Back to the Future: John MacArthur on the ‘Moral Authority’ of the Presidency

John MacArthur Preaching (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“Not a position of moral authority”

Much can be said about John MacArthur’s recent interview with Ben Shapiro, particularly regarding his comments about the 45th President of the United States.

During the interview, MacArthur remarked that Christians should not expect the presidency to be “a position of moral authority.” Analogous to how we should not be concerned about a brain surgeon’s moral life to determine his work, MacArthur argued that Christians should not be concerned about the moral life of the President when it comes to the work he does.

Instead of embarking on a potentially long-winded interaction and commentary with MacArthur’s remarks, I thought that it would be insightful, if not slightly entertaining, to see MacArthur from the past interact with MacArthur from today. We can just imagine ourselves jumping in with ‘Doc’ Emmett Brown and Marty McFly in their flux-capacitor-equipped DeLorean, hitting 88 miles per hour and zapping to September 20, 1998.

“A position of moral authority”

Back to the Future Logo (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On that day, in a sermon titled “The Destructive Sin of Lying, Part 1”, just before former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment was initiated, MacArthur preached against the moral failings of Clinton.*

MacArthur begins by stating how Clinton’s pattern of lying goes against what Americans (including Christians) should have expected from someone who holds the “prominent and critical” office of President:

Why is this important for MacArthur to call out from the pulpit? Why can’t he “just preach the gospel” and remain silent on this matter? MacArthur explains that the habit of lying, deception, and hypocrisy are dangerous because it has dragged other people connected to Clinton into his lies:

Above all, MacArthur believes that God is clear in the Bible about what he thinks about leaders with moral failings. MacArthur urges his congregation to think about what God specifically has to say about leaders who are liars. According to MacArthur, the Bible teaches clearly that a lying ruler is a serious matter to God that must be addressed.

Furthermore, MacArthur comments that the combination of the immorality of Clinton and his high approval ratings at the time demonstrate that the United States has become an anti-Christian nation that God has given up because they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. The high approval rating of Clinton demonstrates how dangerous of a state Americans are in.

Not only is Clinton no longer fit to be President, but MacArthur goes on to question the legitimacy of Clinton’s profession of Christian faith based on his pattern of life:

Apparently, and most ironically, MacArthur had been interviewed a bit before this sermon and was asked a similar question that Shapiro asked him recently. Instead of claiming that we shouldn’t be worried about the President being a moral authority like he did with Shapiro, MacArthur claims that Clinton should no longer be President due to his moral failings:

Not only is Clinton’s faith not credible to MacArthur, and not only should Clinton no longer be considered qualified for the office of President due to his moral failings, but Clinton is “Satan’s man” and “an antichrist type person” due to his pattern of deception while “feigning a faith in Jesus Christ that is not real”:

Back to the Future

As we jump back into the DeLorean, step off in December 2018, and wave goodbye to Marty and ‘Doc,’ we have to ask the question: What happened between 1998 and today? One possibility is that somewhere in the space-time continuum, something changed in the course of events that led to a skewing of the events into an alternate 2018, leading to a complete change of events where MacArthur says something completely about-face from what he said twenty years ago.

Or, the possibility that is more likely: it’s never really been about “just preach the gospel.” It’s been about maintaining power, regaining power, and thwarting others’ attempts at power, all in the name of Christ and his kingdom.

*A very special thank you to Marcos Ortega who writes over at Reformed Margins for doing the hard work of finding this sermon by MacArthur and passing it off to me.

Associate Editor for Faithfully Magazine and advocate for Christian proactive justice.

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