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Wading In

On the thirteenth of April, one week ago, John MacArthur was invited to be a guest on Larry King Live. I have lost track of the number of times that MacArthur has been asked to participate in King’s show, but it seems that when King needs a person to defend traditional, biblical Protestantism, he calls MacArthur. It is always a good choice.

When MacArthur appears on Larry King Live he usually appears as part of an interesting cast of characters. More often than not he is seated between Deepak Chopra on one side and Michael Manning on the other. Chopra is a New Age guru and founder of The Chopra Center for Well Being in California while Michael Manning is a Roman Catholic priest, pastor at St. Anthony’s Parish in San Bernardino, and host of The “Word in the World.” Last week, though, MacArthur found himself in different company. While he was still seated beside Michael Manning, every other one of the seven guests on the show, was Roman Catholic. The topic of discussion was a new, exploitive “reality” show entitled God or the Girl?. The show follows four young men as they wrestle with the decision of whether or not to train for the priesthood, knowing that this will require a life of celibacy.

For the first few minutes of the broadcast, King spoke with the four men who will be featured in God or the Girl?. He then asked questions of Anthony Podovano, a Roman Catholic theologian and author and Father John Bartunek, who is a Legionnaire of Christ (whatever that is) and rejected evangelicalism in favor of crossing the Tiber and becoming a Catholic priest.

He then turned to MacArthur. And this is what I love and admire about John MacArthur. MacArthur did not beat around the bush. He did not spend a few sentences seeking common ground and affirming his love and respect for Catholic tradition before addressing what he feels is error. No, he just waded in.

I think from a biblical standpoint we need to readdress this issue on a couple of fronts. Number one, according to the New Testament, you can’t be a pastor unless you are the husband of one wife and have proven that you’re able to manage your household well.

The apostle Paul also said that one of the false doctrines, he called doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4, is forbidding to marry. There is no biblical basis for this whatsoever. You can’t use Jesus as an example. He’s God in human flesh.

There is no biblical foundation. In fact, Paul said it’s better to marry than to burn. So, you put a priest in an impossible situation, then stick him in a confessional all day to listen to people reciting all their sexual sins and I think that’s just way over the top if you expect somebody to live a pure life with that kind of temptation thrown at them.

He then provided the historical basis for the Roman Catholic requirement of priestly celibacy. “I don’t think it’s a biblical idea at all and it came, as Father Manning noted, because priestly families were building fortunes and in 1079 when that became law at the Lateran (ph) Council, it was because Rome started seeing that money was being kept in these massive families. If you don’t have any children, you can’t pass on anything.”

A few minutes later he spoke of the tremendous blessing of marriage and family.

I took God and the girl. And my life — my ministry is aided by my wife and her faith and my children and my grandchildren, who undergird what I preach by the life they live.

They are the greatest support in my ministry. They give confidence to my — I’m not an island. They see me in a real world and they see my family surrounding me and they know what my life is like because it manifests itself in them.

A caller asked about homosexuality and King took the opportunity to press MacArthur, clearly hoping he would say something outrageous. MacArthur spoke of the sin of homosexuality and, when asked how Jesus would react to homosexuals, said: “I think he would endeavor to communicate the truth and the gospel. He would confront the sin and he would offer the salvation through repentance and faith in himself and his death and resurrection.” He quickly became involved in a back-and-forth with Manning who felt MacArthur had gone too far. As always, MacArthur slipped the gospel into his few minutes of camera time.

If you would like to read the transcript, you can do so here. I suppose the point in posting this is just to draw attention to MacArthur’s faithfulness. He stuck to the Scriptures and surely made an impact on Larry King’s audience. He did not back down and was not apologetic in defending the truth. And that, I think, is why King continues to invite him back.