The President of the Master’s University and Seminary Speaks About His Poor Accreditation Report

Master's

Earlier today I called your attention to a Chronicle of Higher Education piece on the WASC Senior College and University Commission accreditation report on The Master’s College and Seminary, an evangelical institution run by megachurch pastor John MacArthur.  Read it here.

After a three-day study of MacArthur’s school, the reviewers hired by the accrediting agency concluded that Master’s has “a pervasive climate of fear, intimidation, bullying and uncertainty.”  Their report noted that “reports of lack of leadership ethics and accountability” were “unmatched for members of this review team.”

MacArthur responded to this negative report in an August 2018 speech to the students enrolled in the Master’s Seminary.  The Chronicle of Higher Education obtained a copy of the speech. (It is currently behind the paywall).  Here are some of themes:

  • He tells first-year students that they have arrived at The Master’s Seminary at the “best time ever.”
  • MacArthur calls this an “apostolic moment” for him and compares himself to the Apostle Paul.  He tells the student body that the attacks on him and his ministry (and by implication his university and seminary) are similar to the kind of attacks that these future ministers will face in their churches and ministries one day.
  • He takes a shot at Fuller Theological Seminary for not upholding a belief in the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  (Read about this history here).  I am not sure why this is important in this context, but he takes the shot nonetheless.
  • MacArthur says that the chair of the accreditation review committee told him a week before the team’s visit that he expected everything would go well.
  • After the visit, the chair of the committee came into MacArthur’s office and told him, “you are under attack.”
  • When the report said that Master’s had a climate of bullying, intimidation, and fear, MacArthur said he was “puzzled” by this.
  • The attacks, MacArthur claimed, were “on me personally, not the seminary.”
  • MacArthur claims that the attacks came from people “outside the university and seminary” who the committee spoke with during their study of the campus.
  • MacArthur implies that some of the people from outside the university and seminary who spoke negatively about him to the accreditation committee were former disgruntled employees.  (He also seems to say that there are disgruntled current employees as well, but I can’t make out that part of the recording).
  • There was much in the accreditation report that was untruthful and “completely unrelated to reality.”
  • MacArthur said the Master’s University and Seminary has responded to the negative assessment with a “full report.”  The accrediting agency eventually “praised” this report.  MacArthur is confident that Master’s will not lose their accreditation.
  • He compares disgruntled employees at Master’s to NFL players kneeling before the National Anthem.  Both, he says, are disrespecting their employers.
  • MacArthur says that the college needs to do more “spiritual shepherding” to get disgruntled employees in line.
  • MacArthur alludes to the possibility of a “coup” going on at Master’s.  It is led by people “with ambition.”
  • MacArthur then moves into his ongoing critique of “social justice.”
  • MacArthur does not believe that WASC is “adversarial” to Master’s.  The review committee just responded to the things they were told during their visit to campus.  MacArthur believes these things were untrue.

11 thoughts on “The President of the Master’s University and Seminary Speaks About His Poor Accreditation Report

  1. John,
    I will take an educated guess at why John MacArthur mentioned Fuller in his defense of the Master’s Seminary. With the caveat that I am no MacArthur expert, my guess is that he was implicitly defending his authoritarian leadership by saying that he was not going to let the Master’s become another Fuller doctrinally.

    Most observers are aware that Fuller abandoned evangelical orthodoxy in the span of a generation. MacArthur was simply saying that he was cognizant what happens if a school is allowed to slide even slightly. At least, that’s my guess.

    Doctrinal erosion sadly occurs across denominational lines. Orthodox Roman Catholics have established The Cardinal Newman Society to safeguard the handful of R.C. colleges and universities which have maintained historic theological standards.
    James

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    • James: Interesting observation. I don’t see Fuller abandoning “evangelical Orthodoxy” (whatever that is). I just see them abandoning the rigid doctrine of biblical inerrancy. I encourage you to read George Marsden’s *Reforming Fundamentalism*. Also, I would hardly call Richard Mouw (previous president) or Mark Labberton (current president) heretics or deviants from “evangelical Orthodoxy.” Look them up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John,
        I appreciate the recommendation on Marsden’s book. Had not heard about it until you referenced it. It looks like a worthwhile book.
        As far as the abandonment of orthodoxy, you are correct that the descriptor requires definition. Evangelical orthodoxy has historically required a certain belief in inerrancy whereas other Christian bodies would stand on other foundations. I have a begrudging admiration for traditionalist Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox who firmly hold to historic credal orthodoxy while having a more relaxed view on scripture. I think it’s because they have a final authority which operates independently of the Bible. Evangelicals are not blessed with that.

        I got a chuckle from Julie Ann’s brief posting about the devil possibly having a part in the attack on MacArthur’s school. Of course, we know from scripture that we have to fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil, so it could have been one of the other foes or perhaps a combination of all three which got a hard punch against The Master’s Seminary. Ha ha.

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        • Uh, evangelical orthodoxy (whatever that means) has not historically required a belief in “inerrancy,” because inerrency (whatever that means) is a relatively modern concept. You should read Messiah grad and theologian Pete Enns on that.

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          • Good Morning, Paul:
            I have two of Dr. Enns’ books on other subjects. While they have value as commentaries, I would not place them firmly within the “orthodox” evangelical world. Which essay or book has he written which defines his view of orthodox evangelicalism?
            Most traditional evangelicals I know would not include Peter Enns in their number. I don’t say this to slight him personally. I am sure he would part company with the historical evangelism which developed after the Second World War.
            James

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            • Which of the 10,000 Christian denominations is “orthodox?”
              Who is the arbiter of “traditional?”
              Your point about history is just wrong, inerrancy is a modern concept.
              If you exclude Pete from your version of Christianity, well then the word means nothing.
              Every generation remakes Christianity in its own image, what you call Christianity is almost completely cultural prejudice.

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              • Hello again,Paul:

                Thanks for responding.

                I don’t think I said that inerrancy was a concept going back to 100 A.D. instead I said it was a component of contemporary evangelicalism. After all,papal infallibility came relatively late into the official stable of Rome’s beliefs. Simply because a belief is not defined early does not render it invalid.

                As far as evangelicalism, you are correct in suggesting that evangelicals have no magesterial authority. Yet there is still a consensus or a core set of beliefs. Admittedly, this is defined more rigidly by some than others, but I can tell you that a teacher who does not adhere to a belief in inerrancy would not be welcome in thousands of evangelical pulpits in America.

                Again, can you please steer me to the essay or book in which Dr. Enns develops his concept of scriptural authority? He is, I am sure, good man and a serious scholar, but these factors do not necessarily place him within mainstream evangelicalism. While I am on the subject, it is questionable that Eastern would fit either.
                James

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          • Paul,
            Can you point me to his essay or book which discusses this subject?
            I agree with you that evangelical orthodoxy is open to differences of opinion, but I would not consider Dr. Enns to be within the mainstream of evangelicalism.
            James

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  2. MacArthur has always made me feel a little uncomfortable. Even though I lean in the Reformed direction theologically, he’s always struck me as too hard-line. And his recent attacks against “social justice” are simply wrong headed and perhaps unbiblical.

    But this situation is just nuts. It’s clear from the report that he’s building not an institution of higher education, but an institution to flater his own ego. One of the issues with us more Reformed folks is in trying to preserve the authority of God we can tend toward the Authoritarian. It seems to me MacArthur has throughly jumped off that cliff and is in free fall, at least as an outside observer.

    Also, I’m not sure why a Christian is so set on making sure that someone kneels and burns incense to Caesar, I mean stands during the anthem….

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