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Prominent Woke Ex-Southern Baptist Pastor and TGC Contributor Rebukes John MacArthur for MLK Comments

by | Mar 22, 2024 | Apostasy, heresy, News, Politics, Racialism, Religion, Social Justice, Social-Issues, The Church, Theology, US, Video

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You may remember the scuffle in February regarding John MacArthur’s comments on Martin Luther King, saying that King was “not a Christian at all.” Following his remarks about honoring Dr. R.C. Sproul who had passed away recently and was honored at the T4G Conference, MacArthur stated:

“And the strange irony was a year later, they did the same thing for Martin Luther King, who was not a Christian at all, whose life was immoral.”

“I’m not saying [King] didn’t do some social good, and I’ve always been glad he was a pacifist or he could have started a real revolution,” MacArthur went on to say. “But you don’t honor a non-believer who misrepresented Christ and everything about the gospel in an organization alongside honoring someone like R.C. Sproul.”

Here’s the clip:

MacArthur’s comments calling King’s “Christianity” into question is certainly not without warrant—in fact, it is absolutely warranted. As we’ve written before, King’s Christological views are subpar and place him outside of the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy.

On March 29, 1959, Easter Sunday, King preached a sermon titled A Walk Through the Holy Land. This sermon calls into question King’s biblical fidelity and his commitment to essential Christian doctrines. In this sermon, King denied the importance of believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus stating that it doesn’t matter if one believes in the physical resurrection or a spiritual resurrection.

Whatever you believe about the resurrection this morning isn’t important. The form that you believe in, that isn’t the important thing. The fact that the revelation, resurrection is something that nobody can refute, that is the important thing. Some people felt, the disciples felt, that it was a physical resurrection, that the physical body got up. The paul came on the scene, who had been trained in greek philosophy, who knew a little about greek philosophy and had read a little, probably, of plato and others who believed in the immortality of the soul, and he tried to synthesize the greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul with the jewish hebrew doctrine of resurrection. And he talked, as you remember nad you read it, about a spiritual body. Whatever form, that isn’t important right now. The important thing is that that resurrection did occur. Important thing is that that grave was empty.

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Attempting to pit the Apostle Paul against the Hebrew writers of the Old Testament, King asserts that Paul tried to “synthesize” Greek philosophy with the “Hebrew doctrine” of the physical resurrection. King’s heresy, however, is the exact Gnostic heresy that Paul is refuting in 1 Corinthians 15 calling it of “first importance.”

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. —1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Notice that Paul doesn’t say that it “isn’t important,” instead, Paul says it is of “first importance”—that it is an essential doctrine. King denied that this was an essential doctrine placing him into the realm of heresy. But that isn’t King’s only heresy—he also denied the orthodox view of the Divinity of Jesus. In a paper he writes in November 1929 titled The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus, he writes,

The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadequate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: “oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possibly have.” in other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied.

As you can see, MacArthur’s criticism of King was God-honoring, truthful, and biblical, and should serve as a strong warning for those who deny Christ and His sacrificial work on the cross as revealed in His word. But that didn’t stop the woke, race-baiting Social Gospel Club of America from coming after him. Well-known woke Chicago pastor, Charlie Dates, published an open letter rebuking MacArthur for his comments and called him…wait for it…racist!

In his “Open Letter to John MacArthur,” Dates writes:

Your words reek with the stench of superiority and partiality. They reverberate like a hymn of George Wallace in the tone of J. Edgar Hoover.

You are them in postmodern dress. You are of the ilk of those who, in their theological lineage, won’t raise a finger to help Black and Brown people secure and maintain the right to vote thereby ensuring a better life on earth, but will lecture us on the way to heaven.

You strain at an obscure point of orthodoxy while ignoring the weightier matters of the law like justice and compassion.

How ironic it is that You proclaim God’s grace under a ministry titled, “Grace to You” and yet you deny that same grace to people who believe in that same Jesus as Lord, but resist the evil of racism and unrighteousness.

How strange it is that You tell a world about our Heavenly Father and yet won’t tell the same to a government that denies the very courtesy of equality to Black and Brown people made in His image.

It is ironic that a man whose ministry is based upon grace can be so graceless. It is also ironic that a man whose entire ministry is founded upon salvation by Grace through faith in Christ alone can condemn and provide definitive judgement upon a Black man—not by his profession of faith—but by what the FBI said about him. Last time we checked, sin was taken care of at the cross. 

It is more than ironic. It is tragic and irresponsible. We are sorry to say that your argument against Dr. King is theologically inconsistent and Biblically errant. Theologically, you fail to measure the fruit borne of King’s ministry against the vitriol borne from your own. Biblically, you have swallowed whole camels with beams in your own eyes. 

We have wondered, what is your real problem with The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? I remember hearing you tell the story of your visit to Memphis with Dr. John Perkins the night after Rev. Dr. Martin King’s assassination. I remember how you recounted that narrative in front of the nation’s largest conference of Black Pastors committed to Biblical exposition. You flashed your street credibility in front of us that night, and now you blaze your actual and original convictions about us and the progress the Gospel has brought to our communities. 

Honestly, just give it up already Charlie. Your idolatry of melanin is what reeks of partialism. You make your heroes merely people whose skin color is the same shade as yours. And you judge people based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character—ironically, you do exactly what Dr. King urged you not to do.

So who is Charlie Dates, anyways? Charlie Dates is promoted by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to “equip” future Southern Baptist pastors, as seen in the featured image of this article. In 2018, Charlie Dates, a prominent and well-known uber-woke pro-socialist Southern Baptist pastor partook in the MLK50 Conference that was jointly hosted by The Gospel Coalition and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

At that conference, Southern Baptists and Evangelicals gathered around to venerate their icon, Martin Luther King Jr., and praise him as one of Christianity’s greatest heroes of all time. This conference included such well-known names as Russell Moore, John Piper, and plenty of other Southern Baptist and Evangelical leaders. To this day, Charlie Dates is still listed as a major contributor to The Gospel Coalition.

Dates, however, eventually had a temper tantrum and left the Southern Baptist Convention because, believe it or not, it wasn’t progressive enough for him. Dates, who pastored a Southern Baptist church that was actually called Progressive Baptist Church, complained “Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, said the only politically moral option for Christians was the Republican Party.”

“As for me and the Progressive Baptist Church,” Dates wrote, “I keep hearing the words of Harriet Tubman: We out.”

Dates eventually replaced retiring pastor James Meeks to become the lead pastor at Salem Baptist Church, a megachurch in Chicago where Dates says he grew up and attended school. Comparing his relationship with the former pastor of Salem to that of Paul and Timothy, Dates told Christianity Today “This isn’t something that I read or something that I watched; this is a ministry that I participated in and had a front row seat to as a kid.”

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