The Sunday morning service concludes at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, July 26, 2020. Video screengrab via Vimeo/Grace Community Church

Pastor John MacArthur, Grace Community Church defy bans on singing, indoor worship

By Alejandra Molina

Grace Community Church congregants in Sun Valley gathered indoors and sang hymns on Sunday (July 26), defying California regulations that aim to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“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, in a video posted on the church’s Facebook page.

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

MacArthur said the congregation has galvanized behind Grace Community Church. Those outside the church have not.  

“Many people don’t understand why we would do this. We understand that. We understand that the world does not understand the importance of the church,” MacArthur said.

Sunday’s service was held amid a new round of closures that are 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.

These rules apply to Grace Community Church as Los Angeles County remains on the state’s monitoring list.

John MacArthur Preaches at Grace Community Church
Pastor John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, on Sunday. Video screengrab via Vimeo/Grace Community Church

Additionally, restrictions for indoor religious gatherings also include a ban on singing. Chanting and singing “negate the risk-reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing,” according to health officials. A number of churches have already sued the state for banning singing and chanting in places of worship but permitting such activities elsewhere. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement that its Environmental Health division “is investigating and will be reaching out to the church leaders to let them know they need to comply with the Health Officer Order.”

Grace Community Church has not yet responded to a request for comment.

On July 24, MacArthur and the church’s elders issued a statement entitled “Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open.”

The statement said Grace Community Church has always stood steadfast on biblical principles. It claims that while the government is charged with protecting civic order and well-being, “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 reads. “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.”

A new survey of Protestant pastors found that those from evangelical churches were most likely to say that their church has met in person for worship. 

On Friday, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from a Nevada church, which challenged that state’s restrictions on large public gatherings.

Congregants sing during the start of Sunday worship at Grace Community Church. Video screengrab via Vimeo/Grace Community Church

Alejandra MolinaAlejandra Molina is a national reporter for Religion News Service based in Los Angeles, California.

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76 thoughts on “Pastor John MacArthur, Grace Community Church defy bans on singing, indoor worship”

  1. I will be completely dumbfounded if no one in this church catches the covid19 virus. Julie, please keep us appraised of the situation as it develops at Grace Community Church.

    1. Sams, I’m thinking Mr. Mac is using the fallacy of “conflating categories”? My philosophy is weak.

      I wonder how Grace Church’s response will be when an older congregant passes and their spouse is asking questions?

      ” This was God’s will from the foundation of the earth.” Or more succinctly, “You can’t prove he got it from us.”

    2. No one at this church (or any church) is forced to attend. Those who are in a high risk group are completely free to stay at home and continue worshipping online. Those who are not in a high risk group are free to attend or not. The issue is whether or not the government has the power & authority to dictate whether or not any group of people can meet, be it a church, social club, sports team, etc.

      We’ve completely lost sight of personal responsibility. You are free to stay in your home for as long as you want or until you feel it’s “safe.” But, you should also be free to leave your home if you feel comfortable and safe doing that. So many of these comments are completely nonsensical!

      1. God is not going to accept “no one is forced to attend” as an excuse from John MacArthur on judgment day. Consent is not an excuse. Yes, the congregants are attending voluntarily, but some of the people who drank Jim Jones’ kool-aid also did so voluntarily.

    1. Really Jason? Thank God for men who put people in harms all the while thinking this is something that honors the Lord?

        1. Jason, tell that to people who currently are hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU at the hospital or family members who have lost a loved one to this disease and see what their response to you would be. MacArthur is being reckless and irresponsible by opening his church and not taking the safety measures necessary to stop the spread of this virus.

          1. That’s your argument? I love all the arm chair qb. Until, we have the weight of Hebrews 13:17 on our shoulders, mind and soul, we need to pray for the elders of our churches. Yes there are plenty of me first churches. But there are many churches who true desire is to give God glory with their decisions. We pray for God’s leading, they(the elders) are the ones who stand before the King and give an account on they kept watch over your soul. So I praise God for men who are willing to lead the Body of Christ with conviction, whether that is to be open or to be closed, I praise God. They didn’t make this decision quickly. We can sit back and throw more wood and stir up more controversy. Or we as the Body of Christ can get on our knees and pray for the church, pray for the elders to make wise decisions, and we can get back to being the body God called us to be. So much division, so much hatred.

          2. HUH? Jason, how have you answered the question that I posed? I asked you what you would say to a group of people adversely affected by the virus and you respond with a rambling “Christianse”, Bible thumping type comment about elders, division and hatred. Is that what you would say to this hurting group of people?

            Also, Jim, I don’t know if your “Democrat” comment was directed towards me or not. If so, you should know that I don’t live in America and have nothing to do with the current state of politics in your country.

          3. The only thing that’s reckless is a government overreaching is constitutional authority. We’re all being lied to about this virus. The information can’t be trusted. No, this is not a public safety issue, is an attempt to take your freedom away. Election year theater is what this is all about. The church is right, the scripture says “we should obey God rather than men”

            Roy

          4. Roy,

            So we”re all being lied to about the virus? (your words) I’ll repeat what I said before: “tell that to people who currently are hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU at the hospital or family members who have lost a loved one to this disease and see what their response to you would be”.

            What part of this is a lie? Is it the images of people dying in the hospital? Is it the interviews with tired and frazzled first responders (nurses, doctors)? Is it the images of the mass graves that had to be dug in New York and Brazil to bury the dead? Is it the reports of thousands of seniors dying in long term care facilities?

            How exactly does telling grieving people that it’s all a lie comprise a pastoral response and provide any comfort to them at this difficult time?

          5. Well-said, Roy. So many Evangelicals are falling for the lies surrounding this novel corona virus despite all the controversies. Ebola is far more dangerous and far more deadly and how many of you even cared one bit about all the Africans who died of it? Did you send masks? Did you lobby for a vaccine at the UN? I also have to say that here in Europe we’re a lot more conscious of what’s really going on behind the scenes with national governments, the EU, the Vatican and the Middle East -even non-church folks are waking up. The percentage of corona deaths is largely made up of elderly or sick or elderly and sick folks. If your government is telling you otherwise you’re being misled. COVID19 is a plandemic and its victim are not the dead but the blind. There’s absolutely no need for that when we are being led by the Light and if we must suffer for obeying Him more than so be it. Peter, I think, would concur.

      1. Jim,
        Elders are to be wise as serpents …..not dumb as door nails. WE Do pray for our churches, but we have the responsibility to call out Elders who act foolishly. Can you guess which state has the highest rate of new COVID infections? Please see the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus website.

        I appreciate your faith and dedication, but please do the necessary research.

        Peace

  2. I’m torn…honestly. I’m searching the Scriptures. “I’m on the fence” with Dr Mcarthur and his decision.
    Don’t know which way to go…
    Agree or disagree..

  3. Nowhere does the Bible specify worship has to be inside a building, has to be a large gathering, or even has to be lead by an ordained pastor. There are many ways to meet together to honor and worship God. When we make decisions to restrict ourselves to protect the vulnerable among us, that does honor God. No one is taking away religious liberties here. This isn’t about freedom to worship. This is about a contagious and potentially fatal disease that spreads rapidly in church environments. If one is going to practice civil disobedience at least do it standing 6 feet apart wearing a mask with the windows and doors wide open. What John MacArthur is doing in my opinion is not right.

    1. I totally agree! I’m actually embarrassed for them making such a bad decision on behalf of the church. It impacts all of us.
      This is not about religious freedom! This is about saving lives in a pandemic. But we are Pro-life. Such hypocrisy!

      1. Juleen, this is absurd. One one hand you have a faithful man of God who has served 50+ years giving his sound Biblical reasoning for a decision…and on the other hand you have a random commenter who stokes the fear via mentioning a “potentially fatal disease” – and you are in total agreement with this.

        1. Macarthur’s gospel is pure 1950’s American fundamentalism, “Repent or you’re going to hell”. Then he adds in a large dose of Calvinism, “You can only repent and escape hell if you’re elect”. Some good news.

          1. Well, do you deny that people who die without Christ go to hell?

            There is also some extremely good news that is preached every time as well.

            I’ve listened to hours of his sermons and have never heard him present the gospel message as you described. Yes, it is true that only the elect go to heaven. But like the Apostle Paul who presents much about election to us in Scripture, there is also the general call to EVERYONE to repent, believe and be saved.

    2. Excellent and well said Dr. Sarah!! You have a narrative here that should go viral to every church in this country. I’m just very, very confused as to why this covid thing has caused so many people to turn off their brains and not think seriously about what they are doing. With attitudes like Grace Community Church and congregants who think it’s a wonderful thing to pack into a building and ignore sound professional medical advice, it’s no wonder this deadly virus will be so very difficult to defeat (if at all). I’m truly scared about the whole thing because people (and Christians no less) just aren’t using their God given common sense to do what’s right and best and good for themselves as well as the populous at large. .

      1. Prior to politicalization of Covid-19, the “sound medical science” stated that wearing masks for more than four hours at a time and reusing or attempting to launder masks increased the risks of infection.

        I can’t imagine where the world would be if Christians throughout history weren’t the ones who cleaned up and cared for those suffering from bubonic plague, ebola, leprosy, etc.

        1. JAMA has several very good articles on the effectiveness of masks in blocking the influenza virus. Most of the articles are old so no one can claim they’re tainted by the COVID19 politics of today. They found that a regular surgical mask is as effective as an N95 style mask in blocking any virus droplet. That includes COVID19 droplets.

          Nothing is 100% effective but any sort of mask worn is in the upper 90th percentile for slowing and helping block the spread of infectious droplets from person to person. Masks are effective and they do work when worn.

          If one is truly social distancing, which is the best option to stop the spread of the virus, then you really don’t need a mask on for 4 hours.

          Americans are insisting that they’re going to carry on life as usual and that is a problem.

          1. Likewise there are many older science-fact studies showing how masks do not stop viruses and greatly increase the spread of all sorts of infectious agents … not to mention increasing the risk of infection by trapping infectious agents inside the mask where they’re repeatedly drawn into the body. Furthermore, the masks raise the temperature and humidity creating the perfect incubation chamber for infectious agents to which people would not otherwise be exposed.

            Nothing is without risk and the more people try to avoid exposure to these sorts of infectious agents, the more susceptible they’re going to become to other infections. A great many people had Covid-19 and beat it without medication or medical treatment of any kind and just like they’re intentionally skewing the numbers of Covid-19 deaths, they’re not reporting the actual massive number of people who have already developed a herd immunity to it because it’s more political than medical!

    3. The problem is that we are fully aware that democrat politicians are mostly opposed to the word of God. They hate the word of God and are deeply suspect in matters of curtailing religious liberties. They’ve successfully expunged God from public life and public schooling. Now they wish to dictate how church is to be conducted thereby brazenly interfering in the domain of God. Using COVID as a means to an end ought not to ever be tolerated. Therefore McArthur is one Billion Percent correct in his position!!!

      Democrats are also in cahoots with dark forces, and intent of taking maximum advantage of COVID-19 crises to usurp power as their religious dogma is “to never let a crisis go to waste!”

      The cure for COVID 19 have been found. Hydro Chloroquine/Zinc/Zithromax regimen has been deployed successfully to cure thousands of people. So at the very least, everyone should know about this and be ready to use it. But the same democrats and their media scoundrels mock this well documented successes in favor of shutting down the entire country until one day in future when a vaccine is developed.

      It will always be a grave error to fail to challenge Democrat mayors and governors because all they want is power. The type of power that Satan wants.

      1. I agree, David Anderson. One of my FB friends posted about taking vitamin D and C as well as Zinc and FB announced she was spreading misinformation about COVID19. The authorities are also opposing a family physician over here who advocates for hydroxychloroquine as the inexpensive and effective answer for the corona virus, it is after all taken to combat another type of infectious disease -malaria. (Although malaria is not viral.) The Liberals of the world are readying themselves for the coming of their lord. Are we as ready for the appearance of Christ in the clouds when He comes to take those who are His home?

      2. David, your post is inflammatory, divisive, and full of huge generalizations that demonize an entire segment of not just the population, but fellow believers. I am tired of rants like this that call into question the salvation of someone based on who they vote for. It introduces the idol of conservative politics into the church. God is not a Republican!
        I have been a baptized, Bible believing follower of Christ for 12 years (my spiritual birthday was last week), and I have no affiliation to a political party. I have cast votes for Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Contrary to what you post, when I voted for a Democrat, I was not “in cahoots with dark forces” or “hating the word of God”. My vote was not (and is not) indicative of my salvation, belief in God or the authority of His word. My repentance, baptism, discipleship, and love for those around me – including those who are Democrats – is. That’s it. That’s how it should be.
        We should know this.

        As for the coronavirus – there is chaos because too many people were making definitive statements when, in reality, they didn’t know. They were too prideful to say “I don’t know.” And now we have conflicting information everywhere. Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their own health and do what they can to look out for their neighbor (love your neighbor as yourself). I did not interpret the government mandates as banning religious services, especially since there are so many other ways to gather (thanks to technology) and come together in worship (even in small groups). But for those at Grace (and other churches) who see it otherwise, I say this: be sure that when you take on that personal responsibility, you are also willing to take on the risk. Don’t change your tune if things don’t work out the way you planned. Accepting responsibility means accepting the consequences that may come.

        1. M H,
          If you find David’s post “inflammatory, divisive, and full of huge generalizations”, then you really need to take a step back and start accepting the truths of reality because David’s comments are nothing but true statements. If you disagree with David’s comments, then you are denying truth as demonstrated by reality.

    4. As best I can tell, no one forced anyone to attend this worship service.

      If you actually read his letter, and perhaps you did, you would understand MacArthur’s position on why they did what they did. Their decision is Scriptural (and in the two related articles on this site I have yet to see anyone dispute the Scriptural references used to support the decision).

      Yes, this virus is extremely contagious. Yes, some people have died from this virus (and no one likes this). However, the actual mortality rates for this virus are extremely low. And if you have no chronic lung, liver, kidney or liver problems – you basically don’t die. (Of course there is a “risk” you die, but the risk of dying in an auto accident on the way to the church service is likely greater.)

      I do think people in the greater risk categories need to exercise extreme caution. However, this responsibility should fall primarily to the individual / family.

    5. {{“No one is taking away religious liberties here.”}}

      If what you claim is true, why were so many Christian pastors arrested and fined for having “safe services”? Not one single Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other religious leader was arrested, nor religious entity fined despite their gross violations of the mandates.

      You actually have a much higher risk of dying in a car crash on your way to church than you do from dying of Covid-19 and especially so of drying of Covid-19 contracted at church.

      I’ve been involved in industrial hygiene concerns for thirty years and I have another twenty-four years experience dealing with biohazard and infectious disease risks during fire/rescue/ambulance emergency operations. Let me tell you, all the media hype and these alleged safety mandates are pretty much completely useless!

      Let’s start with the science-fact that viruses readily pass right through all but extreme specialty masks which aren’t readily available to professionals, let alone the general public.

      Then we’ll move on to the fact that people are constantly adjusting their masks or removing them to talk which makes them touch their face many more times than they normally would thereby exponentially increasing their risks of contact infection.

      People put on gloves, then touch the contaminated surface of the gloves to their face and mask … and touch the contaminated surfaces of the gloves when putting them on and off. Thus, gloves also greatly increase the risk of virus infection, but all manner of infection especially when the contaminated surface is pressed against the skin and able to easily migrate in sweat to any open wound even if it’s microscopic.

      So let’s say that people do everything 100% right (yes, purely fantasy, but for the sake of discussion) … they wear a mask and don’t touch their face at all the entire time they’re in the grocery store. Someone with Covid-19 does the same but is coughing. Since the virus goes right through the mask, all the surfaces around them are potentially contaminated. So here comes mask and glove wearing consumer putting contaminated items into their shopping buggy which only had the handle possibly disinfected. Covid-19 and other viruses can remain viable for days on surfaces so when the people get home, they’re handling all those contaminated items and putting them in their home and refrigerator where the virus continues to survive. Sounds pretty silly when you think about the reality of what’s happening … doesn’t it?

      When one has years of experience dealing with and even having to write protocols on hygiene based upon sound science-fact, what we see going on in everyday life is quite laughable, yet makes one want to cry when considering how gullible people really are and how easily they’re indoctrinated by media disinformation propaganda.

      1. Yes–totally true. The mask thing has been played to death. Not very scientific. Just a piece of cloth cannot stop this virus or any bacteria. It is more detrimental when we are breathing all the bacteria back in. Extremely unhealthy. Thank you for your comments.

    6. Dr. Sarah, yes, you hit the nail on the head. Nowhere in Scripture is a command for us to meet in a building, with a large gathering, led by a one man show. This is not about religious liberties, and it’s really sad. This is all the tradition of men read back into Scripture. Hebrews 10:25 has NOTHING to do with meeting in a building every Sunday morning.

      1. Eric B Rasmusen

        It isn’t legal to meet outside either in California, is it? Or in a small group? (that is, 60 people)
        This is not about megachurches or buildings– it’s about whether Christians should gather together or not.
        It’s probably not dangerous (though I’d like to see everyone singing, including the worship leaders, wear masks over their mouth), but if you think it is, please address the hard question of how dangerous it has to be before Christians should give up on in-person gatherings such as church services and small groups,a nd whether this shoudl continue forever or not. After all, there’s no indication covid will ever go away.

      1. You do realize it was the Republican majority on the Supreme Court that upheld the state’s right to limit the number of people attending a church service, don’t you?

        1. @Carla – it was not the Republican majority on the Supreme Court that upheld the state’s right to limit the number. It was the court’s 4 liberal members with the defection of John Roberts. Alito wrote the dissent with Thomas and Kavanaugh joining him. Here is a quote from the dissent: “The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” he wrote. “It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. But the governor of Nevada apparently has different priorities.”

        2. If you think that “Rs” are any different than “Ds”, you’re sadly mistaken because both the “Rs” and “Ds” are in the same club, and we ain’t in it, we’re just forced to pay for it.

  4. It’s great they want to meet and SING…Yes, government and civic authorities do not have authority over the church…It is wrong to say those in religious gatherings cannot sing, yet in other contexts they can.
    BUT. YET.

    God has given us wisdom. I’d say yes, practice civil disobedience, yet it also seems wise to maintain some social distance, fresh airflow, soap and sanitizer, masks for those who choose it, have a separate service for those who want to follow guidelines more strictly due to health etc,
    In doing it his way above, is MacArthur giving way to pride?

  5. Time to discern what is the tradition of the elders that nullifies the word of God (Matt 15/Mark 7), and what does the true Ekklesia look like… buildings/institutions are man’s idea of the “church”… yes, God is a God of order, but we are not to elevate order and process over love for the people… then order/process/institutionalism becomes an idol…

    1. Good for the church and Mr. MacArthur, who IS doing what he should be. The Bible says; ” For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.
      And as for the being together in the church, here you go. There should be much more of this going on.
      25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10;25

    2. Eh, probably not. Probably need to just continue following the Scriptures. The Scriptures point us to God, the one true God. He doesn’t need worshipers, but he desires them. He wants us to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Believe it or not, worshiping God is even above loving other people.

  6. I think you all are missing the point. Why can BARS be open? Beaches with people crawling all over each other? And dare I mention the protests that are STILL going on? But CHURCHES are banned from singing? Which would you rather hear? Screaming angry people or singing? Bullets or gospel music? Shattering glass or … Swing Low Sweet Chariot? While people were still out destroying everything they could, churches were told not to sing, INDOORS. Wonder how many people got sick from all the screaming and yelling done by BLM? This recent SPIKE IN POSITIVE individuals couldn’t be because of that could it? (Of course not because they were outside. Pretty sure that information didn’t take 30,000 or so people in the SAME few city blocks into consideration. If you can’t see what is happening, you’re in a jam.

    1. Exactly. No gathering at church but masses of maskless so-called anti racism protests? Oh yes. No physical therapy but sex workers back on the job? Oh yes. Not long ago the Secretary of Health where I live said, ‘We have got to rid ourselves of those Christians.’ And lo and behold, he signs a shady deal with an even shadier company for a “vaccine”. We are going to die from this plandemic. Not from the new virus. Make sure you are in Christ before your number is called.

  7. Julie, thanks for this post. Will be trying to monitor this conversation to see how this turns out in coming weeks. Agree with previous comments that it would seem highly unlikely this will turn out well, given every thing that is going on around the world with continuing flare-ups and outbreaks of this scourge. My wife and I are really missing gathering with our church body in small and large settings, but we need to respect this virus with all of its unfortunate characteristics.

  8. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8199959/Face-masks-NOT-stop-healthy-people-catching-coronavirus-says.html

    https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200315/Reusing-masks-may-increase-your-risk-of-coronavirus-infection-expert-says.aspx

    https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/85814

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-news-face-masks-increase-risk-infection-doctor-jenny-harries-a9396811.html

    For years prior to Covid-19, the US Veterans Administration issued stern warnings about not wearing masks for longer than four hours at a time; never putting a used mask back on; never attempting to launder a mask; how masks increase the risk of viral transmission and infection … which begs asking the question: Were they lying then, or they lying now?

  9. Our church has protocols in place as recommended but I don’t believe this virus (or others not yet here) is going to be gone for a long time if ever so we are going to have to learn to deal with it. For those who are the vulnerable, don’t go to an assembly where the risk is greater. Take personal responsibility. Yes, it appears that this virus is more contagious than the flu, but the death rate seems to be significantly lower and the recovery rate is really good. I have a friend who had been quite healthy caught the virus and been on a ventilator for 7 weeks. He had the symptoms for a week and a half before he went to the doctor and so he ended up with double pneumonia. He is a builder and has no idea where he got it from. The “vaccine” is not going to eradicate this, in my judgment. We have a flu vaccine and at its best is 40% effective from what I recall. How is the Covid-19 vaccine going to be any better? Then what are you going to do when Covid-20 comes along? My brother is a medical doctor as well as a research doctor in a prestigious university hospital and he had advised my 90+ year old parents NOT to get the flu vaccine. I wonder if that will carry over to this vaccine? Isolation and depression are very real and can be as dangerous to individuals as Covid-19. The church gathered is an important part of a Christian’s walk. If it is possible to do it outside, great, but that is not always the case. I think each person has the responsibility to make intelligent decisions for themselves and for others.

    1. I’m one of the vulnerable and I have never ever taken the yearly flu vaccine. Where I live flu shots are first and foremost a very quick and easy way for family physicians to rake in the money. One doctor’s exposé said as much. Secondly, it’s a concoction of I don’t know what that makes people abnormally ill afterwards. I, too, caution the elderly and the vulnerable to wear masks outside and avoid crowded places. But with all the information that’s out it’s obvious that healthy adults, teens and children have no more to fear from this corona virus than from the common seasonal flu. Like I said, flu shots are more dangerous. And the COVID19 vaccine will prove to be the most dangerous of them all.

  10. I absolutely agree with Pastor John Mcarthur. The state cannot bully the church. This virus has been politicized from the very beginning. 98% recovery rate, of those that get it. Read the complete justification for Mcarthur’s decision on his church’s website.

    1. Yes, indeed, there is a 98% recovery rate. Is that a prognosis that should result in the fear-filled and faithless comments some have posted here? Of course not.

  11. Someone posted a very apt comment here recently with Biblical verses warning against being led astray by leaders. I’m not in the least bit surprised John MacArthur would reopen his church. The Bible teaches not to forsake the gathering together of ourselves. It in no way mandates that it has to be in a building. Many churches are having services outside or online and are doing just fine. At this point I only feel sorry for children being taken into large public gatherings. Adults who make the choice to attend services know the risks involved and so be it. Every church that has tried this has had to close down after an outbreak made members sick or worse.

  12. First, I admire and respect Pastor MacArthur. I have his study Bible, many of his books and listen to GTY. Yet I believe that he is wrong to meet since it is nor practical or wise. Many of the comments have gone off tangent politicizing this issue. The main and primary issue is the health and safety of the people. All large public gathering as schools, universities, sports, theaters, concerts, graduations, weddings, funerals, etc. have ceased due to CV-19. Some states are slowing re-opening as here in IL. We are at Phase Four which allows up to 50 people to congregate. Yet our church leadership have taken the stance to remain cautious and keep the church closed until IL reaches Phase Five and/or the virus subsides. Even before the pandemic, many churches have streamed their Worship Services via the internet, cable TV and radio. Worshipping God online pre- and post- pandemic is the same whether by personal choice or temporary by government edict. All Christian believers who worship God remotely are not in sin if they have not return to a physical church building. If large churches wishes to meet in person; follow the CDC guidelines in the maximum number of people and social distance. Smaller groups can meet throughout the day at different times. With their large facilities; small groups can meet in different buildings and rooms. Churches can be a testimony to the world and obey Caesar by being creative. We need not be pharisaical on this and add to Scripture.

  13. This issue of John McArthur and Grace Community Church reopening its doors for in-house worship again isn’t about Covid-19 or a political party. It’s about the elephant in the room that so many people even in the Christian community are ignoring — or at the very least — are hoping things will get back to normal after this planned “pandemic”. It’s all about control of our lives, our minds and our souls. It’s about a SPIRITUAL battle, not a medical one.

    Do you even realize what the implementation of 5G and A.I. (artificial intelligence) are about? Are you aware of how many corporate and Government officials are being blackmailed (and I’m not just talking about run-of-the-mill lobbyists and their products)? How about bio-metric I.D.? (That was one of Trump’s promises when he campaigned in 2016 and sadly, I wasn’t paying attention). Will you submit to that too? Covid-19 is just one of the tools “they” are using to test the waters to see how much and how fast people are willing to believe and follow their nonsensical rules. Turn off your TV’s with their programming of your minds. Quit listening to the lies of main stream media – and that includes Fox News. They are NOT legally obligated to tell the truth; they are there to sell and make money – have they sold you? And quit trusting Trump to save the United States from any harm. He is NOT a Christian (look at his fruit), he’s not even a conservative. Yes, as a Christian and a conservative I voted for him in 2016 because he seemed to be the obvious better choice. “Buh, buh, buh, he’s the lesser evil!” you say. Yes, that was previously my argument too. Not voting may be considered “un-American!” by some – I care not. I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ first and foremost. I will not be held accountable for voting for him again.

    This last year I’ve come to the conclusion that Trump, along with many other of our government officials from both major parties are part of the bigger picture and plans of this New World Order and the beginning of the End Times. We all need to quit being influenced by all the distractions of politics, Covid-19, BLM, protesters destroying the big cities, and even the upcoming Presidential election. Please know that I’m singing to the choir here when I say we need to seriously concentrate on the bigger picture of who Jesus is, and what the book of Revelation has to reveal to us about the current events and the future events about to take place not only in the U.S. but all over the world.

  14. CowgirlbytheBeach

    When the Shelter-In-Place ordinances were set by local and state leaders regarding church worship services, Grace Church issued a statement in May regarding its compliance to Governor Newsom’s mandate: https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1956

    This longer statement is no surprise. I suspect that MacArthur had plenty of assistance from the elders and other pastors – many whom are wordsmiths and legal experts in their own rights – draft this piece (as its SJM manifesto). MacArthur is a Scripture man, plain and simple. He has not shied away from controversies in the past regarding the fidelity of the Gospel, and I am happy to know that he is upholding obedience of the Word to high standards.

    One concern of mine is the exclusive wording of such documents that Grace Church publishes from time to time. Ironically, and sadly, such documents tout God’s word as THE rule of order, yet omits grace and compassion on churchgoers who might now not have the means to attend their home church before COVID. I suspect the formal style and non-pastoral tone are less geared towards Grace’s multi-ethnic church demographics than towards the purpose of defending the church’s position later on down the road. Are the authoritires coming for the church? Fine; this document will make attorneys happy. But that – and the urging to sign the petition for the “biblical mandate” – puts members and attenders in an awkward position.

    Have any of you read Jonathan Leeman’s response to Grace Church’s position statement? He recently posted a second part; both can be found on the 9Marks website. As many other churches are exploring ways to meet the biblical mandate to not forsake the gathering of the brethren, Leeman’s thoughts are indeed the kind of conversation and discussion that churches should be having. The link to the first response is here:

    https://www.9marks.org/article/a-time-for-civil-disobedience-a-response-to-john-macarthur/

  15. Erin Kelly Herner

    I wonder if there is a different way to see what is happening.
    So many are focused on questions of what is the real threat of this virus vs is the state using this to harass and suppress the church?
    What if the Lord has a different purpose in this? What if this is an opportunity for church structures to change in a way that will actually be more healthy, resilient and reproducible into the future, as real persecution actually does increase? There is a documentary film that came out in the past couple years, called Sheep Among Wolves II, about the church in Iran, which happens to be the fastest growing church in the world. This church has no denominations, no centralized leaders, no money, no buildings. Nothing centralized at all. And yet it is multiplying- disciples are being made, not simply converts.
    What if the pandemic, no matter how real or hyped it actually is, is actually an opportunity from God for the church in the West to become more like the church in Iran, or China- more decentralized and more of an expression of the priesthood of all believers? Not Sunday morning consumers, Christians who depend on the pastor, the worship team, the building to feed, entertain them, and then go back to the normal life the rest of the week.
    I truly believe that the future of the church must be smaller, lower profile home based. This is simpler, less expensive, more easily reproducible, harder for people to just spectate and less vulnerable. The Starfish and the Spider is a book that was written a while back that explores the power of decentralized systems.
    I’m asking myself where is this all going, what is the big picture from God’s perspective, and how do we align ourselves with his plan?

    1. I think God is going to be bringing in a transition of many thjngs, not just church, it may not look as you say, but yes I think God wants more Acts 2 among us.

  16. Erin,
    Yours is the best response I have read yet. My husband and I are 69 and left the “church building” over 15 years ago. Instead of wondering if our tithe was going to buy the pastor a new car, house on lake Michigan, vacation or something else. We have put our money and time into helping others. If a friend needs food we buy it. If a neighbor needs a ride we give it. Need a prayer, I make a prayer plate and give it to the person with scripture and uplifting verses. Erin, you are the church. I am the church, my husband is the church. The friends we sit with at Bagels for 15 years who are Christians are the church. We don’t need a building to be a church. And as for that verse about gathering together, nowhere does it say in the Bible it has to be in a building.
    I think what John MacArthur is doing by opening up his MEGA church building is really a bad idea. If God is really in control, then the churches will open when it is safe to do so. Not only is God cleaning house in Politics but also in churches. Time will tell if MacArthur is the next to fall. We are learning what it is to be a remnant. We are praying, helping friends , family, neighbors. Our closet doors up here in the office are covered with scripture and names and things we are praying for. One day we won’t have the building anyway. People do have a choice I do agree to go or not. But this is not a good one. I watched my parents die horrible deaths without the covid several years ago. I am so grateful my mom is with the Lord now and out of the nursing home as I would not be able to see her at this point of time.
    Nance

  17. This was explored in-depth on the Eric Metaxas Radio Show a day or so ago with John MacArthur being interviewed. https://youtu.be/dyOV6tngT8U

    I have not listened to the segment yet but my wife did. She indicated that MacArthur said the church has never stopped the in-person worship since the pandemic crisis started. Attendance did dip very low as people chose to stay home in the early days of much uncertainty and government lock-downs, but apparently they have avoided any dramatic outbreaks of disease within the body — otherwise you would think there would have been considerable notice taken prior to this point.

    All this is quite surprising to me, but my wife is much more gung-ho to return to in-person worship ASAP vs. where I am at.

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