The Gospel According to Jesus meets The Gospel According to Gavin.
Late last month, I covered the story of megachurch Pastor John McArthur’s decision to defy California’s orders against in-person worship.
At the time, the minister — author of several best-selling books, including The Gospel According to Jesus — released a statement citing a higher authority than the governor:
“[W]e cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.”
He also didn’t seem convinced of officials’ best intentions:
“History is full of painful reminders that government power is easily and frequently abused for evil purposes. Politicians may manipulate statistics and the media can cover up or camouflage inconvenient truths. So a discerning church cannot passively or automatically comply if the government orders a shutdown of congregational meetings—even if the reason given is a concern for public health and safety.”
And the preacher was at peace with persecution:
“As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, we must recognize that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church.”
In response, the house of worship is suing state and county officials.
In a complaint released Thursday, church attorneys claim the state and county are violating six different sections of the California State Constitution.
Furthermore, it put an exclamation point on the double standard with which religious organizations have been treated compared to protestors in the streets — making the government look like a joke.
John MacArthur: “Welcome to our ‘peaceful protest’”: pic.twitter.com/knjNkwZ5x6
— Phil Johnson (@Phil_Johnson_) August 9, 2020
[Americans] have witnessed how the onerous restrictions imposed on them by public officials to allegedly fight the COVID-19 pandemic simply do not apply to certain, favored groups. When many went to the streets to engage in “political protests” against “racism” and “police brutality,” these protestors refused to comply with the pandemic restrictions. Instead of enforcing the public health orders, public officials were all too eager to grant a de facto exception for these favored protestors. […]
Having irreparably damaged the confidence of Americans – and Californians especially – who now realize that the pandemic restrictions are neither necessary nor good, on Sunday, July 26, 2020, Grace Community Church decided to resume worship services—joining millions of Americans in deciding that enough is enough. With deaths from the ‘COVID-19 suicide pandemic’ exceeding those from the actual coronavirus pandemic, Grace Community Church decided that it would no longer sit by and watch its congregants and their children suffer from an absence of religious worship and instruction. Perhaps unsurprisingly – perhaps not – this led the County of Los Angeles to submit a demand letter to Grace Community Church, ordering it to comply with the restrictions that Los Angeles County deems unnecessary to enforce against so many others. Grace Community Church does not intend to comply.
Strong words, strong stance.
The pastor has more than a solid point. Since the beginning of COVID-19, there’s been abundant talk of not “politicizing the virus.” Yet, across America, major city and state governments have made concessions for certain groups while keeping a heavy thumb upon others.
That’s not going to engender goodwill.
Of course, John’s not the only one revolting. Per my article July 28th, despite the lockdown, Christian groups are gathering at California beaches for baptisms.
In Pastor MacArthur’s recent sermon, “Hope for Discouraged Saints,” he lamented, “It’s a very dire time, and it is compounded by the fact that we feel like we’re being persecuted because we’re being told we can’t meet.”
What’s more: Given California’s well-established disposition toward the virus, liberty, and faith, I’d say it’s not likely to let up any time soon.
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