Ignoring the well-documented explosion of Pentecostalism in Hispanic nations, Pastor John MacArthur believes that people in the Spanish-speaking world do not know "the true gospel."
In a recently released YouTube video from the Master's Seminary, where MacArthur serves as president, he makes several broad statements about the state of Christianity in the Hispanic world, basically arguing that Hispanics are moving away from Catholicism, but saying not one word about the corresponding rise in Pentecostalism in these same nations.
No stranger to controversy and strong statements, MacArthur said: "We all understand the people in the Hispanic world know about Jesus Christ, they know about the Bible, they know about God, they know about salvation, at least in some ways. They have biblical terminology because of the impact historically of the Roman Catholic Church, but they don't know Christ. And they don't know the gospel of grace, and they don't know the full revelation of Scripture."
In light of his broad statements, The Christian Post contacted John MacArthur to ask him to elaborate given the proliferation of Protestants in Latin America. He responded:
"Over the course of my ministry, I've pastored thousands of Hispanic believers, have ministered in many Latin American countries, and have seen our ministry launch a seminary in Mexico City to train men in Latin America for gospel ministry. Two years ago, I was given the privilege of preaching in the Dominican Republic at the Por Su Causa event with 10,000 brothers and sisters, and I look forward to participating in that event at the end of this month. This doesn't change the reality that the vast majority of the Hispanic world is trapped in the false doctrine of Roman Catholic theology, and I'm grateful that the true gospel is powerfully infiltrating that world."
While is it indisputably true that the Roman Catholic Church has historically dominated the religious landscape in Central and South America, many scholars have noted that Pentecostalism has undergone a remarkable rebirth in the past several decades. According to a 2012 report from the U.S. State Department, approximately 43 percent of Guatemalans, for example, now identify as Protestant.
A 2014 Pew Research Center report confirms this trend all across Latin America, and further asserts: "Across all 18 countries and Puerto Rico, a median of nearly two-thirds of Protestants (65 percent) identify as Pentecostal Christians, either because they belong to a Pentecostal denomination (median of 47 percent) or because they personally identify as Pentecostal regardless of their denomination (median of 52 percent)."
MacArthur holds staunchly to Calvinism, a theological orientation in Protestant evangelicalism that bases its teachings on the works of reformer John Calvin. Calvin's seminal work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, contains much of the foundation of the Reformed Christian faith. Although nuances abound and slight differences exist among those with Calvinist leanings, MacArthur's words are held in high esteem by many given the scope of his influence as he authored and edited dozens of books and is widely regarded as one of the best commentators and expositors of Scripture alive today.
In addition to not giving credence to the rise of Pentecostalism in Latin America, MacArthur has said unequivocally in the past that he does not believe that Roman Catholics are real Christians and has previously called the Roman Catholic Church an "apostate, corrupt, heretical, false Christianity — a thinly veiled façade for the kingdom of Satan."
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He has also been deeply critical of Pentecostalism and charismatic Christianity, the type of Protestant evangelicalism particularly influential in Latin America.
Nearly three years ago Macarthur spearheaded a conference called Strange Fire, a global meeting of thousands of pastors and leaders where he and several other prominent theologians charged charismatics with all kinds of theological errors and reasserted their firm views on the doctrine of cessationism, i.e. the belief that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit died off with the death of the last apostle.