Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. - Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
Pastor John MacArthur has long been the doctrinal darling of many folks, including many in discernment circles. He really was considered doctrinal royalty in a church with so many compromised preachers. This adoration often rose to unseemly levels as many essentially deified Mr. MacArthur and any criticism was often met with swift rebuke. I get it. I truly do. With so many false teachers, MacArthur was a diligent and solid exegete. Well, except for the fact that he is Calvinist. Oh, and his cessationism. These two positions are simply unsupported by the bible but other than that, he was usually spot on in his scripture interpretation. While I liked Mac, I never deified him. I was willing to write about the flaws in his teaching because the truth is what should matter. I remember doing a devotional called The Parable of John MacArthur and the Publican, where we examined the false Calvinist beliefs. Overall though, MacArthur has always been pretty solid.
Then COVID hit and he lost his doctrinal mind. Initially, Johnny Mac sided with the precautions and shut his church down, as the State of California demanded due to the spread of the virus. The problem with MacArthur's church is the same with any mega-church - they rely on tithing to survive and the pandemic halted giving. So strangely, Mac changed his mind about the church being closed in July of 2020, which was the height of the pandemic. COVID cases were still rising and people were still dying. These are established facts. The only disagreement comes from the QAnon, disengaged from reality crowd that unfortunately many Christians fell prey to. During this time, MacArthur continued to thumb his nose at the government, science and reason. The L.A. Times reported that he mocked the virus insisting there was no pandemic even as members of his church fell ill. Let me be very clear. While Mac usually has a pretty good grasp of theology, he is not a scientist. He is not an epidemiologist. He is not a virologist. Not even close. Like Rodney Howard Brown before him, he just refused to stay in his lane. It is not the job of any pastor to publicly declare there is or is not a pandemic because they do not have the training, experience or education. If I wanted Ephesians exegeted I would not ask Dr. Fauci. Mac was even quoted as claiming the virus was not as deadly as projected, essentially slapping the faces of the families of the 150,000 who had already died at that point in this country. If you find yourself wanting to disagree realize that at present there have been over one million deaths in this country so save it. You are wrong. John MacArthur was wrong and in many cases, dead wrong.
It was reported toward the end of 2020 MacArthur himself contracted COVID and many feared for his life. He of course will not confirm or deny this but he was absent from his church for a month and even when returned was visibly still fighting respiratory distress but he just joked that the people there would contract what he had by Noon. Yeah, very funny John. Reminds me of Pastor Loren Sandford who also opened his church in the middle of the plague and then bragged that no one in his church was sick. Then his entire church contracted COVID. Then Pastor Sandford died. Not so funny anymore for his family. Johnny Mac's church by the way placed a new warning sign for all who entered his building exonerating the church from any legal proceedings if anyone happened to catch COVID at the church, which is odd because he insisted there was no pandemic, right? Because you know, what butt would Jesus cover, right?
Then an even stranger thing happened. The NAR embraced the former outcast MacArthur. Remember Mac was the guy who spoke against the strange fire he was seeing in Charismania but after being persona non grata for so long, he was now adored. Why? Because the NAR embraced the dominionist theology Mac now was espousing. The entire revolt against the Democratic led government thing is the heart of dominionism. I remember seeing John MacArthur being interviewed by Steven Strang on Charisma news and wondered what the hell was going on? How can someone who is considered so biblically smart not realize the fact that the largest media cesspool of the NAR was now platforming him? To this day, even Mac's strongest defenders have no defense for this. As much as MacArthur probably would rail against Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Church, he fell for one of its core teachings. The church is not meant to be an hour and a half on Sundays. Many churches used the pandemic to do real ministry and be a source of support for their neighborhood and country. While not ideal, sermons can be live streamed. Ministries and groups can be remote. I found a quote from someone who attended MacArthur's church who also worked in healthcare at the time that sums up the dichotomy being presented:
"I have people ask me every day, 'Am I going to die?' And [MacArthur] is saying, 'Everybody meet in here, no problem, it's like I live in two different worlds."
He was right. There were two different worlds. In one world there was reason, science and concern for the health and wellbeing of people. In the other was crazy bat-poop conspiracy theories and a church that did not mind feeding their sheep into the COVID woodchipper in exchange for the Sunday show from compromised men who knew nothing about what they were speaking to. I remember early on Rodney Howard Browne espoused that he should be the authority to speak for the health of his congregants. Eh, no Rodney. You stick to heresy and let the scientists speak about the virus. The truly sad thing is we may never know how many people John MacArthur killed with this selfishness. I know that stings but that's the truth and the bible says he will be held to a higher account. The blood remains on his hands beloved. I do not care if you love him or deify him. He will answer for this we can be assured.