MacArthur's Manipulations

Wanna see brilliant Calvinist manipulation in action?

Watch this 8-minute clip of John MacArthur trying to answer questions about Calvinist evangelism.  (You can read my post first or watch the clip first.  Up to you.  Or watch the clip first and think “Wow, he’s brilliant” … and then read my post … and then watch the clip again and think “Wow, how manipulative and unbiblical!  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”)  He packs an awful lot of Calvinist manipulation, shaming, and Scripture-twisting into these eight minutes.  (The pastor of the church we left 2 years ago sounds just like him, a great mini-MacArthur.)  Here are my observations about him (when I quote him, I will paraphrase because I am not going to watch it over and over again to get the wording exactly right):

1.  In answer to the question about what to say to people while evangelizing to them (such as, should Calvinists honestly tell people that Jesus might not have died for them), he answers that “You tell them what the Bible says to tell them.”  

[Notice how smug and self-assured his mannerisms are.  I think this sways people because powerful people make us feel small, like we are the students and they are the teachers and so we need to listen to them.  And it makes us want to align ourselves with them, to kiss up to them.  Just listen to the sounds of approval, delight, and praise coming from the audience as he answers questions with confidence.  A powerful, confident, self-assured pastor is going to make us think “Someone who's so confident must be right.  Right!?!”  And we will shut off our critical-thinking skills and just soak up all their "wisdom."  But self-confidence doesn't mean they're right.  They are only right if what they say lines up with what the Bible clearly and plainly says.  And what he says doesn't.  Be a Berean, those people who researched the things the apostle Paul himself said to see if what he said was right.  If it was important to fact-check the apostle Paul then you can bet your bottom dollar that it's even more important to fact-check any preacher today, no matter how famous or popular they are.]

Firstly, this makes it seem like what he’s saying is biblical, like he’s aligning himself with God’s Word in his answers so that we go “Oh, great answer!  Look at how much he affirms and obeys the Bible!  What a giant of the faith!  We can trust him because he bases everything on the Bible!”  (Just because someone invokes God’s name or the Bible doesn’t mean their theology is right.)

I mean, yes, we should tell people what God tells us to say … but the problem here is that Calvinists believe we can’t actually think or act on our own or make our own decisions, because Calvinism’s god predestines, controls, and causes everything we think and do, and we can’t affect it any which way.  And so, secondly, what difference does anything make, even evangelizing?  Why should we be concerned about making an effort to tell others what God tells us to say if He predestines everything (whether we evangelize or not) and if He controls what we say?  

It’s nonsense – telling anyone to evangelize, pray, obey, believe, etc. is nonsense – if the end has already been predestined and we can’t affect it and we have no control over what we do.  It’s pointless and meaningless for a Calvinist to instruct you to do anything.  If Calvinism is true, MacArthur is just flapping his lips here and can have no effect on what’s been predestined.  So his answer is not some kind of brilliant advice - because, in Calvinism, we have no control over whether we listen to him or not.  It's meaningless.  It's all meaningless.

And thirdly, instead of being honest with people that (according to Calvinism) they are most likely not one of the elect and God most likely doesn’t love them and Jesus most likely didn’t die for them and there’s nothing they can do about it anyway, Calvinists say things like “Tell them what the Bible says,” which is really just a way to not answer the hard questions or admit the terrible parts of their theology.

Calvinists won’t just come out and admit the bad stuff.  Just try to press them into answering the messy, uncomfortable questions ... and then watch them squirm and dance as they evade it, usually by quoting a bunch of out-of-context Bible verses to sound biblically accurate (write them down and look them up for yourselves in context).  Notice how many times MacArthur doesn’t actually answer the difficult questions but deflects from them by shifting focus, introducing a different question, minimizing the contradictions, acting like it's no big deal, or by shaming those who would ask the hard questions, trying to convince them that it’s more humble or God-glorifying to not ask the hard questions but to simply accept what he tells you.  

MacArthur’s essentially saying, in light of Calvinism, “Tell them that the Bible says men are to repent and believe to be saved … even though it makes no difference because the elect are predestined to heaven and the non-elect are predestined to hell and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  But let’s not think about that or tell them that or look into it too closely.”

But … no … we need to look into it closely.  Because this kind of conundrum isn’t a little issue.  It has huge implications about who God is, what Jesus’s death accomplished, how we are saved, what our responsibility is, what the gospel is, etc.  And “just tell them what the Bible says” cannot resolve the major problems in Calvinism.  His answer is just a deflection from these major problems.

2.  Notice his use of words like “tension” and “mystery.”  And he says things like “God can resolve things I can’t” and "You don't think that I'm going to solve all the vast theological dilemmas that have existed since Scripture was written" and “Don’t try to resolve it with philosophical questions, just live in the tension and do what Scripture tells you to do.”    

Calling it "theological dilemmas that have existed since Scripture was written" makes it sound like these things are really in the Bible.  But they are not.  These "dilemmas" are not legitimate biblical dilemmas.  They are only dilemmas because Calvinism has created them by teaching things that are contrary to the Bible.  And at the 2:00 minute-mark, he says that you are going to have the "dilemma" no matter what you believe, making it sound like all Christians have the same unsolvable theological questions.  This sounds like an attempt to make Calvinists (those who are concerned about the contradictions and problems in Calvinism) stop thinking about it, to stop questioning Calvinism ... because, after all, "every Christian has the same questions and unsolvable dilemmas.  So why bother being worried over it?  May as well just accept it as a matter-of-fact and move on."  (My words, not his.)  

But no!  If you get rid of the Calvinism and just read the Bible as it was plainly written then those Calvinist "dilemmas" disappear.  They are not from the Bible; they are from Calvinists!

All of these kinds of things MacArthur says (and all Calvinists resort to these kinds of phrases - they have to because their theology contradicts God's Word) are basically just other ways of saying “Don’t question what we tell you or look too deeply into it.  Ignore the red flags, the irreconcilable contradictions, the terrible aspects of Calvinism that make God look bad.  If you do question it, you are being a bad Christian: using philosophy (mere human ideas) to solve theological questions, not being faithful to Scripture, fighting God, and trying to solve God’s mysteries that you have no business trying to solve.  So be a good little Calvinist, and just accept what we tell you.”


(Do you know why there's no "quick answer" to that tension, to those dilemmas?  Because Calvinists misunderstand Scripture so badly and have such unbiblical views that there's no way for them to make Calvinism fit neatly with God's Word.  In their attempt to "solve" one contradiction, they create another, leading to an endless dance of twisting Bible verses, playing word games, creating secondary meanings for biblical words, etc., trying to fix the last contradiction they created.  That's why there's no "simple answer" to fix it.  And so they have to resort to things like "Well, it's a mystery that we can't understand" and "God can resolve things I can't.")

And it has the added bonus of making him appear humble for accepting such “mysteries,” like “Look how humble I am to accept things in faith that I don't understand, to not have to figure it all out but to trust God with the questions and contradictions I can't solve.”

But Calvinism’s “mysteries and dilemmas” aren’t ones we are supposed to live with.  They are not “mysteries/dilemmas” because they are lofty, spiritual things that our tiny, human minds can’t understand.  They are “mysteries/dilemmas” because they contradict what Scripture plainly, clearly says and because they damage God's holy, righteous, gracious, just, loving character in ways that can't be fixed in easy, logical, biblical ways.  And brushing these "mysteries/dilemmas" aside - convincing Calvinists to ignore them or to just live with them - isn't going to resolve them.  These "mysteries/dilemmas" can only be resolved by throwing out the Calvinism and reading the Bible as it was written, not how Calvinists tell you to read it.

Calvinists use “mystery” and “tension” and “I accept it even though I can’t understand it because God’s thinking is so far above us that we can’t comprehend it,” (and such) to make people want to be “so humble” too that they would just accept what Calvinism teaches without needing to figure out how it fits (doesn't fit!) with the Bible, to keep them from questioning it, making them feel like bad, unhumble Christians if they do.  Calvinists do this all the time, manipulating and shaming people into keeping quiet and falling in line, using cult-like tactics to control the congregation and to keep people from questioning them.  NEVER trust someone who tells you that you have to simply accept their theological ideas, especially when those theological ideas are contradictory, have major consequences for God’s character and the gospel message and our eternities, and contradict/confuse what the Bible plainly says when read in a commonsense way.  (And don't just trust me, either.  Go back to God's Word and see for yourselves what it says.)  

My ex-pastor pulled this same kind of stunt.  He basically said, "The Bible teaches both God's sovereignty (he means that God causes all things, even sin) and God holding us accountable for our sins (which He Himself causes, in Calvinism).  And so we have to accept them both as true.  It teaches both of these truths with no tension.  It's only we who have tension with it, who have trouble accepting it and understanding it.  But God has no problem with it."

Duh, of course God doesn't have a problem with what He teaches.  And of course the Bible holds everything it says in perfect balance, without any tension.  But it's not the Bible I have a problem with.  It's the pastor's interpretation of the Bible that I have a problem with, the Calvinist ideas he calls "truths" which contradict the Bible.  (Calling his views "biblical truths" makes it harder for anyone to disagree with him because he's made it clear that if they disagree with him then they are disagreeing with the Bible.)  I don’t have tension with what the Bible teaches, but with what my pastor says the Bible teaches because it contradicts what the Bible plainly, clearly, repeatedly says.  And if I have to choose between what my pastor says and what the Bible says, I choose the Bible!  

In Calvinism, the unresolvable tensions/mysteries/dilemmas are not because we can’t understand it; it’s because their theology is wrong!

3.  (We're still only in the first minute of his answer here.)  He (like all Calvinists) calls Calvinism the "doctrine of divine election and predestination."  My ex-pastor did that too, saying that the doctrine of predestination is clearly taught in the Bible and that the Bible calls it "the doctrine of election."  

This is absolutely NOT TRUE!  But it can easily sucker in people who don't know their Bible well enough or who don't double-check what people tell them.  The sheeple in the congregation will hear this and think, "Well, if the Bible clearly teaches it and even gives it a name, then it must be true!  So who am I to question it?"  

But go ahead and look it up and see if you can find the phrase "doctrine of election" in the Bible anywhere.  Guess what?  It isn't there.  The Bible never made a "doctrine" out of election or predestination.  Calvinists do.  And by calling it a "doctrine," they put it on par with other fundamentally-necessary Christian beliefs, making it sound like in order to be a Christian, you must hold to those "doctrines."  But since they misunderstand what election and predestination are from the very beginning, the moment you accept their ideas as "doctrine," you will be headed down a wrong path theologically, on your way to becoming a Calvinist just like them.  (If a pastor uses the phrase "doctrine of election/predestination" - or "doctrines of grace," meaning "saving grace for only the elect" - then you can bet he's a Calvinist.  For more Calvinist phrases the Bible doesn't use, see the post "Is 'Accept Jesus in Your Heart' Unbiblical and Dangerous?'")

And FYI: Biblically, election is about believers being chosen for service to God (and any sinner can choose to put their faith in Jesus because Jesus died for all); it's NOT about certain sinners being chosen for heaven.  And predestination is about the destiny of believers, that anyone who chooses to put their faith in Jesus is destined for glory in the end and to grow in Christ-likeness; it's NOT about certain sinners being predestined for heaven.  If you accept the Calvinist view of these things, you will not be able to understand the Bible as God intended it because you will be reading it through the Calvinist glasses you let them put on you.

[Speaking of doctrines and dilemmas:  In a different article I just read, MacArthur says that all Christian doctrines have dilemmas we can't solve (an attempt to get Calvinists to ignore their concerns about Calvinist predestination).  But let's consider a moment the critical difference between the so-called "doctrine of election/predestination" and other doctrines.  

Think about the doctrines of the Trinity (One God in three persons) and "Jesus is both God and man" and "Jesus was born of a virgin" and "Jesus was raised from the dead" and "The Bible is the inspired word of God" and "the Holy Spirit indwells believers," etc.  We can't totally understand all facets of all these truths but we can accept them without needing to understand them fully ... because these doctrines don't destroy God's character and the gospel.  They don't turn God into an unjust, untrustworthy, unrighteous, unloving God who created most people to hate them, who is glorified by sin, who prevents people from doing the things He commands, who causes them to do the things He commands them not to do, who pretends to offer salvation to all people when He really doesn't, who says one thing but means another, and who punishes people for what He caused them to do.  And so we don't have to try too hard to figure these doctrines out fully because they don't do enormous damage to God's character and the gospel.  

But do you know which "doctrine" does?

That's right, the Calvinist "doctrine" of election/predestination.  And that's why you do not simply accept it without researching it more fully.  That's why you don't let Calvinists convince you to ignore the red flags that the Holy Spirit is giving you about the things they say and the way they twist Scripture.  That's why you don't drink the Calvinist kool-aid.  Because too much is at stake when it comes to God's character, God's Word, and the gospel.  The Calvinist "doctrine" of election and predestination stands alone from all the other doctrines because of the questions it raises about God's character and the gospel, because of the inexcusable damage it does to both.  So do not lump this "doctrine" in with all the other doctrines.  Do not allow "all doctrines have dilemmas" to be your excuse for blindly accepting such a destructive, backwards, unbiblical theology.]   

4.  MacArthur says that it diminishes Jesus’s death to say that Jesus died for all people, in general.  That it’s only a “real death and real atonement” if you say He died for specific people (the “elect”).  (I'd like to know what verse he's using to support this.)  Therefore, if you don't agree with him then you must be saying Jesus' death wasn't real.  This is manipulation because he knows that no Christian in their right mind would want to diminish Jesus’s death or say it wasn't real.  And so people will feel like they had better agree with him or else they will be dishonoring Jesus.  

[How in the world does it diminish Jesus's death to say that He paid for all sins of all men?  Doesn't limiting His death to covering the sins of just a few people out of billions and billions of people, as Calvinists do, actually diminish His death?  Calvinists are so backwards!]  

Calvinist preachers carefully lay the groundwork – before they even pour on the Calvinism – to convince people that they are “just teaching right from the Bible,” that what they say is what God says, and that anyone who disagrees with them is “unhumble, proud, acting self-sufficiently, claiming they saved themselves, claiming they are in control, disagreeing with God, disagreeing with the Bible, diminishing Jesus’ death, stealing God’s glory, ruining God’s grace, etc.”  

My ex-pastor constantly said "We always have to go back to what the Bible says," which makes it sound like he's only preaching scriptural truth, right from the Bible.  And so the congregation trusts him, shuts off their critical-thinking skills, and lets him teach them "God's truth," never noticing that he then alters what the Bible says and slips in his own ideas which contradict the Bible, such as when he claimed that "God loves the world ... but 'the world' means 'cosmos'."  Say what!?!  I'd like the chapter and verse for this, please.  Because when I go right to the Bible, I don't see that idea anywhere.

From the beginning, Calvinist preachers and teachers paint those who would disagree with them in a bad light so that no one wants to become one of “those people.”  The congregation is predisposed to want to agree with the pastor, to not question him, to not speak up if they do have doubts, and to see anyone who does disagree as a bad, unbiblical, rebellious Christian (or not a Christian at all).

This kind of manipulation and shaming is what first alerted me to the fact that something was wrong with our new pastor, the mini-MacArthur (a title he would love and wear proudly, by the way).  If he had to spend so much effort, from the very beginning, to convince people that anyone who would disagree with him is an unhumble, God-dishonoring Christian then something must be wrong with what he's going to teach us.  And it made me sit up and listen more closely to what he was saying, to figure out why he needed to work so hard to condition people to think badly of anyone who would question what he said.  [I am a licensed counselor (though I haven't worked since my second son was born 18 years ago) who's been trained to "listen" for what's going on behind what people say, to look for the motives that drive people to talk and act the way they do.  Maybe that's why I noticed what the pastor was saying and the way he was saying it and became alarmed by it, realizing that there must be a reason why he was using manipulation tactics to brainwash people early on.] 

But (back to what MacArthur said about Jesus's death), I wonder, where in the Bible does it clearly, plainly say that Jesus died for only a few specific people, as Calvinists say?  That He didn’t die for everyone?

Calvinists use the “My sheep” verse, as MacArthur did, to say, “See, He died only for His sheep.”  But that is faulty reasoning.  Just because He died for His sheep doesn’t mean He didn’t also die for everyone.  When the Bible says “all men” that would include His sheep, would it not?

If I told you that I bought apples at the store, does it necessarily mean that I bought only apples?  That I couldn’t have possibly bought anything else?  No!  My mention of the apples in no way implies that I bought nothing but apples.  But that’s what Calvinist reasoning is like: If Jesus said, in one verse, that He loves His sheep, then He must mean only His sheep, and if God said Jesus died for “us” in a verse (believers in the early church in the New Testament) then it must mean only for us believers.  But this is bad reasoning.  And it contradicts what the Bible plainly, clearly, repeatedly says about Jesus’s death being for all people:

"And he died for all ..." (2 Corinthians 5:15, emphasis is mine in all these verses)

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."  (Titus 2:11.  Yet Calvinists would say it appears to all but isn't available to all.)

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men..."  (1 Timothy 2:3-5)

"He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  (2 Peter 3:9b.  Yet the Calvinists define "everyone" as "everyone who would believe, who is predestined to believe: the elect."  And if you want to see how deep Calvinism runs, read this post to see the change that Calvinists made to this verse in the very Calvinistic ESV Bible. )

“… but now [God] commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30.  Yet Calvinists would say God commands it knowing that the non-elect can’t repent because He made it impossible for them to repent.  Does this make sense?  Does it uphold God’s righteous character?  Does it sound like biblical truth?)

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass [Adam’s sin] was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness [Jesus’ death] was justification that brings life for all men.”  (Romans 5:18.  For Calvinism to be true, the first “all men” would have to mean “all men”, but the second “all men” would have to mean “only the elect.”  But does the verse support this idea?  Do any of the other verses support this idea?)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ..." (John 3:16)

How much clearer could God have been!?!

Yet Calvinists toss out what God plainly said and replace it with their own crazy ideas to make it fit their Calvinism, which is based on out-of-context verses and things that God did not clearly say.  They have to read into verses to get them to say things they aren’t saying, in contradiction to what God clearly said.  (If they can find me a verse that plainly, clearly says that Jesus did not die for all sins of all people or that Jesus only died for a few, preselected people or that God predetermines our eternal destinies and controls our thoughts and actions, then I might start to believe them.)

Here’s an example from the comment section of a post at Lighthouse Trails Research about how Calvinists twist verses to fit their Calvinism, contradicting what God plainly said in His Word:

One guy (Matt) said that the idea of “God chose me, I did not choose Him” (Calvinism) is in the Bible.  And he quoted John 3:8 to “prove” it: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so [it] is [with] everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I replied: “You really have to read into John 3:8 to make it say that we don’t choose God but He chooses us.  Because it doesn’t say that.  It just talks about the Spirit working in unseen, invisible ways.  Because He is Spirit, not a physical body.  [John 3:6 even shows that it is contrasting physical birth to spiritual birth.  It’s about the difference between physical vs. spiritual, not about God choosing who gets saved or causing them to be believe.]  You are demonstrating Calvinism’s error from the beginning: they read what they want into verses to make it fit their theological views, even when it contradicts what the Bible plainly, clearly says: “Choose this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15)

5.  To make it sound like unrepentant sinners actually deserve their punishment (in Calvinism), like it’s true justice, he says that those who go to hell do so because they are guilty of sin and unbelief.  But he fails to acknowledge the critical Calvinist belief that God first predestined and then causes that sin and unbelief, giving the non-elect no chance or ability to do anything differently … and then He punishes them for what He caused.  If that’s justice, I’d hate to see injustice!  But by hiding that part of it, he makes it sound like they legitimately deserve their punishment.  (Remember: It’s what Calvinists hide – what they don’t say – that makes all the difference!)

6.  He then dives right into a “we can’t know how this works” thing, another attempt to manipulate people into not questioning it or looking into it too deeply, to make them ignore the red flags and the terrible implications.  And then he goes further by bringing the apostle Paul into it, identifying himself with Paul, as if they are in the same boat.  Like “Paul didn’t understand it, and so neither can I.”  Don’t we all want faith like Paul’s?  Wouldn’t we hold another believer in high regard if they had faith like Paul’s?  Who's going to question someone who's on par with the apostle Paul?  Another manipulation!  

[In this same section, he says that he doesn't even know how his spiritual life works.  I imagine so.  This guy has claimed that he "always believed," that there was never a time he didn't believe, that he never rebelled against the gospel, and that he can't put his finger on the exact moment when he put his faith in Jesus because when God did His "saving work" in his heart, it wasn't even discernable to him.  (So am I to assume, then, that he is the one person in history - besides Jesus - who wasn't born "totally depraved," since he always believed and never rebelled?)  MacArthur is saying that he always knew he was saved (one of the elect), that he never actually made a conscious decision to put his faith in Jesus but just always knew he was a believer, and that when the moment of saving faith came, he didn't even notice it because God worked it in his heart. 

Do you really think you can trust a pastor who never did the one thing the Bible tells us we need to do to be saved - to choose to believe and put our faith in Jesus - but who has convinced himself that he just always was a believer without ever making a decision about it?  Do you think someone who never made a decision about Jesus - who believes they never had to make a decision about Jesus - is really saved?  It's no wonder he doesn't know how the spiritual life works - because I doubt that he truly has one, a biblical one.      

See this post, about a fifth of the way down, after the question about when he first sensed the need for Jesus, to see his answer on how he became saved.  Yes, he says that there was a moment when his dad prayed with him, but it was a foot-note, a formality, not the moment of putting his faith in Jesus ... because, as he claims, he "always believed" and God put "saving faith" in his heart without his awareness.  Sounds fishy to me!] 

7.  According to him, “the world” does not mean “the world.”  He says God loves the “world,” but then he immediately qualifies it, changing “the world” into "specific people" who are chosen by God.  (If you watched the video first, did you notice it?  The switcheroo?)  

He pulled the old “bait and switch” trick, baiting you with the Bible verse about “the world” to sound biblical, but then switching out “the world” for “specific people.”  This is a bold, blatant denial of Scripture’s intended use of “world,” which clearly means “all people of the world,” as evidenced in all the verses that say Jesus died for all sins of all people.  Calvinists use the same words as the Bible, but they redefine them (oftentimes not letting you know of their hidden definitions until they’ve sucked you deeply into Calvinism – so cult-like!).

Essentially, when MacArthur says that if the elect came with a mark then he’d know who to evangelize to, he means that he wouldn't need to bother evangelizing to the non-elect.  He is basically saying “We need to call the elect to believe and repent.  But since we don’t know who’s elect and who’s not, we should just go ahead and tell everyone to repent and believe … even though we Calvinists believe the non-elect cannot do this.  But don’t question it or try to figure it out.  Just live with the tension (the contradiction), trusting that God can figure it all out for us.”

This ignores the conundrums of “Why should we evangelize if it can’t change anyone’s destiny anyway?” and “What kind of a God would call people to repent and believe when He knows He created them to be – and causes them to be - unrepentant unbelievers?” and “What kind of a God punishes people for what He causes them to do?” and “How can we truly know we are saved, that we are one of the elect, if we can’t make a decision to believe but have to simply trust that God caused us to be saved and will keep us in the faith till the end?”  Etc.

These problems are far too many and far too significant to be resolved by something like “Well, I don’t have to understand it because God does.”  If what you are saying damages God’s character, the gospel, Jesus’s sacrifice, and people’s eternities as badly as it does, then you’d better understand it and you'd better have solid, biblical reasons for believing it!  (If Calvinists can get you to shut off your "red flag radar" then they can get you to believe anything.)

8.   To get people to believe in Calvinist predestination, he asks “Why is anyone in hell if Jesus died for all?”  Once again, this is terrible reasoning.  

Calvinists are stuck in their wrong, unbiblical idea that if Jesus died for all people then all people would necessarily be saved, that if He loves you and died for you then you WILL BE saved (as if it’s not possible for God to love all people and to offer salvation to all people but to allow people to reject Him).  They truly think that if salvation was offered to everyone, then everyone, given the choice, would definitely accept it.  They cannot comprehend that anyone would willingly reject the offer of salvation.  And so, therefore, to them, if someone is not saved, it's not because they chose to reject it but because they couldn't accept it, because it wasn't offered to them.  I've even had a Calvinist tell me that everyone who is offered salvation would accept it, that no one would reject it.  Therefore, those who aren't saved were never offered salvation because NO ONE would reject it.  (Where is this in the Bible?  This is purely their own philosophical reasoning.)  He simply couldn't comprehend the idea that men can choose to reject something good and godly.  

(If you believe that God offers salvation to all people and that you willingly chose to accept it of your own free-will, Calvinists will accuse you of claiming that you are better than or smarter than your unbelieving neighbor - because you somehow recognized your need for salvation while your neighbor didn't, as if you are "smarter" and your neighbor is "dumber."  They do this to manipulate you into their belief that if all people were truly offered salvation then all people would accept it, and so if all people aren't saved then it's because salvation wasn't really offered to them ... and if you don't agree then it's because you're prideful and think you're better than other people.  See this Soteriology 101 post for more on that.)   

In Calvinism, if God loves you and Jesus died for you, you WILL BE saved.  And so those who aren't saved are not really loved by God and Jesus didn't die for them.  

Is this in the Bible anywhere?  Or is it purely Calvinist assumption?  

This is bad Calvinist philosophy, not based on biblical truth at all but on their own assumptions and their twistings of Scripture to fit their assumptions, based on what they believe God has to be like in order to be a sovereign God - that God MUST control everything, even our thoughts and sins, or else He can’t be God.  They cannot comprehend a world where God lets people make their own choices, and so everything comes back to Him preplanning and causing it.

9.  Interestingly, he lays out the biblical truth that Jesus died for all, that salvation is possible for all, and that it’s our response to this “potential” salvation that determines if we are saved or not (God offers salvation to all but we choose to accept or reject it) … but then he calls this idea “impossible.”

He knows and states the truth but then calls it “impossible.”  (“Impossible” based on what?)  This is to convince those who believe in free-will to toss out that belief because it’s “impossible,” opening the door for MacArthur and other Calvinists to substitute in their ideas of how it must be.

Satan knows the truth and can state the truth, but then he denies the truth, subtly twists the truth, and replaces it with his lies.  (Calvinists accuse non-Calvinists of using philosophy when we question them, yet they themselves are the ones who replaced biblical truth with their own philosophy.)

10.  When pressed on the “Why witness” question, he says you have to “be careful” how you answer.  What he clearly means is that you cannot really say that Jesus loves the person or died for the person since you do not know if they are elect or not, but he won't come out and say it.  He answers the question without answering the question because answering the question the Calvinist way would make Calvinism look bad.

So instead of instructing Calvinists to honestly tell others that, according to Calvinism, Jesus might love them or might not, that God might have predestined them for heaven but the odds are that He predestined them for hell (and there’s nothing they can do about it), he sugarcoats it by saying to tell the people about God’s loving-kindness and compassion for all … because even just getting rain and being alive shows how “kind” God is to everyone, even the non-elect.  It’s “kindness, love, grace” for God to let a non-elect person live for awhile, to not strike them dead right away in judgment (even though He caused them to be the sinners they are, in Calvinism).  And so since the non-elect are given rain and breath, then Calvinists convince themselves that they can “honestly” tell them that God “loves” them and is "kind, compassionate, gracious" to them.

Hmm?  So God can create most people so that He can hate them and predestine them to hell, cause them to be unrepentant sinners, and then punish them in hell for all of eternity for what He caused them to do … but since He gave them rain and breath for a little while, Calvinists think that's “kind, compassionate, gracious, and loving”!?!

If that’s a “kind, compassionate, gracious, and loving” God, then I’d hate to see what Satan is capable of!  (And yet, how is the Calvinist god different from Satan?  They both hate people and want people in hell, cause sin and unbelief, cause people to reject God, twist Scripture, deceive people, hide what they mean, say things they don’t mean, manipulate people, are glorified by sin and evil, etc.  Calvi-god is not the God of the Bible.  He is Satan in disguise!)  And I'd hate to see how Calvinists reflect Calvi-god's "loving-kindness" to others.  If this is the kind of god they worship and try to be like, what will their lives look like and how will they treat others?

MacArthur likens Calvi-god's "saving love" (for the elect) to the "common grace" kind of "love" he shows to the non-elect through the natural blessings he gives them, like rain and breath, saying that they are both expressions of the same kind of godly love.  What a horrible, wretched comparison!  Giving someone rain and breath for 80 years before sending them to hell for all of eternity for being the unbeliever he caused them to be is not nearly the same kind of love as choosing to spare someone from hell.  Calling what God does for the non-elect "gracious and loving and temporary salvation" is deranged.  And it's something only one of "the elect" would say, not the non-elect person being fattened up on earth before being sent to hell for something they had no control over! 

MacArthur is just trying to put a positive spin on a terrible theology.  He’s trying to make his theology and his god sound good - when in reality, if you listen carefully not only to what he says but to what he hides, it really just makes it so much worse.  

I mean, it sounds good to say “Tell people that God is kind to them,” but it’s not good when you realize it’s just a cover for “odds are you’re predestined to hell and so enjoy the temporary blessings God gives you while you’re on earth.”  It sounds good to say "God is merciful and compassionate," but it's not good when it's just a cover for "but His true, eternal mercy and compassion is just for the elect, not for the non-elect whom He will eventually punish for things He made them do."  It sounds good to say "God calls you to believe," but it's not good when it's just a cover for "But you have no choice about it, and if you are non-elect then Jesus didn't die for you and so you can never believe anyway."  

What a horrible, twisted, deceptive, lacking, unbiblical theology Calvinism is!

11.  He sums up evangelism by saying to tell people that God calls them to repent and believe (yet he believes that God causes most people to be unable to do these things), and then he says that Jesus’s sacrifice is for those who do repent and believe.

It sounds like truth, but do you understand why this is wrong?

Because Jesus didn’t die just for those who repent and believe (the elect), which is what Calvinism says.  He died for all people, making salvation available to all people.  But only those who accept the gift of salvation – who choose to repent and believe - will acquire the eternal life offered to them, to all people.  Saying “Jesus died for those who repent and believe” is essentially true … because they are part of “all people.”  But what makes it a Calvinist lie is that they think He only died for those who will repent and believe, that He didn’t die for everyone.  This is where the lies creep in, on the coat-tails of truth.

My ex-pastor wrote something just like this recently, about how the unsaved man is all about himself and getting his own way but that the cross calls all true Christians to repent and believe.

It sounds good, but it’s a half-truth, a lie.  Because the cross doesn’t call "Christians" (“the elect,” in Calvinism) to repent and believe; it calls all people to repent and believe.  The cross is not just for true Christians, but for all men.  And yes, the unsaved man is all about himself, but, in Calvinism, you don't get to decide if you are saved or unsaved because God decides for you, and so if you are unsaved, there's nothing you can do about it.  Saying "the unsaved man is all about himself" isn't a challenge to the unsaved person to become saved; it's simply a statement that if you are unsaved (non-elect, unable to believe or become saved) then you are destined to be all about yourself.  

When a Calvinist words something this way, it’s not an innocent slip of the tongue, and it's not as biblical as it seems when you know what they really believe: that unsaved people are predestined to be all about themselves and that the cross is just for Christians (the elect), not for anyone else.  (Once again, it’s what the Calvinist hides that makes all the difference and that contradicts any good, biblical-sounding thing they do say.)

This is my take on some of the Calvinist tricks, deceptions, and Scripture-twistings MacArthur uses here.  (And it’s something all Calvinists do.  So watch for it.)  His 8-minute answer is full of brilliant manipulative tactics and subtle twistings, making a terrible, unbiblical theology sound good and godly, escaping the radar of most Christians.  

But that is exactly how Satan works best!

[For other posts on MacArthur, see "Why do Calvinists believe lies?" and "MacArthur is Wrong" from Hoppers Crossing Christian Church.  And "John MacArthur's Lies, 'Saved or Self-Deceived'" from Redeeming Moments.  Notice in that post how MacArthur says that you can't even contribute "belief" to your salvation, meaning that we cannot be saved by choosing to believe in Jesus, a direct assault on God's Word and the gospel: "What must I do to be saved? .... Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved."  (Acts 16:30-31)  No wonder he has to convince himself that he was saved without ever making a decision to believe in Jesus, to put his faith in Jesus.  Because he doesn't think it's possible to choose to believe in Jesus but that it simply happens to us, without our awareness.  Does this sound like biblical truth to you?  If so, you may want to read your Bible more carefully, without Calvinist glasses on.]

(All memes made at

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