John MacArthur’s View That There Is No Such Thing as Mental Illness Unmasks His Deceptive Cruelty. Caveat Emptor.

 

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” ― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down.


Warning: John McArthur’s view on mental illness may cause those struggling with difficulties to feel discouraged. TWW stands with all people who suffer from such disorders. Dee has suffered in the past with depression and anxiety and sought help from a board-certified Psychiatrist and an MSW at the same time. I also took prescribed medications for some time. Due to the intervention of professionals, I mostly overcame my struggles.


Today is a washout at Rosemary Beach, Florida, which is fine. I love a lazy, rainy day when I read and think about TWW. I almost wrote about this two weeks ago, but I was so mad that I decided to calm down before writing. Unfortunately, I am still angry.

JM says there is no such thing as mental illness. It’s a “noble lie.”

Here it is.

No such thing as OCD, ADHD, and PTSD is merely grief.

The Christian Post published Pastor John MacArthur says there is no such thing as mental illness, calls PTSD’ grief.‘ I wondered if the title was just an exaggeration. It wasn’t, and it explains a lot of the weirdness and apparent abuse of individuals reported not infrequently.

“And the major noble lie is there is such a thing as mental illness. Now, this isn’t new. You have Thomas Szasz … writing a book, who was a psychiatrist, on The Myth of Mental Illness. There’s no such thing as PTSD. There’s no such thing as OCD. There’s no such thing as ADHD. Those are noble lies to basically give the excuse to, at the end of the day, to medicate people. And Big Pharma is in charge of a lot of that,” the pastor argued.

It’s all noble lies told by Big Pharma to medicate folks.

There is nothing noble about lies. Some companies within “Big Pharma” have lied in the past, for example, the lie that Oxycontin wasn’t addictive. At the same time, many pharmaceutical companies do produce well-researched medications. I worked for Glaxo briefly and can attest to their rigor of testing and honesty in reporting for their medications.

“ Those are noble lies to basically give the excuse to, at the end of the day, to medicate people. And Big Pharma is in charge of a lot of that,” the pastor argued.

The fallacy in his thinking is that every member of Big Pharma is lying, and that is proof that mental illness isn’t real. The same goes for the overapplication of Thomas Szasz’s book. For example, there is evidence that mental illness may exist by using brain scans. From the NIH:

In conclusion, a number of mostly uncontrolled studies have shown that structural brain imaging is needed to exclude organic brain disorder after the initial clinical diagnosis in Alzheimer disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. This application is not completely undisputed, however, eg, in schizophrenia

…Beyond this, studies with new biostatistical methods, such as machine learning, have provided evidence that structural imaging allows us to predict the risk for developing the illness, identify prognostic subgroups, and determine the efficacy of treatments in mental disorders, in particular schizophrenia. In schizophrenia, brain imaging parameters predict the risk to develop the illness with a good probability of 0.75 and above, help to distinguish between affective and nonaffective psychoses, and identify groups with a good or fair outcome. Currently, well-controlled prospective studies are trying to replicate these initial findings. If they do so, there will be little doubt that structural brain imaging is clinically useful to exclude organic brain disorder and that it may serve as a biomarker for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.

Was this really about his book on sinful children, which didn’t get published?

The Roys Report posted John MacArthur Denies Mental Illness: Says ‘There Is No Such Thing’ as PTSD, OCD & ADHD.

The 84-year-old pastor spoke briefly about the “sin nature” of children and how the entertainment industry has “targeted children.” Then he referenced a book, “A Profession Without Reason” by Bruce Levine. “It’s a book that shows basically – this is pretty shocking to some of you – that psychology and psychiatry are finally admitting the noble lies that they’ve been telling for the last hundred years.”

…MacArthur circled back to children, the subject of his book. He said:

“The most deadly thing that’s been unleashed on children (is) medication. We’re trying to make clear to parents that behavior is essentially the result of choices that kids make. And if you parent them properly, they’ll make right choices. 

But if you blame it on some something other than their choices, and you identify them as having something they can’t do anything about but medicate it – you literally are turning your child into a potential well, not only a potential drug addict, but maybe a potential criminal because they never learned how to navigate life in a socially acceptable way.”

Special thanks go out to Julie Roys for her post exposing the beliefs and practices of John MacArthur.

…MacArthur’s comments came after Grace Church of the Valley Pastor Scott Ardavanis asked MacArthur why he wrote “The War on Children.”

“The War on Children” was originally slated to be published by Thomas Nelson. However, after The Roys Report (TRR) published exposés, revealing that MacArthur failed to protect child abuse victims, and excommunicated a mother for refusing to allow her abusive husband back into her home, that agreement apparently fell through. Other Christian publishers also refused the book, so in March, MacArthur self-published the book through his ministry.

JM’s lack of scientific education is evident in his dismissal of scientific claims.

It is frustrating when a theologian suddenly becomes an expert on medical/psychiatric issues. The Bible can be applied to many of life’s problems. However, it is not a book on medicine, nor does it pretend to be. According to Wikipedia, JM’s education is limited to divinity with solid input from Fundamentalism.:

MacArthur followed in his father’s footsteps to enroll at the fundamentalist Bob Jones College from 1957 to 1959. In 1960, after a year off, he was accepted to the Free Methodist Church’s Los Angeles Pacific College, where in his senior year he observed two games of football, going on field once for one play (see 1962 yearbook statistics).[9] In 1963, he was granted a Masters of Divinity from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles‘s new Talbot Theological Seminary, in La Mirada, California, with honors.

Digression alert: The little football comment on Wikipedia is amusing. Apparently, MacArthur claims he was vetted to play professional football. Except, it might not be accurate. He played one play in his football career. MacArthur also makes other claims on various subjects that have proven to be questionable, such as his role in the civil rights movement.

Back to the post: It appears that JM is taking cues from the “biblical counseling movement,” which has some destructive views on mental illness. TWW wrote Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: People With Delusions May Be Faking It and Christians With Schizophrenia Are Probably Not Christians!


Delusions: It is in this area we begin to see the breakdown of the lack of medical training.

ACBC:

the biblical view of delusion is that it is a highly desirable false view of reality that people have allowed themselves to believe and if maintained it will eventually end in madness.

Medical experts

From the NIH-Understanding Delusions:

  • A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and that indicates an abnormality in the affected person’s content of thought. The false belief is not accounted for by the person’s cultural or religious background or his or her level of intelligence. The key feature of a delusion is the degree to which the person is convinced that the belief is true.
  • Delusions can be difficult to distinguish from overvalued ideas, which are unreasonable ideas that a person holds, but the affected person has at least some level of doubt as to its truthfulness. A person with a delusion is absolutely convinced that the delusion is real.
  • The last decade has witnessed a particular intensification of research on delusions, with cognitive neuroscience-based approaches providing increasingly useful and testable frameworks from which to construct a better understanding of how cognitive and neural systems are involved.

In fact our understanding has increased to the extent that soon:

Taking this translational approach will enhance our understanding of psychotic symptoms and may move us closer to the consilience between the biology and phenomenology of delusions.

Which of these two make more sense: ACBC or the intensive study ongoing by extensively trained medical experts?

When it gets tough to know what to do, tell the counselees that you know they’re faking their delusions!!!!

Unfortunately, when the going gets tough, biblical pastors/counselors can always appeal to the time that David faked his madness. In fact, biblical counselors take it lots further.

ACBC

Fearful expectations can cause a person to deceitfully impersonate delusional madness. I mean, we can see this in first Samuel 21 with David. David feigned that he was mad. And why did he do it? Because fear was ruling and dominating his life for a time. Or Scripture tells us that sustained oppression, life crisis situations, and disobedience to the truth will often result in mental impairment.

…The Bible also tells us that a mentally unstable person can be seen in disorganized and sometimes very harmful personal behavior, so we have to take that into account as well.

So, if a weekend warrior biblical counselor can rule out psychosis from neurosyphilis and the like (read the article) then, the counselee is probably faking it!!!! This is dangerous and continues to convince me that ACBC counseling is poorly conceived by people without sufficient training to understand just how much they don’t know.

It gets worse. Did you know that, according to ACBC, most schizophrenics are not even Christians even if they think they are?!!

And isn’t this the perfect excuse for charlatans? They claim that a person isn’t saved so they can blow off the pain and suffering that a counselee is experiencing is due to the fact that they are not Christians.

The other issue is as a biblical counselor you’ve got to begin with the gospel. You really do because that’s the most loving thing that can be done, and it’s the most hopeful thing that can be done. You begin with a gospel, no matter how well you think you know the person that you’re counseling. Because the overwhelming number of schizophrenics may say that they’re Christian, but they are really not believers. God’s Word must determine their view of reality—not their voices or not what they see in their visions.

In fact, this line of reasoning is as despicable as it is unproven. Careful research in this area is sadly lacking and judgementalism is overwhelming. I have a family member who clung to the Gospel during her delusions and diagnosis. Yet, ACBC claims and SBTS supports that, even if she thought she was a Christian, she probably wasn’t. It must be nice being able to ghostwrite for the Book of Life. Here is one person who agrees with me.


I believe that John MacArthur was uneducated in psychiatry, yet he felt he could give opinions on many subjects with limited understanding and no education. This makes his judgments dangerous to those who are dealing with mental illness. My heart goes out to those who have been led to believe he is an expert on such issues.

Sadly, his head of “counseling” says women must endure abuse from their husbands and not separate from them. He has built an empire of cruel people who grovel at the feet of the master and allow for the abuse of women and children.

The problems with aging

When this story surfaced, I tweeted my concern that JM is experiencing cognitive problems. Beth Moore, a victim of JM’s public critique, stated in Julie Roy’s post;

Best-selling author Beth Moore referenced “aging” in replying to a video clip shared online.

“I’ve had several very serious conversations with my daughters and my board concerning my public voice in my aging when filters naturally thin and we’re at greater risk of saying more than we should,” she said. “Please love and respect him enough to sift what should and shouldn’t be publicized.”

Finally,

JM is a poorly educated man who strangely believes that he was been gifted by God to speak to things unknown to him. This is cruel to those who believe him; he was cruel to a woman whose husband had abused her; he was cruel to children when he wanted a woman to return her abusive husband to the home; he is cruel to suggest that all children must not have medication; he was cruel to a family and his congregation by covering up a pastor’s abuse for years, and he was cruel to children for suggesting that parents use a “whacker” to discipline them.

I am tired of people trying to justify the actions of any pastor simply because they think he can parse theological terminology and assure the congregation that if they believe what he says, they are part of the elect. MacArthur has gotten a pass for too long. Some people are afraid to criticize him or apologize for having to suggest he has strayed from offering the grace about which he often speaks. His paid spokesmen protect him. He is protected by the theodudes who blow off his lies and obfuscation because he preaches the “correct” doctrine.

I am grateful to Julie Roys at The Roys Report for speaking the hard truth. In my opinion, MacArthur is impaired by cruelty and comfortable embellishing his history or has become cognitively impaired. I don’t see any other possibility. But perhaps TWW’s readers can come up with some ideas.

I look forward to the MacArthurites who will attempt to defend the indefensible.


Comments

John MacArthur’s View That There Is No Such Thing as Mental Illness Unmasks His Deceptive Cruelty. Caveat Emptor. — 100 Comments

  1. It is not surprising to me that JMac doesn’t believe in mental illness. It’s not a useful concept in the worldview he and his organization hold.

    The movement he leads looks to him as a single authoritative voice. It rejects outside sources of knowledge. It uses shame (“if you had parented your kids properly, they wouldn’t have these problems!”) and fear tactics (“if you medicate your kid for ADHD you’ll turn them into an addict and a criminal!”) to control people’s choices. And, as Eileen Gray and the Jane Doe of Masters’ College could have told us years ago, it disregards the pain and trauma of the vulnerable and uses threats and ostracism to control the narrative.

    There is a word for organizations like this. It starts with c, but it isn’t church.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. Does everybody see the irony in an increasingly dementia-addled MacArthur emphatically stating that various mental and cognitive disorders do not exist? PET and fMRI scans reveal the physical changes to the brain in people with Bipolar and other disorders. Same with things like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. I’ve told this story here before, but I’ll tell it again for any new readers.

    I was helping care for a close relative who has bi-polar disorder and was experiencing a psychotic break (aka, had lost all touch with reality). This relative is also a devout Christian. We walked to a neighborhood park for a change of scenery. They asked me, “Will we find Jesus here?,” almost like they were expecting to see the bodily figure of Christ step out from behind a tree.

    Mental illness is real. And having it is NOT incompatible with being a faithful follower of Jesus.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. R’as al Ghul,

    Indeed, quite a large helping of irony.

    In the quotes that Dee included JM, at various institutions, was “enrolled”, “accepted”, and “granted”. All well and good, but did he ever “finish”, “complete”, or “earn” a degree? If not, then the statement that “JM is a poorly educated man . . . .” is a gross understatement.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. The fallacy in his thinking is that every member of Big Pharma is lying, and that is proof that mental illness isn’t real.
    “If your Conspiracy Theory doesn’t fit the facts, INVENT A BIGGER CONSPRIACY!”
    — Kooks Magazine

    Digression alert: The little football comment on Wikipedia is amusing. Apparently, MacArthur claims he was vetted to play professional football. Except, it might not be accurate. He played one play in his football career.

    Is that anything like Claiming to have been a Navy SEAL?
    According to the guy that keeps the ex-SEAL database, a lot of the Fake SEALs are preachers.

    JM’s lack of scientific education is evident in his dismissal of scientific claims.

    I know the drill:
    “Science” Falsely So-Called or THE! WORD!! OF!!! GAWD!!!!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. I have rarely seen a person more pleased with themself, more smug and arrogant than this guy.

    Headless Unicorn Guy: Is that anything like Claiming to have been a Navy SEAL?
    According to the guy that keeps the ex-SEAL database, a lot of the Fake SEALs are preachers.

    Yeah, fake navy seals or marines – heroes in their own lives. Even if the closest they ever got to being special military is 3 sessions a week at the local gym.

    Just an aside: a lot of those younger preachers look like they spend a lot more time at the gym than actually, you know, pastoring…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. Thank you so much for this, Dee. My brother-in-law has bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia, and it definitely is a thing.

    He started showing symptoms around age 9, convos with people who weren’t in the room, etc.

    Although he’s had an extremely challenging life, he is also a very sincere Christian, albeit with some quirks, which you’d expect.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. On this post, I slightly disagree with Dee.
    Johny Mac could very well be getting senile.
    BUT, the postions Johny Mac on some many things, including not just mental health, but all of physcology (i.e. same postion as mental health) is not new and completely consistent with my fundamentalist training, 50-60 years ago…

    While I could go on and on, here is a summary Johny Mac, and my fundy background:
    1. The Bible is literal, with my “respect” reading, when I say it is.
    2. If you disagree, you are compromising, backsliding, potentially fallen, or never saved. (“I” get to choose which one you are.)
    3. When reality/data contradicts “my” position, it is due to:
    a) the person stating the reality is a “secular humanist”
    b) there is conspiracy to push out the Bible, as “I” understand it… Potentially a GRAND CONSPIRACY (I know of a number of just plane “nutty comspiracies”… roll eyes..
    c)the fallen nature of humans has so “corrupted” us, and definitly the “world” we are not able to precieve reality.. This is when it gets “scary”…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. Mental illness is so much more complicated than giving broad-sweeping comments like this. There are chemical imbalances, reactions to food (and the chemicals in ultra-processed foods), vitamin deficiencies (especially Vit D), along with traumatic experiences that can cause or exasperate symptoms.
    Telling someone that mental illness doesn’t exist is ridiculous. It adds further suffering and feelings of isolation to someone who is suffering from debilitating effects of mental illness.
    Mental illness is harder to treat than physical illnesses because you can’t trace the pathophysiology- but saying that it doesn’t exist shows both his ignorance and arrogance. He is not an expert. Instead, he and the church in general should show compassion and mercy to those (and their families) who are experiencing these the traumatic effects of these diagnoses.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. Jeffrey J Chalmers: Johny Mac could very well be getting senile.
    BUT, the postions Johny Mac on some many things, including not just mental health, but all of physcology (i.e. same postion as mental health) is not new and completely consistent with my fundamentalist training, 50-60 years ago

    I agree. This has been around for a long time. JMac may be saying the quiet parts out loud more, but it isn’t new.

    It’s also not going away, as far as I can tell. I’m at least a few decades younger than you, but there was a strong strain of fundamentalism in my upbringing in the 90’s as well. The subculture I grew up in didn’t uncritically accept the more extreme versions, but the influence was there. I knew people growing up who would probably agree with JMac about mental illness and raising children. Well, some of those kids I grew up with turned out to be addicts and criminals anyway, and a lot of us have religious trauma to boot.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. “He is protected by the theodudes who blow off his lies and obfuscation because he preaches the “correct” doctrine.”

    New Calvinism is littered with fallen heroes of ‘their’ faith, who the dudebros stood by until the potatoes became too hot to handle: Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, etc. etc. They supported them as long as they could because they were key to the movement. But when liabilities start to exceed assets, the dudebros begin to distance themselves from their icons. MacArthur is there … he has made a good living talking; he will eventually talk himself into a hole.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. Ugh. I have a child who suffers from a major mental illness, which affected my child almost from birth. At one point I suffered clinical depression caused by two meds I needed for other conditions not playing nicely together. Needed a change of meds plus an antidepressant for a limited time to reset brain chemicals. Brain disease is real and needs treating.

    I will say this: some psychological counselling is spot on and useful. Some, older more Freudian and Jungian or strict behaviorist is less useful. Not ever flaw in your life is because mommy didn’t potty train you “correctly.”

    Today’s modern real, properly trained psychologists can be very helpful with behavior modification and addiction treatment. So can wise Biblical counsel, not to be confused with the trademarked variety of that.

    Poor results with talk therapy that was based on flawed understandings of the human mind (think very outdated base premises) caused us to switch to dealing with MDs more in tune with neuropsychiatry, and that made all the difference.

    JM needs to stick to his knitting and not go poking into that of which he clearly has no knowledge.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. JM is plain wrong. I would say so are those that peddle some forms of psychology.

    When it comes to brain disease, you need a neuropsychologist. Wise counsel can help, psychology if based on a sound underlying understanding of the mind, less so if clinging to Freud and Jung. A wise Biblical counsellor can help. Not the trademarked kind, just a strong Christian friend with good judgment and life experience.

    This may be a duplicate or near duplicate post. Computer is not playing nicely today.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. Gus: I have rarely seen a person more pleased with themself, more smug and arrogant than this guy.

    It’s been noted on TWW multiple times that arrogance is a primary characteristic of New Calvinism. MacArthur was able to reach the pinnacle of pride and arrogance in his long ‘ministry’. I think it comes with the “We alone hold truth” nature of their teaching. No one would accuse the NeoCals of being a caring and loving bunch, that’s for sure.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. dee: Read this excellent post at BNG. https://baptistnews.com/article/a-pastors-wifes-questionable-suicide-sparks-suspicion-and-highlights-the-fruit-of-abusive-theologies/

    From the article:

    “According to Piper, survivors of sexual abuse must see “God’s sovereignty … at the moment of causality” … In other words, God is the ultimate cause of your abuse.”

    Abusive theology for sure!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. To some extent, I think this is an argument about “where to draw the line between ‘body’ and ‘soul/spirit’ ” or “between ‘outer man’ and ‘inner main’ “. It’s an argument within a deeper agreement about dualistic anthropology.

    I’m tempted to wonder whether the deeper agreement might actually be wrong. That would solve this specific problem, though it would raise a host of other issues.

    I think that there is at least a grain of validity in what I intuit is a concern of JM that medications are overused in the management of people’s problems. Talk therapy might in many cases be useful as adjuvant therapy or as an alternative to medication, but medication is generally a lot cheaper to apply than is talk therapy.

    IMO, our society doesn’t value people’s well-being as much as it values money. This happens in the churches; it should not surprise to encounter this is medicine, in industry and commerce, in agriculture, etc, etc.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. There may be some truth to overmedicating some psychiatric issues but this takes it way overboard. Some psychiatric issues definitely need medication treatment just like other conditions like cholesterol. It wouldn’t surprise me if MacArthur takes cholesterol medication but takes great issue with psychiatric medication.

    I understand there really isn’t any type of medication to treat PTSD. Interesting how MacArthur seems to include PTSD with other mental health issues that are treated with medication.

    I imagine MacArthur with his privileged income including having a lot of resources that he shares with his family may not see the mental health issues that other less fortunate families see not that income is the only cause of these issues. I doubt many if any of his family has been in the service which can at times lead to PTSD.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. It was Jesus who convinced me to get mental health treatment years ago. I read quite simply in the Gospels about how He healed the lunatics. he didn’t cast out “demons” from them or rebuke them as sinners. He just healed them the same way that he healed the halt, the lame, and the blind. They were sick.

    So I went to therapy for my own lunacy and I found healing. As the illness gradually receded from my mind, I was able to sense and rely on the presence of Jesus more deeply. I had more brain space to pray and to love others. I could read Scripture without clouds of fear and confusion.

    If I listened to people like John MacArthur I would be dead.

    John MacArthur is not a good man. He is demonstrably proud and cruel, and multiple witnesses have testified that he actively covered up the sexual abuse of children. His study “Bible” has two thirds of each page taken up with his own words, and just a tiny bit at the top for God’s. I have known men in my own life who became progressively more abusive and cruel the longer they listened to his teaching. By their fruits ye shall know them.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  19. CMT: It’s also not going away, as far as I can tell. I’m at least a few decades younger than you, but there was a strong strain of fundamentalism in my upbringing in the 90’s as well.

    It was alive and well in the church I left five years ago, also. That particular church was a plant of Harvest Bible Chapel / Fellowship (and yes, mention of its history has been scrubbed from the website) and is well on its way to becoming a megachurch in the area.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  20. Pog: He is demonstrably proud and cruel, and multiple witnesses have testified that he actively covered up the sexual abuse of children.

    Which totally baffles me why he isn’t sitting in the hoosegow.
    Child sex abuse is a FELONY in all 50 states, and when you (generic you) cover up felonies, you generally get charged with complicity.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  21. As recently as 2001 (and probably later, but there is evidence for 2001), MacArthur preacher the extremely racist “curse of Ham” theory, whereby Blacks as the descendants of Ham were cursed by God to forever serve the descendants of Sem (basically the Jews) and Japheth (basically all Indo-Europeans).

    https://baptistnews.com/article/what-has-john-macarthur-actually-said-about-race-slavery-and-the-curse-of-ham/

    IDK if he still preaches this, but I’m pretty sure he still believes it – he’s not the kind of man to change his mind (He doesn’t need to, he has everything figured out /sarcasm off).

    How people can continue to listen to someone who spouts this kind of disgusting racism is beyond me. This man is beyond disgusting, he’s obscene.

    And his friends from Mohler to Piper and beyond should know better than promote him.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  22. dee,

    Good article. It’s interesting that the five children from John Paul Miller’s first marriage have disappeared from the story.

    Mr. Miller’s father, Reginald Wayne Miller, also hasn’t gotten much attention.

    “In 2014, John-Paul Miller’s father, Reginald Wayne Miller, who founded the Cathedral Bible College, pleaded guilty in federal court to felony charges related to his treatment of international students who came to the Myrtle Beach college to earn degrees in theology, ministry and other Christian studies.

    The senior Miller also was embroiled in controversy over allegations of sexual improprieties that forced him to move his ministry from Florence to Myrtle Beach.”

    The “treatment” mentioned was forced labor using teenaged boys, but Reginald Miller also has a history of sex crimes with male youth.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  23. Sarah (aka Wild Honey): That particular church was a plant of Harvest Bible Chapel / Fellowship (and yes, mention of its history has been scrubbed from the website) and is well on its way to becoming a megachurch in the area.

    There has been a scramble in the Harvest network of churches to distance themselves from MacDonald. That’s a problem with focusing a ministry on a mere man and his message, rather than ‘the’ man Christ Jesus and His Gospel … when the man falls, the ministry falls … that built upon the rock stands.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  24. Sarah (aka Wild Honey),

    I have been doing a lot of processing around this, actually. I am curious about other people’s experiences.

    I didn’t used to think that the church I grew up in was fundamentalist. Women wore pants and nobody said watching secular movies would send you to hell. But now I think it’s more complex than that. There’s part of the spectrum that insists on that level of visible conformity, yes. There are also versions that may look more flexible on the surface, but still hold the same inflexible core beliefs. Things like an authoritarian view of God and human relationships, emphasis on human depravity and ECT, and a biblicist approach to life. By that last, I mean a general idea that everything one believes, does and feels must arise from or conform to [a specific interpretation of] scripture in order to be valid. Growing up with that mindset has been very hard to untangle, even though nobody ever tried to keep me, a female, from getting an education or wearing jeans.

    Does that ring true to you? What did the fundamentalism you recently left behind look like? Did you recognize it as fundamentalism while you were there? What was it like to leave that?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  25. Cynthia W.: It’s interesting that the five children from John Paul Miller’s first marriage have disappeared from the story.

    As of now, Comrade, They Never Existed.
    Anything else is THOUGHTCRIME!

    The “treatment” mentioned was forced labor using teenaged boys, but Reginald Miller also has a history of sex crimes with male youth.

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  26. Pog: His study “Bible” has two thirds of each page taken up with his own words, and just a tiny bit at the top for God’s.

    Even the Dake’s Annotated Bible only had HALF of each page taken up with Dake’s words.

    (Four-column page format; the two inner columns were the King Jimmy, the two outer columns were solid blocks of Dake notes, packed as dense as a kook rant. Every Single Page.)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  27. Gus: Yeah, fake navy seals or marines – heroes in their own lives. Even if the closest they ever got to being special military is 3 sessions a week at the local gym.

    I could never understand the ‘navy seal’ thing and how it was spoesta’ pad their resume.
    Probably some macho fantasy those nit-wits are drowning in?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  28. Almost everyone says something foolish once in a while, maybe around the dinner table, on an evening out with friends. But most of us are lucky enough to have friends or family who provide some pushback – that’s one of the advantages of having kids: they keep you honest

    And we usually only say stupid things in small groups, and nobody has any obligation to listen or agree.

    The problem with many pastors is that they feel free (or even obliged) to have an opinion on everything and anything, regardless of any expertise on the subject. So many make up for lack of knowledge with conviction, the more the better. And they usually do not get honest feedback, and often do not want it anyway.

    JM has been at this for what – probably nigh on 60 years. And has been reinforced in his bad intellectual habits by sycophants like Phil J. and the adulation of his pewsitters.

    Small wonder he’s the way he is. It has worked for him, made him and his family rich and (within certain cirles) famous, got him friends in high places.

    Having a captive and captivated and adoring audience for hours every week cannot be good for a man’s soul – as we have ample evidence here at TWW and other sites several times a week.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy: As of now, Comrade, They Never Existed.
    Anything else is THOUGHTCRIME!

    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”

    Kind of like those former associates and fellow ideologues of Stalin whose photos were airbrushed out after falling into the Dear Leader’s disfavor. The kids disappeared like Nikolai Yezhov:

    https://www.history.com/news/josef-stalin-great-purge-photo-retouching

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  30. I was a math teacher in public schools and in one private Christian school. I was also a SS/VBS teacher for years. I have had training in sp. ed. classes with autistic students, students with severe ADD and ADHD, etc.
    I have had students with ADD/ADHD and OCD in my classes. It’s easier to tell when a student with ADHD didn’t take the meds than it is to tell when a severe diabetic didn’t take the meds.

    One of my (second) cousins is autistic, and and one of my adopted cousins (born in Siberia) is autistic.

    My closest friend for 40 years is bi-polar. One of my former co-workers (teacher) is bi-polar. I know when they go off their meds. Everybody knows.

    My husband is retired from the military in 2006. I have had no up-close personal experiences with people who have been diagnosed with PTSD, but I have seen younger soldiers who are suffering from it. It can ruin lives and families.
    What we call PTSD now was called “shell-shock” in WWI and WWII. I have very clear memories of great-uncles who fought in Germany in WWII. One of them definitely had “shell-shock” for the rest of his life. ( I think maybe Johnny Mac needs a good dose of shell-shock.).

    MacArthur has no clue what he is talking about. I doubt if he has ever lived in the real world. He needs to be sentenced do at least a year of training classes in mental institutions, schools, and military counseling services full-time, 40 hrs. a week. And, he definitely needs to do some boots-on-the-ground missionary work in a war torn or disease infested area…… not looking down his nose at everyone while sharing his vainglorious “wisdom”, but feeding the hungry, feeding and changing diapers of babies who lost or have injured parents, bandaging bleeding wounds, shoveling rubble, disinfecting camps and living areas……

    Ok. Done with my rant. I have anger issues when it comes to MacArthur.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  31. Gus,

    Muff Potter,

    My husband served for 24 yrs in the army, 14 of those yrs in Special Forces. They are called the Quiet Professionals for a reason. (Sheeesh, even his mom and dad didn’t know. His brothers know, but they all did short-term stints in the military.)

    The people that go around bragging are either liars who either were never in the military, were never considered for the training program, or flunked out of the training program.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  32. Theo:
    Well, there goes James MacDonald’s PTSD defense. Can the DA call MacArthur as an expert witness?

    Best comment yet!

    And MacArthur circled back to children, the subject of his book. He said:

    “The most deadly thing that’s been unleashed on children (is) medication. We’re trying to make clear to parents that behavior is essentially the result of choices that kids make. And if you parent them properly, they’ll make right choices. ”

    God has a lot to say about that last line, since His kids (Adam and Eve) didn’t make the right choice in the garden.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  33. I’ve not yet finished reading the comments….I wanted to reply before I continue reading. 🙂

    Angelina: Mental illness is so much more complicated than giving broad-sweeping comments like this. There are chemical imbalances, reactions to food (and the chemicals in ultra-processed foods), vitamin deficiencies (especially Vit D), along with traumatic experiences that can cause or exasperate symptoms.

    Telling someone that mental illness doesn’t exist is ridiculous. It adds further suffering and feelings of isolation to someone who is suffering from debilitating effects of mental illness.

    Mental illness….[can be]….harder to treat than physical illnesses because you can’t trace the pathophysiology — but saying that it doesn’t exist shows both his [JMac’s] ignorance and arrogance. He [JMac] is not an expert. Instead, he and the church in general should show compassion and mercy to those (and their families) who are experiencing these the traumatic effects of these diagnoses.

    Good comment, Angelina. 🙂 And I hope you don’t mind that I made a few modifications.

    And now back to eating my lunch…. 🙂

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  34. Max: MacArthur is of the camp that lumps everything under “spiritual” … there is no mental or emotional in their book; all behavior has a spiritual root.That’s why they have no empathy for others.

    They have become so SPIRITUAL they have completely disconnected from Reality.

    God may live in the Real World, but His Special Pets sure don’t.

    Remember Screwtape’s letter to Wormwood about how The Enemy creating a PHYSICAL Cosmos was such an affront to the Dignity of Pure Spirits (like Screwtape) that His Father Below Very RIGHTEOUSLY removed himself from The Enemy’s Presence?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  35. Muff Potter: I could never understand the ‘navy seal’ thing and how it was spoesta’ pad their resume.
    Probably some macho fantasy those nit-wits are drowning in?

    It’s part of the whole ALPHA MALE trip where you have to one-up everyone else, like Andrew Tate with his garage full of Lamborghinis and a different woman every night.

    “I AM THE ALPHA!!!!!!!”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  36. As a parent of a child with ADHD, relative of several people with mental illness, and as a primary care doc, I have seen the huge difference proper medication can make (along with other modalities as needed) in people’s lives to help them feel functional and more “normal” again.
    What a dangerous man Johnny Mac is. I really feel for everyone caught in his web of so-called “church”.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  37. CMT,

    Those are good questions, and I may come back and add more thoughts tomorrow if they come to me.

    Women could wear pants (and even *gasp* leggings) and get an education, so it wasn’t quite as obvious as that. And I think the “ideal” lifestyle preached from the pulpit was not consistently followed by congregants, or even staff members, so this also helped mask the fundamentalism.

    It was not uncommon for the pastor to say something rather black-and-white from the pulpit, me say to my husband “can you believe he just said that,” and my husband excuse it with “surely he didn’t mean it that way he must have meant it another way.” It was well-intentioned, trying to think the best of the pastor, but I think this kind of excusing the pastor of what he actually says is problematic.

    And I think that sometimes it takes time for patterns to emerge. My family was only at the church for two years, and probably would have stayed longer if we hadn’t had a very unexpected altercation with an elder. Personally, I realized the church was very conservative, but wouldn’t have called it “fundamentalist” at the time, because it was the only ocean I was used to swimming in. Now that I’ve experienced other waters, I have a better sense of where it lies on the spectrum.

    And I think churches sometimes subtly encourage this isolationism, so you have nothing to compare to and realize how truly wonky or outlier their beliefs or practices are. Men don’t have as much of an excuse as the women, because at least they’re out in the workforce. But if a woman is a stay-at-home-mom who homeschools or sends her kids to a Christian or conservative secular school, and whose primary social group is all from the church, it’s just an echo chamber of fundamentalism.

    But even knowing it was a complementarian church, there were hints of outright sexism. Even my (then still complementarian) husband picked up on some of them. Like the time the pastor placed all the blame for the conception of Ishmael on Sarah’s shoulders, with Abraham getting a free pass.

    Decisions were top-down, made by the pastor and/or elders. Any congregational meetings were more of a “this is our decision and we’re informing you of it” and absolutely nothing was voted on by lay members.

    Young earth creationism wasn’t necessarily preached from the pulpit, but was in the statement of core beliefs.

    Whenever a couple had children, having a stay-at-home wife was considered best for the family. Strict gender roles were encouraged. The pastor actually went on the record saying that a wife shouldn’t out earn her husband. (Never mind that at least one male staff member had a wife who out-earned him.)

    Women could not be pastors or elders, the “leadership” positions within the church.

    Authoritarian parenting styles were encouraged. Physical pain as a discipline strategy was encouraged even for infants.

    Psychology and taking medication for mood disorders was strongly suspect. (This didn’t necessarily stop members from seeing therapists and taking anxiety medication, however.)

    Even though the pastor paid lip service to “we need to put the Bible in the finest of the original language and original culture and historical context,” in practice he took things very literally. I distinctly remember, in reference to Genesis 1, saying “God created MAN. Don’t get mad, that’s just what it says in the Bible. MAN.” As opposed to mankind, humankind, etc.

    This became rather rambly, sorry.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  38. Sarah (aka Wild Honey),

    PS – Forgot to answer a question. Leaving was not easy in the moment. Really hard, actually, because I was leaving behind dear friends in what I realized was a really toxic environment. But sitting here five years later at an egalitarian church that actually has a woman as an associate pastor, I can say that it was been a liberating and edifying experience.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  39. Max: when the man falls, the ministry falls …

    Few Personality Cults outlive their founding Personality.
    (Even if the founding Personality DOESN’T deliberately pull a Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate.)
    It’s very rare to have a Brigham Young as successor who can turn a Personality Cult into a self-sustaining system.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  40. Muff Potter,

    You made me remember….. I have a two second cousins, both now deceased, who served in Vietnam.

    He joined the army when he was seventeen, with his parents permission, and the Vietnam conflict was already underway. He married before he went overseas, a local girl.
    When he came home, his wife finally filed for divorce after a couple of years because of nightmares he had every night ….. he thought she was the enemy. It took a long time, and he had his struggles and shortcomings. He got finally better and the last 24 years of his life was very full and happy.

    His older brother was in Nam, too. ( He was drafted and “saw action” before the younger brother joined.) Great guy. I knew him very well. (He was the same age as my dad, but in my generation of the family.) This brother was the closest friend my dad ever had. They were like brothers to one another – more so than their own real brothers! The two of them grew up together, worked their farms together, and never lived more than 2 1/2 miles apart.

    My daughter’s father-in-law was also in Nam. (Career army man) He was exposed to agent orange, and it’s taking a real toll on him, now. (He married late. My son-in-law is only 7 years older than my daughter.)
    He’s a character. He tells so many stories, I’m never sure whether to believe him or not, so I look at my S-I-L…. his look tells me all I need to know!

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  41. So…..dementia is from sin too?? What about persons who have traumatic brain injury and then have personality changes? What about the fact that what we eat can effect behavior as well as environmental factors can effect changes as well? So macarthur is now a scientist too?? Could there be a brain problem with him called THE SIN OF ARROGANCE AND PRIDE??

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  42. jojo: JM went down another rung on my ladder. And I know so many who ‘worship’ him.

    And that’s a sad testimony of much of the American church which worships pulpit personalities more than Jesus. Christians from other countries are amazed when they witness our feeble attempts to do church. My daughter, when in college, attended a student Bible study group; a foreign student once proclaimed “You people just don’t get it!” I have come to realize that she was right.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  43. Sarah (aka Wild Honey): Leaving was not easy in the moment. Really hard, actually, because I was leaving behind dear friends in what I realized was a really toxic environment.

    FEATURE, NOT BUG.
    There is a reason churches like this make sure you have no life outside of Church.

    The only reason I didn’t disappear forever into the Cult Compound of Koinonia House Christian Fellowship in 1975-76 was I discovered Dungeons & Dragons — a much less toxic environment that actually accepted me as-is and didn’t stifle my every breath.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  44. Headless Unicorn Guy: FEATURE, NOT BUG.
    There is a reason churches like this make sure you have no life outside of Church.

    The only reason I didn’t disappear forever into the Cult Compound of Koinonia House Christian Fellowship in 1975-76 was I discovered Dungeons and Dragons — a much less toxic environment that actually accepted me as-is and didn’t stifle my every breath.

    I remember when 2nd Edition came out. So we used a mix of editions when playing (version 1.5).
    Remember Gamma World? Critters in there make a lot of the D n D monsters look like pet bunnies.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  45. dee,

    Great question…. I completely respect your editorial decisions, from your further comment I can see your point AND, from the “outside” I can’t tell if it is a supporter of Johny Mac, or a critic!

    I do think that the nastiness that TWW gets from the supports of “the good old boys” tells us as much about them, as the focus of the typical “bad boy”.. like the “daughter of Stan” comment…

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  46. R’as al Ghul: Remember Gamma World? Critters in there make a lot of the D n D monsters look like pet bunnies.

    Ah, yes. Gamma World.
    Metamorphosis Alpha‘s game mechanics and general premise transferred from a derelict generational starship to a post-Apoclyptic Earth.

    I shall let DC Comics of the period speak for me:
    https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/mutant-future/images/f/f9/Kamandi_Motivational.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100105075719

    Not surprisingly, all the Gamma World critters were generated by the Random Mutation Generator in the rulebook. (“Mutation” on the order of “you take a nap too near the elephant’s foot at Chernobyl and wake up the next morning with two heads”.)

    Either that or someone dropped about 1500 mikes of Owsley’s Finest Acid (“enough to launch a repressed elephant”) and wrote down what he saw on his trip.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  47. Nancy2(aka Kevlar):
    Muff Potter,

    You made me remember….. I have a two second cousins, both now deceased, who served in Vietnam.

    He joined the army when he was seventeen, with his parents permission, and the Vietnam conflict was already underway.He married before he went overseas, a local girl.
    When he came home, his wife finally filed for divorce after a couple of years because of nightmares he had every night ….. he thought she was the enemy.It took a long time, and he had his struggles and shortcomings.He got finally better and the last 24 years of his life was very full and happy.

    His older brother was in Nam, too. ( He was drafted and “saw action” before the younger brother joined.)Great guy.I knew him very well.(He was the same age as my dad, but in my generation of the family.)This brother was the closest friend my dad ever had.They were like brothers to one another –more so than their own real brothers!The two of them grew up together, worked their farms together, and never lived more than 2 1/2 miles apart.

    My daughter’s father-in-law was also in Nam. (Career army man)He was exposed to agent orange, and it’s taking a real toll on him, now.(He married late.My son-in-law is only 7 years older than my daughter.)
    He’s a character.He tells so many stories, I’m never sure whether to believe him or not, so I look at my S-I-L…. his look tells me all I need to know!

    Thank you for sharing these important Vietnam stories.
    Nightmares…yes, my husband would wake up scared and shaking in fear in the middle of the night.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  48. Headless Unicorn Guy: Not surprisingly, all the Gamma World critters were generated by the Random Mutation Generator in the rulebook. (“Mutation” on the order of “you take a nap too near the elephant’s foot at Chernobyl and wake up the next morning with two heads”.)

    I liked Gamma World. Only played it once, in 1988 – a good afternoon exploring an abandoned research facility. We were able to salvage a jeep and gasoline. Never mind it was impossible for gas to work at that age but hey never let the real world ruin an afternoon of mutant mayhem.

    Speaking of mutant mayhem, we had a fun time playing Road Hogs rpg. It was an offshoot of GURPS set in TMNT universe.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *