Johnny Mac really stepped in it at his own conference. And the blogosphere has been lit up to say the least. I first saw the news on Justin Childer’s blog, Cross-Eyed. Since he was there, I’ll let him tell it.
1. I was shocked by MacArthur’s opening message. I do not agree with his conclusion nor his method. He talked about how every Calvinist must be a pre-millenialist. He asserted this very forcefully and basically said that everyone who is not a pre-millenialist doesn’t read the Bible literally, dosen’t honor God, and cannot be Reformed theologically. He associated Amillenialism with Arminianism, Open Theism, and Atheism. He directly bashed and contradicted great theologians like John Calvin, John Stott, and Jonathan Edwards. What can I say? It was not a good way to start a great conference. It was clear throughout the message that MacArthur does not understand Amillenialism and was attacking a strawman. Some of the other speakers are not even pre-millenialists. How about that for an introduction? “Welcome Lig Duncan, who I just argued doesn’t not take the Bible litterally and does not honor God.
John is a dispensational pre-millenialist, in case you didn’t know. I was one, a long time ago. I find it disheartening that he would throw down the gauntlet to ‘discuss’ this topic in such an inflammatory way. This is not how to increase positive discussion. But, I’ve been party to his lack of “social graces” at other conferences while he criticized his host’s views on this same matter (other Christian celebrities suffer from this same problem). Now he insults his guests. Unfortunately, he is now getting trashed by folks on other blogs (and brothers are trashing one another too).
Some, like fellow New Englander & Sox fan & blogger friend, the Irish Calvinist is standing by John (not Ordinary Pastor). I can understand that. Erik can & should defend his beliefs and help others to understand them. But the manner in which Rev. MacArthur did it was not really how it ought to be done.
I have no problem discussing eschatology. But love indicates that one must accurately represent the view one is critiquing. Since the amillennialists in the room did not recognize his representation of that view as their own- perhaps he hasn’t read any real, live amillennialists. This is a problem I have bumped up against repeatedly. Premillennialists, particularly the dispensationalist variety, seem unable to accurately articulate what it is I actually believe. So, whatever they are arguing against it doesn’t seem to be the historic view of amillennialism.
So, perhaps this short reading list would be helpful for understanding this issue- even if the arguments may not compel a particular person to become amil. For the record- yes, as a former dispensationalist I read books by adherents then and have recently re-read Ryrie. I think I could accurately articulate the position, without misrepresenting it.
Although I have not read it (yet) one could start with Kim Riddlebarger’s A Case for Amillenialism. It is newer, and more up-to-date. In his critiques of dispensationalism Kim is devastating, but can come across as a bit harsh. I don’t know the tone of this particular book. But I recognize that his polemics can definitely come across the wrong way at times.
One standard work would be Anthony Hoekema’s book, The Bible and the Future. I have read this one, and it is a great book. It’s scope goes beyond the particular end-times views to also discussing the final state of people. The tone of this book is warm. He is not interested in polemics, but putting for the views of a very large segment of historical Calvinists. William Hendriksen’s More than Conquerors is an amillennial, recapitulationist commentary on Revelation. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he’s representative of an actual amil theologian.
That should get Rev. MacArthur and his researchers off to a good start. I don’t care if he ever changes his eschatalogical view, but he owes it to his brothers to actually try and understand their views rather than just flame-throwing them publicly. And the same goes for those who are ticked at him. I’m actually disappointed that Piper was providentially hindered, for he has been known to lovingly chastise such things.