John MacArthur and Dallas Willard – Two Contemplating Calvinists

John MacArthur - Dallas WillardLighthouse 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”  —

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.

Dallas Willard

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:  then come back and comment as you can’t comment at LHT.


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Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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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.


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.

Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

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.

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