Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, will reopen its door and continue holding in-person services despite a mandate from Governor Gavin Newsom preventing them from doing so.
Pastor John F. MacArthur, 81, said his religious and personal conviction is urging him to reopen so members of his congregation can worship together,
The Daily Wire reports that MacArthur explained in a lengthy blog post that God and the Bible are more authoritative than the governor’s office.
“Compliance [to the governor] would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands,” he wrote.
The pastor added: “When any one of the three institutions exceeds the bounds of its jurisdiction it is the duty of the other institutions to curtail that overreach.”
“History is full of painful reminders that government power is easily and frequently abused for evil purposes,” he wrote. “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.”
MacArthur then said the coronavirus and subsequent governmental restrictions “may be” a test from God “to reveal the true church.”
The Daily Wire reports:
The church’s move comes less than two weeks after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued another round of lockdown orders on July 13, after initially rolling back the ones from March. Thirty counties, or about 80% of the state’s population, were placed under the new order, which shuts down houses of worship as well as restaurants, bars, gyms, and other types of businesses.
In a few paragraphs appended to the original statement, MacArthur explained why his church at first obeyed the initial lockdown order, but have since changed their mind.
MacArthur, who is also an author and radio show host, discussed the limits of legitimate state authority in a 2018 interview with The Daily Wire’s Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro. “We also are commanded necessarily to dissent in our speech when the government is asking us to do something that is wrong, or that God is telling us to do one thing, they’re telling us to do something else,” MacArthur said at the time, adding:
An illustration in the New Testament: the apostles go out, they preach Christ, and the Jews arrest them and say stop. And so they said, ‘You judge whether we obey God or men.’ And they went right back out to preach Christ. Freedom of speech, for us, is freedom to preach the truth of Christ, even when the society says that’s against the law. And then, you don’t get an army. You go to jail. They went to jail, they took the consequences.
Read John MacArthur’s full blog here: Christ, not Caesar, Is Head of the Church