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The Dallas Statement is Dead, and John MacArthur Killed it.

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I love John MacArthur. But, he has made the Dallas Statment on Social Justice and the Gospel an unprecedented failure in his otherwise spotless ministry. 

MacArthur is wrong to invite men committing grievous errors – errors that he and the other crafters of the Dallas Statement describe in great detail – to speak at the 2019 Shepherd’s Conference. 

This complaint is not a matter of second or tertiary separation from horrendous doctrinal error, but it is a matter of primary separation. Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, and Ligon Duncan are not merely guilty of promoting or fellowshipping with those who are described in the Dallas Statement. They are those described in the Dallas Statement and commit those very errors. These men lead institutions that are the tip of the spear of the subversive “Social Justice” movement in Calvinistic evangelicalism that the Dallas Statement was written to combat. They promote the very ideology that the statement signers are standing against. 

You cannot argue that the conflating of mercy and justice, or justice and Gospel, are grievous departures from Orthodoxy while simultaneously promoting and partnering with those in the midst of that very grievous departure from Orthodoxy. 

As for why Mohler, Dever, and Duncan are traitors to the conservative and evangelical Christian church, the greatly-detailed journalistic reporting provided on this news site should suffice, and the search function is available for your perusal. For now, let it suffice to say, that each and every one of the original signers of the Dallas Statement, if you were to ask them to name the ten biggest proponents of so-called “Social Justice” in Calvinistic Christendom, they would name Mohler, Dever, and Duncan as at least three of them. 

I have had many conversations with many of the original signers of the statement to that effect. They are well aware that these are the men the statement is about. Their respective institutions are the ones promoting the false teachings detailed in the Dallas Statement, sending out armies of young men who don’t understand the difference between Law and Gospel. 

That MacArthur would have these three men come to Shepherd’s Conference, and to add another Social Justice Warrior – HB Charles – to the roster is absolutely inexcusable. Does MacArthur approve of Charles inviting Pelagian and Open Theist, Tony Evans, to speak at the SBC Pastor’s Conference (in the name of affirmative action)? Surely not. For mercy’s sake, I could stand behind the ShepCon pulpit, chuck a rock into the audience, and the chances are, anyone likely hit by said rock would be a better theologian than HB Charles. 

Pulpit & Pen and I have been called the “worst sycophants of John MacArthur in the world.” Indeed, I’d rather vomit up both my lungs than be brought to criticize anything regarding the elder statesman. But truth be told, even from me, the decision to invite these men is – as I’ve written above – inexcusable. There is no possible explanation, no reasoning, no possible scenario, in which the invitation of these men at this particular time isn’t flatly wrong-headed. 

MacArthur is not ignorant of the danger these men pose. He has waxed eloquent about the danger of their doctrinal saveur de jour in recent days. The people surrounding MacArthur are not ignorant of what these men teach or how they’re gutting their institutions of Christ-centered Gospel focus and replacing it with social religion. Ignorance, on the part of MacArthur, is absolutely inconceivable. 

The decision, to reiterate, is without excuse. I cannot be an apologist for this, and neither can any other rational person. 

Let me explain my disgust in the clearest possible terms: The Dallas Statement lays out what many – including its drafters and signers – believe to be grievous errors that represent, as MacArthur himself phrased it, “the most subtle and dangerous threats so far.” 

Simply put, by turning churches and seminaries into Social Justice centers and experiencing – on a grand scale – the “mission drift” of which Phil Johnson famously accused Dever’s protege, Thabiti Anyabwile, these figures will succeed in turning the Reformed Resurgence into a flickering wick. One of the most wonderful revivals of good doctrine since the Great Awakening will be replaced by the same type of Neo-Socinian, liberal religion that brought in the 19th and 20th century American Downgrade. I would dare – and I mean, double dog dare, MacArthur, Johnson, or anyone else to substantially demonstrate that Mohler, Dever, or Duncan are to any degree drifting less in mission than Thabiti Anyabwile. 

In the meantime, the critics of the Dallas Statement claimed that the statement was wholly unnecessary, that it was much ado about nothing, that it was over-stated hyperbole. There is an ease in Zion, they argued, and the problems diagnosed in the Dallas Statement are in fact no problems at all. 

By inviting these Social Justice carnival barkers to preach from MacArthur’s pulpit, so soon after signing and promoting the Dallas Statement, is to kill the Dallas Statement by this simple reasoning: If the errors committed by Mohler, Dever, and Duncan in the realm of Social Justice are not enough to – at least temporarily – separate over, they’re not big enough errors to write a statement about. 

If we are not willing to draw a line in the sand, if we are not willing to separate over these deep theological errors, they are clearly not big enough errors about which to draft a statement. 

The Dallas Statement is as meaningless as Dr. MacArthur’s willingness to live by it. What is the point of calling something a dangerously problematic theological error when you are willing to partner with the greatest proponents of that error?

What Dr. MacArthur has done by his ShepCon lineup is equally as heinous and grievous an error as John Stott’s contention with Martin Lloyd-Jones over Billy Graham, except unfortunately in this scenario, MacArthur is not Lloyd-Jones. He is the one embracing the progenitors of error…error that he, himself, by signing and promoting the Dallas Statement, acknowledges are dangerous errors. 

But, MacArthur is not the only one. The organizers of G3, Josh Buice in particular (another original signer of the Dallas Statement), has invited similarly strong proponents of social religion. The pre-conference event featuring Dallas Statement signers does not absolve Buice – or anyone taking part – from the willingness to embrace those they believe to be in serious error. Regardless of what is said at that pre-conference G3 event, they undermine their entire argument by taking the stage with the advocates of the doctrines they call false. 

I presume that MacArthur and Buice, organizers of two of the largest ordinarily “solid” conferences in our tribe, are charitable men who hope to win their brothers by hospitable generosity. But inviting progenitors of false teachings and propagators of subversive ideologies to preach goes well beyond hospitality. It is sheer foolishness, if not lunacy. 

As for the men speaking at such events, shame on them all (and that shame goes to many of my personal friends, but shameful it is). These brothers are like the solitary man of lore, who when Colonel William Travis drew his line in the sand at the Alamo, never crossed. 

Ultimately, it was the signers of the Dallas Statement who have destroyed it and made it a laughing stock. No one can – or should – take them seriously regarding their estimation of error when they so quickly partner with it. 

John MacArthur is probably the greatest Bible expositor-pastor-preacher in the world. He remains so. But this, again, cannot be excused or defended. 

In coming days, I am going to lay out and publish my suggestions for surviving the storm that is coming. MacArthur and the Dallas Statement drafters started a war, one in which they immediately surrendered. The rest of us – countless thousands – will not. And they – that is, the Evangelical Industrial Machine – is coming for us. 

Many have asked, “Where is this going? What is going to happen?”

My answer is that we must be prepared to buckle down, batten down the hatches, and separate from every hint or tinge of compromise and worldliness. The great Evangelical Dark Ages is coming for us. The Reformed Resurgence is dead, and its corpse has been replaced with social religion. The next generation – and possibly two – will be very dark times for the elect of God in America. 

In reading Machen’s classic work recently, Christianity & Liberalism, I’m reminded that he denotes that much of the Downgrade is caused by Sunday School “lesson helps,” by seminaries or the academy, and by books. No doubt, the same is true today. The vast majority of subversive theology enters the local church in form of merchandise. 

I’m increasingly convinced that the Local Church is the single and solitary trustworthy, God-given resource for the edification of Saints. No, I cannot recommend anyone attend Shepherd’s Conference or G3 this coming year. No, I cannot recommend anyone go the Grace Bookstore (which still has aberrant teaching for sale, despite repeated warnings) or the (much, much worse) Lifeway Christian Resources. No, I cannot recommend the vast majority of what is marketed as Christian music. 

While John MacArthur’s books and commentaries will always have a treasured place on my bookshelves, the American Christian church needs to seriously consider receiving all of its teaching from pastors and teachers within the local body. I know of nothing else that can best protect the Church Universal than having each Church Local be extremely militant in guarding the pulpit and guarding the minds of its disciples. 

The enemy has found a sinister and subtle way to infiltrate the fortress of God’s Church. When they are given spotlight and a microphone on the Christian lecture circuit, it’s time to rethink the way the church does discipleship. 

Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

[Contributed by JD Hall]

PS., I have written things about people I love dearly, I wish never to have written. I presume genuine friendship is strong enough to withstand it. And even that presumption is presumptive.