John Macarthur is categorized as a Calvinist but prefers to call himself a biblicist. Here are some wise words from Dr. Macarthur during a Q&A session:
One of the benefits that I had, is I grew up in an environment where my dad was the preacher and it was basically a Baptist kind of environment. And what I learned growing up was sort of a middle ground. In my upbringing, we didn’t like the Calvinists and we didn’t like the Arminians; we sort of had that Baptist middle ground. That’s probably what a lot of you…you grew in the same kind of environment. You didn’t talk about predestination or election--that was kind of a frightening thing and that was for dead Presbyterians, and there were only about 30 of them in the whole city of Los Angeles--at the time, and they were over in a room somewhere contemplating their navel and reading John Calvin. You know, it was very introspective and they were thrilled with their theology, but they were a small little group and we weren’t into that.
I went away to college and essentially I went to two colleges, the roots of which were both Methodist. So, they were steeped in Arminian theology. One was sort of a Revivalist environment, and the other was a more traditional Wesleyan environment, where we read Wiley and Miley and all of that, and we had to imbibe all of this Arminian theology. I got out of that; I went to a seminary that had Presbyterian influences. So, I went from the Arminian kind of side to the Reformed side, and there I was in the middle of this mix and I just decided I’d go to the Bible and find out what the Bible said. I think, in a sense, all of that experience sort of canceled each other out, which was good for me, and I went back to the Word of God and in the Word of God, without all the presuppositions cast in stone, I was able to let the Bible speak. Through the years, the Bible I believe speaks very clearly about what the truth is.
But, I think if people could divest themselves of their presuppositions and if they could be willing to eat a little humble pie and say, “It’s possible that I might be wrong,” and take another hard look at the Word of God, they would come to the right answers. It’s a very simple point to make, and it is this: if two people take two opposing views of something, they cannot both be right. Somebody is wrong. And it’s not us, right? Well, I mean, I don’t say that in a proud way. I just believe that we are where we are because we believe this is true.
As many of us immerse ourselves in this debate, we would do well to immerse ourselves in Scripture and abandon the turbulant sea of subjective emotionalism of taking a side based on studying the behavior of advocates from either side. I was once rebuked by someone I found to be obnoxious - and with good reason. By the grace of God I managed to evaluate his rebuke in the light of Scripture rather than his behavior. Good thing too - because he was right!