16 December 2011

Open Letter to John MacArthur

by Frank Turk


Dear Dr. MacArthur,

My dear friend Dan has already written you an open letter this year, and one may think that's the end of it as he has given you a friendly encouragement to do something really hard for the sake of the faithful as part of finishing strong.  However, what Dan had to say has absolutely nothing to do with what I have to say, so I'll say this bit myself.



I've had the great pleasure to visit SoCal twice in the last year or so, and both times I got to tour the GTY offices because, well, I was living in Phil's house for the week and from my perspective it's always instructive to see where the magic happens (and we go see Disney while we're there, too, since we're middle American tourists).  Both times I had the pleasure to chat with the staff and both times I got to view your office at GTY -- and I found that I had to simply just walk out quickly.  I had this really unnatural fear that if we stuck around too long, you'd show up and I'd have to meet you face to face.

Now, honestly: I'm not a fan-boy.  I can remember that the last time I was at T4G I was walking from the hotel to the conference and as I turned to my left, the guy crowding up on me was CJ Mahaney, and I didn't get all creeped out.  I didn't grab for my pen to get an autograph.  He's a guy, I'm a guy, and we were walking down the hall together.  No Problem.

I once rode in an elevator with John Eldredge when he was a big name at CBA and I was a little disappointed at what a short little fellow he was, and that he needed a handler to make his way around the conference center, but I wasn't overcome with awe for a guy who has sold a million books.  Ergun Caner once forced his book on me back when people thought he was an ex-jihadi and he told me (without every talking to me about what I believed) that everything I knew about the Crusades was wrong.  He made me feel the way the guy selling scented anointing oil made me feel, which is not star-struck.  My wife once (accidentally) cut in line to get Third Day's autograph (she thought she was meeting the sales rep from Provident), and we had a good laugh about that.  I didn't get all giddy when she handed me Mac Powell's and Mike Lee's autographs.

But when I stood in your office, I was remembering when I was a very young Christian, living in a place called Sackett's Harbor.  I barely had a local church, and I was working at a thankless job for a guy who hated me, and I had to drive 20 minutes to work every day at 4:30 in the morning.  On the way back from work at 3 PM, I would hear J. Vernon McGee.  But on the way in -- and I remember almost every drive as a drive through icy cold in the snow-covered hell-bow of NY State and Lake Ontario -- you were preaching through the Bible.

I wasn't in the worst place anyone has ever been.  I wasn't homeless, or unemployed, or without prospects, or unsaved.  But I was disoriented spiritually, and undisciplined, and unfocused; and because of the situation I had at work, I was also depressed, and looking for some sort of hope in a world which, frankly, could care less about me.  And I was still making the rookie mistakes a newly-saved adult makes every time.

What happened to me through your preaching was not personal discipleship -- it couldn't be.  You don't know me, and you could not have known me or my problems then.  But through the work of GTY assembling your sermons for the radio on a daily basis you saved my spiritual life.  You planted a seed in me which others were also working to plant, and which others still cultivated for a good harvest as I later became a husband and father and leader at work.

And in doing this, you really didn't do this for me: you did it for Christ.  I get that -- I get it that you don't really preach with anyone in mind but with Christ in mind so that those who are listening, whosoever they are, will hear it and come.  I get it that you sort of did it to me and not for me.  But when I think of the massive benefit I have received simply because you were a faithful servant to Jesus, I am taken aback.

The only other man in my spiritual life to have this kind of impact on me was my pastor, and he did personally disciple me.  He did take the time to make me talk about spiritual things and consider spiritual reasons for following the narrower path rather than a wider path which would just be easier.  But here's the thing: what he was trying to tell me and do for me would never have mattered if, when I was driving in the dark and the snow each morning, you hadn't also spoken the words of life into me when I was preparing to go to a job I hated, working for a man who distrusted and denigrated me even though I was doing things for him he didn't even know he needed.  You spoke daily into my doubt and my downcast state with sound spiritual wisdom, and it changed me.

So when I stood in your office, I wasn't in the office of a famous man.  I was in the office of a fellow who saved my spiritual life, and the life of my marriage, and of my professional vocation, and the life of my family.  For me, I'm not sure I could meet you and not over-react, because you have given me so much which was so essential for the start of my walk with Christ.  Everything that has come after it is a consequence of what you have done, and the least I owe you for that is thanks.

So today: thank you.  Thank you that you taught me about Christ so I could love my wife better.  Thank you that you taught me about humility so I could think of others as more important than myself.  Thank you that you taught me how to confess my sins for the sake of repentance.  Thank you that you taught me that I have a refuge from all my doubt in Christ's resurrection.  Thank you that, with other faithful men, but in a place they could not reach me, you were  filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

Thank you that what you have given me makes Christmas brilliant and sweet.  I hope that this season brings good tidings of great joy to you and yours.  Thanks for being a good friend and good boss to Phil.  I look forward to seeing what God has for you as you finish the race well for the sake of your savior.








78 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Best open letter you've written.

Kerry James Allen said...

I began listening to John MacArthur in 1988 as I was making my way out of a theological morass and training that emphasized "Do more, give more, go more" preaching. I didn't know that you could actually preach the Word for 45-60 minutes and didn't have to be the hero of all your stories. Dr. MacArthur was the man that God primarily used to alter my thinking about what preaching was really supposed to be. Thank you sir."Carve your name on hearts and not on marble." CHS

Robert Warren said...

Hear, hear! Dr. MacArthur isn't my pastor, but he showed me what one could expect from a man of God in the pulpit and that helped me find my pastor.

Robert said...

Great letter...you have captured the thoughts of many of us in expressing thanks for how the ministry of Jahn MacArthur has impacted our lives.

Alex Guggenheim said...

What happened to me through your preaching was not personal discipleship -- it couldn't be. You don't know me, and you could not have known me or my problems then. But through the work of GTY assembling your sermons for the radio on a daily basis you saved my spiritual life.
_____________

I suggest that though it appears John MacArthur did not involve himself in "personal discipleship" the results are otherwise. To have "saved you spiritual life" is quite personal and impossible without it being personal. You did precisely what a believer should do, apply the truth personally.

I believe this is evidence, once again, that the assertion that it is a spiritual essential to have "face time" with a Bible Teacher in order to be Shepherded in a meaningful way is untrue. It appears MacArthur Shepherded you quite well in the absence of a local Shepherd who you subsequently did find.

Frank Turk said...

Well, Alex: you're wrong.

DJP said...

Goodness, what a lovely, gracious, encouraging post. I did not know all that. Thank you so much for sharing it.

It is as much a work of grace and truth as Guggenheim's comment is characteristically the unpleasant floater in the punchbowl. Again, I thank you.

touchyaneighbor.com said...

One day was I reading a sermon by John MacArthur online called the Sinfulness of Sin. After being duped into thinking that I was truly saved for 4 years, I discovered that I was not saved at all. But through Johnny Mac's proclamation of the Gospel that same day God, through the power of His Spirit, poured out His grace on me and I was saved having repented of my sin and placed my trust in Christ and Christ alone for my salvation.

Thank God that we have men who are not afraid to speak, preach, and live the truth. Without them I would have died in my sins....

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Oh, Frank! The details of my story are different, but the heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. MacArthur resonate in my life as well. Thank you for this letter, even if you made a very pregnant woman cry today. ; 0) I forgive you.

donsands said...

"You spoke daily into my doubt and my downcast state with sound spiritual wisdom, and it changed me."-Cent

John did this for me as well. Way back in the late 80's. Then a little later on I was lied to and told within myself that John MacArthur was proud in his preaching, and a little too self-righteous. I believe these lies were the sifting of Satan and his cohorts.
I wrote to RC Sproul, and mentioned how blessed I was by his own preaching, but John MacArthur seemed to have pride.
RC actually sent me a letter to straighten me out on that.
I am so glad he did.
I hope all that makes sense. If not delete me.

Thank you Frank for this very well written epistle of encouragement to one of our finest ministers of the Gospel we have ever had the honor of being edified by.
Thanks again.

Kaj Ballantyne said...

I have been blessed by listening to his preaching and love his boldness and clarity with the gospel in every situation he finds himself ... but I was hugely blown away just the past year when speaking with a friend who had worked closely with him while as a student at Masters.

His comment about MacArthur was how universally loved he was by those who serve along side of him at Grace. There is a genuine love and respect for the man. His exact word were "everyone there would take a bullet for the man!"

You can be a great "radio preacher" or world wide author but to have the love and respect of those who he actually rubs shoulders with on a day to day basis speaks volumes on his character. Sure, I don't agree with all his points of theology but you can't argue with the impact of his life ... may we all stive to speak and live with such integrity.

Great letter Frank.

LanternBright said...

But, Frank, did you take the time to email Dr. MacArthur personally BEFORE you did this public open letter? Just looking out for you, brother.

Alex Guggenheim said...

Frank, "you're wrong". I give. Your rebutal is too stout. LOL.

Darlene said...

Made me cry too Frank! Love hearing the stories of how God providentially guides our steps and who He brings along our path to teach us and help us, Thanks so much!

Solameanie said...

I've loved John MacArthur ever since the early 1980s when I used to rack up a tape of Grace to You to air over the Harold Camping station in Long Beach (where I was a lowly, humble announcer).

I'll leave you all to consider the irony in that. Harold went bonkers, while John just got bolder, stronger, and deeper into the things of God, enriched by a true love and proper dividing of His Word.

Solameanie said...

. . . floater in the punchbowl."

Thank you, Daniel. I am now going to have very unpleasant things coming to mind when preparing the wassail bowl for Christmas.

mark pierson said...

Ah, yes, winter along the shores of Lake Ontario.

John MacArthur on the radio was my first exposure to expository preaching. The little church I was going to at the time didn't preach or teach like that. I appreciate John MacArthur for that. Thank you Dr. MacArthur! And thank you Frank for this post.

Chris Johnson said...

"I didn't know that you could actually preach the Word for 45-60 minutes and didn't have to be the hero of all your stories. Dr. MacArthur was the man that God primarily used to alter my thinking about what preaching was really supposed to be."

Well said...

Ken said...

When my church split and we were left out in the cold a group of us met in a home for several years listening to John MacArthur's tapes. That solid teaching led to the start of a new church is today solidly established.

John MacArthur is one of my spiritual heroes.

Allison Gray said...

May I add my hearty amen to this post as well? Once again, the details of how God has used John MacArthur's faithful preaching to change my husband and my lives are different, but the happy results are the same. We started listening to him just this past February and the difference has been night and day! We both came from a charismatic/pentacostal background and had the requisite shifting-sand theology that goes part and parcel with that movement. I shudder to think where I was a year ago today, and marvel with thankful tears at how far the Lord has brought us in the past year by way of John MacArthur's teaching. Not only do we now have a solid foundation in the Word, what we learned has led us to find a solid church with an even more faithful, solid pastor who are both such an unexhaustable gift to our family.
Phil, if I could ask you one big favour? Could you please give John a great big hug for us from a couple of Canadians whose lives have been deeply touched by his faithful ministry? We would so appreciate it! (and then of course, give yourself and Dan & Frank a big hug, because we are also grateful for your wonderful ministry!) God Bless and Merry Christmas :)

The Bible Christian said...

Frank

Your words regarding Dr. MacArthur resembles mine in so many ways, I too was undisciplined, and unfocused and though I prayed a prayer, I was lost. I remember my Mom telling me about a preacher in California that she just loved back in the late 70's and early eighties, she told me she corresponded my mail a few times with Dr. MacArthur... Then she figured out somehow he was a Calvinist and she never listened to him again.

So I went on my merry way believing I was save, but living like the Devil. Until 2000 when I heard a preacher on the radio that I was drawn to, I remember thinking how confident he sounded in what he was saying, like really knowing what he was talking about. I was excited to get in my car every day in upstate NY while he was on at 12:30 on WMHR 102.9 out of Syracuse the snow capital of the world. The rest is history.

I finally did get a chance to meet Dr. MacArthur in person this past November at the Sola conference in Montreal Canada, and took a couple of Picture, humble and kind man. Regarding my Mom, shortly before she died, She said this to me "Lenny I know you are a Calvinist, I'm OK with that" Frank thanks for bringing me down memory lane.

Lenny

Jerry Brown said...

Amen and Amen, Frank.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

My pastor is a very brilliant man, and he always refers to something he has learned from John MacArthur. If you go into our bookstore at church, you would think there was no other Christian author on this planet, other then JMAC. Not only does he mention JMAC in our Sunday school classes, but so does everyone else: this continually amazes me.

I was looking for a church closer to my home not too long ago, and I watched a local broadcast from a Baptist church close by, and heard the pastor mention JM; right then and there, I knew I had found my new church home.

JM preaches the Word and does not get in the “way” of the Word. Yet, he is one of the best orators out there. And this confounds me, because even though he is a great orator, he still manages to keep himself in the background and keep everyone’s eyes focused on Jesus and the Word. That, in and of itself, is NO SMALL FEAT!. We are so blessed to have him in our generation.

Wonderful tribute to him, Frank.

Mel said...

I think you speak for a lot of people Frank, myself included. Well done.

Sharon said...

Pastor John introduced me to the Gospel when I was an unsaved high school senior and a friend brought me to Grace Church. That fall I attended college in Eugene, OR (Go Ducks!) and became involved in Dr. Jack MacArthur's church. In 1979 I returned to Los Angeles at the invitation to work in the music ministry at Grace Community.

Frank, your very kind letter reminds me to be ever so thankful to the Lord for leading me to this church for salvation, and later, in music ministry that I love so very much. Soli Deo Gloria!

Sharon said...

P.S. @Kaj (7:40 AM 12/16), I can confirm that is absolutely true. The unity we have as a staff here at Grace Church is refreshingly unique and a blessing. And it all starts at the top with a man who is a humble slave of Jesus Christ both in word and in deed.

CAPTSteveHardy said...

Frank--thanks so much for this open letter. I first started listening to John MacArthur in the mid to late '70s in the Washington, DC suburbs. As I entered the Coast Guard and was assigned around the country, we were involved in many local churches, and usually called our pastors friends as well as fellow workers for Christ. However, no matter where we were in a 28 year military career, we always seemed to consider Dr. MacArthur that spiritual compass that pointed us toward the Lord through his tapes, then CDs and many books, included those wonderful books that GTY used to publish as a compliment to the broadcast messages (and of which I still have many in my library--I've used the one on the Disciples' Prayer a number of times to teach from). And I think it was and is his great love for our God and his treasuring of God's Word that makes him a compass for us; and I see the same in so many of the comments, including Frank's initial letter.

Pierre Saikaley said...

MacArthur is one of a kind.

Always interesting to read the more in depth details of peoples' experiences and how the LORD has used things to mature them in faith.

Sabine said...

Is it too late to participate in the Canadian group hug of John MacArthur? After many years of simmering doubt about assurance of my salvation, Dr. MacArthur finally put it to rest through a series of sermons on gty.org, reinforced by the loan of Dr. M's book on the subject by my pastor. Now that I know, I "might as well enjoy it!"

I listen to him almost every day on GTY Radio, and I usually listen to a sermon or two a day in addition, sometimes more.

I hope he is around for a long time to come. I look forward to meeting him in Heaven someday to thank him personally.

Mike Gantt said...

If people showed the same deference to Christ that they show toward Christian celebrities like John MacArthur, then the cause of Christ would be greatly advanced.

That there are Christian celebrities is itself a sign that worldliness dominates in evangelical Christianity.

DJP said...

Mike G, I am trying to make some kind of sense, in-context, from your comment.

Are you saying that the specifics for which Frank and others are expressing appreciation are all lies, and they are all liars?

Or are you saying that they are all true, but none of these people should express appreciation for these things?

Sam said...

Wow Mike, did you even read the letter or the comments?

Mike Gantt said...

DJP,

I am not calling anyone a liar. I am saying that there is a system of celebrity in evangelical Christianity just as their is in politics, in show business, and practically every other field of endeavor. This system of celebrity is a function of minds set on the flesh, not minds set on the spirit.

Mike Gantt said...

Sam,

It was the opening paragraphs demonstrating the "star system" that operates in so many evangelical minds that disturbed me and provoked me to write. I was objecting to that mindset and was not commenting on anything that came after that.

DJP said...

And taxes are 'way, 'way too high. Government spends 'way too much. I have being served tepid, weak coffee. The UK charges FAR too much for coffee in shops. Plus, who the big-names choose to promote often baffles me.

But all those observations, like yours, don't have anything to do either with this post, this meta, or your comment.

Mike Gantt said...

DJP,

My comment only appears unrelated to you because you have no problem with the celebrity system in Christianity - whereby those with larger followings are according greater respect.

I do not begrudge any appreciation or any affection that anyone has for John or anyone else. What struck the wrong chord for me was the opening that implied awe for famous Christian leaders - in the same way one would express awe for famous politicians or movie stars.

I read what I read and reacted to it. If you don't agree with me, so be it. But you're off base to tell me my comment is off topic.

Mike Gantt said...

"OK, I know that we now all agree that there are no such things as celebrity pastors and that anyone who claims the contrary is probably motivated by envy and base motives; but if, for the sake of argument, we were to allow that there might occasionally, just occasionally, be a vague and distant analogy between Hollywood and the church..."

- from Carl Trueman's current blog post at Reformation 21

http://bit.ly/sKRcNp

Sam said...

Mike, it seems like you've come to the party, soapbox in hand, without dealing with the context of the letter (been there, done that too). Frank's letter is an example of the right way to appreciate someone who is well known.

I had the fear of meeting face to face moment with RC Sproul at one of the T4Gs. God has used him greatly in helping me grow in my understanding of God's holiness and sovereignty. I was a few feet away and couldn't bring myself to say anything. On the upside I did get a chance to say "hi" and "thank you" to Frank and Dan after one of the sessions. :-)

Mike Gantt said...

Sam,

You are right that I carry my soapbox with me everywhere I go - and His name is Jesus Christ.

As for your comment about R.C. Sproul, I can relate. I myself have been in awe of famous Christians as I have been in awe of famous people from all walks of life. But it finally dawned on me that to show deference to the famous over the common is a distinction God would not have us make. More importantly, I realized that to be all atwitter when in the presence of a celebrity of any kind was an indirect affront to the presence of Christ. If I believe He is omnipresent, why shouldn't I be atwitter all the time about Him? This is even more so in the case of famous Christians who should just as atwitter about the presence of Christ as I am. Otherwise, it's just human beings focusing on each other, oblivious to the greater one in their midst.

If we don't think that the presence of Christ is as practical a reality as the presence of others, then we are still fleshly minded.

Brother Lawrence's "Practicing the Presence of Christ" is the only testimony I have ever read which seems to take this truth seriously. I hope this means I am just not well read.

Sam said...

Mike there is a huge difference between having respect and gratitude towards someone and hero worship. That's why you don't seem to get it. I don't think many people here would disagree with you that there is a problem of celebrity worship in contemporary Christianity. The word context keeps coming up in relation to you because you don't seem to get it. Reread the post, especially the part that got your knickers in a bunch. Then read the rest of the letter. And if you still don't get it, do it again. Your initial and subsequent comments have only revealed that you are having a serious comprehension problem.

Allison Gray said...

Mike,
We are not fawning over John MacArthur like he is someone to be worshipped. We are simply thankful for his God-gift gift of teaching that takes the deep things of Scripture and explains them in such a simple way that believer can understand them. I know that God could have just as easily raised up another man who does the same thing as John, but I would still be as thankful for his ministry regardless of what his name was.
As for referencing a book by an apostate RCC monk to back up your point (who practised an unbiblical means of approaching God that God himself has outlawed because it is occult in nature, and then had the audacity to write a book encouraging others to engage in his rebellious practices), you're going to try harder than that to make a valid, Bible-based point.

Sam said...

Mike, I was wondering if your pastor has any favorite authors, etc...

Mike Gantt said...

Sam,

My pastor is Jesus and His favorite author is the Holy Spirit.

Sam said...

I can tell by your humility that your doing just fine without a church family. Seriously man, can't you see that your arrogance in thinking you have no need for the church and others to teach you is just as bad as those guilty of hero worship?

Jerry Wragg said...

Mike -

Philippians 5:29-30
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

It's a command!

Jerry Wragg said...

Mike -
One more thing:

It's your prerogative to dispute what you deem a questionable manner of esteeming a well-known Christian leader, but you are not at liberty to rebuke the practice of honoring them, which is commanded by God.

Mike Gantt said...

Allison Gray,

I don't know Carl Trueman other than his blog has "reformation" in the title and I came across it because it was linked to another reformed blog as I was following a particular topic today. I thought he might be someone readers here respected more than me. If you don't regard him, that's fine by me. It's moot now since Sam subsequently conceded that mine was a "valid Bible-based point: when he wrote "I don't think many people here would disagree with you that there is a problem of celebrity worship in contemporary Christianity." That's all I wanted to say.

If you insist that you folks here are not fawning over John MacArthur then I'll take your word for it and remind myself that appearances can be deceiving. However, if John MacArthur is not a celebrity pastor then I don't know who else would qualify.

Mike Gantt said...

Sam,

I would think that the New Testament church is the one worth listening to above all others and one of its own said "You have no need of anyone to teach you but His anointing teaches you about all things." Moreover, the Lord Himself said that none of us should be called teacher because there is only One who is teacher and we are all brothers.

It's odd that you should call me arrogant for humbling myself before Him.

Sam said...

Mike I really hope you don't read your Bible the same way you read what others write but I suspect you do. I don't say that to be mean, it's really sad to tell you the truth. Let's get a couple of things straight here: your soapbox is not Jesus Christ it's your own arrogance and unwillingness to accept the fact that you missed the point. I for one respect Trueman and you would do well to read more of what he's written.

I think there is a distinction that needs to be made between being well known and celebrity as I used the term. Look at the fruit of MacArthur's life: any examples anywhere of him promoting himself or does he promote Christ? Whether it be from the pulpit, in his books, in interviews or what have you, the man defends and contends for the faith. That's not celebrity pal that's called faithfulness. Learn the difference. Celebrity, as I used it, is in reference to those who are out promoting themselves. So before you quote me as your proof for having made a biblical point (and referring to me gets you very little) lets make sure we're having the same conversation.

Sam said...

and it's odd to me Mike that you can pick and choose passages of scripture while ignoring the greater context and not see yourself as arrogant

Sam said...

Left the box of troll food out, my apologies to the regulars and the team

Mike Gantt said...

Jerry Wragg,

I've stated that I have no problem with expressing appreciation and granting honor to others. The objection I stated was to celebrities in Christianity - which I found addressed through the opening paragraphs of the post ("afraid you'd come in," "getting autographs," etc.).

More importantly, it is not the absence of deference I seek but rather transference of that deference to our Savior who dwells in our midst every day but is so often ignored as if He wasn't present.

Susan said...

Don Sands said: "I wrote to RC Sproul, and mentioned how blessed I was by his own preaching, but John MacArthur seemed to have pride.
RC actually sent me a letter to straighten me out on that."

Don, I don't think you could have picked a "wronger" person to say that about Pastor John. I have a friend who is a ministry partner of Ligonier who once told me that RC and John are best buds! (This, despite their differences on paedobaptism and eschatology.) I like them both, and I'm glad RC straightened you out. :)

And a hearty "amen" to everything that Frank said about Pastor John in this open letter. His preaching, church and resources also sustained me when I was in a really difficult time in my life. How blessed we are to know him this way, and how much more blessed you are if you know him personally! (No, I'm not idol worshiping. I'm just in awe of how much the Lord can bless us through one faithful, humble man!)

The Bible Christian said...

Just thinking, I would guess Timothy probably looked up at Paul with respect and honor... along with countless other men who were in contact with him.

Paul said Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

I don't look at John MacArthur with awe and reverence, I see the example he sets and the passion he has for the word of God and how he loves the Lord and I want to do that, I want to be that.

He's a leader and seasoned Christian godly man who leads by example... So call it what you want. I call it respect and honor.

Paul said "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us." Philippians 3:17

Mike Gantt said...

Sam,

You said, "I don't think many people here would disagree with you that there is a problem of celebrity worship in contemporary Christianity." So, we're together on that point.

As for your point that this is not the case with John MacArthur on this blog post, I'll have to take your word for it.

Any further discussion points between us would probably be off-topic for this post.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

At 8:20, Mike wrote:

"If people showed the same deference to Christ that they show toward Christian celebrities like John MacArthur, then the cause of Christ would be greatly advanced.

That there are Christian celebrities is itself a sign that worldliness dominates in evangelical Christianity."


Taken by itself, I'd venture to guess that Dr. MacArthur wouldn't disagree with those statements. But there is nothing worldly about publicly expressing your thanks and appreciation to someone who has blessed you and significantly influenced your life and walk with Christ, even if that person is well-known publicly.

Imagine if someone who lived a couple thousand miles away from you paid for your education which allowed you to not only study something you love, but enabled you to find a great job that has provided for your family everything you need to live and minister to others. You've never met this person, never asked for their generosity, but you know who they are. When given the opportunity to meet them face-to-face, you SHOULD feel a sense of respect, gratitude, thanks, even deference for all that they have done. And that does NOT take away glory from God for all that He has done for you through that person.

(And it explains why Frank felt so differently towards being in Dr. MacArthur's office than he felt being in the presence of all those other people he mentioned in his letter.)

Mike Gantt said...

Merrilee Stevenson,

I have no issues with anything you wrote except that Frank did not set the context quite the way you did. It was the references to autographs, Disneyland, and so on which set a context of celebrity. If the purpose was merely to thank then that table setting was inappropriate.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

"If the purpose was merely to thank then that table setting was inappropriate."

And that, I suppose, is why so many people have taken issue with your remarks. I think it's bad form to critique the table setting when you are the welcome guest at the meal. That is all.

Tom Chantry said...

MG,

I really shouldn't be feeding you, but...

...since some have perpetually mis-read Truman, and for the sake of others who saw you quote him out of context, let me put in a word on his behalf. (By the way, we're not confusing him with an apostate RCC monk, are we? Not sure who that reference was towards.)

Truman's article was about pastors who turn to provocative sermon series in order to buttress their own popularity when it begins to wane. In other words, Truman's quote referred to pastors who themselves act like celebrities, not to those who are treated like celebrities by others.

Now, I don't think Frank's letter treated MacArthur as a celebrity, but I understand how it could be concerning. I think it was a good letter, mind you, but - odd curmudgeon though this makes me - I have found the positive letters a bit harder to take then the negative. The thing is, though, Frank could have written anything he wanted about MacArthur, and the commenters could have screamed like teenage girls at a Bieber concert at the mention of his name, but Truman's article would still be off point. You wrote, "...if John MacArthur is not a celebrity pastor then I don't know who else would qualify." Since Truman's article was pastors who themselves act like celebrities, not those treated as such by others, this is a bit unfair. Read Truman's whole article, and you'll probably be able to think of a number of men who behave in the Hollywood fashion he mentions. I'm unaware of MacArthur ever doing anything like that.

Then again, anyone who can say "My pastor is Jesus and His favorite author is the Holy Spirit," has so rejected the entirety of New Testament ecclesiology that you probably assume that anyone who accepts the title "Pastor" is putting on airs.

Morris Brooks said...

At our Church's Christmas desert dinner last Sunday, my wife and I were surprised with a very nice painting captioned by Isaiah 45:6.

Our church was showing appreciation to me as their pastor, and to my wife (for all her work). But, following Mike's logic, they shouldn't have done that; and because they have done that I am now a celebrity pastor, and the people in our church have put me over Jesus.

C'mon...seriously?

Morris Brooks said...

Along with Tom, I too, read Carl Trueman's article; and he does make the distinction concerning those who are deliberately seeking celebrity status and its noteriety.

MacArthur may be a celebrity in the eyes of some, but his is an accidental celebrity status, not an intentional and calculated celebrity status.

Mike Gantt said...

Tom Chantry,

The main point Trueman was making in his post was against all the pastors teaching on sex these days. That is another point at which MacArthur comes off well when compared to others. That is, he has preferred discretion, which I applaud.

I don't know Trueman, RCC monk, or any of that stuff. I just thought his acknowledgement of celebrity pastors was relevant until I saw Sam's better quote.

As for New Testament ecclesiology, I think it was entirely appropriate for its age. However, it is no more appropriate for the kingdom of God than are the animal sacrifices of Levitical priests.

And I do think that anyone who accepts the title "pastor" these days is putting on airs (Matt 23:8-10). That why I myself stopped accepted the title once I came to my senses.

Mike Gantt said...

Morris Brooks,

Glad to hear it.

Mike Gantt said...

Merrilee Stevenson,

I don't think Pyromaniacs is generally known as blog that is setting tables for dinner guests.

Nevertheless, I'll keep your thought in mind if I continue to read here. Maybe I've imagined the fire-breathing I've seen in the past.

Mike Gantt said...

Morris Brooks,

As I've said, my stated objection was to Frank's treating John like a celebrity - not John treating himself like one.

And, as I've said, gratitude is a good thing.

Tom Chantry said...

The main point Trueman was making in his post was against all the pastors teaching on sex these days. That is another point at which MacArthur comes off well when compared to others. That is, he has preferred discretion, which I applaud.

So you get that Truman's article has nothing to do with the point you seem to be making? You just willfully grabbed his comment out of context and used it in "support" of your own rather off-beat analysis because "he might be someone readers here respected more than [you]."

Since you don't seem to know anything about him, Truman is an ordained pastor in the OPC. In other words, he "puts on airs." It is a delicious weekend treat to find someone using Truman's words to call Truman (along with all other ordained pastors of all denominations) a "celebrity."

But you know, from where I sit, it still doesn't seem entirely right. You obviously read and understood Truman's article, but you were willing to cite it in support of an attack on another Christian when you knew that the article didn't support your analysis in any meaningful way. Is that upright behavior in what you call "The Kingdom of God"? Maybe you consider it appropriate. I suppose in a world in which the Holy Spirit is the only prophet and Mike Gantt is his only interpreter, anything is possible.

Allison Gray said...

Okay, just to clear up some confusion, MG referenced Brother Lawrence at the end of the post I was referring to (who was indeed an apostate RCC monk). I was making the point that if you bring up a heretic to support the point you are making, maybe you shouldn't be making the argument in the first place. I am aghast that anyone honestly thought it was Trueman I was referencing.

Mike Gantt said...

Tom Chantry,

You can only quote something someone says if it represents a summary of the post or other unit of work from which it came? I can't imagine you follow this dictum yourself. What would be wrong is to quote someone's words which out of context would contradict their meaning in context. This I did not do.

Mike Gantt said...

Allison Gray,

Please give me a source on Brother Lawrence being labeled apostate. His book is commonly offered by Christian publishers and bookstores. I have never heard this accusation of him and I wonder what the basis of it might be.

Tom Chantry said...

No, Matt, you can quote anyone you want anytime you want.

Of course, most of us try to post quotes that are on topic, but maybe that's just a matter of preference.

Allison Gray said...

Mike,
RCC as a whole, given their doctrine, is apostate. They believe that if anyone believes the Gospel as the Bible reveals it is accursed and going to hell. (Look up Council of Trent). They also teach works-righteousness which is complete opposite of what the Bible teaches that we are saved by GRACE through FAITH alone.
Brother Lawrence was also a mystic, which means that since mysticism is a way that anyone can use to get to "God", and you don't have to go through Jesus Christ and His Cross (google Sola Sisiters blog, or Apprising Ministries if you want more info on this) it's occult in nature and therefore completely forbidden by God. Mysticism completely denies the concept of Sola Scripture, with it's reliance on extra-biblical material to form its doctrine (and usually occult material to be perfectly blunt). It is New Age in origin lightly drizzled with Christian terminology (so that Satan can use it deceive the elect if possible).
Given the widespread apostasy in today's professing "Christian" church, I would treat with suspicion any book that is lauded by most of the church, especially if that praise comes from especially apostate streams like the Emergent Church and the Charismatic movement.

Mike Gantt said...

Allison Gray,

Thanks very much. That's helpful information. Please allow me just a few follow-ups:

So, by RCC you mean Bro. Lawrence was a monk in the Roman Catholic Church?

Have you found anything in the book that relates to mysticism? I haven't. He does talk about coming to an awareness of God through His power in nature (turning winter to spring) but that just reminded me of what Paul said in Romans 1.

Tom Chantry said...

Allison, in case you aren't someone who traces profiles of people with whom you are discussing, understand that Matt is not a Christian brother. Please don't read this as an insult, it's simply a category distinction that ought to be recognized. Your discussion of the apostate nature of Brother Lawrence's brand of mysticism will be lost on him.

Morris Brooks said...

The point, Mike, which you conveniently ignored, is if I applied the logic in your post to what my church did for me, then they were treating me like a celebrity by showing their appreciation.

There is no difference in what my church did for me last Sunday night and what Frank and others have done on this post in showing their appreciation for John...except that John is already well known, and I am unknown. And honestly, I think that is the rub here.

So what if John is already well known, even globally known. Does that mean that people cannot express their appreciation? Just because someone is well known is not justification for not voicing appreciation; and voicing appreciation for someone who is already well known is not fawning over them.

Sam said...

Tom Chantry's comment on following links on profiles led me to the discovery that there are several changes that need to be made on our site... thanks and ouch!

stonetoflesh said...

That was very sweet, and I couldn't agree more.

DJP said...

Tom — I think I understand why you've started saying "Matt," but this is actually "Mike." Serious issues, but different ones, and straight-out heresy.

To the rest: Frank's doing non-blog stuff (like family), and so am I. So I'll lock up the thread. Pyro has never lent itself to a launchpad for folks like Mike who have an issue with God to vent or snag. So I'll affirm Tom's warning about Mike, lock up the meta, and Frank will take a shovel and broom and mop to it when he can.

Frank Turk said...

Wow. What a ridiculous mess.

Thanks to Dan for locking the comments down, and thanks to Mike for showing us want happens to people when they can't really read the Bible and therefore can't really grasp the most rudimentary issues of Christian character -- like gratitude, and honoring those who have come before us, and taking good counsel, and belonging to a local church, and the difference between arrogance and legitimate concern, and so on.

Mike -- I have another blog which gives folks like you the chance to air out their wisdom like an old rug. It's called DebateBlog, and the rules and contact information are there. If you can do a better job of reading those than you did of reading this post, you might have a shot at getting a platform for yourself for at least a couple of weeks.

To everyone else: Open letter to Jesus Christ on Wednesday. Pack a Lunch.