Monday, June 18, 2007

The Truth War - My Last Few Thoughts

I wanted to conclude my thoughts on The Truth War. I previously made observations on MacArthur's use of "the excluded middle," which he mentions, and then displays in the book as one of his primary forms of argumentation throughout the book. The "excluded middle" most often is a classic logical fallacy, and he use it liberally as a method of argumentation to promote the concept that the Emergent Conversation is a postmodern influenced heresy, and to recruit believers to stand up against it. My first 2 posts on this book covered the fallacy of the excluded middle, which has also been known as Black and White Fallacy (under the assumption that there are only two choices, and therefore no middle), False Dichotomy, False Dilemma, and Bifurcation.

In my third post I dealt with the logical fallacy of Hasty Generalization, and identified a few of the many places in which MacArthur used a small test sample of Emergent individuals and quotes to create his overarching opinions about the movement as a whole.

Although I believe these observations do not come close to identifying all the fallacious arguments presented by MacArthur, I do feel that they have covered the most significant fallacies in logic, and place his opinions on the Emergent Conversation into the category of wild exaggeration.

Here I simply wanted to list a few more favorite quotes which further point out the exaggeration which is employed for means of sensationalism, or are an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Many evangelical seminaries are now aggressively recruiting women for pastoral training programs. Numerous once -conservative evangelical churches are ordaining women as elders, encouraging them to teach adult classes filled with men, and even appointing them to pastoral and preaching roles.
Such feminism has gnostic roots...."

Reading before and after this quote on page 153-154 one will find MacArthur using 1 Timothy 2:12 used to support the idea that the Bible rejects women as teachers of men, or leaders in the church. I wholeheartedly disagree with his opinion, but even if MacArthur's assessment of that passage were to support a wholesale rejection of women in church leadership positions, his unsubstantiated conclusion that it has "gnostic roots" certainly needs some evidence to be considered anything more than a blustery Santa Ana wind.

"Still overzealousness is clearly a danger we need to guard against carefully. There are indeed some full-time critics operating today, always looking for a fight, taking fleshly delight in controversy's sake, and making judgments that may be too harsh or too hasty." (page 135)

Who woulda thought! Sorry, I couldn't resist. To me it seems as though MacArthur defines his own book - in fact a few of his books, and a significant portion of his own ministry with this quote.

"Proof that ungodliness is rampant in evangelical circles today is evident in megachurches that purposely cater to the preferences of the ungodly-furnishing entertainment and amusements in the place of authentic worship and Bible teaching." (page 140)

Wow! I guess we had better be careful to avoid being humorous, presenting drama, allowing quality music in the church, or showing movie clips, because it is "proof" that we are ungodly. I am ashamed of myself - I laughed at church this week.

On page 167 MacArthur quotes 1 Corintians 9:20-22 in which Paul states he becomes "all things to all men" that he might save some, and MacArthur responds to this quote by saying, "He was not saying he adapted the Gospel Message...He did not adopt methods to suit the tastes of a worldly culture."

MacArthur apparently is convinced that becoming all things to all men means neither adapting one's presentation of the Gospel for the hearer's sake, or difference in the meaning of words from region to region, nor adopting methods appropriate to cultural distinctions, and differences. Paul apparently became all things to all men by not changing a thing. I want to learn that trick.

I am of the conclusion, that this book has been written as a knee-jerk reaction to a movement gaining some degree of popularity, and having high impact on current Christian thought. One might conclude that John MacArthur wrote it as a response to the latest fad in theology, and therefore a way to draw attention, and sell more books, and therefore is an example of the very thing he berates. I am assuming the writing of the book had more noble intentions, but for whatever reason he wrote the book, the illogical blunders were not well advised.

That's what I think about The Truth War.

Rebuttals, responses, agreements, cheers, rebukes, and trying to get the pea-soup to rise from within me are all welcome.


Webb Kline said...

What troubles me is that Mac Arthur is but one of many who have devoted their entire lives, thinking they were serving God, while in reality, their legacies are ones of intolerance, division and discord, the near-eradication of grace, ultimately crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, while arguably turning more people away from Jesus than to him.

It could easily be argued that John's own religious kingdom has been built on the abuse of power through guilt manipulation of the masses, rather than by extending the unconditional love, compassion, grace and forgiveness of Jesus to those in need of it, or through carrying out the ministry of reconciliation we are all called to.

I just don't understand why it has to be this way, but then again, our Lord was crucified by men who espoused similar theological doctrines as Mac Arthur's, and through that crucifixion, even they were offered forgiveness and mercy
Who had known the mind of the Lord and who has been His counselor? ;)

Pastor Phil said...

Wow Webb,

You be a radical dude! It troubles me too, and I hope for better days for the church.

Unknown said...

It appears that MacArthur should at least make an attempt at understanding "EMERGING" before making his strawman attacks setting himself up as the anchor of orthodoxy. If one wants to stand for truth, then one should be truthful about what they critique.

Keep up the make some very good and helpful points. I will be back!