John MacArthur and Dallas Willard – Two Contemplating Calvinists
Lighthouse trails published the below article pointing out that John MacArthur favorably quotes Dallas Willard a Contemplative Spiritualist. It is important to note that Dallas Willad was a Southern Baptist and his theology was Calvinistic. He says,
“If you were to get to the bottom of my theology you would find me pretty Calvinistic” — http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=92
So why is John MacArthur quoting Contemplative spirituality so favorably? Because the roots of Calvinism are ESOTERICAL and founded by the known murderer John Calvin.
Please see following articles: The Legacy of John Calvin – Part 1 / Part 2
John MacArthur Broadcast Favorably Quotes Dallas Willard – Why This is a Bad Move
This past weekend, Lighthouse Trails received the following letter from one of our readers:
To Lighthouse Trails: Please listen to the sermon dated August 21st [at Grace to You]. I was shocked when John MacArthur promoted Dallas Willard. Has anyone else contacted you concerning this endorsement?
After receiving this letter, we found the August 21st 2013 Grace to You sermon broadcast by John MacArthur, where MacArthur favorably quotes contemplative pioneer Dallas Willard (who passed away earlier this year). While researching this situation, we learned that this sermon was first aired in 1989. However, Grace to You (MacArthur’s ministry) has been presenting it for a number of years as part of a series called Faith Through the Fire.
While MacArthur’s original citing of Willard in this sermon took place many years ago, the fact that it is still being offered at Grace to You in a sermon series and is being broadcast currently is cause for concern and is the reason we are writing this report. It is hard for us to understand why Grace to You would continue using this particular sermon, knowing how pervasive the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement is today in the evangelical Protestant church; and as we will show below, even John MacArthur acknowledges that Dallas Willard is a key figure in that movement.
We are well aware that many Christians have a strong sense of devotion toward John MacArthur and trust his opinions and teachings. It is not our intention to discredit him; however, as we have consistently done now for 11 years, we are compelled to issue a warning to believers and a challenge to Christian leaders. Are we suggesting that John MacArthur is a contemplative prayer advocate or part of the emerging church? Certainly not! [DTW note: Yes we are, because John MacArthur preaches the false doctrine of Calvinism, and all doctrines created by Rome will ultimately lead back to Rome and Roman Catholicism: Calvinism’s Roman Catholic Connection] Are we saying it is wrong to use a broadcast today where Dallas Willard is quoted in a positive manner, giving credence to the man and the movement? Yes, we are saying that is wrong. Willard is largely responsible, along with Richard Foster, for bringing the contemplative prayer movement to the forefront of evangelical Christianity.
Those reading this who wish to defend MacArthur and Grace to You, saying that there is no issue here because the original sermon was so long ago need to understand that if this sermon were sitting in some obscure archive, stored away for no one to see, we wouldn’t be writing this today. But that is not the case. Grace to You is continuing to use a sermon that should have been discarded years ago , and it must be treated as if it were new material because that is how it is going to be looked at by those who heard the recent broadcast and also by those who buy the Faith Through Fire series.
The section of the August 21st sermon begins at about the 17:35 minute mark of the broadcast. MacArthur begins by talking about the spiritual disciplines and how they are important for the believer’s life to battle crises and hard times in our lives. He then quotes Willard and says the quote is from Willard’s 1988 book The Spirit of the Disciplines.
While the section that MacArthur quoted from that book does not promote contemplative mystical practices, the point MacArthur is trying to make is actually the same point that contemplatives are trying to make: i.e., that we cannot truly be christlike without the spiritual disciplines in our lives. Certainly, MacArthur wouldn’t include the discipline of the silence like Willard does. For those who may not be able to access the August 21st sermon, here is the section of The Spirit of the Disciplines that MacArthur quoted:
The “on the spot” episodes [crises] are not the place where we can, even by the grace of God, redirect unchristlike but ingrained tendencies of action toward sudden Christlikeness. Our efforts to take control at that moment will fail so uniformly and so ingloriously that the whole project of following Christ will appear ridiculous to the watching world. We’ve all seen this happen.
Some decades ago there appeared a very successful Christian novel called In His Steps. The plot tells of a chain of tragic events that brings the minister of a prosperous church to realize how unlike Christ’s life his own life had become. The minister then leads his congregation in a vow not to do anything without first asking themselves the question, “What would Jesus do in this case?” As the content of the book makes clear, the author took this vow to be the same thing as intending to follow Jesus- to walk precisely “in his steps.” It is, of course, a novel, but even in real life we would count on significant changes in the lives of earnest Christians who took such a vow- just as it happens in that book. But there is a flaw in this thinking. . . [MacArthur skips a few paragraphs]
Asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as he lived. It no doubt will do some good and is certainly better than nothing at all, but that act alone is not sufficient to see us boldly and confidently through a crisis, and we could easily find ourselves driven to despair over the powerless tension it will put us through. (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 7-9)
MacArthur then tells his audience:
The secret of being ready for the crisis of having the yoke be easy and the burden be light is to learn how to live the Christian life all the time so that we have developed the habits, the resources, the responses, the timing, the strengths, the memory, the faith, the spiritual courage to handle it. That’s the issue. To behave like Jesus Christ is our goal. But to be able to do that is not the result of wishing. It’s the result of daily spiritual discipline.
In this article, we are not going to focus on the present-day Spiritual Formation theology of becoming “Christlike” through “spiritual disciplines” except to point to two chapters in Colossians:
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel . . . to fulfil the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Colossians 1:21-23,25-28, emphasis added)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2: 8-10, emphasis added)
Paul concludes chapter 2 with a description of spiritual disciplines that were being used in that day (vs. 20-22), only to say that such things “have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body” (vs 23), but only serve to make men proud.
It is Christ in us (the born-again Christian believer) that perfects us, forms us, and changes us, not the spiritual disciplines of Dallas Willard, Thomas Merton, and Richard Foster! And bear in mind, when Willard (like Foster and Merton) speaks of the disciplines, he is including the “silence.” This silence that the contemplatives speak of is more than just an outer silence or quietness; it is meaning to silence the mind (put it in neutral so there are no thoughts). Willard states in The Spirit of the Disciplines:
In silence we close off our souls from “sounds,” whether those sounds be noise, music, or words. . . . Many people have never experienced silence and do not even know that they do not know what it is. . . . It is a powerful and essential discipline. Only silence will allow us life-transforming concentration upon God. (bold added, 1991, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, p. 163-164).
Please continue reading here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13006 then come back and comment as you can’t comment at LHT.
I wrote to lighthouse trails to tell them that MacArthur, which teaches the false gospel of works called “lordship salvation” (which is basically a roman catholic false gospel at its roots), is the reason that MacArthur fits with the contemplative/calvinistic clan.
Lighthouse trails wrote back to me with a token, “thank you for your message” response, but basically ignored it. The reason lighthouse trails can’t get to the bottom of what they find, is because they refuse to face the truth. And the truth is that calvinism is a false gospel and a false doctrine.
Very good article, thank you.
EJ Hills from a silly blog called Hillside has tried to confuse the websites Lighthouse Trails and Discerning the World. He has an ongoing tendency to blur the lines all the time. I am Deborah from DTW, then there is Deborah from Lighthouse Trails.
EJ Hill says on his website:
Executive Director of Grace to You Responds to a “Discernment Divas” Attack of John MacArthur
Yet another “Discernment Diva” is using her blog to go after another Biblically sound man and his ministry with reckless accusations.
The latest comes from a blog we have avoided in promoting for years for many reasons. When we read the attack on John MacArthur that was sent to us by several people, Worldview Weekend e-mailed the Executive Director of Grace to You, Phil Johnson, and asked him for a response that Worldview Weekend could use to answer the e-mails coming from those wanting the full story and context.
Many that e-mailed us wanted the facts so they could defend Dr. MacArthur and his ministry from what they were confident was a baseless and unfair attack.
Many have tired of the “discernment divas” and what appears to be a strategy of attacking Biblically sound men and their ministries for either publicity or because of a personal agenda. In fact some are beginning to believe that many of the “discernment divas” are in part offended by the Biblical role of men and women as taught by many of the men that come under attack on their blogs.
Mr. Johnson gave us permission to post his response as follows:
I’ve been wary of the lighthousetrails.com website for almost a decade because of Ms. Dombrowski’s penchant for making reckless accusations and attacking sound teachers based on whom they quoted in some old or obscure context rather than what they actually teach over the course of their whole ministry. She is the hitherto-anonymous person who inspired a series of well-publicized blogposts I wrote a few years back warning about the dangers of amateur discernment divas and people who constantly use guilt by association to tarnish the reputations of godly men. I didn’t name her at the time, but when I wrote this article:
I was responding to her clumsy attack on Don Whitney. (See the paragraph after the header “In the Interest of Full Disclosure” in that blogpost.) After my signature (below) I’ll attach a sample of the correspondence I had with her at the time.
Feel free to share any or all of this with anyone who inquires about Ms. Dombrowski’s latest screed. These e-mails from 7 years ago can stand as my answer to her today. If her readers are truly confused about whether this singular citation from years ago means John MacArthur would endorse Dallas Willard’s views on doctrine or prayer, their confusion substantiates what I have said for a decade: Ms. Dombrowski’s style of “discernment” creates at least as much confusion as it answers.
For the record, the quote she cited and took offense to undoubtedly is something John MacArthur read in a secondary source; long before John himself knew anything about Dallas Willard. For John MacArthur’s actual views on Dallas Willard and contemplative prayer, see:
— Phil Johnson
From: Phil Johnson
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 3:19 PM
Subject: Re: Spiritual Disciplines
Many thanks for your message. You wrote:
> We’ve been getting emails from folks who see you are
> endorsing Donald Whitney’s site. Whitney favorably quotes
> Dallas Willard and gives much positive recognition to
> Richard Foster whereas both men are teaching false
I’m not sure what you mean. I know Don Whitney personally. I doubt
he would completely agree with every stand I might take on every
issue, but I’m reasonably certain _Don Whitney_ is not “teaching
false doctrine.” He’s certainly not trying to smuggle eastern
mysticism into the Particular Baptist circles in which he
As a matter of fact, I’ve heard Mr. Whitney speak on spiritual
disciplines, and I can tell you for certain that he takes a
completely different view on all the fundamental issues than
Richard Foster. A lot of what Whitney has said and written is in
direct contrast to what Foster teaches.
In fact, on Whitney’s website, the only places I can find where he
mentions Foster, he criticizes him for his mysticism. Moreover,
the one “favorable” quotation I see from Dallas Willard is
something fairly innocuous. Although Foster and Willard are
mentioned as “influential” along with several other names in
Whitney’s FAQ, that is accompanied by an explicit statement of no-
So is it your impression that Whitney is deliberately promoting
the errors of their mysticism? Having read Whitney’s book, it
seems to me that he pretty strongly opposes mysticism. If I recall
correctly, John MacArthur even endorsed Whitney’s book on
> Don’t you think you might send out a confusing message by
> having Whitney’s site listed. I hardly know what to say
> to people. Dr. MacArthur is one of the few Christian
> leaders taking a solid stand against emerging and
> contemplative. Because you are so closely connected to
> him, this is worrisome. Does he know you are endorsing
> Whitney? Would you reconsider this possibly?
I might reconsider it if you pointed out an actual error in
something Don Whitney is teaching. But I’m not going to de-link
him automatically just because he hasn’t removed every reference
to Richard Foster and Dallas Willard from his website, especially
when he is repeatedly and explicitly critical of the mysticism of
If you really interpret those links as subtle endorsements of
Foster and Willard, you might try writing Whitney himself about
it. If people indeed find his stance “confusing,” I’m pretty sure
Whitney will change or clarify it. He strikes me as a man of
wisdom and integrity.
— Phil Johnson
The Spurgeon Archive
From: Phil Johnson
Subject: Incidental quotations and guilt by association
Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 21:21:28 -0700
Your various e-mails to Grace Church and Grace to You regarding
the quotations you found objectionable in one of John MacArthur’s
sermons have been forwarded to me, and I’m answering all of those
messages on behalf of John MacArthur and the various ministries he
Since you and I corresponded only a few weeks ago regarding an
identical complaint you had about Don Whitney, I’m not sure why
you did not write to me in the first place. In any case, I’ve
reviewed the transcript in question and here are some facts about
1. The sermon was preached on 16 February 1992, some 14
2. The three quotations you cited as objectionable most
likely came from a secondary source (probably a list of
quotations on prayer compiled by someone), because John
MacArthur doesn’t read books by Richard Foster or Soren
Kierkegaard, and I myself wasn’t even sure who Thomas
Kelley is until I Googled his name.
3. As I explained to you in my messages regarding
Donald Whitney, we don’t regard a mere quotation of
someone as any kind of endorsement of that person’s
whole corpus of written material.
4. There are some 3500 sermons by John MacArthur on
tape, dating back to 1969. It would be remarkable if
somewhere in the mix he didn’t say a few things he
wouldn’t on reflection still affirm; quote a few lines
from people whose views he would otherwise execrate;
mess up a fact here or there; or otherwise say things he
might wish to retract if given the opportunity to edit
5. We occasionally edit old tapes to remove statements
that reflect major doctrinal issues where John has since
changed his mind. But I wouldn’t go back to remove an
incidental quotation from someone whose theology is
objectionable, as long as the quote itself doesn’t
promote an error. (Most reasonable people understand
that recordings of 10-year-old sermons might not
necessarily reflect in exacting detail the preacher’s
latest, most careful expression of his views.)
6. Nevertheless, I’m going to ask that this tape and
transcript be edited to remove those quotations. If you
check the Web tomorrow, the changes ought to be in place
by noon California time.
Now, regarding your latest letter to Rita Tyler, in which you said
> I did want to add that I believe a news brief will be
> mentioning this this coming weekend. It was going to
> come out this past Saturday, and I asked the reporter
> writing it if they would wait one more week. I hope you
> can understand the urgency in this. Would you be so kind
> as to email me on Friday and let me know if the quotes
> have been removed. I know for sure then that the article
> would not come out.
Actually, I _don’t_ understand or appreciate “the urgency” in
this.” As a matter of fact, I was told by a reader of my blog that
the “news brief” in question WAS actually posted at Dwayna Litz’s
website this weekend and then later removed. Dwayna herself sends
me e-mail regularly and has easy access to me that way. But she
has not written me with any questions regarding that tape. Those
are all facts that make the “urgency” of the news brief even more
difficult to grasp.
Since there’s no imaginable _legitimate_ reason for making such a
short deadline on a “news brief” about a 14-year-old sermon while
John MacArthur is on his way to Alaska and totally out of contact
via e-mail, it’s a bit hard to think of such a deadline as
anything other than an ultimatum or a threat. But I’ll resist the
temptation to make such a judgment anyway and give whoever it is
who wants to rush to the “news brief” into publication the benefit
of the doubt.
To be clear, I am not editing the tape in question in order to
cover up the fact that John MacArthur cited those quotations.
Since he emphatically does not endorse mysticism, contemplative
spirituality, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, existentialism,
postmodernism, New-Age religion, or anything else connected with
the current apostasy, I don’t think he sinned in any way by citing
the quotations he did.
But I’m deleting the quotations anyway in hopes of saving our
staff several hours of unnecessary work answering e-mails from
people who will be confused by rumor-mongers who think such a
“news brief” is sensational. No doubt some would even cite those
quotes as “proof” that John MacArthur is secretly sympathetic with
some New-Age conspiracy or another. That’s exactly what Don
Whitney was dealing with when I corresponded with him about your
complaint back in June.
Since I’ve already corresponded with you regarding the Don Whitney
quotations, I’m going to speak plainly:
For the record, I think it is terribly wrong and uncharitable for
someone to charge a godly preacher with guilt by association (or
urge people to break fellowship with the godly preacher) merely
for his quoting from an unorthodox source.
As a matter of fact, the same kind of guilt-by-association
argument _could_ be made against _your_ website, Ms. Dombrowski.
There at lighthousetrails.com, you have posted a letter titled “My
Heart’s Desire” by Patti Jackson:
in which she commends a book co-authored by Marie Chapian. Chapian
regularly issues extrabiblical prophecies which she regards as
authoritative, and she has written a New-Age-style book about
angels and their supposed intervention in our daily lives,
supposedly explaining how angels “guide” belevers. See her
and see this sample of one of her “prophecies”:
Furthermore, you publish Laurel Lee’s _Tapestry,_ in which (p.
110) she quotes C. S. Lewis, who was well-known for his belief in
purgatory (which entails a de facto denial of justification by
faith); his refusal to affirm that the wicked face eternal
punishment in hell; his denial of penal substitutionary atonement;
and his denial of biblical inerrancy.
If a pastor who has carefully explained and defended God’s word
for 35 years should never quote so much as a single sentence from
Richard Foster without an explicit disclaimer each time, then a
book you publish should not feature a quotation from Lewis,
Of course, Scripture itself prescribes no such standard. See, for
example, Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12.
I intend to blog in the days to come about the epidemic of guilt-
by-association charges being leveled against godly pastors
(chiefly by a segment of discernment-related blogs run by women,
it seems), in which these pastors have been publicly condemned or
smeared by innuendo in cases just like the one you are raising
Even though it’s well-known to everyone with ears to listen that
certain well-known conservative pastors (such as Whitney and
MacArthur,) do not affirm every single idea set forth in
some objectionable source they may have quoted from, because they
quoted something they _did_ agree with, they have had a cloud of
suspicion deliberately cast over their entire character by self-
appointed divas of “discernment.”
I have to wonder what would drive someone to do that (or to think
there is some urgency about publishing exposees against pastors
with years-long track records) merely on the basis of such poorly-
grounded GBA suspicions. Although some who traffic in such
accusations profess to be exercising “discernment,” they actually
are doing severe damage to the cause of _biblical_ discernment.
In fact, if a Calvinistic Baptist like Don Whitney is
automatically blacklisted along with a mystical, Socinian Quaker
like Richard Foster just because Whitney quoted Foster in a book
several years ago, then we don’t really need “discernment” at all.
We just need some enlightened blogger to give us a list of
A few fundamentalists tried to take that kind of role for
themselves 40 years ago, and it led to nonstop fragmentation and
carnal infighting within the fundamentalist movement. It’s been a
disaster for the church in my generation and actually hurts the
reputations of some of us who really do care about _biblical_
discernment. hat’s why I don’t have a lot of patience with the GBA
and secondary-separation strategies.
Please pass this message on to whoever feels such great urgency
about publishing a “news brief” regarding whom John MacArthur
quoted 14 years ago: I’m not inclined to spend a whole lot of time
trying to answer someone who wants to imply that John MacArthur is
sympathetic with contemplative spirituality, mysticism, or new-age
thinking. If someone wants to make that kind of public attack on a
pastor like MacArthur, based on something he quoted years ago,
truly discerning people are not likely to be moved by it anyway.
Reasonable people quickly see through such quackery.
Over the years, Pastor MacArthur has been accused by various
wackos (and a couple of times by some fairly well-known and
influential evangelical or fundamentalist figures). His critics
have charged him with denying the Trinity, denying the efficacy of
Christ’s atonement, denying the deity and eternality of Christ,
teaching works-salvation, advocating psychology rather than
spiritual sanctification, promoting neo-orthodoxy, teaching
Arminianism, and other similar accusations.
_All_ those charges are false, of course.
In my younger days, I spent several years of my own spare time
trying to quell one particularly galling accusation:
…and finally concluded it’s not worth trying to satisfy every
professional crank and “discernment” expert in the universe. We
try to be as clear as we can, but some people are never going to
satisfied. I’ve pretty much made 1 Corinthians 15:58 my anchor in
situations like that.
Please use your influence to correct this epidemic of GBA scandals
that keep spinning out of the online community. It’s not doing
anything beneficial for the cause of righteousness.
Your work in exposing the dangers of mysticism and pagan forms of
“spirituality” has been very, very helpful to many. I sincerely
appreciate it. But I would hate to see the benefits of that work
ruined by making it a breeding ground for unbridled and ungodly
accusations based solely on guilt by association.
Do you see that response from the John MacArthur team? They got caught, busted. So now they’re trying to deflect upon those that expose them. Not a wise move on their part. MacArthur speaks favorably of Dallas Willard. Therefore that should be exposed. If MacArthur doesn’t want it exposed, then he should watch what he says. James 3:1 is at work all the time.
HERE IS THE QUESTION: How can MacArthur even say anything positive about Dallas Willard, unless MacArthur studied him and agrees with things from him? MacArthur is obviously reading things from Willard. And not to expose. To promote.
They got caught, so all they can do is try and shoot the messenger.
EJ Hill MUST be a Roman Catholic cause John Calvin based his entire Institutes of the Christian Religion on Augustine’s Roman doctrines. “The London Declaration 2000: Alliance of Reformation Christians—A vision for biblical unity in the modern church, ‘The Evangelical Problem’” states: “We likewise affirm that we are Augustinians in our doctrine of man and in our doctrine of salvation.”
In his eye-opening book, The Other Side of Calvinism, Laurence M. Vance thoroughly documents that “John Calvin did not originate the doctrines that bear his name….” Vance quotes numerous well-known Calvinists to this effect. For example, Kenneth G. Talbot and W. Gary Crampton write, “The system of doctrine which bears the name of John Clvin was in no way originated by him….” B. B. Warfield declared, “The system of doctrine taught by Calvin is just the Augustinianism common to the whole body of the Reformers.” Thus the debt that the creeds coming out of the Reformation owe to Augustine is also acknowledged. This is not surprising in view of the fact that most of the Reformers had been part of the Roman Catholic Church, of which Augustine was one of the most highly regarded “saints.” John Piper acknowledges that Augustine was the major influence upon both Calvin and Luther, who continued to revere him and his doctrines even after they broke away from Roman Catholicism.
Who was Augustine? Sir Robert Anderson reminds us that “the Roman [Catholic] Church was moulded by Augustine into the form it has ever since maintained.
So, again, EJ Hill MUST be a Roman Catholic. But then again, Calvinists never know what they are and what they would like to be.
Just been watching some of the strange fire conference, macarthur is so good at exposing the pentecostal arminians, and god knows which ones are really saved in that movement. yet he himself can’t see the error of his calvanism or does he know what he is doing. I guess we can’t judge his motives. He is taking people out from the pentecostal/charasmatic movements and putting them under his calvanism, doctrines of graces. Have been listening to the testimonies of people coming out of the movement, well done I must say. But they have come out of the fire into the frypan. So much deception, you really have to know yr bible and yr doctrine or you will fall into satans trap of delusion and deception.