The most recent issue of Bibliotheca Sacra (Oct-Dec 1993), the journal of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), contains an essentially laudatory review of John MacArthur’s latest Lordship Salvation primer, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles.
The reviewer, Robert Pyne, boils MacArthur’s argument into two beliefs: (1) “that justification and sanctification are distinct yet inseparable” and (2) “that repentance consists of a wholehearted commitment to the Lordship of Christ at the moment of conversion” (p. 498). Pyne indicates that he agrees with both of these views (although he seems to have some reservations concerning “the absolute language [MacArthur] employed in his discussions of repentance”)! In regards to the first point Pyne says, “This concept . . . seems readily defensible both biblically and historically.” Regarding the second point he states that he feels that MacArthur “capably answers some opponents by distinguishing between this concept and salvation by works while also defending the idea that repentance involves a change of heart with regard to sin.”
Pyne goes on to note that, according to MacArthur, assurance of salvation requires two types of verification: objective (i.e., the promises of Scripture) and subjective (i.e., the presence of spiritual fruit). Pyne says that “MacArthur seems correct in arguing that assurance is not really complete without both elements” (p. 499). This is an amazing statement coming from a DTS faculty member since that is a direct contradiction of the DTS doctrinal statement!
Article 11 of the DTS doctrinal statement indicates that assurance can be had at the moment of conversion and that it does not await the production or discovery of any works: “We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all who are born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, to be assured of their salvation from the very day they take Him to be their Savior and that this assurance is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness or fitness, but wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word, exciting within His children filial love, gratitude, and obedience” (italics added).
Interestingly, Bibliotheca Sacra (Jan-Mar 1989, pp. 21-40) also favorably reviewed MacArthur’s earlier book on Lordship Salvation, The Gospel According to Jesus.
I am very saddened to see the seminary from which I graduated printing favorable reviews of books which present the Lordship Salvation position.