BELIEVERS ARE TO BLAME!
by Steve Fair
John MacArthur Jr. is pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. He is a well-known author and has a daily radio program, Grace to You, heard by millions throughout the country. MacArthur, 81, has pastored the church since 1969. Gavin Newsom has been governor of California since January 2019. Newsom,52, previously served 8 years as the state’s Lt. Governor and before that was mayor of San Francisco. During his tenure as mayor, he directed the city clerk to issue same sex marriage licenses, which triggered the nationwide movement to legalize same sex marriage.
In May, Newsom issued an order banning in-church services in California to blunt the spread of the corona virus. A large Pentecostal church sued the state seeking a restraining order, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split 2 to 1 decision denying the request. Ironically, the decision was issued the same day President Trump said governors should allow church, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship to reopen immediately.
After initially ceasing services for 20 weeks, Grace Community chose to resume live serves on July 27th. The City of Los Angeles sent them a cease and desist letter, threatening them with fines and arrest if they continued to meet. In a statement the elders of Grace said: “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.” On Sunday to thunderous applause, MacArthur opened the service by stating, “Welcome to the peaceful protest assembly at Grace Community.” He was not arrested. Three observations:
First, government has clearly used COVID-19 to overreach their authority. Even if their motive is to protect citizens, they do not have the authority to close businesses and churches. In a free society, there is always risk and it is not government’s job to protect ourselves from ourselves. It is to punish evil doers and reward those that do good.
Second, lack of involvement by believers has created this situation. In the past, MacArthur and other prominent pastors, have been vocally critical of those who neglect the gospel for politics. “The kingdom of darkness is going to do what the kingdom of darkness does. A preacher or pastor should be known for preaching the gospel, not being engaged in politics,” MacArthur once said. He advocates voting, but says those who spend more time on politics than the spread of the gospel are neglecting the gospel. Clearly the gospel is eternal and politics temporal, but if more believers had taken equity in their government, we wouldn’t have elected officials banning church services. Out of control government has been created by causal political involvement by believers who were encouraged to ‘stay out of politics’ by their pastor.
Third, government can’t control a sovereign God. No matter how many in-person worship services they ban, the church will prevail. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church has endured much worse persecution than banning in-person services and requiring masks. In the end, God will prevail.