John MacArthur Rebukes Alistair Begg in New Q&A +’We’ve Been Friends for 45 Years…And Now He’s Going to be Defined By That’

Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur has weighed in after longtime friend and prominent pastor Alistair Begg was dropped from his Shepherds Conference, after Begg famously urged a woman to attend an LGBTQ wedding, and then doubled and tripled down with some bible twisting so bad it made children cry and crows scatter.

Begg has been a frequent speaker at Grace Community Church events, including speaking at the Shepherds Conference in 2015 and 2023, and a regular guest lecturer for the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary.

Speaking to his church this past Sunday, MacArthur shared why Begg was so “epically” wrong.

John, I have a question that’s been heavy on my heart about one of our Scottish brothers? Will you comment and guide us as to why Alister Begg is mistaken in advising a member of his flock to attend and solemnize a marriage of her granddaughter to a transgender partner? Can you guide us as to why we should not bend to do this?

Yeah, that question came up and has gotten all over the internet. Let me say first of all, Alastair and I have been friends for well, 45 years. When I was in Scotland 45 years ago, I was pushing his 45 year old son in a pram… So we’ve had a lot of history together, and I have a great affection for him.

I also want to say that you shouldn’t judge a man by his weakest moment. All of us will have a moment of weakness. Having said that, I have to disagree with the answer that he gave to the question.

A believer should not go to a homosexual or transgender wedding, for a lot of reasons. But he was making the argument that you go out of compassion, rather than condemnation, you go to show love to them, as a means to reach them.

My response to that is the most loving thing you could possibly do, would be not to go, and to condemn the relationship. That is loving.

It’s not loving to help somebody celebrate stepping into the fury of God’s judgment. No transgender person, effeminate, homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven. This is not a time for you to celebrate. Thinking that your affection for somebody is the means of their salvation, that they will come to salvation when the Lord exposes their sin. That’s why the Holy Spirit, John 16 convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment.

And what should be said to somebody is “this is wrong. This is against God’s order. This is not marriage.” It is not a marriage, because you can’t have a marriage between two people of the same sex. It’s not a marriage at all. It is defying God who ordained marriage, ordained male and female and designed procreation. It is a blasphemy against God, as is transgender life and homosexuality as well.

That is the message to give in love. Beyond the theological reasons and the biblical reasons, I couldn’t affirm that. If I went, I would affirm that.

Not only could I not affirm it, I don’t think I could tolerate it. I don’t think I could survive sitting in something like that, and feeling like I was supportive of it. And then to give them a gift. That is to aid and abet the celebration of something that is defying God’s design and the very, very, I would say point of the spear currently of the corruption of this entire culture. So you can’t be a part of that.

He continues:

I don’t understand why you would answer the question that way. I thought if somebody was in that situation and had that view, and you’re on the radio and… you’re recording this, right? So whoever the host is, is going to ask you a question. And the host says “What would you tell this grandma about going to a transgender wedding?”

I would immediately say, “ask me another question,”particularly if I was at all prone to suggest that that might be okay. I would never say that. Because you’d have to calculate the cost of that. And how do you calculate that? I mean the price for that is, is really epic. It’s really epic.

And there’s so much more about him that is wonderful and faithful and his ministry just past 40 years of pastoral ministry in that church, and it was a great celebration. And now he’s going to be defined by that.

I don’t know how you calculate doing that, for that reason, unless there is some very personal relationship with someone you’re trying to win over or protect. But that’s really speculation on my mind.

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10 thoughts on “John MacArthur Rebukes Alistair Begg in New Q&A +’We’ve Been Friends for 45 Years…And Now He’s Going to be Defined By That’

  1. I have to wonder if Alistair’s stance on this particular issue hits him closer to home than the general public realizes. It’s one thing to have convictions, and it’s another thing to have convictions that put you at odds with people you love. There is a reason why Jesus used such strong language in Luke 14:26, and that should not be downplayed because of some kind of feigned nobility or graciousness.

    Our own Lord said of His cousin, “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” who was executed specifically because he said “It is not lawful for you to have her” which was calling out the sexual sin and the illegitimate marriage between Herod the tetrarch and his brother’s wife Herodias.

    The two things that I would like to know are:

    1. Are there *really* exceptions to Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9-10? Although I think John Piper is far from perfect, in the area of the seriousness and permanence of marriage, he seems to be a lone (or at least very rare) voice of true Biblical teaching.

    2. Has John MacArthur ever clarified his stance on producing a cake for a gay “wedding”? I get the feeling that if he was to be asked that question in 2024 his answer would be “don’t do it” but 10 years ago, he was on record as saying it would be OK. It seems like “conservative Christianity” has one standard for John MacArthur and another standard for Alistair Begg. Obviously, Alistair has gone way beyond John MacArthur in doubling down on bad advice, but John MacArthur was never even questioned about his advice to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding” which he gave on (at least) two separate occasions.

    John and Alistair obviously have some kind of close relationship. Maybe what it will take for Alistair to repent from his bad advice is to see the example of his elder brother John repent (or at least clarify) his bad advice.

  2. A commercial transaction in the secular field is a far cry from affirming a union in violation of God’s dictates.

    This a a difference in categories, not a difference in standards. MacArthur’s guidance is not ungodly, unlike Begg’s

  3. This is exactly what I am talking about with the double standard. Apparently John MacArthur can do no wrong because you and people like you (I know some John MacArthur fanboys/girls personally) are doing mental gymnastics to avoid the reality of what he plainly said.

    In the 2014 Shepherds conference and the Ligonier 2017 regional conference the question was very clearly about the “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission” lawsuit.

    Of course, now that the dust has settled and the supreme court has ruled in favor of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, people like John MacArthur feel like they have permission to take Biblical positions but before the SCOTUS ruling in 2018, MacArthur’s position was weak. I have no doubt that today, if he was asked if baking a cake for a gay “wedding” he would say “no” but before the legal case was decided, he was flat out wrong.

    1. MacArthur has faithfully preached for over 50 years and is not immune to making bad decisions. His molehill from years ago is not equivalent to this clear mountain immediately before us. And somehow I doubt he is checking SCOTUS rulings before offering his take on a controversial position. But continue to strain at gnats if you must …

      And I disagree with Johnny Max on numerous issues. I’m no fanboy. And continue to generalize since nuance is not in your skill set

      1. You are right in saying JohnnyMac, as well as all of us, are not immune to bad decisions.

        The difference is, will he repent of those decisions?

    2. The problem is abominations and false doctrines and despicable behavior go hand and hand. At the point you are teaching false gospels and doctrines, or saying if you receive the mark of the beast don’t worry you can still be saved, is the point you shouldn’t care what the man thinks. It’s lack of love for the Lord to continue to follow such men instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      The story is being lukewarm, and strikes me as being very similar to the unwillingness to say followers of 666 really can still be saved. People that do things like this will also attack young followers in Christ secretly. It’s what false doctrine is. Then they will attack those for saying the truth about it. (Then they will attack them explicitly with occult nonsense in church – I gave some examples below) and it will be the same men.

      1. Revelation 14
        9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

        12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

  4. John MacArthur has been unfaithfully preaching for 50? years (in ref to other comment), but that is ok – he’s flock is dead too – where-ever a dead body is, there the vultures will gather. And I will show my proof, and on this article too.

    First,this article. I am well aware of how MacArthur and men like him throughout the country who upsurb the place of the Holy Spirit and God leading his followers, will attack and waylay anyone that objects to his novel doctrines. And they will not be Christians but sneaks about it. That is ok, the Bible says it will be this way – but do you really think MacArthur is going to be this mild about someone who objects to MacArthur’s false doctrines and position / family favoritism, etc? But supporting sodomy from the pulpit is completely an abomination, and he calls him brother and you “you shouldn’t judge a man by his weakest moment”. This isn’t biblical, you ought to separate and have nothing to do with him. The biblical position is to forgive him when he repents, not to call him a brother when he isn’t. There is something very position serving when you accept an abomination from a pastor one way, and you attack a simple man of God telling you the simple truth another way. MacArthur has propagated and seems to be the source of at least two doctrines attacking the truth of the Bible, and I and others my age have been afflicted with them all our lives – isn’t the source of false gospels of any interest to those who saw their effects all their lives.

    Lordship salvation. There is nothing you can do to aid in the salvation of God by and through Jesus Christ. You are dead, incapable of knowing it, and frankly aren’t that sensitive to what all sins there are. MacArthur’s inspired doctrine is not even in the right sense of Lord. Lord as in the sense of completely capable of and master, not in the sense of how good a servant of. You can be a very bad servant, and yet someone is your lord. A poor sinner with nothing to offer saved by grace. Others may doubt you are really a Christian, or acting like a Christian, if you do not do what Jesus says, but it is not how you are saved. It comes after you are saved, because God really saved you. 1/2 cont

    1. Cessation. MacArthur seems to be at the center of this one too. I am against all tongues (so called falsely) that is gobbledygook. The problem is not that tongues has ceased to exist, the problem is gobbledygook has never been tongues, not that it ceased.

      And the like with all of it. I do mean someone has the gift of healing and supernatural power flows through his hands at his will, whether God wants it or not. I mean someone was healed because he was prayed for. And it means praying when it says with hands. The problem is not supernatural healing with fire coming from your hands and at the will of the caster not God’s will and you asking him, has ceased to exist, the problem is it never existed because the definition of the words have been changed.

      Saying something that is suppose to be opposed to false doctrine, that is equally false, doesn’t make it true. It makes it a false dichotomy. And I do not think MacArthur or his followers have the understanding or spiritual life needed to explain why these things *never* were instead of ceasing to be, so we are stuck with simple and untrue explanations of people not skilled with the bible (but who charge a lot for it). But It’s pretty obvious to anyone looking at the claims of various charismatic, Pentecostal or later day rain etc churches that these things they are claiming aren’t from God, and never have been. Not that they “ceased.”

      MacArthur has been teaching other things that are off. His ideas on 666 – that you can still repent of it and be saved. This is not what the Bible says, and it’s actually the same idea as in this news story – the unwillingness to call a spade a spade and separate yourself. To just believe what the Bible says.

      And then there is the paganism that seems to crop up around people following Lordship salvation – I saw a solstice / stonehenge thing beginning to be celebrated at one by a pastor who thought he was of Scottish heritage too, and following some type of lordship / works gospel, and MacArthur seems to be doing the same thing at some of his summer camps from other articles online.

      MacArthur is no more scottish then I am. And fyi, I did not attend that stonehenge or whatever event. I found at about it at the same time I was getting kicked out of that church for running a campus wide bible study truly . I came seeking help about what to do with students living with a wiccan, boasting about being really good liars, disrupting things, promoting Pentecostal ideas on spiritual warfare (which ends up getting occultic – it’s a mask for it), with the advisor of it coming to me confessing she had a secret handbook telling her how to infiltrate the organization, and she was suppose to do x, y, z to me – she was feeling guilty. I didn’t ask her, or really thought it before. Feeling guilty isn’t really repenting though – she end up going right back to doing it.

      So I approached that church trying to ask for some help as in advice. And found they were doing the same abominations themselves. Not unlike the baptist church, when I asked why they had a car with a bunch of wiccan goddess worship stuff on it in their staff parking lot, the pastor checks it out and says that one of our deacons, then throws me out of the church for telling him that – presumable so I couldn’t tell anyone else.

      False doctrine is always going to be the sign some other vile sins are there whether you see them yet or not. Men like these pastors (including MacArthur), who are displaying positional and money lusts that aren’t Christian to begin with, kick out and remove people who tell the truth because they are covering up themselves.

  5. Personally, I’m pretty saddened by all of you. I’ve heard both bad and good things about these men, and yet rather than confess or remove the log from “their” eyes, they permit their tech departments to load numerous YouTube podcasts parading their “I’m not as sinful as the other guy” spots for all to take sides on.
    For the record, Macarthur has been slammed repeatedly over issues of how women were being treated in his church, and the steps he took to correct it, usually steps that led the people (men and women) to leave the church, while others who were clearly at fault, remained and in some cases, promoted. This is not a new story, but one that has been going for decades.
    Then, you have the one-time “Sproul,” and now Macarthur roadies (Lawson, for one) who were also jumping on that bandwagon to attack one and yet, was suspiciously quiet when all the news about Macarthur to the surface.
    Where were they then? All the silent majority got really loud, and I submit that outside of Macarthur himself, the others were licking their spiritual chops, in hopes of finding a piece of the platform – or in this case, Begg’s body – to build their weak and their Macarthur’s “butt-kissing” ministries.
    So here’s the bottom line as I see it. Begg’s advice may be wrong, but I believe he’ll find more grace at the throne for his actions, simply because his belief, his actions, were based on doing what Christ called all of us to do – reach out those in need of the gospel. I’ll stand by Begg’s for that alone, and his convictions that allowed him to stand against the hypocrisy that so many of you seemed to overlook.
    Everything happening as a result of this moment, is so very similar to the Old and New Testament, where the “holier than thou” pointed fingers at those who saved sheep on the Sabbath, ate the bread at the alter, and even allowed the prostitute to enter in and find someone who actually saw past her sin, and yet, even after Jesus pointed out ‘their’ sins, they insisted Jesus was a liar, and kept pointing at those they were accustomed to ostracizing.
    I don’t really need to read the responses to this post, because there’s nothing new about what’s happening here. I’ll just wait and see how long it takes before people stop making vile statements and claiming it’s “God’s Will.”

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