Dear Sir (isitacult?)
I have seen all too often people in the Christian Church dropping there guard and allowing wolves into there midst. People are so willing to accept a new person into there church with out checking out what they believe and why. Sir these are serious charges that you are making and yet you are running on a feeling that you get or an attitude that you picked up. Come on please come out with what you got or shut up!
Thank you for the clarification. I am going to assume that last sentence came out of the damage you incurred from being mistreated in a cult so I will not hold it against you. But "come out with what you got or shut up!" is definitely not subject to NPR monotone.
However, if more information would help assuage a fear that I am some sort of vicious wolf, then I will try to be more specific about where I am coming from. But first I will say this:
I am not saying
GCC is a cult. I am asking
if it is. If I were saying it was my screen name would be itisacult! not isitacult? However, for the record, there are other pastors who have said in so many words that JM's influence is cultic. I have a tape of an interview they gave to a pastor named D. A. Waite from the 1980's entitled “John MacArthur's Cult in Maine”. They have given account of churches in Maine where the pastors have taken JM's teaching and brought great division in their churches to the point where one of them counseled at least one member to divorce her husband because he did not agree with the doctrine being presented. I do realize this could be that particular pastor and not MacArthur at all except as a catalyst. While I did not find their account to be conclusive proof, I did find it worth exploring the matter further, especially given my experiences with others who sit under his teaching in the form of books and radio. In fact, if anything, it would be these pastors who have made accusation that I am trying to ascertain the validity of.
I do not live in a part of the country that would allow me to go to GCC myself- which would be my preferred option- or even to know people who attend there. So I am left to pursue my concerns in the best way I know- to ask others who have personal experience whether there is any validity to these concerns. As for why I am asking ex members- I figured they are ex members for a reason and I want to know what their assessment is. I certainly don't expect current members to say GCC is a cult or even to be able to entertain the question. On the other hand, ex members may (or may not) have had a bad experience there but would not necessarily say it was a cult, unless that was the conclusion they came to having been out of it for a while and being able to get some backward perspective. Hindsight, if you will. I realize that there are ex members who might say it was a cult out of vengefulness. I can't help that. I will just have to do my best to ascertain as well as I can with the information I receive. What I was hoping would happen is that there would be ex members who would say either yes, it is a cult and here is what happened to me (and maybe even others) there. Or else would say, no, it is not a cult, though I no longer attend there and this was my experience while I was there. I have read a bit on this forum, enough to feel fairly confident that at least some people, if there are still any here, might discuss this openly (or privately) and fairly in one direction or another, or both and I was hoping I would be able to learn from people with first hand experience. It seemed to be the fairest most realistic way of inquiring.
Perhaps I should have said “former members” instead of “ex members”.
Now, if you want specific descriptions of what it is that goes wrong with the people I have known who become “MacArthurized” that is difficult to put in to words but I'll try.
General symptoms- sometimes 'MacArthurized” people get sort of dreamy, and like they are not even present in the conversation. Almost like they are maybe infatuated? Or otherwise very preoccupied. They are “not there.” And what is there is not really them. Sometimes they demonstrate a sort of exagerated zeal, which is really a form of hostility. It's kind of scary sometimes. Sometimes they exhude a falseness, like they are trying to be something they are not but think they should be. Invariably they will introduce MacArthur into the conversation at some point. They will say they were listening to MacArthur this week and he said... or that they were reading such and such a book by him and he said....or give some specific quote from him. There is no inherent problem with quoting teachers we appreciate and who have taught us something valuable, but these people are distracted and speaking from a point of emersion rather than mere influence, if you see what I mean. They are totally in his groove and it effects them adversely. Maybe you understand what I am talking about from your former cult experience. Perhaps there were people who knew you then who could see that you were just not quite yourself, like you were under someone else's control, but not God's, and that made them nervous? That is where I am.
That absent quality has been demonstrated by more than one person, but the one that stands out the most was about a year ago when I was attempting to have a conversation with one of the wives of a leader in our church. She was almost totally vacant, which is not characteristic of her. The only thing she was not vacant on was JM. She had been at home that week from a foot injury and spent the whole week listening to him. I could tell there was something really off about her that seemed familiar but I couldn't place just what it was until she said “I was listening to John MacArthurt this week...” That was when I knew what it was. She had been MacArthurized. It had been some time since JM had come up in my circles. But I was most struck by the similarity of symptoms that I had seen from others at earlier times. I had almost decided that the personality change I thought I saw in MacArthurites was just me. But this was a completely different circumstance and a different church with different people but the effect of JM was still the same. It is very creepy.
My own pastor has occasionally preached sermons with a somewhat harsh, ascerbic tone that is very different from his usual graciousness, and that contain teaching that is so clearly influenced by JM that it could have come out of one of his books. Again, someone who is not quite himself and clearly had been dining at MacArthur's table recently.
There was a woman I knew who was a strong MacArthur devotee. She has two sons, one of whom, last I heard, can barely stand to be around her at all and the other is in a similar place. The reason for this is because of an oppresiveness that pervaded their home when they were growing up due to her idea of what righteousness would look like in a person, if they were really saved. She ran her home like an army barracks and expected them to submit with an attitude of full agreement to this. If they were not instantly obedient to her or their father, their salvation was called into question. I had been in that home. I don't think I as an adult could stand to live there myself. Several of the other moms in that congregation had spoken to her and tried to reason with her about the effect she was having. I tried to speak to her myself. She would not hear it. Needless to say, both sons rebelled as soon as they were old enough. Is this because of JM per se? I don't know, but I know she swore by him as a teacher.
Then there was my friend who is a little on the needy side as it is. He became so enamoured by JM that he practically venerated him. He was ready to move to California (from very far away) so he could go to GCC because no other church is good enough. He did take a vacation out there for the express purpose of attending GCC, even though he and his wife do not really have enough money to do that sort of thing. They did not include a visit to MacArthur's church in a vacation they were going to take anyway. They took a vacation so they could go to his church. What I am saying there is that his appreciation has gone beyond appreciation into adulation. He is unable to exercise any critical thought toward MacArthur. He is also unable to accept that not every one of his friends is as in to JM as he is. Another friend of ours has received e mails from this fellow promoting JM even though my other friend has firmly and expicitly told him he did not want them. No matter. He just kept sending them like he never got the memo.
To be honest, I cannot think of one case of someone I know who has put themselves under John MacArthur's teaching that has turned out well as a result.
Back to what other men have said, I think this quote by someone named M. James Sawyer is important as well:
A pastor in the Bay Area recently told me he has never had to counsel parishioners concerning the teaching of Professor Hodges, but has been besieged as a result of Dr. MacArthur’s teaching.
It is from an article that can be found here (I am not sure what the rules are for posting links here so I will give this in cut and paste fashion.):
(http://. No www.)
(BTW, I am not here to debate Lordship Salvation, nor am I a follower of Zane Hodges.)
As to your mention of dealing with a brother first, I can only assume you are referring to MacArthur himself. First of all, MacArthur has not sinned against ME personally. He does not even know me. He is in no way available to even be able to sin against me personally. If he was, then I would certainly be able to personally confront him about it and hopefully resolve the matter between us. What I am asking about involves the results of his public teachings and ministries and affects many people. Further, he has been confronted publicly on a number of issues by other men who are his peers. One example I would refer you to is that of Miles Stanford. MacArthur misrepresented Stanford in print and Stanford sent him an open letter on the matter which can be read here:
http:// (there is no www)
Others who have taken some issue or other with JM and have been able to be heard at all on it have ended up dealing not with MacArthur himself, but with Phil Johnson. (One such person is George Zeller, whose writings are available at middletownbiblechurch.org. www on that one. It is also worth noting that Stanford includes at the end of his open letter a parenthetical request for personal response if MacArthur was inclined to issue a response, showing that he was familiar with MacArthur's unavailability.) On the one hand, this is understandable and I don't really fault JM too strongly for it. I am sure he is much too busy to be fielding every matter than comes before him. (I do think he should be available to his professional peers.) But it shows that even he does not see this verse the way you are applying it.
At any rate, that is what I am doing here. I hope that is enough information for you, BraveHeart, as well as anyone else who may have had any questions.
I found a lot of things that pastrpath2 had to say made a lot of sense and support what I have seen myself or read from others. However, I do not take one account as conclusive. I would still like more first hand accounts and I hope more people answer in one way or another, as long as their answers have to do with MacArthur and not with me.