Monday, January 10, 2011

First review of MacArthur's new book 'Slave'

UPDATE: Here are my own thoughts about Slave (and here are my first impressions).

In the coming days I intend on discussing how we can, and if we should, follow Paul's example in Acts 21 with our dealings with Brethren who preach the Lordship Salvation message.  Here's the first review I've read of MacArthur's new book 'Slave.'

John MacAthur's New Apostate Book - at the Notes From A Retired Preacher blog. (a repost of Bruce Bauer's review at  I am also going to repost it here. 
Please Note: This review by Bruce Bauer is from: Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ (Hardcover), by John MacArthur

The back paper jacket to the book caught my attention: “A COVER-UP OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: 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!” 
WHAT? Are we to understand that Bible translators for centuries, hundreds if not thousands of highly-trained knowledgeable men of God, have kept a well-guarded secret about the true meaning of the Bible that only NOW Dr. MacArthur will be the one scholar who will bring us the real scoop? 
Yes, this is exactly what the book would have us to believe, that the common Greek term “doulos” has been mistranslated in every major version of the Bible since the earliest of printed Bible translations. According to MacArthur, “doulos” should be translated primarily if not exclusively as “slave.” Most modern translators (NASB, NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV) as well as common Greek-English lexicons interpret the term in a variety of ways as, “servant,” “slave,” “bond servant,” “bondman,” or “attendant.” MacArthur also states on pp. 29-30 that the proper meaning of the Old Testament’s nearest equivalent term, “‘ebed” has also been hidden by modern translators: 
“The King James Version, for example, never translates ‘ebed as ‘slave’—opting for ‘servant’ or ‘manservant’ the vast majority of the time. But contrast that with the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament from before the time of Christ. It translates ‘ebed with forms of ‘doulos,’ or ‘slave’ more than 400 times!” 
WHAT?? The LXX translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, NOT to English! So MacArthur is leaping to an inappropriate conclusion about the meaning of the Hebrew in this case.  
My greatest problem with the book was that the author, MacArthur, took the ancient images of slavery and superimposed them onto modern Christianity with the intent to create the notion that our normative relationship with God and our service to God should be that of a slave to a master, instead of that of a child of God responding out of love and gratitude to an omnibenevolent (all loving) Father God. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,” Father.” 
With this slave-to-master representation set into place, the author proceeded to promote his standard Lordship Salvation doctrine dressed in new clothes, slave garb. He even used much of the same argumentation that he used in “The Gospel According to Jesus.” And, once again, he freely denigrated and characterized Free Grace theology, especially in chapter five.

Recommended reading: “The Grace Awakening,” by Charles Swindoll


Look up said...

Gal 4:6-7 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

It would be interesting to note whether or not the above were addressed in the book.

Kevl said...

Hey Look-Up, in TGATJ MacArthur quoted John 15:14 in support of his slavery position, he of course did not quote verse 15.

What is interesting is that John 15 shows the path of discipleship very well. It truly shows the benefits of obeying and following. The lion's share of this obeying and following is loving each other - which is the commandment that the Lord refers to. When He speaks of commandments it is to love God (abide in Him) and love each other.

However, quoting the whole passage messes with the slavery position... so you don't see LS'ers doing this in their literature.


Jan said...

WHAT? Are we to understand that Bible translators for centuries, hundreds if not thousands of highly-trained knowledgeable men of God, have kept a well-guarded secret about the true meaning of the Bible that only NOW Dr. MacArthur will be the one scholar who will bring us the real scoop?

I see this is a common complaint.


Kevl said...

Hey Jan,

I'm sure this is just the latest thing that we're not really understanding about MacArthur's position. ;)


Holly G. said...

You know I was pondering this today in several respects. One, a video I watched part of, regarding the thesis and the antithesis, and coming up with a new synthesis. John MacArthur is very clever in that way. And he does this with Kyrios in Rom 10:9. He goes to the root of the root if you will, and uses Master, totally skipping over the fact that Kyrios means GOD, the Messiah. The Title of Lord.

He then goes to the antithesis (slave opposite master) and comes up with his new synthesis.

Another interesting thing to me in the New Age Movement is the Master thing in the first place. I know we could never picture a 'conservative' such as MacArthur with New Age... Or could we?

Kevl said...

Hi Holly, can you elaborate on your comment a bit more?

I would say there are a number of connections to the Reformed position to the New Age Movement.

I'm interested in your comment, and would like it to be explained a bit more so that those reading won't think it is just a shot at the doctor.


Holly G. said...

Kevl, sorry, I do not even know when you asked me the question. Don’t know if you have a ‘follow up’ for new comments or questions.

John Mac goes into great emphasis regarding the meaning of Kyrios, attributing it to Master, leaning of course on our work as to whether we have submitted to him as Master. The word is not used often, and as you pointed out what the Word says, we are not slaves but sons. Another thing we know, is that He now calls us friend.

Why was the emphasis not on the title Lord Jesus (correct order), when MacArthur expounded in his book slave? We obviously have to believe/confess the Lord Jesus, that means we believe Jesus IS Lord (God, the Messiah) and Jesus (Jehovah is Salvation).

The new-age part comes in with the root of a good god, evil god of Mani. Master is a title as we know that many use in the New age Movement.

“The disciple Jesus of 2,000 years ago has by now become one of the most senior Masters in the Hierarchy: the Master Jesus. He reached His state of perfection in the course of His next life as Apollonius of Tyana. Many of those who followed Him during His life as Jesus were still alive during this subsequent incarnation -- and many of them became convinced that Jesus had reappeared in their midst…. (“Jesus of Nazareth and Maitreya the Christ” by Peter Liefhebber, Share International).

One thing I have noticed in MacArthur's teachings (reformed) is that he is head and shoulders above the others in bewitching others regarding what the Bible teaches. Perhaps his age and seeming wisdom. Might be that he has his own seminary, his own Bible, and 150+ books to his credit? Not certain, but one thing is certain, his gospel corrupts minds from the simplicity that is in Christ.

No personal shot at Doctor MacArthur, if it was, the question would be simply from others, "who are you anyways, and what do you know?" (1 Cor 4:6-7 is my answer)

His gospel message is gnosticism as is reformed teaching in general. They may not realize the Manichaeistic foundation in many of Augustine's school of thought, nor even realize their 'reformed teaching' carries many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, especially regarding being 'the chosen'.

Perhaps they might want to read Augustine's 'conversion' testimony, it (along with MacArthur's) has nothing to do with the power of the gospel unto salvation. Augustine wasn't even 'hearing the Word'. MacArthur doesn't remember being born again (he just always believed) and so I guess he thinks this makes him the super-elect, and his Master's seminary chorale group seems to feel the same, when they sing the JMac Rap and swoon at even the sight of him.