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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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Waldron's Response to John MacArthur


Here's the scoop from the publisher:

At the 2007 Shepherds' Conference, Pastor John MacArthur delivered a controversial message entitled, "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist." In this book, Dr. Sam Waldron addresses the assertions of MacArthur historically, exegetically and theologically. Although his arguments are rigorous, the entire tenor of the book is level-headed and irenic. This "friendly response" grants modern day Amillennialists the opportunity to thoughtfully engage their Dispensational brethren.

With charity, this book exposes the fallacies--historical, exegetical and theological--inherent in Dr. MacArthur's presentation...Thank you, Dr. Waldron, for showing us how a theological refutation may be done with grace and kindness...James M. Renihan, Ph.D.

Samuel Waldron's "friendly response" to John MacArthur's "millennial manifesto" will go a long way toward setting the record straight about what Reformed amillennialists actually believe about the church and Israel...I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in this controversy...Kim Riddlebarger, Ph.D.

Samuel Waldron's response to John MacArthur's controversial sermon, "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Is a Premillennialist," is a gem. In a gentle spirit, and with an awareness of what is at stake, Waldron makes a persuasive case against MacArthur's unlikely claim that true Calvinists must subscribe to the tenets of dispensational premillennialism...Cornelis Venema, Ph.D.
For ordering information,  Click here: Reformed Baptist Academic Press

Reader Comments (28)

I wonder if MacArthur will respond. Doubt it.
June 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwalt
I look forward to reading this. Thanks for the update!
June 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJB
I do not think MacArthur will respond. He will probably not even read it.
June 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRich B.
If he doesn't read it, then he's not genuine.
June 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
No offense to MacArthur, but after hearing his misrepresentation of historical facts, I don't think he'll spend the time to read a book that has historical depth to'd think he would of lest known that Dispensationalism hasn't even been around for 200 years.
June 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjason
I turned on MacArthur last weekend for a few minutes and he said something along the lines of,

"I can only remember one time when our kids lied... they only did it once, and we made sure that the consequences were so painful they never did it again..."

I've never heard him say something that preposterous. I don't listen very often - does he say things like this often?

Testing that statement against what has been revealed in Scripture about the human heart would take about three seconds...

June 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjohngalt
Many of us we very displeased by Johnny Mac's presentation last year at the Shepherd's Conference. Though I didn't attend myself, both my pastor's did and came back thinking it wasn't any big deal. Needless to say, they are not Amil.

What really brought this occasion close to home was that, my church had just 6 months earlier called Johnny Mac's former personal assistant (Associate Pastor at GCC) to be our primary teaching/preaching elder. Though he is a sharp and kind man, his theological commitments to the dispy hermeneutic (of the more progressive sort) and his commitment to "MacArthur type exposition" (which I believe is an outworking of his hermeneutic) I was eventually convinced to leave that church for one that had good, law/gospel type proclamation. because there are no Reformed Baptist churches in our area, we are transitioning from a Baptist church to a presbyterian one. :)
June 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterjAsOn

I can tell you the church that I have attended since my conversion in 1979 3 years ago called a man out of the Masters Seminary - so I have great sympathy with you and can empathise with you. Bells began ringing in my mind very early on so I set out to discover what it was that my radar was picking up. I found out all right! [I won't go into any details but my wife and I haven't been members for the last few years - that's another story.]

My family and another family are in the process of leaving for exactly the same reasons you give. I’ve tried talking to him, I've given him articles - all to no avail. In fact several people have left since he came. By and large all for the same reason - Often when preaching from the Old Testament The Lord Jesus Christ is not even mentioned. The ministry is very law based.

We are very sad about it - to all intents I was converted there, my wife was converted there, my parents and my children, we were married there, my parents were buried there - and now we are forced to leave. The same is true of the other family - we all came out of the world with no Christian background whatever. And the killer is: over all it's history the church has been Amil. In other words we haven’t changed but now we are in the wrong. The people here are slowly buying into it. We have found a very good church (Reformed Baptist) though – it’s a short drive but worth the journey

Two huge lessons to be learnt. 1. Really do your homework when calling a man. 2. Make sure the church knows where it stands with regards to Reformed theology. It seems to me that this type of authoritarianism preys on weak churches.

I think where there are for example two churches - one with a MacArthurite hermeneutic (Israel centred) and another an Amil / Christ Centred they can have good fellowship together - but not in the same church. I'm afraid it just doesn't work.

The Shepherds Conference was a big deal but the elders here (here is in the UK) didn't really have a clue!

Anyway, much more could be said but I best stop there.
June 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Wow Mike, our stories bear an uncanny resemblance. Im glad you've found a pleasing church. Lest anyone think that we have settled for a second rate church, and though I have theological convictions that rest on the other side of the subjects of baptism and nuances in polity, we absolutely enjoy the preaching and gathering of believers at the church we attend now.
June 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterjAsOn
Maybe Sam will send John a copy of the book.

(I wonder if he already did. Recall how John Piper interacted with N. T. Wright before publishing his "The Future of Justification?" What a great idea; what an opportunity for dialogue, clarification, etc.; what help in getting to the heart of the issues and eliminating straw men. Also, if and when such a procedure is followed, and the one whose work is being evaluated/critiqued refuses to respond in a timely way, it perhaps says something about the worthiness of the original position. Yes, if he hasn't done so yet, I hope Sam sends John this book!)
June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
I am Sam's comrad. I sent a copy of the first few chapters to Phil Johnson some time ago. We will send a hard copy of the book to Phil and one for John. I do not think John will read it, though.
June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRich B.
I hope he doesn't respond. I don't think his approach to this topic is helpful--regardless of one's views.
June 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermc
I am pleased to see Sam Waldron's irenic response to MacArthur made available in print. I like MacArthur (who was my pastor for 7 years) but I think he is wrong on this issue. Even so, some of the responses on this thread are a bit confusing. For instance, what does Matt mean by saying that MacArthur is "not genuine" if he doesn't read Sam's book? Define 'genuine'. I wish John would read the book and at the very least reconsider his line of argument, if not his entire position. But if he doesn't that does not necessarily indicate any lack of integrity. I can think of any number of legitimate reasons why John might not read the book.

In response to John Galt's question, No, John does not say things like that often. In the main he is a faithful teacher of the Word and has taken some courageous stands in his nearly 40 years as a pastor - positions that we in the Reformed world appreciate. Of course through those years some of his doctrinal convictions have changed. Occasionally, if you hear an earlier sermon from John (esp. from the 70s or 80s) he will not sound very Calvinistic. That's because he wasn't very Calvinistic in those days. And though he is now a five point Calvinist, his dispensational hermeneutic prevents him from articulating those doctrines as organically related to covenant/redemptive history. His approach to the doctrines of grace is somewhat atomistic. But we should still appreciate he willingness to teach those doctrines. I guess I am saying, please don't let one exaggerated (or wrong) statement turn you off to the whole of his ministry. Despite his dispensationalism he often endorses and teaches sound doctrine in a clear way.

As for the other posts (by Mike and Jason) re Master's Seminary graduates I can only ask, "What did you expect?" If your church calls a TMS grad who affirms the TMS dispensational doctrinal statement then there should be no surprise when the pastor rejects the redemptive-historic-typological hermeneutic (which I personally find to be the most biblically and exegetically persuasive position) in favor of the more restricted historical-grammatical approach. I know that does not soften the disappointment, but you can't hold it against these TMS grads for teaching in your church what they were taught in seminary and what they sincerely believe the Bible teaches. (As an aside, discounting his unfortunate sermon at the Shepherd's Conference, I have often thought that TMS was more insistent in their dispensationalism than John was in his.) I am not saying that you should not try to persuade your pastor of the Reformed position. But the move from dispensationalism to covenant theology is really a seismic shift, having far-reaching implications for one's view of redemptive history as a whole. As an example, we Reformed do not only disagree with dispensationalism about the future of Israel, but also about the historical function of Israel in the OT (as a type giving way to Christ as antitype in the NT). All I am saying is that committed dispensationalists have a lot to consider before they begin to warm up to the Reformed position. Indeed, many of them may never finally be persuaded by the Reformed emphasis on the unity of the Scripture. But their resistance to our position and their desire to lead a church into their own position is not in itself authoritarian (though I grant that Mike may very well have encountered an authoritarian TMS grad).
June 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertms alum
Hi tms alum,

Posting comments on a thread like this is not always the best medium and certainly gives a way to often being misunderstood. I have been struggling with how much the TMS man reflects his own personality, his training and the fact that he is an American in a different culture :-). (BTW. We have some American family so I’m definitely not Anti-American) I've come to the conclusion it's a combination of all three, though I really have no idea of how representative of TMS he is. (We have a Seminary over here that I’ve heard called the ‘Sausage Machine’ because they all come out the same) It seems to be 'my-way or the Hi-way, though he has some very commendable characteristics and that's why I say if we were in different churches we would probably have some very good fellowship together (not that on occasion we haven't). The church here by and large was and still is quite ignorant of these things (I mean that in the nicest possible way). I include myself in that. I thought a Hermeneutic was something you caught and so it's been a very steep learning curve for me. However, by the time the church voted for him I knew enough to vote no - and had I been a member and given the history of the church, that's how I would have voted.

The TMS man is what he is – and yes knowing what I know now how could I / we have expected anything else. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can see that for him to change is a huge thing – in fact he said during one conversation that he would never ever become an Amillennialist. I can appreciate and see why he would say that but some have changed – did R Barcellos? And you? – and in time he might change as well. The church by and large – so far as I can tell that is – is very happy with him. And so the only thing to do, like Jason, is to find another fellowship even though just now we are in a transition stage.

Finally, I understand what you are saying ‘what did we expect’, but, on the other hand, what did the pastor / missionary (I think TMS classes them as missionaries) expect. He knew full well that he was coming to an Amil church (the elders were and are Amil), and, the majority of visiting preachers are Amil and all the visiting preachers have had a Christ-centred hermeneutic. And so, to use Macarthur’s phrase the TMS pastor is the one that’s bringing a ‘new’ hermeneutic. There are a lot of Pastorless churches in this area (and in the UK) and we have already had a ‘mission’ from a TMS team to go round preaching with the possibility of them finding a church. Maybe I have it all wrong, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to work it out. I commend their efforts to see churches have pastors and you will have a far greater understanding of the TMS mindset than I do, but I think introducing an Israel- centred hermeneutic into the mix will I think in the long term be unhelpful. But then, what do I know.

Good to have your input.

June 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
TMC Alum,

It really wasn't a surprise that the "pastoral candidate" (the man who was formerly JM's assistant) was out of the TMC mold so to speak, and at the time of his "candidacy" and acceptance I knew deep down that my family and I might eventually have to look elsewhere for a more reformed congregation, but i didn't at the time have the heart to try to derail the plan that seemed already in place for the church, nor to quench or change the desires of most others in the church. I was in a state of flux myself, between dispensationalism and covenant theology, and though I was fairly certain that it was a more accurate representation of the reading of all the scriptures as a whole, I didn't have the resources or where with all to stand in opposition to the rest of the deacon board (minus one) or the majority of the congregation, at least not on this issue at that time.
June 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterjAsOn
Dear Mike and Jason,

I appreciate your thoughtful responses as they give me a better understanding of where you are coming from.

Mike, yes I did change. When I entered TMS I had a loose commitment to dispensationalism, but that commitment began to erode before I had completed my first year. Even so, I received a fine education from TMS (esp. with their emphasis on the biblical languages). You are right to call their hermeneutic 'Israel-centered'. And you are also correct that certain TMS professors and students would like to 'rescue' the pastorless churches in the UK from the 'darkness' of Amillennialism. I recall one professor specifically outlining this kind of 'mission' endeavour in class. Of course not every TMS grad who goes to the UK embraces this dispensational agenda, but some do. Also, you are right to question the motives of a determined dispensationalist who accepts a call from a predominately Amil church. Though Pre-, Post-, and Amil views can peacefully cohabitate in a Reformed church, dispensational theology (which I distinguish from historic premillennialism) will always conflict with the redemptive-historical-typological understanding of the Bible as found in the Reformed tradition.

Jason, I sincerely sympathize with your position of not wanting to contradict the majority of the congregation and attempting to hammer out your own understanding of the issues.

I wish both of you the best.
June 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertms alum
hello johngalt,
I was driving in my car, and heard the very same comments about his children only lying once, and I thought to myself, "I certainly lied often growing up in the home, and my kids have certainly lied many times as well..."

Then I thought: "How many of his people even respect it when he says something like that?"
June 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
Back to Sam Waldron's book...

My copy arrived yesterday.

My very first move was to read MacArthur's message, which appears as an appendix at the very end of Waldron's book.

And I must say that after digesting MacArthur's "Why every self-respecting Calvinist ought to be premillennial" speech, particularly the way he developed his case, my head is spinning at how little MacAruthur apparently knows about current amil thinking re: the consummation of the kingdom in the new heaven and earth, how very poor his reasoning is, and how offensive his remarks are. I don't mean to be unkind to MacArthur, but I really thought something this shoddy could only be written by the likes of Dave Hunt or Tim LaHaye.

At this point I turned to the body of Waldron's book, to see how he responded to MacArthur. Although I was only able to skim the book, I think Waldron sizes up and deals with MacArthur's various statements and arguments fairly systematically and completely. However, I it seems to me that he misses a few items which I think should have been addressed - particularly the way MacArthur attempts (but utterly fails) to make his case by marching through the OT promises, the teaching of Jesus, and the teaching of the apostles, and somehow manages to find evidence for premillennialism everywhere - when (1) the very passages he utilizes speak only of a consummated kingdom, not a millennial kingdom; and (2) such passages themselves envision a perfect and eternal kingdom (i.e., a new heaven and earth, which both OT saints and NT believers alike are anticipating per Heb. 11:10,16; 13:14 and II Pet. 3:13), not an imperfect and temporal 1000 year kingdom; and (3) a host of other passages which rather clearly place the bodily resurrection and final judgment of all mankind, as well as the renewal of all things, at the time of the second coming of Jesus, leaving no room for a gap of time between this age and the age to come, are not even mentioned.

Well, I'm off for a two week vacation in Wisconsin's beautiful Northwoods, and intend to spend some of my time going through "Mac's Millennial Madness" (oops, "MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto") with a fine tooth comb. I'll hope to develop my own concerns with what appears to be nothing but a warmed over version of the classic dispensational digs at the amil view in MacArthur's message. MacArthur was certainly passionate in what he said, but his remarks show me nothing but a blindness to the proper understanding of the Bible's storyline, so typical of the "two peoples of God, two separate destinies" dispensationalists. And this is no little thing.
June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde

I am a TMS grad. When I listened to Dr. Mac's message, I was tempted to be offended but then realized that the message was typical Mac - both in content and delivery. I think it reveals that he either has not understand what he has read or he has not read enough of the right material to get a clear understanding of the non-premill. position. Some of his arguments, IMO, gave the appearance of being dated and mis-informed. I don't think Waldron's book will get Mac to reconsider, but I think it will go a long way in setting the record straight on amillennialism in the 21st century.

Rich B.
June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRich B.

Thanks for your response. I concur.

Let's hope folks will be reading books that put these matters in their proper perspective, such as Hoekema's "The Bible and the Future," Venema's "The Promise of the Future," Riddlebarger's "A Case for Amillennialism," Robertson's "The Israel of God," Sam Waldron's own book, "The End Times Made Simple," the forthcoming book on amillennialism by Sam Storms, etc., etc., etc.

There's really a growing body of good work out there to help inform the thinking of those who are eager to understand what the Bible teaches. I maintain that such material is "head and shoulders" above the popular nonsense offered by dispensationalists.
June 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde

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