December 5, 2010

John MacArthur: A New Book on Lordship Salvation

Dr. John MacArthur has begun promoting a new book SLAVE to be released January 2011. I watched a YouTube video in which MacArthur announces his new book. I am troubled even by the way in which he promotes the reason for the production of this book.

Studying the New Testament I discovered a distortion of truth when it came to the word ‘doulos.’ The book Slave is about the hidden word that unlocks the believer’s identity. There had been a conspiracy to cover up a truth that is so essential to the New Testament that without it we misunderstand our relationship to Jesus Christ.”1
MacArthur asks us to believes that after 2,000 years with the New Testament (NT) in our hands he alone has uncovered some hidden truth, that was distorted or concealed through “conspiracy, a cover up.” We are being asked to believe that no pastor or teacher before him in NT history has made this discovery in the Bible. Claims like that ought to raise a red flag of caution among believers even before cracking the cover of this new book.

With MacArthur having changed the terms of the Gospel, in the form of his Lordship Salvation theology, this book has all the promise to be another abuse of Scripture. Since John MacArthur has already changed the terms of the Gospel, there is virtually no possibility his new discovery will square with the whole counsel of God. From his sermon Slaves for Christ2 MacArthur said,
When you give somebody the gospel, you are saying to them, ‘I would like to invite you to become a slave of Jesus Christ…give up your independence…give up your freedom, submit yourself to an alien will, abandon all your rights, be owned by, controlled by the Lord’. That’s really the gospel.”
Nowhere in MacArthur’s definition of the gospel above, what MacArthur claims to be the good news of Jesus Christ, God’s saving message to the lost is the sinfulness of man, the cross of Christ, His resurrection or faith/believing referenced at all. He speaks of the gospel (salvation) in terms of discipleship and these are two very different doctrines. This is the theme you are going to find in his new book.
The crux of the Lordship debate is over the requirements for salvation, not the results of salvation…. A change of life through submission to the lordship of Christ should come as a result of salvation. It is antithetical to the Scriptures to take what should be the RESULT of salvation and make the resolve to perform those things in discipleship the REQUIREMENT for salvation…. Lordship Salvation places demands on the sinner for salvation that the Bible does not. A new life through submission to the lordship of Christ should come as a natural result of salvation, but the Scriptures never identify submission as a requirement for salvation, justification.” (IDOTG: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation)
Slave will be another major apologetic for Lordship Salvation’s man-centered, works based corruption of the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Slave will be another in the line of books in which MacArthur, just as he did in The Gospel According to Jesus, redefines discipleship of the believer and twists those things meant for the born again child of God into evangelistic appeals to the lost.


Kevin Lane has posted an article on the new book by John MacArthur. May I suggest you read, The Bible X-Files at On My Walk.

If you are considering purchasing a personal or gift copy of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation please consider doing so through Bob Jones University’s Campus Store

For a brief exposé on one of the chief errors of LS see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page of John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus and/or John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel

1) You Tube Promotional Video

2) Slaves for Christ quote is taken from 1:06 of the video.


  1. (Tongue in cheek here) Just watched the video promo. Obviously whatever he "found" he is keeping from us in order the get the book. Nothing he mentioned about doulos in the promo was anything new. I have heard for over 3 decades and have preached for 2 decades that doulos means bond-slave, one owned by another.
    With JMac's distorted view of salvation this is sure to continue that same vein of distortion.

  2. Brian:

    This will be MacArthur's 6th major apologetic (in print) for Lordship Salvation (LS). This will be a reiteration and reinforcing of the same themes that identifies LS as a works based, man-centered message that frustrates grace )Gal. 2:21) and corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).


  3. Good points Brian. If it truly would "unlock" our understanding of the Christian life wouldn't a true slave of Jesus Christ be compelled by the love of Christ for His Church to share it freely?

    I think Paul's words to Titus ought to be heeded by us today.

    Titus 1:9-11 KJV

    9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

    10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

    11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

    I will add however, that the more MacArthur writes the more easy it is to point to his error. His followers are given less room for excuse every time he opens his mouth to spread his false doctrine, or lifts a pen to write of it.


  4. Uncovered?....Hidden?....Conspiracy?

    Oh, dear.


  5. His complaint seems to center around the translation of doulos as servant instead of slave.

    "We are being asked to believe that no pastor or teacher before him in NT history has made this discovery in the Bible."

    I watched the video and didn't hear this Lou. Can you give me the timespot where you think he said this?

  6. Josh:

    Thanks for asking. In the article I have quoted MacArthur directly from the YouTube video (see link footnote 1). I did not time stamp it, but it a brief clip and you'll hear each segment in the first 30-40 seconds.

    I am referencing the quote from JMac that I cited above, “a conspiracy to cover up.” MacArthur claims to have discovered a “conspiracy to cover up a truth.” A “hidden word.”


  7. FWIW, it did occur to me that the theme of the promotional video was a planned marketing strategy, pre-sales hype to spark interest. Nothing like a good conspiracy to attract attention. Bottom-line though is that this will be another in the line of his books to reiterate and reinforce the works based Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.


  8. the theme of the promotional video was a planned marketing strategy, pre-sales hype to spark interest. Nothing like a good conspiracy to attract attention.

    Oh sure. Bait and switch!


  9. Hi Lou: You were right on the money in your prediction of how MacArthur's book would go. I'm half way through reading it; it is indeed another retelling of his pervasive lordship faith theme. It is merely repackaged in new garments. Some "grace" folks might want to weigh in on Amazon. So far the reviews are all glowing from MacArthur devotees.

    Bruce B.

  10. Bruce:

    Thanks for letting me know what you've found. It was predictably a re-hash. My copy is enroute.


  11. Hello again Lou.

    Thanks for all you do to disseminate the message of God's grace! It is such a needed ministry. In a recent article that I wrote for Free Grace Alliance I made the comment that trying to speak out against the falsehoods of the pervasive LS teaching is like trying to hold back an avalanche with a snow shovel. Still, we do what we can.

    I just completed a review of the book "Slave" for Amazon. I tried to be fair and honest in my comments. Very quickly a number of MacArthur supporters nailed my review with markings of "unhelpful." Perhaps some more free grace folks can balance out the reviews.

    God bless you in your ongoing ministries.

  12. Bruce:

    Thanks for the encouraging comments. I’ll be posting my own review of Slave at Amazon once I’ve read it. Believe you me; any criticism of MacArthur’s teaching on LS is often taken as a personal attack by his followers.


  13. To All:

    Just read the following in one of the reviews of JMac's SLAVE. This is very similar to my initial thinking above, which was, ...a planned marketing strategy, pre-sales hype to spark interest. Nothing like a good conspiracy to attract attention."

    Did you know that the Bible you own is more than likely involved in a cover-up of biblical proportions? According to John MacArthur “centuries ago, English translators perpetrated a fraud in the New Testament, and it's been purposely hidden and covered up ever since. Your own Bible is probably included in the cover-up!”… Now granted, these are probably just sensationalistic comments on the back cover to try to sell a book. MacArthur tends to tone down the “cover-up” language even in the beginning. But these overstatements, in my opinion, make the book almost non-credible. Honestly, if I had not been given this book for free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review, I would not have purchased this book because of this sensationalism.

  14. What follows the dashed-line are not my own words but I think they are excellent. MacArthur's "Slave" is at best an oversimplification and incomplete assessment of our position in Christ.
    In Christ we are free, to glorify the living God, and more than slaves. To say merely slave is not completly accurate as we can expostulate.

    Gal 3:24 - Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

    (Under the law we were in bondage as slaves.)

    Gal 3:25 - But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
    (In Christ we are no longer slaves, but much more, children and being made children are heirs with Christ Jesus.)

    Gal 3:26 - For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
    Gal 3:27 - For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    Gal 3:28 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Gal 3:29 - And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.