John MacArthur Preaches at Grace Community Church
Pastor John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, July 26, 2020. Video screengrab via Vimeo/Grace Community Church

L.A. threatens John MacArthur & Grace Community Church With Fines, Arrest

By Christina Darnell

The city of Los Angeles has issued John MacArthur and Grace Community Church a cease-and-desist letter, threatening a $1,000 fine or arrest for continuing to hold in-person church services in defiance of state orders aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

MacArthur and Grace Community Church have secured attorneys Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Society as legal counsel.

“Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community church are not disobeying the Constitution; it is California’s Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that are defying their constitutional obligation to protect religious freedom and church assembly,” Ellis said in a statement. “Church is essential, and the government has no power to arbitrate whether religious organizations are essential. This is not about health and safety; it is about targeting churches.”

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., began holding regular services July 26. “This is a very special day in the life of our church family. It is for us a return to what we love the most, the fellowship of the saints and the worship of our Lord,” said Pastor John MacArthur from the pulpit.

The video stream of the service showed people singing and sitting near each other, many without masks.

The church chose to hold unrestricted services after issuing a statement from MacArthur and the elders July 24 explaining their decision.

The statement said Grace Community Church has always stood steadfast on biblical principles. It asserted that the government is charged with protecting civic order and well-being and that “[i]nsofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not.”

And yet, MacArthur said, “God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church.”

“As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture,” the statement read. “Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.”

The church statement came amid a new round of closures in effect in California as COVID-19 cases have surged during the summer.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in mid-July once again shut down bars and indoor dining. Across more than 30 counties in the state, closures include indoor church services, gyms, nail salons and malls.

The L.A. Department of Public Health told Religion News Service they would investigate and reach out to the church after disobeying the state orders.

“It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment,” LiMandri said. “Pastor MacArthur and his church, as well as all churches, are entitled to practice their religion without government interference.”

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to MinistryWatch, WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.

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79 thoughts on “L.A. threatens John MacArthur & Grace Community Church With Fines, Arrest”

  1. First, I want to give major kudos to Johnny Mac. We need more pastors and leaders like him.

    Second, the topic of civil disobedience is a tricky one. The first century world in which Jesus and His disciples lived was categorically different than the one we find in 21st century America. We of course should be grateful for that, since we have far more freedoms from a political and religious standpoint than the first century Christians did.

    Scripture clearly mandates (in Rom. 13:1-7 and 1 Pet. 2:13-17) that Christians should submit to the governing authorities regardless of the faith of the authorities, and that we should obey the governing authorities. So the question is, in light of this biblical precept, in what circumstances can Christians engage in civil disobedience? And if such engagement is warranted, what might this look like?

    Over the past few months, I have come to believe that many of the states, at the behest of their governors, are clearly overstepping their legislative authority and are overreaching in their attempts to safeguard public safety. In a federal republic such as the United States, each individual state has the authority to enact and enforce its own laws, as long as those laws do not infringe on the rights of citizens as stipulated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Yet clearly these governors are doing that in the name of public safety.

    Any governing authority, whether at the federal, state, or local level, only governs by the will of the people – by the consent of the governed. Thus, it appears that many of our state governors have lost sight of the fact that their legitimacy and moral right to use state power must be consented to by the people. I believe most people throughout our country have been willing to compromise and to set aside their Constitutional rights for the greater good of public safety, albeit temporarily. Yet we are seeing people rapidly lose patience in our governing authorities, and rightly so. The state governors simply do not have the lawful right to keep extending their enforcement of shelter-in-place orders, if such orders are violating the citizens’ Constitutional rights.

    Here’s where it gets interesting from a Christian “civil disobedience” standpoint. As Christians, we are of course commanded to obey the governing authorities, which is another way of saying that Christians are to obey “the laws of the land.” However, what happens when the governing authorities don’t obey the laws of the land? If the laws of the land are based on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, yet the state authorities continue to usurp them, then what we really have is “governing disobedience” by the state authorities. Yet we never hear anyone use the term “governing disobedience.” I wonder why?

    Therefore, if Christians decide to pursue a course of civil disobedience, then it must be acknowledged that such disobedience is really a reaction to governing disobedience rather than disobedience to “the laws of the land.” Thus, I think there’s a biblical warrant for civil disobedience.

    We are in uncharted waters with this pandemic, especially the current tug-of-war between state and federal authorities. As Christians, we should be seeking to honor God in our responses as well as obey Scripture. Yet clearly, many state governments are overreaching in their efforts to deal with this pandemic, and they are usurping their authority that the Constitution and Bill of Rights do not grant them.

    In a federal republic such as ours, each state has the authority to write, enact, and enforce its own laws, as long as those laws do not infringe on the rights of citizens as outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    1. …and when multiple cases of the corona virus are traced back to a Grace Church service, the spread having reached vulnerable individuals (‘the least of these’) beyond the church community, then what?

      is civil disobedience worth the cost of harming human lives?

      1. People have been patient enough, and the state governments are clearly overstepping their authority.

        Moreover, the virus will likely be with us for a while, so at some point we are going to have to learn to live with it. Thus, a gradual return to normalcy is inevitable. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but at some point the state governments are going to have to loosen their grip on the excessive power they have accumulated.

        Honestly, the cat was let out of the bag as soon as tens of thousands of protesters were marching day in and day out (with many of them rioting and looting as well) in almost every large city in America. The same state governors, mayors, and of course the left-wing media, not only were unconcerned about the impact of the coronavirus in these communities, but consistently referred to these “protests” as patriotic and an exercise of their first amendment rights.

        Yet curiously, now that the widespread protests have disappeared, the same people, apparently believing we have short term memories, are back to scolding Christians and churches for wanting to also exercise their first amendment rights. Sorry, but such blatant hypocrisy did not go unnoticed.

        Regarding the “least of these” being impacted (as you put it), it’s a fact that thousands of elderly people died needlessly in NY and NJ nursing homes, due to their governors’ astonishing nursing home policies early on during the pandemic. These actions were truly criminal as well as heartless.

        Lastly, the primary group of people who are currently “harming human lives” are the violent protesters such as we’ve seen in Seattle and of course in Portland.

          1. Amen what? Amen because people think they don’t have any responsibility during the Covid pandemic or Amen you believe Danial’s statement is a bunch of hogwash? I believe the latter.

      2. I am one of those “least of these”.
        I seem to be one of the few who thinks God-given common sense resulting in my own personal accountability for myself is part of being a Christian.
        If I am dumb enough to show up at an event with the potential of me contracting Covid19, then so be it. However, since I still am blessed with that gift from God of common sense, I will continue to choose watching services online.
        For heavens sake, please stop trying to make victims out of old people. We’re not brain-dead yet; and in fact we seem to be among the few still using our brains.
        Amen to that!

        1. Mary you’re one of the few people who have steeped up and given a wise statement concerning the Covid situation as it relates to live worship service. There is no reason why Christians should turn off their brains when the Lord clearly expects us to use them in all life situations. Some acquaintances of mine who are professing Christians tell me they have no reason to fear gathering for worship because they are covered in the blood or it’s all a hoax cooked up by the Democrats. It’s very hard to listen to that kind of nonsense and my head not explode. Gods blessings to a sister of common sense, discernment, sound judgment and wisdom.

      3. You’ve got it locked down very well Scottie. Good for you and I applaud your high level of wisdom, discernment, sound judgment and common sense. John Mac deserves anything he gets from the authorities. But why would an entire congregation attend live worship services in the first place during this unchecked deadly spread of covid? Confusing, very confusing, more so for the congregants than for John Mac.

      1. Another one! Not so amazing anymore. I have heard more ridiculous, brain-dead comments from professing Christians than from anyone else about the covid virous.

  2. What’s the personality disorder where someone deliberately engineers their own problems and then foments them up until there’s enough attention for them to cry “Victim!” ?

    The christian version of this is tacking on “Persecution!”

    1. What’s the personality disorder for all the rioters, looters, and lunatics who continue to “protest” in places like Seattle and Portland?

      What’s the personality disorder for all the people who, when they don’t get their way, throw temper tantrums and proceed to tear down public statues and deface public property?

      What’s the personality disorder for all the people who shout “diversity and inclusion” yet cannot tolerate for a moment anyone who doesn’t think the way they do?

      What’s the personality disorder for all the people who, when someone expresses an opinion they don’t agree with, feel “triggered” and need to go to a “safe” space?

      What’s the personality disorder for all the people who see that crime and murder rates are skyrocketing, yet think the solution is to defund or abolish the police?

      Lastly, what’s the personality disorder for all the people who believed that tens of thousands of people protesting during a pandemic was patriotic, yet believe that Christians attempting to meet in their churches (after several months) is a threat to public safety?

        1. but i think you know that.

          you’re taking issues rooted in life-destroying tragedy and pain of human exploitation– for which there are no easy answers and even the complex answers are elusive– and dismissing them as personal problems.

          1. Scottie, give us all a break. You label people who desire to attend church after several months of lockdowns as having a personality disorder, so you have lost all credibility. Your arguments are utterly childish.

            Clearly, my use of “personality disorder” for the various social behaviors I listed was meant as a rhetorical device to counter your simplistic and foolish label of Christians merely wanting to attend church after several months of lockdowns.

            Of course the social behaviors I listed are not personality disorders. Rather, they are the behaviors of whining, infantile social justice warriors who don’t know how to use their reason, nor do they care to know. They will continue to shout “love” and “tolerance” while at the same time destroying and defacing public property and cursing vehemently at anyone who doesn’t agree with all of their “demands”. They are ignorant, childish cowards.

      1. Daniel,

        I’m a little baffled as to how i warrant “Your arguments are utterly childish”.

        I’ve said so little and haven’t really argued anything beyond pointing out the ethical problem of turning world tragedy into political opportunism in the name of God, and increasing the harm to one’s community (which could extend far beyond the local community) in the process.

        Also wondering why “I” need to give everyone else a break, as if your perspective is the only one allowed and shouldn’t be challenged.

        1. Scottie, the little that you said was enough to label people who desire to attend church after several months of lockdowns as having a personality disorder. What were you hoping to accomplish with that statement? It was both foolish and childish.

          Also, MacArthur and Grace Community Church are not “turning world tragedy into political opportunism in the name of God” as you so brazenly accused them. For heaven’s sake, do you truly believe that is MacArthur’s motive here? He’s 81 years old and has been pastoring this church since 1969, yet you think his motive is to “turn world tragedy into political opportunism in the name of God”?

          Honestly, this is why it is so difficult to take your arguments seriously.

          1. to be clear, i’m referring to John MacArthur (and his co-decision-makers).

            like you, i employed a rhetorical device. i wanted to highlight the inherent narcissism of poking someone (or something), then blaming them for reacting, and finally turning it around so ‘you’ are the victim instead.

            a church demanding its right to congregate with no protections in place in the middle of world pandemic, without regard for the rights of others to public health standards, is inherently political. and narcissistic.

            but i’m repeating myself, here. we are seeing this from different angles.

            it is worth considering what is ethical and moral. what is most aligned with ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. A world pandemic is not the time to stand on political and ideological soapboxes.

          2. I think I know who Daniel is. If it’s the Danial I’m thinking of Scottie, don’t give up. He will eventually back down because his position is built on quick-sand meaning he gives nothing more than what he feels and his opinions. And we all know what feelings and opinions are like when it comes to a situation that demands statistics, research and sound diagnosis. They are like arm pits. They all stink.

  3. INTRO: Most churches have been observing the guidelines in this pandemic for an extended period of time, from weeks to months. Not meeting in person, wearing masks and distancing when small numbers need to meet for necessity. Christians usually try to bring peace and hope to society.

    Which is a bigger threat?
    The church congregation may meet for a very short time in a very orderly fashion, then go home? The local political leaders issue new laws on any given day, in the name of public health, while hurting people’s chance of survival in many more ways?

    LA announced that it will shut down anyone’s water and power if they have a party in their house!! This is worse than issuing a fine. Is this lawful? I have never seen such dictatorship practiced in such rapid speed in this “free” country. Criminals are set free from jails while good citizens are arrested for trying to survive in their business. People are punished without a fair trial first.

    When more Covid tests are done, more cases will be found, but not all of them will suffer symptoms, and the recovery rate is still very high. Yes, the pandemic should be taken seriously, but not to the point of shutting down people’ functional life after months of suffering. People’s emotional health actually benefits from seeing each other in person, which contributes to mental and physical health. Churches can be advised to be more cautious, but they should not be controlled by “sudden local laws”.

    1. so in your opinion, what’s acceptable number of people who don’t recover from contracting the virus as a result of a church congregating with extreme exposure?

      1. The same number of people who don’t recover from contracting the virus as a result of a protest with extreme exposure. Take responsibility for your own actions and stop expecting other people to cater to your worries. Stay home if you’re scared. People who assemble do so at their own risk, not yours.

          1. There you are Dan! I had a feeling you’d show up. Your comment of right on Bee is shall we say expected. Nothing more to say unless you care to give us some of your sage advice.

        1. Since the virus has been traced to church services, people assemble at churches at their own risk and the risk of others they come in contact with.

          The uncaring, self-centered response here among christians is really breath-taking.

          1. Scottie, did you feel exactly the same way when tens of thousands of people were protesting? Did you feel that they were being uncaring and selfish?

            You seem to have a particular axe to grind against Christians who want to get back to church. It really seems to rile you up. Perhaps you’d like to share the reason for such disdain?

        2. They don’t assemble at just their own risk. After church they go to the same grocery store as me, the same doctor … and so on.

      2. Scottie, as has been mentioned no one is forcing people to go to church. Then one argues “what about the other people who didn’t go to church?” Well, follow the CDC guidelines — stay 6 feet away from people who went to church, wear your mask, wash your hands. The follower of Jesus is not called to live a “safe life.” That doesn’t mean we live stupidly. But there is always a cost to decisions. The apostle Paul sets the example: Acts 20:24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. There are many followers of Jesus who risk their lives to meet in worship in other countries. It is my understanding that at MacArthur’s church they have outside tents as well for those who want more distancing, etc.

      3. Scottie, what’s the acceptable number of people who don’t recover from contracting the virus as a result of people protesting (and rioting and looting) with extreme exposure?

        Moreover, what’s the acceptable number of people who should continue to die alone in nursing homes and hospitals because none of their family members were able to come visit them? What’s the acceptable number of people who should continue to die and not have a proper visitation and funeral service attended by all of their loved ones due to the lockdown restrictions?

        You see, it’s not nearly as simple as your utterly simplistic “gotcha” type questions seem to suggest.

        1. yes, all these things are very complicated.

          what is not complicated is the fact that a church wilfully creating extreme exposure of a virus on a world pandemic scale is an ethical issue not a political one.

          doing it in the name of God makes it also a spiritual one.

  4. Most of the arguments I have seen here are the quintessential argument for “two wrongs do not make a right”.
    The protesters who didn’t wear masks and practice social distancing are/were wrong.
    The rioters – masks or not – are/were wrong.
    And, as much as I love and admire John MacArthur, he is wrong.

    I do believe there are probably good intentions behind most of these decisions (on both sides) and not the nefarious plots and conspiracies some believe.

    For this discussion, I am assuming that all readers agree the rioters are wrong, period.

    So, with the protesters, can you imagine the logistical nightmare of handing out tickets or arresting the ones without masks or practicing social distancing? While I agree it was stupid of them to not do these things, you there is simply no one to hold accountable except each individual. The authorities have no choice but to let it go and try to control the situation in order to prevent the greater threat/danger – the rioters.

    With MacArthur & Grace, a proper response may be to sue for the right to assemble in spite of the governor’s & mayor’s directives. This takes time. Maybe they are hoping to expedite the process by pushing the civil authorities to an action which would likely get to court faster?

    I am probably the last person to offer a solution, I simply don’t know what it would be. But, for those smarter than me, that do want to argue the merits of these decisions, at least frame your arguments in logical, productive, solution oriented way. “Suzy hit me first” does not justify hitting Suzy.

    Lastly, give it to God. I don’t mean throw your hands up in a “who cares” resignation. These debates/arguments/conversations are necessary if we are to come to a resolution. But, realize that it is not us but God through us and in the end, His will WILL be done.

    1. @David Collins – “he is wrong” = that is your opinion and you are certainly welcome to your opinion. I don’t believe he is wrong. I think they should encourage people to wear masks (even that is being debated), socially distance (add more services), set up out doors, etc. However, we do have the right to worship as we see fit. No one is being forced to go. It is a biblical position as well as a constitutional guarantee. The biblical position far outweighs the constitution, but grateful we live in a country that provides for that constitutionally. If you don’t want to go, don’t go – pretty simple. Allow those who want to worship to worship as they see fit understanding that there is a “risk” to doing so.

    2. David,

      I respect your opinion, but I do not think MacArthur is wrong at all. In fact, I think he is quite courageous.

      Also, this argument has absolutely nothing to do with “Suzy hit me first” and therefore we want to hold a church service. We are merely pointing out the utter hypocrisy of the governors and the “health experts” regarding their complete disregard of the pandemic during the massive protests. Thus, they let the cat out of the bag and then assumed that everyone has short term memories and didn’t notice. I guess we also didn’t notice the large gathering at John Lewis’s eulogy, where prominent Democrats were able to use it to make many political speeches. No one can question this large gathering of course, since they are not accountable to the same rules as everyone else.

      Again, this is not the primary argument for MacArthur (and other pastors) for wanting to hold in-person church services. We are merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the governors and health experts who employ a double standard with regard to churches.

    3. As some of you have pointed out, I was wrong. I thought the law was being universally applied and, in that case, the choice of responses should be no different than anyone else – protest to change it, sue the government or violate it to force the government’s hand and get to court faster.

      What I didn’t realize was that the law was against singing & worshiping. That’s a blatant attack and I agree with MacArthur and Grace Church. What choice did they have?

  5. Even if it is warranted for Grace Community Church to defy the ban on indoor worship, why couldn’t they continue to worship outside? Why couldn’t they have had multiple services with limited capacity, mandated masks and social distancing? It is a poor witness to gather during a pandemic and not follow generally accepted guidelines. When Grace Community Church becomes a super spreader in the community, their neighbors won’t be talking about Jesus. They’ll be talking about how Grace Community Church didn’t follow guidelines and were the source of sickness and death in their community.

    1. Amen AIS,
      When exercising a particular (divergent, but I digress…) view of a constitutional right becomes more of a priority than caring for our neighbors the Gospel witness suffers. God is not threatened by Christians inconveniencing themselves to potentially save the lives of their neighbors.

      I wish J-Mac would be as concerned for the health of his community and the “least of these” (elderly, those with health conditions, etc) as he is with his “right” to cram a few thousand unmasked people into close confines with each other in the midst of a pandemic.

      A sickening triumph of selfishness and politics over love and witness.

      1. Karl, or maybe loving your neighbor is having a church available where you can hear the Gospel and also grow together with other people. There are plenty of other states where churches are open and have taken steps to help mitigate this virus (masks – may or may not help, distancing, etc). How long do churches have to remain closed? No one is being forced to go to church — but neither should those who desire to go be prohibited from it. My mother is 97 years old and would love to be at church but doesn’t go because she is obviously high risk. My brother who is a medical doctor and research doctor at a major university hospital even advised against getting the flu shot. So I’m sure he would advise against the Covid vaccine if there is such a thing. Barna has recently come out with a study that indicates that a 1/3rd of the people who have dropped out of church have dropped out of spiritual disciplines. So I am convinced that loving our neighbor is providing a place for hearing the Gospel and growth and encouragement together as well as providing streaming and other venues. So maybe it is a witness to our neighbors that our walk with Christ corporately is highly valued even as we take steps to be as safe as possible in these situations.

        1. Don, really good comments.

          Also, me and my family do not get the flu shot either. And there’s very little chance we would risk taking a Covid vaccine, if one becomes available. I have very little confidence in the CDC, the NIAID, the WHO, and health experts like Dr. Fauci, who’s been all over the map on the Covid virus since the get go.

          Back in January, Dr. Fauci told Newsmax TV that the United States “did not have to worry” about the coronavirus and that it was “not a major threat.” This is from our national “expert” on the subject.

          Dr. Fauci has also been wrong about hydroxychloroquine, which the left-wing media was all too happy to bring up, since Fauci had “corrected” Trump’s statements about hydroxychloroquine. Yet, soon after, hydroxychloroquine was deemed the most highly rated treatment for the coronavirus in an international poll of more than 6,000 doctors.

          Lastly, who can forget how early on, we were told that wearing masks in public was both unnecessary and potentially harmful. Again, this was from the premier “experts” on the subject. Then at some point later, masks were not only deemed necessary, but people were deemed selfish and careless (and a significant public health risk) unless they wore a mask everywhere in public no matter what.

          Yet, not to be outdone, the same “experts” were strangely silent when tens of thousands of protesters began assembling (closely together, many without masks) for days and weeks on end, marching and demonstrating (and rioting and looting) in almost every large city in America. Such people were not deemed selfish and careless (of course), but were deemed patriotic.

          Now these same health experts, as well as the hapless governors and mayors, continue to dupe the public and try to convince us that all they’re doing is “following the science.” And, lo and behold, if anyone dares to disagree with their positions or the their draconian mandates, you are “denying science” and “denying the health experts.” Such is the irrational and deceptive culture we are living in. May God help us.

      2. Karl, those are some harsh words toward MacArthur. Are you that certain he’s not at all concerned about his community’s health? Do you know the motives of his heart?

        MacArthur is 81 years old and has been faithfully pastoring Grace Community Church since 1969, not to mention his considerable contributions of books, commentaries, and his university leadership. I say this not to put him on a pedestal, since I have never met the man.

        Yet in his old age, after many decades of faithful and courageous service to the Lord (and to the community), I find it a bit disturbing that he’s being characterized as “a sickening triumph of selfishness and politics over love and witness” (as you put it). That is certainly one way to view MacArthur, but I disagree with this characterization.

        1. Daniel,
          I describe and decry the specific behavior, I don’t know MacArthur well enough to presume to describe the deepest character of the man no matter how much I disagree with him.

          The behavior is simply an irresponsible mass gathering of thousands of unmasked people in close confines in the midst of a pandemic.

          That is not loving one’s neighbor. MacArthur himself has stated his reasoning in “political” terms and it is undeniably “selfish” (in the literal use of the word) to insist on one’s “rights” at the detriment of one’s neighbor’s health.

          I see all over this thread folks making excuses for his reckless behavior because of “lefties holding hands” (at least they wear masks) or what they view as uneven application of the law (ironic since schools, bars and nightclubs in LA are also closed), and mischaracterizations of science (science changes as the facts emerge). Regardless of their validity -or lack thereof- those are smokescreens and excuses for our own refusal to call out a respected church leader for gross irresponsibility.

          Christians can’t always control what other groups and government does, but we can exercise self-control and hold our leaders responsible.

          In light of the numerous outbreaks at churches, camps and gatherings leaders such as MacArthur should be beyond this sort of foolishness by now. Unfortunately they are not. Our neighbors will die because of these sort gatherings. The gospel witness will suffer for it and for our failure to hold our leaders accountable.

          Our unsaved neighbors will judge us harshly for this and they will be right to do so.

          1. Karl, your points are certainly valid, and I know this is not an easy predicament we are in. Yet a couple of things to consider.

            One, perhaps there are others in the community who might view Christians wanting to assemble and thus demonstrating courage rather than fear. Such assemblies are voluntary of course, as no one is forcing people to assemble.

            Two, should Christians always worry about what those outside the community of faith think? That’s a long list my friend, from abortion, to LGBTQ+, to gender fluidity, and of course views by agnostics and atheists in general. I’m not saying we shouldn’t consider others’ views, since Christians do indeed want to be light amid a very dark culture. My point is merely that others’ views shouldn’t govern our own thinking.

            And three (which is really my primary point), how long would you propose that Christians stop assembling? Should we stop until our secular authorities give us the green light? Should we stop until there’s a vaccine? What if the vaccine takes another year to role out? What if the vaccine isn’t safe for everyone? What if the coronavirus is with us for the next 3 to 5 years? (which is quite possible).

            You see, there are no easy answers here. And at any point in the near future, there will certainly be those who are ready and willing to pounce on Christians once they resume assembling en masse. We will hear their shouts of “It’s way too soon!” and “Those selfish Christians!” Do you think this won’t happen? Of course it will, but does it really matter? Such detractors should not govern our own thinking, since we simply cannot appease everyone.

            Lastly, my overarching point here is that at some point, Christians will have to decide when to put a stake in the ground. Moreover, the virus will likely be with us for a while, so we are going to have to learn to live with it. Thus, a gradual return to normalcy is inevitable. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but at some point the state governments are going to have to loosen their grip on the excessive power they have accumulated. Anyway, just my opinion.

        2. Danial: Yet and still, are you sure beyond all doubt that John Mac is being brave and courageous? I can’t imagine how brave and courageous plays into sound judgement, discernment, common sense and wisdom, when it comes to keeping people safe in this time of a very contagious and deadly disease. Brave and courageous have nothing to do with it. Brains does. ,

    2. AIS, what are “generally accepted guidelines” and who gets to decide those? The various authorities wielding political power, right? And if these same political authorities demand that churches remain closed (or restricted) for even more extended periods of time, due to an arbitrary double-standard for churches, at what point should pastors become courageous shepherds rather than cowardly ones?

      Also, your use of language regarding Grace Community Church becoming a “super spreader” in the community seems hyperbolic to me. Moreover, you’re looking at this issue only in its negative extreme, as if that’s the only way to look at it. While I respect your viewpoint here, I am not convinced by it.

      I’d like to point out that it is also a “generally accepted guideline” that our nation should continue to allow unrestricted abortions (unabated), including partial birth abortions. Thus, should pastors and Christians just bow to the authorities and accept the 60 million abortions since 1973? Or should they instead show some courage regarding this madness?

      It is also now the “generally accepted guideline” that the biology of male and female is no longer the “generally accepted guideline,” so much so that we need to change our language to accommodate this foolishness.

      My overarching point here is to demonstrate that the phrase “generally accepted guidelines” is mostly meaningful to those wielding political power who are able to establish the “accepted” guidelines. As such, we shouldn’t be surprised by their (often) arbitrary nature, and we should always be discerning, since such guidelines may not be friendly to everyone’s personal freedoms.

      This is a tricky balance, to be sure. But frankly, our governing officials have already let the cat out of the bag and have shown their hypocrisy and bias.

      1. Daniel,
        I don’t have all the answers for an eventual opening, limits of state power, what a vaccine may or may not be or a timeline or even the exactitude of how much or little we adjust for non-believers attitudes. No matter though as those are all distractions from the present matter at hand.

        The salient facts are that Macarthur could have had a partial-attendance service, had his attendees social distance and required masks. He could also have had an outdoor service. All these options are currently being pursued by congregations looking for a compromise that will allow for both worship and safety.

        He did none of those.

        That’s not courage. That’s reckless, foolish endangerment of those one is in spiritual authority over. Christians and non-christians alike should recognize this and name it for what it is.

  6. Susan Vonder Heide

    Government rules should be evenly applied. If a government allows left wing demonstrators to hold hands and sing but won’t let Christians sing in church even at substantial distances from each other, that says volumes about certain politicians. However, Christians should be an example of responsibility in the midst of a pandemic. It is not a good Christian witness to recklessly spread a dangerous disease. The Holy Spirit can and does work in all kinds of situations including coronavirus. Many have benefited greatly from online sermons and personal reading of Scripture during this pandemic. No, it is not necessary for Christians to be reckless in order to follow Christ at this time.

  7. Lets us also remember that during crisis times, the people of many churches are out there distributing free masks (even the believers in Wuhan, when the situation was really bad there), offering the assistance to the elderly of grocery deliveries or other things, provide physical shelter to people affected by disasters, etc. Christians don’t just look out for themselves, as imperfect as we are. Some Christians have certain convictions about worship styles, others believe differently. The media make it sound like the church is causing great virus spread problems, data just does not support it. Abortion clinics kill babies on purpose without a virus, and that is considered “essential” service these days. If only all the policy makers and health officials were like God in their spirit and their hearts, so pure and holy, so all-knowing and trustworthy!

      1. Dan Keller, good point. The fact is, the more that some of our political authorities can keep people in constant fear, the more they can manipulate them and maintain their newfound political power. It’s a sad reality of human nature unfortunately.

    1. A man in Ohio infected 56 people at a church service. Eighteen of those people went on to affect at least 18 other people, including four children. You can Google at least 50+ pastors who have died after contracting coronavirus, many of them citing the same rhetoric as John McArthur. There was a write up here about a church where people were infected including one of the members of clergy. They hid it from congregants. Instead of closing down immediately they let people keep coming when they knew they could get sick. They then emailed people hold harmless agreements to protect the church from being sued if anyone else fell ill. It’s ridiculous. Christians are not inherently immune to coronavirus or any other disease. Many have died or fallen ill citing their Christianity as a defense.

      1. My friend Paul was killed in a car accident driving to work, my friend Dave was crushed to death when a pallet of bricks fell on him at work a coworker Bob was almost cut in half and died picking up a roll off box in Desplains another coworker mark was run over by a semi and died untarping a load at a transfer station in Desplains, thousands of people die on the Job every year, should we stop working, people risk their lives every day when they walk out their front doors… if people are afraid of a virus that has a death rate of .004 to.006 then they have the right to hide in their homes wear masks they can even wear a hazmat suit if they want. And I have the right not to. My Grandfather fought Fascismin in WW2 he was badly injured in France for our Freedoms and I wont give up those Freedoms that so many brave men and women fought and died for. I’m not so afraid of dying that I choose not to live.

        1. Dan Keller, sorry for your loses and obviously every single one of us can write a list of those we’ve lost. Your comments have nothing to do with pastors disobeying civil authorities and common sense by holding church services where people are contracting a deadly disease and dying because of it. It’s so sad. It was for freedom we’ve been set free yet so many are in bondage to men leading them astray. Jesus was all about civil disobedience when it came to protecting, freeing, loving and caring for people. This is illustrated so simply in Mark 2:27. Here Jesus had to remind legalists, who became incensed when his disciples plucked a few grains of wheat and ate them while walking through a field on the Sabbath because they were hungry, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. He then went on to remind them how David and his men ate the consecrated bread that was reserved for priests. David and his men were hungry and on the run so they broke the law and ate the bread. Jesus did not condemn David’s actions and we don’t read anywhere in the Bible where God did either.The application for Christians and churches during this pandemic is the same. Church buildings were built for men, not men for church buildings. Christians can meet outdoors or online. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath so he is the ultimate authority on the logic and reasoning we should use regarding it. He understood that there were times when we would not always be able to follow the LETTER of the law which is why he died to fulfill it for us. We are to live by the spirit of the law which allows us to worship in a safer manner until this is all over. I’m so sorry that the actions of legalistic men in pulpits are leading so many to unnecessary harm and death. Jesus was not a legalist and did not have very kind words for legalists.

          1. @Carla – it is hardly being a legalist when one desires to be a follower of Jesus and grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord. The local church gathered is designed by Jesus himself and is an essential (yes, I use that term intentionally) part of the Christian life. Believers in other countries risk their lives (literally) for the opportunity to worship with other believers because they understand the importance of the church gathered. I guess you can call their leaders “legalists” if you want. But if you read through the history of the Christian church there have been many who have been willing put their lives on the line for the privilege and opportunity of corporate worship — hardly “legalists.” How long are you going to stay in hiding from this … a year or two or ….? “Until there is vaccine so we can be safe.” Good luck with that. The flu vaccine in its best years is about 40%+ effective. Granted their are different strains. But Covid-19 is evolving as well. Dr. Fauci recently has claimed that the vaccine itself is not going to be 98% effective but maybe 75% or maybe 48%. 1/3rd of those polled said that they are not going to get the vaccine because it has been so rushed. Many churches have opened up and are following protocols to help mitigate concerns, but nothing is going to be 100% effective against any pathogen. No one is being forced to go to church — it is a matter of those who have the hearts desire to worship God corporately. (If a person is in a high risk category, then don’t go to church. My mother is 97 years old and would love to go to church but understands the risk, though she is ready to meet her Savior.) Our church has been doing that, and it is a great blessing to be back together and be able to “devote ourselves to teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42). “But what about going out and spreading this virus to those who don’t want to go to church” you say. Simple answer – wear your mask (if it really helps), stay 6 feet away from everybody and wash your hands says the CDC. Those want to be able to worship corporately as instructed in the New Testament and modeled in the New Testament should be able to do. This isn’t about “exercising our rights.” It is about being able to function as a local church as God has intended. There is nothing “legalistic” about that. Your statement that those who choose to worship corporately are “legalistic” is way off base and a huge jump in logic. If you don’t want to go to church, then don’t go. Let those of us who wish to worship God corporately do so (and yes, age wise I am in the higher risk category). I am not doing this because someone has legalistically compelled me to do this. I choose to worship corporately because I understand the importance of the church gathered.

        2. More irresponsible ridiculous crap from a person who tried to go one on one with me and another lady who kept asking for the proof of your statements but all she ever got from you was your feelings and opinions not hard facts. I see you didn’t take my advice and get that book did you?

  8. William Wallace

    Stand firm brother John & GCC. Other churches, large & small, should form one huge coalition across this land. And all their members should be ready to turn out in large, truly peaceful protests for freedom, especially religious freedom, & for 1st amemdment rights. We can sing praise & worship songs, chant relevant Scripture verses & put them on placards for the world to see. Rise up, oh church, out of the slumber or fear that has you kept you down. A revival could sweep this land & world.

    1. William W. AMEN!!! I’ve been reading this wondering when someone will say something across these lines! WAKE UP Christians! We are falling in the trap together. This is one of the purposes of this virus…to turn against each other and implode while the instigator is laughing at us. Let’s stop bickering, but let’s fast and pray that God would remove the scales from our eyes and that we would see the spiritual battle going on! WAKE UP!

  9. “Among 92 attendees at a rural Arkansas church during March 6–11, 35 (38%) developed laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, and three persons died. Highest attack rates were in persons aged 19–64 years (59%) and ≥65 years (50%). An additional 26 cases linked to the church occurred in the community, including one death.”

    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e2.htm

    A church should be the last place willing to be the source of harm to anyone in their congregation or community. We are called to consider the least of these, to put others before ourselves, and to be known by our love not our demand for our rights.

    1. @Lea, this is not a “demand for our rights”. This is a desire to be able to worship corporately so that we might be able to do what the local church has been called to do. We can go looking for all kinds of data on the internet. A month or so ago there was a headline that said the greatest chance for getting the virus was in your own home. You can do the search if you wish. You don’t want to go to church, don’t go. Let those of us who are the “least of these” (yes, I’m in that age category) who desire to worship God corporately do so. It was so good to be able to gather once again in person and we do have recommended protocols in place. As the old song says, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

    2. Lea, you hit the bulls-eye every time you pull the trigger. I can;t tell you how tired I am from hearing Christians make comments they CANNOT back up with any of the proof you’ve provided. You go girl and God bless!!

  10. I am on the fence with this one…….while I have no real issue with a local church standing up for itself when government becomes a problem, I do have a problem at times with a lot of the “theology” that is coming out a lot of these “evangelical” leaders. And when leaders take a stand and are made to look like heroes when stepping up, their “theology” also tends to be exemplified as the norm. And that “theology” can be very wrong.

    I would say that if Julie Roys open to doing some digging and is fair and objectionable into this ministry as well as Masters University I’m all for it.

  11. DANIEL

    You said,

    “Scottie, did you feel exactly the same way when tens of thousands of people were protesting? Did you feel that they were being uncaring and selfish?

    You seem to have a particular axe to grind against Christians who want to get back to church. It really seems to rile you up. Perhaps you’d like to share the reason for such disdain?”

    this is a breath-taking and senseless false equivalence, Daniel.

    Demanding the luxury of going to church and reacting at the tipping point of the unbearable atrocity of seeing numerous of their own kind being murdered in the name of justice are NOT THE SAME THING.

    1. Scottie, we’ll just have to agree to disagree then, which is perfectly fine with me.

      Either large gatherings during a pandemic is uncaring and selfish, or it is not. As we are always being told by our so-called health experts, the coronavirus doesn’t play favorites.

      As far as doing things in the “name of justice,” that would be a very long list. Thousands of people are senselessly murdered in poor urban communities every single year (and rising) due to gangs and drug violence. Where is the justice for them? There have been 60 million abortions since 1973 (including 20 million unborn Black babies). Where is the justice for them? These are just a couple of examples.

      Lastly, in my opinion, it is rather naive to believe that all the rioting, looting, and destruction we’ve been observing is over the death of George Floyd. Most of the people rioting, looting, stealing, bullying, defacing and damaging public property have nothing to do with George Floyd’s death. In every large and diverse culture such as ours, there will always be elements of unhinged and “opportunistic” radical Marxists and socialists who cannot reason and who cannot be appeased.

  12. Scottie, we’ll just have to agree to disagree here.

    Either large gatherings during a pandemic is uncaring and selfish, or it is not. As we are always being told by our national health experts, the coronavirus doesn’t play favorites.

    As far as doing things in the name of justice, that would be a very long list. Thousands of people are senselessly murdered in poor urban communities every single year (and rising) due to gangs and drug violence. Where is the justice for them? There have been 60 million abortions since 1973 (including 20 million unborn Black babies). Where is the justice for them? These are just a couple of examples.

    Lastly, regarding the “luxury of going to church” (as you put it), to me this qualifies as the same luxury to peacefully assemble and protest. Since we live in a free country with first amendments rights, this allows for both of these luxuries, whereas many countries around the world clearly do not.

    1. “ Either large gatherings during a pandemic is uncaring and selfish, or it is not”

      You are intentionally ignoring that gatherings may differ by whether they are held indoors or out of doors, and whether an indoor gathering is at full or reduced room capacity.

      If the room capacity is ten, twelve is hazardous. If the room capacity is 100, twelve can easily remain appropriately distanced.

      The highest transmission hazard is indoors, in a room without social distancing, which is what most churches are claiming the *right* to do. They would be able to meet without violating many local ordinances if they would simply do so out of doors and/or using techniques such as multiple services to reduce capacity.

      It is curious that their supposed “commitment” to gathering together is so inflexible, especially since the early church often itself met out of doors and in small groups. Big buildings and fancy choirs are not essential to worshipping Christ.

  13. Newsom and Garcetti. The Communist Chinese Party must be really proud. A very smart virus that knows the difference between making a line at Walmart, Home Depot, Publix, etc, and making a line to vote……in person; Pelosi and Hilary are pushing for mail in voting, which includes all those illegals across the USA. Harvesting all those “votes”….months after the Presidential election is over. The Muller Collusion/Obstruction didn’t work to remove the President. Nor was was the Schifty Schiff SHAMpeachment. So they have to do it by cheating. Voter fraud. HCL is the cure, but Faucci and Big Farma could lose…..a lot of money. Those bandanas, tshirts, or whatever people can to put on their faces do not filter the Corina virus. Tyrant Big Tech are censoring medical doctors that have SCIENTIFIC proof HCL works. Take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    1. While I don’t totally agree with MacArthur’s *way* of doing this, I appreciate his boldness to meet in defiance of an order that is likely not fair.

      And in light of the comment above I encourage people to listen to this round-up of news stories on the Christian radio show, “Crosstalk” on VCY America.

      https://www.vcyamerica.org/crosstalk/2020/08/07/news-round-up-and-comment-34/

      Stories noted:
      -Dr. Fauci in 2017 at Georgetown University warning the president would face a surprise disease outbreak and had to prepare.
      -Bill Gates investing in vaccines for years because of the 20 to 1 on investment.
      -NYC instituting checkpoints to register travellers and residents from 3 dozen states to make sure they qurantine for 14 days

      –Joe Biden obtains endorsement of the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA.

      –House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn believes President Trump is Mussolini and that Putin is Hitler.
      And in CA–

      In CA
      -LA mayor wanting to crack down on partiers by shutting off the power and water of those who dont comply.

      -CA senate considering passing a law that would allow sex change surgery for people, including children…yet the people who did a study on sex change surgery retracted it because they found the surgeries did not change or help the anxiety transgender people have about their bodies.

      -San Francisco opening gay sex clubs back up to help the city economy…

      IN SUM:
      Pray for America and the world, we need it.

    2. Indeed…

      While I don’t agree with MacArthurs way of doing it, I appreciate his choice to defy this likely unfair state order.

      And to the above, there is alot going on in the news.

      I encourage folks to listeb to this stunning round-up of news from Crosstalk on VCY America radio

      https://www.vcyamerica.org/crosstalk/2020/08/07/news-round-up-and-comment-34/

      Some details:

      “–Dr. Anthony Fauci told a gathering of students and experts at Georgetown University Medical Center in January of 2017 that the incoming Trump administration would face a surprise outbreak of a new disease and the United States needed to prepare for it.

      –According to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there’s financial incentive for hospitals to inflate their counts of deaths due to COVID-19.

      –Nationwide distribution of any coronavirus vaccine will be a joint venture between the CDC and the Department of Defense.

      –Over the past 2 decades, Bill Gates has invested 10 billion dollars into vaccines. He wasn’t doing it because he loves people but because of the great return on his money—a 20 to 1 return.”

      America and the world need prayer more than ever.

      1. Oops, I posted twice–sometimes in my browser the comment doesn’t show up right away…
        Yes to all who want to fast and pray.
        Times like Acts may be coming, yet…
        Courage.
        God will provide us with what we need, let us be faithful to Him.

  14. YES, even fast and pray when we can.
    One person, two people, 3-10 people pray with one heart, one mind, on a regular basis,,,,will count!
    How we need to repent, revive, and restore the glory of God in our lives!
    Let’s ask God to help us!

  15. It’s been a curious thing to observe our society further eroding into ever more chaos and lawlessness, as evidenced by the new round of rioting and looting in downtown Chicago overnight. Due to our corrupt political and media establishment, there is no longer any social stigma associated with such rampant defiance and infantile behavior, so I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised anymore On the contrary, we will continue to be told that these are “mostly peaceful” protests. In other words, don’t believe your lying eyes.

    I was quite fascinated to learn that Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said that people are “looting with confidence.” Hmm, I wonder why that is? Yet her term struck a chord with me, since it occurred to me that these anarchists have more “confidence” to riot and loot than many Christians have to peacefully assemble (voluntarily) in their churches without being demonized (even by other fellow Christians). It’s a curious thing to watch unfold.

    The first three centuries of Christians lived during a time of religious persecution where their very life was at stake if they didn’t bow to the emperor. These Christians had none of the political and religious freedoms that 21st century Americans enjoy and take for granted, which is why Christianity was an underground movement for hundreds of years until Constantine formally legalized it in the fourth century.

    My main point here isn’t to suggest that today’s churches shouldn’t take the coronavirus seriously, but that Christians may need to demonstrate some courage at some point, rather than be pampered into submission by a political and media ruling class that belittles them anyway.

    I have to admit I’ve been quite struck by the ongoing outrage by many Christians against pastors and other Christians who dare to want to assemble after months of lockdowns. If people want to meet for church, let them meet. If some people don’t feel comfortable meeting yet, they are free to stay home and watch their service online. No one will judge them, since everyone’s health situation is different.

    Anyway, I just think it needed to be said, that while many people in our society are “looting with confidence” (as the Chicago mayor put it), many Christians, in my opinion, are demonstrating very little confidence in their faith and are instead living in constant fear. Many of these Christians believe that our secular culture will judge us harshly if we meet for church in such a “reckless” fashion. True, some will, no doubt. But it’s also possible that our secular culture may notice that many Christians are really not that courageous in their own faith, therefore why should they listen to our “urgent” pleas for salvation from sin and joining Christ’s kingdom? This is something to keep in mind as well.

  16. As R.C. Sproul used to say, there is not a single random molecule in the entire universe. God is in control of EVERYTHING, including COVID-19. Every single person that has died as a result of this virus God has allowed to do so. Every person that has yet to die from this virus will do so because God has ordained it. If God wants to, he can resurrect everyone that has died from this virus. As. Matter of fact, God has revealed every person that has been ordained to die, He will resurrect. Some to glory, some to eternal suffering. Preach the Gospel, whether is convenient or inconvenient. People’s souls will be saved whether they die from COVID-19 or getting shot in the city of Chicago. Those that will be saved are those that God has elected before the foundation of the world.

  17. May I share the gospel in a different way? The word “ordained” might be interpreted in a negative way here.

    Ephesians chapter 1 verses 4-6 (NIV) says: 4For he chose us ” in Him ” before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to sonship “through Jesus Christ,” in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us “in the One he loves”.

    I wish I could highlight some portions here. But I added ” ” marks to point out that all the “ELECTION”, “CHOOSING” , that are discussed here are QUALIFIED BY the words “IN HIM”, “THROUGH JESUS CHRIST”, “IN THE ONE HE LOVES”. God did not just pick out some to go to heaven and others to go to hell as if this were a bad joke. We are CHOSEN in CHRIST only. Outside of Christ no one is elected.

    God predetermined to send His Son JESUS to the cross, so sinners can be ELECTED, CHOSEN, to be “ADOPTED” back into God’s family, and be born again with God’s own Spirit in us. And when was Jesus the Lamb set to die for us? The LAMB was slain from the foundation of the world.

    Revelation 13:8. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (KJV)

    John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    I have no intention to start any theological debates here regarding the tough idea of pre-determination. But God is merciful and gracious, not willing that any should perish in hell. When we try to explain God, maybe we can leave some space for the unknown.

  18. I thought this was a Christian website.

    Most of the comments have been:

    We have been paitient long enough…
    They did not stop those protesters so they wont stop us…
    This thing only kills .0000000000 4 (add whatever zeros you want…no proof needed)
    We have to stand up t communists …tyranny

    The state is not saying that ONLY churches cannot meet (all events: conferences, concerts, sprots)
    The state is not say chruches cannot meet (only what size—but house chruches function all over the world)
    The state is not exercizing any illegal rights (all officials were voted for and according to MacArthur–God ordained)

    What are all you people talking about?

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