Monday, April 3, 2017
How Calvinists Distort the Bible to Promote their False Doctrines
I was watching the above sermon by John MacArthur, which is the second of a two-part series which he preached at the 2003 National Conference of the Ligonier Ministries. (The first one can be seen here.) The sermons contain many doctrinal and theological errors, as well as scriptural misinterpretations that would take too long to discuss at length. I am going to pick one example to comment on, which is his interpretation of what Paul says in his second epistle to Timothy. The passage of scripture is as follows (emphasis added):
2 Timothy 2:
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these [iniquities], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Here Paul is admonishing Timothy to purge himself of evil, and to follow righteousness, so that he might become a vessel of honor, instead of being a vessel of dishonor. He is advising him that being a vessel of honor is better than being a vessel of dishonor; and he is showing him how he can do that. He is telling him that he can do that by departing from iniquity, and purging himself of evil, and following righteousness. That is how he can be a vessel of honor, instead of being a vessel of dishonor. Paul is advising him to be the first, not the second; and is showing him how.
At 34:38 minutes into the video John MacArthur comments on this passage, and turns it on its head! He puts the opposite spin on it. He interprets it to mean that being a vessel of dishonor is the right state to be in, and that we should not aspire to be anything else. This is what he says (emphasis added):
“This idea [of being a vessel of dishonor] is extended in 2 Timothy 2:20 where Paul says, In a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but vessels of wood and earthenware, and some are to honor and some to dishonor. A house has some vessels: gold, silver vessels you serve the food on, that is to honor. It has other vessels that you take the result of eating out in, dishonor, and that is what the clay post were used for. The apostle Paul says, Look, we have the glory of God in a privy pot. That is how low it goes. Don’t overestimate your importance.”
In other words, in his theology being a vessel of dishonor is the right state to be in; don’t attempt to change it! That is what man is intended to be, according to him, and is meant to stay that way. A Calvinist evidently is someone who aspires to be a vessel of dishonor. That is the right place for him to be in. That is how John MacArthur interprets the advice of Paul. Well, if Calvinists think that it is God’s will that they should be vessels of dishonor rather than vessels of honor, who am I to argue. I wouldn’t want to begrudge them all the dishonor they want. And if he further thinks that Luther was a vessel of dishonor (and takes pride in it, which he apparently does), I wouldn’t argue with that either. He can add Calvin to the mix for all I care. But I suggest they don’t call it Christianity—not according to Paul. A Christian according to Paul is someone who aspires to be a vessel of honor, not a vessel of dishonor. They can call that Calvinism—no arguments—just not Christianity, according to Paul.
What I like to know is what kind of people are they who would go and listen to this kind of trash, applaud and make him smile, and go home believing that they have been instructed. Well did Jesus say: “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat … and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mat. 7:13–14.)