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Is John MacArthur Above Reproach?

My work is best illustrated in an important email to Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler regarding John MacArthur from earlier this year.  I think it addresses the most critical issue of our day in the evangelical Church – upholding the character qualifications of Scripture for men in ministry.  

In June, I published the following after two months of careful research.  There is no question as to its veracity. 

My Most Important Article Ever! John MacArthur’s Renowned Story He Stood on the Blood of Martin Luther King Jr. with Iconic Civil Rights Leaders Within Hours of Assassination in 1968 a Complete Hoax! Phil Johnson, MacArthur’s Executive Director, Verbally Assails Reporter Who Broke Story in Attempted Cover-Up! And Much More! Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:23PM 

The article included an email to Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler; three of John MacArthur’s closest friends.  MacArthur continues in ministry.

Dear Mark, Ligon and Al,

I am writing you about your friend, John MacArthur.  On February 4, 2019, a well-documented article was published online by the NOQ Report regarding the story John has been telling various audiences the last twelve years (e.g. SBTS at the 2014 Mullins Lectures) about his momentous experiences with civil rights leaders the night Martin Luther King was assassinated.  The article is titled, “Iconic civil rights leader tells Pastor John MacArthur to stop lying.”  It can be read at this link.


Paige Rogers summarized the article in the first two paragraphs. 

“Civil Rights icon Charles Evers – brother of murdered Civil Rights activist, Medgar Evers– is hoping to set the record straight, requesting that radio Bible teacher, best-selling author, seminary president, and mega-church pastor John MacArthur stop “lying” about being with Charles Evers on the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. “Testimony from Charles Evers and fellow Civil Rights icon, John Perkins – in concert with official reports from the Memphis police, the FBI, and the Congressional investigation into Dr. King’s assassination – are incongruent with Pastor MacArthur’s statements of the events of April 4, 1968, when Dr. King was shot.”

I have carefully examined this matter.  John has fabricated the entire account about the events of April 4, 1968 for his vain glory.  Phil Johnson, whom you know, is viciously covering up.  John’s deceit, and Phil’s belligerence, are so serious, they should both be removed from ministry.  That is not an exaggeration.  I have done everything possible to address this matter in private.

I will be posting the evidence and documentation I have gathered in the next few days.  It is incontrovertible.  The only question is whether you will read it and act upon it.  By act upon it, I mean take the steps necessary to appeal for John’s repentance, ask him to step down from ministry, and remove him from Together for the Gospel 2020 as a speaker.

Ligon, you are in a unique position to examine the evidence.  As you know, Charles Evers and John Perkins are your neighbors in Jackson.  You can practically walk down the street to talk with them personally; and well you should.  It is incumbent upon you.  You should also talk to Dolphus Weary.  He earned his D.Min. [Doctor of Ministry degree] from RTS Jackson and worked with Perkins in Mendenhall.  I’m confident you know him.

With regard to C.J. Mahaney, you men did great harm to the Body of Christ (and no little harm to me) by refusing to study the evidence I sent you beginning with The Documents in July 2011.  Ligon, you referred to those justly and kindly written documents as “the assaults of wounded people” and “spurious accusations.”  Al, you said there was “nothing” in them that would give you “the slightest pause of confidence” in C.J. and that I had “an obvious vendetta” against him.  Yet, neither of you had read The Documents before commenting.  Instead, you joined with Sovereign Grace Ministries in a coordinated campaign to discredit me and my writings.        

In like manner, you blindly justified C.J. in your May 23, 2013 statement on the T4G [Together for the Gospel] website without having read the Second Amended Complaint alleging a conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Here is an excerpt from your statement of support.

“If a Christian leader is accused of any wrongdoing, those to whom he is accountable must investigate the charges and then deal responsibly with the evidence.  If a criminal accusation is made, Christians have a fundamental duty to inform law enforcement officials.  This does not, however, preclude or mitigate the church’s responsibility for biblical church discipline. “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry.  No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney.  Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.  For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.  We do not regret that decision.  We are profoundly thankful for C. J. as friend, and we are equally thankful for the vast influence for good he has been among so many Gospel-minded people.”

You were later forced to edit the statement for your egregious error emphatically claiming there were no accusations of direct wrongdoing against C.J. in the lawsuit   You never told the public you did not read the Second Amended Complaint or inform the public you had to edit the statement when corrected.

These were grievous sins.  In both cases, you acted with great partiality and favoritism.  One day, I hope you confess these sins to the Body of Christ in humility and with integrity.

And finally, a word to you Mark.  In July 2011, you welcomed C.J. at Capitol Hill Baptist Church when he angrily and abruptly fled Covenant Life Church.  This was contrary to all your teaching on the role of elders and the necessity of discipline in a local church.

C.J. never even talked to the CLC elders (i.e., his pastors and friends) about his decision to unilaterally leave.  It came as a complete shock to them.  You should have required C.J. return to CLC.  Instead, you sinfully undermined their authority and catered to his sinful whims.  They wanted C.J. to remain at CLC.     

I was working with the elders at the time (e.g. Joshua Harris) and they were finally addressing the long terms patterns of sin in C.J.’s life including his pride, anger, deceit, hypocrisy, and independence.  He became offended at Josh and the other men when he felt slandered.  He used it as an excuse to run from their discipline.  This was in opposition to all he had taught for 32 years.  The 4,000 members at Covenant Life Church were profoundly stumbled by his hypocrisy.  He never returned to ask their forgiveness. 

At the same time, you were rolling out the red carpet and commending C.J. to CHBC as a man of God.  This too, was a great offense to the members of CLC.  You should return to ask their forgiveness.  Your accommodation of C.J. all these years has done extraordinary harm to him, CLC, victims of sexual abuse and their families, and the thousands of people who left SGM over the double standard applied to C.J.   

One more thing.  For the past six years, I have repeatedly asked to talk with you or meet with you men for two reasons.  One, you sinned against me (Matt. 18:15).  Two, I wanted to help you (Prov. 18:17).  And yet, you were not willing (Matt. 5:23-24).  Instead you believed the lies and slanders put forth by C.J.  As a result, you were deceived by him.  By the way, I’d still like to talk or meet with you. 

Now, the inevitable has come to pass.  Al has severed “all personal and ministry ties” and has “no relationship with C.J. or SGC.”  The vast majority of C.J.’s closest friends over decades have done the same or similar.  I respect Al’s action.  Mark and Lig, you should follow his example.  And for the sake of Christ, please do not invite C.J. to T4G 2020 to preach or Bob Kauflin to lead worship or Mark Prater to promote SGC in a seminar or exhibit booth.

[Note: Even Sovereign Grace churches are expressing strong public disagreement with the SG Leadership Team for their refusal to do an independent investigation.  Read A Fourth Sovereign Grace Church Reproves Leadership Team for Refusing Independent Investigation. Denhollander Responds. I Put Focus Back on SGC Leader John Loftness for Alleged Sexual Sadism of Children (June 19, 2019).]

Once again, the Lord has put a great test before you to see if you have learned from your mistakes, reformed your ways, and are willing to honor Christ by submitting to the authority of Scripture.  John is not above reproach (1 Tim. 3:1; Tit. 1:7).  For 12 years, he has repeatedly lied, with no apparent pangs of conscience, while hypocritically teaching the Word of God.  And having been confronted, he continues to lie and cover up in brutal fashion through Phil.  He has also built an abusive leadership culture at Grace to You, Grace Community Church, and The Master’s University and Seminary. 

I was a pastor and teacher for 30 years.  I loved my work!  It was a great joy to care for people and a great honor to teach them God’s word.  I planted churches, led churches and oversaw churches.  I traveled to many parts of the world to preach the gospel and equip indigenous pastors.  What a inestimable joy!  Yet, I felt called by God to give it up at great personal cost in order to address the corruption of leaders inside and outside of Sovereign Grace that were bringing reproach to the gospel and harming God’s people including victims of sexual abuse.  

That is what I did with C.J.  You condemned me for it.  That is what I have done with John.  I would much rather be writing books about the care of souls, Christian doctrine, church history, apologetics and especially the good news of Jesus Christ.   But such is my calling.  For this I have suffered greatly. 

It is my hope I have not labored in vain.  The requirements of character found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are not optional extras for C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson or anyone else.  They are incumbent upon every deacon, pastor and Christian leader.  All must be tested by them.  That includes every aspiring seminarian.  Their character must be examined with the same vigor their doctrine is examined before ordination is conferred. 

When we put in ministry, or allow in ministry, unqualified men; we sin and share responsibility for the sins they commit and the damage they cause. 

1 Timothy 5:22 “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.”

Despite the implications of this command, those most gifted are often given a pass by their elders or boards because the church, ministry, seminary, or organization depends upon them for success.  They are considered indispensable.  Therefore, they are protected and their sin goes unconfronted.  In time, God brings his judgment. 

John MacArthur is probably the best known Bible teacher in the world today but there is a fundamental lack of integrity in his life.  That is apparent in his nepotism, cronyism,  treatment of “whistleblowers,” failure to follow the law, misleading claims of persecution, employment of Phil Johnson, not adhering to what he has taught, and deceitful fabrications.  I don’t believe the later are confined to his story about April 4, 1968.  You must address him on these and call for his repentance.

How you handle this matter will reveal your true character and commitment to God’s Word.  I earnestly hope and pray you will call John and Phil to account and model a biblical standard for leadership in this nation and around the world.  I hope others do the same.  For example, John is scheduled to speak at the 2020 Ligonier National Conference next March in Orlando.  I have asked for this to be changed. 

The loss of trust in Christian leaders is epidemic because the qualifications for leadership are not enforced.  I recently wrote an article called "Regaining Lost Credibility" by C.J. Mahaney in People of Destiny Magazine (July/August 1988).  It was based upon an article C.J. wrote for our magazine back in 1988. 

In context, he was writing about the scandals surrounding Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.  Here are few excerpts.

“First, what’s been taking place is not the work of demoniac forces. … Exposure of these scandals is God’s initiative.  ‘For it is a time of judgment to begin with the family of God,’ Peter said.”  

“You don’t have to be a prophet to see that God is enforcing his expectations for righteous living among leaders. … Without integrity we have no credibility.  Without credibility our words are worthless.”  

“Part of the world’s ridicule of our behavior during the past year has not been simply due to uncovered sin, but the lack of discipline in response.”  

What was true then, is true today.  It is the lack of discipline in response to uncovered sin that invites the world’s ridicule and renders our words useless because we have no integrity and therefore no credibility. 

That is ever so true with C.J., John and Phil.  No ordinary member in a 9Marks church would ever be allowed to say or do what they have done without being disciplined.  Yet these men get away with it even though they are Bible teachers.  They should be “judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1) not lesser.  In this regard please read, John MacArthur Refuses to Follow His Own Teaching in Dealing with Phil Johnson’s Egregious Sins (June 30, 2017).

I know you teach these things at 9Marks, RTS [Reformed Theological Seminary] and SBTS [Southern Baptist Theological Seminary].  The question is whether you will follow your teaching in dealing with John’s egregious sins.  The Lord is watching and he will bring you under judgement if you do not act for his glory in obedience to his Word.  This is a great test of your own integrity, and therefore, your credibility. 

Three things are required for any man entering the ministry or in the ministry.  He must be called and therefore gifted by the Holy Spirit.  He must grounded in sound doctrine and able to refute error.  He must be above reproach and unassailable in character.  None of these can be missing.  All three are essential.  I know you believe these things.  The question is whether you will practice these things without partiality. 

I used to assume those who taught doctrine well, must live doctrine well.  That was a grave error.  Over the last eight years, I have had to expose and confront the most wicked of men who were gifted Bible teachers or well-known pastors.  These men were pathological liars, sadistic child abusers, homosexual predators, conspirators who covered up crimes, drunks who endangered their children, solicitors of prostitution, con artists and the like.  At times, it put me at risk. 

That doesn’t include all the national leaders, like yourselves, who needed to be exposed for their corrupt or willfully ignorant defense of C.J. and SGC.  For example, read  Conclusive Evidence the Investigation of C.J. Mahaney’s Confessed Sins by Kevin DeYoung, Ray Ortlund, & Carl Trueman Was Thoroughly Corrupt (Nov. 29, 2016).  Regardless, I trust the Sovereign Lord has worked all these things after the counsel of his will for the good of his church.   

Therefore, I earnestly pray you will act differently with John MacArthur.  I would love to see your obedience to Christ introduce a new era in evangelical Christianity where the qualifications of Scripture are upheld and enforced in keeping with Paul’s imperatives to Timothy.    

1 Timothy 5:20-21 “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. [21] In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.” 

I am fully acquainted with the context of these verses.  You not apostolic delegates.  You are not elders in Grace Community Church.  But you are national leaders and friends of John with great influence.  It would be ever so encouraging to know John is not above the Bible because you are under Christ’s lordship in calling him to account.  

May God’s grace be multiplied to you in the doing of his revealed will.



#brentdetwiler #johnmacarthur #mlk #martinlutherking #gracetoyou #gty #philjohnson #shepherdsconference #almohler #albertmohler #markdever #cjmahaney #paigerogers #ligonduncan #gracecommunitychurch



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