Dear John MacArthur,
I recently read your open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, excoriating him for his upside-down morality and failure to protect the vulnerable.
I resonate with much of what you wrote. As you rightly state, Scripture teaches the “chief duty” of civic leaders is “to reward those who do well and punish evildoers.” And I agree that Governor Newsom has not only failed in this regard but has routinely turned this duty “on its head, rewarding evildoers and punishing the righteous.”
I also share your outrage that Newsom twisted the words of Jesus from Mark 12:31 in a campaign to support abortion. Civic leaders should be protecting the unborn, but Newsom has promoted their slaughter and blasphemed God in the process.
Yet, I am stunned to read these words from you—someone who has likewise failed to protect the most vulnerable and has instead protected those who have harmed them. And you are not a civic leader; you are a pastor, and biblically held to a higher standard.
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You sided with child-abuser David Gray when his wife brought allegations against him. And even after Gray was convicted of sexually abusing his children, your church supported his in-prison “ministry.” An endorsement, reportedly by you, appeared in Gray’s newsletter in 2012, which you have never refuted.
Meanwhile, you punished Gray’s wife, Eileen, excommunicating and publicly shaming her for refusing your unholy pressure to allow David back into the family’s home.
Many have sought to defend you, saying you were ignorant of David Gray’s abuse, but that seems impossible.
David Gray confessed he abused his kids in counseling with Carey Hardy, an elder at Grace Community Church (GCC), prior to Eileen’s 2002 excommunication. Gray even handed Hardy a hand-written “list of sins” during counseling and admitted he used a “belt & rod way too harshly—brutally” on a child; “tied up” and “locked up” the child; and was not always “adequately dressed” in the child’s presence.
Plus, Hardy confirms in a declaration given to a Los Angeles court that the church knew about Eileen’s allegations of abuse and the restraining order she’d obtained for her and her children’s protection.
Yet, you and the other GCC elders urged Eileen in multiple letters to remove the restraining order. And Hardy told Eileen in counseling to “submit to (David Gray), even in spite of his admitted abuse of her and their children,” according to a court declaration supplied by an outside pastor.
What you did to Eileen Gray and her children was despicable.
And yet, you have not repented of any of it—nor apologized to Eileen for the irreparable harm you caused her and her family.
How can you possibly stand in judgment of Gavin Newsom or anyone else for a “war on children” when you punished a mother for refusing to allow an abuser back into her home?
There may be a war on children being perpetrated by those outside the church. But there’s also a war being perpetrated by those inside the church. And sadly, you have enabled it.
Before pointing a finger at others, you would do well to examine yourself. As Romans 2 states, “You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
But there’s more than the David Gray debacle.
You similarly covered for Paul Guay, another pedophile.
According to an eyewitness, Guay confessed to you that he had sexually abused his own daughter, Wendy Guay.
I have published documents supporting this allegation, including a handwritten letter by you to Wendy in which you state that you and Paul Guay “talked at length about the situation”; you urge Wendy to forgive her father; and you confirm that Paul Guay will remain “a faithful part of our staff.”
For three years after his reported confession, Paul Guay remained a pastor at GCC.
And decades later, when Wendy asked you for help exposing her father to the church he was pastoring, you responded in an email: “I’m not sure why all this has become an obsession for you after so many years, but neither myself nor anyone at Grace can do anything more than encourage you that we conducted ourselves with biblical integrity.”
As a shepherd, your job was to protect the sheep. But you allowed a wolf into the pen and ignored the bleating of the most vulnerable. Your cruel and dismissive response devastated Wendy Guay—and permitted her pedophile father to continue pastoring for another nine years.
Paul Guay’s church, which failed to remove Guay after Wendy and other victims reported his abuse, has since repented of their abysmal response. But you have failed to even acknowledge the part you played, let alone repent.
What’s worse, you claimed you were being persecuted, and had the gall to suggest God would judge your accusers.
“Never take your own revenge, beloved,” you stated from your bully pulpit shortly after I published Wendy’s story. “(B)ut leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’”
John MacArthur, you have publicly called Governor Newsom to repent. But you’ve seemingly ignored a long list of your own transgressions.
Besides how you treated Eileen Gray and Wendy Guay, you have:
- Defended slavery, stating that “it’s a little strange that we have such an aversion to slavery” and adding that “working for a gentle, caring, loving master was the best of all possible worlds. If you had the right master, everything was taken care of.”
- Told Beth Moore to “go home.” Such condescending behavior towards another person is never justified, regardless of theological differences.
- Inflated your credentials. You do not have an earned doctorate, so using the title on a ministry website is deceptive.
- Embellished a story about your involvement with Black leaders when Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. There are key differences between the story you’ve repeatedly told and the story told by eyewitnesses. This isn’t “misremembering”; it’s misrepresenting.
- Enriched yourself with ministry dollars. You took at least three ministry salaries from 2005 to 2015. I don’t know how much you earned for pastoring GCC during that time. But I know that in addition to your church salary, you earned $3.2 million during those years. Now, your ministries keep all your salaries secret. If your salaries are justified, then why not fully disclose them?
- Accused me of publishing “falsehoods” about the December 2020 COVID outbreak at GCC when you were the one who failed to reveal the truth and warn your congregation. My reporting was accurate. Congregants died. And you were absent from your pulpit during that time because you had COVID, not merely because you needed “rest.”
In addition to these transgressions of your own, you’ve overlooked and tacitly supported the bullying behavior of GCC elder and Grace to You Executive Director Phil Johnson.
His twitter account is a steady stream of insults and condescension that in no way reflects the fruit of the Spirit. But his decision last year to dox me and then defend his behavior truly crossed a line. Yet you said nothing.
You also are platforming John Street, head of the graduate counseling program at The Master’s University, who instructs Christian wives to endure abuse by their husbands as a missionary endures persecution.
Because of this teaching, countless women and children have been put in harm’s way. Yet, the teaching remains online—even after I and others called it out.
You wrote to Governor Newsom that his soul “lies in grave eternal peril.” But have you considered the peril facing yours? You, too, have allowed the people entrusted to your care to be harmed. And you, too, will give an account to God.
John MacArthur, you have preached the Word of God—and for that, you should be commended. Yet, Scripture says that even if we speak with the “tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, we are a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1)
Similarly, Jesus warned that in heaven, “many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Matt. 7:21-23)
I do not presume to know the condition of your soul. But I do know that you have grievously wronged people I have grown to care for deeply. And I pray—for your sake and for the sake of the many wounded souls I have interviewed—that you change course and make things right.
May God have mercy on all of us.
For His glory,
Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. Before that, she hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate. She’s also worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate, a newswriter for WGN-TV and Fox News Chicago, and has published articles in numerous periodicals.
127 thoughts on “Opinion: An Open Letter to John MacArthur”
I don’t think, no better, I firmly believe his royal Imperial highness, John MacArthur will never respond to Julie’s letter, and certainly not in this lifetime, will he ever own up to wrongdoing or even mistakes. I have never been a MacArthur fan. His very demeanor is one of strutting pride and arrogance which even a blind man can see. Personally, I don’t care how many people have come to saving faith in Jesus as a result of MacArthur’s ministry, because that is not the point. The point is this man thinks he has a special place in the kingdom of God reserved just for him and maybe worse, is worthy of being insulated from any accountability. And Julie, great job calling him out, really, great job. You have a lot of guts to do what you do and I applaud you and your Christian journalism ministry. May God bless you and keep you and your family as you continue to fulfill his purpose in the ministry he has called you to.
He might respond. But if he does, it will be in Federal Court.
I disagree with your assessment of John MacArthur (Sam). I believe he is a man of God whom God has used to mightily build the church. My own relationship to God has been greatly blessed by MacArthur’s teaching.
I believe the issues Mrs. Roys brings up are salient and worth addressing. Mr. MacArthur has blind spots, just like we all do. Yes, he has sin, just like we all do. Part of the difficulty in having that “abandon all opinions of man and just pursue Christ”, attitude is that if you are one degree off, that one degree can cause harm. I believe he has the right idea to go all out for Christ. I hope he does see that he has made some mistakes and I hope he seeks to correct them.
On the flip side. If a pastor gets the emotionally safe aspect of ministry dead on, but only teaches nice sounding fluff, he is leading his flock safely to damnation. That would even be worse, in my opinion.
Peter, thank you for the reply you have offered me, and I can tell by the tone of it you have done so with respect. And for that I thank you. I would however, like to clarify my position for you. Building God’s church, being blessed by MacArthur’s teaching, blind spots, and 1° off, are secondary and take a backseat to the point of my post. I also, have observed John MacArthur many many times over the years, and have even attended several founders weeks celebrations at Moody Bible Institute, with MacArthur as one of the speakers. And I can assure you and can literally guarantee you I am not the only one who has found him to be as I have described him. His persona, his demeanor absolutely reeks of pride, arrogance, and a completely unapproachable posture. This is also, in a nutshell what Julie is calling him out on. He simply will not take a step back and consider any commentary about his aberrant behavior, again separate from his ministry. My trust in Julie’s journalism and what I have read about other Christian leaders (from other journalists as well) of the same ilk as John MacArthur i.e. James McDonald (and what is that guy’s name from the Mars Hill Church) etc. etc. solidifies my position. Personally I cannot understand how such men occupy the pulpit, again REGARDLESS of the success of their ministries which are solely the point of my original post.
(Sam) I saw him at Moody’s founder’s week too and didn’t get that impression. Granted I didn’t meet him face to face. If I have learned anything from the Roy’s report, it is that even the best pastors are going to have weak points. No single man sums up the entirety of God’s kingdom.
I am sure Mrs. Roys wrote an article about my life she could certainly find many terrible things. I stopped following Jesus for 8 years, yet I still attended church. I frequented strip clubs and got drunk regularly. In my heart I believed I was beyond God’s grace. Recently, over the past 3 months, I realized I had believed a lie from Satan, and that His grace is enough to cover even my sins. Over the past 3 months my entire outlook has changed, so has the course of my life.
God is doing many wonderful things in my life, and although I haven’t sinned in the gross sins mentioned before, I still struggle with lust, and reversing the order of deeds and faith. (good deeds follow faith, but the deeds do not save). I started a Bible study at work, in spite of all my shortcomings because I want my coworkers to go to heaven also.
Yes, being a pastor has a higher level of accountability, but even Peter had to be rebuked by Paul, so I think we ought not write someone off because they have sin, or because they got it wrong.
If it came out that John had molested children, or something like that, then my opinion of him would change, but that hasn’t happened.
Peter, I appreciate your thoughts here. I just have to say that John McArthur *protected* a child molester. That is a dangerous thing to do because it allows a wolf to masquerade as a sheep and prey on other unsuspecting sheep. Which is worse: Hurting someone yourself or fostering someone else’s ability to do so?
Skyler, this aberrant kind of behavior that Julie has called MacArthur out on is exactly the point I’m trying to make, along with the prideful arrogant posture he presents himself with, and I think you probably summed it up better and in less words than I could have! Julie’s letter to MacArthur contains many and very serious documented situations along with the complete disregard for the people who were badly hurt and victimized (not to mention those who he protected who should have been arrested for their criminal activity) by his terrible lack of godly wisdom and yes again, the prideful arrogant manner in which he handled all of it. And this is just the stuff we know about! John MacArthur may be a great preacher, teacher, blah blah blah blah, but this does not preclude his very bad destructive decisions that in essence he has been insulated from whatever consequences should have taken place for him. To be honest I truly hope those who have pledged their allegiance to this man will take several steps back and look hard and long at what he really is. John MacArthur simply does not belong in the pulpit no matter how good of a preacher is.
I agree with you Peter. I am blessed daily by McArthur’s ministry. I’m not going to accuse anyone when I have a board in my own eye. No one is perfect and no one knows the heart of man but God.
So well-written. And your heart for truth is evident throughout. The Bible says we will know those who are God’s by their fruit. The fruit of your letter is truth and grace. Sadly, the fruit of the person to whom the letter is addressed is not.
Thank you Julie for this open letter. It saddens me to read this. Especially when children are molested and the molestor is protected. I remember reading a book years ago that commented briefly on the cry of Sodom of Gen.18:20 being the children being molested! The person who does that should be excommunicated according to 1 Cor.5. Not the wife or children!
What he did there sounds like Prov.17:15. Justifying the wicked and condemning the just. Protecting the evil doer while condemning the victims!
Thank you, Julie. I wanted to jump up and down in celebration as I read this. It is a grand slam [but shouldn’t be necessary]. John is a blight, not a blessing, in the Christian community. I used to follow his parenting advice and it makes me cringe that I trusted his (now obvious) ignorance. This man is a charlatan.
Thank you Thank you Julie.. Your courageous reporting is literally saving lives
I think the problem with the letter is its lack of Grace… Jesus reserved his harshest words for false teachers & prophets and troublemakers… like Julie… not for the clearly unsaved. To them he offered rest. Come to Jesus, he will never cast you out. Julie and John… go home.
Nothing seems to get John’s attention………A firm rebuke seems necessary.
Thank you so much Julie!!
I mso grateful for ll that you do and am in total agreement with your beautifully constructed letter.
Thank you so much for your in depth research, your pointed and accurate assessment and your courage to state the truth.
Julie, thank- you for writing this beautiful call to repentance to John MacArthur. It just may be that no one near him is willing to point out his sins to him. I hope he reads it and listens to the Holy Spirit convicting his heart.
Anybody can sometimes be helpful to God (scripture records that Jesus once had need of a donkey), but puffed-up hubris is never an appropriate response when this happens.
Amen!!! Thank you for your courage!
Bravo! Thank you Julie Roys.
I don’t know how many people remember the late Rev. Fred W. Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, and his Westboro Baptist Church, but outside of blocking access to public buildings and sending out defamatory faxes, there’s not a lot of daylight between him and Dr. MacArthur. Angry hateful men more concerned with making people’s lives miserable in this life and with keeping them out of the next.
Rabindranath – as someone from the Topeka area who has driven by the Phelps compound many times and has seen their pickets many times, I’m curious about this comparison. Fred Phelps was clearly running a cult. Several of his grandchildren escaped and have publicly shared their stories. It has not previously occurred to me to compare Westboro Baptist Church to some of the other things going on in evangelical Christianity, but it is certainly worth pondering.
Westboro Baptist Church picketed John MacArthur’s church a few years ago. What they preach is true. I love them.
“What they preach is true. I love them.”
Which group are you referring to? Westboro or MacArthur’s church?
Except for some of the more outlandish behavior on the part of the Westboro Baptists, there’s not a lot of daylight between them.
Joseph – if you are curious about WBC, here are a couple memoirs about what life was like inside WBC and what they really taught and stood for.
I happened to be in Topeka during the Westboro Baptists’ heyday, so I know a little about Rev. Phelps and his behavior going back in the late 1980s.
Rev. Fred was not only about vulgar picket signs at funerals and church services. And John MacArthur is more of an astute business operator. But if you actually listen to their sermons and look at their doctrine and practices (double predestination, theistic determinism, a flexible view of Romans 13, a habit of taking ambiguous statements in the Bible and imposing the harshest, most discouraging interpretation of the text, an approach to pastoral authority that approaches the Führerprinzip, toleration of behavior that most people would consider abusive), there’s a lot of overlap.
I don’t have much use for either of them.
I completely agree.
Saying that two cults can’t both be cults because they stand against each other doesn’t make sense as one of the characteristics of a cult is their exclusivity (unless your a wealthy donor, then you are always welcome).
Not only for the reasons that have already given, but John Macarthur should be retiring anyway! The following is another good reason.
“Christian conservatives respond to John MacArthur comparing ‘religious freedom’ to ‘idolatry'”
In his newsletter,
Former Southern Baptist Convention ethicist Russell Moore, who headed the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission until last year, argued that even if MacArthur’s message was taken out of context, his line of argument is “usually offered when religious freedom refers to someone else’s religion.”…
The elders at John MacArthur’s Church should also be held responsible also. They should have John Macarthur retire if nothing else. Unfortunately, elders are usually cronies of the pastor; they won’t force retirement unless an obvious case of senility is observed. 🥴
“…they won’t force retirement unless an obvious case of senility is observed. 🥴”
Not always. A felony conviction will sometimes work.
Very sad. Unfortunately, I learned long ago that man will always let you down and God will get you through.
Shawn…yours is probably the best, sober comment on this page. “Man” can’t be trusted…I can’t be trusted…you can’t be trusted…stay close to Jesus, He is the only possible medicine for our problem and He can be trusted.
For those who still look up to John, its only because YOU were not victims. Im sure YOU won’t be as forgiving if it was YOUR daughter, sister, mother who were victims of abuse. This is not one oversight years ago but one’s purpose in ministry…throw anyone under the bus if they threaten your book sales and royalties. Given time, truth surfaces and more cover ups will be revealed. John’s protection of paedophiles reveals his purpose and philosophy of ministry. One just cannot praise nor stand with him for “his contributions to the church” while neglecting the grievous harm he did to Eileen Gray and her children whom Christ redeemed with His blood.
Thank you Julie for your courage and clarity.
John, I think you might be surprised just how many evangelical men are more than willing to overlook abuse done to their own daughters, sisters, and mothers. If they even acknowledge that the abuse happened they will often find a way to blame the victim.
Julie, this letter is full of grace and truth. I hope John and his churches elders, do the right thing and humble themselves unto repentance, and make a public apology to all of the church members, that they have abused all of these years. I know that your motives on exposing these charlatans is pure, and we all are hoping that it will bring true repentance.
God bless you, Julie
In all my life, when ever I had an issue with some one, Matthew 18 was my guide. The very first imperative was to confront the individual.
An Open letter does not use the Matthew 18 guide.
Matthew 18 is for confronting personal issues, not for confronting elders/Christian leaders who are sinning in their leadership. I believe 1 Timothy 5:20 would better apply to this situation.
Here’s more on applying Matt 18: https://julieroys.com/3-ways-wrongly-apply-matthew-18/
A professor can inspire students to learn with their teaching, a composer, a writer, an artist can move us with their talent, while being devoid of any character because we can separate their talent from their personal lives. I believe the message of Christianity is tied to the messenger.
The billboard is abhorrent! It is also a reminder that the “world” knows enough scripture to expect us to be loving if nothing else. The eyes of the world were on America during the election, the protest, and the pandemic. John put himself front and center – publicly. His worldwide representation of Christianity was anything but loving.
Julie, two quick comments. I’m in complete sympathy with most of your criticisms here, but some of your rhetoric detracts from you point. First, I would suggest leaving out words like “sadly,” because they’re often used to cover up a weak argument and they’re an appeal to emotion, when your letter is about the facts. Stick to those because they’re on your side. Second, I wouldn’t appeal to the “Lord, Lord . . .” text because it won’t convince anyone except those who already agree with you. It comes across as a cheap shot. I would say the same for saying anything about the state of MacArthur’s soul. You’re at your best when you’re focused on the facts — evidence, timelines, interviews, etc. That is where what you do really matters. I don’t know enough to write a letter like this. You do, and I’m glad that you do and that you wrote it. I just happen to think that these extra rhetorical flourishes actually blunt the force of the letter.
“I don’t know enough to write a letter like this.”, so I’ll just critique yours to make myself feel superior.
This open letter is very well written, thought out, and passionate. Like so many in the Christian Community, I’ve always appreciated John MacArthur’s Expository Preaching Ministry down through the many years, going back to the early 80’s when I was stationed in Germany during my Military Service. Upon moving to Southern California in the early 90’s, I’ve had the opportunity to meet MacArthur on several occasions, with the last occasion actually sitting down with a friend in MacArthur’s Office to discuss the issue of Preaching and the possibility of a Expository Preaching Conference in New York City (my friend lives in NYC). With all of that being said, it is clear that JM is a very flawed man that is too blind to see it, and if he does see it, he is too proud to publicly acknowledge it. As a Black Man, I watched JM and His Grace Church coddled and protected the Police Officers that beat the late Rodney King. That opened my eyes, and I remember several Black Students leaving the Master’s Seminary over that incident. I will always respect JM’s ability to handle the Biblical text, but when it comes to how he handles People, he is sorely lacking, but that’s not surprising of older White Ministers from his generation.
Well said Wayne, very very well said! Your post is an excellent observation of the sorely lacking qualities of John MacArthur’s inability of handling people. This is what I have been attempting to say several times in my most recent posts on this issue. Again very very well said.
Uh, what? “Stone throwers galore.” Who throws more stones than John MacArthur? Lol!
“His recent anti-government statements have likely got the DOJ looking at how to silence him.”
Apparently, he is a legend in your mind as well as his own. He is no threat to the government. The DOJ probably doesn’t even know he exist. But God does, and he isn’t mock. We will all reap what we sow.
“But John has single handedly had more positive influence on me and likely the rest of the world than anyone alive.”
Wow! Just Wow! The power is in the WORD of God – not in the words of John MacArthur. It did its work before him and will continue to do so without him! Personally, the writings of Jerry Bridges transformed me more.
Judgmental? One of the times I met him, he told me to tell my pastor, his friend, to “study the word”. My pastor actually has a PhD, he doesn’t. He has a subtle way of undermining all competition.
I went from consuming his every word, to not listening to another word, the day “he” declared who is and isn’t a Christian, based on POLITICS. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” ONLY God makes that determination. I am STILL into the word, growing, loving, serving, and obeying God, without him.
My favorite John MacArthur message is, “Examine Yourself.” We all should. The difference here, brother, seems to be, I think that INCLUDES John MacArthur.
It’s really good that so much commenting (88 comments at the time of me drafting this comment) has been stimulated by JR’s open letter to JM. Across reading the the spectrum of views expressed in those comments, my sense of things has become centred on voice,in this case the voice of JR. I believe that every voice should be heard (and understood in its own intent). I believe that any community committing to a faith in God, needs to adhere to the discipline of hearing every one of its constituent voices. I can’t imagine encountering God in personal experiencing, in the absence of this metabolism to being. If JM is unable or unwilling to hear the well-disciplined and intending and endorsed voice of JR, as expressed in this letter, then that is the mark of the issue and questions we encounter.
I shared this link to our Fellowship with this comment “It is no surprise to me that this has occurred as the cold blooded Calvinist “grace alone” view pushed by McArthur is very good at avoiding any thought of obedience which they dismiss as trying to be saved by works. For the record a wifes duty to submit to Christs authority acting thru her husband is exceeded and certainly no less than a husbands duty to be a Christlike head covering… when a man is an abuser and unrepentant he shows no fear of God and is himself therefore not in submission to Jesus. If they need to separate for the sake of children or so that the Lord can discipline that man in order to try and save him while protecting the woman so sometimes it must be and in that the Church must both protect and admonish the one in sin. JM loves to boast about how evil NAR and anything Pentecostal is but he doesn’t teach the truth himself… even said from the pulpit that those who received the Mark of the Beast could still be saved… something 100% impossible according to the scripture – Such dangerous shepherds abound in all flavours so rather than write lists of who to avoid lets focus on living and testifying in agreement with what the scripture actually says… we cannot fix the wider church, its doom is already written. But we can strive to be lifeboats for those the Lord rescues from them , lovers and doers of the truth and concerned firstly that the person you see in the mirror each day is a real disciple. As I said..Jer9, God is sifting out his own house”
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