John MacArthur's Position on the Eternal Sonship of Christ

MacArthur's Original Denial of Eternal Sonship in Conflict with the IFCA Doctrinal Statement


Note:  The reader should keep in mind that these things were written in light of John MacArthur's original position on Christ's Sonship.  His revised position is the subject of the next chapter.

The IFCA doctrinal statement (which Dr. MacArthur signed) clearly affirms the ETERNAL SONSHIP OF CHRIST: "We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three Persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Section 1, Article 2)  Dr. MacArthur's published statements and public tapes are in clear contradiction to the IFCA statement of faith. The IFCA is a fellowship of churches which clearly affirms the doctrine or Eternal Sonship and this is a vital part of our doctrinal statement. This is our position. The IFCA doctrinal statement is not "vague enough" and "broad enough" and "inclusive enough" to allow for John MacArthur's "incarnational Sonship" view.

The IFCA statement:

John MacArthur's position:

Documentation showing that this was MacArthur's position:

"He was always God, but He became Son...Eternally He is God, but only from the incarnation has He been Son...Christ was not Son until His incarnation! Before that He was eternal God...His Sonship began in a point of time, not in eternity" (HEBREWS, pp. 22-23, 1983).

"Christ is and always has been the second member of the Trinity but only became a Son in His incarnation...Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus has eternally been the Son" (Acting on the Good News, p. 35, 1987).

"Nothing in the Bible speaks of the eternal Sonship of Christ....He was always God, but He became the Son....Don't let anyone tell you that Christ is the ETERNAL SON...Christ's Sonship began in a point of time, not in eternity....Christ was not a Son until He was born into this world through the virgin birth" (The Superiority of Christ--Hebrews 1-2, Word of Grace Communications, pp. 52-54, 1986).

If He became the Son at a point in time, that is, at the incarnation, then this means that He was not eternally the Son. But the IFCA statement says that He is the eternal Son of God. The IFCA statement affirms that THE ETERNAL SON BECAME MAN at the incarnation. MacArthur teaches that THE ETERNAL GOD BECAME SON at the incarnation. According to IFCA doctrine the incarnation involves THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD BECOMING A MAN. According to John MacArthur's doctrine, the incarnation involves THE ETERNAL GOD BECOMING SON, something that was not true of Him prior to the incarnation.

In light of this a fair question would be this: How could John MacArthur sign the IFCA doctrinal statement and be in hearty agreement with it when it clearly states that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God? Such an affirmation is in clear conflict with MacArthur's published statements found in five of his commentaries (not to mention his public tapes, official position papers, etc.).

CONCLUSION: Dr. MacArthur clearly denies the ETERNAL SONSHIP OF CHRIST, teaching rather that He became the Son of God at the time of the incarnation. He does not believe that He ever and always existed as the Son in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18, see the Greek construction). He does not believe that He is the eternal Son of God but that He became the Son at the time of His virgin birth. This is in direct contradiction of the Doctrinal Statement of the IFCA (which MacArthur has signed) which says, "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became Man" (3a).

For further study see The Eternal Sonship of Christ by George Zeller and Dr. Renald Showers.  For information about this book click here.   Other recommended books: The Son of His Love, by W.J.Hocking; The Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ by J.C.Philpot [recently reprinted by Old Paths Gospel Press]; and The Divine Sonship of Christ by W.E.Vine.

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