Did John MacArthur Teach Inclusivism?

Dr. John MacArthur, in his message covering Romans 2:11-16 (mp3 45-20b), gives a summary of those who did not have the written law and have not heard the specifics of the gospel:

Creation, conduct, conscience, contemplation, what they do, how they deal with the good and bad in their own life and how they deal with it in the lives of others indicates that they know the law of God as written in them. 

Now, here is the most important thing I’ve said yetThe sum of it is this: If they live up to that much light, and they accept that much light, God will reveal to them the full light of Jesus Christ.

I believe that with all my heart. You see, that’s what it says in Acts 17, “He is not far from us if we would feel after Him.” You see? If they would just take what they have and accept that. John 7:17 – mark it down. “If any man wills to do My Father’s Will, he shall know of the teaching.” If the willing heart is there, he’ll know. ” – John MacArthur

MacArthur goes on to read a testimony of a young man raised in a remote village of Libera who did not know the specifics of Jesus but who prayed to God continually for two years prior to finally hearing the gospel. MacArthur seems to indicate that this young man “lived up to the light of general revelation so as to receive the full light of Jesus Christ.” This was all to demonstrate MacArthur’s point that “God’s judgements are impartial.”

This seems to be precisely what Dr. Flowers has argued on a number of podcasts, but is that “inclusivism?”  Not by the strictest definition, no it is not. The specifics of Christ are indeed proclaimed to those who believe in this view. So, unless one is willing to label John Macarthur (of the early 80s) an “inclusivist” they really shouldn’t label Dr. Flowers as such.

If one does not take the time to learn the facts and have an objective, rational, adult conversation then they may fail to make the distinctions between pluralism and inclusivism–or they may fail to see the stark differences in the various theories regarding the fate of the unevangelized.

You can hear the message for yourself along with Dr. Flowers’ rebuttal against some of the false accusations made by a so-called “discernment ministry” that has become notoriously known for playing fast and loose with the facts as well at their “Westboro-Baptist-like” bullying tactics.  Watch it here:

ADDED NOTE:

These “Mid-Westboro Baptists” have written three articles about me in the last three days and everyone of them has a blatantly false title.

1) “Leighton Flowers Teaches Salvation Without Jesus.”

Untrue. I have always maintained that no one is saved apart from the atoning blood of Jesus. I have even maintained that since the cross, God would “bring the full light of Christ to those who live up to the light of revelation they have been given” (MacArthur’s words not mine).

2) “Leighton Flowers AGAIN Teaches Salvation Without Faith”

Untrue. Faith in God during the OT times is still faith. Not sure what this was about? Just really bad journalism.

3) “Leighton Flowers Accuses MacArthur of Inclusivism”

Untrue. I compared my views with that of MacArthur in his sermon to demonstrate how the label “inclusivism” (when rightly defined) would no more apply to me than to MacArthur. Asking a question about MacArthur’s view and quoting statements he said with which I agree is not an accusation.

At least they are consistent. Three for three are blatant lies. Do they even listen to my videos? Really listen?

They wrote, “To do so, he invoked a 38 year-old sermon from John MacArthur, alleging that MacArthur similarly believes it’s possible to be saved without ever hearing the Good News.”

I never said this. Read the article above. I said quite the opposite! I never said MacArthur believed the boy in Libera (or anyone else) was saved prior to hearing and believing the gospel. I said (like MacArthur) that God would send the full light of Christ to those who lived up to the light they had received. Again, this is just blantantly incorrect.

Also, my original quote regarding Cornelius was about what God COULD do not what He DOES do. Just as He could save the OT saints or infants that die who didn’t know specifics about Jesus, God COULD justly show mercy to Cornelius in the same way. I went on to explain my view however was more like that of MacArthur in the sermon, and I believe God chooses to send the full light of Christ.

How about we discuss Jesus’ words on the topic and not just MacArthurs?

“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” -Matthew‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Spread the truth to counter the lies. 🙂

21 thoughts on “Did John MacArthur Teach Inclusivism?

  1. Leighton,

    Once again, you bring adult-table light to the conversation. I dont think MacArthur was a Calvinist in 1981. I have looked at his earlier stuff and no sign of it.

    I attended there during those years and I think we both jumped on the Calvinist wave about that time. He would never preach such an “inclusivist” message now.

    I mean the whole message was “man-centered” and responding to the light you have….then get more.

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  2. You asked some good questions that I have asked our Calvinist friends on this blog….

    Was that young African man regenerated all those years when he was seeking God, or was he still a “God-hater”? When, during that several-year seeking process did he turn from being a God-hater to God-fearing…and was that regeneration? So ….regenerated for years before he hears the name of Christ?

    Or was he seeking God as a God-hater…..rats….no that can’t be according to Calvinism.

    So he was like Lydia, a “worshiper of God” long before he heard the gospel? But that does not fit the “can do no good thing” slogan or the “God-hater” slogan.

    MacArthur said God would be “fair” and “not partial”….. just impartial like Word says. But the whole foundation of Calvinism is that God is extremely partial to a very, very, tiny few….. and very partial in that He creates the rest for damnation —-for His glory.

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  3. For a Calvinist to say Calvin’s god will be “fair” and “impartial” is like a fisherman measuring a fish with a slinky.
    “fair” and “impartial” measured with what standard?

    In this scheme “fair” and “impartial” are totally subjective – based upon “his good pleasure” at any given moment.

    Don’t you just love how double-minded Calvinists are!! :-]

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  4. Reading through the Bible I come to Mark chapter 10.

    Mark 10:19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.”

    20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

    21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

    A. We are told by Calvinists that the unredeemed person can do no good thing. Yet this man here says he did all these good things and Christ takes him at his word.

    B. It says here that Christ had genuine love for him. So He loves him and yet does not call him as the elect? That would not be any sincere kind of love (dont forget MANY Calvinsts say that Christ does not love the non-elect). So…. He does love him but he lets him choose cuz that’s the way He set up the world.

    C. Jesus then calls him to follow Him. Any reader of the story would think that the following is possible. But Calvinists tell us that it is truly not possible because God has not regenerated him. So Christ loves him and called him but doesn’t make it possible for him to come. It is just a terrible way of interpreting the scripture.

    …………….So maybe MacArthur is right….God loves everyone that He created for eternal torture. Yeah, John. Good News!

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    1. FOh writes, “A. We are told by Calvinists that the unredeemed person can do no good thing. Yet this man here says he did all these good things and Christ takes him at his word.”

      Calvinists take Paul to tell us the truth when he writes in Romans 3, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.” So we have this chain: none righteous – none that understands – none that seeks God – they are together become unprofitable – none that does good, no, not one. To do “good” would require that a person be righteous, seek God, etc. This only applies to those who are saved. The “good” refers to that done to glorify God. Thus, Ephesians 2, “[believers] are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that [they] should walk in them.”

      Then, “B. It says here that Christ had genuine love for him. So He loves him and yet does not call him as the elect?

      The Scriptures are silent on this. We are not told the final outcome. We know that Jesus let the man walk away, “the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” We might conclude that the man understood that he had to choose between his possessions and Christ. Don’t we all?

      Then, “Calvinists tell us that it is truly not possible because God has not regenerated him. So Christ loves him and called him but doesn’t make it possible for him to come. It is just a terrible way of interpreting the scripture.”

      It was Jesus who also said in John 6 that no one can come to Him – unless God…. Why do you so often cherry pick verses and avoid other relevant Scriptures?

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  5. DIALOG WITH A CALVINIST – JUST HOW MUCH RHETORIC IS AT PLAY

    If you’ve ever had much dialog with Calvinists – you start to realize your need to be able to discern when an argument based upon word-trickery is presented – masquerading as logic.

    John R. Schafer was a veteran special agent for the FBI. His colleagues jokingly called him a walking lie detector. Schafer is the author of the book: Psychological Narrative Analysis: A Professional Method to Detect Deception in Written and Oral Communications.

    Evasive truth telling:
    In his book, he describes a time he told his young son not to take any fresh baked cookies in the cookie jar. Late that night he heard tiny footsteps and the sound of the cookie-jar. So he confronted his little boy.

    Son: I didn’t take a cookie dad!
    Dad: You have cookie crumbs all over your mouth and pajamas
    Son: I’m telling the truth – I didn’t take a cookie

    Later:
    Dad: Why would you lie to me?
    Son: I didn’t lie dad
    Dad: How do you figure that?
    Son: I didn’t take “A” cookie, I took “Two” cookies.

    Truth Bias:
    Schafer describes – we humans have a very practical need to take others at face value, in order to go about our very busy lives. People who are adept at word-tricks use this as an advantage. They learn how to strategically omitting critical parts of the story.
    These omissions allow the story they tell to be true – but only without the inclusion of the omitted information.
    Once you discover the information they craftily omitted, you recognize you got tricked.

    But what do Truth-Bias and Evasive Truth Telling have to do with Calvinism?

    Calvinism is predicated upon the philosophical notion of Universal Divine Causal Determinism, where things like free-will, human-choice, human-desires, human-nature, etc, are all exclusively pre-determined by Calvin’s god, so that these occur inevitably, unavoidably, and with no power to do otherwise. In this scheme, these functionality are fated by factors outside our control.

    For the ethically minded Christian, this presents an obvious moral problem. The way Calvinists are taught to get around this problem is by being tutored in talking points, which when analyzed, simply boil down to Evasive Truth Telling.

    Shifting time-tense:
    In the narrative, certain points are presented with a shifted time-tense. Shifted, to past-tense, or present-tense, or future-tense.
    Schafer describes this as another tell-tale sign FBI agents use. Each point in the narrative where the time-tense is shifted is a critical point. And the teller seeks to evade some aspect concerning this point, by shifting its time-tense.

    If you’re thinking your going to have dialog with a Calvinist without being lead around in endless circles, think again. Like Dr. Schafer, you must learn to scrutinize his narrative looking for word tricks. You’ll be surprised at the consistency of which talking-points are so repetitive these eventually appear as a broken record.

    When you’re eyes are open to this characteristic of Calvinist language – Truth Bias looses its advantage for the Calvinist.
    And you learn not to be taken advantage of by subtle language games.

    In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. Proverbs 1:17 :-]

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  6. Sorry that this is not related to the article. I am trying to see if there are any articles/videos from Dr. Flowers on the topic addressing this common thought pattern that I see from Calvinists:

    “However if what He stated is true, that He was here to die for HIS SHEEP then He has not failed in any way and the plan of God the Father to save a people to give to His Son has been a huge success. My Bible teaches that God is always successful in His endeavors. He never fails and He never waits for men to cooperate with Him.”

    I don’t believe Jesus failed because I don’t believe the sheep were sheep until they were in Christ, when they believed on His name. I am just curious if Dr. Flowers has any material on this for me to read through or watch.

    Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for the question, James. I think I would go in the direction: We too believe that Jesus died for His sheep. That’s not our point of contention. Our point of contention is HOW one becomes “his sheep”. We simply do not agree that the Scriptures teach one becomes part of the flock of Jesus by being effectually, irresistibly preselected before the foundation of the world, the rest of humanity unselected and therefore, rejected before the foundation of the world.

      Start here, I hope this helps: https://soteriology101.com/2016/09/20/john-6-the-drawing/

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      1. EK writes, “We simply do not agree that the Scriptures teach one becomes part of the flock of Jesus by being effectually, irresistibly preselected before the foundation of the world, the rest of humanity unselected and therefore, rejected before the foundation of the world.”

        The key phrase here is “one becomes part of the flock of Jesus.” Given that God is omniscient (I think Eric holds to this), we know that those who comprise the “flock” are known to God before the foundation of the world as are those who are not part of the flock. Nothing will change the destiny of either group. Then begins a technical disagreement on the manner in which those who comprise “flock” come to enter the flock and the extent of God’s involvement in bringing this about.

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      2. The category error. It is two completely different things to say that God knows who will become His sheep and God effectually causes which particular individuals will become His sheep. Knowledge and causation are two wholly different things.

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      3. Eric:
        Be forewarned! This will go nowhere for you.

        Apparently thousands of verses in Scripture do not trump their presupposed definitions brought to the Scriptures of two key words: Sovereignty and Omniscience. Anyone willing to play in their court with their definitions (brought from Greek philosophy) will get the same repetitive, go-to, “this is how God must be—cuz we say so” nonsense.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. FOH writes, ” Anyone willing to play in their court with their definitions (brought from Greek philosophy) will get the same repetitive”

        This is a purposeful distortion – why you find yourself compelled to do this escapes me.

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      5. Eric Kemp writes, “It is two completely different things to say that God knows who will become His sheep and God effectually causes which particular individuals will become His sheep. Knowledge and causation are two wholly different things.”

        Exactly. The disagreement is not whether God knows His flock and knew them before the foundation of the world; the disagreement is on the “how,” or as you said, “We simply do not agree that the Scriptures teach one becomes part of the flock of Jesus by being effectually, irresistibly preselected before the foundation of the world,…” There is no category error as I did not argue a position but only clarified the point of disagreement (a point that you don’t oppose since you even stated it). Less we confuse James.

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  7. Has anyone ever notice that Calvinists quote PART of Romans 3 as cherry-picked, use-anytime verses?

    They always stop at the “no good” part…..never continue with the whole poem that says…

    13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
    17 and the way of peace they do not know.”

    Of course Paul is speaking poetically here, not trying to prove that no one can do any good thing any more than he is trying to prove that our throats are open graves….or that ALL people have viper poison on their lips…..or that all people have feet that shed blood.

    If someone cherry-picks the no-good verse out of context (why are we surprised!?) we can easily see that they are using a verse here and a verse there (all taken from the 40-50 verse collection) to prove a point they already believe.

    You can also always expect any such verse to be coupled with another out-of-context, cherry-picked verse John 6:44.

    It’s just the same ol’ responses time after time to all the thousands of in-context whole-passages that teach the contrary.

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    1. FOH writes, “Of course Paul is speaking poetically here, not trying to prove that no one can do any good thing any more than he is trying to prove that our throats are open graves….or that ALL people have viper poison on their lips…..or that all people have feet that shed blood.”

      It may be poetic, but it carries the same theme. We see this picture elsewhere in Scripture as in Ephesians 2. The poetic structure does not detract from the picture Paul paints for us – it is that none does good. Later, Paul writes, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit… the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” FOH offers his personal opinion, “not trying to prove that no one can do any good,” It is nothing more than his personal opinion.

      Then, “You can also always expect any such verse to be coupled with another out-of-context, cherry-picked verse John 6:44.”

      Only out of FOH’s personal context. FOH is prone to make grandiose claims that he cannot back up other than with more personal opinion.

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      1. Hutch, let me apply your argument to another picture Paul is painting for us. You said: “The poetic structure does not detract from the picture Paul paints for us – it is that none does good.”

        Then you must equally say, “The poetic structure does not detract from the picture Paul paints for us – that unbelievers have viper poison on their lips.” So yes, Paul’s use of poetic language absolutely does detract from you being able to take him literally. You are using clever wordplay to seem reasonable when you acknowledge Paul is using poetic analogy, while still taking him woodenly literal where it suits you.

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      2. rhutch
        FOH is prone to make grandiose claims that he cannot back up other than with more personal opinion.

        br.d
        Another excellent example of reverse attribution.
        Calvinists are too funny! :-]

        Like

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