September 19, 2007
Radio host and columnist Frank Pastore recently interviewed Dr. John MacArthur, pastor and president of The Master’s College and Seminary. MacArthur is also a widely-recognized evangelical leader through his daily radio program “Grace to You” and his many books. They spoke on the campus of The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California.
Pastore: Talk to me about your latest book, “The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception.” I’ve got an article that’s running right now on the importance and centrality of inerrancy, when it comes to people inappropriately citing the Bible. I’m sure you touch on that, that’s a huge passion of your life.
MacArthur: Thank you for taking on the issue of inerrancy. It’s all we’ve got. The word of God is all we’ve got. God spoke in one book, that’s it. You tamper with that book and everything is lost. And the bottom line in the Bible is this is the word of the living God. It is inerrant. Abandon that and we have nothing but human opinion, another philosophy. You can shut everything down, it’s over. Being faithful and true to the Book is critical. And a true commitment to the Book demands that you believe that it is the word of the living God. And it, in itself, sustains the confidence that we believe that. Whether you look at it prophetically, scientifically, from the standpoint of the miracles, from the person of Jesus Christ, whatever view you take of the Bible, whatever scrutiny you apply to it, it will stand the test and verify its own authenticity, veracity and inerrancy. That’s where we have to stand. If we can’t trust the Bible, everything is lost.
Pastore: You’re aware of this argument, let just phrase as Bob Edgar, the former chairman of the National Council of Churches shared on my show last week. He basically said, “You conservatives are always fond of quoting your Bible verses. But the Bible only once or twice talks about homosexuality and yet there are thousands of verses on poverty. Obviously, God cares far more about poverty than homosexuality. Why don’t you adjust your priorities, care less about abortion and homosexuality, more about our social agenda, which really deals with poverty.”
You hear these questions all the time…. How would you teach your students here at the Master’s College to respond to that type of critique or analysis?
MacArthur: Statistics don’t prove anything. It isn’t how many times God said something, it’s what did He say? The issue is what God said, not, “Did He repeat it enough times to make us think He really meant it?” Once is significant enough. You can look at the life of Jesus. And Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality. He didn’t say anything about a lot of things. He didn’t anything about abortion for that matter. It doesn’t change the word of the living God at all. It isn’t a statistical issue. It’s what God says, not how many times you can count up the word in some kind of a word search.
Pastore: Recently, Dr. Jerry Falwell passed away, as well as Dr. D. James Kennedy. There are articles asking, “Where’s the next generation of the Christian leaders?” The past generation of leadership, of which you would be a part, where those that established the conservative Christian movement if you will…. Talk to me about what you’re trying accomplish and what you see from your perspective on Christian leadership and the next generation of Christian leaders and what it is they’re going to have to contend with.
MacArthur: First of all, I want to say that it doesn’t depend on me. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” I’m not really worried about whether He can pull that off or not. The Lord buries His workers and His work goes on. It’s like taking your hand out of a bucket of water. There’s no hole. God knows what the future is. He’s established the future. That’s from the divine perspective. We rest in that.
On the human side, we serve. We are slaves of Jesus Christ. We’re His doulos, His slaves. In fulfilling that, we understand that everything in the life of the church comes down to spiritual leadership. It comes down to the impact that people are going to have. So, our view at the Master’s College and Seminary is to train people who are influencers. The way you influence, I’ll make it real simple: Whoever’s got the most information at the time of the crisis is in charge. Simple enough. We want our students to have the most biblical information for whatever crisis may come. We want them to virtually master what the Bible teaches, its theological truths, its propositional truths, its concepts. We want them to know God in a personal and intimate way—so that from a spiritual standpoint and biblical worldview standpoint they’ve got the most information, they can step into the issue. It’s not about personality as such, it’s not about Type-A personalities. It’s about being able to speak to the issues of the time biblically and be the instrument of God in that regard.
Pastore: Apply that to our two greatest threats. Externally, we’ve got the threat from radical Islam. Internally, it is secularism….
MacArthur: Of course, the only antidote to error is truth. The only thing, borrowing the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 10, that smashes the fortresses of error is the truth. Now let’s get personal on this: If we want to stop Islam, there’s only one thing that can transform a Muslim. That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. On the opposite side of that, we can’t agree with Tony Campolo who says Muslims are basically better Christians than Christians. We ought to acknowledge that and embrace them. That’s not true. That will lead us into real disaster. We can only confront error with the truth, we do it lovingly, compassionately, but boldly.
Pastore: So you’d also be against the Roman Catholic priest somewhere in the Netherlands who said that what we ought to do to bring about world peace is to start calling God “Allah”? This way we would appease our Muslim brothers. Because, after a few generations (due to demographics), we’re going to have to start calling God Allah anyway.
MacArthur: That’s because all he wants is to find some level of superficial peace. He doesn’t really care about the advance of the Gospel, the transformation of people forever. I’m not interested in the transformation of people here so they can have a comfortable life, but we are committed to that eternal transformation that occurs through the Gospel.
Pastore: You’ve written six dozen books…. Talk to me about your latest book, “The Truth War,” I imagine you bring up some of these themes in that.
MacArthur: We’ve been talking about it, Frank. It’s all about the truth, I live for the truth, I die for the truth. The truth is everything to me. That’s all there is in this life for me is to proclaim the truth of God. The most important thing in the universe is divine truth. That’s all there is: the truth that redeems eternally; the truth that rescues people from eternal condemnation in hell. That’s the glorious good news. Nothing matters like the truth. I’m committed to know the truth, proclaim the truth and to battle for the truth.
The church has lost its will to fight for the truth. In many cases they want to roll over, give in: “Let’s just be friends. Let’s exhibit, tolerance, love. Let’s not look to what divides us, look to what unites us.” And the fact of the matter is, as soon you do that, you’ve lost. Spiritual terrorism makes a full scale invasion and the war is over.
Pastore: I imagine there’s a great peace that comes with the confidence you have in the Lord and His scripture.
MacArthur: Of course, because I have no truth but that. In writing “The Truth War,” I’m not saying that in and of myself I’ve come intuitively to know the truth. All these years of studying the word of God, I know the truth—and so does anybody else who studies the word of God. I’m willing to fight for the truth, to earnestly contend for the once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints faith, because that’s all we have.
Frank Pastore is host of “The Frank Pastore Show,” recognized by the National Religious Broadcasters as Talk Show Host of the Year in 2006. His program is heard on KKLA in Los Angeles 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact Frank at [email protected]