Lordship Salvation Theology Newly Packaged!
The back paper jacket to the book caught my attention: "A COVER-UP OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Centuries ago, English translators perpetrated a fraud in the New Testament, and it's been purposely hidden and covered up ever since. Your own Bible is probably included in the cover-up!"
WHAT? Are we to understand that Bible translators for centuries, hundreds if not thousands of highly-trained knowledgeable men of God, have kept a well-guarded secret about the true meaning of the Bible that only NOW Dr. MacArthur will be the one scholar who will bring us the real scoop?
Yes, this is exactly what the book would have us to believe, that the common Greek term "doulos" has been mistranslated in every major version of the Bible since the earliest of printed Bible translations. According to MacArthur, "doulos" should be translated primarily if not exclusively as "slave." Most modern translators (NASB, NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV)as well as common Greek-English lexicons interpret the term in a variety of ways as, "servant," "slave," "bond servant," "bondman," or "attendant." MacArthur also states on pp. 29-30 that the proper meaning of the Old Testament's nearest equivalent term, "'ebed" has also been hidden by modern translators: "The King James Version, for example, never translates 'ebed as 'slave'---opting for 'servant' or 'manservant' the vast majority of the time. But contrast that with the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament from before the time of Christ. It translates 'ebed with forms of 'doulos,' or 'slave' more than 400 times!" WHAT?? The LXX translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, NOT to English! So MacArthur is leaping to an inappropriate conclusion about the meaning of the Hebrew in this case.
In fairness to MacArthur, whom I consider to be a scholar, I did appreciate his copious use of footnotes which were easy to find at the bottom of each page (although he quoted one source heavily---Murray J. Harris, "Slave of Christ"---23 times). And I thought that his historical look at ancient Near-Eastern slavery was interesting and informative.
My greatest problem with the book was that the author, MacArthur, took the ancient images of slavery and superimposed them onto modern Christianity with the intent to create the notion that our normative relationship with God and our service to God should be that of a slave to a master, instead of that of a child of God responding out of love and gratitude to an omnibenevolent (all loving) Father God. With this slave to master representation set into place, the author proceeded to promote his standard lordship salvation doctrine dressed in new clothes, slave garb. He even used much of the same argumentation as he used in "The Gospel According to Jesus." And, once again, he freely denigrated and caricaturized Free Grace theology, especially in chapter five.
For a further look at how lordship faith advocates often mischaracterize free grace theology, see the article "Grace Baiting" on the Free Grace Alliance web site.