Apologetics work-in-progress

Published on August 21st, 2012 | by Gary DeMar

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John MacArthur: “There is No Hope for a Better World”

If you tell someone he can’t do something, in most cases that person will stop before he even tries. Of course, there are some people who take the impossible as a challenge and use the impossible as an incentive to work hard to disprove the critics. Many of the advances in science, technology, and everyday life are the result of people who fought against impossible odds.

Life is full of impossible challenges until someone comes along and defies the detractors. I wonder how many people in 1903 — when the Wright Brothers took to the air for the first time in their heavier-than-air flying machine — ever conceived that in 1969 two men would land and walk on the moon.

With this short background, I want to discuss a statement that John MacArthur made in he preached on Mark 13:14-23. He had already dealt with verses 1–13 in previous messages:

It ought to be obvious to all of you now. I think it will be when I say this, that there is no hope for a better world. Are you pretty well settled in on that? Yeah, the world is not getting better, is it? More scary, more threatening, more dangerous, more deadly, more hopeless.

Humanity is not headed toward a humanly engineered utopia. Folks, there is no Age of Aquarius. There is no coming time of world peace. This is a cursed planet and it exists under the effects of sin and divine cursing. Not only does all creation groan because it is cursed, but sinners live in this creation are also cursed and so it is a compounded curse that makes life so difficult.

The environment feels the effects of sin. The population feels the effects of sin. And collectively, mankind with all of his ingenious abilities and all of his mental powers, and all of his determination cannot restrain the deadly influences that are in the very DNA of this creation. The earth and its environment and its inhabitants make survival difficult. We live on a dangerous planet and it is becoming more dangerous as it nears its final end. The second law of [thermodynamics] — entropy — the law that tells us all things are breaking down, tending toward disorder, is at work at every level.

Since MacArthur is basing his above remarks on Mark’s version of the Olivet Discourse, we have to ask this question: Where would we be in this period of history if ministers of the gospel had preached on the same text 1900 years ago telling new Christians “that there is no hope for a better world”? This would include advances in technology, science, hygiene, medicine, dentistry, food production, disease prevention, infant mortality, communication, transportation, to name a few advances that are the result of worldview Christianity.

 It’s obvious that a lot of things are better today than they were just 100 year ago. The building where John MacArthur preached this message is a wonder of technology and comfort that can be attributed to a biblical view of the world.

Consider science. If we are to believe secularists, religion has been the enemy of science. In reality, “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.”(1) Before science could get started in proposing theories, certain assumptions about the way the world works had to be assumed to be valid and operationally consistent. Isaac Newton’s encounter with a falling apple and the theories that followed did not immediately change the way people lived. Everyone knew the effect of gravity, even though they did not always understand all of its characteristics and functions or give the “scientific law” a name. When people stepped outside, they never considered that they would float away. Rain always fell down from a cloud-filled sky, and sailors knew the daily change in the tides. Water was wet, and when it got cold enough, it froze, even if no one knew its precise freezing point.

For millennia people from around the globe operated in terms of these assumptions even though they did not always comprehend them theoretically or scientifically. They came to be designated “natural laws,” the “laws of nature,” or the “laws of Nature’s God,” critical assumptions about the way the world worked that did not exist in India, China, or among the Islamic nations. These universal laws operated predictably because the majority of people–scientists included — accepted that they were God’s laws, established and upheld by Him.

It has even been suggested that such a view played a key role in the successful development of science in the Western cultures, and did so because they were influenced by the Judaeo-Christian tradition which fostered faith in the underlying rationality and orderliness of Nature during periods of history when human ideas were inbred by all manner of magical and occult notions.(2)

Life is predictable because God is predictable. Even those who did not embrace a biblical worldview knew that they could not develop an ordered world without the shared belief that God was necessary to make it happen.

In cultures where progress was made in mathematics, science, medicine, political theory, and law, people assumed that the world was not an illusion, that truth mattered, and man was a rational being created by a rational God even though at times man behaved irrationally and believed irrational things.

Cultures that believed that spirits inhabited trees, rocks, and animals made very little progress culturally and scientifically because they never knew what the spirits might do. There was never a guarantee that what people did one day could be repeated on another day. They were at the mercy of what they believed were impersonal forces controlled by capricious gods who were always changing the rules.

Pagan religions are typically animistic or pantheistic, treating the natural world either as the abode of the divine or as an emanation of God’s own essence. The most familiar form of animism holds that spirits or gods reside in nature. In the words of Harvey Cox, a Baptist theologian, pagan man “lives in an enchanted forest.” Glens and groves, rocks and streams are alive with spirits, sprites, demons. Nature teems with sun gods, river goddesses, astral deities.(3)

These false operational assumptions meant that the world could not be studied in a reliable and systematic way. “As long as nature commands religious worship, dissecting her is judged impious. As long as the world is charged with divine beings and powers, the only appropriate response is to supplicate them or ward them off.”(4) As James B. Jordan writes:

Technology is a purely Christian thing. It is impossible to take a technological view of the world in a pagan culture, partly because the world is seen as inhabited by spirits who will be offended if we manipulate the world, and partly because the means of manipulation is seen as magical, the use of mental and/or ritual occult powers.

It is Christian faith which pronounces the world free of demons and spirits, and which encourages men to manipulate it. It is Christian faith which says that men cannot and must not try to play god (via magic), and which directs men to the use of tools (technology) as a means of dominion. In fine, the development of tools (technology) is exclusively Christian, and has happened beyond a very marginal degree only in the West. Indeed, the two great eras for technological development were the Christian Middle Ages, and the protestant industrial Revolution.(5)

Some will counter that the world is a dangerous and immoral place. So what’s new about that? The world wasn’t an immoral place in Jesus’ day? The apostle Paul addressed the issue of “ungodliness,” worship of the creation rather than the Creator, and general lawlessness that included homosexuality (Rom. 1:18–32; also see 1 Cor. 6:1–11; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). His epistles are filled with admonition against the moral decline of his day.

There were persecutions, martyrdom, “wars and rumors of wars,” “famines,” one of which was said to be over the entire Roman Empire (Acts 11:28) in the period just after Jesus’ ministry. What would have happened if a minister of the gospel had gone about the Roman Empire telling new Christians “there is no hope for a better world”?

There’s a great deal more to say on this issue and MacArthur’s later claim that society “does not advance morally. It does not advance spiritually. And it does not advance socially.”

Endnotes:

  1. Loren Eisely, Darwin’s Century (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958), 62. Quoted in Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 18.()
  2. John D. Barrow, The World Within the World (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1988), 23.()
  3. Pearcey and Thaxton, The Soul of Science, 23–24.()
  4. Pearcey and Thaxton, The Soul of Science, 24.()
  5. James B. Jordan, “Popular Fictional Literature,” The Geneva Review (April 1984), 2.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



36 Responses to John MacArthur: “There is No Hope for a Better World”

  1. Marci says:

    Thankful for the hope to come found only in Christ. I am thankful for men like Dr. MacArthur who focus on the gospel. The world is not going to get better and better -
    2 Timothy 3:1-7
    But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, llovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

  2. Brian says:

    I’m not a dipsy-dispy, but preach it Jonny Mac.

    Your claims that Christians are responsible for civilization are highly dis-jointed. Greek and Roman heathens lent much to civilization and government, and continue to. Our role is salvific. Jesus is coming to pop this ballon with a hot rock, our job is to get as many Lots out of Sodom before he does. We do that by preaching the REAL gospel, not the social gospel you seem to be sharing with the Liberals. The social gospel has a right and left wing. Jesus isn’t going to ask you if you swung to the right or the left, he is going to gather the Elect Exiles of the New Nation, and tell the rest “I never knew you”. You guys are too easily satisfied.

    William Wallace would have told you that you were squabbling over the scraps from Longshanks table and giving up your God given right to something better…Freedom in Christ. I am a happy submitter to the governing authorities of babylon until God leads us out. Until then I will keep seeking the peace (not the destruction) of the city of my exile, and growing the kingdom through the preaching of the word. Like a Special Forces Gospel Ninja. I’m not going to wave their rags or trade my heavenly portion for their “rights”. Jesus gave me the un-alienable right to deny myself, pick it up and follow. You can keep your life liberty and pursuit of vanity. I wont trade the kingdom for a line in the sand. Your god is punny! Look up! Abraham did, if you were his offspring, you would be doing his works…Praise you Oh Christ!

  3. rondoudou. says:

    “Technology is a purely Christian thing. It is impossible to take a technological view of the world in a pagan culture, partly because the world is seen as inhabited by spirits who will be offended if we manipulate the world, and partly because the means of manipulation is seen as magical, the use of mental and/or ritual occult powers.”

    No ever heard of Rome or Greece, or and I dont think you know anything about China, There was no major Technlogcal devlopments in the Christian middle ages, I think you where thinking of China during that time

  4. If we were to throw out every preacher/teacher who did not agree with every tenet to which we hold, there would be no preachers/teachers worth listening to. Dr. MacArthur’s endtimes scenario may not agree with yours (nor mine), but he has much biblical edifying preaching by which one can know and love Jesus more fully. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Disagree with him on the doctrines with which you disagree, but glean the gems that he continues to offer. Just my two cents.
    Yours in Christ,
    Robert

  5. Micah Martin says:

    Gentle Dove,

    Here is a more detailed description of my question regarding your view of Romans 8.

    http://deathisdefeated.ning.com/profiles/blogs/partial-preterist-futurism-going-the-whole-way-on-creation

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Micah

  6. David Hodges says:

    The political condition of a nation is a reflection of its spiritual condition. Its spiritual condition is a reflection of what is being preached. What is being preached is what is wished to be heard by the financiers. As long as preachers continue to be paid well to omit the politically incorrect Scriptures ( like Psalms 149: 5-9), we will continue to be trampled under the foot of man. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”–Jeremiah 5: 31

  7. Eric Heil says:

    I sincerely believe that dispensationalism was sent by the devil specifically to keep the Great Commission from being fulfilled. The Puritans and other founders of this country were postmillennial, and they believed they were creating a society, a “shining city on a hill”, that would shine God’s light across the globe. This country was set to be that shining light, but just as we became powerful, dispensational teaching took over evangelical Christianity in the English-speaking world — especially here. It taught us spiritual withdrawal from the world, and emphasized the securing of a “Holy Land” for an ethnic people by military force. The Kingdom is not about a Land or a Temple, and it’s not even in the future. The Kingdom is here NOW, and there is no centralized location. The Center is Christ, not a Jerusalem or a Mecca.

    If we teach Christians to turn away from dispensationalist defeat and obsession with the Middle East, we can truly be the nation God created us to be.

  8. GentleDove says:

    Romans 8:19-28 also really refutes MacArthur. Premillennialists and amillennialists have a very difficult time with this passage, especially verses 21 and 22. Paul makes it sound like “now” (since Christ came) all of creation (not just human souls) is being delivered from the bondage of corruption, just as Christians are. And Paul goes on to talk about the nature of hope. Hope that is seen is not hope. And Paul goes on to say that God works all (A-L-L) things (not just spiritual things, not just future things, not just end times things) together for good for those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose. It’s a good thing the early church hoped in God’s promise of deliverance of their souls, bodies, and all of creation, which gave them great comfort during times of persecution. Where would we be if the Scriptures and the great cloud of witnesses (saints who have gone before) spoke gloom and doom about God’s purposes, as MacArthur does (contrary to Scriptures). Avoid any teacher who teaches belief in newspaper accounts over the Scriptures.

    • 2Sinful4Hvn says:

      MacArthur is only echoing what 90 % of “conservative” evangelicals believe. Things will get worse and worse. And the worse things get, the better for them because that means the Rapture is that much closer. Evil will proliferate. Anti-Christ will rule. Two-thirds of the Jews will be slaughtered. O. T. animal sacrifice will be reinstituted (in violation of Scripture). And Christians led by the Holy Spirit will be nowhere to be found…. I call this, “The Cursed Hope”.

    • Micah Martin says:

      Gentle Dove,

      Does the “all of physical creation” of Romans 8 include the physical bodies of the wicked? If not, then how is “all the physical creation” redeemed in the end?

      Thanks,

      Micah

      • GentleDove says:

        Micah Martin,

        Do the wicked love God? They will undergo the second death and be destroyed in their eternal and unglorified physical bodies forever.

      • Micah Martin says:

        Gentle Dove,

        So you are saying that not “all the physical creation” will be set free from the bondage of sin? Last time I checked the physical bodies of the wicked were still a part of the “whole creation” of Romans 8?

        Please advise.

        Blessings,
        Micah

      • GentleDove says:

        Micah Martin,

        When you put “all the physical creation” in quotes, you are quoting yourself. You are not quoting me or the Scriptures. I’m sorry to hear (and read via the link you provided) that you reject the Biblical doctrines of creation, the fall, the resurrection, and the redemption of the physical creation as well as spiritual creation (at God’s election; partial preterism does not lead inevitably to either full preterism or universalism as you falsely claim). I referenced Rom. 8:19-28 in my comment, yet in your blog post, you stop at verse 21, no mention of verse 23 and following. I do not argue that “all of creation” means “all the material universe;” but “all” meaning not just spiritual but also physical. That is why I wrote “not just human souls” in parentheses. I will not debate or reply to you further, thereby encouraging you to use AV as a forum for your false teachings, but I will “advise” and call on you to repent of them.

  9. 2Sinful4Hvn says:

    Here is the video of MacArthur’s sermon on Mark 13:14-23, preached April 2011:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8On-aU5DoMQ

    The remarks about “no hope for a better world” start at the 6:00 mark. He spends about 10-12 minutes painting a VERY bleak picture and then launches into the standard dispensational premillennial nightmare scenario we’ve all grown to know and loathe.

    Too scary for me.

  10. Ryan says:

    If I am correct in my estimation, that is my understanding of his thoughts/motivs, I agree with John. You describe a bunch of comforts, worldly flesh-attracting comforts and say this makes the world better? Technology only appears to have made the world better. You realize some jerk can get on the computer and share his sin-soaked idea with whomever he wants… leading thousands astray? Corrupting morality with pornography… promoting the spread of evil ideas – racism, mass shootings, terrorism etc.

    Lets look at the 100 years you mentiond. 100 years ago the Titanic sunk. Nearly 80% of the men on board sunk with it… why? Becasue they refused to get into the MANY empty life boats simply becasue there were still women and children somewhere n the ship. This is a sharp cntrast to the morality/ethics of today. That is only 100 years. The world’s morality is in decline. Please write an article on how you feel otherwise. Please.

    • Read History says:

      Ryan- go to the library and check out the historical works of Herodotus and Thucydides and Plutarch’s Lives. Read them and then come back and say that the Gospel has not completely revolutionized world “morality.”

      The eschatological optimism here runs counter to the geographically parochial “world” of Dr. MacArthur.

    • Erik says:

      Interesting note, there was a study done on the survival rate of men, women, and children in maritime disasters between 1852 to 2011 and it found that the “Women and Children First” motto does not hold up. Crew members had the highest, followed by men, women had a rate half that of men, and children had the worst chance of all. Apparently, the Titanic was only an exception because the captain ordered that women and children would evacuate first and officers shot men who disobeyed.

  11. MoGrace2u says:

    “But God”… this phrase appears in scripture 43 times (KJV), perhaps Mr. MacArthur should review those passages before he declares the world unredeemable. Since I am sure that he was born a sinner like the rest of us, I can only wonder if he has forgotten how God intervened in his own life to save a wretch like him. It is because there is hope in Christ that the world is not forsaken to sin and the devil. One need not know all of history to show this is true – one only needs to reflect on how it was that calling on the name of the Lord brought the promise of salvation to him. That is the battle that the Lord is winning by His word as it goes forth into all the world and does not return void, without which, each of us was defeated from jump.

    Robin

  12. Michael Earl Riemer says:

    If John MacArthur were a football coach, with his outlook, his team would probably never win.

    Confidence is the one thing that every Olympic athlete had to have to win a gold metal. No confidence, no gold metal. It is that simple.

    MacArthur is right, without confidence in victory, there is no hope for a better world.

    However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” And God did promise that His kingdom would fill the entire world one day, and that day is coming!!! “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom…shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

    Thanks for the message brother DeMar.

  13. Len says:

    Dr. McArthur is obviously correct. There was certainly more Christians in the few years following Christ’s death than there are now. The numbers have been steadily dwindeling since then. Also, the Gospel is being preached in fewer and fewer places than in the 1st century.

    • Michael Earl Riemer says:

      Len, I do not know if you were just being facetious, but the gospel is being preached in the entire world today. And there are millions of more Christians today then in any other time in world history, for the numbers have been steadily increasing, not dwindling.

  14. With contemporary pulpits filled with men like MacArthur (pastors of congregations who have lost their savor, good for nothing but to be trampled under the foot of men), it’s no wonder there is no hope for a better world — that is, until they’re replaced with salty, dominion-minded pastors who believe in and preach the full implications of passages such as Matthew 5:13, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, etc.

    Great response Gary! May it resound in the hearts of many.

    • Here are some additional thoughts regarding 2 Corinthians 10:6:

      “And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:6)

      This verse is usually interpreted as referring to disobedience in the church. But why would Paul delay punishment of disobedient Christians until they were obedient? Why would he wait to punish their sin until after they had repented? Instead, Paul is referring to a future time when the Christian community would be powerful enough to influence and even control government policy, including the judgment and punishment of the wicked. This is also borne out in Romans 13, in which the Greek word ékdikos (from which “punish” in 2 Corinthians 10:6 is derived) is translated “a revenger”:

      “For rulers [judges, Exodus 18:21-22] are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” (Romans 13:3-5)

      Like 1 Corinthians 6, Romans 13 describes a Christian body politic that metes out Yahweh’s judgments upon the wicked. Romans 13 and 2 Corinthians 10 are first and second witnesses to Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 6, charging the Christian community to set up their own judicial system. 1 Timothy 1 offers a third witness:

      “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law [its judgment] is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

      Modern Christianity has ignored these instructions, content to let non-Christians and even antichrists rule and administer unrighteous judgments. No wonder there’s presently no hope for a a better world!

      For more, see Chapter 6 “Article 3: Judicial Usurpation” at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/biblelaw-constitutionalism-pt6.php.

    • Ryan says:

      I find it frightening that you would pass such condmening judgement on an entire congregation of “fellow believers”… (“congregations who have lost their savor”). This is far from the unity we are called to, brother. When we say “a better world” we’d better be talking about morality – if we are talking about comforts as Mr Demar describes we are in trouble. Advancements in technology have only degraded our morality. The past 100 years has shown the most extreme decline in the foundation of the family world history has to offer. Sinful ideas are spread like wild fire over the web, pornography is available literally in the pockets of teenagers (iPhones etc) and divorce rates are unimaginable. How is it that simply because people are no more entrenched in their flesh, we can say the world is improving? I think if a 1st century believer were here today, they’d say “come Lord Jesus, come!” just like they did then… maybe louder.

      • Technology is part and parcel of taking dominion (Genesis 1, 9, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, etc.) and, therefore, cannot be blamed for today’s problems. The problem is in America’s pulpits whose pastors (like MacAurthur) have turned, not only technology, but the entire world over to the antichrists with slogans such as “Why polish brass on a sinking ship?” and songs “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through!” The “ship” is sinking because the it has been turned over to Yahweh’s enemies.

        I guess you find Matthew 5:13 frightening. Until we, as Christians, don’t face up to our false doctrines and their implications upon ourselves and the world around us, we can never be salt and light Yahweh intends us to be.

      • Robert says:

        Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

        Modern day professing-Christians have perhaps in some cases but in principle completely been engaged in this truth:

        Isaiah 14:
        7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
        8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
        9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
        10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
        11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
        12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
        13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
        14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
        15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

      • RJR Fan says:

        In the name of God I command you, repent.

        Many of us grew up in a “Dr. Strangelove” world, facing the realistic threat of global thermonuclear war. Then, almost overnight, God took down the Soviet Empire — and millions of people suddenly wanted to hear the gospel.

        And this means nothing to you? Repent, Ryan, of your inexcusable contempt for God’s mercies. Your obdurate pessimism invites God’s chastening hand upon you, and all those around you. Including me. So again I say, REPENT.

  15. E Harris says:

    WHEN did MacArthur say “There is no hope for a better world”??? I cannot imagine that he said that any time in the last 15 months or so. The intellectual atmosphere i shifting in favor of endurance, faith, and gritty optimism. At least, that’s the way it appears in my neck of the woods. Conversations about ‘antichrist’ are marginalized as non-important to the task at hand: fighting our way into the future, trying to preserve our faith, and possibly have a better future tomorrow than today (if at all possible). As for me, I am VERY optimistic… but that requires viewing history with a telescopic lense, and measuring social/religious/spiritual trends in centuries and millenia.

    I can’t believe MacArthur said that. Everyone should understand (especially in 2012) that things do “progress”, and that progress isn’t only in a negative and faithless direction. We have a rover on Mars, blasing rocks with lazers…because of faith. People BELIEVED that it could be done, and set about the work of doing so. Humans are constantly reverse-engineering creation (thinking God’s thoughts after Him), and finding out how God’s creation works, and then naming things and building things…and spreading that knowledge. (As Postmillenialists point out: the end of the book is with a City, not merely a garden.)

    “Antichrist” and a “heaven/earth dualism” reinforced by the Catholic Heirarchy is partially responsible for this pessimism. Pessimism is an irrelevant distraction from the good work we are called to do. The only useful thing that the doctrine of antichrist is for: is to tell US (people who read the book) what to avoid…and to confirm to us that the actions of our enemy are INDEED the actions of an enemy, not an ally. Lest we be tempted to cooperate with him in MIND (forhead/identity) or DEED (hand).

    Revelation was written to help us escape confusion – as we are in the middle of an intense war, with imaging, messaging, and propaganda flying everywhere, coopting and drowning out our voices (at times). The old Roman Empire was a champion at managing imaging and messaging, even pagan religions…and it was into this world that the church was told to go forth “as sheep” among wolves. To pretend that it was an easy and smooth road to victory though… is not accurate. Flesh lusted against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh…on personal AND empire-wide CORPORATE levels. It was always this way in the world. And Jesus and his apostles warned their followers to be wary: because flesh is flesh…and the believers could be tempted as well, to copy the ways of the world, in the ways that they taught, witnessed, and spread the message. But as we know, the Spirit cannot be controlled or spread by statist means. The Spirit operates in the deepest recesses of a man’s heart and mind: places that he cannot reach even if he tried.

    Revelation was not written to assure us that the earth is going to hell in a handbasket, and that we just need to witness to as many people as possible because “we’re getting out of here.” To the contrary. Revelation depicts a WAR, and not a short one, either!!! Antichrist “WEARS OUT” the saints, at one point. The martyrs plead “HOW LONG?” And there are times, times, and half a time… It’s an historical battle. Of course, Historicists fall prey to the same problem MOST eschatologies fall prey to. Too many historicists, down through history, were always trying to picture THEIR time as the time near the end. Too much focus on the end, and not enough on the NEWNESS of life, and the PROCESSES by which God deals with men. It is not the events of history that hold so much power with God – it is the social/spiritual MEANINGS behind the social movements (which produced the events). God is interested in dealing with, and rescuing, people’s HEARTS. And (in a way) God is wearing US down! All of our conjecture, our ideas, our wars, our debates, our wanderings and accomplishments… we advance and mature, only to fight in a different venue of warfare. And God is there, the whole time, helping to guide us along, and wittle away at the evil schemes of the devil. At the end, everything will be exposed. And people will look at the devil, and probably wonder at themselves “is this the man that caused all of this damage?” Such a powerful being – but his power was based in lies after he fell.

    Revelation may have a lot of physical types & shadows, but it is mostly (if not entirely) symbolic in its wording. I believe, precisely engineered to be a Divine critique of the zeitgeist of EVERY ERA from the time of its writing, until the time of the consummation of all of history. When the full has come, then the part (the mere writing on a page) passes away.

    We need the long view of history. And, to me, Christian Historicism is what made history INTERESTING. And gave me hope that Antichrist was past, and not future. For me at least, Historicism was my ticket out of Futurism and Dispensationalism. It opened my mind to possibilities like postmillenialism.

    • “WHEN did MacArthur say “There is no hope for a better world”??? I cannot imagine that he said that any time in the last 15 months or so. “

    • Hmm, comments are quirky. Link didn’t post (x2)

      He said it on March 27, 2011 in the sermon “The Future Tribulation.” You may have to google it since my links are not posting.

  16. Michael Paul Tuuri says:

    MacArthur reminds me of Bill and Ted in the barroom scene where they state that they are totally weak and can’t possibly defeat the cowboys who are ready to beat them to a pulp. In fact, it is the escapism of the church…the “revolt against historic maturity” to paraphrase Rush…that is the main reason for the vileness around us. When the church wakes up to its duty and privilege to subdue the earth to Christ, then we will see some serious change. In the meantime, we walk in the wilderness with people who are afraid to take the land.

  17. Aaron Chamberlain says:

    Perfect example of how a person’s eschatology shapes his or her entire worldview…

  18. jmark says:

    Where is the reference or link to MacArthur’s sermon? I would like to see the larger context of these statements.

  19. GentleDove says:

    Thanks for this article. MacArthur has trouble looking beyond the reference point of his own lifetime and looking at history and seeing the big picture. He can’t see the forest (Christ’s international rule in history over the past two thousand years) for the trees (current newspaper headlines). I think he believes that the more he downgrades Christ’s (he thinks they are man’s) accomplishments in history through the spread of His law and Gospel and the increase of His people and His kingdom (though, yes, there are still areas and battles to Spiritually conquer and still people who are Kingdom outlaws), the more (by contrast) he glorifies the kingdom (which he believes is not current but coming in the future). He teaches the false doctrines of dispensationalism and premillennialism, so I avoid him whenever and wherever possible. He does have an absolutely huge following, though. Would that they follow Christ and not MacArthur!

    • DouglassMc says:

      Excellent assessment.

    • Tim says:

      You are wise to avoid dispensational preachers like MacArthur. The thing I can’t figure out is why do dispensationalists take communion? At the last supper Jesus said, “…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Jesus is himself the covenant. If we are in Christ we are in the covenant – the covenant people. If Jesus was instituting a new dispensation shouldn’t he have said, “This cup is the new dispensation in my blood?” These guys certainly seem like false teachers to me.

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