All of a sudden I started getting emails . . . Lots of emails . . .
"Did you hear what John MacArthur said about amillennialism at the Shepherd's Conference?" "He said Amillennialism was intrinsically Arminian, and that every self-respecting Calvinist should be premillennial!" "He even said that Calvin would be premillennial were he alive today!" On and on it goes.
This barrage of email was precipitated by Tim Challies "live-blogging" report on Dr. MacArthur's lecture (Click here: Challies Dot Com: Shepherd's Conference (I). You might want to take a look at this if you haven't.
All I can say is, "calm down." OK, MacArthur fired a shot across the bow. But until I've read the transcript of his talk, I won't respond to any specific points, other than to say, if (and that's a big "if") he's been accurately quoted, then it really is too bad that someone of his stature would say the ill-informed things that he did.
From what Tim Challies reports, I don't recognize my own position in MacArthur's critique. I am certainly self-respecting (to a fault), and I am a Calvinist, who is well-known for my advocacy and defense of the Reformed faith. I am also amillennial and think dispensational premillennialism defaults at a number of points.
If you wish to be "fair and balanced" about these things, then I'd plead with you to first read Horton's God of Promise (Click here: Amazon.com: God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology: Books: Michael Horton), Hoekema's Bible and the Future (Click here: Amazon.com: The Bible and the Future: Books: Anthony A. Hoekema), and my A Case for Amillennialism (Click here: Amazon.com: A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times: Books: Kim Riddlebarger), and then see if MacArthur's arguments still hold water. It would be a shame if he gave such a talk and yet was not at all conversant with the major (Calvinistic) writers who set forth and defend the other side! Sounds like he is not.
More on this to come, I am sure!
1). Jason Robertson, who was present for MacArthur's lecture, gives his account of what was said: Click here: FIDE-O: The Mocked Shepherd.
Sounds very much to me like MacArthur did indeed badly misrepresent Reformed amillennialism, as well as use a number of specious arguments, all the while completely ignoring the obvious problems raised by dispensationalism (which have been identified and refuted time and time again). Robertson was saddened and shocked by the aggressive, uncharitable, and erroneous nature of MacArthur's remarks. MacArthur claims he did this to get people to think. Well, getting people to think about this will be a boon to amillennialism, but it would be nice if the voice of "Grace to You" had extended a little grace and charity toward amillennarians.
2). The gist of MacArthur's arguments against amillennialism can be found here: Click here: Pulpit Magazine » Blog Archive » Why Calvinism Necessitates Premillennialism. MacArthur asks four questions and then answers them:
1. Were the writers of the Old Testament amillennialists? No
2. Were the Jews of Jesus time amillennialists? No
3. Was Jesus an amillennialist? No (cf. Acts 1:3, 6-7)
4. Were the apostles amillennialists? No (cf. Acts 3:19-21, 25; 15:15-17; Rom. 3:3-4; 9:6-8, 13; 11:26-29)
Pulpit Magazine editors add another…
5. Were the earliest church fathers amillennialists? No
Surely, Dr. MacArthur is aware that the entire confessional Protestant tradition (from the time of the Reformation, until now), would give entirely different answers to these four questions than he would. That does not mean he's wrong, but it means he should know the other side well enough to accurately represent it. And yet according to Dr. MacArthur, he's the true Calvinist, while self-consciously rejecting the eschatology of the entire Calvinist (i.e., Reformed) tradition . . . Something is clearly wrong here.
As far as question five goes, anyone who claims that the church fathers were unanimous in their commitment to premillennialism, needs to read Charles Hill's book (Click here: Amazon.com: Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity: Books: Charles E. Hill) which will quickly put an end to that pernicious myth.
3). I have dealt with all of the matters above in my book (as has Anthony Hoekema, and others). It would be nice to see MacArthur interact with real people and real arguments, not straw men. I'll bet you that John MacArthur cannot tell you what any of the major amillennial writers actually believe about Israel (Vos, Venema, Kline, Horton, Hoekema, Strimple, Riddlebarger et al). Why? From his comments, its obvious that he's never read nor interacted with our arguments . . . And for the record, I have read Pentecost, Ryrie, Walvoord et al . . . carefully.
4). If someone would be so kind as to send me a written transcript of MacArthur's lecture, I'd be happy to respond down the road, point by point, (although others are already doing a fine job (Click here: FIDE-O: Was Jesus an Amil?). I'm not too cheap to buy a tape, but would prefer to reply using a written text.