Should Churches in California Defy Government Restrictions? A Response to John MacArthur

Yesterday John MacArthur released a video update to his church family. As is well-known, Grace Community Church has chosen to defy the state order issued by Governor Newsome banning indoor worship services. At 10:35-10:50 of the video, MacArthur states:

Churches are shutting down—large churches shutting down until, they say, January. I don’t have any way to understand that other than they don’t know what a church is, and they don’t shepherd their people.

He further intimates that pastors and church leaders who choose not to resist the Governor’s order lack the courage to direct the church to her calling in this time.

As a fellow minister of the gospel here in Southern California, I want to articulate why I believe cooperating with the current restrictions is not necessarily a cowardly desertion of our calling, but may instead reflect the path of wisdom, responsibility, and love. My motive in writing is not to attack MacArthur, who is my brother-in-Christ, but from sincere concern about the impact of his views on other pastors and churches.

Let me begin by saying that I stand with MacArthur in affirming the vital importance of corporate worship, as well as the importance of standing up for religious liberty. Moreover, I believe that there are certainly times to disobey the government, and I would gladly give my life for the sake of gathering to worship, if it ever became a capital punishment.

However, it seems to me that the current situation is more complicated than MacArthur’s perspective allows. To my mind, there are at least four biblical values that should inform our decision-making in this situation:

  1. the importance of worship (Hebrews 10:25)
  2. love for neighbor (Mark 12:31)
  3. obedience to government (Romans 13:1-7)
  4. maintaining a good witness (Colossians 4:5-6)

What concerns me about defying the state order right now is that it seems to prioritize 1 at the expense of 2-4. Regarding (2), one way we can love our neighbors is by helping to stop the spread of a dangerous and highly infectious disease. Gathering for worship without requiring masks or practicing social distancing or adjusting the elements of worship (e.g., reducing/discontinuing singing) risks causing a significant increase in transmission of the virus, particularly in the case of a mega-church. It is not merely those in attendance who are potentially affected by such a decision, but the entire community with which attenders subsequently interact.

Failing to take actions to slow the spread of the virus does not help our witness to the world (4). As the church, we want to be seen to care about the welfare of our communities, and to be helpful citizens who are willing to do our part to serve the common good. We want to make it clear to the watching world that we are not just concerned with defending our rights, but that we are willing to lay down our rights for the sake of others.

Regarding (3), I do believe there are times to engage in civil disobedience, as well as times to practice nonviolent civil protest. However, I don’t see civil disobedience as the appropriate response to the current restrictions, because the restrictions are temporary and purposeful. We are not being singled out for our religious beliefs; we are being directed to participate in a broader effort throughout our entire society, and throughout the entire world. (To the extent that restrictions are or become unfair to churches or religious groups as compared to secular entities, we should certainly speak out against that. I think engaging in protest before outright disobedience is often the wiser path, but I wouldn’t ever want to take civil disobedience off the table. That would be the choice I would make if the current restrictions were to continue indefinitely.)

Putting these four values together is complicated, and I have no one-size-fits-all answer for every situation. Our church has chosen to meet outdoors, while providing video options for those who choose to stay home. We’d rather be inconvenienced by the outdoor heat and noise than risk violating values 2-4. But I recognize that that may not be the best option for every church.

My main concern is not so much with MacArthur’s position—I think this is a complicated and unprecedented situation, and it is important to show a measure of grace to other churches following different policies. My main concern is with the judgment he passes on those who don’t defy the government restrictions right now.

To claim that those complying with the government restrictions “don’t know what a church is and … don’t shepherd their people is both unhelpful and unkind. It oversimplifies a complicated situation, and places further pressure on already-burdened pastors whose consciences lead them differently. I worry the statement will breed suspicion, reinforce pride, and stir up dissension.

I suspect that a major part of the reason MacArthur and the leadership at GCC would apply values 2-4 differently to this situation is that they don’t regard COVID-19 as an actual threat. For instance, in the addendum to their statement, GCC clarified that “guarding public health against serious contagions is a rightful function of Christians as well as civil government,” and stated that this is why they followed the original government orders in March. What led GCC to change positions from March to July is that they now believe that “the virus is nowhere near as dangerous as originally feared.”

So in principle, MacArthur and GCC seem to recognize the possibility of jurisdictional overlap between the state and the church. For instance, if, hypothetically speaking, the government had evidence that there was a bomb under the sanctuary of a church, I’d bet that just about everyone would recognize the government has the right to lock down the building, even if it was Sunday morning. In general, I know that MacArthur has a deep respect for value (3) identified above, respect for government. He has even stated that the founding of the United States of America was disobedience to Romans 13. It’s difficult for me to understand how MacArthur adjudicates when to follow Romans 13 and when not to follow this passage.

I don’t share MacArthur’s perspective that COVID-19 is not a real threat. However, I hold my views about the virus loosely. I am not an epidemiologist, and I suspend judgment about exactly what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be. So let’s suppose that I’m wrong (as, evidently, GCC would likewise have been wrong to close down in March of this year). My point here is simply this: such a potential error does not necessarily constitute a bowing down to Caesar. It would be an error in the application of principles 2-4 listed above, based on a particular judgment drawn about the nature of COVID-19. And my burden is this: Christians can and should disagree about the severity of COVID-19 without questioning each other’s commitment, courage, or pastoral care. We must remember that the same Scripture that calls us to gather for worship also calls us to accept other Christians amidst our differences (Romans 14:1-12). This, also, is a biblical mandate. So is our love for one another (John 13:34).

Our church will continue to worship outside, at least for the time being. Christ has commanded us to gather, but He said nothing about doing so indoors. So this option enables us to be obedient to Christ while also giving due consideration to the well-being of our neighbors and the edicts of the authorities over us. Again, my heart goes out to churches that do not have this option, and I pray God gives them wisdom to know how to proceed. I will not be quick to judge them, whatever they decide. Although I do not agree with those calling for civil disobedience, my main goal is not to criticize their decisions but to encourage and defend those whose consciences lead them differently.

My concluding appeal is this: let’s be very careful before engaging in civil disobedience. There is a time for it. But it should be a last measure, when conscience absolutely requires it, when no other pathway, however inconvenient, lies available to us by which we can honor both Christ and Caesar. And let us be keenly wary of the danger of lionizing civil disobedience for fleshly reasons.

Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church: and when the two conflict, we must obey Christ. But when we seek to avoid undue defiance of Caesar, we also act in obedience to Christ.

174 Comments

  1. Gregg Caruso

    Thank you Gavin. Well said. I might add an additional concern…What does it mean to be comprehensibly pro-life? I think that would be a worthy dialogue. Related to Pastor MacArthur, I have been concerned with the manner in which he communicates lately (in addition to this latest statement). From my perspective, even if he’s correct regarding his views the way he’s been communicating has been unhelpful to constructive dialogue within the Church as well as unhelpful to our gospel witness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Loved the article, Gavin. Will use it at our next Overseer’s Meeting where we are going to discuss this topic as it relates to our church. Appreciated your comments too, Gregg. I love the discussion idea, “What does it mean to be
      comprehensively pro-life?” Have tried to discuss this a bit with those who hold the typical narrow view. I believe
      in “pro-life,” but I also believe it clearly means not just womb (which is extremely important) but also cradle to grave.
      This puts an entirely different light on the matter. There is no time for ample discussion here, but again, just wanted to
      thank you for your comments. Well done.

      Like

  2. What response would you advocate if you truly believed that certain government officials were being deliberately deceptive (regarding Covid19) in order to manipulate things for evil purposes?
    This country is at war, and disinformation and deception have always been weapons of war. Evil people are enabled by people of goodwill who can’t imagine the depth of evil and are too slow to connect the dots.
    I agree that Christians should obey governments. But somewhere there is a line of culpability that, when crossed, Christians become enablers of evil whether they realize it or not.

    Like

    1. Michael J. Walsh

      Good question! I would say it is impossible for man to see into another man’s heart. The Lord is sovereign and He reveals hearts. I suppose we wait and seek wisdom. Once the “plot” is exposed we as believers can act with knowledge. Until then, don’t compromise what you do know.

      Like

      1. Thank you Michael.
        Gavin wrote “To my mind, there are at least four biblical values that should inform our decision-making in this situation …” My comment was intended to suggest another “biblical value” in addition to Gavin’s (although I didn’t make that connection clear).
        Romans 1:18-20 says that humans are culpable for what they SHOULD have known about God … for what knowledge there was readily available evidence for and for which they could not plead ignorance.
        Wouldn’t this same principle apply to our (i.e., Christians’) understanding and knowledge of Covid19 and the country’s response to it? Aren’t Christians responsible to God for, at least, seeking a truthful understanding of both the medical and political components of this “epidemic” because of the enormous harm people are suffering because of it?
        With more and more credible people raising serious questions about the official narrative, it would seem that Christians should be in the forefront of seeking truth and honestly examining the alternative claims. And this is especially relevant when opposing views are being suppressed (… a red flag in itself). After all, the truth of Jesus Christ certainly shouldn’t be the only truth we’re concerned with. Rather than wait for “the ‘plot’ to be exposed,” Christians can help focus light on facts and inconsistencies without passing judgment on motives, yet without naïvely yielding to the sin of willful blindness to evil.
        In other words, you may arrive at different conclusions, but ask questions and seek truth regardless of where it may lead. This alone will be a testimony to God’s glory.
        Phil

        Like

    2. Mark PH

      I don’t understand several of your assertions. I need facts that we are at war. What is your evidence the country is “at war”? Protests and riots are not war, politics (even viscous) is not war, even national guard in the streets is not war (Vietnam protests). War is rival armies Of Americans or Americans fighting foreigners killing one another in battle, cf. the Civil War, Mexican war. It requires at least two sides with observable battle plans and physical weapons attacking each other in battle.

      Like

      1. Thank you for your question. I do want to be clear. But please understand, I’m merely a retired computer guy who is trying to understand what’s really happening and attempting to be discerning about what I read.
        The “war” that I (and many others) believe we’re in is an ideological one that has very serious ramifications for our country’s identity and future. Some call it a “civil war,” but I think it’s more than that. The two sides have, generally speaking, two radically different worldviews and assumptions about the fundamental nature of our social contracts. I think the best description of one side is “socialism” (some would say “communist”) and the other is “liberalism” (in the classical sense, not the contemporary one).
        To recognize what’s happening, you must be skeptical, ask probing questions, use your head, and connect the dots. For example, do you really think that the protests and riots were spontaneous or, rather, orchestrated by others behind the scenes? Is it significant that the BLM co-founder describes herself as Marxist? Isn’t it a red flag to remove videos by very qualified medical doctors who rebut the mainstream narrative and, BTW, will not benefit financially by their message? If hospitals receive extra funds for covid19 deaths, do you think they might over-report them?
        I could go on, but don’t take my word for all this. Search things for yourself.

        Like

      2. bobbiermann

        “Protests and riots are not war, politics (even viscous) is not war, even national guard in the streets is not war (Vietnam protests). I totally disagree. Sorry, people died, and things destroyed, which is what happens in war; people die and things get broken by the opposing forces. It does not require an army, a uniform, or rank to make it a war. As Christians we need to remember “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) It is warfare alright, guerrilla warfare, where the enemy does not play by the rules of engagement.

        Like

  3. Richard Deem

    Let me explain why John MacArthur disagrees that Romans 13 applies to the current situation. Romans 13 states that we should obey a government that is “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” However, our government is a government that actively promotes evil and sin (abortion, homosexuality, and violent rioters) and punishes the righteous (churchgoers). Newsom’s executive orders specifically target churches beyond that of secular businesses, limiting attendance to 100, regardless of the size of worship center. So, the Bible never tells Christians to obey ALL governments. This is why Christians in occupied Europe during WWII hid Jews and refused to comply with Hitler’s government orders.

    The severity of the pandemic is certainly not as deadly as initially thought, but probably not as benign as John MacArthur thinks. Time will tell. I am not attending in person as of yet. I am praying that COVID-19 does not infect open congregations, so as to making us seem to be unwise.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Justin Fordinal

      As a pastor, I received Dr. MacArthur’s statement several times in my inbox. In my view, his statement lacked careful-thought, christian-charity, and made a straw-man of other faithful views. This created unnecessary and unhelpful division among onlooking Christians trying to gain clarity. Many of our congregants desire to meet (as do I), and also believe that Dr. MacArthur issued razor sharp clarity on if we should. That just isn’t the case. My main concern is also not with MacArthur’s position or his church’s practice, my concern is making the Bible fit a narrative and view that it simply doesn’t. I also believe that if the issue was as clear as MacArthur and Grace Church suggested, then a statement of repentance does seem to be in order. Grace Church espoused views and took actions that are mutually exclusive to the views they communicated just two months before (see link):

      https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1956

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. The proper interpretation of scripture is very important to remember. Many errors throughout history can be traced to the misinterpretation of scripture by well-meaning people. Yet scripture is more than mere rules. It is also for the reshaping of our hearts and minds to be more Christ-like, which includes being more discerning and aware of the spiritual realities that surround us in this world.
        Remember Christ said “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt 10:16). Remember also that Satan is called the great deceiver (Rev 12:9) because deception is his primary tactic. Both implicitly remind us that, to be faithful Christians, we need to use our minds to discern both evil (in order to avoid it) and God’s will (Ro 12:1).
        I do not blame any Christian for wanting to think the best of people, to overlook flaws, and not be cynical. We do not want to fight, and we certainly do not want to judge. However we ARE called to discern and to prayerfully ask for God’s wisdom, especially when we study scripture.
        The fact that many respected and qualified people, both Christians and non-christians, are questioning the narratives of current events and giving warnings, should at least cause us to pause and examine things more closely (which, unfortunately, will require time). After all, if their warnings turn out to be true, you don’t want your name in the “deceived” list … or, worse, the “gullible” list.
        I believe our country is facing an unprecedented crisis. My concern is that Christians will be naively manipulated and, thus, enable evil people to prevail.
        Didn’t the Nuremberg trials show that blind obedience to immoral government edicts is no excuse for moral culpability? When things don’t smell right, at a minimum we should be skeptical and prayerfully ask questions.

        Like

      2. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Justin. I would like to reply to your statement as follows. There are many assumptions that as Christians we take for granted. Should we take statements like, “be wise as serpents, gentle as sheep” to mean we must be passive in all situations? Does not “repaying evil with evil” mean we accept persecution calmly and without defense? If someone robs you, do you just hand over your wallet and apologize? If a rape is about to take place do you refrain from action or involvement?

        I believe that when the State (government), at least in the U.S., given we have a very powerful and sure Constitution, exceeds its limits, the people have to speak up and resist. With respect to the Pandemic, many governors, mayors, City Councils and others have exceeded their Constitutional authority. But even if there were no U.S. Constitution, would we dare meet when robbed and raped by governors who go beyond the limits of their authority?

        We must admit that the scene at the Temple, when Jesus overturns the table, is troubling for most Christians. Why? because we have been indoctrinated into believing that Christians don’t fight back. But Christ’s example teaches us that when things are not done right, we must take a stand and fight back. Governors have no authority to close Churches. If “protesters” can retain and exercise their 1st Amendment Rights, why must Churches abdicate?

        If Churches, on their own, decide it is best not to congregate, that is the prerogative of the Church, not the State. Would Christ have been charged with a crime today? Yes. He was disorderly, abusive, assaultive, demented, dangerous. He might even have been Baker Acted unless, of course he could show he was part of an anti-government protest. It seems rioters are given free reins, but law abiding citizens are arrested.

        In my opinion, Churches must open if for no other reason than as a Testimony of Christ. But there is also the aspect of the one place where people turn to in times of distress, such as what we are currently going through. Hospitals are open. But the hospital of the soul is closed. If we view the Church as a mere club where members meet to have a good time and share things they have in common, such as Baptisms, Communion and Weddings, then that is a different matter. But if we see the Church as the only place Christ set up for the lost to find rest for their souls, things change.

        Christians must not be weak. Churches must open.

        Like

      3. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos,
        To be wise as serpents and gentle as doves means that when you are wise, you needn’t resort to violence. Look at how Jesus slips through crowds of people like some magician who has just distracted an entire audience with some slight of hand trick. Jesus points out that his kingdom is NOT of this world at all, and therefore there are no servants who would ever think of coming to rescue their king. They don’t need to in the first place. The king doesn’t need to be rescued. We’re the one who need to be rescued. Christ’s kingdom doesn’t operate by striking back.

        If Jesus were to enter into just about any church in the US, he would undoubtedly behave in just as unruly and disruptive manner as back then.

        The modern day Christian is nowhere near as wise as they should be so they can’t help but be bamboozled and robbed, in most cases without ever knowing it. Why? Because they have no interest in even knowing God’s will in the first place.

        Context is key to understanding Jesus’ actions in the marketplace. One does not pray in the marketplace or circus so there is no need to overturn anyone’s tables, but the inside of the temple is where only God is supposed to dwell. If a Christian wants to fight, they need to clean out their temple first. They need to yank Mammon out of their heart along with this outward desire to retaliate with violence.

        Jesus says to pull the beam out of your our own eye before attempting to pull the splinter out of our neighbor’s because you can’t pull that splinter out with a beam in your own eye. In other words, there’s no point in jumping into the fray when you’re only going to get knocked to the ground and raped, robbed etc. So start packing, keep extra ammo close by, hit the range regularly, and remember to exercise situational awareness at all times like only the oldest serpents and doves do.

        Of course I’m jesting, Christ never set up a building for people to meet in. He set up a place in our hearts where we meet God our neighbors, and most importantly our perceived enemies wherever and whenever we can.

        Like

      4. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Shnarkle, your perspective is doctrine in the church. However, there are other things that have to be taken into account. The interpretation you have given is similar to what a Quaker might also assert. They believe in a pacifism that refrains from any physical confrontation yet, they govern with strict, merciless retribution for violation of their precepts. Their violence is not physical, but it can be emotionally unforgiving and brutal.

        On the other hand, I suspect you believe in government and the military and police that protect it. Where we true to beliefs, such as those you have expressed, we would be more like the Jehovah Witness, who not only won’t participate in government, they do not encourage serving in the military. The problem is that those institutions are as necessary in the corrupt world we live in, as personal self-defense at the individual level.

        Jesus had a mission that was much different than ours and we shouldn’t confuse the two. If we can depend on others to do the fighting for us and defend us when being assaulted, we have a responsibility to society and self to defend ourselves in the absence of police authority. I say to society, because failure to act in self-defense only encourages criminal activity. Congregations don’t have to accept and sit idly by as their church buildings are burned and parishioners are attacked. There are perfectly legal and otherwise necessary means that can be applied to protect people. For that reason, we have locks on doors, bars on windows, security personnel patrolling our neighborhoods.

        In areas where persecution of Christians by terrorist organizations, criminal gangs and rouge rebels is a daily ocurrence, Christians can organize to set up physical barriers and aggressive countermeasures to protect their families and other Christians. If there is no army to defend you and no police force to protect you, it is your responsibility to set one up. Christians don’t have to sit and wait to be beheaded. I Christians can support armies and police forces in their countries and localities, they can set up the same structures in their absence.

        My argument is that if you believe that someone else can do the fighting for you, then you should also accept that you can fight for yourself. And that is not just a matter of religious belief, it is something that affects the well-being of society itself. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our neighbors and uphold social order. Defending yourself against an aggressor, when possible, does that.

        Like

    2. Amen. The cavalier attitude and I believe misinterpretation of Romans 13 that today’s preachers are using is hurting the churches witness and as scripture says they will give an account. I say to JMac, better late than never. There are many churches that never closed and have been saying and doing what JMac is now saying and doing.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Shnarkle Von Barkle

      Good point with regards to Romans 13. I would also point out that since when is it my responsibility to help prevent the spread of a virus that was released from a lab situated within a HUGE metropolitan area? A lot of these labs really need to be out in the middle of Antarctica or a desolate desert instead of where they can do the most damage imaginable. Who was the genius to thought placing these labs in cities was a great idea?

      The other problem is that while this is a highly infectious disease, the vast majority of people will never even know they’ve been infected to begin with. The vast majority will never become symptomatic.
      The vast majority of those who do, will quickly recover. The vast majority of those who have to seek medical attention will recover rapidly, and the vast majority of those who have to be hospitalized will also recover. We’ve already reached herd immunity, and no one seems to care. Sweden did nothing They didn’t change a thing. They approached it like it was just the seasonal flu. They’re back to normal.

      There is absolutely no evidence to support these claims of anti social distancing, masks, etc. as effective means to restrict the spread of this virus. Viruses are only a few microns in diameter, and if anyone has ever seen even a 5 micron filter, there is no way it compares to wearing an N95 mask or some of these designers masks that are becoming so popular now. A micron is a billionth of a meter while an N95 mask collects material that is only a millionth of a meter which is on the order of a completely different magnitude. You might as well try stopping mosquitos with chain link fencing.

      Like

      1. Sweden banned gatherings of larger than 50 people and the Swedes as individuals were more careful than even government regulations demanded–unlike us in the US.

        “In contrast, if Swedes had done everything they were allowed to do (especially since face coverings were never required nationally), such as shop and socialize at the same levels they had pre-pandemic, “it would likely have led to runaway infection,” Kasson said. But “Sweden is a place with a very strong embrace of government authority.” When that authority said keep gatherings small, Swedes “took individual actions that went beyond the mandated measures,” he said.

        “Sweden is 18th in the world in Covid-19 cases per million people, with 7,524 as of Tuesday. That’s better than the U.S. (10,626), but much worse than European countries that imposed shutdowns. Sweden is seventh in deaths per million people (with 549; the U.S. is ninth, with 419), though the U.K., Spain, and Italy are worse, possibly because of older populations, denser cities, and more imported cases early on. But a death rate nearly 12 times Norway’s is hardly reason for celebration. (In fairness, however, there is evidence that one reason for Sweden’s high death toll is that when elderly people contracted Covid-19, they did not receive aggressive treatment, Kasson found; if they had, about one-third might have survived.)

        “Because factors that kept Sweden’s numbers from being even more dire are largely absent in much of the U.S., there is growing concern that this country will blow past Sweden’s death rate and exceed its case rate even further.”
        https://www.statnews.com/2020/07/15/covid19-accidental-sweden-fall-could-be-catastrophic/

        Like

      2. Shnarkle Von Barkle

        Darryl, you really need to stop listening to the mainstream news propaganda machines churning all this relentless nonsense as it has a tendency to become believable. When they constantly point out the high rate of infection, and obsessively count each and every time someone becomes infected, what they neglect to point out is that as the rate of infection increases, the death rate becomes proportionately less. Moreover, what they are intentionally not reporting is the fact that the death rate is plummeting already. We’ve already got herd immunity.

        When the vast majority of people have to be told that they’ve been infected, we’re not dealing with a problem at all. When the vast majority of deaths are by people who were well on their way to dying anyways, we do not have a pandemic at all.

        When each and every person who dies WITH Covid 19 is counted as someone who died FROM Covid 19 we not only don’t have a pandemic, we have a bonified hoax.

        When the CDC, and WHO own patents on dozens of drugs, and are receiving contributions from Bill Gates, and Big Pharma, we’ve got a conflict of interest. Add in the fact that the mainstream news outlets are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, this is nothing less than a coordinated propaganda campaign.

        Some have likened wearing their face diaper to the stars Jews were required to wear, but a much more accurate simile would be to the tassels, or tzitzit, that dangle from the four corners of a Jewish prayer shawl which Christ rebuked the self righteous Pharisees for wearing. Face diapers are simply the modern day equivalent of worldwide Pharisaic virtue signaling.

        Like

      3. luvestag@aol.com

        All through scripture, one can see that God warns before judgment. When the warning is rejected and there is no repentance of sin, God will judge the sin in his time and in his own way. For you to call the coronavirus a hoax and fake is dangerous, for it invites the Lord to send more judgment, more severe than the previous one:

        “… One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt …”

        Maybe a real pandemic is on its way!

        Like

      4. Anonymous

        To point out the obvious fact that the government mandated anti social behavior is a hoax does not invite God to send judgment, it points out that to believe in a lie is to invite God to send one a spirit of stupor or delusion (2 Thess. 2:11)

        Dr. Fauci openly stated that Trump would preside over a pandemic. How did he know this? Just a mere month before the leak in Wuhan China, we had a dress rehearsal, referred to as ‘Event 21’. Those who are glued to the boob tube constantly might even notice that the newscasts today still show the EXACT same footage of bodies being loaded into refrigerated trailers as if this is still happening today. The fact is that it never happened. Hospitals are laying off people because they have nothing to do anymore due to the fact that people are too afraid to go to the hospital anymore unless it’s an absolute emergency.

        No one in the mainstream media will ever point out that as the cases of Covid go up, there was a concomitant decline in heart disease, and other terminal illnesses. Coincidence, or have we just found a new cure for heart disease? Labeling death from heart attack as a death from Covid 19 is most definitely a scam.

        However, they are all pointing out that this is just the first wave, and it will definitely get worse. We can safely assume this will be the case. They see that most of the sheep will comply, and when a real pandemic hits, no government will have to suggest, much less mandate; that full Hazmat suits be worn when out in public. Get yours now before the price goes through the roof.

        One has to ignore all critical thinking skills to believe that a virus that is being manipulated in a lab by people in extremely expensive Hazmat suits only needs a cloth diaper worn over one’s face to prevent its spread outside of that same lab. Furthermore, who in their right mind thinks that it’s a good idea to place a lab experimenting with highly infectious agents in the middle of a highly populated metropolitan area? This isn’t just the case in China either.

        Like

      5. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        All I know is that I know nothing about Sweden. So when I am told that Sweden is doing it better, how do I really know? Am I being given all the pertinent information? Or might there be a few details they forgot to mention?

        The fact is that in the U.S. we have a Constitution that guides our Social and Political activities. Based on the Constitution, the President has limited authority over the States, which are semi-autonomous. But governors are not exempt from the Constitutional limits placed on government.

        That same Constitution prohibits governors from infringing on the right to freely assemble and exercise religious beliefs and worship. The governments concern for the welfare of the people cannot override or invalidate our Constitutionally recognized right to worship. Consequently, if government wants to control spread of the virus, they will have to look for alternatives that do not include closing down churches.

        Sweden has a different form of government. They can do what they want. But in the U.S., we have a Constitution. Churches, particularly in these troubled times, must remain open. Otherwise, what is the message of Christianity?

        Like

      6. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos,
        I don’t know much about Sweden either, but I know that any virus will have a tough time getting any genetic code to duplicate when temps rise, and temps aren’t all that high in Sweden. From what I’ve heard, Sweden presented the same message, but instead of mandating quarantine, they simply suggested it. Maybe the people complied willingly, which seems to a common pattern I see developing everywhere. I think Huxley and Orwell saw it as well.

        I don’t see any evidence of our social or political activities being guided by the Constitution. I see everything being guided, or dare I say manipulated, by a sprawling technocracy. Try getting around without all the new techno-gadgets that don’t even come with instructions anymore. Download the app, set your preferences, wait for updates, renew subscriptions, etc. etc. What does all of this stuff even really mean?

        My computer is down, and well, I guess I can’t access my bank accounts anymore. Oh well. What’s a fool to do when they pull the plug? Good luck relying on a dead letter half the country can’t even remember why it was written in the first place.

        Congress shall make no law abridging the free exercise of religion? No. They shall as much as they please, and lo and behold the church shall use technology to ease into “the new normal”.

        Presidents have been legislating from the Oval office for decades with their “Executive Orders”. They set up whole agencies creating regulations that no legislature has made into law, and no judges feel any need to interpret.

        The Constitution doesn’t prohibit anything. There’s a saying Paul has that goes something like this; “the law cannot save you”. Why? Because it’s just a law, and laws have to be enforced in order to prohibit anything. When the Constitution isn’t enforced, it is a dead letter. Did you notice how easy it was for them to just close down the country? Did you notice how easy it was for them to get everyone to eagerly rush to don a face diaper, and hunker down around their tv’s eagerly hanging on every horrid prognostication from Dr. Fauci like it was the War of the Worlds all over again? None of that could have been accomplished without any of this modern tech gadgetry.

        The governments rights can and are being exercised, extended, and ignore the rights of Constitutionally recognized rights because the government has the POWER to do so. Granted they have no Constitutionally recognized rights to do these things, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are exercising their power to do whatever they see they can get away with. Rights don’t mean anything if they’re not exercised.

        Years ago whistleblowers came out with claims that our rights were being eroded by government agencies like the CIA, NSA etc. People lamented that if we only had hard evidence, the people would rise up and put an end to this. Fast forward to today, and there is overwhelming, damning evidence of government overreach and corruption from what can no longer be accurately referred to as “The Deep State” anymore. They are right out in the open doing these things with impunity because they know they’ve won. It’s game over, and people are already eagerly chomping at the bit to line up and be injected with experimental vaccines, followed by extended stays in Covid 19 camps. No one is objecting with anything more than their demands that they must have Direct TV, and wifi.

        Christianity doesn’t seem to have a coherent message anymore. I think a better question would be what is the gospel message. Even though this gets to the heart of what Christianity should be, we still run into a confusing mix of ideas, many of which seem to be intentionally concealed by secret signs, code words, etc. What most of the damned seem to end up hearing is something along the lines of: “You’re evil, and will burn in hell for eternity unless you recite this magic formula, ‘I know I’m evil, and repent of my sins, and accept Christ into my heart, Amen’ “.

        The uninitiated have absolutely no clue what they just recited and don’t even care because they have a whole group of new friends to hang out with, unless of course they don’t have enough money to pay their own way.

        As I’m sure you’re well aware, the church isn’t a building built by human hands. This corona virus may reveal more about the health of the church than the church would like to admit…

        Like

      7. fromoverhere

        1. Sweden did not “do nothing” . They closed down borders, high schools, colleges, churches, and everything over 50 people. You guys just keep peddling things that are not true.

        2. They did suffer!!! Their economy was hit (Volvo, Saab, Scania, SAS Airlines) and they have one of the highest deaths-per-million in the world (gaining on Italy, with only 3 other European countries higher than they are).

        3. Compared to other Scandinavian countries Sweden gets slaughtered in every way cases-per-million, deaths-per-million. Deaths: Sweden (580); Denmark (110); Finland (61); Norway (49)

        5. Why not compare them to a country that locked down tightly like New Zealand (a more densely populated country)?

        NZealand: cases per million 362; deaths per million 5 (yes, you saw that correctly….five)
        Sweden : cases per million 8,725; deaths per million 580 (yes, five hundred eighty)

        So…it is kinda misplaced to just ramble off some fact about Sweden (especially if you are wrong about them).

        Like

      8. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Nobody locked down their people more harshly than Peru and New York, and both are stellar examples of how ineffective it really was for inhibiting the spread of the virus.

        Like

      9. fromoverhere

        That is a rather uninformed repsonse and nonsensical logic.

        There could be 1000 reasons why one place (Peru) got it worse than another (health, climate, income, density of cities, resistance to rules, etc). It is illogical …well just folly to say “they locked down and still got it badly.” There is no way to know how badly they would have gotten it had they not locked down ….so there is no logical case, whatsoever in your statement.

        But it is obvious that you do not care about real facts since you say such falsehoods as….

        “Sweden did nothing They didn’t change a thing”

        That is 100% wrong as 5 mins of research (and comments on this blog) would show you…. but do you care?

        I (and others here) showed you that you were wrong on Sweden (they did a LOT to hunker down and fight it). I offered the idea of doing-extremely-well New Zealand (who locked down). And you did you even consider that? You just deflect to Peru and New York.

        You are agenda-driven. I am fact-driven (I’m not a lefty, but a conservative, Christian father of a large, home-schooled family) . And dont bother with the “you listen too much to mainstream media” reply. That is a bully tactic and cop out for people who dont have any facts, and just think it is a conspiracy and a hoax.”

        Again, NO COUNTRY in the entire world “did nothing.” To say so is just ignorant.

        Some did a lot and fared well (New Zealand)…..others did a lot and did not (Peru).

        Some did less and fared well (like (dictator) Lukashenko in Belarus; he thinks it’s a hoax and forced that idea on the people. Bravo.) ….. others did little and fared poorly (Sweden has one of the highest deaths per million in the world.)

        Like

      10. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        If you notice, those comments of mine are a bit old, and I conceded the fact that Sweden practiced social distancing, lockdowns, etc. even though they weren’t mandated. I agree that there really is no way to tell what is effective in the first place. Too many unknown variables to make sense of anything the government wants to do. Sorry to see that my comments were so offensive. If there was some way for me to remove them, I would.

        Like

    4. I think we must consider the context of the time when Romans was written, the Roman government certainly wasn’t one that favored Christians and yet Paul gave us the command to obey.

      Like

      1. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        What you are saying, Bob Davis, is that if ISIS says it is the law that all Christians be beheaded, we should all stand in line to wait our turn? Would it be unlawful to resist? Would we be fugitives if we evaded arrest? Are there any options? Although your rigid interpretation doesn’t leave room for anything other than willing, dutiful submission.

        Like

      2. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos, did Christ, Paul, Peter, etc. or the early church wait to be executed by Rome, or did they cut and run?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Carlos Ramirez Trevino

        Shnarkle, are you and Bob Davis saying it is OK to disobey the Law? If the ISIS Caliphate has a Law that all Christians must report to their local authority for beheading, as per Bob’s argument on Rom 13, they must report.Running would not be an option because it is a criminal violation. If Gov Newsom issues an EO, outlawing singing in Churches, which he did, just as ISIS issued edicts to gather up Christians for beheading, will you sing? Finally, was Jesus a lawbreaker?

        Like

      4. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Jesus didn’t violate any of God’s laws. However, what he taught and did created problems for those who wanted to remain in power. Therefore they killed him and his followers, but they can’t kill an idea whose time has come.

        HIs very presence was an affront to Roman power, but good luck finding that anywhere in the modern day church. As I have pointed out repeatedly, no government in the US right now is going to do anything to a BLM or Antifa gathering. Granted they usually have masks on anyways, but this is beside the point. They won’t touch these people for not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. The church need only spotlight the hypocrisy by wearing black shirts with the appropriate symbols, and speak up for equality.

        Every law has its loopholes, and the church is no stranger to taking advantage of them. Why stop with man’s laws?

        Like

      5. Carlos ramirez trevino

        Good point, Shnarkle.

        Like

      6. Lucille Gaither

        You say that Jesus was an affront to Rome’s power? Pilate said “I find no fault in him…” Jesus’ greatest challenge came from the religious leaders of his day. For envy, they {the religious leaders} sold him into the hands of the government. Jesus became more and more popular with the people because he had something the religious leaders did not have. They had nothing spiritual; they were empty. Matthew 23 describes these leaders for us. Numerous times Jesus said, “… Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …” He harshly condemned them. And they paid Judas Iscariot the money and then turned over the Christ to Pilate, who sent him to Herod, and he sent Jesus back to Pilate. Still no fault was found.

        Like

      7. Lucille Gaither

        Christ was crucified, as we all know. Judas Iscariot committed suicide because he sold Christ. Peter was crucified upside down. The apostles went on their separate mission fields and were martyred, except for John. Everyone of them was persecuted and killed, except John, who the authorities tried to silence by imprisoning him on the isle of Patmos, a Roman colony. As a Roman prisoner, there he worked in the copper mines for a few years and it was there he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ. As for the early church, she was vehemently persecuted by Rome at different times and had to flee. It is written “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia …” The diaspora. Peter wrote to encourage Christians during times of suffering. He admonished believers to suffer as Christians, not lawbreakers.

        Like

      8. carlos ramirez trevino

        That is somewhat what I am trying to emphasize, Lucille. Was Peter put to death by the authorities for complying with the law? What was the problem that landed Peter in jail and on death row? The issue some have brought up is that we are to submit to authority regardless of what they are telling you to do. When the AntiChrist comes, he will require worship from everyone. It will be the law. We are seeing the antichrist at work in California, Nevada and many other places. Do we excuse government because of Romans 13? Did Peter? Did Peter close the Church because it was the law?

        Like

      9. Lucille Gaither

        It is interesting, the will of God. One time when Peter was in jail, he was rescued by an angel, even though he was secured by four Roman soldiers, the chains were loosed and the angel led him out as far as the gate. The church had been praying for him and God answered this way. But when Peter was arrested again, and his wife, legend has it that she was crucified in the morning and Peter, in the afternoon, she, the normal way and and he, upside down, because he did not think it worthy to be crucified like his Lord. All Peter could do was whisper in her ear, “Remember the Lord.” The couple had been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

        Like

      10. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Are you assuming a Christian diaspora? I don’t recall this happening. My recollection was that the apostles (sent out ones) were sent out to convert the world, and the converts were all over the world. These were Jews going out to spread the message to Jews and Gentiles. They proclaimed the message in Jewish synagogues which were scattered throughout the world due to the Jewish Diaspora.

        Like

      11. Lucille Gaither

        When the early church was persecuted and had to flee, wherever they went they took the gospel with them. This is how the gospel spread in many areas, and there were new converts in those places. Not only was the early church subject to the lions, bears, and wild dogs in the Colosseum for Roman sport but also Nero set Christians on fire to use them as light at night. Many Christians like Polycarp refused to deny Christ and bow to Caesar and live. The 84 year old man was set aflame as he prayed to God.

        Like

      12. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        The only account I am familiar with is in the biblical texts themselves with the sack of Jerusalem, and that was only because they were forewarned by Jesus to flee when they saw the signs he told them to look out for. The book of Acts depicts Christians converting people from their pagan ways and creating economic problems for the local idol makers. They were thwarting those engaged in infanticide which was creating problems for sibling inheritance, etc. This wasn’t due to any diaspora. It was due to the message itself spreading much like described in the book of Acts with 3000 being converted in one day, and then returning home to spread the message further.

        Like

  4. Bob Atkins

    Hi Gavin. I enjoyed your post and commend you on your courage, compassion and clarity. God’s richest blessings to you and your family.

    Bob Bob Atkins 281-728-1292 bobatkins1@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Bob, miss you brother! Hope you and your family are doing well!

      Like

  5. Thank you for a well articulated response to John MacArthur and GCC’s statement. I found the statement disturbingly judgmental and lacking humility, especially as we navigate an unfamiliar landscape. May we be generous with grace during these difficult times.

    Like

    1. Amen! I fully agree with you, Barb!

      Like

  6. […] Ortlund ha escrito un blog titulado “¿Deben Las Iglesias De California Desafiar Las Restricciones del Gobierno? Una Respuesta a John Macar…“. El tiempo no me permite revisar toda su entrada, pero quiero aclarar un punto en el que […]

    Like

  7. Walter Schroedter

    I find myself in strong agreement with these thoughts. As a “follower” of John MacArthur for many years I do not disagree with him lightly. I would suggest that part of the challenge is the interpretation of Hebrews 10:25. Surely believers should affirm the call to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together”. The question is whether Jesus also had pandemics in mind when he made this call. And on this, good, faithful believers may, and do, disagree. With that this becomes a grey area, and thus comes under the jurisdiction of looking out for the weaker brother’s/sister’s/church’s conscience. I know that this is a principle with which John MacArthur agrees. I remember a sermon of his on “Grey Areas”. It was a masterpiece and a blessing to me.

    Like

  8. Matthew Anthony

    This was all very naive. The Supreme Court just considered a case of whether churches and other religious assemblies were treated differently from casinos as too insignificant to address. This was in the state NEXT DOOR to you! You don’t think it’s time for civil disobedience? When will it be? Why should I trust your judgment over Pastor MacArhur’s?
    You thought his comments unhelpful and unkind? I thought they were very helpful. It guided my thinking although the church I attend was already meeting. As for.being unkind, well I don’t think calling someone else’s religious leaders a “brood of vipers” sounds very nice to me.
    The world hates the church. Nothing it does “helps” its witness. If the church wanted to change the reception it gets from the world, it would stop preaching against homosexuality. You’re not suggesting that are you? Using the world to determine the quality of the church’s witness is a dead end game.

    Like

    1. Shnarkle Von Barkle

      Matthew, thanks for bringing up the court case. I didn’t know about this, and it was quite a revelation to me. Although it’s just one more in a long line of pointless arguments, evidence, and idiotic mandates that make no sense whatsoever.

      The churches today have become indistinguishable from the fallen world they’re supposed to be witnessing to. Their confession of faith has become a profession of faith, and a professing Christian can never provide a valid or effective witness. A witness must see what they believe.

      Like

  9. We have come to expect wise and well-reasoned counsel from Gavin, and once more we have not been disappointed.

    Like

  10. Hi, Gavin, from Spokane, WA. A friend shared your post. I thought I’d give some food for thought.

    2. Might it be unloving to revoke the God-ordained testimony of the truth of Christ (the Church) from the civic mileau? It could be equated to putting the cure for what truly ails the world (sin and death) under a bushel.

    3. Is it civic disobedience for any religious body to worship as they determine? Though I believe our citizens should feel the weight of civic dictums, it is not the church’s responsibility to enforce them. That would be a breach of church and state in the other direction. Ours is the responsibility to provide what God has commanded we provide, and we have been told we are free to do so (though that may be changing).

    4. When we don’t meet, isn’t our testimony is a) severely muted? Despite the plethora of “missional” models replacing “attractional” ones, more still come to Christ connecting to the church gathered. And isn’t our witness devalued in the eyes of the world when we treat ourselves and our convictions as unessential?

    A final question: How many martyrs do there need to be in China before the church there says it’s too big a “health risk” to continue to try to gather? Hopefully the answer is there is no number, and that they would continue to gather, whatever the cost.

    See … you’ve got me thinking! Thanks for the iron-sharpening. Blessings.

    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] Should Churches in Government Defy Government Restrictions? – Gavin Ortlund […]

    Like

  12. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  13. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  14. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  15. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  16. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  17. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  18. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  19. […] There is more to this than the command gather. There is more to it than the doctrine of the church. Gavin Ortlund discusses that here. […]

    Like

  20. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  21. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he is concerned he is putting “importance of worship” […]

    Like

  22. […] Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojal in Southern Calif., wrote in an op-ed responding to MacArthur that he’s anxious he’s striking “importance of […]

    Like

  23. […] not linking you to it here because I suspect that many have already seen it. I hope you will read this article with equal interest. I am not proposing any universal response but rather, I agree with this […]

    Like

  24. […] Yesterday John MacArthur released a video update to his church family. As is well-known, Grace Community Church has chosen to defy the state order issued by Governor Newsome banning indoor worship services. At 10:35-10:50 of the video, MacArthur states: Churches are shutting down—large churches shutting down until, they say, January. I don’t have any way… — Read on gavinortlund.com/2020/08/02/should-churches-in-california-defy-government-restrictions-a-response-to… […]

    Like

  25. Christopher Alan Luke

    John MacArthur has used the wrong denominator, hopefully just an honest mistake, but is thereby misleading everyone. The risk is not 21/100000 OR a 99,98% chance of survival. This has been incorrectly calculated by using TOTAL population of 40 Million as the denominator instead of the INFECTED population. Thereby, he has reduced the risk by 80X.

    The current known case mortality in California is between 2,59% (9194[current deaths]/355285 [cases on 15th July allowing for a two week lag phase till death]) X 100, AND 1.83% (if not allowing for a lag phase till death [9194/501909 X100]). However, some cases do go untested, so the real mortality is still a best guess at this point, maybe somewhere between 0.5% and 1,5%. This will only be known for sure once accurate antibody testing surveys are in place. This may still seem like good odds, but, the downstream cumulative deaths also need to be considered. If the virus is allowed to pass through a community, it will have a domino effect to others over time. The virus may then reach elderly and at risk persons. Long terms effects, morbidities and mortality are still unknown. Breaking the transmission chain upstream is critical wherever possible.
    Regards Dr Luke

    Like

    1. Shnarkle Von Barkle

      Given that this is a highly infectious virus, it stands to reason that most people have already been infected. Given that the reported deaths include those who died “with” Covid 19 as well as those who died “from” Covid 19, the real numbers are right in line with what McArthur is presenting. Given that hospitals are being given financial incentives to report deaths as Covid 19 deaths strains credulity, and leaves western medicine with no real legitimacy whatsoever. When the CDC and WHO are no longer being paid to support Big Pharma or Bill Gates’ propaganda, perhaps then they can be taken seriously again.

      Like

    2. Lucille Gaither

      What about the “… and the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them …” How about those statistics? They are significant.

      Like

    3. Anonymous

      Dr Luke, I noticed that same underestimation, and I believe it was an honest mistake. However, if applied to expected deaths in a community opening up, an estimation of 1 death would then become 80. If we used your estimate of around 1% (I was using 2% with a simple deaths/infections calculation), that would be about 40 deaths in a community of 4000, I would also estimate about 35 of the 40 would be over 65 years of age, so that age group would hopefully be taking more safety precautions.

      Like

    4. Dr Luke, I noticed that same underestimation, and I believe it was an honest mistake. However, if applied to expected deaths in a community opening up, an estimation of 1 death would then become 80. If we used your estimate of around 1% (I was using 2% with a simple deaths/infections calculation), that would be about 40 deaths in a community of 4000, I would also estimate about 35 of the 40 would be over 65 years of age, so that age group would hopefully be taking more safety precautions.

      Like

  26. Byron Morris Sr

    Gavin, it’s ok that you and I don’t agree in all matters of church practices, but I love you and admire your unbashful courage to speak and write truth. Your writing provokes my thinking on ideas that I may not have otherwise considered. Keep on younger brother. God bless. Byron

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Byron. Love you and your whole family. Hope you are all keeping well.

      Like

  27. Mary Hanusa-Scuff

    I am glad that you are speaking out regarding this issue. I attended The Master’s College in the 90s as an older student getting my teaching certification. The teacher program was good, but I was not happy with Dr. MacArthur’s leadership. He thought in black and white, and didn’t seem to comprehend the nuances of ethics. For example, he cancelled our Spanish classes because the professor’s wife left him and therefore the professor was not allowed to teach at the college. (The professor did NOT want his wife to leave,)

    Like

    1. Glad to hear you are not a MacArthurite and think for yourself, Mary!

      Like

  28. […] Should churches in California defy government restrictions? […]

    Like

  29. […] Ortlund recently wrote a response to John Mac Arthur which I want to interact with here. Without directly defending John Mac […]

    Like

  30. […] in response to Pastor Gavin Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, who wrote in a blog post that while he affirms the vital importance of corporate worship, he believes “the current […]

    Like

  31. […] in response to Pastor Gavin Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, who wrote in a blog post that while he affirms the vital importance of corporate worship, he believes “the current […]

    Like

  32. […] in response to Pastor Gavin Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, who wrote in a blog post that while he affirms the vital importance of corporate worship, he believes “the current […]

    Like

  33. The central issue here is whether the government is telling the truth about the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’ measures to be taken Pastor John MacArthur has discerned the issue and taken a stand as a shepherd of his church.
    End of the day we stand before our Master and answer to our response at this testing time of our day.

    Like

  34. James E Williams, Jr

    I must admit I am not a follower of information about John MacAurthor. But as a pastor there are somple truths giding my decision to rely on worshipping online while participating in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    Simple Truth #1:
    The church has always accepted that God’s Divine Creation allows for things that cause death if humans don’t avoid them. We don’t go into certain parts of nature where deadly animals view us as prey. We don’t worship in the sanctuary during a tornado or an earthquake. We understand these things to be dangerous aspects of God’s creation and we avoid them. A deadly virus is just another dangerous part of creation. We should avoid viral infection with as much vigor as we would avoid shark infested waters or the hunting grounds of a lion.

    Simple Truth #2:
    A virus is not political and COVID-19 in particular has affected every country. This is not an American virus focused on influencing American politics. We should be attacking this virus using the same methods that every other successful country has used. People from every part of the globe avoid wild animals, dangerous weather, and fatal diseases. Its a global pandemic. It requires the global response.

    Simple Truth #3:
    When Jesus was born, King Herod ordered the deaths of all recently born babies hoping to catch Jesus in a wide net. God spoke to Joseph and told him to take Mary and Jesus to shelter in Egypt until the danger was over. God did not tell Joseph to go home and expect miraculous protection from invincible angelic beings. No one calls Joseph a coward or a man of little faith for not standing up to King Herod. It was the correct decision just as sheltering in place is the correct decision now.

    Simple Truth #4
    Worshipping God online corporately is still corporate worship. COVID-19 does not prevent the spread of the Gospel to the uninformed.

    These simple truths demand that the church does what is necesary to preserve the lives of both its current and future members. That means avoiding sitting in place and sharing the same air as our neighbors for the extended periods of time required by an in-person worship service. There are legitimate work-arounds for every single thing we’re temporarily losing while we prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    To God be the glory. May His Grace shelter us through this and all other times of danger.

    Like

  35. Charlie S

    This is a wonderful post worthy of the Gospel culture to which God calls us! I admire the kindness and thoughtfulness of its tone. One thing I wanted to query, however, was whether there are aspects to our witness Pastor Ortlund hadn’t considered. My closest friend is not a believer, but has been exploring the Scriptures as a seeker. Churches’ response to the pandemic has convinced him that the vast majority of churches view themselves as more akin to a theater or a social club. He does not see their conduct during the pandemic — in closing, and submitting quickly and quietly to draconian restrictions from the state — as consistent with the courageous example of Christ, his disciples, Luther, Tyndale, etc. I’ve spluttered to defend the church when he asks me, why — if churches are concerned with our eternal souls, if churches are concerned with proclaiming the unchanging and urgent truth of the Gospel — the church is so quick to accept its closure and severely weakened ability to minister to its flock.

    I guess my point is: Standing up for the essential nature of worship and Christian fellowship — that is also a witness to the watching world.

    Thank you for your words, though, Pastor Ortlund. You’ve given the best defense of submitting to these government orders that I’ve seen, and again, I applaud the kindness with which you’ve made it.

    Like

  36. […] [8] Articles about the issue of conscience, and whether we can alter the circumstances of worshiphttps://www.9marks.org/article/a-time-for-civil-disobedience-a-response-to-john-macarthur/https://heidelblog.net/2020/07/between-conscience-and-defiance-questions-for-grace-community-church/https://gavinortlund.com/2020/08/02/should-churches-in-california-defy-government-restrictions-a-res… […]

    Like

  37. Mark Phifer-Houseman

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/06/16/race-gaps-in-covid-19-deaths-are-even-bigger-than-they-appear/amp/

    Black/Latino/Native death rates are 6X HIGHER than The 1% of infected Anglos. Most young people do survive, even from black ethnicity. So, for elderly black and brown brothers and sisters, this is a HUGE risk of death.

    If MacArthur was pastoring a church of working class Latinos, he would not be taking this cavalier and strident attitude. It’s another example of Evangelical leaders turning a blind eye to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters who are “other”. This attitude is tearing the wedding dress of the Bride.

    Like

    1. Well put, Mark!

      Like

  38. Mark Phifer-Houseman

    The command of the writer of Hebrews 10:25 was in the context of small house churches, not mega church sanctuaries in the middle of a global pandemic. MacArthur should know this. The church gathering in Hebrews was for the exhorting each other personally, eating love feast (hours together, not wafer and grape juice shot) and sharing of $ and goods with the poor. Last time I checked this is not possible in mega church size gatherings.
    Let’s return to the Biblical model of church and see what God can do.

    Like

    1. luvestag@aol.com

      Amen, brother. “… and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers …”

      Like

    2. I fully agree with you Mark! Amen!

      Like

      1. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        My response to the controversy over whether churches should open is simple.

        The Church is a Testimony to the Resurrection of Christ. It is not the local community club we have turned it into. Regardless, an open church stands as a Testimony to Christ. A closed, invisible church catering only to its members behind the curtain of the Internet is like hiding a lamp in the closet. In Acts 2 Peter stands up in public and proclaims, “This that you see…”.

        If for no other reason than that Testimony the Visible Church presents to the world, the church, in my opinion, should remain open. Those that can attend and feel safe being in the building, can keep the Testimony Visible. Those that don’t feel safe going to the church building, can stay at home. I am absolutely certain that everyone that argues against churches remaining open, frequent other venues such as Walmart, COSTCO, restaurants, supermarkets and many other closed in spaces. Why should some that don’t want to go to the church building keep those that want to be there from having a service, as a Testimony to the World?

        My impression is that most of the posts against MacArthur opening the church are personal. I detect some personal animosity. Perhaps not all, but enough.

        But what I would like Christians to focus on, is that the Open Visible Church is a Testimony to the Risen Christ, not a local community gathering place. Furthermore, neither the Board nor the Pastor should summarily close the church. It should be up to the full membership. And those that want to be there, should be there.

        Like

  39. […] a aussi donnée suite à d’autres réponses. Je vous propose, à titre d’exemple, celle de Gavin Ortlund, qui est un blogueur (blog que je vous conseille ; je viens notamment d’acheter son ouvrage […]

    Like

  40. Charles Yarbrough

    The idea that Grace church has not been a leader in the community for your “2-4” is ridiculous. The state has NO BUSINESS dictating to the church when they can or cannot meet for worship. If you want to follow the state, that is up to you. Instead of doing this pubically, why not speak with MacArthur personally? This attack, and make no mistake your “article” is an attack, is really not called for. I wonder who even asked you to respond to MacArthur?

    Like

  41. mathnmusic

    I think it’s sad that pastors are not supporting Pastor JMac, and calling what he’s doing “defying” the government (the title of your post). How about “obeying” the Bible? I have no affiliation with him. But in my Bible Jesus says the world will hate Christians if we are truly following Him. Do you think by staying closed the church is giving a good witness to the world? No, we’re saying that we agree that the church is not “essential”. How about the church being concerned not obeying the Lord? Hebrews commands Christians, “Do not forsake the gathering of believers”. Watching church on the screen isn’t gathering and it isn’t church.

    Your article says that the church isn’t being singled out by the government. Yes it is. The Supreme Court just ruled 5-4 in the case Calvary chapel vs. casino that the casinos can stay open with hundreds of people in them, but churches cannot.

    Here is the 1 paragraph dissent by Gorsuch:

    “This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10-screen “multiplex” may host 500 moviegoers at any time. A
    casino, too, may cater to hundreds at once, with perhaps six people huddled at each craps table here and a similar number gathered around every roulette wheel there. Large numbers and close quarters are fine in such places. But
    churches, synagogues, and mosques are banned from admitting more than 50 worshippers—no matter how large
    the building, how distant the individuals, how many wear face masks, no matter the precautions at all. In Nevada, it
    seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon
    us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars
    Palace over Calvary Chapel.”

    I don’t believe Covid is the threat to the general population that the mainstream media makes it out to be (evidenced by the swift silencing of any opposing voices from highly qualified doctors). Look at Sweden – they treated Covid similar to the flu, no shutdown or masking, and they are back to normal. Just like every flu season, elderly or those at high risk should take precautions, but the quarantining of HEALTHY people and the shutdown of the entire country (actually, you can still go to Costco, Walmart, the liquor store, abortion clinics, movie theater, mall, casinos — JUST NOT CHURCH) is ideology driven. We are indeed at war. Wish more pastors would gear up their flock for battle, instead of telling us this is peacetime.

    Like

  42. […] Should Churches in California Defy Government Restrictions? A Response to John MacArthur (Gavin Ortlund, personal blog): “To my mind, there are at least four biblical values that should inform our decision-making in this situation: 1. the importance of worship (Hebrews 10:25), 2. love for neighbor (Mark 12:31), 3. obedience to government (Romans 13:1–7), and 4. maintaining a good witness (Colossians 4:5–6). What concerns me about defying the state order right now is that it seems to prioritize 1 at the expense of 2–4.” […]

    Like

  43. Dee Parr

    THANK YOU PASTOR ORLUND for this very loving response to what Grace Community Church has chosen to do. I completely AGREE with you, appreciate your thoughtful Op-Ed and am grateful you took the time to address John MacArthur’s decision. Many blessings to you and your church family.

    Like

  44. Steve Sizemore

    Thank you.
    A well-ordered , logical, and Biblical post.
    May God allow many to see and practice this .
    Steve Sizemore

    Liked by 1 person

  45. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

    it might be worth remembering that even Jesus defied government and religious restrictions imposed on Him by governors and Church leaders. There was also the voice of one crying in the wilderness, who was beheaded as a consequence of his determination to make the way for Christ.

    I wonder if our Christians today are more focused on “what people might say”, than the mission to proclaim Christ from the mountaintops. Is there a misconception about our responsibility to love and maintain a good witness? Clearly, neither Jesus nor the Apostles seemed to be concerned with those preoccupations. And had John respected Roman edicts, he might not have suffered for Christ as he did.

    When a Governor goes so far as to dictate that even singing in the Church is not allowed and is subject to punishment, Church leaders should, as John McArthur has, stand against it and proclaim our liberty in Christ. He is also entitled to assert 1st Amendment recognition of our right to worship, gather, and proclaim the witness of a Risen Savior.

    It is a reflection of weakness, lack of vision, absence of leadership that cause most churches to remain closed, in abeyance to atheistic secular wo/men in positions of authority. Daniel refused to adopt the diet of the Kingdom. He also resisted bowing to a man that thought of himself as God. The 21st Century Church would probably argue against Daniel. They would justify following the guidelines of unbelievers, to keep the peace, show love, avoid conflict and appease the power of a mighty governor to be seen as good, decent, law abiding citizens.

    It is our 1st and utmost responsibility to witness for Christ. Whether we do it well or not. The Church is that witness John spoke of in Revelation. But because of a weak-minded leadership, the Church has relinquished its right to exist, to placate the very people that stand against it. The gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against the Church Christ built. But the pusillanimous within it will perish in their abandon, fear and rationalization.

    Who was it that was told to choose 300 men to go to battle, in the O.T.? And whom did God tell him to pick? Did God tell him to pick those that prostrated themselves to drink or those that stood vigilant, strong, assertive, attentive and focused on the mission? Have too many lost the real and only meaning of the Church?

    Governor Gavin Newsome exceeds his authority to mandate closures of the Church, restrict the manner of worship, and limit the number of those that can gather to celebrate Christ, to shout out His Salvation, to rescue those that perish? Have we lost our perspective on what the Church is for? Is it just a club for Sunday gatherings? A repository for cultural activities? A hub for like-minded individuals? Or is the Church the Hospital of the Soul? Where can the lost go when their soul aches for the balm of the Blood of Jesus? Where can they go for instruction? How will they hear if they have no computer, no internet, no means of communication with our Soul’s Emergency Room? The Church of Christ Universal is that Witness.

    In my opinion, all Churches everywhere should remain open, if for no other reason than to fight against the gates of hell. And if they remain open, they should be the ones to determine how to create a safe environment in which to gather. It is up to the Church, not the government to determine how, when, and where to meet. Should some meet inside, while others set up lawn chairs outside (in the parking area, back yard, front lawn). Should they meet at a local park? Should several churched come together to worship? Who would dare meet in the COSTCO parking lot? Or a far corner of the local Mall? O even at the beach? Let’s recall that when Christ spoke to the thousands that followed Him, He didn’t have a church building. When Peter spoke at Pentecost, he didn’t do it from a church building. When Paul spoke up at the Parthenon in Athens, he didn’t have a church building.

    Daniel was a witness in the fire. Peter and Paul were witnesses from the cross. John refused to be silent, even when they isolated him in an island. But the 21st Century Christian hides behind an anonymous, phantom-like internet only a few can access. They hide for fear of persecution. And they justify their silence, to appease governments, principalities and powers. But the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against the Church of Christ; a Church that stands firm, visible, invincible in the face of adversity.

    We should all stand with John McArthur and let the world see the Witness of Christ’s Church.

    Like

    1. mathnmusic

      Amen, brother!!! Everything he said!! Let us stand boldly trusting and obeying our Lord, this is what “love” for fellow image bearers truly is, to preach Christ! Watching a screen is not “gathering as believers” as the Lord commands us to do.

      Like

    2. Lucille Gaither

      You wrote above in your opinion, all Churches everywhere should remain open, if for no other reason than to fight against the gates of hell.

      My question is would the gates of hell include the “… And the fifth angel sounded and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit …” ?

      Like

      1. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Interesting reference, Lucille. Revelation 9 is an allusion to the beginning, when Lucifer was cast from the presence of God to the earth. Revelation 12:9, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

        But it also has an application for the last days. It is still in the 5th Trumpet and the the 1st Woe. The real trouble at the very end of our age, comes with the 6th Trumpet and the Bowls of God’s wrath that come out of the last hour of this trumpet. An interesting fact about Revelation is that it alternates between past, present and future. It is sometimes difficult to tell when its historical description applies.

        That said, the gist of the passage is that Satan has a degree of control over material earthly conditions. But something else stands out. “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” The imagery of grass, plants and trees is an obvious reference to people and those in positions of power. And those that have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise are the Christians that populate the earth.

        But something interesting happens in Chapter 11. The two Witnesses, clearly the Church and Israel (the Jews), will be overpowered by the forces of evil, secularism, anarchy and everything that rejects the only true and living God. “Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.” Daniel 8 also tells us Israel will be defeated by Persia (Iran). Daniel calls Israel the restrainer. And when Israel, the People of the true, only living God is taken out of the way, the stage will be set for the Great Tribulation Christ spoke of in Matthew 24. “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.”

        In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul tells us, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now restrains it will continue until he is taken out of the way.” Now, Christians are right to ascribe the Church the power to restrain evil. But they are wrong to think the Church will be physically removed from the earth. Instead, the Church will lose its influence, its authority, its moral significance. And we are currently witnessing this degradation, emaciation, repudiation of the Church. The worst part is that Christians themselves are making it possible. Yet, although apostasy is inevitable, Christians should recognize, expose and stand against it.

        “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days arrived and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for them to possess the kingdom….He will speak out against the Most High and oppress the saints of the Most High, intending to change the appointed times and laws; and the saints will be given into his hand for a time, and times, and half a time.”

        “His power will be great, but it will not be his own. He will cause terrible destruction and succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men along with the holy people.”

        “When the power of the holy people has been shattered, all these things will be completed.”

        “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes.”

        “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” The woman is, of course, Israel. Christians are her other offspring.

        I’ve said too much and might not have stated it clearly. In any case, From Daniel through the minor prophets, to Revelation, we can see how the thread of God’s Purpose ties history together, by establishing a link between Iran, a new religion, and the defeat of Israel and Christianity in the last 1,230 days before Christ returns. And while there will be a defeat of the Church as an institution, the Testimony of the followers of Christ will prevent the gates of hell from its intended goal.

        If we have understood the revelation of the last days, as Christ posits it in Matthew 24, Daniel in 7-8, and John in the Revelation, those that have the Seal of the Holy Spirit on their foreheads will prevail. We must continue to be a visible witness to an unbelieving world, of the power of the Resurrected Christ. That is our calling. So, when it has to do with the expression of our faith, governments cannot be allowed to dictate it form.

        Remember what Daniel 9:26 tells us. The AntiChrist will come in like a flash flood. It will be sudden and we must be prepared. And we can’t allow it to sweep us away. We must stand firm for Christ.

        Like

    3. Shnarkle Von Barkle

      Very well put Carlos,

      I can’t help but wonder if the church is all but dead. I see the damned celebrating their damnation, and eagerly looking for those last few witnesses of the gospel to snub out so their revelry can really begin.

      I used to hear people say that if you read the bible to the end, you discover that we win. That’s not what my bible says. It points out that the elect are destroyed. The two witnesses are murdered and this fallen world rejoices in their death.

      The church was on life support prior to this corona hoax. These mandates were nothing more than a perfunctory signature for a DNR as this world pulled the plug on the church.

      Like

      1. mathnmusic

        Shnarkle,
        Please explain why you say it is not a “happy ending” victory in the end for those who trust Christ? Even when multitudes fall away, doesn’t God always preserve a remnant who will not bow the knee to Baal?
        Or perhaps I misunderstood your meaning.

        I do agree with you that we must be watching and ready for the coming of the Lord.

        Like

      2. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Shnarkle, I suppose that it is always the case that God will have a number of those that will be faithful to the end, to accomplish His Purpose. However, I honestly don’t know. It appears to me as if it were not for the Return of Christ, we would all be completely devastated. But that is the Plan. In Matthew 25 Christ admonishes us to prepare for the coming calamity. Some will be more attentive than others. But according to Revelation 11, there will be many that will give their lives for Christ during the Great Tribulation Christ outlines in Matthew 24. If we think of it, Christians are already a very small minority of the world population.Of the 2 Billion that are considered Christians, how many will be alert and full of God’s Spirit enough to recognize that what the AntiChrist proposes is really an affront to God?

        But that is God’s choice. My question to the Christian community is how will they manage during severe persecution? Are they ready? We have examples from Jews in Germany, Christians in China, Nigeria, Egypt, India and many other places around the world. How will we support each other? Where will we meet? Will we have shelter? Will our homes be taken away? Will we stand strong, unabashed, enduring to the end?

        I think of Abraham and how Isaac was taken to the altar. And Job, who suffered great calamity. And of course, Christ who died on the Cross. So, while we might be placed on the Altar of Sacrifice and endure Great Tribulation, we will not suffer death. That is, not individual death, but the death of the corporate body of the Church. It is a thought that scares me. Have I misunderstood what I see in Scripture?

        I fear that churches in the US are complacent. Like the 5 Virgins, they are in a stupor. Pot Luck dinners, outings, activities, fund raising, concerts, academic debates are all good things, but should that really be the focus, at this time? Does the Church need to step back, take a hard look at what is ahead and refocus?

        Bill Brights’s Four Spiritual Laws end with the question, “Who would you like to be on the throne of your life?”. Should we go back to basics? Our goal should be singular; to proclaim the Word of God to the world. We must not get sidetracked, even in the worst of times.

        What are your thoughts on the matter?

        Like

      3. Shnarkle Von Barkle

        Carlos,

        Sure there are those who are faithful to the end, but the bible is pretty clear that they are not happy about what has happened to them. They’re all impatiently grumbling for justice under God’s throne of judgment. So no one is denying that things work out in the end, but the fact remains that the bible admits that the elect are overcome by evil. Satan runs this hell hole so if anyone wants what this world calls success, they will have to pay the piper, sell their soul, etc. The elect aren’t into any of that to begin with so their lot is one of scornful looks of disdain and contempt heaped upon them for their daily bread. Christ’s advice is to pay no attention to those who will scourge and kill their bodies. I don’t know about you, but most Christians I meet are somewhat attached to their bodies, and have this vain notion that God will preserve these same bodies before, during and after tribulation. I don’t see that happening.

        Shortly after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus refers to him as “Satan”. I think he does this to show that Peter isn’t thinking of God’s will, but his own. Given Christ’s teaching of self denial, it stands to reason that Satan is probably nothing more than a personification of one’s own ego, or persona, one’s sense of a separate identity. The gospel doesn’t call us to separation, but to unity.

        Ask any psychologist what is going on in Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, and they will point out that it is a struggle with the ego’s desire for power, fame, fortune etc.

        They will also point out that the persona, or identity we all form in infancy is literally nothing more than an abstract construction of the mind. It isn’t real, and yet practically all of mainstream Christianity panders to it ad nauseum.

        We need look no further than the first commandment to discover the antichrist’s first afront to God which is our own separate identities placed in a position of honor before God.

        Christ points out to his disciples that they are the light of the world. The early church referred to herself as “the Way”, and Paul adds that we are the temple of God. God’s spirit resides within the new creature in Christ, yet it is the self, the ego who now sits and reigns supreme. This is the abomination of desolation. This is the spirit of antichrist because we place ourselves as the focus of OUR lives rather than Christ as the focus of Life itself.

        Only the elect understand and have an acute awareness of the fact that they have no life of their own. Only demons can possess a life, and only a demon can take offence at their lives being persecuted. Suffering is overcome THROUGH suffering. There is no better illustration of that fact than Christ on the cross.

        Suffering should not be conflated with pain. Suffering is a choice. Pain can be experienced without suffering, and ultimately suffering requires an ego. Hence Christ’s injunction to “deny yourself”. It will definitely be painful, but it can never be something with lasting suffering because when the self is denied, it can no longer suffer.

        I wholeheartedly agree that the church has become fat, dumb and lazy. I used to go to quite a few church services, but never as a member of a faith, or a group of believers. I went strictly for the entertainment value. Most of the services I’ve attended rival what you might see on the strip in Las Vegas. The production value is incredible. They must have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on all this high tech equipment, massive video screens, HUGE speakers that make your ears bleed, and richly choreographed presentations that take entertainment to a whole new level.

        I can even find myself getting into it to such a degree I sometimes start to believe their nonsense. Fortunately, I need look no further than the price tag on the evangelist’s manicure to remember that cosmetic accoutrements are not a fruit of the spirit. Just prior to having his head lopped off, John the Baptist wasn’t lamenting the sad state of his finger nails as one of the reasons his ministry wasn’t succeeding. As the collection basket was being passed around, I once heard a Kenneth Copeland look a like claim, “The gospel isn’t free, even Jesus was given gold, frankincense and myrrh to fund his ministry”.

        My thoughts on Bill Brights question is that it is the wrong question in that it isn’t my life to begin with. He has begun with a false assumption, one that only one who has yet to discover the kingdom can make. We must not get sidetracked even when things are going splendidly well. Creation was not created for me or you. It was created for Christ.

        I suppose we all have our own style when it comes to proclaiming the gospel. I tend to look at the fact that no one can do anything apart from Christ, and go from there. I find that it is much less likely to offend people right off the bat. Some might think that it is deceptive, but it isn’t at all. Christ pointed out who the least of his brethren were, and that they were closer to the kingdom than the most learned Pharisee. Today, the parable would be referred to as “The Good Atheist” or “The Good Transgendered Homosexual Antifa with a flair for gaudy dayglo make up”, or fill in the blank of whoever you prefer to look at as most eager to jump into the fire on Judgement Day.

        The evangelist has to see Christ in their neighbors before their neighbors can see Christ in themselves. Obviously there are some caveats to this which cannot be overlooked. “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it”? God, and anyone he chooses to reveal this sad state of affairs to. When I see this in my own heart, I simultaneously see it everywhere, and this allows me to connect to the hopelessness at the core of whichever damned soul I encounter. Nonetheless, this does not allow anyone whether it be me or John the Baptist to ignore the fact that there is ravenous murder in the heart of humanity.

        Christ never said that the kingdom is within anyone’s heart. It was “in their midst” because the king was in their midst. The kingdom couldn’t have been in the hearts of those he was addressing as they were intent on murdering the king.

        So what’s the solution? We need to see that the division that must take place is deep down in the marrow of the bone. In other words, as closely related as identification is to identity, identification is not identity. We are not made up of a collection of molecules, nor are we an abstract construction of the mind. To truly answer the question we need to let go of our sense of self completely. The only true identity is in Christ, but good luck pointing out that Christ lives in Putin, or Kim Jon Un, or Hilary Clinton, or some particularly unpleasant political party.

        Like

      4. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Shnarkle, I agree with most of what you have said, but there are a few things I am not clear on. You have given us a lot to digest. It’s indisputable that the elect will be persecuted and killed and in that sense, overcome. That was also my point. But my message is that we don’t just sit and wait for it. The Witness are persecuted and killed, exactly because they affirm their trust in Christ and proclaim His death and resurrection. I also share your perspective that we will not keep this body. Many think the afterlife will be a continuation of the material, earthly life with the same cultural and governmental structures, except that it will be better and at a higher level. I think Christ and Scripture present a different scenario.

        That said, there are some things you mention that I don’t understand. You say that, “Satan is probably nothing more than a personification of one’s own ego, or persona”. You also say that Psychologists “will also point out that the persona, or identity we all form in infancy is literally nothing more than an abstract construction of the mind.” I want to explain what I understand by that, but I would rather let you do that.

        As for Christ being the focus of life and history, that is the message of my book. We tend to think, perhaps erroneously, that God created us for our own sake. I see something else in Scripture, as you say. We were created for Christ. Jesus is the focus, not us.

        Like

      5. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos, I’m approaching this from a bit of a different perspective in that I can’t “sit and wait for it” due to the fact that my life is already over. That’s what happens when one denies themselves, or rather sees that the identity they once had was nothing but a fraud. The beast can only come to collect a worthless empty shell.

        One can only be referred to as a witness if they have actually seen the risen Christ. Only they can confess Christ. What we have today are those who profess Christ. Those who profess Christ have been taught their profession of faith while those who have seen the risen Christ have the faith OF Christ indwelling within them. They are literally the church body, the body Christ dwells within, the temple.

        Any half way decent textbook on early childhood development will confirm what most parents notice while raising children, i.e. no one is born with a sense of self. Instead, over time, we all begin to construct an identity of our own. A child looks into a mirror day after day with no sense of recognition until one day they suddenly see their reflection staring back at them. A stamp is placed upon their forehead, and they instinctively pluck at it to remove it. They have left the garden where flaming swords now block their only way back.

        Jesus is not the focus, and he would be the first to admit that. Jesus followed his own advice by denying his persona. He made himself transparent thus revealing the image of God. The focus is on Christ hidden in everyone waiting to be revealed as soon as we see that these personas, these separate identities are not only useless, but nothing more than bad ideas.

        The name “Jesus” means ‘God’s salvation’, and God’s salvation is personified in self denial or self sacrifice. This is the cornerstone of his teachings. The resurrected life is one of absolute selflessness. There is only the Way, and it’s narrow because there is no need to accommodate anybody. It was never intended or designed to accommodate a crowd, or even one separate individual.

        It’s difficult sometimes to see Christ in that redneck hillbilly driving down some dusty road spitting tobacco, shooting up pedestrian crossing signs, not to mention his arms with heroin; and tossing the wrappers from his Happy meal out the window, but Christ sees himself in him, and when Christ’s spirit comes to dwell within him, he will see Christ in everyone around him as well.

        But some will say, “I thought perhaps he might be coming out of a tomb, arms outstretched with a resounding “TA-DA” trumpet blast”. That’s what the resurrection has become today. It’s nothing more than a glorified PR stunt.

        Look at the gospel accounts, and what they are all practically yelling (ironically some actually are in all caps) is the fact that Christ will not be found in tombs. He will not be recognized because we’re all looking for his persona which his own teachings explicitly point out must be tossed aside like worthless garbage.

        Christ will appear to the unbeliever when they’re ready, and when that happens they will not need to probe holes in the hands and feet of Christ because Christ himself pointed out that just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, so too shall his followers be in him, and he in them. When you have seen the Father, you have seen the Son. Likewise, when you have seen Christ, Christ will be seen in you. You are a witness of the resurrected Christ, not one who simply professes what they’ve been taught.

        The gospel warns us not to go looking for Christ here or there. He’s not going to show up just like he did the first time. He goes away so that his spirit may come to indwell within us. We see him objectively, and the desire is to bow down and worship, but he doesn’t need anything like that. When he’s dwelling within, then we become these open spigots pouring life through which the love of God flows eternally.

        We’ve all been there. You’re at your wits end, and suddenly someone, perhaps a stranger comes to your aid seemingly out of nowhere. Your heart begins to burn with not just overwhelming gratitude, but awe at the divine love unconditionally flowing and enveloping you. At some point, when you’ve become completely saturated and can’t hold onto it anymore, when you can no longer function as a dam that can now only burst and become a channel, there’s simply no where else for it to go except into the world around you.

        Like

  46. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

    Another thing to consider. It isn’t so much that the Church doesn’t comply with a Governor’s order. The onus should not be on the Church. The real problem is Government infringing on the right of the Church to meet and the Government exceeding its Constitutional authority.

    It is the Government that must Cease and Desist from interfering with religious practices, not the Church from having to disobey Government excesses. If anything, the Government should ask for support from religious institutions to come up with ways to arrest this virus. But the Government cannot be allowed to dictate how religious institutions worship.

    The internet, television, radio are convenient means to spread the Gospel and maintain communication, but it cannot be allowed to replace congregations.

    Furthermore, COVID-19 is not the issue. The issue is Government exceeding its authority to mandate how religious institutions will conduct and handle their expressions of Faith.

    Like

  47. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

    Shnarkle, you summarized everything I wanted to say, extremely well. You said it better. I do agree with you. Most Christians aren’t concerned. I think it is because they are in denial that Western Christians living in developed, well educated, prosperous environments will not be persecuted like Christians in China, India, many countries in Africa, and Asia. But the realities of the moment should scare all followers of Christ. I am concerned for the Church, for believers that are just going about their lives without a single care, not knowing what lies ahead. Thanks for your supportive comment. I appreciate it. My prayer is that we may all have our lamps full with the oil of the Spirit of God.

    Like

  48. Timothy L Parker

    Until people research Event 21 in New York in October 2019 and listen to/watch The Great Reset to see the evil behind the charade, we cannot rightly judge what is going on. I grant most were blown away by the early narrative. It has only magnified from there! The “facts” are not “scientific” and this is NOT a pandemic! With a death rate in the arena of .002% – this is NOT cause to bankrupt America, shut down churches and schools, and bring in a blatant Socialist agenda in order to control the world! It is only a pandemic in the evil minds of those who demand that we bow at the altar of this Covid-19 god – the face of the destruction of our Republic and our Christian Foundings. If this is NOT the actuality of The Great Deception of Scripture, I don’t know what that will be. If it was Satan who was saying, “People, just shut down churches, worship, gathering, singing and Bible reading for awhile in the name of loving your neighbor” would we respond differently? As a deacon and former pastor, I thought MacArthur had a brain fart several months ago but he regained his normal thinking to rightly take a stand for what God wants in the face of a tyrant who is doing the bidding of Satan. People PLEASE wake up before it is too late. I grant The Great Reset might blow some of you away but maybe you can get educated on the real force and agenda behind this madness. BLM is an Anti-Christ, anti-Christian, anti-nuclear family, anti man, Marxist agenda that has NOTHING to do with Black lives or any life for that matter. It is time to stand for Christ now like Daniel and the three Hebrew boys! God help us. Tim

    Like

    1. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

      Fully agree, Timothy.

      Like

  49. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated that […]

    Like

  50. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated that […]

    Like

  51. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated that […]

    Like

  52. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated that […]

    Like

  53. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated that […]

    Like

  54. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated […]

    Like

  55. Covid-19 is not a hoax. There is no false narrative here. Staggering numbers of people have gotten sick and died due to this pandemic. The virus is a rapid killer. It is not like Cancer, which is not likely to kill a person in 3 days.

    Some may argue that only a small percentage of the population gets and dies from the virus. But if a person gets infected with the Covid in the church and dies, is that acceptable because they are only 0.1% of the population? I would argue “No!” We cannot be careless with anybody’s life regardless of the percentages. Because all life is precious and created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26,27), all carelessness with human life is reprehensible.

    SHEPHERDING

    As a pastor, for the life of me, I cannot understand why any church leader would be okay with putting his people in harm’s way. Is not one of the roles of a pastor to protect the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1,2)? Is not the protection of others an expression of love??? And is not the love of others the second greatest commandment, which our Lord stated (Mtt. 22:37- 40). For this reason alone, I think pastors and other church leaders, who overlook this point are being irresponsible and setting a bad example for churches.

    OBEYING GOVERNMENT LEADERS

    As Christ followers, we are to follow God’s Word regardless of who our government leaders are, or what they decree. The emperor of Rome from AD 54 to 68 was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also known simply as Nero. The emperor was not known for being a moral and ethical person, to say the least. In AD 64 the great Roman fire occurred, with Nero himself being suspected of arson. In his writings, the Roman senator and historian Tacitus recorded, “To get rid of the report [that he had started the fire], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace” (Annals, XV). It was during the reign of Nero that the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. While one might expect him to encourage the Christians in Rome to rise up against their oppressive ruler, in chapter 13, we find this instead: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves”

    Even under the reign of a ruthless and godless emperor, Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells his readers to be in subjection to the government. Moreover, he states that no authority exists other than that established by God, and that rulers are serving God in their political office.

    You say, “But what if our government leaders require us to comply with unreasonable requirements? Not only does Rom. 13:1,2 not let believers off the hook, but neither does 1 Peter 2:13-15 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

    CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

    Both Paul’s and Peter’s teachings have led to quite a few questions from Christians where civil disobedience is concerned. Do Paul and Peter mean that Christians are always to submit to whatever the government commands, no matter what is asked of them?

    There are at least three general positions on the matter of civil disobedience. The anarchist view says that a person can choose to disobey the government whenever he likes and whenever he feels he is personally justified in doing so. Such a stance has no biblical support whatsoever, as evidenced in the writings of Paul in Romans 13.

    The extremist patriot says that a person should always follow and obey his country, no matter what the command. As will be shown in a moment, this view also does not have biblical support. Moreover, it is not supported in the history of nations. For example, during the Nuremberg trials, the attorneys for the Nazi war criminals attempted to use the defense that their clients were only following the direct orders of the government and therefore could not be held responsible for their actions. However, one of the judges dismissed their argument with the simple question: “But gentlemen, is there not a law above our laws?”

    The position the Scriptures uphold is one of biblical submission, with a Christian being allowed to act in civil disobedience to the government if it commands evil, such that it requires a Christian to act in a manner that is contrary to the clear teachings and requirements of God’s Word.

    In Exodus 1, the Egyptian Pharaoh gave the clear command to two Hebrew midwives that they were to kill all male Jewish babies. An extreme patriot would have carried out the government’s order, yet the Bible says the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh and “feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17). The Bible goes on to say the midwives lied to Pharaoh about why they were letting the children live; yet even though they lied and disobeyed their government, “God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them” (Exodus 1:20–21).

    In Joshua 2, Rahab directly disobeyed a command from the king of Jericho to produce the Israelite spies who had entered the city to gain intelligence for battle. Instead, she let them down via a rope so they could escape. Even though Rahab had received a clear order from the top government official, she resisted the command and was redeemed from the city’s destruction when Joshua and the Israeli army destroyed it.

    The book of 1 Samuel records a command given by King Saul during a military campaign that no one could eat until Saul had won his battle with the Philistines. However, Saul’s son Jonathan, who had not heard the order, ate honey to refresh himself from the hard battle the army had waged. When Saul found out about it, he ordered his son to die. However, the people resisted Saul and his command and saved Jonathan from being put to death (1 Samuel 14:45).

    Another example of civil disobedience in keeping with biblical submission is found in 1 Kings 18. That chapter briefly introduces a man named Obadiah who “feared the Lord greatly.” When the queen Jezebel was killing God’s prophets, Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them from her so they could live. Such an act was in clear defiance of the ruling authority’s wishes.

    In 2 Kings, the only apparently approved revolt against a reigning government official is recorded. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, began to destroy the royal offspring of the house of Judah. However, Joash the son of Ahaziah was taken by the king’s daughter and hidden from Athaliah so that the bloodline would be preserved. Six years later, Jehoiada gathered men around him, declared Joash to be king, and put Athaliah to death.

    Daniel records a number of civil disobedience examples. The first is found in chapter 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol in disobedience to King Nebuchadnezzar’s command. The second is in chapter 6 where Daniel defies King Darius’ decree to not pray to anyone other than the king. In both cases, God rescued His people from the death penalty that was imposed, signaling His approval of their actions.

    In the New Testament, the book of Acts records the civil disobedience of Peter and John towards the authorities that were in power at the time. After Peter healed a man born lame, Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus and put in jail. The religious authorities were determined to stop them from teaching about Jesus; however, Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20). Later, the rulers confronted the apostles again and reminded them of their command to not teach about Jesus, but Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

    One last example of civil disobedience is found in the book of Revelation where the Antichrist commands all those who are alive during the end times to worship an image of himself. But the apostle John, who wrote Revelation, states that those who become Christians at the time will disobey the Antichrist and his government and refuse to worship the image (Revelation 13:15) just as Daniel’s companions violated Nebuchadnezzar’s decree to worship his idol.

    What conclusions can be drawn from the above biblical examples? The guidelines for a Christian’s civil disobedience can be summed as follows:

    • Christians should resist a government that commands or compels evil and should work nonviolently within the laws of the land to change a government that permits evil.
    • Civil disobedience is permitted when the government’s laws or commands are in direct violation of God’s laws and commands. Complying with our government leaders’ orders would be wrong in the event they order us to disobey God’s Word (Acts 5:29). At that point, civil disobedience is appropriate.
    • Christians are certainly permitted to work to install new government leaders within the laws that have been established. Meanwhile, Christians are commanded to pray for their leaders and for God to intervene in His time to change any ungodly path that they are pursuing: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority . . .” (1 Timothy 2:1–2).

    PERSECUTION

    Some claim that the Church is being persecuted on account of the lockdown. As I see it, by requiring churches to meet outdoors, the church is not being persecuted. It is being inconvenienced. Real persecution involves physical and/or verbal abuse (cf. The Book of Acts). When, the Church gets truly persecuted, like the Apostles, we ought to consider ourselves worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41), and accept our suffering as a part of God’s will (Phil. 1:29). Suffering for the Lord is actually a mark of true godliness (2 Tim. 3:12). Perhaps many of us are not viewing persecution from a biblical perspective . . .

    WITNESS

    On another note, what kind of a witness to non-Christians are believers being when they defy the government? In principle, albeit not to the same extent, how are they any different from rioters, who are also defying government leaders? My non-Christian mother now thinks MacArthur and his congregation are morons for meeting indoors for worship services, especially without social distancing or masks. I’m sure her conviction is shared by many unbelievers, who have now lost any respect for the church. How sad.

    VARIOUS RESPONSES

    As I see it, churches that are defying the governor’s executive order to not meet within their facilities for church services are directly violating Romans 13:1,2 and 1 Peter 2:13-15. Once again, those verses were penned at a time when the government was much more corrupt than our government is. Governor Newsom is not telling people they cannot meet as a church. At this point, he is saying churches cannot meet indoors. Also, he is not singling out churches. There are other businesses and institutions including schools that are under the same restrictions. This is also not a matter of obeying God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Acts 5 deals with the apostles being ordered to not preach in the name of Jesus. Understandably, Peter and the apostles defied the religious leaders’ strict orders regarding the proclamation of the Gospel. Churches are not being told they cannot preach the gospel at this time in California. We can still meet outdoors. So churches that are using Acts 5:29 to support their cause are misapplying that verse. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that believers are not to forsake their own assembling together. But nothing is said about when and where that assembling is to take place. There was no such thing as meeting in a large facility at that time. As believers, we can assemble any day and time throughout the week, and comply with that verse, without breaking the law. I am saddened and disappointed to see the unbiblical stance certain churches are taking on this matter. It is difficult for me to understand how God will bless their disobedience.

    MACARTHUR

    As Gavin pointed out, “on July 31st, John MacArthur released a video update to his church family. As is well-known, Grace Community Church has chosen to defy the state order issued by Governor Newsome banning indoor worship services. In the video, MacArthur states: “Churches are shutting down—large churches shutting down until, they say, January. I don’t have any way to understand that other than they don’t know what a church is, and they don’t shepherd their people.” He further intimates that pastors and church leaders who choose not to resist the Governor’s order lack the courage to direct the church to her calling in this time.”

    As a fellow minister of the gospel here in California, I am offended by MacArthur’s brazen comments that come across to me as arrogant and divisive. To cooperate with the current restrictions is not a cowardly desertion of my calling. Along with many other pastors, I view our church leadership’s position as one that reflects the path of biblical wisdom, responsibility, and love.

    Along with many other churches, our church is currently under a lockdown from Governor Newsom too. But rather than defy his order, as certain churches have chosen to do, we are being compliant by meeting outside under canopies.

    May God help us to discern His good will and pleasure in keeping with His Word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

      Jeff, in my opinion, Paul is advocating for order, civility and respect of law, not submission to tyranny, abuse and lawlessness. We ought to work within established norms to maintain social order. The fact that Nero might have been an abusive, incompetent leader did not invalidate the system of justice and government structure of that time. Likewise, in our own contemporary experience, we see some disruptive, disorderly, abusive and incompetent leaders. Yet, the respect we have for the Constitution ought to supersede our disdain for lawlessness.

      The U.S. Constitution, as you may know, sets limits on government authority, that those in positions of authority should adhere to. When those individuals exceed those limits, it is the right of the people to voice their grievance and even rise against those that perpetrate these abuses. For the most part, that can be done within the framework of established law. But don’t forget that our Nation was created in response to serious abuses of the citizenry by those in power. In the real world, we are compelled to take actions that in a well-structured, law abiding society are undesirable.

      So Paul wasn’t so much advocating that we do everything governing authorities tell us. He was telling us to respect law and order. But when law and order break down, even our Constitution provides a remedy found in the 2nd Amendment. And when the leadership violates our Constitutional rights, like Paul, we have a right to appeal to Caesar. It is one thing for a Governor to impose extra-constitutional restrictions on people, that transgress the limits of his or her authority, by depriving them of their Constitutional Rights, and another to encourage participation, support and buy-in into a program that might benefit everyone.

      I am sure you are aware that Gavin Newsome, if I am properly informed, even decreed there could not be signing in religious gatherings, which he banned anyway. So where does the Church stand? Is the Church there to protect itself by going into hiding or to serve others? Does the 1st Amendment apply to Churches or only to “protesters”? Can church members decide how best to ensure the safety of all or must it be told what they must do?

      In my opinion, Churches should remain open for those that want to go there. Those that prefer to hunker down in their homes may. But if supermarkets, political gatherings, “protest” rallies, and numerous other places can be packed with wall to wall people, why can’t churches exercise their right to worship and reach out to others in an even more responsible and safe manner?

      We believe in armies for security and police for protection. Isn’t it a contradiction to then to argue against self-defense? Who was it that said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, to live at peace with everyone”? Wasn’t that Paul in Romans 12, just before his admonition to adhere to law and order in Chapter 13? And he follows that with, “So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” But the caveat is, “in so far as it depends on you”. The import is not that we should submit to bad government, as with a repressive communist or radical regime, regardless of the circumstances. The meaning of what Paul says in Romans 13 lies in our adherence and support of social order. But as individual citizens, we have a responsibility to ensure that social order remains orderly, compliant with law and established standards.

      By your standards, should Christians then comply with the orders of a government run under Sharia Law? There are realistic limits to what Paul said, intended and encouraged Christians to do. What Paul said can’t be interpreted in the sphere of a religious bubble, to the exclusion of real life situations and demands. So, it is not the government “leader” we obey, regardless of the validity of his limit. We adhere to a system of laws that ensure the proper function of society. Leaders are often wrong. That is why our Constitution limits their authority and imposes their replacement every so often, through the electoral process, legal challenges, and recall.

      I find Jeff, that you argue against yourself. On the one hand you say we must obey the edicts of governors, then you present Biblical accounts against it. You yourself quote Peter as telling the authorities that they must obey God over men. But you insist we must obey men to the detriment of the Church. Never in history has the Church been told how to evangelize. But in California, Gavin even tells the Church how to conduct their services, if and when allowed. So which is it? Do we stand with Peter and tell the authorities we will do as God says, or close our Churches?

      I close with your quote about the Nuremberg trials, “But gentlemen, is there not a law above our laws?” Don’t be offended by MacArthur. Be offended by Gavin.

      Like

      1. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos,

        Let me play Devil’s Advocate. To work within established norms is essentially to adhere to tradition. This is to simply Beg the Question, or assume our established traditions are just and right. There are other more potent ways to maintain social order, some better than others. At one end of the spectrum we have God who establishes the standard which to transgress results in immediate death. At the other end we see secular tyranny. The New Testament points out that the ideal is found in a new creation that is created to keep God’s laws.

        The Marxist claim “to each according to their needs and each according to his abilities” is mirrored in Acts 2:44, yet they are as far apart as east is to west in that the former assumes the fallen man can make something that radical work while the ladder is the consequence of a heart renewed by the love of God.

        To point out that our disdain for lawlessness ought to be overcome by our respect and honor for the Constitution is dependent upon one’s interpretation of the Constitution, no? To maintain law and order through lawlessness seems like an interesting argument, but one that I can’t begin to present, or even entertain, and again, I sometimes like to take the position of Devil’s Advocate as well. Instead, I truly believe the gospel message holds the key which is self denial/self sacrifice. When self is abolished, there is no target left to hit. We don’t have to go to hell for eternity in order to beat the devil. That is to meet the devil on his terms rather than God’s.

        Churches in California and elsewhere that have been banned from gathering together should dress up in Antifa outfits, spread Antifa and BLM banners across the entrances to their church buildings, and open their services with a few minutes of video documented BLM propaganda before proceeding as normal. When the government presents a blatant loophole, why not take advantage of it? Suddenly the whole charade comes crashing down for the fraud that it truly is, and we can all get back to normal. More importantly, we can forget about the so-called “new normal”. Even so, the church remains compliant with the “new normal” law and established standards by being as shrewd as wolves and benign as doves.

        We do not adhere to a system of laws that ensure the proper function of society. Turn on your television set and watch the news tonight for proof of that fact. The Constitution does not limit the authority of elected officials. The founders even pointed out that the system of laws they were setting up were only for a moral people, and NEWSFLASH, we don’t have a moral society anymore. The established norms over the last 100 years have been anything but moral. It is nothing less than the Beast system, and the church was never called to live peacefully within the Beast system, but instead called out of that system.

        Like

      2. fromoverhere

        You guys are all forgetting one big thing.

        You keep defending MacArthur on the grounds that (freedom-loving Americanly-speaking) we have a tyrancial government and “enough is enough.”

        Not one person has addressed the idea that in addition to hosting a large inside gathering (that CA has ruled against), MacArthur is telling his flock they do not need to wear a mask in these meetings. This does not seem to fit within the “the Bible tells us to gather” defense.

        Does the defense of his civil disobedience about gatherings mean that he can flagrantly disobey the mask-in-public mandate? If so, on what biblical grounds?

        Like

      3. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        On the biblical grounds that the truth is all that matters, and the governor of California is a liar. The truth is that there is no pandemic to begin with. It’s a hoax. What we have is a virus that attacks the elderly and people who already have at least one comorbidity, most people have two or more. The focus should be on protecting them, not shutting down the country, or telling perfectly healthy people they need to shelter in place which is the worst possible thing you could do. Unless of course you’re heavily invested in Big Pharma’s vaccines, then you want as many people as possible staying indoors.

        The fact is that as the cases rise, the death rate is plummeting, and there is no rhyme or reason for why it spikes in one place or another. No one has a clue why people in some countries are able to walk about freely with no one getting sick, or why places like New York where everyone sheltered in place yet they’re dying like flies.

        Like

      4. fromoverhere

        Okay.  I see your position.  You are saying that the biblical teaching is that we obey our government if what they tell us is true.

        And that was the teaching of Christ?  Paul?   Were they aware that Christians would live for centuries under the thumb of liars?  I mean were the Romans ruthless tyrants?  Paying taxes to tyrants?  Were they actually telling us to revolt when liars are in power?  That is not a biblical idea. 

        I asked about a mask law.  It is not an unjust law; maybe it is a stupid law, but it does not cause me to sin.  You might think it is anti-American, but it is not anti-biblical (I mean they are not telling our women they have to walk around shirtless).

        You are free to hate the law and free to lobby against it (at least in our country—not in all countries).  But on a biblical basis you are not free to stick-it-in-the-eye of the lying government and refuse to wear it.

        Oh, you are free to refuse to wear it (because I believe in free will, unlike MacArthur who is a determinist-Calvinist), but you cannot say that the Bible backs you up in this refusal. 

        Like

      5. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        The word “government” literally means to govern the mind, and the bible says not to trust any man, but God alone. The bible also says that we’re not really battling against them in the first place, but powers, thrones, dominions in “the heavenlies”.

        Revelation is progressive, so we don’t all “get it” at the same time. For someone who is deceived, and according to the bible the whole world is deceived; they will have to look towards something like the Mosaic law. However, for those who are not deceived, e.g. “the elect”, they are following in Christ’s footsteps so they have given to Caesar what is Caesar’s. They do not work for Mammon (the personification of money), but instead rely upon God’s providence alone. See how that works? Note that when Jesus replies to those who would tempt him, he asks that someone provide him with a coin. He doesn’t have a single cent. Note also that it isn’t any of his followers who provide the coin either, but the religious leaders. Coincidence?

        Perhaps I missed something here. Did the California legislature pass a law mandating masks be worn? My understanding was that they simply relied upon previous laws that dealt with epidemics, but the fact is that labeling those “with” Covid 19 is not equivalent to labelling those dying “of” Covid 19. The number of people dying in California does not qualify as an epidemic.

        When there is a double blind test, and the test results are compared, then they would have a legitimate reason to take action. No one anywhere in the world has done this Why? Why is no one engaging in proven science??? Instead what we’ve seen over and over are test kits that have proven unreliable. We have a virus that we’re all supposed to believe has over 8,000 strains, and even more mutations that have occurred in only a few months???!! That, my friend is statistically impossible. These viruses have been around for years. They’ve only recently started testing for them, and we’re suddenly supposed to believe that this virus (which is practically identical to the Sars Cov 7 virus) that they were working on 5 or 6 years ago has now spread out into thousands of strains in just a few months? Not buying any of that nonsense, and there is no way you’re going to get anyone with any critical thinking skills to buy it either, forget about anyone who understands that mutations never add information to the equation. There is no way the virus that escaped from Wuhan, had different information added to it. It simply doesn’t happen. They’re completely different strains, and they’re much older than what was released from China. Do you know which strains are in California right now?

        I am just as free as Paul was to “stick it in the eye of the lying government”. Paul chose to go through legal channels while I chose to simply leave. I have yet to wear a mask, or practice any form of social distancing. I also have two comorbidities, and probably have the corona virus. I’m symptomatic, but I’m also getting over it without bothering to go to a doctor. I’ll take my chances by working on improving my immune response the way God designed it, or if you prefer the way nature evolved to deal with it.

        I’m free to refuse to wear masks because I found a place where most people see that it’s not that big of a deal. If you want to go on a tangent with free will, we can do that as well. However, I’m not interested in going on a wild goose chase which is what you’re doing by bringing up MacArthur or Calvin’s name. Paul uses the word “predestined” proorizó: to predetermine, foreordain

        Original Word: προορίζω 4309 proorízō (from 4253 /pró, “before” and 3724 /horízō, “establish boundaries, limits”) – properly, pre-horizon, pre-determine limits (boundaries) predestine.

        [4309 (proorízō) occurs six times in the NT (eight in the writings of Paul). Since the root (3724 /horízō) already means “establish boundaries,” the added prefix (pro, “before”) makes 4309 (proorízō) “to pre-establish boundaries,” i.e. before creation.] If you think you can find some more legitimate source for the word etymology, go for it. The fact is that this is the word Paul uses, so your beef is with him, and frankly there’s no way you can win because his argument is airtight.

        The damned don’t have salvation as an option, and the elect don’t have being deceived as an option either. That’s biblical. The carnal man can’t please God no matter what he chooses to do. Jesus himself points out that it is flat out impossible for the elect to be deceived. So for them to have free will would require that they intentionally sin against God; and that’s not going to happen. God can’t foreknow that if it isn’t foreordained.

        Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the author of Hebrews all point out that under the New Covenant, God does a heart transplant for one reason and one reason alone, i.e. that they may keep his laws. Under the old covenant, it was all up to one’s “will and effort” (Romans 9:16), but under the new, it is God who guarantees obedience according to his sovereign will, mercy, grace, etc.

        No one comes to Christ unless the father drags them. As Jesus puts it, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you”. Ultimately, free will is a moot point because it really doesn’t matter when God is the one who decides. Very seldom do you see pastors preaching on Romans 9 because they sound like idiots as they try to explain away the obvious meaning of Paul’s words.

        Why are you to blame when you are only doing what God created you to do? Paul’s answer? “Shut up.” (Romans 9:20). It is a given that God is just, and he can create vessels for mercy and he can create vessels for destruction. Those vessels don’t have a choice in the matter.

        “The Spirit breathes where HE WILLS, you hear the sound of his voice, but you have no clue where it comes from or where it goes, so it is with all who are born of the Spirit”.

        Like

      6. fromoverhere

        Wow! …. all that cuz I asked on what biblical grounds Grace is telling their people they do not have to wear masks in their crowd of 3000 people! Since it is the law, I am not sure how they justify that…but it looks like you have a lot on your mind so I dont suppose I will hear JMac’s answer about that here.

        Like

      7. Lucille Gaither

        The disciple-apostle Peter is the one that the Lord Jesus told to go and retrieve the coin out of a fish’s mouth. He was not a religious leader. The purpose of the coin was to pay a tax, I believe, a Temple tax – “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”

        Like

      8. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        You’re confusing a test by the religious leaders with another completely different passage in scripture. Nowhere in the passage you’re referring to does Jesus ask, “Who’s image is on this coin?” Nowhere in the passage you’re referring to does Jesus say, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar, and give to God what is God’s”

        Like

      9. Carlos Ramirez Trevino

        There are two distinct, no 3 specific arguments.
        1. The US Constitution limits the power of the Governor. S/he can’t just arbitrarily dictate via EO whatever s/he desires, even when it is beneficial.
        2. A Governor has no authority to dictate how a Church conducts its Service. If everyone in the Church wants to drink the Kool-Aid, that is none of the governments business. They can do that in China, but not in the USA.
        3. The Church stands and meets as a Testimony to the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. When the Church disappears from the panorama, to hide in an Internet cloud, away from the real, physical, visible world, its Testimony ceases. We have a duty to reach out to others. The Church of Christ is the Hospital of the Soul. We have a compelling need to keep Churches open and viable.

        So, those that don’t feel safe in a Church building with other Christians, can stay at home. But don’t dictate that everyone must, to the detriment of the Church. The Pastor should never abandon the Church. But many have. Can you imagine if doctors abandoned hospitals for fear of dying? Are Pastors dedicated to serve or to be served?

        Like

      10. fromoverhere

        Carlos,
        I think you are just repeating a talking point. The constitution says nothing about governor of states. We cannot be both “states rights” and “governor has no power people.” The point of the 10th Ammendment is exactly that—- what power the Constitution does not give the Federal Govt the state has!

        #2 You are completely missing the point ….. “no authority to dictate how a Church conducts its Service.” They are saying to sports teams, schools, theatres, stadiums, autitoriums, concert halls, etc that they can have only a certain number of people inside at one time. Kind of like a temproary fire code. It has nothing to do with “how to conduct a service.”

        #3 Fine. If you insist that the church meets against the law, at least tell them to obey the law with masks. There is no biblical reason for MacArthur to flout the law in that regard. It is the law and not against biblical teaching. With that, he is not insisting on a biblical right just a “dont tread on me” “American right.”

        Like

      11. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Fact is, fromoverthere, the US Constitution applies to governors, mayors, city councils and everyone else. Religious institutions are in a completely different category than the NFL, MLB, UFC, NBA, NHL, local HOAs, Piggily Wiggily, Publix, CVS and many others. The Church is Untouchable. Or so it should be. Let me explain. The Constitution builds a fence around all government. Regardless of the circumstances, governors cannot jump that fence to do as they please. They might not like what they see on the other side of the fence, but they have no authority to jump the fence. Put differently, you may have a Pit Bull chained to your front porch. But that Pit Bull can only go as far as the chain lets him. The chain is, of course, the Constitution.

        Like

      12. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos, I could be wrong here, but by classifying the church as non essential, they may not be directly making law against the church. This is the only argument I can think of off hand that they might use to get around making laws preventing the free exercise of religion.

        Actually someone else pointed this out already. If there’s roadside construction that requires local buildings to be shut down, then the church that is right beside the shut down road is not being targeted because it is a church, but because of its location. Granted, It’s a weak argument, but then when you live in a state that is actively bombing, and vandalizing churches, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that they would do something like this.

        Like

      13. Carlos Ramirez Trevino

        Shnarkle, you do bring up some good points. My argument is that this is an issue for the Court to resolve. My argument could be flawed and my interpretation of the law in error. However, I believe that as Christians, with respect to certain aspects of worship, church structure and form, the State (government), must have a hands off policy. But not all religious practices and beliefs are protected. Human and animal sacrifice would, for example, be one. Simply stated, practices that violate the Constitution and established laws cannot be justified. Nor Can those that go beyond the religious and cross over into civil society. A religious group can set standards for membership, but they can’t apply those to society at large. So a governor that orders that a church can only be 50% full, might have no legal standing to do that. I would argue the order is not only arbitrary, since it has no legal or scientific basis (why not 40%, 55%, 60%), but it exceeds the governor’s authority. Consequently, the church must meet to challenge the order. If anything is essential, it is the Church and other religious institutions. And the governor cannot declare it non essential based on his personal subjective criteria. That is, a secularist is not in a position to determine the validity of religious necessity, belief, or value. At least, that is my argument and why I believe Christians must continue to witness the power of the Resurrection by meeting as they desire.

        Like

      14. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos,
        If the State must have a hands off policy, then it is not an issue for the courts to resolve. It is a matter for the church to resolve. Regardless of what the courts decide, the church must continue to be guided by God’s will. While there may be prohibitions against human sacrifice, I know of no secular prohibitions against animal sacrifice if it is carried out humanely. Perhaps there may be a license required, I don’t know.

        I’m also not clear on how you come to the conclusion that meeting together is a witness of the resurrection. I’m not saying I disagree. I just don’t know how or why you’re saying this, or what you mean by it.

        I also don’t see how being a witness to the resurrection necessarily requires gathering together as well. There are plenty of witnesses who went to their deaths alone.

        Like

      15. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Shnarkle, I say it is for the Courts to weigh in because it is a Constitutional issue. Then again, I could be wrong about the whole thing. Whenever there is a dispute between people and government, the Court has to be brought in. If we were in China, for example, and the Court ruled people were not allowed to meet to proclaim the Gospel Message, then we would either have to accept it or violate the law. Many on this site would say the Church would have to accept what the Court says, simply because it is the law. My point is that Christians have to allow the system to work, but they don’t have to agree with it. One such case is abortion.

        I also believe the Body of Christ, the Church Universal, visible, active as a body, not just individuals hidden in the shadows of the Internet, are a Testimony to the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, who said, “I will build my Church”. When the Church loses its visibility, moral authority and cohesiveness, in other words, it breaks up into little individual pieces, like Humpty Dumpty, when the Church is fractured and its buildings become fossils of the past, the AntiChrist steps in. I believe that the Church and Israel are the Witnesses and they are what Restrain the appearance of the AntiChrist. It is that loss of power, presence and Persuasiveness that 2 Thessalonians 2 describes. So, it is the Body, not the individual, but the Body that stands as a Testimony to Christ. Example: There might still be ISIS holdouts somewhere, but the Body, the Organization, the Group has been defeated. The individuals are scattered and powerless. They have lost their influence. They have, in effect, ceased to exist. Daniel 7-12 addresses this and if I understand it right, Persia will defeat Israel and that will open the way for the AntiChrist to proclaim himself god at the Temple site in Jerusalem.

        So there are two witnesses John mentions in Revelation 11. One is the Candlestick and the other is the Olive Tree. And when they are killed (defeated, rendered powerless and insignificant), they won’t torment (act as a moral conscience) people any more. People, it seems, will celebrate the death of the Body of Christ, the organized Church. So just as we celebrate the end of ISIS, people will rejoice over the end of the organized Church. And they will say, where is your God?

        Like

      16. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        Carlos,

        I agree with your point that the church isn’t to be found hiding in the twitter sphere, or online, or hiding anywhere. However, just as Christ was one man who made a difference, each and every member of the church makes a difference according to God’s power and wisdom. All things are possible with God, but all of these things are only within God’s will. In other words, God doesn’t bend the rules to accommodate challenges to the corporate body. In other words, one doesn’t stop witnessing the gospel message just because of some arbitrary mandate to refrain from gathering according to custom. Customs are not what the gospel message is about. Customs can be discarded willingly, and should be whenever necessary.

        There is nothing that says people can’t gather elsewhere than from some customary structure, or that they have to meet within that same structure. These are all minor issues, and should only embolden the church to proclaim the gospel message all the louder from the streets.

        C,mon everyone, lets’ take it to the streets just like our BLM and Antifa brethren are doing right now. Let’s show them our solidarity as well as the fact that we will not be silenced.

        Satan thought the death of Christ was the solution to his problems when it served only to make things worse for him. This is what we are facing today as well. The fact is that the church will be revived and spit fire, no?

        Like

  56. P.S. I have shared your extremely well writte post “Should Churches in California Defy Government Restrictions? A Response to John MacArthur” with my wife and others. You did a terrific job of expressing yourself biblically, logically, and graciously. Well done, Gavin!

    Liked by 1 person

  57. “written” not writte LOL When will I EVER learn to proof read my info before I send it???

    Liked by 1 person

  58. […] Ortlund, a pastor at a Baptist church in California, wrote a response arguing for places of worship to comply with the county’s health orders. The response stated […]

    Like

  59. […] 2nd Gavin Ortlund, a fellow pastor in California blogged saying that the issue is not as clear as Grace Community Church wants to make it and there are, in […]

    Like

  60. fromoverhere

    Many here are defending MacArthur on the grounds that we have a “tyrancial government” and “enough is enough.”

    Not one person has addressed the idea that in addition to hosting a large inside gathering (that CA has ruled against), MacArthur is telling his flock they do not need to wear a mask in these meetings. This does not seem to fit within the “the Bible tells us to gather” defense.

    Does the defense of his civil disobedience about gatherings mean that he can flagrantly disobey the mask-in-public mandate? If so, on what biblical grounds?

    Like

  61. fromoverhere

    I just do not understand why Grace cannot do what so many other mega-churches have done. Hold outdoor services in tents early enough in the morning to beat the heat. Get up a little earlier. Stay in the legal limits. Ask people to wear masks (it is the law).

    It appears that this is an in-your-face flouting of the law.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

    If I understand it right, the Chain the Constitution places on the neck of government does not allow it inside the four walls of the church. The Government (State, Local, Federal) is not allowed inside the Church. So if everyone wants to wear masks, they can. If they don’t want to wear masks, they are under no legal constraint to do so. Those that don’t want to be in the company of those that don’t want to wear masks, can stay at home, Walmart, CVS, etc. They are not being compelled to be there. But if the Congregation, as a group, agrees everyone in attendance should wear a mask, then it is up to those that are willing to attend services in person. But if the Congregation agrees you may, but don’t have to wear a mask, that is also up to the individuals that are willing to go to church in person. Those that will not be attending, for whatever reason, should have no say in the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shnarkle VonBarkle

      Isn’t this all besides the point? If there truly was a plague racing through the country killing anyone who got near someone who was infected, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place. Isn’t McArthur assuming there is no real pandemic to begin with? Isn’t the government assuming that there is a real pandemic?

      For any independent entity to carry out testing would be a blatant infringement of the patent holder’s right to conduct testing. The problem is that those who hold the patents are not conducting any scientific testing yet. Why not? That would setting the question, but the fact is that nobody is asking for them to either. Everyone is just accepting their claims at face value, and the church is not called to exercise blind faith in humanity.

      Like

  63. Hi Gavin: Perhaps you’ve seen the YouTube of John MacArthur listing the requirements for churches to meet in CA, saying that it’s simply impossible for them to comply. I suppose that’s due to the size of the church, since you’re complying (and others are) but presumably you/they do not need to accommodate as many people? Will you please advise on how you/others in CA are complying given JMac’s claim that it’s impossible, at least for churches of his size?

    Thank you for this article and your very reasonable position on this matter.

    Like

  64. Hi Gavin,

    Regarding concern 2, you said:

    “…one way we can love our neighbors is by helping to stop the spread of a dangerous and highly infectious disease. Gathering for worship without requiring masks or practicing social distancing or adjusting the elements of worship… risks causing a significant increase in transmission of the virus…”

    There’s no evidence that this is true, as far as I can tell. The virus will spread regardless of whether Grace Church meets or not. It may happen sooner because they’re meeting, but there’s no reason to think there will be a net increase in transmission. More people won’t die because John MacArthur opened the doors of the church.

    As a side note, MacArthur has said that there have been no cases at the church even after meeting for months. I expect that to change, but the fact that there have been no cases linked to services is strong evidence that meeting is not putting the wider community at risk.

    Continuing…
    “It is not merely those in attendance who are potentially affected by such a decision, but the entire community with which attenders subsequently interact.”

    Should we not meet during a bad flu season? I don’t ask this rhetorically. I’m struggling to understand why this particular virus merits more stringent avoidance measures than any other potentially deadly disease.

    I’m reminded of the Levitical laws about leprosy—also a deadly disease—that required quarantining and washing. These laws applied to individuals who had known exposure to a leper. But I see no biblical principal that everyone should avoid everyone else when there’s an outbreak of a disease.

    Like

    1. Hey Ben! Nice to hear from you, friend. Long time no see! I hope you are doing well. Personally, I think COVID-19 is more serious than the seasonal flu, and that meeting indoors without masks, distancing, or reducing singing, can affect the spread of the virus. I take those to be fairly standard views. But as I said in my post, my main concern is with the judgment drawn upon pastors and churches who do not agree. Take care man.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Gavin,

        I’m doing well! The virus does seem to be more serious than the flu for certain people, especially the elderly. It makes sense for them to be extremely cautious, even if it means avoiding meeting in person. For younger, healthy people, the virus is generally much less severe than the flu. For most people it’s basically a cold.

        Regarding the MacArthur clip that you linked at the beginning of your post: I understood him to be referring to churches that were not meeting in person at all. At any rate, we all should have grace with churches who are meeting differently to comply with government restrictions. The case for civil disobedience comes into play if the government restrictions effectively make it ridiculously difficult or impossible to meet in person. As I understand it, the restrictions in Los Angeles fall into this category, requiring pre-registration, temperature checks, distancing in the parking lot, no hymnals, no communion, and quarantining even if not sick. Although none of these things makes it impossible to have church, some of these restrictions are more about discouraging meeting than they are about public health. I’m very concerned that if someone from Grace tests positive, the county will issue quarantine orders against every single person who has attended services.

        Like

      2. fromoverhere

        Ben,
        A few more thoughts about making those kinds of statements about Grace based on a given country’s stats:

        — Some countries have huge case counts and low death counts (Singapore)
        — Some countries have very few cases (environment? dictator with suppression?  They don’t test at all?)
        — Some red states may want to keep number counts down to help the economy and Trump but blue states want to showcase it…
        — Some countries dont count ANY cases where covid is not the sole means of death, others have a more open approach that coivd killed a (not-dying) person with some existing problems.

        You remember it is this last idea where MacArthur showed that he is a medical expert declaring “there is no pandemic” cuz only 10,000 in the US have died exclusively of covid and had nothing else. 

        But the bottom line for us here is (A) does Scripture really give MacArthur the leverage to put 3,000 people in an auditorium against the law…. and without masks; and (B) does he have the right to say that all other pastors are failing if they dont do it his way?  

        Again, if this continues to trail off, churches will be meeting again soon enough (and those that waited will be legal and safe), but if it flares up and can be traced IN ANY WAY to Grace Community, MacArthur will have provided fodder to those against him. 

        Like

    2. fromoverhere

      Ben,
      I am afraid you are mistaken…

      Ben said:
      “There’s no evidence that this is true, as far as I can tell.”

      There is TONS of this evidence. In fact not far from where I serve on the mission field, the Italian (early hit country) soccer game with a Spanish team was easily traced to be one of the factors that caused it to spread so quickly in those places.

      Ben:
      “The virus will spread regardless of whether Grace Church meets or not. ”
      What? What does that have to do with it? The questions being discussed are do meetings accelerate it; is it legal; is it necessary; and are all others failures cuz they dont do it the way MacArthur does.

      Ben:
      “More people won’t die because John MacArthur opened the doors of the church.”
      You have no way of knowing this. You are just repeating a MacArthurism. The same thing was said in Italy, even after it was raging…. “More people won’t die just because we have another soccer game!”

      Ben:
      “MacArthur has said that there have been no cases at the church even after meeting for months.”

      What? He cannot possibly know that! As a graduate of the school (and former member of the church), I know what kind influence he has on the folks. No one would dare say it now if they were sick!

      Ben:
      “I’m struggling to understand why this particular virus merits more stringent avoidance measures…”

      You must not be struggling very hard! Evidence is everywhere. This is a coronovirus, not the an influenza virus. This is more deadly and faster than any of the flus we have had since the Spanish Flu 100 years ago. We never shut down the world for a flu like we have for this virus, and it STILL has wreck much more havoc than the flu! Are you honestly still asking this question? Even those of us who are freeddom-loving, Christ-honoring, conservatives who believe we SHOULD open up our communities at least understand that it will not be without drama and trauma.

      Ben:
      “I see no biblical principal…..”

      How about seeing a biblical principle to obey authorties who are telling you that you have to wear masks? Is John telling his crowd they have to at least obey the law in that regard? Nope. He is just saying they can pick and choose which laws they want to obey.

      And as Gavin has pointed out…. he does this while saying that all others (doing differently) are failing their calling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. fromoverhere, I suggest looking at Sweden, a country that didn’t shut down or enforce any of the other strict measures that the U.S. has. Sweden’s death rate per-million is less than the U.S. They’re down to single-digit deaths per day. This is why I said there’s no evidence that having church will lead to more deaths. Ultimately, that’s what we care about.

        Like

      2. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        A good point, yet we can also look at the other end of the spectrum at places like Peru and New York where the lockdowns produced the highest rates of infection and death. Yet rags like the New York Times view these as “success stories”.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Carlos Ramirez Trevino

        Instead of debating “Civil Disobedience”, shouldn’t we be insisting government adhere to the the limitations placed on it by the 1st Amendment?

        The issue in fact, ceases to be the spread of a Virus. It is government intrusion and violation of the 1st Amendment.

        Religious worship and assembly is not a privilege granted Churches by the government. A Governor does not have the authority to disregard the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is as simple as that.

        That said, we may argue among ourselves whether it is wise or advisable to meet. But that cannot be based on a Governor’s illegal order.

        Like

      4. fromoverhere

        Carlos:
        It’s not that simple.

        Example: A church building that the fire dept has said can hold 250 people. A church gets bigger and bigger and squeeezes 1,000 in there every Sunday. The state says stop. The church cries “constititution!” “persecution!”

        Nah…. just keep the rules and you’ll be fine.

        Like

      5. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        This is a good point, except for the fact that much of what’s going on now is symbolic. it’s just the modern day equivalent of Pharisaic virtue signaling, and the default Christian response has always been, “no one is justified by keeping the law”. If we can get away with that nonsense with God’s law, what’s stopping us from pulling it with laws handed down by the state? Obviously, at some point, the State will see fit to enforce their laws while God is content to wait until Judgement Day.

        Like

      6. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        Fromoverthere, I understand your comparison, but does it apply? There are certain norms and regulations that apply to everything. The problem arises when you single out one specific sector and impose limitations on it that you don’t on other similar groups. If the State orders that only 50 of the 250 people can meet, but they can’t read the Bible or sing, is that the same as restricting the number of people in a building for Fire Safety?

        Like

      7. fromoverhere

        But Carlos,
        The fire code, wheelchair ramps, sprinkler systems (for fires), safety tempered glass that the state imposes on a church are permanent (and can lead to being shut down if they do not comply).

        The virus is obviously temporary and has lightened up in states all around California (and will lighten up eventually in CA also). It is unnecessary to demonstrate this bravado on a temporary injunction. If, God forbid, there should be a spike in So Cal and ANY PART of it can be traced back to MacArthur that will be a terrible witness for the Lord.

        And BTW you said “There are certain norms and regulations that apply to everything.”

        That is the point! No large crowds are being allowed indoors. It is not the church being singled out!!

        Like

      8. fromoverhere

        Ben, 
        I started following this closely in January and then was asked by my huge Christian organization to continue to build a document (now 100 pages long, just links of stories and stats).

        Funny that you follow a pattern we saw 4-5 months ago citing Sweden and saying they “did not shut down.”  They did shut down!  They shut down all groups of over 50 (including churches); all high schools and universities; SAS airline (almost completely); borders, and on and on.  Yet, urban legend has them riding the life-as-normal horse shouting follow us!

        In addition, people have compared them to the earliest-hit, worst-hit European countries and never to the other countries —- and for sure never to the other 3 Scandinavian countries that have similar density, health systems, distance to mainland Europe, etc.  All of those countries are doing much better than Sweden—and they locked down.

        To say, “Sweden’s death rate per-million is less than the U.S….” is irrelevant.

        (A) We have a 50-state policy
        (B) Many states only closed down a little —much like Sweden.
        (C) Huge cities like New York were blind sided early on and are very dense.
        (D) That ignores the scores and scores of (lock-down) countries that have a much, much lower death rate than Sweden.

        One could easily point to lock-down Portugal with an equal population (although MUCH more densely populated) and compare their deaths per million (184) to Sweden’s (579) and make a case that locking down would have worked better for Sweden.  (I’m not making that case, just showing what one could do.)

        And again the other Scandinavian countries all locked down and their death rates are: 109 (Denmark), 61 (Finland), and 49 (Norway) . Sweden 579!

        So you could just as easily be quoting those statistics against Sweden.

        And BTW, they all opened up to 200-people gathering while Sweden was stuck at 50.   Denmark is faring a bit worse since they are on the mainland and very densely populated compared to the others.  

        Keep in mind that it is FAR to get to Sweden and the much-aligned countries of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Belgium are just a short drive away via open borders.  That led to their rapid acceleration and infection rate.  

        Sweden benefits from being off the beaten path and VERY sparsely populated. Yet Sweden has passed (by far) all other European countries in death rate except Belgium, UK, Spain, and Italy (all of which are much more central in Europe and very densely populated). Swedens is even close to passing Italy’s death rate.  One could easily make the case that Sweden “has no business” being up with those countries.

        So… Sweden and So Cal are apples and oranges in many ways and totally irrelevant in the “do open churches of 3,000 lead to more deaths” conversation.

        Sweden has been limited to (and obeying) the 50-person person max since March so I can’t see how that figures into the “Grace with 3,000 maskless people” conversation.  

        Like

      9. Amen, my friend! I, too, attended Grace Community Church for a number of years. In fact, my wife and I met there. However, I got tired of hearing people say, “Well John says” rather than “The Bible says”. Everyone has one or more sources of authority. Sadly, when people replace the authority of Scripture with a fallible man, that can not end well. God’s people need to THINK for themselves and be guided by God’s Word rather than place credence in a pope, preacher, pastor, or parish!

        Like

      10. fromoverhere

        That’s why it is good to do what Gavin did.

        I am sure that Gavin runs in circles that would normally hold a somewhat high regard for MacArthur. That is the perfect time to be willing to step out (like here) and say “This man is mistaken.” In many ways that is what demonstrates to believers and non-believers that we do not have a top-down (Rome or Brooklyn-JW) type faith.

        Any of us, at any time, might be wrong about something, and we should encourage the body to point that out —-and then be ready to admit it.

        I am afraid I just dont see that attitude in MacArthur.

        Like

      11. Carlos Ramirez Treviño

        I disagree with Ben and “fromoverhere”. You both picked the wrong subject to justify an obvious degree of animosity and resentment against MacArthur. Is your rejection of his position more personal than substantive?

        Let’s start with the Purpose of the Church. What us the Church about? Should the Church hide in an Internet Cloud where it is no longer visible? Have you forgotten the example of Christians that met in homes in Russia and China in defiance of law?

        The Church must be Visible until the End. Recall that 5 Virgins Slept, while 5 others maintained the Visible Testimony Alive. Are you among those that prefer the sleepy comfort of the ICloud, or are you going to stand for the Testimony of Christ?

        The True Church Will Meet.

        Like

      12. fromoverhere

        Carlos:
        What are you talking about?

        The church has the right to meet. There are churches using their creativity that are meeting all over California: outside, in tents (with misting machines, portable toilets) ….hundreds, thousands at a time.

        MacArthur is not saying the state will not let him meet…. he is just saying he insists on meeting on his terms: padded pews and air conditioning.

        Really seems amazing that you would compare this to the underground church around the world. That is exactly the point!!! The California church will not accept the least bit of discomfort! No comparison!

        Like

      13. CARLOS RAMIREZ TREVINO

        I understand your point. But the issue is, from what I gather, that the State has to be hands off the Church, period. The government cannot be allowed to dictate where, when and how the Church meets or worships. The Church does not have the burden to accommodate the State. It is the State that has to accommodate the Church and the people. It is my understanding that some religious groups have been denied permits to meet in public places for religious services, but have been approved to meet for protests. Are you saying the Church does not have a 1st Amendment right to meet, but protesters do? Sports teams can play indoors, shoulder to shoulder and sweat all over each other, but Christians can’t meet in an air conditioned space? But please, what is the actual situation in California? Perhaps I have misunderstood. Thanks.

        Like

      14. fromoverhere

        Of course the state can dictate how you worship and does so all the time. Many immigrants are not allowed to sacrifice chickens, or smoke hallucinatory drugs, or perform the wedding to a 3rd 4th 5th wife, that their country allowed as part of their faith.

        You said…
        “It is my understanding that some religious groups have been denied permits to meet in public places for religious services, but have been approved to meet for protests.”

        I dont know the details of that….and it would be something that we should contest…but legally. We cannot have a “they break the law so we can too” mentality. That would never stop…each one doing more based on the previous precedent.

        You said
        “Sports teams can play indoors, shoulder to shoulder and sweat all over each other, but Christians can’t meet in an air conditioned space?”

        I am not sure that tested-daily, living in a bubble, millionaire athletes can be compared to putting 3,000 random (no bubble) people shoulder to shoulder in a crowded space. But again….. the church can contest that right.

        But the “you hit me first, so I hit you” or “they disobeyed first” mentality is not really in the tool kit of a Christian and also leads to futher lawlessness down the road.

        Like

      15. Shnarkle VonBarkle

        His argument isn’t a ‘you hit me first’. He’s pointing out that there is a blatant double standard where one activity e.g. playing contact pro football, or marching in a protest march is perfectly acceptable, and even provided with justifications including the claim that institutionalized racism trumps the spread of a practically benign corona virus. They classify a protest march adding the “peaceful” euphemism to somehow justify the burned out storefronts, looting and rioting, then claim that people singing is somehow a threat to the country.

        Like

      16. fromoverhere

        I cannot speak for Gavin, but I have no intention of defending CA’s laxness on the protests.

        One can easily see however, that they took place outside….. the same outside that thousands of churches are using now to legally gather. As MacArthur easily could.

        When will it end? We can always find someone who is wrong-er than we we are!

        You are going 20 mph over the speed limit, but so are some others around you. When stopped, you do not tell the officer “well he was doing it too!”

        CA says they can meet in groups of multiple hundreds outside (and “outside” is defined loosley; big, tall tents are allowed).

        MacArthur does not even seem willing to try. He just goes on CNN, FOX and several other programs and tells everyone how the virus is not real enough for him to alter his comfortable habits. Nothing to see here.

        The “I keep the laws I like idea” has never been our go-to method…and it certainly will give others (who do not want to keep laws WE like) something to point back to.

        It certainly appears to anyone watching the many news broadcasts MacArthur did that he is not keeping the rules cuz he does not think the virus is real.

        That’s looks he is saying “I’m a law unto myself.”

        Like

      17. Amen. If people replace God’s word with that of a man, a cult easily develops. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, following the tradition of men according to the rudiments of the world, and not in accordance with Christ.”

        Liked by 1 person

  65. Jackson long

    Hello, Safety concerns are required in any church setting. Americans have enjoyed the freedom to attend any church. Countries around the world such as China persecute Christians for practicing there faith. Christians have to meet in secret places. Memorizing large volumes of the Bible in case they are caught and Bible’s burned. Persecuted Christians memorize the word so they can hold God’s word close to there heart. As we have seen in the last several months of lockdowns . Churches have been threatened with cease and desist orders, fines, citation , jail of pastor’s, which is outrageous in its own. Health official, law enforcement agents have been sent to these churches to observe compliance. What is next burning Bible’s? Does it sound a little like the other countries like China that persecute Christians? Of course Christians in the USA are not kidnapped, or there Bible’s burned but threats of jail , fines is persecution. Remember, our revolution against Britain. The founding fathers made sure our freedom of religous expression was formed because of Britain’s tyranny on the colonists. A local church that has served the community with charity, supporting homeless ministry etc. is all of a sudden a pariah in the eyes of the local government because they reopened. The church served the community and the local government shut them down. What happened to the good will between the church and the government? The government threw it out. Jesus, the apostles, disciples were persecuted by governments, citizens and such. All the glory goes to God. Wake up America, your rights are being infringed upon. Christians, pray ,have faith, continue to fellowship with one another. No entity can stop a Christian from a having a relationship with Jesus. Thank you

    Like

  66. Lucille Gaither

    Amen. If people replace God’s word with that of a man, a cult easily develops. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, following the tradition of men according to the rudiments of the world, and not in accordance with Christ.”

    Like

  67. fromoverhere

    In an April MacArthur broadcast: At the 8 min mark, he says that last year’s flu killed 80,000 Americans, and this is more than this virus will kill. The flu killed 34,ooo (easily verified) and this one has killed over 200,000. He doesnt count them unless they die exclusively of the flu (no counting anyone with high blood pressure and asthma, etc). It is based on this logic that he has widely proclaimed “there is no pandemic.”

    Like

  68. […] pendeta di California Selatan menyarankan agar para pemimpin melihat virus corona sebagai ancaman yang berkelanjutan yang akan menentukan […]

    Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s