they did what?
There are two views regarding the “civil disobedience” statement and actions taken at Grace Community Church.* But I’m not here to talk about that.
In an article regarding a recent service, the writer recounts how John MacArthur was apparently so certain of his viewpoint as expressed in the statement (and appearances on Fox News and … and … and …), that he doubled-down on it all in his sermon, but also took everything to a new height:
During Sunday’s sermon, MacArthur suggested that churches that close are not true churches. “There has never been a time when the world didn’t need the message of the true church,” he said. “I have to say, ‘true church.’ I hate to think of that, but there’s so many false forms of the church. Let them shut down.”
Now, let’s assume that he was right to make such an arrogant and isolationist statement about his fellow shepherds. We can even assume that he truly “hate[s] to think of that.” I’m sure that the GCC congregation believed him to be right. So what was their reaction?
The congregation laughed then cheered.
Really? If what MacArthur said is true, this means that thousands (millions?) have been blinded to the truth. For a Christian, this should generate (at the very least) concern, if not outright weeping. It has been said that when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, the word “wept” actually falls short for the English language — that it was more like a body-wracking heaving than just tears running down His face.
But, no. They “laughed then cheered.”
And let’s not assume that MacArthur disagreed with this reaction, but just didn’t say anything. He is no shrinking violet. Several years ago, I attended a conference where, in a Q&A session, one of the speakers made a joke that made everyone laugh. Two sessions later was the session in which MacArthur was to speak. He started his talk by rebuking the other speaker for telling — and chastising the audience for laughing at — what he deemed to be an inappropriate joke. (To be clear, it wasn’t salacious or anything like that. It was just a minor jab at a preacher who definitely didn’t fit the beliefs of anyone in that room. Think Osteen in a room full of neo-Calvinists.)
No, John MacArthur was perfectly fine with his flock’s response: We’re right; they’re wrong; three cheers for us. This suggests — nay, screams — that the whole thing isn’t a principled stand to follow Christ amidst genuine persecution, but simply a narcissistic drive to do whatever they want and (ab)use the Bible to justify it.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
*One view notes that the “civil disobedience” was not limited to gathering together — an eisegetical argument for which can be made from Scripture — but that masks and social distancing were also ignored (for which no “argument” except pragmatism can be made). This side also notes that the whole issue isn’t the folks attending, but the community with which they interact (or are simply around), many of whom don’t know Christ. This side also notes that the whole “Christ before Caesar” rationale is a false dichotomy, as other California churches have figured out how to properly serve the direction of both. This side also notes that MacArthur has, for over 50 years (until this summer), interpreted Romans 13 in one way, regardless of the scenario (he is even on record that he believes the American revolution to be in violation of this passage).
The other view’s rebuttal boils down to “Nuh uh!”