John MacArthur recently claimed that the heat he’s facing for his expensive lifestyle, millions in contracts to his son-in-law, alleged embellishing of stories, and handling of COVID is persecution for preaching the gospel.
In a sermon entitled, “The Benefits of Suffering for Christ,” MacArthur complains that people are “doing everything (they) can on the internet” to “silence me” and to convince people that he’s “just another spiritual fraud.”
MacArthur has not directly addressed any of the issues against him that have been raised.
Instead, he suggested that he’s become a target because he’s “out there, proclaiming the truth.” He also suggested that those publishing information harmful to his reputation “hate the gospel.”
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Nobody’s trying to take my life that I know of. One time, one person did on Easter Sunday morning in the office. While they’re doing everything they can on the internet to take away my reputation, to silence me because they have convinced people that I am, like so many others, just another spiritual fraud. You sort of leave your life out there. That’s way it is. . . .
I mean, we got to be out there, proclaiming the truth, right? You can’t say, “Well, I’m afraid that might cost me my reputation if I’m bold about the gospel. And those who hate the gospel are going to try to destroy me. And there are a lot of ways they could do it without killing me, especially in this internet era.”
But you don’t really have a choice. The glory of God is shining in the face of Jesus Christ. And Christ lives in you and shines through you, as He puts himself on display in the evident virtues of your life.
Dr. Dahl says MacArthur’s statements are a “form of denial via deflection”—a way to insure that the charges against the “offender/person in crisis” are ignored and attention instead deflected to the group making the charges.
“It is a way of saying, ‘The charges are not what matters. What matters is that these people are evil and trying to destroy me.’ Bill Hybels did this. James MacDonald did this. Yes, MacArthur is behaving like other frauds.”
Dahl added that MacArthur, by crafting a narrative that evil people are attacking him, is employing another common tactic: triangulation.
“He is at the pinnacle of the triangle and those close to him are on the side of good (by association)—and those against him ore on the side of evil. Narcissists get attention by pitting people against one another and soaking in the tension/conflict.”
She adds, “Let’s remember that what is being questioned is the virtue in John MacArthur’s life. By the end of the brief statement, he’s completely deflected the very tangible concerns about financial malfeasance, nepotism, abuse of authority, and positioned himself as the champion of the gospel full of virtue.”
As Dr. Dahl notes, Bill Hybels, when accused of sexually abusing women at Willow Creek, labeled the women liars and the accusations a “calculated and continual attack.”
Similarly, in response to my initial exposé on James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel called the piece an “attack that comes with God’s kingdom moving forward.”
Dr. Wade Mullen, author of Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse and Freeing Yourself From its Power, stated at the time that Harvest’s response was an example of spiritual abuse.
“Not only do the whistleblowers lack credibility, good motives, or support from others,” he wrote, “but they are apparently working as agents against God’s kingdom. They are not just made out to be the enemies of the church. They are cast as the very enemies of God.”
MacArthur’s recent comments have proven very successful with his audience. A YouTube channel called, Exposit the Word, posted video of MacArthur’s statement. It received more than 134,000 views and nearly 1,600 comments, largely supportive of MacArthur.
Those commenting called MacArthur “amazing,” “pillar of Christianity,” “most honest preacher that exists,” “proven God fearing pastor,” and “GREAT MAN OF GOD.”
They called those reporting MacArthur’s misdeeds are called “snakes,” “demons,” “anti-Christs,” “EVIL,” and “ravaging wolves.”
MacArthur’s close confidant and executive director of Grace to You, Phil Johnson, has also labeled those who have published pieces critical of MacArthur “rancor monsters,” “gossipmongerers,” and “busybodies.” Johnson also doxed me by including my home address on a document he published online.