A few days ago the Lord allowed me to witness to an atheist about creation and Jesus Christ’s blood atonement for sinners. After a few minutes of going back and forth, I could see that the particular atheist I was dealing with was not interested in truth, but excuse. As I was about to end the conversation by telling the atheist that he will one day face his Creator face to face at the Great White Throne Judgment and give an account for every secret sin, the atheist interrupted me by telling me that he was “a former Christian”. Now any Bible Believer knows that it is not impossible for a born-again Christian to apostate so dramatically to the point where they could possibly become an atheist (2 Tim 2:13 KJV). Therefore, I decided to check out his testimony in the Lord.
I asked him “how did you become a Christian?” He answered “I was raised in a society that was mostly Christian.” I then explained to him that being raised in a Christian society does not make you a Christian any more than being raised in a garage makes you a car. So I presented the question to him again: “how did you become a Christian?” This time he answered me and said “I believed in a theistic God.” I then explained to him that the devils also believe in a theistic God and tremble (James 2:19 KJV). I presented the question to him a third time: “how did you become a Christian?” He answered and said “I believed the bible and that prayers would be the answer” I then explained to him that Muslims also believe in prayer and that Mormons also believe the bible, but that doesn’t make them Christians. I then rebuked the atheist by telling him that according to all three cases of his own testimony, he was NEVER a Christian, only RELIGIOUS. It was at this point were the atheist let his anger get the best of him at accused me of being radical, mean-spirited, outrageous, illogical, spreading hate, unreasonable, what’s wrong with “Christianity” today, ridiculous ideology, blah, blah, blah.
Now why would this atheist label himself as a “former Christian” when he was absolutely clueless to what a Christian was? Two words: EASY BELIEVISM. Easy Believism is a heresy that teaches that salvation or reconciliation with God is relative to the individual and NOT ABSOLUTE according to God’s word. In other words, Easy Believism teaches that an individual doesn’t have to run to Calvary’s cross as a BROKEN SINNER in need of a sinless Savior to save them from HELL. Instead, the individual can come to God self-righteously as their own mediator, in their own way, in their own time, according to their own thoughts and logic.
According to Randolph, those of us who label ourselves as ex-Christians never really understood the True Christian® gospel. Randolph thinks that ex-Christians fell prey to what he calls easy-believism. Unfortunately, Randolph has no idea what easy-believism is. Proponents of easy-believism (free grace) — men such as Jack Hyles, Curtis Hutson, Bob Gray, Charles Ryrie, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, and Zane Hodges — believe that people are saved when they mentally assent to a set of propositional beliefs and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Those opposed to easy-believism — men such as John MacArthur and most Calvinists — believe that unsaved people must not only accept Jesus as their Savior, but they also must make him the Lord of their lives (lordship salvation). While both parties believe that good works are a natural consequence of being saved, those who oppose easy-believism say that these works prove that a person has indeed been born from above.
As you can see from the previous paragraph, Randolph doesn’t understand easy-believism. I am not sure where he pulled his definition from, but it wasn’t from any of the pro/anti-easy-believism books of the 1980s and 1990s. Randolph’s inability to define and understand easy-believism renders his claim moot. Still, for the sake of argument, I will let his definition stand so I can adequately address what he writes next.
THEY WON’T OR HAVE DIFFICULTY ADMITTING TO BEING A SINNER
THEY DON’T BELIEVE THAT THEY EVER TRULY DESERVED TO BURN IN HELL
THEY BELIEVE THAT ANY GENERIC BELIEF IN GOD IS “GOOD ENOUGH”
THE IDEA OF SALVATION ALONE THROUGH CHRIST CRUCIFIED IS FOOLISHNESS TO THEM
THEY IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS BEING A “CHRISTIAN” OR A “CHILD OF GOD” WITHOUT EVER ADMITTING TO BEING A LOST HELLBOUND SINNER BEFORE CONVERSION
THEY VIEW GOD AS A GENERIC BUDDY INSTEAD OF A SINLESS PERSONAL SAVIOUR
THEY BELIEVE THAT GENERAL GENERIC PRAYER, BIBLE READING, CHURCH ATTENDANCE, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, SOCIAL FUNCTIONS, AND DEALING WITH SOCIETAL ISSUES EARNS THEM SALVATION OR SPECIAL FAVOR WITH GOD OUTSIDE OF SCRIPTURE.
THEY BELIEVE THAT SALVATION AND A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED BY REJECTING, IGNORING, OR BEING PURPOSELY IGNORANT TO WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS.
THEY BELIEVE THAT ALL RELIGIONS ARE THE SAME OR LEAD TO THE SAME GOD.
THEY CAN’T REMEMBER A TIME IN THEIR LIFE WHEN THEY HAD A FACE TO FACE COLLISION WITH JESUS CHRIST AND CALLED ON HIS NAME FOR SALVATION AS A BROKEN SINNER.
As regular readers know, I was a Christian for almost fifty years. I spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. As many readers of this blog, I was, for many years, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. At one time, thanks to the churches I grew up in and the training I received at Midwestern Baptist College, I preached the easy-believism gospel. However, by the mid-1980s, I realized that the easy-believism gospel generally turned people into cultural Christians who had no desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. So when John MacArthur wrote his Evangelical-shaking book, The Gospel According to Jesus, I quickly realized that MacArthur was spot on when it came to the lordship of Christ. From that point forward, my preaching and emphasis changed. Instead of just trying to get people to pray the sinner’s prayer, I focused on what I called the gospel of full disclosure. If people were going to become followers of Jesus, I believed they needed to know exactly what Jesus expected (demanded) of them.
So when I look at Randolph’s ten ways to spot a false convert to easy-believism, I can emphatically say that none of these things is true of me. And I expect that many of the readers of this blog can say the same. We are living examples of the fact that people can be Christians and then walk away. Any thorough examination of our lives reveals that we were once committed followers of Jesus. Our lives are proof that what Jimmy Randolph writes in his post is not true.
This should be the end of the discussion. I’ve presented evidence — my life — that cannot be refuted. But, this won’t be the end of the discussion because people like Randolph, when confronted with the exemplary lives of one-time Christians, will then suggest that we must still be Christians because the Bible says that the true Christian can never fall from grace or lose their salvation. Instead, we are just backslidden, and God, through chastisement or even death, will brings us back to Jesus.
While perusing the comments on Randolph’s post, I noticed that he said his definition of easy-believism came straight from the Bible. After reading several more of his comments, I have concluded that he actually believes in easy-believism, just not the Bible-defined easy-believism that he has concocted in his head. (He also rejects lordship salvation.) In other words, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Instead of trying to “save” atheists, perhaps Randolph should invest some money in buying several systematic theology books and doing some study on what the Bible actually says about salvation. Then, once thoroughly confused, Randolph can deconvert and become an ex-Christian who was never a Christian.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
“Consensus science is the first refuge of scoundrels … invoked only in situations where there is a political, social, financial agenda but no scientific support.”
Here’s the key, friends, this is the real deal. Legitimate science recognizes a close correlation between sunspots and climate change … The sun is the source of temperature changes because of its infrared variations. … There is absolutely no evidence that CO₂ contributes to warming. On the contrary the opposite is true. Warming produces CO₂ … It’s the other way round.
By the way, plants produce CO₂. What man produces is marginal … Industry doesn’t affect CO₂ in the environment or atmosphere.
This is all political [and] financial agendas, class warfare, class envy … By the way, US$100 billion has been spent to make a case for global warming … driven by the socialist mentality … even some of the feminist mentality that resents male success.
God intended us to use this planet, to fill this planet for the benefit of man. Never was it intended to be a permanent planet. It is a disposable planet. Christians ought to know that.
“I think that if the data is overwhelming in favor, in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult, some odd group that’s not really interacting with the real world. . . . And to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it, I think it’s our spiritual death. It’s also our spiritual death in witness to the world that we’re not credible, that we are bigoted, we have a blind faith and this is what we’re accused of. . . . And I think it is essential to us or we’ll end up like some small sect somewhere that retained a certain dress or a certain language. And they end up so . . . marginalized, totally marginalized, and I think that would be a great tragedy for the church, for us to become marginalized in that way.”
— Christian Hebrew scholar Bruce Waltke.
Several years ago, Cameron Buettel, a student at The Master’s Seminary, — a Fundamentalist institution established by John MacArthur — recently wrote an article on the Grace to You website about the importance of believing in a literal, six-day creation. Here’s what he had to say:
Most of us are familiar with politicians who obfuscate simple questions with complex political answers. Who can forget Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”? Unfortunately, obfuscation exists in the realm of theology as well. God may not be “a God of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), but there are scores of biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors who insert plenty of it into the first few chapters of Genesis.
Evangelicalism abounds with theologians who don’t know what the meaning of the word “day” is. The Hebrew word for day, yom, appears more than two thousand times in the Old Testament and would attract virtually no debate were it not for six specific appearances in Genesis 1. But those six days of creation are now at loggerheads with modern scientific dating methods. Rather than stand firm on the biblical account, church leaders acquiesce to unprovable theories and confuse the clear and consistent biblical teaching on origins…
Buettel is correct when he says the literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 is at odds with modern scientific dating methods. The gap between the two is so vast that there is no possible way to reconcile the two viewpoints. Both could be wrong, but both cannot be right. If you accept that universe is about 14 billion years old, then the idea that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days is false.
Later in the article, Buttel addresses the implications of the 6 days of creation being anything other than literal 24-hour days:
…There are only two ways to deny a six-day creation: ignore the text or reject the text. Scholars ignore the actual text by blinding themselves to the genre, grammar, and layout in order to insert their own. Skeptics simply reject the text as erroneous. Either way, the result is the same—a clear text becomes a confused text.
Some people like to dismiss this debate as a secondary issue, not directly related to the gospel. But it is clearly an issue that goes to the authority of Scripture. And furthermore, as MacArthur rightly points out, it has massive repercussions for the gospel:
“If Adam was not the literal ancestor of the entire human race, then the Bible’s explanation of how sin entered the world makes no sense. Moreover, if we didn’t fall in Adam, we cannot be redeemed in Christ, because Christ’s position as the Head of the redeemed race exactly parallels Adam’s position as the head of the fallen race: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18–19). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life–giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13–14; Jude 14).
So in an important sense, everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1–3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture.”
The opening chapters of Genesis are not up for debate, nor are they negotiable. The academic credibility of our faith is meaningless if we’re so quick to sacrifice the meaning of Scripture at the altar of public opinion. Better to be counted a fool for the sake of God’s Word than to be embraced for our willingness to compromise it.
Buettel and MacArthur are correct. There is no textual or theological warrant for making the six days of creation mean anything other than six literal, 24-hour days. The natural reading of the text demands that the word “day” = 24 hours. Revisionists, desperately trying to reconcile evolution with Genesis 1-3, need to stop with the intellectual and theological gymnastics. The text says what it says. There are no gaps, no alternative explanations.
The only question that remains is whether to accept or reject what Genesis 1-3 says. If a Christian goes with science and the universe being 14 billion years old, he must explain what he plans to do with Adam and Eve, their fall into sin, and how their non-existence affects the atonement of Jesus for humankind’s sin. Several years ago, biologist Jerry Coyne had this to say about Adam and Eve:
…The problem, as you’ll know if you’re a regular here, is that genetic data show clearly that the genes of modern humans do not descend from only two people (or eight, if you believe the Noah story) in the last few thousand years. Back-calculating from the genetic diversity seen in modern humans, and making conservative assumptions, evolutionary geneticists have shown that the human population could not have been smaller than about 12,250 individuals: 10,000 in Africa and 2,250 in the group of individuals that left Africa and whose descendants colonized the rest of the world. There was a population “bottleneck,” but it was nowhere near two or eight people.
This shows that Adam and Eve were not the historical ancestors of all humanity. And of course that gives theology a problem: if the Primal Couple didn’t give rise to everyone, then whence our affliction with Adam and Eve’s Original Sin? That sin, which the pair incurred by disobeying God, is supposed to have been passed on to the descendants of Adam and Eve, i.e., all of us. And it’s that sin that Jesus supposedly came to Earth to expiate. But if Original Sin didn’t exist, and Adam and Eve were simply fictional metaphors, then Jesus died for a metaphor. That’s not good!
That doesn’t sit well with theologians, of course, who, if they accept the science (and most of the smarter ones have), must then explain the significance of Adam and Eve, and whether they really existed. I discuss this in the Albatross as well; suffice it to say here that there are several interpretations of Adam and Eve as both historical and metaphorical, many of them funny and none of them coming close to solving the problem of Original Sin and the coming of Jesus…
It’s the proverbial slippery slope. Abandoning a literal six-day creation results in abandoning a literal Adam and Eve. No Adam and Eve? No original sin. No original sin? No need for Jesus to die on the cross.
Fundamentalists are right on this one. So what’s a Christian to do? Simple — use the brain you say God gave you. Based on the available scientific evidence, is the universe 6,000 years old or 14 billion years old? Does evolution best explain the biological world, or does a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 explain it? If you answer 14 billion years and evolution, then a greater intellectual task awaits you: reconciling what you believe about sin, Jesus, and redemption with what you know about the universe.
I don’t think it can be done, though I admire and appreciate those who try. I know many liberal/progressive Christians want to embrace what science says about the universe while, at the same time, hanging onto the Bible and what it says about sin, Jesus, and redemption. From my perspective, this is a match made in intellectual hell, one that requires a good bit of cognitive dissonance.
It’s not up to me to tell people what to believe about God, but I do think Christians should be honest about the dilemma science poses for them. How is it possible to reconcile a 14 billion-year-old universe and evolution with what the Christian church has historically taught about creation, Adam and Eve, original sin, Jesus, and redemption?
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
The premise of Boltz’ song is the same: it only takes one drop of blood to save us from our sin (and defeat Satan). Is this notion of human salvation only requiring one drop of blood theologically correct? Was all that was required of Jesus the equivalent of blood glucose level test finger stick? Why all the savagery and violence if all that was required was a boo-boo on Jesus’ leg?
Lurking behind the “one drop of blood” idea is the belief that Jesus’ blood was magical, unlike human blood. This idea was popularized years ago by Fundamentalist radio preacher M.R. DeHann in the book, The Chemistry of the Blood. DeHaan wrote:
It is not Eve’s blood which flows in the veins of mankind but ADAMS. That is why it is ADAM’s sin and not Eve’s which all men inherit. Sin is in the blood, and transmitted in the blood of man and in the flesh. Since the LIFE is in the blood according to the Scriptures, and the wages of sin was death, sin affected the blood of Adam and caused him to die. Because sin is a disease of the blood, it can be cured by the application of sinless blood, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. As the first Adam’s sin corrupted the blood of the entire human family, so the pure sinless blood of the last Adam makes atonement for the sin of the world. “For without shedding of blood is no remission . . .” “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” It was not Eve’s sin which affect us although Eve sinned before Adam did. It was the SIN of ADAM which brought death upon the whole race because it is ADAMS blood that transmits original sin and it is for this reason we are not called the SEED OF THE WOMAN but we are ADAM’S SEED. ONLY Jesus is called the Seed of the woman, because He was born of a woman without one drop of human blood in His veins, and thereby could avoid the sin of Adam which is only transmitted through the blood which the male contributes to his offspring. Jesus could have a human body, but one drop of Adam’s blood would have made Him a sinner just as you and I. There was then only one remedy for SIN and that was sinless blood and only one could supply this, even the sinless Son of God.
The blood of the Lord Jesus is sinless blood, and since it is sinless, it is incorruptible, for sin brought corruption, and where no sin is there is no corruption. In our next message, we shall point out how the blood which flowed in Jesus’ body was sinless and how He escaped having one single drop of Adam’s human blood within Him. Every drop of blood which flowed in Jesus’ body is still in existence just as fresh as it was when it flowed from His wounded brow and hands and feet and side. The blood that flowed from His unbroken skin in Gethsemane, the blood that was smeared about His back as the cruel, weighted thongs cut through His flesh as the flagellator scourged Him, the blood that oozed out under the thorny crown and flowed from His hands, His head, His feet was never destroyed for it was incorruptible blood.
Although the body of the Lord Jesus Christ lay in the tomb in death for three days and three nights, no corruption had set in for that body contained incorruptible blood. Lazarus being dead only one day more was said by his sister to be STINKING with corruption, but this one saw no corruption because the only cause of corruption, SINFUL BLOOD, was absent from His flesh. That blood, every drop of it, is still in existence.
After Christ had made the atonement, He arose from the tomb, and then as the eternal High Priest, ascended into heaven to present the blood in the Holy of Holies where God dwells, and that blood is there today pleading for us and prevailing for us. The priest in the Tabernacle never spoke a word. All he did was PRESENT THE blood, and that was enough. MAYBE there is a golden chalice in heaven where every drop of that precious blood is still in existence, just as pure, just as potent, just as fresh as two thousand years ago.
How wonderfully God prepared for the virgin birth of His Son. When He created woman He made her so that no blood would be able to pass from her to her offspring. That blood is the result of the male. Since Adam was the federal head of the race, it is HIS BLOOD which transmits Adam’s Sin. In order to produce a sinless man and yet be the son of Adam, God must provide a way whereby that man would have a human body derived from Adam but have not a drop of Adam’s sinful blood. Right here is the scientific biological reason for the sinlessness of the Man Christ Jesus. Some have tried to answer the question, “How could He be sinless and yet born of a woman?” by making Mary the “Immaculate Virgin.” That, however, does not answer the question of how JESUS was sinless since it is through the male that the bloodline runs.
Not only is this a scientific fact, but it is plainly taught in Scripture that Jesus partook of human flesh without Adam’s blood.
Conception by the Holy Ghost then was the only way the Virgin Birth could be accomplished. Mary contributed the body of Jesus and He became the “seed of David according to the flesh.” The Holy Spirit contributed the Blood of Jesus. It was sinless blood. It was Divine blood. It is Precious Blood for there has never been any other like it.
There is a Second and a more potent reason still. The blood was God’s only purchase price of redemption. When man sinned, something happened to his blood, for “the life . . . is in the blood.” Instead of incorruptible and, therefore, deathless blood, Adam’s blood corrupted through sin and became subject to death. To redeem this DEAD sinner, life must be again imparted. The only remedy for death is LIFE. This life is in the blood and so blood must be furnished which is sinless and incorruptible. Now none of Adam’s race could do this. For in “Adam all died.” “All have sinned and come short.” The angels could not furnish that blood for they are spirit beings and have neither flesh nor blood. There was only one, yes, ONLY ONE, who could furnish that blood, the virgin-born Son of God, with a human body, but sinless supernatural blood, inseminated by the Holy Ghost. In a previous message we showed scientifically that every drop of blood in an infant’s body is the contribution of the male parent, while the mother furnished all the flesh of that little body. Jesus’ body was of Mary; His blood was by the Holy Ghost. This sinless, supernatural blood was the only price of redemption God could accept, without violating the integrity of His holy nature. Death can only be banished by life. A blood transfusion must be performed and provided.
This is not one millionth as wonderful as what God did nineteen centuries ago. Then there was one Man who gave ALL His sinless blood on the Cross of Calvary. There a BLOOD BANK was opened and into that bank went the blood of the Lord Jesus. It suits every type, avails for everyone and is free to all who submit to its “transfusion” by the Holy Spirit. All you need to do is apply for it by FAITH. We must add chemicals to the blood in our blood banks to preserve it, and then it eventually deteriorates just the same, but no preservatives need be added to His Precious blood, for it is INCORRUPTIBLE and sinless. Not one drop of that blood was lost or wasted. It is INCORRUPTIBLE.
DeHaan, a medical doctor, founder of the Radio Bible Class, and co-editor of the monthly devotional guide Our Daily Bread, believed that the blood of Jesus was not human in nature, but some sort of supernatural blood given to Jesus through Eve by the power and agency of the Holy Spirit. Got all that? I suspect that it is this thinking that lies behind the idea that our salvation only requires one drop of Jesus’ blood.
In the 1980s, John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, got into a brawl with Bob Jones University and numerous Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (among others) preachers over his claim that it was Jesus’ death, and not his blood that was necessary for our redemption. Man, it was a wonderful time. I heard numerous sermons about MacArthur’s liberalism and apostasy — ironic since MacArthur remains a hardcore Fundamentalist to this day. MacArthur and his critics went back and forth for years on the matter, leading MacArthur loyalist Phil Johnson to write the following:
Does John MacArthur “deny the blood of Christ?”
No, it is not true, and it never has been. The allegations are ridiculous—perhaps originally based on a thoughtless misunderstanding, but now clearly fueled by a deceitful malevolence.
The controversy was originally ignited by a supposed “news” item written by Bob Jones, Jr. in the April 1986 issue of Faith For The Family (a Bob Jones University-sponsored magazine). Jones quoted some remarks MacArthur had originally made in a live Q&A session at Grace Community Church sometime in the early 1970s. MacArthur’s comments had been transcribed and published in the May 1976 issue of the Grace Church newsletter “Grace Today.” The Jones article cited the comments without any documentation, and without noting that they were from a ten-year-old source.
In the BJU article, Jones quoted MacArthur as saying, “It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.” Jones then cited Hebrews 9:22 (“without shedding of blood is no remission”) and intoned, “MacArthur’s position is heresy.”
On June 13, 1986, MacArthur wrote to Bob Jones III, complaining that the magazine had taken snippets of his remarks out of context and deliberately made them seem sinister. MacArthur assured the magazine’s editors that he absolutely affirms the necessity of the shed blood of Christ for atonement and explained that the point he was trying to make in the quoted excerpt was merely that the saving efficacy of Christ’s blood is not because of some property in the blood itself, but rather because Christ had poured it out in death as a substitute for sinners.
Plainly, MacArthur was not denying that Christ literally shed His blood. He was not denying that the literal shedding of blood was a necessary aspect of the atonement. His only point was that the efficacy of Christ’s blood lies not in some property of the blood itself, but rather in the fact that Christ shed it in death, and such a death was the price of atonement for our sin.
Moreover, if the blood of Christ is in any sense “eternally preserved” in heaven, it would be in the glorified body of the risen Lord, not in a bowl or a vial where it is perpetually offered or literally applied to sinners in some way.
After an exchange of correspondence in which MacArthur thoroughly and carefully explained his original remarks, Jones wrote on October 16, 1986, saying, “I believe the position [MacArthur] has taken in this matter is a heretical position, and all the correspondence in the world is not going to affect my convictions on that point.”
Nonetheless, BJU officials soon began trying to downplay the controversy. They were clearly embarrassed by some of the squalid half-truths that were beginning to circulate among fundamentalists. They also now had a file of correspondence from MacArthur clarifying his position, making it clear that he was orthodox. Even Jones, Jr. declined to give any rational or biblical reasons for continuing to regard MacArthur’s view as “heresy.” But he was obstinately committed to his original verdict, and by his own admission, “all the correspondence in the world [was] not going to affect” his thoughts or public statements on the matter. Instead, BJU as an institution attempted a quiet retreat from the fray.
Look again at the point MacArthur was attempting to make in the first place: When Scripture speaks of Christ’s “blood,” the expression is normally a reference to His sacrificial atoning death, not the actual red and white corpuscles. And the vivid language in our hymns about the cleansing ability and “wonder-working power” of the blood and “a fountain filled with blood” is not meant to be taken literally. There is no magical or mystical cleansing property in the red fluid, and there is no container of blood in heaven that is somehow literally applied to sinners. Such language is meant to speak of Christ’s sacrificial atonement—just as when Paul spoke of “the preaching of the cross” he had in mind the death of Christ, not the literal wooden instrument on which the Savior died. We’re not to think a piece of wood is the point of our preaching. What happened on that cross is what is efficacious for our salvation, not some magical power in the wood itself. Similarly with the blood of Christ: it is the violent pouring out of blood in Christ’s sacrificial death that saves us, not some supernatural property of the fluid itself—just what MacArthur said in the first place.
The obvious truth of all that has escaped a few militant fundamentalists who have no clear concept of the biblical notion of blood atonement, but who revel in labeling anyone who is not part of their group a heretic. They continue to insist that MacArthur is actually denying the efficacy of Christ’s blood.
My take, at the time as a young IFB preacher, was that MacArthur was right: that it was the death of Jesus and not his blood that provided salvation for sinners; that yes, Jesus shedding his blood was essential to salvation, but without his death — also known as three-day vacation — the shedding of his blood was in vain. Now, I didn’t utter out loud or preach about my agreement with MacArthur. Doing so would have been ecclesiastical and personal suicide. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend)
Clearly, though Christ shed His literal blood, many references to the blood are not intended to be taken in the literal sense. A strictly literal interpretation cannot, for example, explain such passages as John 6:53-54: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
It would be equally hard to explain how physical blood is meant in Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be on us, and on our children”); Acts 5:28 (“[You] intend to bring this man’s blood upon us”); 18:6 (“Your blood be upon your own heads”); 20:26 (“I am innocent of the blood of all men”); and 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The cup of blessing . . .is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?,” KJV).
Clearly the word blood is often used to mean more than the literal red fluid. Thus it is that when Scripture speaks of the blood of Christ, it usually means much more than just the red and white corpuscles—it encompasses His death, the sacrifice for our sins, and all that is involved in the atonement.
Trying to make literal every reference to Christ’s blood can lead to serious error. The Catholic doctrine known as transubstantiation, for example, teaches that communion wine is miraculously changed into the actual blood of Christ, and that those who partake of the elements in the mass literally fulfill the words of Jesus in John 6:54: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Those who have attacked me seem to be espousing the same kind of mystical view of the blood that led the Catholic Church to embrace transubstantiation. They claim that the blood of Christ was never truly human. They insist on literalizing every New Testament reference to Jesus’ blood. They teach that the physical blood of Christ was somehow preserved after the crucifixion and carried to heaven, where it is now literally applied to the soul of each Christian at salvation.
We are not saved by some mystical heavenly application of Jesus’ literal blood. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the literal blood of Christ is preserved in heaven and applied to individual believers. When Scripture says we’re redeemed by the blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), it is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven. It means we’re saved by Christ’s sacrificial death.
In the same way, when Paul said he gloried in the cross (Gal. 6:14), he did not mean the literal wooden beams; he was speaking of all the elements of redeeming truth. Just as the cross is an expression that includes all of Christ’s atoning work, so is the blood. It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out.
MacArthur believed that behind the venomous attacks from Fundamentalist preachers was DeHaan’s “miracle blood” teachings found in the book The Chemistry of the Blood. IFB preachers are noted for their rabid hatred of Roman Catholicism. MacArthur does a good job of connecting the “supernatural” blood belief of DeHaan with that of Catholics and their belief in transubstantiation — where communion wine and wafer actually become the literal blood and body of Jesus. That said, MacArthur and his followers have plenty of their own absurd beliefs in connection with the blood of Jesus. While MacArthur says that many of the Biblical mentions of Jesus’ blood are metaphorical in nature, it is, last I looked, through Christ’s bloody sacrifice, death, and subsequent resurrection from the dead, that the elect (MacArthur is a Calvinist) are washed from their sins. The whole notion of original sin and our need of salvation is absurd. The squabble between MacArthur and the “miraculous blood of Jesus” crowd is just Kabuki theater. The bigger issue is that Evangelicals of all stripes continue to debase their fellow humans, demanding they submit to the teachings of an ancient blood cult lest their vengeful God torture them in Hell for eternity.
I am left wondering what Christian Mark Trammel would say to Christian Ray Boltz about “one drop of blood” saving humans from their sins. I assume Trammel, an Evangelical, believes homosexuality is a sin. Boltz, an out-and-proud gay man, does not. (Please see Evangelicals and the Gay Closet: Is Ray Boltz Still a Christian?) I wonder, “which” drop of the blood of Jesus saved whom? Is it the same miraculous blood that saved Trammel that saved Boltz? Or does being gay disqualify someone from the application of Jesus’ blood? Must Botlz repent of his “sin” in order to have one drop of the blood of Jesus applied to his sin account? Or is Jesus cool and okay with LGBTQ people worshiping him? I guess we will never know since we all we are left with are the ancient contradictory writings of the Bible. When it comes to the blood of Jesus, YMMV (your mileage may vary).
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.
Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.
We’re speaking rational truth; we’re rejecting fantasy. Let me tell you something: fantasy doesn’t help your children, whether it’s Twilight or Harry Potter, it’s loaded, first of all, with homosexual innuendos. It’s packed full of the cult of death. Why, that’s so far different from our message of resurrection and life. Mystical movements, charismatic movements, relying on emotion, intuition, personal interpretations, feelings, experiences antithesis to the cultivation of the mind.