I attended The Master’s College (now the Master’s University) from 1997 to 2001. From 2003 to 2005 I also taught there in the English and Communication departments.

I am deeply disturbed by the news that the accreditation agency WASC has put the university on probation, and am writing this open letter to John MacArthur, the school board, and the students and alumni to demand reform.

I’ve worked at four other universities since working at The Master’s University, and while they’ve had their faults, I’ve never seen the kind of institutional problems that I witnessed at Master’s.

I will talk about my experience there, and conclude the letter with 6 steps for reform.

My Experience at Master’s

The Illiberal Arts

During my time there, I spearheaded an initiative to start a student newspaper. We had a communication department, and I was specifically majoring in “Print Media,” which was similar to a degree in journalism. After writing all the articles, doing all the layout, and getting bids on printing, the administration spiked the whole idea. They were too afraid of students having their own voice, and potentially contradicting the theology of the school. They wanted to keep a tight lid on every single word that rolled out to the public.

It is difficult to believe, but we had a journalism department forbidden to have a student newspaper. We had a communication department that was not allowed to communicate. It’s completely at odds with the purported aims of a liberal arts school.

This anecdote perfectly illustrates the university’s tendency to prioritize institutional security and control over student education. It is this desire for control and power which has created many of the other problems I discuss below.


One year, a student in the communication department pulled a prank at graduation, and because of that prank, John MacArthur threatened to shut down the entire communication department. Threatened to take away the jobs of three professors. Because of a silly prank.

It was not an empty threat, and was made repeatedly: if the department “couldn’t get control” of their own students, it didn’t deserve to exist. Threatening to disband an entire department out of retaliation for one student’s misbehavior is not only unethical, it’s completely misguided.

The professors were also threatened in spiritual terms, implying that there must be something wrong with their spiritual health if they couldn’t get their students to behave. They were also threatened in terms of their jobs: their curriculum must be wrongheaded if it created students who would dare pull a prank at graduation.

The WASC report said there was a “climate of fear, intimidation, [and] bullying.” From my personal experience, that is absolutely, 100% true.

Witch Hunts

While I was teaching in the English department, a gossiper started a rumor that one part of my theology did not match up correctly with the college’s standards. The higher ups, meaning John MacArthur himself and a relative in a high leadership role, bypassed the Dean of Faculty and asked the chair of my department to fire me immediately.

The Dean of Faculty was incredibly angry that he had been bypassed, and spent the next two weeks compiling a dossier on me (I saw it — it was at least an inch thick) where he interviewed everyone who had ever known me (his words). In the end, he was able to defend me to John MacArthur and the school leadership, and after forcing me mid-semester to sign a theological document that reaffirmed my adherence to this particular doctrine, I was allowed to stay and continue teaching.

But this reliance upon gossip, and drastic measures taken through unorthodox channels, make the school run more like a mafia organization than an institute of higher learning.

6 Steps for Reform

1. Hire a University President

John MacArthur, people other than you know how to run an organization. You should step aside and let them. You are at the very advanced age of 79. This is too old to attempt to run two organizations, a major church and a university. Do you want your legacy to be ruining an entire university? Humble yourself. Acknowledge your limitations.

A university deserves leadership. Refusing to collaborate with a university president is an issue of pride, and the desire to maintain power and control. Surely some administrator out there has theology that’s good enough to pass your muster? Just please don’t hire your son-in-law or another relative. The school has seen enough nepotism.

2. Dissolve and Reestablish Your School Board

Every single person on the school board is a yes-man. As WASC pointed out, every single man is beholden to John MacArthur through other organizational ties. They go to his church, they are on the board of Master’s Seminary, they are related in a thousand different ways. It is incestuous.

It’s not how you run an organization, unless your goal is to destroy the organization. There is such fear of losing control, such fear of allowing outside voices to contribute to the conversation. It’s time to fire every single man from the board and start fresh.

As an alumnus, a former professor, and a believer, I demand an independent board.

This isn’t a crazy request — an independent board is exactly what WASC asked for in its letter.

Also, there are 22 men on the board and not a single woman. There is one token person of color. I don’t support our current culture’s obsession with identity politics, but just step back and look at the optics. Even despite your theology forbidding women in positions of leadership, a university is not a church.

3. Stop Running the University like a Church

Master’s University and Grace Community Church have always attacked cults, but their social environment resembles a cult. The lack of outside voices, the bullying of people inside the organization, the recruitment from within a very narrow pool of like-minded people — these are all textbook cult moves.

There is nothing cult-like about the theology, but everything on the social level mimics the workings of a cult. A University is not a church. A university deserves a different way of working. Thank God WASC is calling you to a higher standard, since it appears you’ve failed to do this on your own.

4. Listen to Accrediting Agencies, Rather than Merely Appeasing Them 

It would be very Master’s-like to ascribe this activity to the agency of the devil, or an accrediting agency “out to get them,” or some kind of persecution from unbelievers, rather than using this as a chance to reform.

I was deeply disturbed by the WASC report. As a alumnus, as a former professor, and as a believer, I was deeply disappointed by how badly run and incestuous the university has become. Don’t do the least amount possible in response to this report. Be above reproach. (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6). And don’t forget that WASC is the God-appointed leadership over you, which you should obey (Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1).

5. Stop Prioritizing Theology over Competency

I know for certain that every single new hire has perfect theology. Pristine, idyllic, checkmark-every-category theology. That is the standard at Master’s — never a single person in leadership, in academia, or even a janitor, shall ever deviate from the slightest theological principle.

But it appears from the WASC report that Master’s hasn’t valued basic competency when hiring for administrative positions. They have a list of very basic information that administrative positions should know about, and report that the administrators failed to know it.

This is hardly surprising to anyone who has been inside Master’s. Theological nepotism is a real problem.

6. Create Tenured Positions for Professors

Inside this culture of fear and intimidation, professors are afraid of losing their jobs. And this mutes them. They stay quiet because they need their job.

But you need tenured faculty to help lead a university. Without tenure, you will never have any kind of professor leadership. This leads to unhealthy, top-down leadership with no feedback loops, and leads to a whole culture of head-nodding without any kind of debate. 

Time for Action

Despite what I wrote above, I enjoyed my time at Master’s. I learned a great deal, I cultivated wonderful friendships, and I treasure the university. I am not a Master’s hater — I am only writing this out of genuine concern for a school that I have a personal stake in. This letter is truly written out of love, because I want the university to thrive.

But I refuse to stay silent. It’s time for the leadership of the university to repent, humble themselves, and to reform.

If you are a current professor, I know you can’t speak up out of fear of losing your job — but I thank you for the confidential emails you sent to WASC. If you are a former professor or student, it’s time for you to speak up and hold our school to a higher standard.

If they don’t, and if they lose their accreditation, then the university will collapse. Students will leave in droves and no new students will come.

This WASC report is a blessing — a time for reform and a time for change. Let’s embrace it.


John Matthew Fox

Published on August 29th, 2018

I appreciate you reading this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


UPDATE 4/2/2021

In 2018, in one of the comments below, I said: “Nothing could be worse than a President without any real authority to run the university, because they will quit in a year or two.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what has happened. Sam Horn, who was appointed President, has already stepped down after one year.

Although I cannot say for certain why Horn left, it seems probable that he wasn’t given full control of the university — John MacArthur was still holding the reins. He was more of a token president to satisfy WASC.

Another possibility would be that he was pressured out immediately after the WASC accredited Master’s for six more years (the accreditation happened in November 2020, while he announced his resignation in February 2021).

Whatever the reason, it’s a horrible turn of events for the university. It makes it look like the “changes” were all a song and dance to momentarily appease WASC.

What Master’s needs is clear and steady leadership, leadership beyond John MacArthur, and independent leadership with real power rather than token power.

I am still calling for three things:

  1. Find a president who can devote himself full time to the university
  2. Get an independent board
  3. Establish tenure so that you have bottom up leadership rather than top down.

But Master’s has still failed to move on any one of those three.


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  • Master's Reject / December 4, 2018 at 9:17 pm Reply

    A Call to Action: Master’s University/John MacArthur

    For those of us who are survivors (students/employees) of John MacArthur’s The Master’s University & Seminary, now is the time to act! Master’s has been placed on accreditation probation by WASC. (See documents listed under Commission Actions: wscuc.org/institutions/masters-university-and-seminary ). This is a tremendous blow to the credibility of the school & John MacArthur. The school has been cited for shady financial dealings (some involving MacArthur’s son in law), a culture of fear & intimidation, questionable academic practices, an ineffective board full of MacArthur’s yes men, and other issues.

    Students, we saw that culture of fear & intimidation through the bullying tactics encouraged & commanded by the Student Life Department and enforced by SLS. Were you constantly confronted for your perceived sins, for the “appearance of evil”? Were you put under the microscope under the guise of “discipleship” or “accountability”? Did you report sexual harassment, misconduct, or crimes to Student Life and have your case mishandled? Did you report issues of a non-sexual nature and have your case mishandled? Were you branded a liar or “in sin” when you “rebelled” against their authority? Were you threatened with expulsion if you did not submit? Were you pressured to drop out because they threatened to expel you anyways?

    Employees, were you unlawfully fired? Were you subjected to a hostile work environment? There are many clauses in Master’s employee handbooks that are not legal. You cannot be harassed, you are entitled to breaks as outlined in the CA labor code (not the laughable clause in Master’s handbook), you cannot be discriminated against if you are a mother or pregnant (anyone forced to take fewer hours upon becoming a mom?). Whatever Master’s believes, they still need to follow basic employment laws.

    You no longer have to remain silent. You have many avenues to let your voice be heard:

    1) WASC is always taking Complaints and Third Party Comments. Fill out the following form & email to & . You can choose to remain ANONYMOUS. You do not have to provide proof. Even if WASC does nothing, your comments will remain in the school’s file to be dredged up every time WASC reviews the school. At the very least, it will give future WASC teams an idea of what red flags to watch for.


    2) If you were harassed by Student Life & SLS, you may have a Clery Act violation, ESPECIALLY if you were harassed regarding sexual issues. This is NOT limited to just mishandled rape & sexual misconduct cases. This includes harassment over sexual orientation (Master’s can believe what they want, Master’s can expel you, but Master’s can’t harass you), gender norms (i.e. girls shouldn’t like violent movies & video games, girls shouldn’t wear pants, men shouldn’t be administrative assistants, etc), sexual health preferences (i.e. tampons, birth control, hormone treatments, etc), and body autonomy (i.e. what toiletries you use, what you eat, when you sleep, what clothes you wear, how you style your hair, choices you make for your body, etc). If you aren’t sure, contact the US Dept of Education. The Philadelphia School Participation Team of the US Dept of Education has the primary responsibility for overseeing Clery Act compliance by institutions. If you are interested in pursuing your complaint further, you can contact Jim Moore at 215-656-8542 or . Complaints can be made ANONYMOUSLY. You don’t need to provide proof to start an investigation.

    3) If you would like to be part of a potential lawsuit against Master’s, contact Owen Patterson Owen. Staycee Gordon is the primary person to contact to tell your story. The firm is looking for victims or witnesses of mishandled rape & sexual abuse cases, cases of harassment (any harassment, not just sexual) by Student Life/SLS & administration, and unlawful termination & hostile work environment for employees, etc. Call 661-799-3399 or email . You don’t need proof at this stage. Your story may be all that is required for corroboration. The law firm is only at the information gathering stage. You don’t have to make any huge decisions, you aren’t committing yourself to doing anything by just giving them a call & talking. The firm is also taking reports regarding any related MacArthur ministry – Grace Community Church, Grace to You, The Master’s Academy International, Stewardship Services Foundation, etc.

    4) If you would like to be part of in-depth news articles regarding Master’s, contact The Chronicle of Higher Education to contribute your experience and/or any evidence you may have (not required) to Eric Kelderman, senior reporter at 202-466-1017 or . You may remain ANONYMOUS. See their first article here: https://bit.ly/2Q8xiQg

    If you saw something, say something. If you were a victim, let your voice be heard. The shame is not on you, but that abusive school! Let our actions speak louder than words, be people OF our word, and not merely speak the words of supporters & advocates, but DO what we can — report, Report, REPORT. You aren’t alone. We can’t all be lying. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Let us corroborate and support each other. Now is the time, while the iron is hot. The school must be held accountable to prevent more victims. Help keep current and future students safe!

    “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    • William Varner / December 6, 2018 at 8:00 am Reply

      Changes that address many of the problems that you raised are in the works. Also, other things have changed since you left – for example, an excellent student newspaper. An administrative overhaul is taking place. You neglected to mention that no criticisms of the academic program were in the report. The administrative changes are being made before your attacks too place.

      I am sorry that you wrote this. It is not helpful at this point. Why not rather rejoice that the report has led to good things?

      My students know that I am not a knee-jerk yes man here at TMU. But an attack like this from an alumnus and former prof deeply wounds me. Because of the admonition of our Lord to not judge and condemn, I plead with you to take this down.

      • Bookfox (Author) / December 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm

        Hi, glad to hear all that! And I am certainly happy that the report has led to good things — I look forward to a new president of the college, someone who can devote themselves full time to it, and more independent voices on the board.

        I would think this piece is calling the university to a higher standard, to follow the recommendations of WASC, and to decentralize away from John MacArthur. I don’t think that’s entirely negative at all, but rather encouraging positive steps in the right direction.

        And to be fair, I wrote it a few months ago, when the WASC report first came out. I am glad to see that TMU is actively taking steps in the right direction, some of which I’ve mentioned here.

        But calling for me to take this down is a step in the wrong direction. We need a fair and open debate about the course that a university — any university — is taking. I want to add my voice to the mix to counsel a certain course of action. Like I said in the end of the piece, I am not a Master’s hater and I sincerely hope TMU comes out of this stronger.

      • Daniel Malloy / January 28, 2020 at 12:38 am

        MacArthur is pretty solid in his theology, at least if you are a Calvinist cessationist, but I heard him teach that Jesus died spiritually on the Cross. Ironically, this is the heresy that many “name it claim it” preachers teach, and we know what JM thinks about them. One thing that is evident with these recent developments with JM and Master’s, and frankly, many Christian’s is how very right they are in everything. The certainty of Salvation, which is the basis of our faith, seems to migrate to every area of our lives, when according to Scripture those who think they know dont know as they ought to know. JM and TMU seem to be puffed up by knowledge and not edifying in love. Blessings.

  • pc / December 5, 2018 at 4:17 pm Reply

    Being a religious school, isn’t the theology the backbone of the institution and provides the institution with its guiding principals? Yet the fruit of the institution is controlling authoritarianism and spiritual, emotional, and financial manipulation. Wouldn’t you surmise that the fruit of the institution reflects the theology? In other words, shouldn’t we judge the theology by the fruit it produces, not by how much we agree with it?

  • Scott Newman / December 5, 2018 at 10:24 pm Reply

    Thanks for your courage and vulnerability to write this and put it out there. I’m totally on the same page. Was a student there undergrad from ‘01-‘04 and TMS ‘06-‘07.

  • William Varner / December 6, 2018 at 2:11 pm Reply

    I left an earlier reply but I assume you refused to post it.

    I am sad that you can’t wait for the process to work and watch the results. Nothing good can come from your criticisms. By the way, there is an excellent student newspaper now. Like I said, why couldn’t you wait for the good results that will emerge from this? Why do you have to join the group of critics? Is this your way of somehow getting revenge? I think we are called to a better and higher response by the teachings of Jesus. Please, please give serious consideration to removing this post.

    • Bookfox (Author) / December 6, 2018 at 7:52 pm Reply

      Hi Professor Varner, if you look above I believe your first comment was posted already, and I responded to it.

      And I politely disagree with the strategy of waiting and staying silent and watching for the results. That strategy has led us to this predicament.

      People with time invested in this university — as alumni, as former professors — have the duty and the right to care about the future of the university. I find it incredible that you’re telling me simply to be quiet and trust leadership will work things out. That’s exactly the way the administration is handling things, and it’s the wrong approach. It’s a top-down method of leadership, without respecting the many voices that comprise TMU. You can’t stiff-arm an entire community. The right approach would be to welcome the fears and insight of the larger community and to communicate what the university is doing to address the issues raised by WASC.

      I’m not aware of any other critics and don’t believe I’m joining any of them. I’m merely speaking for myself. The line about revenge is frankly perplexing. I don’t have an axe to grind here. I hope and wish the best for TMU, as I said in the post.

      I am recommending three main things for TMU:
      1. Find a president who can devote himself full time to the university
      2. Get an independent board
      3. Establish tenure so that you have bottom up leadership rather than top down.

      I honestly don’t see how those arguments are very controversial, seeing as how WASC recommended the first two and virtually all other universities have the third.

      You’ve implied in both of these comments that there is some kind of mistake I’m making with this post. Thoughtfully talking about my alma mater and recommending changes in light of an impending suspension of accreditation is exactly what I should be doing. In fact, it’s what every alumni and professor should be doing.

      PS. Very glad to hear that about the newspaper!

      PPS. I am eager to see all the good results that will come from this.

      • A B / December 7, 2018 at 4:22 am

        I agree that there should be dialogue about the situation. Clearly there are issues at TMU that have existed for years, and it is sad that it took a third party to call TMU leadership to a higher standard. Perhaps if more had spoken up sooner, it would not have come to this. If the university has equipped students to understand and apply biblical theology to our lives and the world around us, perhaps it is wise to listen to what former students are saying. The only reason to hush us is if we were not adequately taught and were only groomed to blindly follow.

        I am aware that there are some who have an axe to grind. I have seen a few too many comments gleefully calling for the school to fold. That is sad. That is not how I feel, and that is not how this post reads to me. This is honesty. The school has issues. Some of the worst things that have happened aren’t even mentioned here. Yes, there may be changes coming, and there may be changes that have already happened, but when the public statements made by the school act like the WASC probation is unfounded, it is time for some honesty. This isn’t martyrdom or persecution. The probation probably should have come years ago.

        I am glad that Student Life has been revamped. That is a huge positive change. I won’t go into the why, but I want to acknowledge at least that one change.

        TMU needs to adopt transparency. There is nothing to fear from the light if there is nothing to be ashamed of. The desire for silence seems like there is something to hide.

        I was blessed by my time at TMC (Fall ’99 – Spring ’02), and I want others to have a chance to be blessed as well, which is why I don’t think we should be turning a blind eye to ongoing problems there. I know a current student, and I hope and pray she doesn’t suffer from all of this.

        (Sorry if this is disjointed. It has been a rough night with a fussy newborn…)

      • Bookfox (Author) / December 7, 2018 at 6:34 am

        Agree 100%. It’s a great school but there are some commonsense reforms to make.

        I’m honestly perplexed by all the pressure to keep students and alumni quiet. If you know anything about crisis management, the right move is never to tell affected parties to keep their mouth shut. Like you said, it’s time for transparency and inviting everyone into the fold to improve the school culture and system of leadership.

      • Linda Keaton / January 2, 2020 at 6:23 pm

        The author of this letter sounds bitter. If you don’t like them, move on. I am certain that this author never wrote a single letter to privately voice his concerns. Perhaps this open letter is a perfect example of why his newspaper idea was not approved, being that his bitterness was transparent to everyone but the author himself.
        Mr. Fox, Open your Bible now and read it very slowly.

      • Bookfox (Author) / January 2, 2020 at 7:56 pm

        Hi Linda, Thanks for your comment. Although certain parts of the letter above might have sounded bitter, I am not, in general, bitter against TMU. I had an excellent experience there overall and treasure many of the friendships I built there.

        I wrote an open letter because I think these are topics that need to be discussed among all TMU grads, rather than in private backroom channels.

        God bless.

      • J Abrahams / August 16, 2020 at 5:15 am

        People like Prof V are the reason institutional bullying happens in the first place, good on you Bookfox for standing your ground. This article was enlightening, John Macarthur certainly comes across as a bully and a simple little web search has revealed his true character. I appalled by his decision to open his church despite the corona outbreak.

      • Saiko K. Woods / February 18, 2021 at 6:23 pm

        I’ve only attended a few ShepCon’s in the past, but several TMS Alum and staff (black and white) have contacted me and have shared their experiences with me and strongly admonished me that if I were to desire to attend a seminary to NEVER attend TMS! Everything you mentioned and more! I’ve publicly expressed my concerns regarding MacArthur’s contradictory statements about people taking the mark of the beast and still go to Heaven (from a Q & A session years ago, but his Book of Revelation Commentary teaches otherwise, to his disapproval of Christian bakers baking wedding cakes for homosexual weddings, to his approval of Christian bakers baking wedding cakes for homosexual weddings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEOgMb2REkI).

        I wish I was made aware of this site before, but I guess God in His sovereign providence made me aware of it now in my search for truth and objectivity.

        John – If you read this, I’d like to connect with you offline if possible () .

        Thank you for your boldness and willingness to stand up and to speak up! May more like you do the same!

    • Master's Reject / December 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm Reply

      He DID publish your first comment. You just accidentally commented under MY comment, so your comment ended up being a comment reply vs standing on its own.

    • Lisa Davis / January 19, 2019 at 11:36 am Reply

      How is speaking truth revenge? Was Jesus getting revenge when he flipped tables in the temple? We are called to flip tables in a world that claims to speak for God and does a lousy job of it.

      • Sandy Beach / September 12, 2019 at 8:36 am

        “We are called to flip tables in a world that claims to speak for God and does a lousy job of it.” AMEN! I could not have said it better myself, as that is absolute TRUTH. MY concern is the quality of the Theology taught at Master’s, if it meets what MacArthur believes. Things like the heresy that one can take the Mark of the beast and still be saved when Revelation 14 could NOT be more clear. Things like. “Jesus’s blood is an allegory for His death. There is NO efficacy in His (fluid) Blood”. Really? NOT what my Bible says, and MacArthur’s Theology is used for a Seminary? That, people, is frightening. Not to mention students turning in other students for “unholy living” when something they do is SO minor and ISN’T “UN-holy living” at all. Add their teaching of Lordship Salvation which is AGAINST the Scriptures. NO “revenge” here either, only TRUTH, and Christ commands that we speak the TRUTH. Albeit in love, but after SO many tries and being “tossed off” by MacArthur because only HE knows God’s word, it’s past time people spoke up FOR Christ and HIS truth in the Scriptures.

  • RICHARD WAGNER / December 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm Reply

    I am extremely grateful to The Master’s College for the exceptional education I received however, I am even more thankful to the professors who poured into me and made me the man I am today.

    • Bookfox (Author) / December 6, 2018 at 8:06 pm Reply


    • Donald Smith / December 7, 2018 at 11:22 pm Reply

      Hi Richard!

  • Donald Smith / December 7, 2018 at 11:21 pm Reply

    John, I don’t disagree with your general point, but I do find your entire post to be poorly thought through.

    For instance, your first (and thus most important?) point was for MacArthur to step down, and appoint a new President. This step was publicly announced last October. (https://www.masters.edu/statement-from-the-president) I received physical mail notifying me of the same. There was no attempt to hide it.

    I also question tenure. At the very least, tenure in the way normally defined. Yale is certainly a prestigious university, but we no longer look to them as a bastion of Truth as declared by God’s word. Should our professors be free to argue theology from scripture without fear of instant termination? Absolutely. Should there be a methodology in place to remove a professor who teaches false doctrines as truth? Absolutely. So traditional “Tenure” is a bad idea, I believe.

    Do I believe that there were some terrible things that happened at Master’s? Yes. It was run by people. That’s the definition of things gone wrong.

    Do I think you shouldn’t have posted this article? No.

    But I do see room for improvement. I give you a 7/10 and I’ll see you at the next of Doc’s critique sessions.


    • Bookfox (Author) / December 8, 2018 at 7:08 am Reply

      Hi Donald,

      Thanks for your comments. Sorry that there wasn’t a date on the letter — it was posted before MacArthur announced that he would be appointing a new president (I wrote it August 29, back when TMU was pushing back strongly against WASC, claiming it was an attack by a secular group). I’m very glad that TMU is taking that step to appoint a new president and I think TMU will be better because of it.

      I think one problem with Master’s, which the WASC report pointed out, was that you have a lot of top-down leadership that is very heavy handed. Tenure is one way to help create leadership from the faculty themselves, because they have freedom to make political moves and suggest ideas without fear of losing their jobs. And I think it’s a little naive to believe that professors would only get pushed out for theological reasons. The politics of universities (and TMU is no exception) can get pretty messy.

      The things I wrote about certainly aren’t the worst things that happened at TMU, and I didn’t mean for this to come off as a Master’s bashing experience. But I added my personal experiences because it’s important to note that my experiences support a lot of the criticisms that WASC leveled at the university. WASC’s report isn’t some kind of conspiracy theory against the school (as some have suggested) but rather a call for reform that’s going to end up making the school stronger.

      As far as whether I should have posted it, I believe it’s a good decision to debate the direction of TMU. Let’s talk more about this! And a lot of good has already come from this article. A lot of alumni have reached out to me and told me that they appreciated it, that the changes I suggested are either taking place or in the works, and that they largely agree with me.

      Lastly, I didn’t mention in the article all the fantastic times I had at TMU. The school has provided so many good things for me (and you, and so many others). I think the best way that the university can continue to provide a wonderful social, spiritual, and educational environment is to make some of the changes listed above.

      I’m shooting for a 9/10 for this comment :).

      • Donald Smith / December 8, 2018 at 3:15 pm

        Given that your article was posted before the announcement of the new president, it easily ranks a 9/10. Without a date line up top, I used the comments as a judge and assumed that it had been posted at the beginning of December.

        As I said above, I agreed with the general tenor of your statements.

        (Oh, feel free to ignore the stupid Gravatar image. I haven’t used that thing in years and forgot that it was even there. On the other hand I have about nine years of reading to catch up on at that comic strip if it’s still alive!)

    • Joe Cardwell / December 9, 2018 at 7:24 am Reply

      Do we know what the distinction between the position of “President” and “Chancellor” will hold for Dr. MacArthur? Will he still be the primary base of power in this new structure?

      • Bookfox (Author) / December 9, 2018 at 7:50 am

        Joe, that’s a good question. Ideally, Dr. MacArthur would focus on fundraising, because his name and prestige is well suited for it.

        And the new President will have the autonomy to run the university the way they see fit.

        Nothing could be worse than a President without any real authority to run the university, because they will quit in a year or two.

  • Ralph Drollinger / January 7, 2019 at 7:23 am Reply

    HI John Matthew Fox; I agree with you overview completely.

    As a graduate of TMS, I later experienced the same kinds of things you did at the college as I led Capitol Ministries: Harsh heavy-handedness has been MacArthur’s way of dealing with things over the years; he clearly violates 1 Peter 5:3. With most everyone on his boards being on his payrolls (some place or another) our Lord’s patience with him has now seemingly run out; my take on this is that God has now raised up objective leadership — the Accreditation folks, folks he must submit to — to bring to light MacArthur’s patently unbiblical way of dealing with people. He has hurt so many.

    Similar to ORU and the Hobby Lobby rescue of that Christian College from its failed leadership, the TMS/TMU board needs to resign and fresh leadership be appointed. Another realistic solution is to merge TMU with another Christian College, since Christian student enrollment in Christian Colleges is way down across the nation and there are more schools than are necessary (unfortunately).

    I appreciate your courage in stating what you have dear brother. Ralph Drollinger, President and Founder, Capitol Ministries

  • Ralph Drollinger / January 12, 2019 at 8:28 am Reply

    I should add to my above post, and I say this with a sad heart as a graduate of TMS, whose seminary faculty prepared me well for the ministry I have today in Washington D.C., that existing students should transfer and that incoming freshmen should go somewhere else – if they desire to earn an accredited degree.

    From what I now know, there is no way the school will remain accredited as long as John MacArthur and his sycophant (that is a strong word, but nonetheless accurate) board are in anyway connected to TMU and TMS. The endemic legalistic bullying culture, the nepotism, the conflicts of interest, the numerous Clery Act violations that have been covered up, and to say nothing of MacArthur and his board’s lack of scholastic credentials, all render them unqualified for leadership.

    If someone stood before them charged with the same allegations, the verdict of “UNQUALIFIED!” would most certainly and immediately be issued. So for them to hang on is hypocritical. They have rendered themselves no longer “above reproach” per the biblical requirement for leadership stated in 1 Timothy 3:1 — a text MacArthur has used to judge others throughout his years of ministry.

    More revealing is MacArthur’s reaction – his lack of repentance – to being called on the carpet by objective governmental authority (cf. Romans 13:1-8; I Peter 2:13-14) to which he is accountable.

    All should signal to incoming students, existing students, donors, faculty, alumni, and the surrounding community that there is an immediate need for change in leadership. This is unfortunate and sad, but all should boycott the school until MacArthur and his cronies leave.

  • Ralph Drollinger / February 21, 2019 at 4:16 pm Reply

    I think it is very important to note what MacArthur himself states (among many other things) in regards to those who are deemed qualified to lead Christian institutions:

    “Nevertheless, those outside the church must recognize him as a man of impeccable reputation. How can a man have a spiritual impact on his community if that community does not respect him? Such an individual can do nothing but bring reproach or disgrace on the cause of Christ.” (MacArthur, John: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Timothy [Moody; Chicago] page 119).

    In this case, WASC—those outside the schools—are the ones who made the findings, placing the The Masters’ University and Seminary on probation over moral and ethical violations: Findings such as bullying those under one’s authority and deliberate engagement in nepotistic conflicts of interest respectively. These are character issues, deliberate sins in the life of the University and Seminaries’ leader. Probation status did not stem from perfunctory findings, like failing to paper a file, or incorrectly processing a federal tuition grant.

    The fact that an outside governmental agency objectively documented and determined that MacArthur’s leadership does not even meet the moral and ethical standards of the world, deems him unqualified to remain at the helm. MacArthur measures up neither to WASC’s nor his own standards.

    MacArthur’s response? A half-confession in chapel: Something to the tune of “we’ll do better in the future!” One need examine what MacArthur himself says about such pleas:

    “The all too common practice today is to forgive a leader who sins and immediately restore him to his ministry…To immediately restore them to the ministry, however, lowers the standard that God expects leaders to follow. And since leaders serve as the pattern of holiness and virtue for the congregation, the standard for the entire church is lowered” (Ibid, page 103-4). In this case it is the standard of the University and Seminary that is lowered—should he remain anywhere in the picture.

    MacArthur should measure himself by his own standards of measure (cf. Matthew 7:1-5); he has fallen on his own sword.

    Most important here is the cause of Christ, the Great Commission, the glory of God, and the sustainability and endurance of the University and Seminary (I am a graduate of the Seminary)—not MacArthur and his sycophant board members who are now trying to save face. They have feathered their own bed; it is time for them to fly away.

  • Daniel Espinosa / March 2, 2019 at 9:40 am Reply

    Hi John Mathew Fox! Your parents blessed you with a great theological name. (Only the given name “George” would have been more prescient.). Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. Many biblical schools here in the Southland have evolved into community-serving universities, Biola and Azusa Pacific immediately come to mind, and TMU needs to join.
    I understand the conservative fear that once on that path the obvious trajectory is Yale, Princeton, Harvard, or worse yet, Union. The antidote, of course, is sound teaching at the church level, and an expectation that those beliefs and teachings will be vigorously tested at University.
    One of my favorite podcasts is “Can I Say This in Church” — it’s host, Seth, is a grad of Liberty U. Fortunately for him, the Liberty he attended was moving away from the TMU model, and his podcast is rife with questions all believers ought to be having. Blessings to you.

    • Bookfox (Author) / March 2, 2019 at 10:49 am Reply

      Thanks for those thoughts!

  • M. Wiggins / March 5, 2019 at 9:51 am Reply

    If they’re hiring janitors and others who don’t perform academic or policy-setting functions on the basis of doctrinal purity, that is a flat out violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act. Assuming the comment about hiring janitors on the basis of purity of doctrine wasn’t hyperbole on your part, they should be sued in addition to being put on probation.

  • Ken / April 16, 2019 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Hello John,
    Having read your commentary, there are a few things that stand out to me. Of all the improprieties that have occurred within the MacArthur organization, perhaps the most important is the one that gets the least attention. The organization and John MacArthur himself have a history of covering up sexual assault and rape, with little or no regard for the damage they are doing to the victims themselves. I used to think highly of TMC, but not now.
    The marcipreheim.com site has first hand stories of mistreatment by authorities when they were still called The Masters College, and the comments sections lists many more instances of TMC mishandling reports. The most recent stories, “Do You Hear Me”, outlines violence that includes numerous first-degree felonies against multiple women. These crimes from years ago were carried out by an employee that works at TMU. Before corporate attorneys were involved, the head of Human Resources labeled him a sexual predator. I can’t imagine what was written in his Christian testimony when he first moved from a junior high school to Desert Christian High School and I doubt he changed it when he began his part time employment at TMC. When John MacArthur was notified of the situation, he did nothing. Instead, HR moved this man from classroom to online teaching and made him a facilitator for dual credit classes, meaning he works with female students at local high schools. He recently began teaching part time at Antelope Valley College. TMU must have given him a letter of recommendation, even while knowing about the accusations that he called “inappropriate relationships.”
    That is not the worst of it. John MacArthur began the 2018-2019 school year by addressing the TMU student body and explaining that the problems with WASC, and these stories, were untrue and came from people that just wanted to harm the reputation of a Christian organization. John MacArthur knew that was a false statement when he made it because he is complicit in the cover up. The accusation referenced above went all the way to his offices. His organization thumbs their nose at state and federal laws that require reporting complaints of sexual violence. They claimed they were unaware of the laws, but HR departments require training in this area. And it gets worse.
    There are many good people working at TMU but they are “preaching to the choir”, as the saying goes. What about the souls that are lost because John MacArthur and the administration of TMC re-traumatized women by blaming them simply because they were the victim of a sexual assault, and then claiming they were followers of Satan trying to damage his institution? Blaming a victim for the violence and rape perpetrated against them is not part of biblical teaching and only pushes people away. My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that John MacArthur is a hypocrite that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. The Bible tells us that we are not judged on what we did right, but judgement is based on what we did wrong. When John MacArthur reaches his judgement day, how is he going to explain driving already wounded souls away from God?

  • Christy / April 19, 2019 at 8:34 am Reply

    Ken, it sounds like you might be talking about Dan Roland, and you might be interested to know that it looks like Masters banned him from their campus, he no longer teaches any on campus classes, only online ones. That strategy reminds me of the Catholic Church scandals where high ranking officials knew some of their clergy were sexual predators but chose to move them around and give them other duties instead of reporting them to the police and reporting the incidents as is required by the CLERY Act. Masters is in trouble and on probation, (may even lose their accreditation), now that they have been caught doing things like that.

    Even now John MacArthur is thumbing his nose at the WASC folks who put him on probation by telling everyone he’s going to beat them at their own game by changing his title to Chancellor and then continuing to do whatever he wants to. He may be right, his official title, and even the “official list of duties”, are meaningless if he continues to rule with fear and intimidation tactics and no one with a conscience can oppose him and keep their job.

    Sadly Masters strategy continues to make their campus appear to be much more safe than it really is, because they have never reported any of the rapes and sexual abuse allegations to the proper authorities. If you look them up and check they still have a PERFECT unblemished record at the very same time as they are in deep trouble for failing to report incidents that the WASC discovered and included in their probationary report. They are sucking good Christian families into trusting them with their children under the false belief that it’s a super safe school, when in fact it may well be a cesspool of sexual abuse, run by immoral administrators who help sexual predators hide from the authorities and don’t even adhere to the basic Christian values they claim to be teaching. They don’t just re-traumatize victims, they create a safe looking school that attracts more victims and makes them relax their guard by giving them the illusion they have nothing to fear at that school.

    As long as people like John MacArthur are employed at Masters University it will be a cesspool of nepotism, and likely on the preferred list for sexual predators who want to work someplace where they are unlikely to be turned over to the police if their escapades are reported to school authorities.

  • Ken / April 29, 2019 at 7:35 pm Reply

    Christy. You are exactly right. If you look up the characteristics of predators, it is not at all unusual for them to hide in a church or some kind of Christian institution. That is why you always see neighbors making statements like, “I would have never thought he could do those things….” or something close to that. In the article at https://www.marcipreheim.com/2017/11/26/do-you-hear-me/, the actions of Dan follow those of a predator almost exactly. First being friendly for awhile, then sexually attacking, followed by threats and torture to re-enforce that he is willing to carry out his threats. The fact that a second woman said that she had the exact same experience immediately after the woman that wrote the story is quite telling. This guy is a serial predator and any decent person would think that John MacArthur and TMU would at least take these accusations seriously instead of looking for ways to avoid dealing with them. HR knew the whole story. In a meeting with HR, Dan offered to apologize. If he hadn’t done anything wrong, for what offense was he going to apologize? Instead of digging for the truth, they made excuses for him and then blamed the woman for being raped after Dan forced his way into her house and had told him to leave and that she didn’t want him there. She was battered and bruised and has permanent scars. Why would John MacArthur and TMU protect this criminal? This situation by itself should encourage WASC to withhold accreditation until he is removed from employment at TMU.

  • Christy / April 30, 2019 at 7:47 pm Reply

    Ken I am not surprised by anything you’ve mentioned, all I have to do is remember how many well known rapists turned out to have lots of victims that never spoke up until after they were publicly outed by other women. I think the stories at the web site you mentioned are true and that person just hasn’t been caught yet. When I ask myself how that can be I quickly remember how hard it is even today for a woman to successfully accuse a man of raping her, unless he was caught in the act by other people.

    Many women are afraid to speak up and I know even those who did at Masters quickly regretted even trying after being demonized by the very university staff who should have been there to protect them. As for Masters staff, right up to McArthur, I think they have two reasons, first to protect their school, (and their own reputations), and second because they believe they have the Godlike right and power to ignore our laws and even do damage to rape victims, because they represent God’s will on Earth. McArthur truly believes the WASC is doing the devil’s work and he has all the moral authority he needs, and the Divine Right, even a Christian obligation, to mislead them and then do whatever he thinks best, after all they don’t even go to HIS Church. You wouldn’t believe how many of his staff do just to say in his good graces.

    I wouldn’t say they don’t care about the victims, but in a way they don’t, and would prefer they suffer silently. Certainly not as much as they do about their own reputations and profits. They dislike the victims for causing THEM problems and have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who is not willing to suffer silently suffer at their divine request. I’ve even been told they have threatened so sue news outlets that tried to report what they have done. The truth is their worst enemy.

    One day all of them, especially McArthur himself are going to have to answer for what they have done and I don’t think it will be pretty. No one can pretend to speak for God and get away with such hypocritical behavior.

  • Christy / May 8, 2019 at 8:05 am Reply

    I just looked at the latest official reports filed by The Masters University as is required by the CLERY Act, and they have a flawless, perfect, unblemished record with NO Rape, NO Fondling, NO Incest or even Statutory Rapes being reported for the calendar years 2015, 2016 and 2017, how amazing.

    What amazes me is that even now that everyone knows that’s a lie Masters still hasn’t been forced to correct their statistical report data so parents and students will know what really goes on in their school.

    They are such liars, and they profess to be “Good Christians”, qualified to teach young impressionable students?

    I would rather see children attend a Jewish School than one run by them. At least the Jews have a sense of morality and are generally honest.

    • Daniel Malloy / January 28, 2020 at 12:41 am Reply

      I am sure the Jews had a sense of morality and honesty when they crucified Christ.

  • Karen / March 4, 2020 at 4:42 pm Reply

    I greatly appreciated this article, and thought you could use a little comic relief at this point; on Easter Sunday 2015 I was actually kicked out of the car of the man who organized the Strange Fire conference, Travis Allen, who’d invited me to dinner with his family, because I refused to deny that Jesus came to me in a glorious, amazing dream when I was 18, and emerging from severe trauma in my teens from a mother who had become demon possessed from working the Ouija board when I was 11.

    It was truly an awesome dream, which was explained to me by the Bible itself (Jesus is breathtakingly beautiful, BTW, and Colton Burpo’s fake Jesus doesn’t hold a candle to the perfection of Jesus’ face, as described in Psalm 27 as well (“One thing I ask; this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY of the Lord”!). I show the picture of Burpo’s “Jesus,” and tell people, “I don’t want to gaze at THIS dude forever; I wouldn’t even look twice at him if I passed him on the street!” Lol.

    At any rate, in 2015 I had gone 40 miles in a wheelchair cab to Travis’s then-new church in Greeley, CO, to celebrate Easter at the church I’d been baptized when I was a 19 year old college student. For years I contributed on monthly autopay to GTY, and considered myself to be a Conservative Baptist–UNTIL the Strange Fire conference.

    I shared my testimony with an elder that fateful Easter, which, whether John Abdullah MacArthur (Lol) “approves” or not, includes a glorious, amazing dream in which my Lord came to me, to assure me of His great love for me (at a time I was suffering much from the rejection and abandonment I’d suffered from Satan in the previous years), and to give me a significant choice; a choice of following HIM or going back to my old life.

    I will not be ashamed of His gift to me (“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful age, of HIM will I be ashamed…” Mk. 8:38), nor will I deny His gift to me (“Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown before My Father in heaven” Mt. 10:32-33), and I also say with the apostles Peter and John in Acts 4:19-20, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to obey you or God, you be the judge, but I CANNOT HELP BUT SPEAK OF WHAT I HAVE SEEN AND HEARD.”

    Unknown to ME, the elder whispered in Travis’s ear that I had spoken of a “mystical experience.” Travis invited me to dinner with his family, but I declined, saying it wasn’t feasible in my chair. He INSISTED, saying his son could take my chair back in the church, and at his house, they’d carry me in. I was so touched by his kindness (joke was on me!), that I accepted. But on the way out of the parking lot, the unthinkable happened. Travis turned around and said “And BTW, I don’t want you talking about a ‘mystical experience.’ ”

    Talk about refusing to obey 1 Thess. 5:19-21! “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but EXAMINE THEM. Hold fast what is good…” I informed Travis I would never deny that He came to me in that dream–so he turned the car around and kicked me out, informing me that I have “no fear of God.”

    And to this day, he AND his church refuse to apologize. They actually believe his treatment of me is “approved by God.” “In fact,” Jesus said in Luke 16:2, “the day is coming when they will think they are serving God to put you out of the synogogue (i.e. church).” Ironically, I am one in a million who has listened to the Strange Fire conference on CD (I have the set), and have the “Strange Fire’ book as well. JMac repeatedly quotes 1 Thess. 5:20-21 (he NEVER quotes verse 19 however), and he established 5 criteria by which to examine “extrabiblical revelations in his book too, yet NONE of the panel members DOES THIS. Not even John MacArthur himself.

    A TMS graduate named Lyndon Unger told me on the GTY FB page that he’d “read my dream and show me my error” (my full testimony was posted on my Google Plus page, although in April 2019 Google Plus was deleted), but I never heard from Lyndon again. I found him on FB months later however, and he told me he’s facing the challenges of single parenthood, so he’s not doing social media now.

    I sincerely told him I’d pray for him, but still…he insulted me by saying he’d “show me my error,” then I never heard from him again. The fact IS, these Calvinists KNOW my dream passes biblical examination, and they CAN’T refute it biblically, and they’re too proud to admit it. I used to be in touch with Phil Johnson, and I actually sent Phil my testimony to his house, and I truly believe JMac has read my testimony. They CAN”T criticize it theologically, as they ALL know it passes theological examination 100 percent.

    So why even HOLD the Strange Fire conference or write the book establishing criteria with which to examine dreams, etc., and then simply reject people, say they’re lying, kick them out of your car, your church, etc.?

    And HOW can it be a violation of “Sola Scriptura”; how can it be “EXTRA biblical” revelation, when the BIBLE ITSELF says He comes to us in dreams and visions, to turn our souls back from the pit…”for God DOES speak, now one way, now another, in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon a man…God does all these things twice, three times, to turn a man’s soul back from the pit” (Job 33:14-30–and it was ELIHU who said these words, NOT Job’s OTHER 3 friends who were rebuked by God). At any rate, I wrote of this encounter on http://www.yelp.com, if anyone’s interested. Look up Grace church “near” Greeley, CO.

  • Bib Counseling / May 6, 2020 at 12:28 am Reply

    Hey there,
    The drama may have ceased…sharing this to point any fellow Christians who share my experience back to Christ:

    TMU severely wounded me through the Biblical Counseling Dept. (an understatement, to say the least). I generally choose not to share because people’s gut-reaction tends to defend TMU & top-down leadership instead of desiring to listen to others; TMU can’t bear to admit that something they do or have done is or ever has been wrong. They have a really hard time admitting weakness (a reflection of the top-down leadership) and I pray for their sanctification in Christ in this manner. If you’ve gone through something like this, just know you’re not alone, the Bible remains the inerrant & inspired Word of God, don’t blur TMU with Christ’s church, and realize there are plenty of gracious/biblically-faithful churches eager to help you through the after math and point you back to Christ during recovery.

    Thank you for pointing to the cult-like behavior. Absolutely NOT a cult. But totally has cult-like behavior and I’ve been told I’m not the only one healing in silence. Praise be to Christ the King.

    • Reneé / December 25, 2020 at 3:17 am Reply

      Thank you for sharing your concerns and comments about TMU’s Biblical Counseling program. My daughter is considering the program if she attends there in the future. What red flags should we be looking out for? Thank you and God Bless!

  • Steve / July 19, 2020 at 11:14 am Reply

    Nice Article. I have read dozens of testimonies describing some of the GTY group as a Christian cult. That is a strong accusation, but some of their practices and procedures seem convincingly so. What are your thoughts on the large number of people who claim to have escaped this group, been spiritually abused by this group, and who also claim it acts as a Christian cult? Do you think this is fair or does it really not behave at all as a cult does? Is reform enough or do people just need to get out like you did and learn about God’s grace and kindness towards sinners and grace towards the saints who still need more sanctification…?

    • Bookfox (Author) / July 19, 2020 at 3:31 pm Reply

      I do not think it is a cult.

  • Spence Culpepper / August 14, 2020 at 11:14 pm Reply

    Hello BookFox, can I email you privately?

  • Melissa Barbakoff / August 16, 2020 at 7:23 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I am so disappointed by Dr. Varner’s response. I too am an alumni. I am so disappointed that intimidation is used any time someone has concerns. In the past we have raised concerns and people just send “defense of MacArthur” emails instead of actually addressing the concerns. It is interesting that WASC still has not made a decision.

    • kori Claypool / May 19, 2021 at 4:07 pm Reply

      there is nothing to address here. his comments are to vague.

  • David / December 25, 2020 at 2:59 am Reply

    What are your thoughts of the University now that they are off probation? Would you feel comfortable sending your children there? Have the issues been adequately resolved with the new president and accreditation requirements?

    • Carol / January 3, 2021 at 4:10 am Reply

      Hey David, I would carefully weigh sending your child there. A family friend attends TMU and we have acquaintances that are recent grads and former employees. JMac still indirectly calls the shots there and Kory Welch’s company has their hands on several projects there and is the CEO of the JMac trust that funds the school in many ways. I am frankly surprised they got off probation. It’s sad to see that they just washed the outside of their cup and things have not truly changed if you dig beneath the surface. There is still bullying going on and somebody people are afraid to speak up in fear of losing their jobs. Academics sound like they are still somewhat strong. A ghost writer named Modern Day Zorro has written some accurate articles on Medium that you should read to get a better picture of what’s going on at Master’s and Grace Church.

  • Ed E. / March 9, 2021 at 7:10 am Reply

    Very good points made here. I attended the Master’s Seminary from 1998 to 2002 and had the worst experience of my life. Many of the professors there were very disrespectful to me. Some even bullied and mocked me. It was a absolutely miserable experience there. The ironic thing about it all is that I was a big supporter of John MacArthur before I attended the Master’s Seminary. In my opinion there is a lot of cult like behavior going on there.

    • kori Claypool / May 19, 2021 at 4:06 pm Reply

      define many?

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