In his Prologue to The Jesus You Can’t Ignore, John MacArthur writes, “Jesus’ interaction with the religious experts of His time was rarely even cordial.” “On one occasion, when He was expressly informed that His denunciations of the Pharisees were insulting to the lawyers (the leading Old Testament scholars and chief academicians of that time), Jesus immediately turned to the lawyers and fired off a salvo at them, too (Luke 11:45-54).”
The author concludes his long Prologue with this statement: “The practical lesson regarding how we should conduct ourselves in the presence of false religion is consistent throughout: corruption of vital biblical truth are not to be trifled with, and the purveyors of different gospels are not to be treated benignly by God’s people. On the contrary, we must take the same approach to false doctrine that Jesus did, by refuting the error, opposing those who spread the error, and contending earnestly for the faith.”
As a reader of Christian publications, I found much to commend The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. The author John MacArthur was blunt and hammered his point home--that evangelicals have become too tolerant of unbiblical teachings and religions. He referenced scriptures that recorded Jesus’ interactions with the religious establishment of his time on earth. He pointed out that Jesus deliberately provoked the first confrontations with them. Although, Jesus was gentle with the average person (sinners all), he reserved his scathing rebukes for the influential religious leaders who put on a show of righteousness without the love of God that leads to genuine righteousness.
As a Christian who sees a divided church on what constitutes right doctrine, I am uneasy about who gets to decide for everyone else what error to refute, who to oppose, and the manner in which we contend earnestly for the faith. The author does qualify his strong statements with an acknowledgement that elders are instructed to be gentle and respectful, not quarrelsome. Yet, the tone of his book, in my opinion, has none of those qualities. But he was attempting to follow Jesus’ bold example.
The value of the book lies in its portrayal of Jesus as the bold Prophet who rebuked those who were preventing others from coming to him as God, Lord, and Savior. He was not the weak person he has often been presented as in story and paintings. Yes, he was gentle (mild) and humble (meek), but he was also strong and bold.
The author gave an excellent explanation of the phrase “born of water and the spirit” in John chapter three. By using knowledge of the time period and scripture, this chapter became clearer to me. He also gave a good discussion of “the unpardonable sin” in a later chapter.
This book gave me much to think about and left me uneasy about how it should be applied--surely accomplishing the author’s purpose.
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