He takes a bizarre turn in the middle and starts to criticize the United States by claiming our government has supported riots and closed churches. These are political talking points taken straight from our national discourse and they remain disingenuous at best and downright deceitful at worst. No one I ever saw supported riots. Protests yes, but riots? No way. Were churches closed? Not at all! They were asked to limit their gatherings. In fact, GraceLife was asked to limit gatherings to 15% of fire code capacity and follow mask wearing and social distancing. That was a bridge too far for Pastor Coates, however. Next, he says,
"There is no precedent for quarantining the healthy. I think it would have been better to let the virus run its course a bit and then see if stricter measures are needed." - Pastor James Coates
This is just dangerous. James Coates knows nothing about which he speaks. So as a pastor he believes it would be better to NOT try and save as many lives as possible. That is just so damning. He also knows nothing about this virus. Because there is a 14-day incubation period you do not know who is really sick and who is not. At this point in the sermon he turns towards his decision, and remember this is June of 2020, to return to full time service on Sundays. He states the following:
"Because there is less risk now it is time to obey God. When does not meeting become sinful? When does it become forsaking the brethren? When are we not meeting simply because we lack courage? - Pastor James Coates
While it was inaccurate to state the risk was down in June of 2020 notice how Coates ties this to being disobedient to God! What nonsense. The key verse today is the Hebrews verse Coates alludes to here about not forsaking the brethren. This verse is not intended to be above all else. What if there was a horrific blizzard on Sunday and the government advised that going out could cost you your life. Temperatures at sub-zero, wind gusts up to 50 MPH causing white out conditions. Would you be saddling up to church that day? Now imagine those conditions lasted three months; the amount of time Pastor Coates stayed virtual. Is there anyone in their right mind who thinks that God intended through this verse for us to hop in our car because you know, don't want to forsake the brethren! Obviously, this verse was intended for people who purposefully do not meet with the assembly. We have hurt Christians today who refuse to go to church. This verse was meant for them, not people obeying the proper authorities to protect themselves from a potentially lethal virus. Shame on you James Coates. To then blame the sheep by claiming they simply lack courage. No! You lack wisdom sir. Or maybe this is all a game to him as we see from this next quote:
"If we decide to meet some may think the risk is too great and we must be charitable with them." - Pastor James Coates
Charitable? I thought you said that not going meant you were a coward and living in sin? Which is it? I think we know the answer. Pastor James Coates is an agent provocateur far more than he is a shepherd. He was in jail because he refused to agree to follow the court orders. After being practically begged by the government to stop holding packed services they finally were pushed into building a fence around the church. This is not persecution beloved. It is one man who refuses to accept science if it hinders his ability to hold a church service for one and a half hours on a Sunday. A church should be so much more than that.
The church is so much more than that.