John MacArthur

May, 1990 Mother's Day Message

"Shade for Our Children" (Eph. 6:4)

-  A challenge for the discerning Christian would be to read John MacArthur's book Our Sufficiency In Christ and then listen to this tape message. Then try to discern what MacArthur's true position on psychology actually is. Our conclusion is that MacArthur is either incredibly ignorant or brazenly hypocritical.

In June of 1991, MacArthur sent this audio cassette message (tape#GC80-69) free of charge to anyone who requested it. One would have to assume by this that as of June, 1991, the material contained on this tape was MacArthur's current position on the issues covered in the message (psychology). Moreover, it could be assumed that MacArthur felt strongly enough about these issues and his position on them that he would deem it worth the considerable expense of offering the tape free of charge. One should also keep in mind when considering MacArthur's comments on this tape, that his book, Our Sufficiency In Christ, had been published only two months before the distribution of this tape. [This tape was redistributed (@$4.75/each) and aired again on Grace To You radio in May of 1997; none of the psychological references were edited out -- i.e., the tape is identical to the one distributed in June of 1991.1 In addition, as of June of 1999, the "Shade for Our Children" transcript (dated 1997) is still posted to a Grace To You-authorized web site. Bottom line: the teachings on this tape are current.]

-  One should obtain MacArthur's Bible Study Guide, The Fulfilled Family (John MacArthur's Bible Studies, John MacArthur Jr., Word of Grace Communications, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 [1981/1985/1987/1989], pp. 127-141), and particularly tape#GC-1950 (1979 audio tape cassette) -- MacArthur favorably quotes2 extensively from psychiatrist Paul Meier's book, Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development. [In late-1996, MacArthur re-preached The Fulfilled Family series; although not nearly as psychologically-oriented as the original series, he still teaches a number of psychological concepts (see the supplemental notes to "The Fulfilled Family" sub-report) -- the transcripts of the nine messages in the new series are also available.] On this message ("Shade for Our Children"), not only does MacArthur repeat many of the same quotes from the 1979 series, verbatim, but he also adds the following psychological comments of his own (psychological concepts, methodologies, techniques, and/or terminology are emphasized with underlines):

(a) "Now sometimes it's not really the mother's fault. Some husbands are weak and witless; some husbands are absent, some husbands have left all together. By the way, at our church, Gary Ezzo [an Adlerean/Maslowian psychologizer who has since quietly left Grace Church] in our family ministries has an excellent support system for single mothers to help you compensate for that very difficult situation ... We have support ministries to assist those mothers who have literally been dispossessed by an unfaithful husband." (This quote follows MacArthur's verbatim quotes of Paul Meier from pp. 128-131 of the 1989 edition of The Fulfilled Family Study Guide.)

(b) When giving evidence that children do not know obedience naturally (i.e., the sin nature), rather than quoting Scripture as his authority, MacArthur quotes the Minnesota Crime Commission. (Same quote used on p. 132 of The Fulfilled Family Study Guide, 1989 ed.)

(c) When quoting Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck (supposedly child-rearing "experts" because of their training in sociology), MacArthur emphasizes that "these are Harvard sociologists" and that their advice can help "to guarantee against a future dysfunctional child." (Other quotes used are the same as on p. 135 of the Fulfilled Family Study Guide, 1989 ed.)

(d) MacArthur tells the story of a girl he visited in the UCLA psychiatric clinic, who eventually killed herself: "She could never achieve the grade-point that her parents pushed her to achieve, and finally she killed herself. And that was her way of saying, 'I'm so angry at you because of the pain you put in my life because I can never succeed -- I never had a sense of accomplishment -- that I'm going to make you hurt the rest of your life.' And so she killed herself and said in effect, 'Now, live with that.' She gave back the hurt."

-  As favorable toward psychology as the above quotes from MacArthur's 1990 Mother's Day message appear to be, one must remember that these quotes are merely in addition to those he reiterates on this tape cassette from his earlier (1979) The Fulfilled Family tape series. Again, one should examine pp. 127-141 of The Fulfilled Family Bible Study Guide (1989 ed.) and/or listen to tape#GC-1950 (1979 ed.) to gain the full importance that MacArthur gives to psychological theory and concepts. One has to wonder, is it ignorance or is it hypocrisy?

1 In June of 1997, MacArthur distributed another free tape titled: "A Crash Course in Christian Parenting." MacArthur begins the message by affirming that Christian parents need to turn to God's Word for parenting instructions, not the world -- i.e., "God has given us the Manual on how to raise them." Apparently ignoring his own advice, he then goes on to quote: (1) the Glueck's "four crucial factors on how to have non-delinquent kids -- 90% accurate"; (2) the results of a study by "psychologists and experts" on child depression and suicide; (3) Paul Meier's "ten steps on how to raise a delinquent" from his book Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development, and (4) the Minnesota Crime Commission. (MacArthur also refers once again to the story of the girl who killed herself to get back at her parents [see (d) above].) One of MacArthur's psychological platitudes was "If you want an accident-prone child, ignore him and fight with each other so that he hurts himself to get your attention." -- Where in the Bible is MacArthur finding this psychological nonsense?!  [Return to Text]

2 It is one thing to quote a psychological source when critiquing psychology itself, and to show what one psychologist says might be refuted by what another psychologist says, but quite another thing to quote as authoritative the musings of psychologists on how to live our lives and raise our children. MacArthur frequently slips into this error.  [Back to Text]

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 6/99