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Devotionals

John MacArthur's Tortured Arguments for Defying COVID Order

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"Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services. Said another way, it has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship. When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar. Caesar himself is subject to God. Jesus affirmed that principle when He told Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11). And because Christ is head of the church, ecclesiastical matters pertain to His Kingdom, not Caesar's. Jesus drew a stark distinction between those two kingdoms when He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17). Our Lord Himself always rendered to Caesar what was Caesar's, but He never offered to Caesar what belongs solely to God." - John MacArthur

I am sorry John but your description is duplicitous. The Executive Order has nothing to do with ordering, modifying, or forbidding your service. It has to do with protecting you and your community. By the way, if you truly did not want Caesar's input on your church maybe you should not have entered into the 501c3 status your church currently enjoys. You cite the reference to rendering unto Caesar but ignore the glaring problem with your argument. The entire nation of Israel was under the thumb of Rome at that time! Did Jesus stand up and preach about how matters of the temple could have no influence from the state, or Rome? Of course not. Jesus did not care nor weigh in one whit about the politics of His age. Christ is the head of the church and he has told you what to do in Romans 13. You are choosing to ignore it because of this bogus argument about your three siloed society. Sorry, it does not work that way.

"As pastors and elders, we cannot hand over to earthly authorities any privilege or power that belongs solely to Christ as head of His church. Pastors and elders are the ones to whom Christ has given the duty and the right to exercise His spiritual authority in the church (1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:7, 17)--and Scripture alone defines how and whom they are to serve (1 Corinthians 4:1-4). They have no duty to follow orders from a civil government attempting to regulate the worship or governance of the church. In fact, pastors who cede their Christ-delegated authority in the church to a civil ruler have abdicated their responsibility before their Lord and violated the God-ordained spheres of authority as much as the secular official who illegitimately imposes his authority upon the church. Our church's doctrinal statement has included this paragraph for more than 40 years: We teach the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4-7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1-4). In short, as the church, we do not need the state's permission to serve and worship our Lord as He has commanded. The church is Christ's precious bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-27). She belongs to Him alone. She exists by His will and serves under His authority. He will tolerate no assault on her purity and no infringement of His headship over her. All of that was established when Jesus said, "I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18)." - John MacArthur

Again, methinks thou does protest too much. This country is in the middle of a plague. Over 150,000 people are dead from it with four million more infected. Just think about what you are advocating for. To gather thousands of people indoors, in close proximity to each other and have them sing and shout amen, with hugs and all of the Christian accompaniment. The state has obligations to protect the corporate health. If five thousand people gather for your service you also seem to not care who they then take the virus to. Pastors who obey Romans 13 have not ceded anything. The church is not your building Pastor MacArthur. You can easily organize virtual services and still teach through streaming. Ideal? Hardly but at least it would be biblical. It is not infringing on the headship of Christ to obey Him when it comes to taking care of our neighbors. It is not infringement to obey authority that knows more than you do regarding epidemiology.

"Christ's own authority is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And [God the Father has] put all things in subjection under [Christ's] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:21-23).

Accordingly, the honor that we rightly owe our earthly governors and magistrates (Romans 13:7) does not include compliance when such officials attempt to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church in any other way. The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church. Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both. Neither church nor state has any higher authority than that of Christ Himself, who declared, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18)." - John MacArthur

C'mon, enough already. The Executive Order does not seek to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church. That is an asinine argument. It is interesting however that MacArthur is subverting sound doctrine by teaching his congregation to not care about their fellow man. To be so blindly arrogant as to think they know better about health matters they know nothing about. To damage their witness for Christ to the unsaved by acting so petulantly. MacArthur is also subverting biblical morality by pretending that only their opinion matters. It is interesting that MacArthur claims to have no authority to rule the state but that is exactly what he is doing. The state has decreed something and he has said no.

"Notice that we are not making a constitutional argument, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly affirms this principle in its opening words: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The right we are appealing to was not created by the Constitution. It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state's authority (Romans 13:1-7). Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon. The exercise of true religion is a divine duty given to men and women created in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 4:18-20; 5:29; cf. Matthew 22:16-22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state." - John MacArthur

So you are not making a constitutional argument and then make a constitutional argument? In doing so it brilliantly displays the need for us to stay in our lanes. No rights are absolute and the public good often outweighs our individual rights. In fact, the Supreme Court just ruled that churches cannot ignore health orders from the state. Regardless of the state versus the church argument, worshipping God is not contained in the building that John MacArthur holds court. One can worship God anywhere. Now I agree that nothing beats corporate worship but the literal lives of people must take precedent both biblically and according to the state.

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3 people are discussing this page, with 11 comments  Post Comment

whitelily227

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Protests are okay

Here's another point: Protests are okay. In one weekend, half a million were out there rioting, pillaging and burning but we can't have church. Fauci himself could not answer when he was questioned by Congress about this double standard. Either it's safe to be in groups or it's not. If you can't see the agenda behind this fauxdemic by now, you must be blind.

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 1, 2020 at 12:46:49 PM

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Anthony Wade

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Please Comment

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 28, 2020 at 11:24:23 PM

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Win DeWitt

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Astounding

Wouldn't it have been considerably more Christ-like to have just said, "I understand, what else can we (as a church) do to help?" His verbosity and scripture after scripture twisted ever so slightly looks like someone falling all over themselves to try to prove themselves right (when they know they're wrong). So much easier just to do the loving thing. But love no longer seems to have any relevance....

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 29, 2020 at 11:54:00 AM

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Reply to Win DeWitt: Thanks

yeah i am always worried when someone seems to be throwing scriptures against the wall

Submitted on Friday, Jul 31, 2020 at 3:28:26 PM

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whitelily227

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Persecuted Christians go to church

Stop it! This is very cowardly of you. I don't agree with John MacArthur on everything but he is speaking truth. Persecuted Christians are fellowshipping together and you think we should cancel it here in free America. They are under penalty of death and they get together. How much longer should we hide from a virus with a 0.25% mortality rate? I live in NYC and it's getting obvious that despite our very low numbers, we will not be fully open anytime soon. This is ludicrous! Didn't we lockdown so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed? What happened to that argument. I went with my husband to his oncologist appointment on April 22 At NYPresbyterian and his doctor told us things were calm again. His staff concurred. Stop the fear mongering! You should start reading the CDC reports and guidelines for your self. Almost all of the deaths have been of people with pre-existing conditions or very elderly. Kids are doing fantastic. The virus is real but if you take a look at the dictionary definition of pandemic, you will realize that we are not in the midst of one. There is no pandemic!

Submitted on Friday, Jul 31, 2020 at 2:10:08 PM

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Reply to whitelily227: well

It is sad that you do not care about 159,000 dead people. It is a shame that you think the elderly or sick are somehow disposable. A lot of kids are doing fantastic, well except those that are dead. Please do not make semantical arguments in the face of such death. You sound callous not Christian. MacArthur is not only wrong but his butchered the bible to defend a choice he knows he never should have made

Submitted on Friday, Jul 31, 2020 at 3:26:38 PM

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whitelily227

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Reply to Anthony Wade: It's not a pandemic!!!

Why is my pointing out that this is not a pandemic a problem? Why does my wanting to go to church the same as believing that lives are disposable? You make a very poor argument and you assume that I am okay with people dying. 150,000 dead out of 330,000,000 (and probably another 30 million illegal immigrants) is not a pandemic. Just look up the word pandemic in the dictionary. How long will we stay locked down? This virus cannot be stopped. We have state of the art medical facilities, testing treatments, antibody testing, plenty of PPE and ventilators and a much better knowledge of what this virus is. Why should we cower in our homes any longer? By the way, Florida got caught cooking the numbers. It's a fact that Cuomo was sending people back to nursing homes when the nursing homes told him that they could not take them. Javitz, the ship, samaritans purse all almost empty and we're closed down. My husband had stage four cancer last year. I spent nine months disinfecting and cleaning everything he touched so he wouldn't get sick. He almost died twice. I'm not saying to throw precaution to the wind but we can't stay home forever. I learned that Death can come at any time for anyone. Everyone who is scared is saying "just stay home" but have no plans to reopen. That's unsustainable. The numbers of suicide, domestic abuse, child abuse, drug overdose and murder are through the roof. But I do ask you: How long should we cower in our homes? What makes this a pandemic? Will you answer my questions?

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 1, 2020 at 12:40:41 PM

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Reply to whitelily227: well

I will not quibble over definitions. 150,000 are dead, period. You have made it clear they do not matter to you. They do to me and they should to Christians. I am not "cowering." I am exercising wisdom. Be well, and i hope you don't get it.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 3, 2020 at 12:48:25 AM

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Reply to whitelily227: There is

Having looked up the dictionary definition of "pandemic", Covid-19 is definitely a pandemic. Jesus said, where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst. That's all it takes to have church. The most persecuted Christians were those of the first century. And yes, like others now, they still met. They established Christianity...meeting in their houses! There were no church buildings - they met in each other's houses or had hidden meetings down in the catacombs. And they did not whine about it! We can do that now. Get together with a few of your Christian friends and have church in your house. Keep it safe and when the pandemic is over, go back to your huge church buildings. Just remember that the purpose of meeting together is to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He Himself said it only takes 2 or 3 for Him to be there. We Christians are never at a loss for the presence of our Lord and that is what it is truly all about!

Submitted on Friday, Jul 31, 2020 at 6:26:25 PM

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Reply to Win DeWitt: How exactly?

Can you show me how 150,000 out of 330,000,000 (not including the tens of millions of illegal immigrants) is a pandemic? The CDC says this disease has a 0.25% mortality rate. States have already been caught cooking the numbers repeatedly. How is this a pandemic?

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 1, 2020 at 12:38:19 PM

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Reply to whitelily227: well

please stop with the foix news talking points. The states are not cooking the numbers and Florida was caught doing the opposite.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 3, 2020 at 12:49:28 AM

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