A Closer Look at John MacArthur's Disturbing Christology


This is an excerpt from Sonny Hernandez's new book, "The Glorious Triunity of God," which is available on Amazon.

False teachers believe that Christ is heteroousios (“different substance”) from the Father, and they will argue that Matthew 24:36 is proof that Jesus had either divested Himself of certain attributes or was not fully divine. These kinds of false teachers are heretics that either hold to Unitarianism or kenosis theories that denigrate the person of Christ. This is due to the fact that false teachers are not regenerate and don’t understand the Chalcedonian definition of the hypostatic union and are unable to reconcile how Christ can be fully divine, but not know the day or the hour in Matthew 24:36.

There are even popular pastors who do not understand Chalcedonian Christology. One such pastor is John MacArthur. In his commentary on Matthew 24, MacArthur rightfully argued that Christ is fully God and did not divest Himself of any of His attributes or deity during the incarnation, but then blatantly contradicted himself and taught the following:

Still more amazingly, not even the Son knew at the time He spoke these words or at any other time during His incarnation. Although He was fully God as well as fully man (John 1, 14), Christ voluntarily restricted His use of certain divine attributes when He became flesh. (emphasis mine)[1]

MacArthur rightfully asserted that “not even the Son knew at the time He spoke these words,” but erroneously stated, “or at any other time during His incarnation.” Yes, the Bible does state that Christ did not know the day or the hour, but it does not state or at any other time during the incarnation. This is simply MacArthur importing words into the Bible that are not there. MacArthur appears to be placing a stronger emphasis on the humanity of Christ and forgetting about the fact that Christ is wholly God also. MacArthur also forgets to recognize passages where it explicitly teaches that Christ does in fact know all things without exception. After Christ had asked Peter if he loved Him, Peter responded by saying, “Lord, You know all things…” (John 21:17, emphasis mine).

Next, MacArthur continues to contradict himself by maintaining throughout his commentary on Matthew 24 that Christ is wholly man and wholly God, but then states,

During Christ’s incarnation, the Father alone exercised unrestricted divine omniscience. It seems probable that Christ regained full divine knowledge after the resurrection...”[2]

By stating that the “Father alone exercised unrestricted divine omniscience,” MacArthur is implying that Christ only had restricted access to His divine omniscience. But once again, the Bible does not state anywhere that the Father alone exercised unrestricted divine omniscience, and not Christ. MacArthur fails once again to recognize three things:

  1. Christ is true God of true God (John 1:1-2; 17:1-5; 1 John 5:20).

  2. Christ is in fact omniscient (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:8; Luke 6:8; 9:47; 10:22; John 2:24-25; 6:64; 10:15; 16:30; 21:17; Col. 2:3; Rev. 2:23).

  3. The exegesis of Colossians 2:9 teaches that the fullness of the divine essence [θεότητος; “Godhead”] dwells [pres. κατοικεῖ; lit. “taking up permanent residence”] or continually abides in the person of the Son, which refutes MacArthur’s thinking, because the adverb σωματικῶς (“bodily”) implies His [Christ] incarnation.

If the Bible says that Christ is God, how come Matthew 24:36 teaches that Christ did not know the day or the hour? To respond to this question, one must have a proper understanding of the Chalcedonian definition of the hypostatic union. Christ is homoousios [homo: same + ousios: substance] or consubstantial with the Father and is one person (hypostasis) who has two distinct, unmingled, and inseparable natures. Christ’s divinity and humanity are inseparably or indissolubly united in the person of the Son. Christ is both wholly God and wholly man simultaneously, which is commonly referred to as the hypostatic union. Therefore, it is absurd for anyone to imply that Christ did not know the day or the hour at no time during the incarnation, or that Christ had only restricted access to the divine attributes. Christ is fully God; thus, there was never a time, even during the incarnation, that the person of Christ did not possess and exercise all of the divine attributes, including His omniscience.

How can Christ “know all things” (John 16:29-30) but not know the “day or the hour” (Matt. 24:36)? Christians should not be vexed over this question, but believe exactly what the Bible objectively teaches: Christ “knows all things” (John 16:29-30) but did not know the “day or the hour” in Matthew 24:36. Although Christ did not know the day or the hour in Matthew 24:36, this does not mean that Christ never knew the day or the hour at no time during the incarnation, as MacArthur asserted. From a human perspective, this may all sound contradicting, but it is not. The Bible explicitly and unmistakably teaches that Christ is both wholly man and wholly God; therefore, Christ has two wills. Plus, the Chalcedonian Creed teaches that Christ is “coessential with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood.” The person of the Son did not know the day or the hour in Matthew 24:36, but the person of the Son did exercise and possess the fullness of the divine attributes—including His omniscience—during the incarnation and beyond. This is because the person of the Son is wholly man and wholly God.

Affirming the person of Christ, who is both wholly God and wholly man simultaneously, is not a trivial matter. It is an essential of the Christian faith. May the Lord open eyes to behold the truth about the doctrine of the person of Christ, who exercised all of the divine attributes—including His omniscience—during the incarnation and beyond. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).


[1] John MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1989), 71. [2] Ibid., 72.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization.

Sonny Hernandez