The long-awaited, much-anticipated systematic theology by John MacArthur is finally here. Though there are several areas where I disagree with MacArthur theologically, he is a sound Bible teacher and pastor who has remained faithful to the Word of God through the many years of his ministry.
However, as I tried to read this theology book I found myself getting frustrated with the tone and manner in which it is written. The view of the author is put forth as the correct view, matter-of-factly, as if no other view has any validity. Contrary to Grudem’s theology book, which gives the different views within orthodox Christianity, MacArthur’s theology comes across as being the only correct view. I have noticed in past messages by MacArthur that he does not fairly represent opposing views but often uses straw-man arguments. It may well be that he doesn’t understand the opposing view or really thinks that is their view. But his arguments fall flat because he is not accurately teaching what the opposing view actually believes, only a caricature of what he thinks they believe.
I could not continue reading this book with him only giving his view and teaching it as if it is the only way to read and understand the Bible. Many well-respected scholars and theologians down through the centuries would not agree with MacArthur’s interpretations. His view is not the only correct, biblical view. When it comes to salvation and the doctrines that matter (primary issues), we would agree. But on secondary issues, he comes across as his way being correct without any alternative views being allowed for. While I don’t think he actually feels that way, as he has partnered with others such as Sproul, it smacks that way in his book.
For those who hold similar views to MacArthur in secondary issues, you will likely love this book. It is written in an easy-to-read and normal MacArthur manner. But if you believe differently on some of these issues (such as covenant theology, amillenialism, etc.), you may have a hard time stomaching what he writes. Perhaps I may go back and try to finish it in the future, but with so many books out there that I want to read, the rest of this one is going to remain unread for now.
*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Crossway in exchange for my review.