May 1, 2008

Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

Dear Guests:

Earlier this month I received an e-mail from a new visitor to my blog. His name is Pastor Norm Aabye.[1] Some of the content in his e-mail is, in my opinion, remarkable and little known information.

Pastor Aabye shares a unique view of events that predate the modern day Lordship Salvation controversy. The Lordship controversy was reignited and gained world-wide attention with the 1988 release of Dr. MacArthur’s first major Lordship Salvation apologetic The Gospel According to Jesus.

From Pastor Aabye’s first hand historical perspective you can see that ominous signs of Dr. John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel were coming into view as much as seven years prior to the release of The Gospel According to Jesus. Pastor Aabye includes a reference to a related matter I have covered here, the IFCA meetings with Dr. John MacArthur in 1989.

I asked for and received permission to share his e-mail with you, my guests. This is Pastor Aabye’s e-mail, and I trust you will find it interesting.

Dear Brother Lou,

I “accidentally” came across your site while doing some research for a message I am preparing on the substance of the Gospel. Let me say that you are doing an admirable job of providing pertinent information on the Lordship Salvation issue.
My wife and I are currently involved in a ministry to the elderly in nursing homes in northwest PA and northeastern OH, but for 18 years I was the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Connecticut. But prior to my call to preach, I was employed for several years by Moody Press (this was before my wife and I determined that we were really more fundamental in our doctrine and beliefs than the Moody crowd, which has slipped further into New Evangelicalism!).
I clearly remember a staff meeting at Moody Press (MP) where Phil Johnson, who was then an editor at MP, presented one of John MacArthur’s newest books to us, The Ultimate Priority[2], which had to do with worship.

A controversy ensued at the meeting because of the back cover copy, which implied that a person’s eternity destiny was dependent upon how they worshipped. I clearly remember the director of MP requiring Phil Johnson to go back and rewrite the copy because of what was believed to be its erroneous implications. I believe this was around 1981 and John MacArthur was Moody’s “fair-haired boy” at that time. If I remember correctly, it was shortly after this that Phil Johnson left MP to work full-time with MacArthur in California.
When The Gospel According to Jesus was published in 1988, MacArthur’s favor with MP apparently quickly diminished.

Dr. Charles Ryrie was one of our key authors at that time, with his study Bible being the flagship product. His clear teachings on the substance of the Gospel were diametrically opposed to MacArthur’s Lordship view of the Gospel. I knew Dr. Ryrie and he was solid on all he taught, and a real Christian gentleman.
Years ago I was in a personal conversation with John MacArthur during a Christian Bookseller’s Association convention in Anaheim while I still worked for Moody. We were making some observations about Kenneth Hagin’s ministry and MacArthur began conversing with me about the charismatic movement in general. His knowledge on that topic is extensive, as it may be on other topics. While he demonstrated himself to be very capable in dealing with “certain” issues, I lost confidence in his ability to discern the simplicity of the Gospel itself. Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is, of course, wrong primarily on the very basic issue of what constitutes saving faith, and certain other issues we are contending for.
The escalation of the Lordship Salvation debacle, as well as the blood issue and the eternal sonship of Christ [3], quickly made me lose confidence in him. Over the years, I have watched him plunge deeper into Reformed theology and was aware of his fall from favor from the IFCA International (I still have the tapes of the 1989 IFCA meeting in which John was asked to explain his views).
I have only begun to peruse the articles on your site, as there is so much to read, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you are doing and the importance of a clear Gospel of grace in our day of confusion. May God continue to bless you in your efforts.


Pastor Norm Aabye
C.A.R.E. Ministries
Saegertown, PA
Later this year IDOTG will focus much more attention on the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. A coalition is forming with a mission to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and engage divergent views, such as Lordship Salvation, from the authority of Scripture.


LM

[1] Pastor Norm Aabye was born and raised in Connecticut ; USAF veteran; saved in 1970, while serving in the Philippines; graduate of Colonial Hills Baptist College, Danbury, CT; ordained in 1987; founded River Valley Baptist Church in Ansonia, Connecticut in 1987, and pastored there for 18 years; taught in the Bible department for 9 years on the faculty of the New England School of the Bible, Southington, CT; founded C.A.R.E. Ministries (Christ’s Ambassadors Reaching the Elderly) in 2006, a nursing home ministry in northwestern PA and northeastern OH. Pastor Aabye and his wife, Priscilla, currently reside in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, serving as full-time missionaries to the elderly in nursing homes.

[2] You can view the back cover as it appears today of John MacArthur’s The Ultimate Priority.

[3]
Those who teach this view would include Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Jimmy Swaggart, Finis J. Dake (Dake's Annotated Reference Bible), Walter Martin (author of Kingdom of the Cults). Popular Bible teacher John MacArthur, Jr. for many years denied the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ, but he has changed his position and now embraces this doctrine.” See- The Eternal Sonship of Christ by Pastor George Zeller.

11 comments:

  1. Good morning,

    One aspect of this article that caught my mind's eye was "The blood issue and the eternal sonship of Christ". I followed the link in footnote 3 and am currently reading about the eternal sonship issue, but what was/is the "blood issue" that Aabye is referring to?

    Stephen

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  2. Stephen:

    There are probably few issues that caused more misunderstandings, harsh words and hurt feelings than the controversy over the alleged views of John MacArthur on the blood of Christ.

    The height of this controversy transpired years ago and I was not involved at any level in that discussion. The controversy crossed quite a few borders in evangelical circles. Depending on whom you read the issue is either settled or still open for debate.

    Because I was not involved at the time I want to reserve comment, and suggest you do some research on it for various perspectives


    Lou

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  3. Where would we find info about it? this is the first I've heard of an "issue" about the Blood of Christ.

    Kev

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  4. Kev:

    Here are several views, there are many more. I chose these at random.

    Try a Google search: The Blood of Christ John MacArthur.

    http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/warning-johnmacarthur.html

    http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0010.htm

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/blood.htm


    LM

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  5. I did pretty much the same search earlier today -- "john macarthur blood of christ" -- and came up with some basic background info. I hadn't heard of any of this before and have only skimmed the surface of the claims and counters so far. Like Lou said, depends to vary somewhat based on who's version you read.

    Stephen

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  6. Men:

    That is one issue that, a long time ago, I decided not to enter into debate over. I was not in on the ground floor, and do not want to get started on it.

    I have heard many of the differing stories.

    For me the greatest area of concern is the spread of MacArthur's Lordship interpretation of the Gospel.


    LM

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  7. A VERY quick overview of the documents you linked Lou leads me to think that the "issue" was mostly manufactured. Kinda like what happens in politics, or in "Christian" forums where someone finds a way to take what another person says and spin it for the worst it could be.

    It seems as though John could have chosen his words with more care.. but as much as I come against his stance on the Gospel, I really don't think chasing rabbit trails would be a good idea for us. :) So.. I think I've looked into this "blood issue" enough.

    I agree Lou, his stance on the the Lordship Salvation gospel is what we need to address. Resorting to any means possible to cut the man down will never be helpful to the cause of Truth.

    Kev

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  8. Kev:

    Thanks for the reasoned look and response.


    Lou

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  9. I never fully understood the whole issue on what MacArthur was saying about the blood of Christ. I have wondered if it was not in concert with reformed teaching on the active obedience and being made right by the merits of Christ as opposed to the blood of Christ. Even RC Sproul once said that the cross alone is not sufficient for our justification as he commented on the activce obdedience of Christ. Of course we understand that our justification is forensic but that we are made a new person in Christ, but we can never seperate the blood from His work as the life is in the blood. I dont fully know what Macarthur was saying. Perhaps he also saw the need to make mention that the body of sin was put to death at the cross as well as the blood washing and cleansing sin and that if the body was not put to death then the blood would not have saved, but why bother making a statment like that when we glory in all of the finished work of Christ as one blessed act fulfilled at the cross?

    It is my understanding that Dr Bob Jones Jr jumped the gun and made public statements regarding MacARthur but Jr was sort of a Lordship salvationist who also explored the possibility that you could lose your salvation because of some of his freewill Baptist friends yet trying to reconcile that with one of his closest Calvinistic friends in Ian Paisely so it would be an odd situation. I never fully understood some of Jrs positions and as I study the record he did jump the gun on occasion and even berate wonderful men of God like Dr John R Rice. A friend of mine went and talked to Dr Bob Jones the 3rd and he stated that he spoke with MacArthur on this and was fully assured that MacArthur believed in the blood of Christ and old wounds are sort of healed a bit through their relationship, but there were a lot of hurt feelings in regard to this. Dr Bob 3 is a bit more of a reconciler than Jr as I think he stirred the pot a lot and called people out publically. My parents as well as my brother are BJ grads but I am a BJ dropout my freshman year. I am very thankful for some of the education I received there, but know that sometimes they have indeed jumped the gun a bit as my family is friends with them and a few things have happened over the years not worth mentioning but I do believe the 3rd is a reconciler. Either way, when you step out in the public forum making statements before reserching everthing then harm and wounds will occur sadly and I have violated God in this area and have much needed repentance and a change of heart here myself, so in this you are wise to tread carefully Lou.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

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  10. Brian:

    Thanks for the notes above. I have been privy too much of what you refer to. IMO, you state some of the reasons why I stay clear of this one.

    BTW, I have one daughter who is a grad of BJU. In years gone by I have had the privilege of spending ministry and social time with Dr. Bob III and his father, Bob, Jr. Separate occasions and venues.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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  11. I believe what MacArthur was saying about the blood of Christ is that passages that speak of His "blood" as the basis of our salvation do so as a metonymy for His death. The mere fact Christ bled is not redemptive, but the fact Christ poured out His blood in death is redemptive.

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