My beloved brethren we are warned in 2 Peter chapter two about false teachers coming into the church who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Lord Jesus Christ Who bought them. It was over eight years ago that the Holy Spirit revealed to me the error of a highly revered “apologist”. This revelation was just the tip of the spear in the war that we must wage against false teaching, as I soon found out.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 1 But there were false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 1:19-2:1
Prophecy, or God’s Word, originates with God, it doesn’t originate in the heart or mind of man. God the Holy Spirit moves His specifically chosen servants, Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles and prophets, to write the exact words that God has intended them to write, to be used for the purpose that God has intended. Notice that Peter links the interpretation of the prophecy with the giving of the prophecy. In other words, the interpretation of the Word of God also originates with the Holy Spirit, and therefore there is only one correct interpretation, not many which is so foolishly believed by those who are deceived by false teachers. Peter warns the readers of his epistle, that just as there were false prophets putting their own words for the holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible, preserved Word of God, the Scriptures, there will also be false teachers who will use their own interpretation for the text of the Scriptures and thus introduce false doctrine into the church that is used by the devil for the destruction of precious souls.
C. S. Lewis, the false teacher who I referred to in the opening paragraph, introduced much false teaching into the church through his philosophizing and disdain for the Holy Word of God. I remember being shocked by the revelation from the Holy Spirit that this man was a false teacher, but what else could he be, when he taught that anyone can become a believer in Christ just by using their intellectual reasoning. Doesn’t this false teaching seem sweet to the fallen nature of man? The Holy Spirit reminded me, after I read Lewis’ reasoning from Mere Christianity, that we are all depraved, and no one can come to Jesus Christ apart from His direct involvement in an individual’s life, convicting them of sin, and showing them the wonderful salvation of Jesus Christ purposed through the magnificent love and kindness of God. However, I found with growing consternation that the visible church and many leaders within the visible church, doesn’t matter the denomination or label, do not care about the truth and gladly accept false teachers as genuine believers. One such leader within the church is John MacArthur, along his ready helper Phil Johnson.
While I was reading the book Mere Christianity, I was also reading John MacArthur’s book, Hard to Believe. In it, MacArthur directly condemns one of the false teachings that Lewis championed, that people can be saved apart from conscious faith in Christ, but MacArthur also favorably quotes Lewis in this book. I wrote MacArthur a letter about what I had read, and I did hear back from the ministry, though we were never able to communicate. I wrote the letter on June 6, 2008, and promptly sent it to him. Recently, I found out that John MacArthur had stated his belief that Lewis did believe in Jesus Christ, when he was specifically asked it during a question and answer session. This is what transpired:
My question is simply, do you believe that C.S. Lewis was a Christian because some people don’t believe that. I’m not one of them. I’ve read his books.
JOHN: I think C.S. Lewis came to a true faith in Christ. Yeah. I do. Okay.
John MacArthur made this statement on June the 16, 2008. This is something that he believes which is why he quoted C. S. Lewis in his book Hard to Believe. Keep in mind that MacArthur warned against the teaching of salvation apart from faith in Christ as being false. So, how can a man who believed and taught false doctrine be a Christian? This false doctrine attacks faith in Christ at its core and is from the devil. Just so you will know that Lewis did indeed teach this here is what he wrote in Mere Christianity.
“Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.” (page 50 paragraph 2; Mere Christianity)
“There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, who thus belong to Christ without knowing it.” (page 162 paragraph 2; Mere Christianity)
Now one could argue, weakly, that John MacArthur is ignorant of Lewis’ doctrines, but that is just not the case. Here is a quote from John about the teaching of C. S. Lewis.
“Lewis was no theologian, and there’s no doubt his views were squidgy on the question of eternal punishment. He held other views that make old-model evangelicals shudder.”
Here is a quote about Lewis from an evangelical leader whom MacArthur highly reveres:
“Because Lewis was essentially a philosopher, his view of salvation was defective in two key respects: (1) Lewis believed and taught that one could reason oneself into Christianity, and (2) he was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal theory of the atonement.” Christianity Today December 20, 1963.
It is odd to me that I often came across the same reasoning, that what Lewis believed was “squidgy” or some other such word, to describe the aberrant and unbiblical doctrine that he believed and taught. This is a tactic used by false teachers and false believers to excuse the wicked depravity of their favorite men.
Finally, I had an email exchange with Phil Johnson, the man John MacArthur says is instrumental to Grace to You, and I feigned allegiance to the doctrines of Lewis in those emails. He rightly warned me that I couldn’t get to heaven believing those doctrines. However, when I revealed my technique to confront him on the doctrines of Lewis that was the end of the email exchange. This is what Johnson had to say about Lewis:
“While I also have certain areas of disagreement with CS Lewis, I have little doubt he was a regenerate believer in Jesus whom God used.”
“I take a similar position. I would not look to Lewis for theological instruction. For one thing, he was no theologian, and he didn’t have the best teachers when it came to doctrinal matters.”
Phil Johnson said this about Lewis, however, I couldn’t be saved believing the very things that Lewis taught, but he was somehow a believer and is in heaven.
So, for them, it doesn’t matter what is believed, as long as there is a mention of the name of Jesus Christ, much talk about Christianity, and a certain cachet with the world, which is what Lewis did and had. These men, MacArthur and Johnson, are being disingenuous. They love Lewis because he held academic positions at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and was a brilliant apologist for “Christianity”. They don’t care about his false doctrine, they just care that he gave respectability to the Christian church and has brought in a lot of money for Christian bookstores (Mere Christianity has sold 18 million copies in the US as of October 2013). Lewis, this brilliant man, disbelieved and twisted Scripture to suit his own philosophical world view, which is what every false convert and false teacher does. It is unconscionable that men who are considered the pillars of the evangelical church in America care nothing for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and gladly align themselves with false teachers by claiming they are true and have true faith in Christ.
So John and Phil are well aware of the theology of Lewis, and yet they don’t warn against him, instead they say Lewis has true faith in Christ and he was no theologian, although he is credited with being a lay theologian on Wikipedia. Now, reason with me here, how can one hold unbiblical views about Christ and still have true faith in Jesus Christ? Yes, we believe in the Person Jesus Christ, but our belief in Him must be firmly grounded in the truth of the Scriptures, otherwise we believe in a false Christ. We are warned about this in 2 Corinthians chapter 11.
4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!…13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:4 and 13-14
This brings up the question, “How much false teaching do we get to believe and teach before we are called a false teacher?” There is much disagreement within the visible church on this very issue. God’s Word is our standard and guide in all things and according to what He has said in 2 Peter 3, twisting the Scriptures is enough to make us condemned. Our great God and Savior has no patience with those who throw off sound doctrine and believe and teach lies through twisting the Scriptures:
15 And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they also do the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked: 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:15-18
So there is ample evidence that John MacArthur and Phil Johnson purposefully mislead people in regards to a dangerous false teacher, C. S. Lewis, who has been instrumental in leading many people into false doctrine and into perdition. This alone is sufficient to label them deceitful workers, but combined with the other instances where they have championed other false brethren and themselves have taught false doctrine (a believer can take the mark of the beast and not suffer eternal damnation), it is unequivocal that John MacArthur and Phil Johnson are deceitful workers who are at the forefront of leading many into the end time harlot church we are warned about in Scripture. We must be true to Christ and to His Word, no matter with whom we have to part company and expose. These verses out of 2 Timothy sum it up well.
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17
Evil workers are deceived, and they spread their deception, corrupting others. Their false teaching will always be contrary to the Holy Scriptures, which alone, makes the man of God complete, and furnished for every good work. We have all that we need for faith and practice in the Holy Word of God. The works of men, are just that, and they are consigned to destruction along with those who have promoted them. Let us be careful to be men and women of the Word of God, and not misled by the many deceitful workers who are eager for a following, and desire earthly acclaim and fortune more than the glorious salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, revealed to us in the Bible, that guarantees us a home in heaven for all eternity. Amen!
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:7-11
Lord Jesus Christ much is at stake as we live out our faith while awaiting Your soon return. Souls are at stake as are our eternal rewards. May we be ever vigilant to be faithful and true to You, no matter the cost. May we believe and obey Your Word alone, and turn from the lies of the enemy who only desires our eternal destruction and the dishonoring of Your glorious name. May You equip us by Your Holy Spirit and by Your Holy Word for our work for You while we sojourn here. Amen!