A Very Important Book for Today’s Evangelicals
This very important book for today’s evangelicals, is an outstanding blend of exposition, church history, theology, and engagement with trends in the contemporary evangelical church. MacArthur expounds the exhortation of Jude to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints with both clarity and conviction. He begins by asserting the reality of objective truth and cataloguing some of the attacks on truth from within the ranks of the church. MacArthur very clearly distances the Christian’s “truth war” from the violent jihad of Islamic fundamentalism, and reminds us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood and is not fought with earthly weapons. But at the same time, he reminds us that we are both ambassadors of the Lord and soldiers in spiritual battle, and that we do not serve the truth well by building alliances with false teachers. Along the way, he develops the original context of Jude’s letter and discusses some of the most important battles against false teaching in the history of the church (for example, the battles against Judaizers, Gnosticism, Sabellianism, and Arianism). He shows how to spot false teachers by pointing out the sin-producing effects of their teaching. As with many of MacArthur’s books, this is a polemic targeted at specific strands of teaching in today’s evangelical church, specifically the Emerging church and one of its primary spokesmen, Brian McLaren. I disagree with the opinion of another reviewer who criticizes MacArthur’s appeal to church history with the claim that “MacArthur has never show[n] a tendency to care about what the `Church’ has to say about anything.” This reviewer has not read enough of MacArthur’s other writings, which often conclude with appendices full of quotations from some of the stalwarts of church history (check, for example, The Gospel According to the Apostles, Ashamed of the Gospel, Reckless Faith, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness). The same reviewer comments that “this [writing polemical books] is all he [MacArthur] seems to do.” Again, not true. Most of MacArthur’s books, in fact, are commentaries and Bible study guides. There are many, many others that are simple and non-polemical books on various aspects of Christian living. But MacArthur does carry a unique burden for truth and often jumps in where others fear to tread. This is a great gift to the church and I’m grateful for MacArthur’s legacy of biblical faithfulness – even though I would disagree with him on a few issues.
My one critique of the book is his (possibly inadvertent?) lumping of Mark Driscoll into the same crowd as other Emerging church leaders. MacArthur cites a quote from Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz about “Mark the Cussing Pastor” in a critical context. Everyone who knows anything about the Emerging church knows that this is Mark Driscoll, who unfortunately, has lacked some discretion in his use of language at times. However, he has, on the whole, proven himself a man of both biblical faithfulness and personal integrity. His theology would be quite similar to Dr. MacArthur’s in most respects, even if his methodology is different. Driscoll shouldn’t be considered a false teacher (if that was the implication MacArthur was intending to make) just because of his language, any more than Luther should be considered a false teacher because of his frequent use of invective in denouncing Roman Catholicism during the Reformation. That critique aside, I think this is an excellent book and deserves a very wide readership.
A Need to Heed…
A number of weeks before this book was announced, I wrote to Dr. MacArthur asking if/when he might write a book such as this. Imagine my delight when I learned that one WAS going to be released and soon!
The Emergent Church is creating havoc within Christendom. Like Gnosticism and the Judaizers of the early church, the blantant error that is coming in like a flood into the modern-day church needs to be brought under the truthful light of Scripture, where it will not survive. That can only happen when faithful and courageous Christians are willing to call into question the very things that are being espoused. Paul, Jude, James, Peter – none of these men hesitated to call error error. Paul especially named names. There MUST be a willingness among Christians today to stand against the error in whatever form it comes. The Bereans even applied Paul’s teachings to the litmus test of the Scriptures and it did not bother Paul at all. In fact, he seemed to applaud it! Yet, when what is being taught today is questioned, then those asking the questions are accused of being “legalists,” “hatemongers,” or “divisive.” If this is so, then certainly Christ was “divisive” as was Paul, Jude, James, Peter and numerous others who stood against the tide of lies that literally sprang from Satan’s domain.
Too often in today’s desire to be ecumenically “inclusive,” not only are lies allowed, but they are often encouraged, as if the lie itself does no harm and is simply a matter of denominational variance. In truth, many of the lies that are being promulgated by Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rick Warren and others attack the very foundation upon which Christianity rests!
Dr. MacArthur’s book could not have come at a more appropriate time in the life of the church. I pray that its message will be heeded by true Christians everywhere. The fight for truth is not an option.
Came at just the right time!
I live in the Denver, CO, area. I am the host of Let’s Pray!, a radio vignette nationally syndicated on 328 stations, the author of a Scripture-based prayer guide, PRAYING IN THE WORD OF GOD, and the co-director with my husband, Dr. Paul Grant, of THE BREAD OF LIFE FOUNDATION.
Having been saved at the age of 30 out of an atheistic background, I have been astonished by the lack of Biblical belief and obedience by the majority of Christians in America. My husband and I have taught prayer to 24 denominations in 21 states and have found an appalling lack of love for Jesus, for prayer, for obedience to Christ, and for Biblical truth. We’ve often wondered in the last 29 years whether we’re insane. We are often alone, often persecuted, yet madly in love with Jesus!
This book, more than anything else, has answered the question “are we insane?” with a resounding, “no!” We are not insane to stand up for the absolute truth of the Word of God. We are not insane to judge Christian leaders by that truth. We are not insane even though we often feel so alone! Jesus Christ is worthy. He has always been resisted by those who oppose Him.
We are forever grateful to Dr. MacArthur for giving us a historical perspective of the opposition to “the Truth” and for giving us so much needed support. I will never be so easily disuaded from standing for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This book is a life saver for me and for my husband! I know, now, that I ought to expect this kind of perversion of truth, I ought to count in pure joy to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake, and I must continue speaking the truth in love knowing full well that many will not receive it.
More persecution lies ahead as the days grow more wicked. May Jesus Christ be pleased with my life and service! May I hear from Him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” And may you, too, hear those wonderful words!
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
To view other books by the same author available in English or Spanish available here