Iain Murray on John MacArthur and Fundamentalism

Iain H. Murray, John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2011), 77–78:

MacArthur has written of Fundamentalism moving apart in two directions after World War II:

One wing, desperate for academic respectability, could not resist the pluralism of the modern age. . . . Another wing of Fundamentalism moved in the opposite direction. They were keenly aware that an obsession with academic respectability had led their brethren to abandon the fundamentals. For that reason they distrusted scholarship or spurned it altogether. This right wing of the fundamentalist movement was relentlessly fragmented by militant separatism. Petty concerns often replaced serious doctrine as the matter for discussion and debate. [N. 9: Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern (Wheaton: Crossway, 1994), pp. 95-6.]

But a still more significant development from Fundamentalism and Dispensationalism was in the direction where MacArthur himself was now to lead. That a breach was occurring ought to have been clear enough in 1980 when he published a small book on the Sermon on the Mount, significantly titled Kingdom Living, Here and Now.

He would come to speak of B. B. Warfield as ‘the great Reformed theologian’, and take his side over against that of Chafer in the Princeton professor’s review already quoted:

If Chafer and those who were influenced by him had interacted seriously with Warfield on these issues, perhaps twentieth-century American evangelicalism might have been spared a lot of confusion and false teaching.

The development from Fundamentalism that MacArthur came to represent, while retaining strengths that initially belonged to that movement, reconnected with the older Christianity of the Reformed tradition.

Related: Here’s the book’s table of contents:


  1. Chris Cookston says

    Very interesting quote from the book on fundamentalism.

    Thanks for putting this up. John MacArthur’s teaching has blessed me in so many ways over the years. A copy of this book is on its way to our house from Grace to You. I’m excited to read it.

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