication of disorders from within; and yet serving his Master with all his heart.

Judging from the above picture of John MacArthur, the keepers of St. Peter's cathedral at Geneva no longer require visiting speakers to wear the Geneva gown.

I stood in that pulpit once for a brief moment, but not to preach. The cathedral was closed to visitors and therefore empty, because it had been used earlier that day as a venue for some important couple's wedding. My friend John Glass (a pastor in Geneva) talked the groundskeeper into letting us in for a brief look. The groundskeeper graciously allowed us access to the pulpit for a quick photo, then hurried us out. It was a great moment, though.

(Chris Pixley, eat your heart out.)

Phil's signature


Mister G said...

The picture seems a bit artificial to me...it doesn't appear that many people are listening to him. Though the camera man in the background must be a VIP with the seat they gave him.

Only when Pastor MacArthur preaches in St. Peters Basilica will I be impressed.

Pastor Eldred said...

My guess would be that the fellow at the foot of the stairs is interpreting for Dr. MacArthur.

Trinian said...

I have to say, I'm not usually a fan of massive ornamentation in church, but that is the most awesome-looking pulpit I've ever seen.

The picture seems a bit artificial to me

You're right! They must have filmed this all in a basement soundstage in Santa Clarita. It's all a huge government conspiracy to make us think... that... MacArthur... likes... ummm... Reformation Theology...
Shoot, my Mulderspeak is getting rusty. What was the conspiracy again?

Michael Herrmann said...


A request for a wholly insignificant bit of trivia.

I heard Pastor MacArthur say in the Grace To You broadcast yesterday, when refering to Matthew 6:27, about how one cannot add even one cubit to his stature by being anxious. He defined a cubit as about 18 inches and said he wouldn't want to add that to himself because then he'd be 7' 10" tall. Is John 6' 4"? I cannot tell from this photo.


DJP said...

That is SO COOL. What a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Martin Downes said...

I visited St. Peter's last summer. I know it is off limits but a friend of mine sat on Calvin's chair. And at over 18 stone it was a fair amount of weight more than the chair was used to in Calvin's day.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I've always (well, not always) thought it would be cool to visit Reformed congregations around Europe. I should probably learn the languages before I start saving up, though...

Steve said...

What a privilege!

And 400 years from now (should the Lord tarry), I suppose there will be those who thrill at the thought of standing in MacArthur's pulpit.

kletois said...

Steve said:
And 400 years from now (should the Lord tarry), I suppose there will be those who thrill at the thought of standing in MacArthur's pulpit.

With the way the US and other western countries are so willing to bow the knee to the cult of Muhammed, I doubt MacArthur's pulpit will still reside in the mosque on that site.

BReformed said...

Wow! John MacArthur lifted higher than ever ... and without a hydraulic pulpit! :)

Of course, it is a thrill just to know that the truth was preached once again from that special place, but I have to think that John lay in his bed that night with a special thankfulness to have be the one to preach it.

Michele Rayburn said...

Thank you for the picture. It was quite a little thrill to see it while they're still over there, as my Pastor and some of the people from our church are over there with John. One of them has worked on a translation for one of the MacArthur study bibles, which if I understand correctly, was part of the celebration.

I look forward to having a DVD of this event, and I imagine my friends from church will also!

In His Love,
Michele Rayburn

Mataikhan said...

Very cool. I would like to get that message on DVD from GTY-TV.

A few years back, I passed through Geneva and stayed in a room that looked out into the square in front of Calvin's cathedral.

Of course in that day, I didn't really have any appreciation for who Calvin was. Now I wear his hat.

Mataikhan said...

P.S. Phil, I'm hoping you'll post the executive summary of your sermon from last Sunday on 2 Cor 3:18.

<proud papa>
I'm in Brazil, and was listening on the missionary Internet feed when my son decided to be born, so I missed the second half of your message.
</proud papa>

Phil Johnson said...



You can download the full sermon here.

Sharon said...

It is my understanding that part of this trip involves a presentation to John of the first edition of the MacArthur Study Bible in French. Now there is a needy mission field!

Mataikhan said...

Thanks, Phil!

Rhology said...

Ha ha! I met John Glass when he came to Tulsa Bible Church on a Sunday when my wife and I were visiting there. He guest-preached and the 1st 5 lines out of his mouth were in French, which my wife and I speak fluently. We were really excited!
We got to talk to him after and have always wanted to visit his church in Genève...
Maybe someday.