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CLICK HERE FOR MORE MATERIAL ON DR. MACARTHUR AND THE BLOOD


THE CULTS, DR. MACARTHUR,
AND THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, September 22, 2002


"And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (I Corinthians 11:24-25).


Listen to this quotation:

The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious [effective, powerful] to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon "the accursed tree" than when it was flowing in his veins.

Who said that? Was it John MacArthur? Was it his teacher, Colonel Thieme? No! No! It was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science cult! (cf. Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 1910, p. 330). Mrs. Eddy was a neo-gnostic who believed that "Jesus, as material manhood, was not Christ" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84).

But our text corrects her error. The Lord's Supper shows that Jesus has a real Body. When we eat the bread we are reminded that His real Body actually died on the Cross. It was not a "Christ-Spirit" that died on the Cross. And it was the real flesh and bone Jesus that rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven (cf. Luke 24:39; Acts 1:10-11).

But the text also reminds us that He has real, material Blood:

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me"
    (I Corinthians 11:25).

Yes, the Blood of Jesus is real also. The cup reminds us of His real Blood. The actual physical, "material" Blood of Jesus flowed from His hands, His feet, and His thorn-crowned brow, as He hung on the Cross. And He said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (I Corinthians 11:25). But Mrs. Eddy and John MacArthur deny that the "material" Blood of Jesus saves us! We will therefore now consider Mrs. Eddy's and John MacArthur's denial of the "material" Blood of Christ, and answer them.

I. First, Dr. MacArthur seems to have forgotten that there are two
elements in the atonement - death and Blood - to be remembered
in the Lord's Supper.

Every time we take the Lord's Supper it graphically illustrates the fact that there are two elements in the atonement - the death of Jesus' physical Body and the physical Blood of Jesus. The Bible tells us why these two elements are needed.

1. Christ's Body died to pay the penalty for sin,
I Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:6.

2. Christ' Blood was shed to cleanse us from sin,
I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5.


The two elements cannot be separated - as the Lord's Supper so graphically reminds us.

Yet John MacArthur made this odd statement:

I believe that to speak of Christ's blood, as it was shed on the cross, is the same as referring to His death. They aren't two separate elements as some people are trying to teach (see footnote 26, p. 189, Preaching to a Dying Nation by Dr. Hymers and Dr. Christopher Cagan, Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle, 1999).

That is a very peculiar statement indeed. It makes you wonder what Dr. MacArthur says when he (presumably) gives out the two elements of the Lord's Supper in his church! What does he say when he gives out the cup - "We really don't need this cup. It's really the same as the bread." I don't know what he says. It makes you wonder! Then he says that "some people are trying to teach" that the Blood and the death are "two separate elements," and they are wrong to do that. Is he saying that the Apostle Paul was wrong to teach that there are two separate elements in I Corinthians 11:24-25? Is he saying that Jesus Christ was wrong to teach that there are two separate elements, in Matthew 26:26-28? It seems to me that he is saying that Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul were wrong. What else could he mean? I can't come up with any other explanation than this: Dr. MacArthur thinks that Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul were wrong when they said there are "two separate elements" in the Lord's Supper! This is an incredible denial of historic, Biblical Christianity!

The two elements in the Lord's Supper show us plainly that there are two elements in the atonement: the death of Christ's Body and the Blood of the new testament. The two elements must not be separated. The Catholic Church was wrong to take the cup away from laymen in the Middle Ages, just as Dr. MacArthur is wrong to deny us the Blood in our time. Both elements must be present in the Lord's Supper because both the death and the Blood are necessary for our salvation. The elements must not be separated, as the Catholics separated them, because they are united by Scripture. Look at I Corinthians 11:26,

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Corinthians 11:26).

Both the bread and the cup show the Lord's death because they show the two elements of His atonement: Death and Blood. We must have the death of His Body to pay for our sins, and we must have His Blood to cleanse our sins. The two elements must never be separated, as the Catholics did by denying the contents of the cup to the people, and as Dr. MacArthur does by denying the reality of what is remembered in the cup to them. I Corinthians 11:23-26 is very plain. Both the death of Christ and His Blood are shown clearly in the Lord's Supper. Dr. MacArthur blames the Catholics for a wrong conception of the Lord's Supper, yet he himself has a wrong conception of it! He denies the reality remembered in the cup!

II. Second, Dr. MacArthur denies the second element remembered in the
Lord's Supper because of neo-gnosticism.

I am sure Dr. MacArthur will laugh when he first hears that I said he is influenced by neo-gnosticism, but I really don't see any joke in it. To me the Blood of Christ is the most serious of all subjects - because the salvation of my soul depends on it. And I really do believe that Dr. MacArthur has embraced a form of Gnosticism.

Here's what I mean when I say that his ideas about the Blood are Gnostic: he has virtually the same view as Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science. It is well known by theological students that the Christian Science of Mrs. Eddy is a modern version of the Gnosticism of the late first century A.D.

The Docetists of the late first century accepted the Gnostic idea that Jesus only appeared to be a man. Dr. J. Oliver Buswell pointed out that "The tendency to deny the historical Jesus in the flesh…while affirming faith in 'Christ,' appeared at an early time in the church" (J. Oliver Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, Zondervan, 1971, volume 2, p. 47). The Docetic Gnostics made a distinction between the man Jesus and "Christ." Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science holds this same view. The Body and Blood of Jesus are not real. They are material, and material things are not real, according to Mrs. Eddy. That's why Mrs. Eddy said, "The spiritual Christ was infallible; Jesus as material manhood, was not Christ" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84). Holding this view, Mrs. Eddy did not believe that the material Blood of Christ had any effect on our salvation. She said:

The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon "the accursed tree" than when it was flowing in his veins (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 330).

Dr. MacArthur holds the same position as Mrs. Eddy on the Blood of Christ, and uses the same word "efficacious." MacArthur says:

It was His death that was efficacious not His blood (John MacArthur, "Grace to You," May 1976, p. 10).

There you see a complete agreement between Dr. MacArthur and the Christian Science leader, Mrs. Eddy, concerning the Blood of Christ - it was not efficacious (i.e. "not effectual, not effective, not powerful," Richard Soule, The Penguin Dictionary of English Synonyms, London: Bloomsbury Books, 1986, p. 175).

Again, notice the similarity between the ideas of Christian Science, as given by its founder, Mrs. Eddy, and this statement from Dr. MacArthur:

If we say that it is the blood that saves what are we saying? His actual blood saves us? We are saved by His substitutionary death for us, not by the chemicals in His blood (John MacArthur, "Grace to You," May 1976, p. 10).

Mary Baker Eddy denied "the material blood of Jesus." Dr. MacArthur denies "the chemicals in His blood." Both Dr. MacArthur and Mrs. Eddy deny the "material" Blood of Jesus. This is Docetic Gnosticism regarding the Blood of Christ!

I am not saying that Dr. MacArthur goes as far as Mrs. Eddy. She denied the material Body of Jesus as well as the material Blood. But Dr. MacArthur is in complete agreement with her that the material Blood is not effective (i.e. efficacious). Dr. MacArthur's denial that "the chemicals in His blood" save us, and his statement that His Blood was not "efficacious" ("Grace to You," May 1976, p. 10) are pure Docetic Gnosticism - in regard to the material Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Blood isn't real and it doesn't exist! This is Docetic Gnostic heresy concerning Christ's literal Blood. It appears in the writings of Mrs. Eddy, and it appears repeatedly in the writings of John MacArthur.

If you think I may be misrepresenting Dr. MacArthur, please listen carefully to this quotation from a letter he sent to a member of our church two weeks ago:

It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins (John MacArthur, letter reproduced in full at the end of "My Answer to Dr. MacArthur's Letter on the Blood," on this web site).

I ask you, how is this different from Mrs. Eddy's statement?

The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious (effective) to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon "the accursed tree" than it was when it was flowing in his veins (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 330).

How is this different from Dr. MacArthur's statement, "It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins"? Mrs. Eddy says "the material blood" could not save us. Dr. MacArthur says "the actual liquid" could not save us. The actual, material Blood is denied by both Eddy and MacArthur. Both of them hold a Docetic Gnostic view of the literal Blood of Christ.

But the Bible teaches that "the actual liquid" does save us!

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed by corruptible things…But with the precious blood of Christ"
    (I Peter 1:18-19).

"The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"
    (I John 1:7).

We are redeemed by the "material blood." We are redeemed and cleansed by "the actual liquid"!

Away with the Docetic heresy that there is no real Blood! Away with it from any church that claims to hold the faith of our fathers! Away with it from any church that gives both the bread and the cup in the Lord's Supper!

We do not need Mrs. Eddy's or Dr. MacArthur's unreal, lost, unimportant, forgotten, and non-efficacious blood. We need "the actual liquid" that flowed from the veins of Christ on the Cross! We need real Blood, to wash away real sins from real sinners! We need "the actual liquid," "the material Blood" of Christ!

III. Third, Dr. MacArthur denies the second element remembered in the
Lord's Supper because he is influenced by Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr.

I was present when Dr. MacArthur began studying with Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr. in the fall of 1961. Thieme has a very dogmatic personality, and has an impressive way of presenting "secret meanings" that he "finds" in the words of the Greek New Testament. Actually, Thieme claims to have "found" a couple of things about the death of Christ that no scholar before him ever discovered. I am always suspicious of a claim like that, however. Cult leaders usually claim that they have discovered something new!  Bob Jones, Jr. said that one of the marks of a cult is downgrading the Blood of Christ, and that Colonel Thieme does that!

Listen to this quotation from J. F. Rutherford, the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses:

God has been grossly misrepresented by the clergy. Satan overreached the minds of these clergymen and injected into their minds doctrines which the clergy have taught the people concerning Jesus and His sacrifice. These doctrines have brought great confusion (J. F. Rutherford, "Reconciliation," Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1928, pp. 101, 105).

Furthermore, the Jehovah's Witnesses "detract from the blood of Christ by allowing it only partial cleansing power" [i.e. only Adam's sin], (Walter R. Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany, 1972, p. 87). So, the Jehovah's Witnesses say that historic Biblical Christianity has always been wrong, and they deny the total efficacy of Christ's Blood.

Then look at the Mormons. Their very name, "The Latter Day Saints," shows that they believe they are "restoring" truth that was lost by all the Christian churches. What do the Mormons think about the Blood of Christ? Brigham Young, president of the Mormon church, said:

There is not a man or woman who violates covenants made with their God that will not be required to pay their debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume III, p. 247).

B. R. McConkie, in an official Mormon book, said:

Christians often speak of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is utter nonsense. [They] believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept Him as our personal Saviour, we are thereby saved. His blood without any other act than mere belief, they say, makes us clean (B. R. McConkie, What the Mormons Think of Christ, pp. 24-27).

Walter Martin, the cult expert, said:

The Mormons want no part of the Biblical doctrine of the all-sufficiency of Christ's atonement, in the words of John, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7), for this both contradicts [Brigham] Young and reveals true Biblical teaching (Walter R. Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, 1972, p. 87).

So, we see that the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons agree:

(1) They alone are unveiling some hidden truth about the atonement.

(2) They deny that the literal Blood of Christ is sufficient to save.

And joining this chorus of cult leaders is Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, who said that she alone was unveiling some "hidden" truth about the atonement.  She also said:

The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious (effective) to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon "the accursed tree" than it was when it was flowing in his veins (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 1910, p. 330).

Now we come to the teachings of a peculiar old man named Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr., the person I saw teaching John MacArthur his strange doctrines about the Blood in 1961. Just like the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and the Christian Scientists, Colonel Thieme believes that he has discovered a new doctrine that no one knew, that was "buried in ignorance" for centuries. He says of Christians,

Since childhood they have heard the blood mentioned in hushed, reverent tones; they have vigorously sung the hymns about the "wonder working power in the blood." Still, the subject of the blood of Christ is almost totally buried in ignorance…There is an old dogma which says that Christ carried His blood with Him to heaven in a bowl. Without ever knowing its source, evangelical Christianity clings to that specious [flimsy, illusory, false] idea from the Dark Ages by perpetuating a form of mysticism around the physical blood of our Lord. We have seen in some detail that His mortal body fluids have absolutely nothing whatever to do with salvation (Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr., The Blood of Christ, Houston: Bible Ministries, 1989, pp. 5, 31).

I saw John MacArthur taking notes as Colonel Thieme taught these doctrines, in the fall of 1961. I rejected Thieme's doctrines, but MacArthur seems to have swallowed them whole - as the following quotation from Dr. MacArthur shows. MacArthur begins his argument against the literal Blood of Christ by saying that belief in real Blood is "the same kind of mystical view" held by the Catholic Church. Thus, like the Christian Scientists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and Colonel Thieme, Dr. MacArthur tars and feathers belief in the literal Blood by saying it's an old dogma, and implying that he, himself, has superior "new" light on the subject. As we have seen, this is a typical tactic of the cultists I have mentioned. Then Dr. MacArthur goes on to say:

We are not saved by some mystical heavenly application of Jesus' literal blood. Christ' literal blood is not preserved in heaven and applied to individual believers. When Scripture says we're redeemed by the blood, it is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven…It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins… (John MacArthur, letter received on September 8, 2002, entire letter posted on this web site as the end of my sermon, "My Answer to Dr. MacArthur's Letter on the Blood").

Now compare the words of Colonel Thieme and John MacArthur. It sounds almost like Dr. MacArthur copied them from the Colonel!

(1) Debunking "old dogma"

Thieme:       Evangelical Christianity clings to an idea from the Dark Ages.
MacArthur:  Fundamentalists hold the mystical view of the Catholic Church.

(2) Debunking a "bowl of blood"

Thieme:      "There is an old dogma that Christ carried
                   His blood to heaven in a bowl."
MacArthur:  "[Scripture] is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven."

(3) Debunking "salvation by the Blood"

Thieme:      "His mortal body fluids have absolutely nothing whatever
                    to do with salvation."
MacArthur:  "It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins."

Strangely, I must defend the pre-Reformation Catholics against these attacks on their belief that the Blood is in Heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:24). They were more Scriptural on that point than the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Christian Scientists, the Mormons, Colonel Thieme, or John MacArthur! They were also right about the eternal Sonship of Christ (which Dr. MacArthur has only discovered quite recently). Yes, the old Catholics were right about some very important things. They were right about Christ's eternal Sonship, and His Blood being in Heaven!  It's a shame that those Catholics had a better understanding of the Blood than Thieme or MacArthur!

A bowl of Blood? Why not? There are seven golden bowls in Heaven according to Revelation 15:7. Since "eye hath not seen" all that is in Heaven (I Corinthians 2:9), there may very well be a golden bowl there containing the Blood of Christ! Since Revelation 15:7 tells us that there are seven golden bowls in Heaven, why couldn't there be an eighth one? How do Thieme and MacArthur know there isn't such a bowl in Heaven? Just how do they know this? They are extremely dogmatic in their rejection of this bowl - but what is their dogmatism based on? It seems to me that their shrill cry against even the possibility of such a bowl is really based on philosophical rationalism. It seems to me that they are pandering to the materialists and rationalists in their audiences. Since the Bible says nothing one way or the other, no one can Scripturally deny the possibility of such a bowl.

How about Thieme's "mortal body fluids" and MacArthur's "actual liquid"? I say that these two men have a Docetic view of the Blood, drawn from the roots of Gnosticism in the first century. Their Docetic view of the Blood prejudices them against "mortal body fluids" and "actual liquid." And their Gnosticism on the Blood places them squarely in the same position as the Christian Scientists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Mormons on this important issue of the Blood of Christ.

I don't know about you, but I would not be comfortable taking the same position as the Christian Scientists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Mormons! The religion of Colonel Thieme and John MacArthur is cold and bloodless. Mary Baker Eddy described their beliefs perfectly:

The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon "the accursed tree" than when it was flowing in his veins (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 1910, p. 330).

I don't believe you, Mrs. Eddy! I don't believe you, Judge Rutherford! I don't believe you, Brigham Young! I don't believe you, Colonel Thieme!  And I don't believe John MacArthur either! Away with false doctrine on the Blood! Spit it out of your mouth - lest He spit you out of His mouth on the Last Day! You do not need phantom blood!  You need real Blood!

Don't let Christian Science, or the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Mormons, or Colonel Thieme, or John MacArthur take the true Blood, remembered in the cup, away from you at the Lord's Supper! When you drink from the cup, remember that it points to the real Blood of Sprinkling in Heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:24). Every time you take the Lord's Supper, the two elements, reminding us of two realities in Heaven, should make you doubt those cultists, and Colonel Thieme, and Dr. MacArthur.

You need real Blood to wash away real sin, so you can go to a real Heaven!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE MATERIAL ON DR. MACARTHUR AND THE BLOOD

(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 11:23-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Power in the Blood" (by Lewis E. Jones, 1865-1936)/
"He Bought My Soul."

THE OUTLINE OF

THE CULTS, DR. MACARTHUR,
AND THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (I Corinthians 11:24-25).

(Luke 24:39; Acts 1:10-11)

I.   Dr. MacArthur seems to have forgotten that there are two
elements in the atonement - death and Blood - to be
remembered in the Lord's Supper, I Corinthians 15:3;
Romans 5:6; I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5; I Corinthians 11:26.

II.  Dr. MacArthur denies the second element remembered in the
Lord's Supper because of neo-gnosticism, I Peter 1:18-19;
I John 1:7.

III. Dr. MacArthur denies the second element remembered in the
Lord's Supper because he is influenced by Colonel 
R. B. Thieme, Jr., Revelation 15:7; I Corinthians 2:9;
Hebrews 12:24.


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