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Why John MacArthur Is Not "Reformed"

Richard Muller.jpgJohn MacArthur's opening lecture at the Shepherd's Conference created two main points of contention.  The first has to do with the on-going debate over eschatology (specifically the millennial question).  MacArthur--who is an ardent dispensationalist--stated and defended his position.  That's OK and no one is surprised or upset about that.  But people are upset because MacArthur so badly misrepresented amillennialism, and because he defined "premillennialism" as though it were dispensationalism.  Not true.  The loud howls of protest to MacArthur's dispensationalism coming from historical premillennarians is proof.  We'll talk more about this matter in the coming days.

The second point of contention is MacArthur's questionable attempt to co-opt "Calvinism" from amillenniarians and claim it for the dispensationalists.  This is seen in MacArthur's remarkable claim that amillennialism is inherently "Arminian." 

As I thought about drafting a response to this claim, it occured to me that it has already been done.  In 1993, Richard Muller--who was my Ph.D. dissertation advisor and acknowledged by all as the leading authority on Reformed scholasticism and Calvin (Click here: The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition (Oxford Studies in His)--published a short essay entitled, "How Many Points?"

In this essay, Muller demonstrates why people like MacArthur are not Reformed.  MacArthur may hold to the "five points", but Muller shows why MacArthur is not "Reformed" nor a "Calvinist" in any meaningful or historical sense of those terms.

Before you read Muller's essay, please remember that the issue he's tackling is not whether those outside the Reformed churches are truly Christians (they are, if they are trusting in Christ).  Muller is not saying that they have nothing good to contribute to the cause of Christ, nor any other such thing. 

The specific issue Muller tackles is "who is Reformed?"  And John MacArthur is not.


How Many Points?

By Richard A. Muller (and published here with his kind permission) 

I once met a minister who introduced himself to me as a "five-point Calvinist." I later learned that, in addition to being a self-confessed five-point Calvinist, he was also an anti-paedobaptist who assumed that the church was a voluntary association of adult believers, that the sacraments were not means of grace but were merely "ordinances" of the church, that there was more than one covenant offering salvation in the time between the Fall and the eschaton, and that the church could expect a thousand-year reign on earth after Christ's Second Coming but before the ultimate end of the world. He recognized no creeds or confessions of the church as binding in any way. I also found out that he regularly preached the "five points" in such a way as to indicate the difficulty of finding assurance of salvation: He often taught his congregation that they had to examine their repentance continually in order to determine whether they had exerted themselves enough in renouncing the world and in "accepting" Christ. This view of Christian life was totally in accord with his conception of the church as a visible, voluntary association of "born again" adults who had "a personal relationship with Jesus."

In retrospect, I recognize that I should not have been terribly surprised at the doctrinal context or at the practical application of the famous five points by this minister — although at the time I was astonished. After all, here was a person, proud to be a five-point Calvinist, whose doctrines would have been repudiated by Calvin. In fact, his doctrines would have gotten him tossed out of Geneva had he arrived there with his brand of "Calvinism" at any time during the late sixteenth or the seventeenth century. Perhaps more to the point, his beliefs stood outside of the theological limits presented by the great confessions of the Reformed churches—whether the Second Helvetic Confession of the Swiss Reformed church or the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed churches or the Westminster standards of the Presbyterian churches. He was, in short, an American evangelical.

To read the rest of this essay, Click here: Riddleblog - "How Many Points?"

References (1)

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Reader Comments (207)

Well, it's interesting how these remarks on occasion can get a little, shall we say, "testy" at times!

I have no desire to pour fuel on the fire. In fact, I hope to do just the opposite.

It seems to me that the main point of this current thread at the Riddleblog is to demonstrate that John MacArthur is not mainstream Reformed. But it also seems to me that Kim has been very careful to also indicate that those who have truly trusted Christ, including MacArthur, are saved, and can have great ministries, etc. Personally, I agree with those who point out the positive aspects of people who are not necessarily "Reformed" at every single point.

Here's what I think (for what it's worth - probably not much!):

1) I think it is important to use terms correctly, as in our use of the word "Reformed." We also see this terminology issue in dispensational circles. Classic and modified dispensationalists are none-too-pleased that progressives also choose to use the label dispensationalist of themselves! Granted, there is considerable overlap of conviction between classic "Ds" and progressive "Ds." But there are obviously also key points at which there's disagreement ... indeed, serious disagreement! So the question is: "What's so at the heart of dispensational theology that to believe one way is to be dispensational, but to believe another way on the same issue is to effectively place one's self outside the camp?" Whether we're speaking of being Reformed or dispensational or Calvinistic or Arminian (etc.), it's important that we apply labels correctly. I think Muller's article is an important step in the right direction in this regard.

2) Nevertheless I'd like to suggest that it can sometimes be helpful to speak of (in regard to being Reformed) what it means to be Reformed on this or that particular point of doctrine. Think of it this way: Is there a bona fide Reformed position on salvation, eschatology, baptism, spiritual gifts, etc., etc., etc.? I'll bet that some of these issues are easy to peg (they are, after all, spelled out in numerous documents and confessions!), while others (my unnamed etcs.!) may be more difficult. For example, it sure seems to me that (yikes!) apart from Reformed Arminians (I squirm in my chair as I write that!), most would agree that being Calvinsitic and holding to "T-U-L-I-P" is an important (i.e., vital, indispensible) aspect of being truly Reformed. But what about the other doctrinal issues? I'll bet that if we were to attempt to create a master list, we'd find that some matters are more at the heart of what it means to be Reformed, and others less so. I'm not trying to make ANY suggestions about where we draw the lines, but to just raise the concept. Here's some examples of what I'm getting at, using just the categories I mentioned: (a) I agree with Storms (S), Piper (P), Grudem (G) and MacArthur (M) on "TULIP" ... yet I realize that only Storms is amil (furthermore, P and G would be much more in line with historic premil theory, whereas MacArthur is clearly in line with a staunch dispensational premillennialism); (b) we've already heard a lot of discussion about baptism, and I'll leave it to the rest of you to think about the convictions of S, P, G and M on this issue!; (c) think about how S and P and G view certain spiritual gifts vs. how M views them! Again, I raise these matters not to debate them again, but to illustrate. Could we not, for example, say that S, P, G and M are all Reformed as to TULIP? Could we not say that Storms alone is Reformed as to eschatology (while acknowledging that there really are folks who are Reformed on most issues, but just happen to be premil)? And that though the eschatology of P and G may share much in common with amillennialists (other than re: the millennial issue itself), it's a far cry from the eschatology of M? And what about one's stance on spiritual gifts? Is there an "inherently" Reformed position on this issue?

I guess all I'm getting at in this second point is this: If we can identify this or that particular theological stance as Reformed or not, then is there not a time and place for saying something like: "X is surely Reformed on doctrine A, but he is not at all Reformed on doctrine B!"? (This, by the way, is what I see as being at least partially at the heart of the MacArthur discussion. I think most of us would clearly and rightly believe that John MacArthur is NOT Reformed in his eschatology! And despite the fact that he evidently thinks Calvinism necessitates premillennialism ... and dispensational premillennialism at that! Yet MacArthur is Reformed re: TULIP.)

3) To push this second point an additional step, surely we could agree that not even all Reformed people see eye to eye on every conceiveable point! Such as the exegesis of a particular passage in Scripture. For example, a quick read of Hoekema, Strimple and Riddlebarger indicates that Riddlebarger parts company with Hoekema and Strimple re: certain details in Rom. 11:11-32 - re: Israel's salvation being a present or a future reality). But surely all three operate solidly within the Reformed spectrum. Or think about one's position on how the OT covenants are fulfilled. I think there's a considerable difference between the way Hoekema and Riddlebarger see prophecy fulfilled and the way some of the older Reformed folks saw such prophecy fulfilled. I'm thinking specifically of the land promises and how they relate to the new earth. Again, I raise this not to debate the point per se, but to illustrate. Is there an inherent Reformed position on how the land promises (such as in Gen. 17:7,8) are fulfilled? If so, is such a Reformed stance more in keeping with the older idea that the promises are spiritually fulfilled now in the heart (per Allis, et al), or more in keeping with the newer idea that these promises are yet to be physically fulfilled in the new earth (per Hoekema, et al)? Is one of these views more Reformed than the other? Or is it possible that one view is Reformed and the other is not? (Horrors!) Or is it that both views are equally Reformed, and there's simply a difference of opinion among Reformed scholars?

This third point raises the possibility that not only is it possible to be very much Reformed on one issue while being not as Reformed on another issue (per my second point), but that it is also possible to be Reformed and yet have honest differences of opinions on a host of lesser issues with others within the Reformed community. (Personally, I'm amil, not preterist and not theonomist. But is it not possible to be Reformed and also be postmil, partial preterist and theonomist in one's beliefs? Is there not a measure of freedom within the form of the Reformed faith?)

4) Of course I would hasten to add that the whole matter of consistency is also important. When folks "mix and match" systems, strange things can happen. For example, and despite what MacArthur said, I personally doubt that anyone is very consistent in saying that he (the one speaking) is both Reformed in theology and dispensational in eschatology! Wow, that seems like a stretch to me! But again, folks like S, P, G and M do seem, at various points, to "mix and match" theological systems - some to a greater degree and others to a lesser degree. It would be interesting to chart these positions out, and to think about which deviations mattered and which ones didn't. (And I'll bet there would be scads of disagreement on what's most consistent with what, theologically! Does baptism come to mind?)

5) I think, then, that labels are important, and that theological consistency is important. And I think there is always reason for being gracious and times for agreeing to disagree. (Sometimes there are simply bigger wars to be waged.) And though I respect and value Reformed creeds and confessions, I personally would say that our allegiance is to the revelation of God in Scripture. I'll bet some might disagree with this sentiment, but I say: "Heaven help us if we ever put Westminister, etc. on an equal footing with the Bible!" I trust my point is clear: I hope we don't err as Romans Catholics have done with their views of tradition and papal infallibility! So I guess all I'm really trying to say is: Let's always honor God by honoring His Word, let's apply labels correctly and fairly, let's learn the benefit of being willing to distinguish where a person is Reformed and where he is not, let's realize that some issues are extremely important and fight for them, let's realize that other issues are not as important ... and that still other issues, in the vast scheme of things, are really not that important at all, and let's continue to do what most here do: extend grace to one another.

I hope my main point is clear, even though for some strange reason I'm finding it difficult to say it very well at all! I love this site, Kim's great articles, most of the dialogue, etc. ... despite the fact that I don't see eye to eye with every single Reformed point (I personally differ on the matter of baptism [though I'm not dispensational, neither have I totally embraced every point of the covenant system], but I have no intent of debating the issue here). But, man, am I a Calvinist! And, man, am I amil! And even though others may see these things differently, it's been a refreshing thing to settle into my Calvinistic and amil position, and to enjoy this site!

(Though I concur with Kim that reading a good book is much more beneficial than scanning articles on line.)

A good evening to all!
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
By the way, since the matter of baptism has surfaced (to say the least!), and in the spirit urged earlier in regard to a willingness to consult the best literature from all eschatological perspectives, what are some of the very best books available re: the infant baptism vs. believer baptism debate?

It seems to me that some good stuff has been written on both sides, fairly recently, and I'd be very interested in perusing the best that's available from both camps. Any suggestions? I'm having a mental lapse trying to recall such books!

Thanks in advance.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
fair enough points, wayne, and well said. but i am curious...

"I'll bet some might disagree with this sentiment, but I say: "Heaven help us if we ever put Westminister, etc. on an equal footing with the Bible!"

well, who would disagree with that? i guess i don't understand that comment. forms of unity are binding and we have a high view of them, but what confessionalist in his right mind would equate these forms with holy writ when those very forms forbid such things? did someone say something like that here? my catechism rests atop my bible at home, not because it supercedes scripture but because it rests upon it.

"I hope we don't err as Romans Catholics have done with their views of tradition and papal infallibility!"

how can you avoid such errors without high views of the forms and what they teach? by way of pure sentiment that such things are "not good ideas" oir 'i hope that doesn't happen"?

"So I guess all I'm really trying to say is: Let's always honor God by honoring His Word, let's apply labels correctly and fairly, let's learn the benefit of being willing to distinguish where a person is Reformed and where he is not, let's realize that some issues are extremely important and fight for them, let's realize that other issues are not as important"

again, amonsgt so many things, that's what the forms of unity seek to do, don't they?

what i am intuiting, wayne, right or wrong, is an assumption somehow that the forms of unity get in our way and our sentiment will take care of all these things. for my part, i remain unpersuaded that this has ever worked. note that i have nothing at all against your calls for humility. civility, etc. (to be honest, i have found this thread to live up to that more or less). but i wonder if you are implying that the forms are more probelmatic than helpful somehow.

all the great books and authorss in the world (the beloved KR included! :)) are not the same as our confessional forms of unity. reams of books by heavy weight theologians of the past and present simply are not the same as our forms of unity an ddo not make up for whatthe confessional tradition means to effect.

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzrim

Check out Danny R. Hyde's new book on infant baptism.

Lee Irons also has a series on it:
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwalt
I might add to zrim's post that the American Presbyterian church revised the Westminster Confession to amend some of the duties of the civil magistrate. Scripture is the highest authority, that's never been the question. There's quite a bit of scholarship going into such ammendments, however.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwalt


You made my point for me about being catholic. Sure, we ARE catholic, but if you go up to someone on the street and ask them what a catholic is, they'll describe the Roman church. So we don't refer to ourselves in those terms anymore, because the Romans have stolen it and made the term meaningless.

In the same way, we ARE Calvinists, Evangelical and Reformed, but I'm just saying that these labels no longer carry the true meaning. So fine, let's drop them and call ourselves Confessionalists.

People who are not reformed but call themselves reformed undermine the meaning of the word. And in fact, this reflects the fact that they don't know what the word means. Fine, let them have their word. Because John MacArthur and I don't believe the same thing. Reformed Baptists and I don't believe the same thing.

We should have a label that properly distinguishes us from those who don't believe the same thing as we do. That's the point of a label in the first place.

What some of these guys have done is akin to a moderate who leans in the conservative direction simply calling himself a conservative. If enough conservative moderates start simply calling themselves conservatives, then the conservatives are going to have to come up with a new name for themselves, otherwise when they say conservative, everyone will be thinking moderate.

It's like this person a few comments above yours who says that they're a baptist, and "I think I'm reformed". This is sure proof that the word has lost its meaning. It no longer means what we know it means, what it originally meant.

It's not the end of the world. Language evolves with use. But just like we can't go around calling ourselves "catholic" without creating confusion, we now need to give up the label "reformed".

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEcho_ohcE


You "reformed baptists" who hold to the London Baptist confession don't get to go calling yourselves confessionalists. You've already decided to call yourselves reformed baptists. Leave our label alone. Hehehehe...

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEcho_ohcE



Your points are well-taken. And I don't necessarily think that anyone has said anything in this series of posts that would lead me to believe that they somehow equate any Reformed confessions with Scripture in terms of authority, accuracy, etc. I also agree that such unifying forms are very helpful (I think I at least hinted at this in what I said).

But obviously, based on my admission (!) that I hold a different view on baptism, I don't hold to every single Reformed (as in convenant theology) position ... though I do think I hold to the vast majority of such points. I guess all I'm really trying to say is that despite deviating at a point or two, and doing so for what I consider to be Scriptural reasons, and also doing so in a way that seems to me to be consistent (consistency is very important to me), I'll admit that I may not be a thoroughgoing Reformed person (very close, though!), yet --whether anyone deems it right to do so or not-- I gladly like to say to others that I am most definitely Reformed at points A-Y (if not Z!).

Most importantly, while I certainly agree with your sentiment that creeds, confessions, etc. serve as reflections of what Scripture says, I still (by way of principle) hope that all of us continually filter all that we hear (incl: in the confessions) through the grid of Scripture - Berean style (Acts 17:11). (Perhaps an illustration is in order. I know the phrase itself is subject to varying interpretations, but the idea that Jesus went to Hades or Hell after His death and before His resurrection is not a teaching to which I subscribe. I hold a view similar to that of Grudem in his commentary on I Peter. I simply bring this up in an attempt to illustrate what I'm trying to get at: All of our convinctions need to be relentlessly subjected to God's Word! Praise God that I finally got around to doing that with my previous dispensational views - despite the fact that our church articles of faith read differently!)

(By the way, I really do hope to study baptism more. I really want to expand my knowledge of all the issues. Truth matters to me. But I'll not argue the baptism issue here: it's not my place to do so in that Kim holds to another view, and it would be premature. I really do hope to get the best materials on BOTH sides of the debate. May the best view win!)
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde

Someoneelse and Laura,

When we reformed try to define what it means to be reformed, and we exclude the baptists from that, it's not a judgment. We're not saying that you guys are unacceptable, we're saying we don't believe the same thing. it's not an excommunication.

But the fact is, the OPC, which holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith, wouldn't allow someone to be ordained as an OPC minister if he held to the London Baptist Confession. I know the documents seem pretty similar, but they are not the same document. If the differences are insignificant, why didn't the drafters just jump on the Westminster bandwagon? Why did they feel the need to edit it, to change it, to modify it?

Because they could NOT confess it the way it was.

Ok, fine. We don't have to agree on these things. But when I call myself reformed, I'm doing so IN ORDER to distinguish what I believe FROM what you believe. That's not to say that I'm ashamed of you, or that I hate you - neither is the case. But if I'm going to talk about what I believe, guess what? It's DIFFERENT from what you believe.

What do I believe? Well, the Westminster Confession of Faith is what I believe. Would I agree with the London Baptist Confession? No I wouldn't.

I actually am pretty passionate about my belief in infant baptism, and I think it's very important. Don't ask me, DON'T ask me to confess with my mouth that it ISN'T. I won't ask you to confess that your belief about baptism isn't important to you, so don't ask me to.

I want to distinguish myself and my church from those who don't practice infant baptism, because I think it's very important. It's not a small thing. It's a big thing. It has to do with our children, who are pretty important. I will not say that our children don't matter much. That's what you're asking me to do when you ask me to share a label with you. I'm sorry, but I won't do it.

You can have the label "reformed". We don't need it. We'll make up our own label. But stop trying to say that you and me believe the same thing. We don't. Our differences might not be important to you, but they are important to me.

You can condemn me for it and call me mean for it, that's fine. But quit trying to tell me that my beliefs aren't important! They're important to me, to my church, and we think it's important to Scripture. Please feel free to THINK that the differences between us are small if you like, but don't ask me to agree with you, and then try to put me on a guilt trip about being unloving. I'm perfectly willing to accept the fact that you are all our brothers, and we'll all be in heaven laughing about how silly we were here on earth. Fine. Great. You're my brother in Christ.

But we believe very different things, and I will not act as if they don't matter. They DO.

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEcho_ohcE

I agree with your points concerning misleading labels. What I disagree with you is about the impropriety of describing and confessing ourselves as catholics. That was the reason I provided all the sections of our confessional standards, as well as the Creeds we confess weekly.

The Reformers not only did not dispense with the term catholic, they made sure we confessed it in our confessions. And you are probably very aware that the term catholic was universally used as a reference to the Roman church during their time. They deliberately confessed the Reformation to be a continuation of the catholic church, while opposing the Roman errors and teaching people why they were thrown out of the Roman church.

I can assure you that when people ask me what I do (whether they are Christians or not), and I tell them I am an ordained minister in the Reformed tradition, 90% reply, "Really? What is Reformed?" I can't just dispense with the term simply because the vast majority of Christians and non-Christians do not know what it is. Neither can I dispense with the term "catholic" that I weekly confess myself, my family, and my covenant community to be. The problem is not solved by dispensing with concepts people either do not understand, or confuse with something else. The problem is solved with explanation and instruction. We do believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Most evangelicals have never read (or even heard about, for that matter) the Apostles Creed. When they visit our church, we don't just omit the reference. We explain when asked.

It is not a simple matter of "labels." Is is a matter of identity, which informs, to the deepest level, who we are, and why - in theology, practice, ethos, mindset, and confession. When rightly understood and confessed, it locates us historically and theologically, as well as pervades the whole mindset of the Church to the core of its being as it continues its pilgrimage. It gives us direction and it helps to keep us from heresy and schism, as I pointed out in my original post on this issue.

Of course, you as an individual has all the right to dispense with either term for your own reasons (and I understand your rationale). I don't think it's a wise move, especially when the term and the idea behind it is clearly present in our confessions which locate and define us. But it is certainly your right to do as you prefer, and I have no wish to pursue this particular matter any further.

Blessings to you!
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo Souza

"And this is gonna shock you.....some of those kids grow up to be passionate servants of Jesus Christ even if they don't get dunked until age 8 or 12 or 14. And I've seen some 50 point presby parents weep over their grown up sprinkleds, who are walking down the broad path to destruction at the moment."

Carolyn, you do realize, of course, that this is a URC blog, run by a minister who happens to think that the Bible actually COMMANDS us to baptize our children. You do realize that all of us who believe in infant baptism are interpreting your comments as a crass demeaning of Scripture, right? Do you realize that?

But let me teach you one little thing about our view. We don't teach that baptizing babies saves them. That would be the Romans. But believe me, there are plenty of people who have "confessed" their faith in order to be baptized, who have turned their back on the church.

Baptism, whether applied to an infant or to one who professes their faith, is no guarantee of salvation.

We don't believe that it is. In fact, we baptize infants because they are already part of the covenant. The baptism does not bring them into the covenant.

Here's an example, a parallel. Remember when God told Moses that his son had to be circumcized, or God would kill him? How come? Because in virtue of the fact that he was born to MOSES, he needed to be circumcized. He was born into the covenant community already, and therefore the sign needed to be applied to him. We believe that about baptism.

Ok? So now perhaps you might stop with the straw man arguments and crass talk? We believe VERY different things. Let's come to terms with that and not try to force ourselves into the same label. Your resentment of Presbyterians prove you should be labeled differently. You clearly want to be.

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEcho_ohcE
Someone once said to me that MacArthur is a reformer, but not "Reformed." That's nonsense to me. I don't thik he's either. From what he preaches, he can't be. Anyway, I see very little difference in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 (except for infant baptism). Will someone please explain, or refer me to a book that sorts out the Reformed confessions? I believe all the reformed confessions teach that the papacy is the Man of Sin. How did we get away from that? When did Idealism begin and why is there not a modern reformed confession that teaches it (if it's really true)? Anyone?
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTony

You said: "One of the clear signs of discontinuity with the Reformed tradition is to treat the sacraments lightly. Those who think Baptism [and I think you would include the Lord's Supper] is a secondary issue, somewhat of a detail, are thinking within a framework foreign to the Reformers (and for that matter, foreign to the whole Christendom in 1600 years)"

Thanks for that. It seems that the Sacraments are one of the clearly distinct teachings of "Reformed" Theology. The Sacraments are a major topic in the 3 Forms and in Westminster. This seems to be where these confessions differ from the Baptist Confession of 1689. And this seems to be Muller's point in his article.

Therefore, again, it seems that it is the confessions that determine what "Reformed" Theology is.

Thanks for your comments, they have been extremely helpful. Might we expect the "SouzaBlog" in the future? :)
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChris Coleman

I’m glad the comments have been helpful to you! Your comments here are always enriching and to the point as well.

As to the “SouzaBlog,” I’d love to do it, but pastoral duties, Ph.D. work and daddy duties have all aligned themselves against my sleep, in a battle array of apocalyptic proportions. (Of course, whatever the outcome, the eternal state will ensue). Today I’m just taking a break from Barth, Balthasar, Tillich, Bultmann and their minions.

Maybe in the future!
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo Souza
"Will someone please explain, or refer me to a book that sorts out the Reformed confessions?"

One resource you might find helpful for that purpose is a book called "Reformed Confessions Harmonized" edited by Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson.

(Incidentally, the "London Confession" is not included there)

The book puts the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Westminster Confession, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism side by side in 7 columns, organized in topics.

The layout at times is confusing, especially when a particular column needs to take a couple of pages, but generally speaking it is helpful.

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo Souza


Idealism more or less began with Berkeley (1685-1753), assuming you mean philosophical idealism, though Kant referred to Descartes as a sort of idealism. The Westminster Confession was 1646 by comparison. But anyway, the reason why modern confessions don't teach it is because it isn't true. No one in their right mind actually believes this.

You said:
"Anyway, I see very little difference in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 (except for infant baptism)."

But this is a HUGE difference, signalling gigantic differences in interpretation of the rest of the Westminster Confession. I know reformed baptists think they believe in the same covenant theology that we do, but they don't, or else it would lead them to accept infant baptism. They might believe something similar, but it's not the same. It's two different planets, actually.

You see, baptists seem to think that this infant baptism thing is a small, arbitrary matter. I suppose they think we just do it as a matter of extrabiblical tradition, because they don't see it in the Scriptures. But we DO see it in the Scriptures! That tells you something significant: we're actually reading Scripture differently!

March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEcho_ohcE
" I believe all the reformed confessions teach that the papacy is the Man of Sin."

I believe this was removed from the American revision to the WCF in 1748. Somebody help me out here.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwalt
Thanks, Marcelo. Back to the topic of the dispensationalist Dr.MacArthur. I admit, my aversion of dispensationalism is almost to the level of the doctrines of the cults. The (interpretive) system is clearly erroneous and as Kline once said, an evangelical heresy. Yet my question is, why is MacArthur so well-respected? To me, he's like Joel Osteen. And it wouldn't surprise me if Pastor Joel was the next member of the Alliance Council. What's the big deal with Johnny Mac?
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTony
To me, he's like Joel Osteen. And it wouldn't surprise me if Pastor Joel was the next member of the Alliance Council. What's the big deal with Johnny Mac?
March 14, 2007 | Tony

I think he's just unashamed of the Word and the Gospel and he's popular. Very few ministers like him these days.
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwalt

I believe Tony is referring to the Idealist approach to interpreting Revelation, not to philosophical idealism (best represented in Hegel, actually).

The idealist approach to Revelation sees it as a book which is primarily a symbolic portrayal of the conflict between God and the forces of Satan against the Church. This is in contrast with the Preterist, Historicist, and Futuristic views.


I would point out that for all the good contributions the Idealist approach might provide, Amillennialism is not dependent upon strict Idealism, where there are no historical events depicted in Revelation.

In fact, Beale - in my view the foremost authority on Revelation today, and himself an amillennialist - takes a "redemptive-historical form of modified idealism” approach.

Please see G. K Beale, _The Book of Revelation_ in the New International Greek Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 1999). This is the best and most comprehensive commentary on Revelation (1200 pages).
March 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo Souza

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