John MacArthur, Darrin Patrick and Goodfellas

– My first thought when I heard John MacArthur had criticized a part of Darrin Patrick’s book was to think about my debt to MacArthur. This happens every time he is criticized. Even when I am inclined to agree with the criticism.

– My second thought was, “I know how the church planting and A29 ‘world’ will react.”

– MacArthur’s concern is that young pastors are taking an individualistic path on theological and ecclesiological formation based on marketing principles. In their very rush to dismiss his criticism, they have made his point.

It is absolutely foolish to point to the endorsers of a book as a defense against criticism. Again, this is part and parcel of the zeitgeist MacArthur is worried about.

– Having only read the section of the book in question and not the whole book,  I am not yet sure how I should feel about MacArthur’s criticism of Patrick’s statements. What I am sure of is how much the men of my generation and younger need to stop. We need to stop reacting to criticism and we need to sit down and think. If you say you have learned a lot from a man, then you owe him at least a few days to stop and think about his criticism. And for the sake of all that is sane, stop tweeting every pithy thought you might have about it. Stop having such a Goodfellas attitude about this kind of thing. Darrin is your boy. I get it. But you would shrug your shoulders if the criticism was leveled against someone else. The legitimacy of the criticism is not your concern. He’s your ‘boy.’

My guess is that Darrin is far more likely to stop and think about the criticism and hear it more than his fans are.


Update: I should add, I think part of this whole issue is the instant availability of the information along with the ability to respond so quickly. No contemplation under the night sky needed.  Just hit ‘post.’


Update: Make Sure you read what Ed says in the comment section below.

Update: Darrin patrick replies as I assumed he would and he says this:

For those of you who have been quick to be critical of Dr. MacArthur, please remember that we all need to be corrected from time to time. Also, ALL of us who are younger need to give a careful listen to the concerns of seasoned pastors, many of whom have forgotten more than we might ever know.

4 thoughts on “John MacArthur, Darrin Patrick and Goodfellas

  1. Samorris January 22, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    Uh huh, yes & amen. The glory of God ought to far outweigh criticism of a man. Meaning: more concern should be placed on God's glory than man's criticism.

  2. Ed Eubanks January 22, 2011 / 5:35 pm

    Hey Matt, good thoughts here. I have a couple of thoughts in response to your post (I was unaware of this "debate" until you pointed it out, by the way).First, I absolutely agree that someone like John MacArthur deserves a little more respect for the contribution he has made, than what you post suggests he has received.Second, I agree with Dr. MacArthur that all Christians, and especially leaders, and especially pastors, and perhaps even more especially church planters, ought to be very cautious of entirely unique theological concepts. Maybe a good working posture ought to be, "if I can't find ANYONE else through 2000 years of church history postulating the same idea as me, I'm probably wrong."However, I don't think that Darrin Patrick has urged such a unique approach to theology or ecclesiology, even inadvertently. I've read the whole book, and in quickly rescanning the section where the quote in questions appears I'm reminded that in context, this quote is an appeal to discerning a call into ministry, and particularly within one part of that discernment. Later in the same chapter, Pastor Patrick likewise urges readers to consider how their call is confirmed by the larger church; how does Dr. MacArthur align his comments with that clear, explicit instruction in the book?Indeed, Pastor Patrick so often (throughout the book) makes reference to his own seminary experience and other pastors whose mentoring and discipleship have clearly had an impact on him, I don't see how anyone could conclude that Pastor Patrick is teaching a lone-ranger approach as Dr. MacArthur seems to be accusing him of. I would like to see Dr. MacArthur delve in deeper and explain his position by direct interaction with multiple quotes and sections of the book, rather than one quote that itself is not even the complete paragraph, let alone demonstrating consideration for context. It wouldn't be too hard to do the same kind of out-of-context critique with some of Dr. MacArthur's works, it seems to me.Further, I think that saying, "the entire book treats church planting as an entrepreneurial business" is, at best, an unfortunate hasty generalization. Having recently read the book, I never thought of that as even a semi-prominent critique of the book. If anything, my critique of Pastor Patrick's book is that it doesn't offer much substance to anyone who has had seminary training— but perhaps that is also its strength, since many of those who I've met in the Acts 29 Network are men who have no formal ministry training. In that sense, Pastor Patrick's basic overview, coupled with his frequent references to seminary and mentors, might serve to encourage these men to reconsider their need for formal training.

  3. Matthew B. Redmond January 22, 2011 / 6:12 pm

    Ed,Great thoughts as always. I have yet read to the book but I would not at all be surprised to think Darrin wrote something worth reading and with the very opposite view MacArthur assigns to him. My chief concern is the way we tend to respond to these little skirmishes. I should have probably included a thought on the fact that the instant availability of this information coupled with the ability to instantly respond and make an opinion known is also a contributing factor. Cue up Postman here.

  4. Partluck January 28, 2011 / 11:43 pm

    Great post! John MacArthur is a man of God, and perhaps the greatest Bible teacher of the last 50 years. All these trendy "cool" pastors and their fans need to check their pride.

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