John MacArthur Defends Church’s Failure to Report COVID Outbreak with Problematic Claims

By Julie Roys
John MacArthur recovery
Pastor John MacArthur preaches at Grace Community Church on Jan. 17, 2021. (Video screengrab)

In a statement submitted to a California court on Friday, well-known pastor John MacArthur defended Grace Community Church’s (GCC) failure to report an outbreak of COVID-19 to health officials in December with several problematic claims.

This is the first time MacArthur, or any official of GCC, has addressed the outbreak, which The Roys Report exclusively reported four months ago.

Nowhere in his statement does MacArthur deny that the outbreak occurred, despite the church continuing to meet in-person and without social distancing throughout the outbreak. MacArthur even admits that a “handful” of GCC congregants have been hospitalized or died from COVID. But he claims these congregants were not attending services and could not have contracted the virus at church.

The Roys Report, however, has evidence that at least one of the GCC congregants who died was attending GCC.

Throughout the statement, MacArthur also accuses me of spreading “falsehoods.” And he alleges that a leader at GCC told MacArthur’s staff that I “twisted” the leader’s words “to create a false impression” in a second article I published about the outbreak.

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Yet, when I spoke yesterday with the leader, Jim Layfield—a leader with Sojourners, one of seven fellowship groups at GCC—Layfield denied that he said anything like that to GCC staff. When I read Layfield what I had published and asked if it represented our conversation, he responded, “It sounds about right.”

Most of the claims in MacArthur’s statement were intended as rebuttals of my second article on GCC’s outbreak, which I published on December 28. This article was submitted as evidence by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health in its latest legal battle with GCC. (GCC is seeking relief from an injunction banning the church from meeting indoors and requiring social distancing when meeting outdoors.)

My December 28 article claimed that GCC knew of at least a dozen congregants with COVID but did not report the outbreak to health officials. As evidence, I cited a prayer sheet distributed by GCC’s Sojourners group to its members, which listed GCC congregants who were either sick or recovering from COVID-19.

In his statement, MacArthur argues that the church was either ignorant of these congregants with COVID-19; didn’t have a responsibility to report the outbreak; or that those sickened with COVID-19 didn’t contract the virus at GCC services.

These claims directly contradict evidence gathered by The Roys Report.

Was GCC unaware of outbreak?

In December, GCC’s Sojourners group posted a prayer sheet requesting prayer for nine members with COVID. The sheet also requested prayer for three members recovering from COVID and two who were sick with “possible COVID.”

In his statement, MacArthur suggests that church staff didn’t know about these Sojourners members who were sick with the virus.

He writes that the requests on the prayer sheet “were collected by a lay member of Sojourners who compiles prayer requests and distributes them to the group. . . . The cases listed there were not reported to the Church office, but solicited and collected by that lay person.”

MacArthur further states: “A prayer-request list compiled by lay people and distributed to members of an adult Sunday-school class is not proof that staff people or other officials at Grace Community Church knew this information.”

However, the email with the link to the prayer sheet was sent to Sojourners members on December 24 from an official church email address, which included Sojourners letterhead.

Sojourners Email
Letterhead of Sojourners email that included a link to prayer sheet.

Also, one of the people listed on the prayer sheet as having COVID is Dr. William Varner, a professor at The Master’s University who was the longtime shepherd of the Sojourners group. Varner’s wife, Helen, was also listed on the sheet as having COVID.

Given Varner’s prominence at the church, it’s surprising MacArthur would claim that the church was unaware of Varner’s and his wife’s illness.

It’s also surprising because I sent an email to GCC leaders on December 19—four days before the prayer sheet published—informing them of a report that Varner had contracted COVID.

My email also asked about an outbreak of COVID within the GraceLife fellowship group and the Filipino Outreach, and asked why the church hadn’t reported the cases to L.A. County.

Grace Community Church COVID outbreak

The church never responded to my email.

Yet, as I reported in my first article on the outbreak, the COVID cases among members of GraceLife and the Filipino Outreach were documented in numerous posts in a private GraceLife Facebook group.

Were those with COVID-19 attending GCC?

MacArthur claims in his statement that there’s “no reason” to believe that any of the people listed with COVID on the Sojourners prayer sheet had been attending Sunday services.

Yet on Facebook, William Varner stated on November 28, 2020, that “recently” he and his wife “came to church” and were mocked for wearing masks.

Will Varner COVID Grace Community Church

Also, according to GCC’s website, Varner preached at Sojourners classes on November 29 and December 6. On December 16, Varner announced on Facebook that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID.


Varner COVID Grace Community Church

As the leader of Sojourners, Varner would have led the relatively high-profile Sojourners class of about 250 people at GCC on Sunday morning. So, it’s hard to imagine that his presence at church would have gone unnoticed.

Varner and his wife recovered from COVID in January. In February, Varner left GCC after more than 20 years serving as the shepherd of Sojourners.

I reached out to Varner for a comment about why he left, but he declined to give a statement.

Were GCC congregants who died from COVID-19 “quarantined”?

MacArthur admits for the first time in his statement that congregants at GCC have died from COVID. But he claims that those “who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 . . . had remained quarantined because they had other medical conditions that put them at high risk. They did not get infected at Grace Community Church, because they were not attending services.”

However, at least one of the GCC congregants who died after contracting the virus was attending services.

As I reported earlier this year, a student in his sixties at The Master’s Seminary died in January after contracting COVID-19.

According to the man’s daughter, her father did not have any pre-existing medical conditions and was “very healthy” before contracting COVID. She added that her father was attending GCC and very active before he became ill.

Did GCC employees have COVID?

MacArthur claims that “none of the people” listed with COVID on the Sojourners prayer sheet are church employees. He adds that as an employer, Grace Community Church is required to report only employees who contract COVID, not congregants.

MacArthur does not state, however, whether any GCC employees not on the prayer list were sick with COVID.

As I reported in my December 20th article on the outbreak, a the wife of a GCC staff member posted on a Facebook thread about COVID in December that “all 8” of her family were “almost over it.” She added, “It was like a flu for Sheldon and I.”

Grace Community Church outbreak

MacArthur also does not address in his statement whether he had COVID.

MacArthur uncharacteristically missed a month of preaching in late December and January for an undisclosed illness. When he returned to the pulpit, he looked noticeably thinner. And after coughing and struggling to catch his breath, MacArthur pointed to his chest and said: “It’s still in there.”

In his statement, MacArthur claims that he was simply resting when he missed a service in late December, and that there was “nothing sinister” about allowing another pastor to preach.

MacArthur claimed that I attempted to “imply something sinister” about his absence in my December 28 article when I wrote: “(Y)esterday, John MacArthur was scheduled to preach at GCC. But GCC Staff Pastor Tom Patton announced during the in-person services that ‘our pastor is resting today’ and that another pastor would be preaching.”

Did GCC pressure members not to report COVID?

The remaining question concerns whether GCC pressured members not to report cases of COVID to the health department.

Clearly, there was an outbreak of COVID at GCC in December, which is defined by L.A. County as at least three coronavirus cases among church staff or congregation within a span of 14 days. According to county records, GCC did not report any COVID cases to the health department after being cleared in November of a small, initial outbreak at the church.

There also appears to be an attempt by MacArthur to discredit my reports about the outbreak, despite overwhelming evidence that they were accurate.

As mentioned earlier, GCC leader Jim Layfield denies MacArthur’s claim that Layfield told MacArthur’s staff that I “twisted (Layfield’s) words to create a false impression.”

In my December 28 article, I wrote: “I spoke with Jim Layfield, one of the area leaders of the Sojourners group. He confirmed that a number of people within the group have COVID. When I asked why these cases weren’t listed on the health department website, he responded: ‘I don’t know who’s keeping score, but it doesn’t seem to be adding up.’”

When I spoke with Layfield yesterday, he again said, “I don’t think anybody there (at GCC) was keeping score.”

He added that he had spoken with a leader of Sojourners and one GCC elder about what I had published in my December 28 article. But Layfield said he never told them that what I had written was inaccurate.

Layfied said he “really feels bad” about MacArthur’s accusation against me. “I’m just sorry,” Layfield said. “We need to put this thing to bed.”

As I wrote in December, a GCC leader who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job told me that GCC staff were pressuring members not to report COVID. So did other GCC members who said they feared being ostracized and losing their community if they spoke out.

However, MacArthur writes in his statement: “There was no pressure whatsoever on staff or ‘church members’ regarding what they should or should not report to DPH. If there was any such pressure by staff members, Grace Community Church would take it seriously and put a stop to it.”

I have since urged my sources to go on the record, but none has been willing. If GCC’s case with L.A. County continues, however, the county may depose witnesses. This would mean GCC staff and members could be compelled to testify.

UPDATE: Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You, and an elder at Grace Community Church, tweeted that he also had COVID-19 in late December. However, Johnson contends he possibly got the virus from change at a truck stop, not from an outbreak at GCC. 

Despite having COVID in late December, Johnson preached at GCC on January 3, 2021, and on December 20, 2020.

Phil Johnson COVID Grace Community Church



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62 thoughts on “John MacArthur Defends Church’s Failure to Report COVID Outbreak with Problematic Claims”

  1. Thanks, Julie, for good responses to JM’s “rebuttal” to your articles. It seems as if when MacArthur gets into it, he digs a deeper hole for himself and the church.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. The coverup becomes bigger than the thing itself. And it seems to be a theme when you consider other things going on over there.

    If they want to flout orders about gathering and do whatever they want, then just fully own all of it. With social media, nothing is hidden. They look ridiculous the more they deny.

  3. They are simply lying, and Satan is the father of lies. I’m sure that Mr MacArthur memorized that verse long ago, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be following his Heavenly Father in telling the truth about COVID.

  4. Chuck Chillingworth

    When I was at Dallas Seminary in the early 80’s, John MacArthur spoke to a group of 50-60 of us at the dorm. Several months later, another leader came to the same group and spoke. A friend of mine asked him what he thought of MacArthur. After a long pause, his answer was “I went through seminary with John and I will tell you that he NEVER admitted to being wrong on anything, even the smallest detail.” I found that profoundly disturbing then as I do now.

    1. Chuck, I know for a fact that MacArthur’s children have said they could never tell him he was wrong. In fact Mac is known to often say “I always win”

      The man is never wrong. Always wins

      But God knows. And I would not want to be in Mac’s shoes.

    2. A very telling statement of John MacArthur never admitting to being wrong about anything even in the smallest detail, very telling. I was just thinking the same thing prior to reading your post and I said to myself if anyone is waiting for John MacArthur to own up to anything he did or said that was wrong, please do not hold your breath. I have attended (and therefore have stopped attending) several speaking engagements with MacArthur and I can say quite plainly I have never detected one tiny speck of humility in the demeanor this man. But he preaches the gospel and the spirit is moving, many say. My answer is, so what. Should a high-minded and strong personality of pride and narcissism be overlooked and even ignored because people are hearing the gospel and the spirit is moving? And certainly the money continuously rolls in by the truckload to support the “ministry” of GCC and The Masters College, and we can have that interrupted can we?

  5. That’s not just ‘from a GCC email address’, an HTML-formatted email/newsletter of that sort is almost certainly sent using a dedicated, paid platform administered by the entity paying the bill and with unique sub-accounts to individuals allowing them the ability to communicate to specific subsets of the main subscriber list and controlling the FROM address. ALL senders also need to add specific verification details to your DNS or 90% of sent emails will end up in recipients spam folder, and that can only be done by someone with direct access to the domain name info.

    Querying their domain name shows they’re using Mailchimp (crappy & overpriced, but hey), so while maybe it’s possible for them to insist they didn’t know the details of the conversation, the call was made from the churchs phone, as it were.

  6. Julie, I think I have been more disturbed at the time you are putting into reporting on a few people of JM church of 1000’s getting Covid, and also concern about adults choosing not to wear a mask which does a much good as a screen. I can only assume you haven’t seen the research by 100’s if not 1000’s of doctors on these topics which mainstream media is censoring because it doesn’t fit their narrative. I encourage you to do some research with GreenMed and the Highwire with Del Bigtree. Our church has been meeting since last June giving people who are scared the options they want in three separate meeting areas. It’s an incredible amount of work for us but we are loving them back this way. We even had our church weekend getaway at a camp last August with no protocols and no one of the 140 of us got sick.

    1. In normal times your advocacy for quackery would simply be quaint and silly.
      During a pandemic it’s deadly.
      Knock it off.

      Wear a mask. Socially distance. Get the vaccine.

      1. Dr. DJ,
        I would attest that your comment is rude and disrespectful toward those whose opinions differ than yours. I am not a health professional, but I have spoken and heard from enough there is not 100% agreement on the efficacy of masks.

        There should be freedom of choice in terms of getting the vaccine.

        And we should offer respect to people whether they are wearing a mask or not. If you note, she does make note that their church is giving options for those who wish to be Covid strict.

        The real issue isn’t whether MacArthur’s congregation masked or not.

        The issue: Did MacArthur lie?

        Julie makes a strong case that he did.

        1. Next time you or a loved one needs surgery, we can take off our masks for you. Masks decrease the viral load in any given volume of air. That is fact and can and has been proven. Any person who denies that, is a liar.

    2. Jean – I’ve presented the same question before on similar treads with zero response.

      Have you attempted to consult with a front-line medical professional as part of shaping your opinions about COVID? I’ll put Vegas odds on that answer being no. If you know more than the collective knowledge of medical science, then you are an AMAZING student with remarkable sources.


      1. Tony, there are schisms in the medical field as well re: this virus. As a retired professional with over 30 yrs exp. I can say there is no consensus. We all know today’s facts are tomorrow’s fiction/ vice versa. It is disturbing to see science altered, censored, manipulated by politics, profit. but adding religion to such a topic is a nightmare.

        The manner of your comment is rude and ignorance based. You fail to demonstrate basic wisdom and discernment w/ such wording, not to mention Christian grace.

      2. Yes, actually. We’ve been consulting with a pysicist and his son who is an ER doctor at John Hopkins. We’ve been in constant contact with our doctor who has had excellent results with optional RX and supplements and would never recommend the shot. They both say our research is valid. Sorry, you lose that bet. How much do you owe me? :-)

    3. This would be funny if it weren’t so terrifying.

      Saints of the Lord, anytime someone suggests that you…
      ” do some research with GreenMed and… Del Bigtree”
      …run away. Those are two of the largest purveyors of medical misinformation, antivax nonsense and new age naturopathic quackery.

  7. This story re-affirms my belief that I mentioned on a similar thread regarding COVID. It’s my belief that many (not all) pastors are reluctant to honor social distancing and mask restrictions because of jealousy. They only want to address problems where they get to be part of the solution and are therefore jealous of the problems that are solved by science and/or government. They thrive on calamity, fear and polarization (us vs. them). Many pastors will invent problems, or certainly support conspiracies, so they can be the center of attention.

    In the case of MacAurthur, it seems like COVID is an inconvenience for him. With people at home (or not attending regularly in person) pastors like MacArthur become less relevant. When that relevancy becomes threatened, he abandons core principles of truth and honesty. I’m sure others have different opinions and points of view (even ones that reference lengthy bible verses) but I’m quite convinced that pastors like MacAruthr don’t actually value the principles they preach…at least not when those values get in the way of perceived relevancy.

  8. I guess John MacArthur is so used to gaslighting members and elders in his church and getting away with it for so long that it will work on L.A. County officials as well. 🤷🏻‍♂️

      1. Depends how you look at it. By outright lying to government, while claiming to represent the church, he IS preaching God’s word. It’s just a shame it’s such a horrible testimony of his values and integrity. Whether you like it or not, people are watching and forming their opinions. By digging in his heels and lying, he’s setting a horrible example.

  9. How in the world could Johnson narrow the options as to how he got COVID to “change handed to me at a truck stop”? 😂

  10. Julie’s got a vendetta. Good for clicks I guess. If John M was a liberal, LGBTQ affirming, woke pastor she would love him. This is ridiculous.

    1. Clearly, you know nothing about me. I’m not “woke” or LGBTQ affirming. I am, however, passionate about the purity of the church and believe accountability is important, even for big celebrities.

      1. Here here. People get their hackles up when Julie investigates. If there was nothing to hide people wouldnt get so defensive. Glad I have left the church after 50 years of being a faithful member. I havent lost my faith in God but I have lost it in the church.

        1. It is heartbreaking isn’t it. But it shows your willingness to pursue and accept real truth and reject deception.

      2. Yes you are.

        In his statement, MacArthur argues that the church was either ignorant of these congregants with COVID-19; didn’t have a responsibility to report the outbreak; or that those sickened with COVID-19 didn’t contract the virus at GCC services.

        These claims directly contradict evidence gathered by The Roys Report.

        What evidence? That some people in the church contracted COVID? Have you looked at the COVID surveillance data for Los Angeles county? A huge percentage of the population contracted it. Your evidence that some members contracted it is actually evidence AGAINST an outbreak if the rate of COVID at GCC is LOWER than the background population. Also, that members contracted it is absolutely not evidence that they contracted it AT CHURCH. Do you have any experience with math and statistical inference?

        1. You did not provide evidence either. Appealing to ignorance and bragging about math and stat skill cannot be clear evidence.

          1. That was my point. There is no evidence for or against. People in a congregation getting COVID Is not evidence that there is an outbreak in the congregation when there is an outbreak in the entire land surrounding it.

    2. Mr. Jesperson

      Just another J Mac worshipper being ridiculous. These folks really need to repent of worshipping a man who looks the opposite of Jesus Christ.

    3. Luke? Luke McDonald? Is that you? I would hazard a guess that it is. If it is you any negative comments leveled against Julie is more than laughable. If it isn’t you consider your comment about Julie completely off the rails. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    4. Luke, that’s two baseless and false accusations in one comment. Are you copying Phil Johnson?
      Shame on you. If you have right on your side, you can criticize and challenge somebody without descending to slander and misrepresentation.
      Clearly, her steadfast reporting of facts and noble investigative qualities have rattled you.
      Check your heart for idolatry. Many idolize MacArthur.

      As someone who was enslaved to idolatry for years prior to conversion, I recognize these symptoms, especially the one of over-emotional reactivity to one’s idols being exposed

  11. Mr. Jesperson

    I am waiting for the anti-vaccers and those spouting paranoid conspiracy theories to show up. And yet all accounts points towards a very old celebrity who is just plain lying and contradicting all evidence to the contrary. For those who want to paint COVID as a non-issue and and precautions as some stupid irritating impediment to their personal freedom let me list the following strong evidence:

    1) Millions have died and many are suffering some long term consequences. This is no joke.

    2) The state of Washington has reported that the first and only time in over a hundred years they have had no deaths at all from the flu. This is strong evidence that the precautions that have been taken do actually work. Had they been taken before the prior flu season we would have had far fewer deaths from the flu in the previous season. There are reports all over of an incredibly mild flu season this last winter.

    3) There have been no reports of anyone receiving the vaccines who has had to be hospitalized with a bad case of COVID or dying. This speaks volumes. Those currently in the hospital and those still dying have not yet received the vaccines!

    These are simple facts and I am politically neutral. I am not out pressing anyone’s political agenda and I personally cannot stand politicians. I do not trust either party or any of their rhetoric. I was skeptical of the face masks until the data was in about how mild this last flu season was. Now I am not. People who have been vaccinated can test positive but they are not getting hospitalized which is what the vaccines are all about.

    1. My wife was talking to a man from Japan about this. Their mentality is so different than here. Everyone uses masks and follows the mitigation protocols. None of this everyone deciding for themselves stuff. Japans Covid death rate is 73 per million compared to 1715 deaths/ million in the US. Sweden initially went the route of not mitigating and trying to achieve herd immunity without masks/ social distancing. Their Covid death rate is literally 10 times higher than their neighbors Norway and Finland.

      To your first point, a 70 year old man at my mother’s church is just now able to sit up after 6 months due to Covid. There are so many horror stories surrounding this virus, it’s baffling that people refuse to think it’s serious.

      1. I taught overseas for many years. Asians are use to wearing masks for everything. My kids would be sick and still come to school with masks on. Pollution would warrent a mask. It is their culture. Their mask wearing didn’t pop up due to COVID.

        I do not think America is following any science when it comes to this. We are taking minority cases and blowing them up to make people believe that is the majority. Coompare countries and states that didn’t have strict lockdowns to those that did. It is eyeopening. Many reports say masks don’t work against COVID. I am not anti-anything when it comes to COVID but I do not believe America is doing the best practices when it comes to COVID. Letting hundreds of thousands of people in our country without protecting the rest of the citizens adds more to the confusion on this topic. Politicans that lock us down but then go out unprotected enjoying life is another confusing message. I just want to protect my health but I do not feel our politicians and health advisors have done a small fraction of helping the public. They have constantly flip flop on how to deal with it. This reminds me of AIDS and all the hysteria we dealth with on that issue.

        I have many doctrinal issues with JM but I would not catagorize him as Jim Jones or such. I think that type of talkl is undermining a serious discussion on the guy. No one is making people go to his church. No one makes you go to church if you feel uncomfortable due to COVID. We have many options now for attending worship services. I am grateful for that.

        Just for the record, I have had family members along with many friends that got COVID. They were all different ages. All recover nicely…I know I will get the yeah but comments. I am not diminishing the ones that truly suffer but I don’t think we in America are looking at the whole picture. At least half of the healthcare workers will not take the vaccine. I do know healthcare workers that have seen horrible things with COVID but again, we are judging things by experiences not data. For every great recovery there is the one person that will say, yeah BUT! I think that attitude just invalidates all the data we have now that paints a better picture of what is happening. The media is the media and they will do what it takes to get viewership. Fear is a great salesperson.

        1. Off-topic, but I have been wondering, is it really the mask wearing, or is it the handwashing and distancing and extra sanitizing? Or some combination of these? I have a vague “prejudice” toward the Japanese as being very clean, but it’s not founded in any experience or research into their culture. When they wear masks, do they also limit their personal contact in other ways, too, out of the ordinary for them? I have no hidden agenda in asking, just no one else to query.

        2. Mr. Jesperson

          Kay – “At least half of the healthcare workers will not take the vaccine.” I did a search to see what has actually been reported over the last month and that is not true. I did find a report in the New Yorker that claimed the number to be about 1/3. But dive down closer and more details emerge. Doctors and nurses have almost all taken the vaccines. The numbers climb as you get farther away from the professionals. Plus the surveys do not tell you why.

          Some may be hesitant, yet many have already gotten the virus and would then not see the vaccine as accomplishing much until they know how long it takes for natural immunity to wear off. Not everyone working in the hospital is old nor do they all work closely with patients. Some may be waiting for others at greater risk get their shots first. Some may be hesitant about the new technology. I was but now I see little evidence that the vaccine is a bigger threat than the virus. The scientific evidence appears to be pointing the opposite direction.

          The science on masks is still out so it is premature to write them off. Yet the fact, as I already presented, that the flu season has been so mile does point to clear evidence that all the measures taken as a whole have made a big difference. You cannot peel masks off of that and throw them away, they are part of the whole.

          I also do not agree with you about the J Mac, Jim Jones comparison. The thing that got everyone killed in Jonestown was not their theology but about their leaders influence over others who did whatever they were told to do without question. Jim told some followers to pick up some guns and kill Americans including a government official and that is what they did. This triggered the mass suicide. J Mac has the same kind of cultish influence over others. He mocks precautions and tells them to disobey the government and they do that. I am afraid that if he told them to get their guns and go after public health officials and judges that they would do that. I know that a civil war is coming with radicalized “Christian” militia groups who will do just that. J Mac is exactly the kind of unChristian leader who will push more people in that direction.

  12. If you were asked by local officials to report cases, report cases. As an employer you have a duty and as an organization that gathers, look out for your sheep so others don’t get infected by something that appears to be contagious. Can we agree on this? If there was coverup, this is a whole different issue as well. Why wouldn’t you as leadership at any level tell others so that they could protect those they come in contact with. Sad. God knows. He sees. He cares.

    Thank you for trying to get to the truth, Julie. You don’t seem like someone looking for revenge but someone calling others, especially those in leadership within the church, to walk in truth and love. God has used women throughout the Bible to do His work to bring Himself glory & to help His people. Keep on keeping on….

  13. This pandemic is changing the world in a lot of ways. One of the things it is doing is making very clear where people’s real values lie, what their priorities are, and how much or little they care about their neighbors. You can’t talk or lie or buy your way out of a contagion like the virus. It’s clear that MacArthur and his devotees think they can do all those things, because it’s worked for them in the past.

    No more. Our court system may be flawed, but it still does some things very well, including cutting past pretense and lies and selfish spin by relying on evidence and facts. I hope it does so in this case.

    It’s still astonishing to me that people can be so stubborn and selfish that they won’t even take the most basic of public health precautions in this pandemic. None of the health recommendations or requirements have been onerous or oppressive. It’s not hard to socially distance, wear a mask, meet outside, or line up for a vaccine. None of it is worth getting pugnacious about. And for Christians especially, there should never be an unwillingness to do the things that can save your neighbors’ lives and health.

  14. I attend Grace and there were more than a few who had Covid. It ripped its way through the leadership. At one point around Christmas they had a choir rehearsal and the following week a large percentage of those who attended were infected; including Bill Brandenstein, Mark Rice and many others. John and Patricia MacArthur had it, along with Mark Zhakevich, John Scott, Wil and Helen Varner and a number of elders as well.

    They say they’re all about the truth but it’s really about preserving the platform. They have no problem lying to protect John’s influence.

    1. George – I have family and a several friends there and associated with the University/Seminary. What you just said is accurate and my family member who is in the choir came down ill just before Christmas too. I have heard from a few reliable sources that John MacArthur had Covid and was hospitalized too…..but won’t say he did and the cover up and deceit is sickening.

  15. I think JM has been trying to virtue-signal to a particular Christian crowd and it’s gone badly wrong. There is nothing unScriptural about “hands, space, face, and fresh air” as they say in the U.K. His denials rival his actions in the first place to avoid obeying the government mandates.

    1. We obey God first and foremost. The American government and it’s health experts have constantly flip flop on COVID and how to handle it. Our government leaders have told us to wear masks and stay home while they go out unmasked and enjoy life. Our government is letting hundreds of thousands of people into our country, some with COVID, without protecting the citizens. At best the American government has totally gone into lala land when it comes to protecting the public. Don’t think I am saying one party is better than the other because I am NOT! I think our government should be held accountable just like John MacArthur should. We should question both in my opinion and they need to answer the questions. I would also question the wisdom of putting the American government above John MacArthur. Folks are complaining about John MacArthur being put on pedestal but then turn around and put the American government on that same pedestal. Confusing message I think. We can question JM but not our elected officials??

      1. The reason it is a BIG deal INSIDE the church vs. OUTSIDE in government, is that is the Biblical attitude. See 1 Corinthians 5:12 for starters.

        John MacArthur has shown he is NOT above reproach and is not Biblically qualified to be a pastor or an elder. He needs to be expelled from his position of leadership. PERIOD. As for holding both accountable, I agree. However, given all the requirements for elders and pastors, I would argue that MacArthur should be held MORE accountable (and he will be judged MORE harshly than people not in leadership as Scriptures state).

      2. Mr. Jesperson

        I am sorry, Kay, but you are off on this one. The Apostle Paul says from Romans 13:

        “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

        What Paul says is crystal clear. JMac obeying the authorities that are put in place by GOD for the greater good of public health is what the Word clearly says to do. By choosing to disobey without any good reason of conscience, this is not a pro-life sit-in, is rebelling directly against God’s authority.

        Beyond that I do not defend the narcissist and hypocritical leaders we have chosen for ourselves. Yet I see no good reason to disobey these people for merely personal selfish reasons. Our leaders are not humbling themselves before God so they lack his wisdom. But that is not an excuse for rebellion or J Mac’s outright lies. Let the systems in place hold our elected officials accountable and all of them. But those are two very different issues…

          1. Chris, yes Nero was which is a great point. Governmental leaders just cannot hardly get much worse than Nero. It makes things being said by the likes of J Mac utterly ridiculous and anti-scriptural.

    1. Excellent reminder for all about the necessity of being honest in everything on a personal level, and for ministry leaders in particular, in whom dishonesty cannot be tolerated, but too often is in today’s organizational prideful power trips and money-making machinations.

      As you state: “You can’t have conniving self-dealers built into the ground-floor leadership of the church,” and “the gospel depends crucially on truthful people telling the truth.”

      MacArthur, Phil Johnson, and others in their clique have failed abysmally on both these counts for many years.

  16. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)

    Julie, I love your style! You let the facts speak and in this case, they are damning. Based on the level of gaslighting and cover up from JMac and PJ, I wonder if Jim Layfield will face any consequences for speaking with you? (I do give him credit for having the integrity to speak truthfully.)

  17. Thanks, Julie, for continuing to present the details and facts on this story. It’s appalling that the statement mentions you at all, much less in the opening remarks of JM’s statement – especially since he has never spoken with you once to confirm, deny, or clarify anything that’s been reported about GCC/GTY/TMS/TMU. (That goes for pretty much any reporter who’s attempted to talk with him.) JM took interviews with the likes of Eric Metaxas and Charlie Kirk last year, at the height of COVID shelter-in-place and church attendance restrictions, pulling the “emulate Paul and go to jail for defending the Gospel”. (Now, look at these “truthful” men.)

    MacArthur, Johnson, and all of those who’re responsible for creating this matrix of power, money and control must publicly confess and repent to the congregation, donors, students, and missionaries whom they support. Please pray that more men and women would step forward to corroborate the facts and details of what’s been happening at GCC/GTY/TMS/TMU for years.

  18. Chuck Chillingworth

    Tony and DJ – you are on point. The as yet under-reported impact of the covid crisis is the unmasking of all these evangelical ministries which are actually big businesses whose leaders have gotten fabulously wealthy and live lifestyles of comfort with little or no sacrifice; while their rank and file church/ministry members are barely surviving, losing businesses and jobs and wake up every morning wondering how they are going to take care of their families. Since when was getting the best of both worlds the gospel? Yet here the MacArthurs and many, many other leaders across the evangelical spectrum, continually beat the giving drum to their overburdened flock, while they and their families have a surplus of everything they need and want? It is time for Christians to demand total transparency on the part of the ruling evangelical religious class regarding their personal wealth and the tentacles of wealth distributed to their family and friends. If they won’t disclose then we must de-fund them. Their version of grace is a disgrace.

  19. A pastor tells you that there is no pandemic, but he himself caught it but just won’t admit to it. He tells the congregation whom he has been entrusted to protect not to report nor admit that there has been cases. Worst, if you caught the virus you didn’t got it from church. Finally those like Varner who caught it and admitted to it publicly are isolated and pressured to leave. Its a cult of Macarthurites. That won’t change. There is no vaccine for blind faith.

    John was paid handsomely to make the “no real pandemic” political stand using the church as his platform. It had nothing with religious freedom and the church but simply lots of money…for himself. He made the millions and the church members paid with their lives. Not a bad days work for John.

    Phil is very skillful in lying. He tells you that he got covid but “may have caught it from changes while vacationing in AZ”. Its an admission without admitting to anything. He knows that there’s no way anyone can prove where he got it, so technically he is not lying. He shifts the burden to you to prove that is was the coins and NOT at church. This is how christian teachers lie !!!

    Thats the same MO by their missionaries. Its acceptable and tolerated as long as you give credit to you know who. They posts pictures of themselves holding translated books of JMAC without saying that they had anything to do with it knowing full well that their readers will conclude that they had a part in doing the translations. They didn’t lie and its your fault for (making an) ASS-U-MEing they did the work.

    I used to attend Grace, many are just proud of their biblical knowledge but deny its power of grace and charity.

  20. Just venting here. There is a system of brainwashing and “Group Think” being spoken by these mega pastors and underlings as well. Jesus told us all about it. He spends all of Matthew 23 telling us about the hypocritical Pharisees. They speak in third person narratives, us versus them, you their follower being the righteous. They give you something to hate, the homosexual and the baby murderers, the Mexican interlopers, whatever, the idea is to bond you with the leader. They are all over Romans 1:25 but never seem to get to versus 29. 30 or beyond, which might reflect on them. The point being we are all on the list. There is no one righteous. Jesus tells us this too, stop looking at the speck in your brother’s eye…

    But it has to be. There is and end coming but they don’t see it and don’t talk about it. Plague, what plague?

    I can’t understand the resistance to wearing a mask. Leviticus 13:45 says cover your mustache if you might have leprosy. How come I don’t hear pastors talking about this? I mentioned it to a Christian and all I got was a blank stare and a continual rejection of wearing a mask.

    Mac Arthur would seem to be in bed with Paula White. I believe he called her a heretic. She bestowed “born again” status on Trump, who they both love and worship, along with many evangelicals who have sold out Jesus and the truth for the lie. If you have seen Paula White babbling something about out of Africa, you’d swear off Christianity, as Paul said.

    Paul also said God would put you under a delusion if you believed the lie. Truth will no longer make any sense to you. You can see this on TV and newspapers. Truth will become to them the lie. Jesus has a demon. At the end of Matthew 23 Jesus said, “Therefore, indeed, I send you wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth.

    It has to be. Maybe I’m the one under the delusion?

  21. John has been selling out the GCC pulpit since the Iraqi War where he misused/twisted scripture again and again to give biblical support for the Iraqi invasion where thousands of Americans and Iraqis perished. If you can find this video of the Larry King interview dated March 11,2003 please post it.

    John has been critical of the much politicized Social Justice Movement and Black Lives Matter followed by the dismissal of the Covid Pandemic. If the church is closed, then he doesn’t earn his money. He then went on accusing the government of curtailing religious freedom when all he wanted was to have a forum to air a political view. It was nothing more than a paid political endorsement. In each of those objections, he has received millions of anonymous donations to GTY/TMS/TMU. So, why should he not receive a cut/commission or better double honor from generating so much funds. John’s laughing all the way to the bank.

    In what way are they preaching as if lives matter when they willingly expose church members to harms way then deny or cover it up ? Does truth really matter anymore ? It gives new meaning to Reckless Faith.

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