Did you know that the Bible you own is more than likely involved in a cover-up of biblical proportions? According to John MacArthur “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 is that cover up? The use of the word servant instead of slave. The slave/master relationship is the key to understanding a right relationship with God. In fact, MacArthur believes that if this is understood many of his earlier works would have been moot (2). Through thirteen chapters MacArthur explores the theme of the slave/master relationship in the hopes that our relationship with the Lord would be more fulfilling and correct.
I am conflicted at how to review this book. I have learned a ton from John MacArthur. He certainly loves the Lord and has an enduring ministry that is passionate about proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. At times his tone will put many people off. This same conflict is present in this book. In my opinion, MacArthur is a very faithful expositor, but is often given to overstatement and his tone can be quite off-putting.
Take this as an example. On the back cover it refers to this idea of being a slave as an “essential and clarifying revelation that may be keeping you from a fulfilling—and correct—relationship with God.” Fair enough. But check out what MacArthur says on page 1. Referring to this concept of slave/master relationship he says it, “escaped me and almost everyone else”. So, are we to conclude from this that until 2007 (when he discovered this) that his relationship with the Lord was incorrect and unfulfilling?
Now granted, these are probably just sensationalistic comments on the back cover to try to sell a book. MacArthur tends to tone down the “cover-up” language even in the beginning. But these overstatements, in my opinion, make the book almost non-credible. Honestly, if I had not been given this book for free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review, I would not have purchased this book because of this sensationalism.
However, once I was able to get past the ridiculous overstatements on the back cover and beginning of the book it was actually pretty good. The first couple of chapters may be worth the cost of the book. What MacArthur says here is indeed true, the image of the believer as a slave is missing from much of our Christianity.
I hope that this book gets the ball rolling on that discussion. I hope that others pick up this work by MacArthur and add to it. There is much that is commendable in this work but also a decent amount that is missing. I was really intrigued in the beginning of the book and longing to see some application of what this looks like in the Christian life. But honestly, it seems that the discussion only touched on the typical MacArthur polemics. I’m convinced that MacArthur is right about the importance of this topic—and it’s more important than just serving as a polemic against those MacArthur disagrees with.
This book is certainly worthy of buying. In fact I hope many of you do buy this book so that you can read it, interact with it, and move this conversation along. MacArthur’s name tagged onto this book will cause people to begin looking at and discussing this biblical metaphor. This is a good place to start but it certainly is not the place you want to end.
You can buy it for under 15 bucks at Amazon .
Rating 3 out 5 stars