A Dispensationalist and a Kuyperian Walk into Church

To be clear, no one has been begging for my thoughts on this, including Tucker Carlson. But God tells us to give thanks, and to give thanks publicly, and also to honor those who He’s used to help us grow in the faith. So I’m thankful for John MacArthur and Douglas Wilson.

They are not the only two, but they are two living men whom God has used to shape my thinking as a Christian and as a shepherd. They also represent good examples of Kuyperian Dispensationalists, though not because either one is one, if you know what I mean.

I would not be where I am without God’s use of John MacArthur in my life. I had started studying to become a pastor before I knew about exegesis and preaching verse by verse through books of the Bible. When I got serious not just about Jesus but about His Word, I was attending various Bible colleges that were not doing much for my spiritual substance. Reading MacArthur books, and even his commentaries like regular books, was a huge part of my ballast. When I graduated college, it was either move back in with my parents, grow a beard, and work in a factory, or move to Los Angeles and try to get into The Master’s Seminary.

That’s what I did in January of 1997. I not only came away from my time in CA with a seminary education that constantly pointed to the Scriptures, I also came away with some pastoral experience at Grace Community Church (and with a wife who loved theology more than many of my classmates). If I were to liken my Bible/theology understanding to a room, God used MacArthur to build at least two of the walls.

God has used Wilson to build the fourth wall.* It started with Credenda/Agenda more than a couple decades ago, but (some of) my ignorance really got upended when I began to read about education and the myth of neutrality. Wilson continues to challenge me in almost everything he writes whether I agree with his conclusion or not. He is merry, he is steady, and he is not a dualist.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Wilson’s posts during the panicdemic have been an influence on MacArthur, at least indirectly through Phil Johnson. With MacArthur’s “triumphant hour of the church” message last Sunday, there has been joy among many other churches to see Grace Community go first, not necessarily chronologically, but first in terms of ready to take the beating. This is something to give thanks for, and Wilson did just that in his post from Wednesday about our galvanizing grandfather.

I’ve learned a lot about taking God’s Word seriously from both of these men. In particular, I learned a lot about God’s promises and God’s plan for Israel from MacArthur, things related to Dispensationalism. I have also leaned a lot about God’s promises and God’s plan for living in our bodies on earth from Wilson, things related to Kuyperianism. Jesus is Lord, and that is why we preach the Word and defy tyrants and love our wives and start schools and drink wine, and Fresca.

Those who’ve been learning to read their Bibles through MacArthur’s half-century of faithfully pointing them to the inspired text realize that in the Bible Jesus says He wants us to do more after we’ve read it. The Christian life is more than longer quiet times, and God rewards the faithful, not just faithful pastors. Many who’ve been blessed by GCC and TMS are primed for an increased, Kuyperian-sized application, whether or not they call it that.

Likewise, those who’ve been learning to apply the Bible through Wilson’s constant wheels-on-the-road-Calvinism may come to see that the church has a role in making Israel jealous, that all Israel would be saved (like God covenanted in Jeremiah 31:31-37), which will lead to riches for the world (Romans 11:11-15, 25-26). God blesses those who hold the distinctions He makes, even those (uncool) Dispensationalists.

And for now, there is reason to give God thanks for those who fight the good fight of faith in public for sake of Christ and His church, and I thank Him for these two men of God.

[* For those wondering about my math skillz, yes, there is a third wall, which was God’s use of John Piper to show me that my head full of knowledge was not as valuable to God as my heart full of affections for God informed by the truth.]

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