Sometimes the evangelical news stories du jour aren’t worth keeping up with. Sometimes they are. I think this one is worth examining, because it’s one that can help us look at a similar situation we might be in ourselves through a biblical lens – even if we, or our pastor, ends up making a different, yet biblical, decision.
As you may know, the governor of the state of California has issued an edict stating that, due to the Coronavirus, churches may not meet indoors in person (there are also prohibitions on businesses and other gatherings).
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California (pastored by John MacArthur), released a statement on July 24 entitled:
Christ, Not Caesar, Is the Head of the Church,
which respectfully and biblically explained why GCC would not be abiding by the governor’s restrictions on churches. (By the way, if you read the statement between July 24, and July 31, you might want to read it again. An addendum has been attached, and there is now a signatory page.)
I would like to ask you to read it as an exercise in apologetics. Examine the Scriptures presented. Are they handled rightly and in context? Objectively consider the arguments made. Do they make sense, and are they logical (even if you don’t agree with them)? How would you present a biblical case for another church to make a different godly decision? Which Scriptures and objective, logical arguments would you use to make your case?
One of the phenomenal ways God has uniquely wired women, generally speaking, is the emotional passion He has knit into us. We tend to feel things deeply and strongly. We bring compassion and zeal and kindness and bravery to situations in which they are desperately needed in special ways that God has only equipped women for. But with this beautiful gift He has given us comes the challenge to harness it and use it only in the situations it’s appropriate for. Not in situations such as making a dispassionate, objective, logical, reasoned apologetic argument. Allowing our passions and emotions to run wild in that situation would be using the wrong tool for the job.
I don’t know about you, but I need practice at that. Practice at letting thinking, not feelings, take the lead. And so, the particular issue of meeting/not meeting aside, I found GCC’s statement very helpful in that regard. It’s a good example of how to make a biblical, well-reasoned argument.
On Sunday, July 26, GCC did, in fact, meet together for worship, and Dr. MacArthur preached the following sermon, which I highly recommend:
We Must Obey God Rather Than Men
I was remarking to someone the other day that this will probably forever hereafter be known as the “Fresca Sermon” (you’ll see why when you watch it). If you don’t follow me on social media, here are a few of the funnier Fresca memes I came across (if you can’t handle humor, please look away):
13 thoughts on “We Must Obey God Rather Than Men”
I am praying for John MacArthur and all of our brothers who are called to lead. Even if I don’t agree with them on all issues, I still pray for them and for my own heart as well. May God have all the glory in whatever we do.
I was wondering if there is an email listing where I can contact you regarding John MacArthur.
Thank you for your time.
Hi- I have an e-mail address, but I’m unable to answer most e-mails/messages unrelated to speaking engagements (see my full e-mail policy at the “Contact & Social Media” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page), so you’re welcome to e-mail me, but your e-mail will most likely not be answered (which is per policy and nothing personal). I’m sorry about that.
Dr. MacArthur is a doctrinally sound, trustworthy teacher. I’ve heard virtually all of the disagreements with his theology and find that about 95% of them are usually either a misunderstanding of his position or a misunderstanding/twisting of Scripture, and the other 5% are usually a difference of opinion on secondary theological issues. So if you’re looking for a good pastor to listen to, I highly recommend him. If you have a specific question about his theology or teaching, I will let him speak for himself. You can contact him through his website: gty.org.
Thank you for responding regarding your email.
The Lord bless you….
In His Eternal Love…..
May the Lord bless you as well. If I may just leave you with this… There is more than one way to be deceived, and getting sucked into the many conspiracy theories you mentioned is one of them. I would encourage you to put all of that aside, simply study your Bible in context, and join with a good doctrinally sound church where you can sit under the teaching of a pastor who rightly handles God’s Word (see the “Searching for a new church?” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page if you need help finding one).
When the manifesto was posted, I went through it with colored pens and marked what was biblically accurate in one color, what was a fallacy in another color, what was (in mind) a false conclusion based on biblical reasoning, etc. It’s a great exercise in discernment. I have the utmost respect for MacArthur, but the manifesto does require critical thinking and a really deep understanding of scripture and applied theology. My utmost concern is for the unity of the Body of Christ, and the adornment of the gospel. I’m praying a lot these days!!!!
Where is this manifesto posted please?
L’s use of the term “manifesto” is a bit pejorative in this context. I believe he/she is referring to the public statement of intent issued by GCC entitled “Christ, Not Caesar, Is the Head of the Church”. It’s linked in the third paragraph of this article. All you have to do is click on it.
Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend or insinuate negativity by referring to it as “manifesto.” 🙂 I meant it in the sense of its most basic definition, “a public declaration of policy and aims.” Thank you, Michelle for clarifying for me.
I’m sorry I misconstrued your meaning. :0)
Just wondering why meeting in person outside wasn’t enough for them?
I’m sure they’d be glad to explain if you want to contact GCC and ask. They did explain in the statement the principle that, in America, under our Constitution, the government doesn’t have the right to dictate how churches may or may not worship. The entire Body freely coming together is a biblical component of worship. Regarding the practicalities of meeting outdoors, my guess is that a) they don’t have an outdoor venue that’s large enough and/or b) it’s California and it’s August.
I don’t have any reason or time to contact them as I’m only following it because of the post on your blog. There are churches that meet in person here in hot coastal Alabama both inside (with social distancing) and outside. And, yes, I agree that the government does not have the right to dictate when, where and how churches meet. My point is are we making some of the brethren feel worse (as is written in their statement about some people’s angst) because they want to wear masks and social distance and perhaps meet only outdoors by almost making this a badge of honor to the strength of one’s faith? I don’t have answers to that because there are always going to be different viewpoints among Christians.