John MacArthur, The True Gospel, & Click-Bait Headlines
The pop-up ad site known as The Christian Post recently managed to post an article – more correctly a “hit piece” – entitled John MacArthur Claims Hispanic World Doesn’t Know True Gospel amidst the ubiquitous “click here” appeals littering the screen. If you actually read the senseless article, no doubt you, like I, wished you hadn’t waited for all the ads to load. It would’ve been as equally fruitful to get entwined within a web-world, Boolean-search, follow-the-link moment of take-me-away-Calgon computer escapism. The article was clearly nothing more than a click bait headline intended as an oblique, baseless critique of MacArthur.
The opening salvo by Brandon Showalter (the author and giddy graduate from three years of Bethel’s “School of Supernatural Ministry”) reveals the very problem with the article. Showalter exhibits his own ignorance of the true gospel. (By “true Gospel,” by the way, I mean the actual Biblical one, the one held by orthodox Christianity for two millennia, the one that re-exploded upon the world back in the sixteenth century, not the “other gospel” Showalter endorses that actually started at the turn of the 20th century. Can you say Azusa?)
“Ignoring the well-documented explosion of Pentecostalism in Hispanic nations, Pastor John MacArthur believes that people in the Spanish-speaking world do not know the ‘true gospel.”
Well, yeah, MacArthur’s right. What’s the problem? Oh, he’s ignoring “the well-documented explosion of Pentecostalism?” That’s the problem, according to Showalter. Well … touché, because THAT is the problem. Of course, you gotta understand the real Gospel to understand it.
Perhaps blinded by Holy Ghost glitter from Bethel’s air ducts or lacking a qualified 1 Corinthians 14 interpreter to explain what “gospel” actually is– you certainly don’t get it from a place like Bethel – Showalter’s piece is little more than a “let’s use MacArthur’s name in an article, get tons of hits! Ready the pop-up ads!” form of insincere, theologically-inane fodder.
Showalter is not only a “guest contributor” at The Christian Post. He’s also a blogger at the discernment-free, promote anything that sounds spiritual website of woe known as Patheos. From his introductory blog there, he describes his own lack of discernment. “Like many American Christians, my background includes a variety of traditions. I like to joke that I’m a “mutt” believer and I really value what I have learned from every group. Not so long ago I served for four and half years as a tenor cantor in an Anglican parish (where I was confirmed in 2010), and my roots also include time in Mennonite, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches, and during my college days I spent three years in a Baptist campus ministry.”
“Mutt” or not, there’s a little truth that’s sort of a working principle with the Holy Spirit. Once you’re legitimately regenerated by Him, He does not leave you wallowing in an environment that is anti-gospel. It’s why folks are saved and leave places of apostasy like the Roman Catholic church, or from cults like Mormonism, and from places where “other gospels” are proclaimed, like New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) infested versions of Pentecostalism. But Showalter’s denominationally-diverse background, coupled with his attack piece on the perhaps single clearest orthodox voice in Christendom, reflects his own evident lack of discernment, as well as the obscurity of the true Gospel from him.
Showalter’s affinity for the errors of Azusa Pentecostalism seems to be the motive for his hit piece on MacArthur – that and maybe a “click-bait” bet he might’ve had with a fellow CP contributor. The article, though, does give what it says is a response from MacArthur about the presumed tone of “are you saying Hispanics don’t know the gospel?”
“Over the course of my ministry, I’ve pastored thousands of Hispanic believers, have ministered in many Latin American countries, and have seen our ministry launch a seminary in Mexico City to train men in Latin America for gospel ministry. Two years ago, I was given the privilege of preaching in the Dominican Republic at the Por Su Causa event with 10,000 brothers and sisters, and I look forward to participating in that event at the end of this month. This doesn’t change the reality that the vast majority of the Hispanic world is trapped in the false doctrine of Roman Catholic theology, and I’m grateful that the true gospel is powerfully infiltrating that world.”
But following MacArthur’s response – in which, of course, he did not back down from the claim, but reaffirmed it – Showalter goes on to attack MacArthur for his apparent intentional oversight over the explosion of Pentecostalism in Latin American countries. His assessment of this aberrant theology’s growth is correct.
Even according to a somewhat dated Pew Research study from 2005, Pentecostalism In Latin America, the expansion has been staggering. In 1970, an estimated 12.6 million Latin Americans were defined as either Pentecostal or Charismatic. By 1990, the number had soared to 118 million. As of 2005, Pew reports that number to be just under 157 million, or just over 28% of the population.
The growth of this emotionalism-based flavor of “evangelicalism” has not been lost on the Roman Catholics, who, with their own false gospel, had maintained substantial influence on Latin American countries. Though Francis, himself a Latin American, represents a fatigued brand of “Christianity,” this part of the world still represents nearly 40% of the global Roman Catholic population. The stranglehold of Rome’s false gospel is being threatened by the newer – both theologically and culturally – false fodder of the Pentecostal movement.
The appeal of NAR and Word of Faith style Pentecostalism is decidedly not doctrinal but is rather the undeniable, promiscuous presence of prosperity gospel tenets rife throughout it. Heavy on promises, weighty with mysticism, and prone to the “Bible roulette” form of hermeneutics, the Word of Faith gospel is all about you as you activate Jesus to serve your needs, supply your wants, and, oh yeah, enrich your “pastor.”
But Showalter seems to have his feelings hurt that MacArthur didn’t acknowledge Pentecostalism in Latin America as a positive influence. Anyone, however, who knows, follows, and appreciates what Showalter says of MacArthur – he is “no stranger to controversy and strong statements” -will understand immediately. MacArthur most assuredly does recognize the growth of this aberrant theology in this region of the globe. It’s this erroneous deception, coupled with the continuing stranglehold of apostasy by Rome, that MacArthur is surely bemoaning. “A” gospel may be being proclaimed; but “the” Gospel surely isn’t.
That The Christian Post ran a click-bait blast against the solidly credentialed MacArthur might not be a surprise. But neither is it a surprise that a trans-denominational like Showalter, who has a Pentecostal bone to grind, born of breathing Bethel air, doesn’t himself know the Gospel.
In the case of Latin America, MacArthur is right. And, if he should say the same thing about Showalter, he’d also be right.
Please pray for those souls, not only in Latin America, but across the globe and maybe across your street who have not heard the true Gospel and are ensnared by the false teaching of Pentecostalism with its prosperity gospel promises.
Share the true Gospel with them. Support ministries like John MacArthur’s that persevere through the attacks of the enemy – which may often come through what should be innocuous places, like, say The Christian Post – to silence the voice of Truth.
Who knows? Maybe Showalter saw a prosperity gospel promise come true in his own life with an insincere attack meant only to draw attention … all the while it undeniably detracted from Truth. But that’s the problem with false gospels … the “click here” joy is fleeting, unfounded on Truth, and not worth the wait for the next pop-up appeal.
Repent … the kingdom of God is here … and MacArthur preaches it …
(For more commentary on this attack on John MacArthur, please see Strange Fire Pentecostal Out of Bethel Redding Attacks John MacArthur)
Contributed by Bud Ahlheim