Fall From Grace: A Warning For Us All
John MacArthur has been been one of the greatest expository preachers of the past century, devoted to rightly dividing the Scriptures, prolific in authoring commentaries, works of theology, study materials, and more. He has successfully pastored Grace Community Church in California for years, developed a college and seminary, trained up evangelists, pastor-teachers, and missionaries who have served throughout the world, bringing the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world. Frankly, it would be a nearly impossible task to justly acknowledge the mighty works God has done through MacArthur. His study Bible, books, and other works have had an indelible influence on the spiritual lives of our Pastor and many, if not all of the members who attend Everlasting Life Baptist Church because they focus on increasing our knowledge and understanding of the richness and depth of our God through His inerrant Word.
Please do not be mistaken by my words here – like the rest of us, John MacArthur is, and always has been, a sinner – a fallible, wretched, and unworthy man, saved not by his own might, but by the precious love of God and the blood of His Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is, therefore, far from perfect, despite the tremendous gift that God bestowed upon him. MacArthur's devotion to God and commitment to proper exposition, along with his humble willingness to refine and correct himself at times, has made it easy for me to trust most often in his discernment and application of the Scriptures.
But something has changed. In some ways, it feels like it happened overnight, though that does not seem to be the case, as I reflect on the increasing number of times in recent years I have struggled to understand and agree with his application of the truth. I must be clear here – there has only been one time before recent events, one very recent time, that I was concerned he was bending the scriptures to fit his own purpose. Other times were easily explained away in my mind as unintentional misstatements or an innocent ignorance that often comes with our limited knowledge and ability to understand unfamiliar people, places, and circumstances. And let’s face it, though appearing full of vitality and energy, Dr. MacArthur is 82 years old – an occasional misstep would be more than understandable, given that few people half his age could keep up with him.
Unfortunately, however, MacArthur's behavior has reached a point where he has become a spiritual, and in some ways physical, danger to others, and the leadership of Grace Community Church appears unwilling or unable to come alongside their brother to address the matter. Therefore, it is with substantial sadness that I warn us to use great caution in consuming anything from Dr. MacArthur, his church - Grace Community Church, or his seminary – the Master's Seminary, which goes beyond teaching and materials concerning the interpretation and study of God and the Scriptures. I would avoid any such information from him or his ministries purporting to apply those truths to our world today, unless you are prepared to employ an active, critical, exacting mind to filter out the applications and conclusions and calls to action tainted by his focus on politics in the place of our God.
The difficulty with consuming anything from MacArthur at this point, however, is that, unlike many other pastors and teachers whose errors or misapplications or poor analogies we can easily discern and reject, MacArthur is much more effective in joining his deep theological knowledge to his current political world view subtly and persuasively. Add to this, the fact that many of us who have listened to him and read and used his materials over the years have a tendency to grant a benefit of doubt to his comments, rather than actively evaluate them in the manner of a Berean, potentially causing us to put our guards down and be more susceptible to his errors.
I recognize that my comments may be jarring. Indeed, I have struggled for several weeks myself with a growing compulsion to speak out regarding the ever-increasing realization that John MacArthur is now driven more by his politics, than a biblical world view and a commitment to Christ-likeness. I offer some key points that are illustrative of these concerns that have led me to this conclusion. Others are free, certainly, to disagree or find fault here, but I share not to condemn the man, but rather to caution the brethren.
Silence Speaks Volumes
John MacArthur has preached and written extensively regarding the importance of truthfulness and integrity in every man – after all, lying and other forms of dishonesty are condemned by God. MacArthur has condemned the lies and dishonesty of leaders as particularly offensive and destructive, expressing the following regarding, of all things, Presidential lies:
“… as a nation and certainly across the world, we have been overexposed to the extensive pattern of deception and lying engaged in by our President. Now to put it mildly, this is greatly disappointing to all of us who would have hoped that a man of character and a man of conviction and a man of integrity would have arisen to such a prominent and critical place of leadership. What we have come to find out, however, is that we have a man in the White House, who has for his life a habit in which he has engaged, and that habit is a habit of lying and deception and hypocrisy. Some of that evidence is known to all of us, and there is even other evidence that is known to some of us because of private conversations with people behind the scenes. Suffice it to say, everybody across the world now, to one degree or another, is aware that this is a leader who is a liar. The extent of the lying is amazingly widespread. The President, on a number of occasions, has denied ever encouraging anyone else to lie. And yet in seeking the aid of everybody close to him to help him carry out the deception, he has brought all the people who touch his life into the potential category of joining him in the lie. His wife has lied for him; his friends, his cabinet, his White House staff, loyalists; the media has lied for him; congressmen have lied for him; senators have lied for him. He has lied and deceived, and he has embroiled all kinds of people in lied and deception. When a ruler is given to lies, he will accumulate around him people who can tolerate lying. A corrupt leader draws around him corrupt people. Allow lies and you will be tolerated and surrounded by liars. It’s frightening to think about the possibility that the President might remain in office, and then to ask the question, what kind of people, given the knowledge of his deception and lies, would want to be a part of his staff.
Poignant words by MacArthur as we stand on the eve of an upcoming presidential election in which the incumbent has been documented to have told more than 20,000 lies since entering office. Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than the record of lying by the President, however, is the fact that you will be hard pressed to find MacArthur condemn the current President for his predilection to lie virtually every time he opens his mouth. You see, the words quoted above condemning the lies of a President were directed at President Bill Clinton, whom MacArthur rightly skewered for his ungodly behavior and attempted coverup of his conduct with Monica Lewinsky. Is there another rational explanation besides political preference for a lack of similar condemnation of the unprecedented lies of the current President, versus the former, given the clear nature of the offense and the biblical standard?
A similar hypocrisy seems apparent in the matter of same-sex marriage. In October of 2009, responding to a then-recent statement by Barrack Obama that there would be a time when the United States would recognize gay marriage to be as admirable as traditional marriage, MacArthur declared Obama a non-Christian seeking to replace God with his own sovereignty, stating that this was “one more indicator that the man is literally committed to overturning everything this country has ever believed in and ever been built to affirm and accomplish.” In short, President Obama has been the husband of one wife and supported gay marriage contrary to the biblical definition of marriage. Interestingly, Donald Trump considers the matter of gay marriage “settled,” has had three wives, several acknowledged affairs, and has bragged about and been widely accused of sexually assaulting a number of other women. In short, neither Obama, nor Trump seem committed to upholding the biblical definition of marriage, but their personal conduct in their own marriages could not be more different. I struggle again from a biblical perspective to find a rational explanation for a condemnation of one and not the other, setting aside the hyperbolic question of whether either of them has been intent on “overturning everything this country has ever believed in …”.
The point at which it became a concern to me that there was something more to this than MacArthur's occasional public inclination toward a certain political party, and rather that MacArthur was beginning to replace his commitment to God’s truth with a commitment to Republican politics, came with his sermon shortly before the 2016 Presidential election. The beginning of the sermon is a masterful recount of biblical truths regarding government and Christian responsibility. On applying those truths, however, he encouraged his congregation (and by extension, those listening) to vote to elect Donald Trump, not because of the man himself, but because, in MacArthur’s view, Republicans are more godly and the holder of the Office of President would have little ability, individually in his capacity as President, to alter much of anything. MacArthur’s views and understanding about the power of the Office of the President apparently evolved or diminished in the years after the Clinton presidency such that truthfulness from the most powerful leader in the world mattered less than having the “more godly” party controlling the government. As he put it, in casting his vote for Trump, and urging others to do so, he wasn’t voting for Trump, but rather for a “world view.”
In addition to the important issue of marriage mentioned above, another important aspect of that “world view” is anti-abortion. MacArthur has taught exhaustively and persuasively on God’s sovereign role in our conception, forming us even in the wombs of our mothers. All life is from God and is precious, beginning at conception and continuing physically until our death. Bear with me please as I explain my concern with MacArthur – I do not, in any sense, intend to diminish the importance of the protection for the unborn, but I do wish to have us consider the importance of “life” in the context of the born, in addition to the unborn.
First, I offer some numbers for a perspective on abortion in America today. Aside from Australia, North America and Europe reportedly have the lowest abortion rates worldwide (17 per 1000 women between age 15-49), less than half the rates of Asia, Africa, and South America. Abortion in the United States in 2017 was half the total performed in 1990, down from 1,629,000 to 851,000, including a reduction of nearly 550,000 procedures for white women and 206,000 for black women. Sadly, despite the reduction among black women, in a very recently realized phenomenon, abortions for black women now hover slightly above those of white women, even though the former represent a significantly smaller percentage of the overall population. When we consider that each number represents a life, these figures are tragically overwhelming and yet, the numbers have decreased significantly. In fact, in 2017, there were 53,000 fewer abortions than those performed in 1974, the year after the United States Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade. The decrease has been steady, seemingly untethered to the recent tightening of laws regarding access around the country, and largely unaffected by President Trump’s flooding of the federal judicial vacancies with pro-birth judges, including two to the Supreme Court (which recently upheld Roe again), and now potentially an unprecedented third.
The problem with MacArthur’s position on abortion is the one that so many visible and influential, primarily white, Christian leaders have made, and their congregants have followed – that the abortion issue is the exclusive litmus test by which every politician will be judged worthy or not of support, regardless of his or her position on any number of other issues directly impacting life. Pro birth is not the same as pro life. A label does not transform you into something you are not. Hence the dilemma – life is precious in the womb and out of the womb; respecting one stage of life for all, while showing indifference or worse for the other stage is not a biblical world view. As Tony Evans puts it, pro-life is from the womb to the tomb.
Scripture is replete with commands for Christian love and compassion in word and deed for all mankind as we live out God’s truth, including to love our enemies and pray for them, share Christ, and to live lives that exemplify Him, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ shining His light in a dark world. Who among us will ever have the opportunity to model to, or share Christ with, an unborn child? Silly question, obvious answer, right? In fact, the Bible indicates that the unborn who die are heaven-bound. But who among us will NOT have the opportunity to model and share Christ among and with those who make it beyond the womb? We each have that opportunity daily. Are we not then at odds with ourselves, and our commitment to Christ, when we simultaneously support politicians, laws, and policies concerned exclusively or nearly exclusively with the pre-birth aspect of the sanctity of human life?
The United States leads all countries in terms of immigrant children in detention. In 2019 alone, we detained 70,000 children, the overwhelming numbers of which were fleeing for their lives. It has recently been reported that 545 children are now orphaned by this policy because our government could not, or would not, keep track of the parents whose children they took. It is reported that 100,000 Americans are shot by guns each year and 36,000 die, topped only by Brazil worldwide. The United States has more than 2.1 million people in prison, the largest total and per capital figure in the world. Nearly 28 million Americans have no health insurance. Tax and social policy has shifted away from support and services for individuals and families in need, though there have been massive tax cuts for the most financially-fortunate, and huge government subsidies to prop up various corporate segments of the economy.
This is not a political statement, nor an indication of support for particular systems – simply an observation of the blatant hypocrisy inherent in the use of a “pro-life” litmus test for political decisions with no interest in or accounting for the treatment of our fellow man who make it beyond the womb. Politicians and religious leaders who are either like minded politically, shallow biblically, or both have over many years appropriated the entirety of the Christian faith to prop up a particular political party and candidates under the guise of being “pro-life” and, therefore, pro-Christian, regardless of their position on other issues. Jesus was not a Republican or a Democrat and neither party aligns entirely with the Christian faith. Determining which vote to cast that will most honor our God and Savior can, therefore, be very difficult. But allowing ourselves to be a one-issue constituency, disregarding the consideration of all else, is not an accurate reflection of the God we serve – it allows the political system to define us, as opposed to our walk defining us. And it is damaging to our witness to a lost world that sees professing Christians sold out to and dependent upon political expediency, as opposed to the God of the Universe.
Perceiving a growing hypocrisy in the application of the truth to political leaders – for instance, with regard to honesty and integrity, the importance of marriage, and the sanctity of life - I became concerned that MacArthur’s political proclivities were hindering at best, or driving at worst, his preaching and shepherding. Upon closer examination, statements I heard from MacArthur here and there in recent years that raised my eyebrows as less about the word of God and more about MacArthur's politics, have, in actuality, become an ever-increasing full-throated shift to a political agenda in place of a biblical one. There was a time before, when MacArthur’s focus was on saving souls and preaching the truth, applying Gods principles equally among fallen men regardless of their politics, even if his politics shown through occasionally (as all of ours do from time to time). Unfortunately, the hypocrisy has become manifest in MacArthur the way of so many other Christian leaders who have fully endorsed the appropriation of Christianity by politicians and the rhetoric of patriotism, all of which has combined itself into an idolatrous cult of “cultural Christian” Nationalism. – to be Christian in their view is to be Republican, regardless of the candidate or particular issue, and no “real” Christian could ever vote as, or for, a Democrat. What a terrible distraction from our Lord and our God!
MacArthur’s Credibility Succumbs to COVID-19
If there were any doubt before, recent days have shown the painful demise and compromise of the integrity of MacArthur - a tragic freefall of a once great champion of Christ. Specifically, the growing self-aggrandizement, disdain for life, and racial rhetoric have been no more evident than in what God has lain bare for us to witness through this COVID-19 pandemic.
Americans are living mostly in two separate worlds, with their understanding of “reality” shaped by the choices they have made in their news and social media consumption. Choices have been a great tool of the devil (and foreign countries) as they have afforded us the ability to select the sights and sounds that interest us, that inflame our passions, that amplify our opinions, or shape them based upon our proclivities. It has been sad to see how easily we are willing to turn off our brains, soak in what sounds good, and be carried away on the most bizarre conspiracy theories and rhetoric to the point that we no longer have a real grip on reality and are easily manipulated into the most reprehensible behavior towards others. It has been strange and upsetting to see the strength of the grip on people who once thought and reasoned and spoke for themselves who can no longer do more than operate within the language construct of the particular news cult that controls them. Simply put, money rules so clicks matter. As a result, headlines are constructed to be tantalizing and stories salacious. Narratives are structured as us versus them, depicting an ongoing premise of good versus evil, based not on truth, but on preferences and fears, targeting and cultivating the worst in our thoughts and behavior toward our fellow man, and a blind loyalty that supports “winning” by any means necessary.
It is against that backdrop that we found ourselves, along with the rest of the world, challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic in ways we could not imagine, including challenges to our ability to meet and worship together in person in the way in which we are accustomed. In the beginning, as it became clear that practical and governmental health mandates would interrupt our usual worship routine, MacArthur took a mature biblical view, shepherding his flock towards prayer, compassion, patience, the sovereignty of God in all things, and maintaining our mission to share Christ with others. It did not take long, however, for his countenance to change and what became clear was that he had either begun to fully-embrace right wing rhetoric as a result of his political views, or had become weak-minded, no longer able to discern fact from fiction.
You can see the transition through the weekly updates MacArthur broadcast as the shutdown began and continued. Within a few weeks he began to describe COVID-19 as the “deadly virus” as the “media” refers to it – as if the virus is not deadly, but rather characterized or mischaracterized that way by the “media.” He began to speak openly about being weary and impatient about the inability to meet as usual, noting that the general public is growing impatient as well, as if a mostly non-believing public growing impatient makes a persuasive case for ending a health mandate designed to protect people.
He then went on a rant regarding hydroxychloroquine about the same time that scientists around the world and in the United States began to caution against its use as an effective treatment for the virus. Specifically, MacArthur railed that we had been lied to about the virus and treatment - hydroxychloroquine, in particular. According to him, India at the time had very few cases and fewer deaths, though much more highly-populated than the U.S., because its citizens had consumed the drug for years as an anti-malaria drug and had built up an immunity protecting them against COVID-19. Of course, a few weeks later, COVID-19 cases in India ran rampant, debunking the argument. In fact, though the pandemic was slow to spread in India initially, it took off in June and now India has had over 6.2 million documented cases and nearly 100,000 deaths in the last four months.
As his frustration grew, MacArthur shifted from a focus on God’s sovereignty in this time of COVID-19 and a persevering faith in His work and His timing in times of trouble, to openly questioning the existence of a pandemic at all, and the perceived persecution of himself and his flock. The shift was, again, jarring, particularly with regard to his accompanying behavior.
For instance, MacArthur has for several weeks now argued that there is no real pandemic, no real danger to the public, or to his church congregation, numbered in the thousands and meeting elbow to elbow, unmasked. To support this, he suggests that 99.98% of Californians will not die from the virus if you consider the number of Californians who have died, compared with the state’s population. This masterful slight of hand involved a calculation of the entire state’s population numbers of about 40 million and COVID-19 deaths at the time of 9,000. Aside from ignoring the evidence of the dangers associated with COVID-19 around the world and in places like New York, he conveniently ignored the fact that Los Angeles County – where his church is located – accounted for more than half of those California deaths.
More troubling were his audacious statements on FOX News that he was aware of no member of his church of more than 6,000 people who had been ill with COVID-19, and the eleven or twelve “other” people he was familiar with who had it, experienced minor temporary symptoms. What he failed to mention was that a pastor attending his annual Shepherd’s Conference earlier in the year had died from COVID-19 shortly after returning home. MacArthur’s right hand man, Phil Johnson, had reported this at the time and the message was quickly removed, the explanation being that there was uncertainty about the cause of death and a desire to respect the family. Shortly thereafter, the family confirmed that the pastor had, in fact, died from COVID-19.
At the point that MacArthur determined his congregation would no longer adhere to local government health mandates, he published his reasoning, intertwined with a somewhat revised application of Romans 13 to the circumstances, mixed with a handful of irresponsible, if not outright erroneous, analogies to stir up emotion and support. (For what it is worth, I've written a previous blog regarding Romans 13 and the pandemic mandates we are experiencing.) Without the application of independent thought, the piece would be persuasive, but upon close examination, it was everything MacArthur had stood against for decades in his commitment to expository preaching.
Specifically, MacArthur argued that the COVID-19 health mandates exceeded secular government’s authority, intruding into and violating the jurisdiction of the church, declaring that “Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.” He argued that this is a biblical mandate – NOT an argument based in a First Amendment right to worship freely – because the Bible stands above the Constitution in authority. MacArthur went on to make sweeping accusations against other pastors for abdicating their responsibility to God to the degree they have led their congregations in a direction different from MacArthur on local health mandates.
Much of MacArthur’s analysis is biblical and appropriate when applied to facts that warrant it. The problem (and the real danger of a biblical scholar unwilling or unable to see and articulate facts objectively, as opposed to through his own political views), is MacArthur’s portrayal of his own circumstances. MacArthur’s biblical argument is based upon the false premise that government has indefinitely forbidden/prohibited the worship of God as part of the health mandates. If such were the case, perhaps he would have a point. But in an irony of ironies, MacArthur cries wolf, embracing and employing the reasoning of society’s downtrodden he has so reviled and opposed in recent years - the victim/oppression mentality. (More on this later.)
He equates his church’s challenge with the temporary health mandates to underground churches in foreign countries that outlaw Christianity. Consider the audacity of comparing people meeting and worshiping God under threat of execution with the inconveniences MacArthur and his church have endured during the pandemic. He rails against the “persecution,” referring to and recounting a long history of government restrictions on churches. He calls pastors and churches to rise up, join him and, elsewhere, to embrace their role as the original protesters (being “Protestants”) to fight systematic church oppression.
Under the health mandates, however, the worship of God is not prohibited, large church gatherings are not singled out among other large gatherings, and the restrictions are not permanent. Is ministry altered – yes. Is it more difficult to maintain cohesiveness as a church body – yes. Are some churches able to adapt better than others or more or less impacted due to their size or giving – yes. We will each have to answer for our effort and willingness to adapt to maintain our commitment and service to Christ during this period, and the church’s response to the pandemic is a witness to the world – are we faithless, delicate, self-centered, hypocritical, spoiled brats, or do we speak and act with the power and authority of the creator and savior of the world, loving our God with all our being, and our neighbors as ourselves, enduring with patience the current challenges?
It is interesting to note that, while MacArthur’s statement regarding his church’s return to worship in violation of the health mandate indicates that Grace’s church elders are in full support of it, there is a separate addendum from the elders providing their own explanation for supporting the return to worship. While similarly poor in its reasoning, the elders’ statement has a very different tone overall, taking a more practical approach to the need and desire to resume services. Specifically, the elders explained that they voluntarily adhered to the original mandate as consistent with public health concerns and as a compassionate response by the church. But after twenty weeks, lots of canceled activities, a need to commune corporately with church members in distress, and uncertainty regarding the length of the continuation of the restrictions, the elders were choosing to no longer adhere to them. In short it seems, the elders had grown weary of, and impatient with, the mandate and its interruption of their church plans, so they were joining MacArthur in supporting the resumption of in-person services. But perhaps the most telling statement by the elders in support of their position is the following, from which all of the foregoing reasoning flowed: “It is apparent that those original projections of death were wrong and the virus is nowhere near as dangerous as originally feared.” What a tragic and inexplicably callous statement in the face of the many deaths – now numbering more than 200,000 in this country alone and, as we speak, a spread of the COVID-19 virus among the very congregates at Grace who have followed the lead of their shepherd.
Upon return to service, this church of 7,000 or so members did not enforce or, apparently, even encourage the use of masks or social distancing. Perhaps telling of the congregation’s adoption of MacArthur’s defiant attitude was the fact that MacArthur took to his website to urge church members not to mistreat other members who chose to wear a mask and assured those who were concerned with the need to wear a mask they would be permitted to do so. MacArthur took to the airwaves, publicly declaring his intentions to violate the mandate, antagonizing public officials to take action. He compared himself to the persecuted and imprisoned Paul, he repeated the description of Christians as the original peaceful protesters, and, he shifted his argument and began to rely on the First Amendment as the basis of his right to defy the mandate.
At the initial service in violation of the mandate, MacArthur welcomed the thousands of attendees to a “peaceful protest” and then pulled off the ultimate “privileged” move of having the Los Angeles Police Department’s Chaplain attend and deliver the service’s opening prayer. Over the weeks that followed, litigation ensued to enforce the health restrictions in the least intrusive manner possible. MacArthur and his legal team, with ties to the Trump Administration, continued the victim of persecution theme, declaring a couple of procedural maneuvers as significant court victories of good over evil. In particular, they argued that the church is being treated unfairly compared with other protest groups like the Black Lives Matter movement.
Forgive me for a moment as I detour here. That MacArthur has lost his shepherding compass and taken up a political agenda in its stead is evident in his blatant hypocrisy in which he maintains a not so subtle and growing contempt for social injustice, while utilizing the same construct to "protest" the alleged injustices against him and his church. He has increasingly and effectively become critical and dismissive of the concerns and related efforts of racial minorities regarding institutional structures that often treat certain people unfairly. MacArthur rejects critical race theory and the existence of systematic racism outright, suggesting that social justice is premised upon an evil foreign political construct that denies God. According to MacArthur, social justice advocates desire to punish people for acts they did not partake in, take power and property from anyone who has such, giving it to those who have not, and creating an absolute uniform society that blunts the creativity and ingenuity that God has granted man. A chief example of the evil of social justice according to MacArthur is the tearing down and removal of statues of historical figures – beautiful and glorious artworks representative of God’s amazing self in the workmanship of the artists. Really? Statues erected of often tyrannical figures for man to pay homage to must exist and remain to reflect God within our midst as a society?
To the point, Germany maintains the relics of its concentration camps as a reminder of the atrocities committed in hopes that they not be repeated. Germany does not permit statues of Hitler or other infamous Nazi leaders. Ironically, Hitler’s inspiration for the swastika and the concentration camps came from his study of how early America dealt with its “Indian problem” – and primarily President Trump’s hero, Andrew Jackson, for whom countless works of art and statues have been erected and displayed. What MacArthur decries as the action of godless people may just as easily be viewed as an effort to bring to an end the glorification and idol worship of a genocidal tyrant. Likewise, the denial of historical and systematic realities in America that offer privilege and advantage to some and not to others is a level of ignorance or dishonesty that proves the existence of the privilege, itself, for who could deny such realities without consequence but one who enjoys the privilege. Christian denial of this reality marks the continued separation of the saints on Sunday mornings and rejects a tremendous opportunity for the church to lead in racial reconciliation.
Another key point of MacArthur’s opposition of today’s efforts towards addressing inequality is his characterization of participants and their movements with a broad brush as lawless or immoral people who desire to blame history, and institutions, and other people for their problems, mischaracterizing themselves as victims of injustice. His teaching of late on the issues of racial strife is pathetic: He correctly points out in short order that God forbids partiality on our parts and then proceeds at great length to tear down the people and efforts fighting against unjust partiality. MacArthur has whole-heartedly embraced the dog whistle theme of white supremacists harkening back to the racist "states' rights" and Klu Klux Klan heyday in the South – “law and order.” Probably the most outrageous about his “law and order” coding is the fact that, as he has highlighted over the years, he spent time in the South during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, so he has a clear understanding of the meaning and offensiveness of that term to people of color. And let us not forget that this is all occurring in the midst of MacArthur’s open violation of the law with high profile involvement of law enforcement officials as he decries what he describes as the unjust victimization of himself and his congregation, which he notes is a lengthy history of systematic persecution. Sound familiar? This hypocrisy does not honor God and does great harm to the gospel of Christ as he aligns himself and his church along a specific political front, as opposed to consistency with the Bible.
Back to the main topic, if you will. As MacArthur became a conservative media hound and celebrity for his stance against the health mandate, President Trump took interest and urged him on. In turn, MacArthur explained that he shared with the President that, from a biblical standpoint, Christians CANNOT vote democratic because there is no way a Christian can affirm “gross immorality,” and any “real, true believer is gonna be on your side in this election …”. Yes, the once prolific and profound expositor of God’s word and gospel messenger told a serial liar, adulterer, fraudster, and chief provocateur of racial strife who is obviously unregenerate that “real” Christians support him and no “real” Christian could vote for the other party. That MacArthur has chosen to place his own definition on, rank, and then prioritize the “gross immoralities” in which the political parties are aligned is an indication that MacArthur has lost his discernment and changed his priorities. And if there were any doubt, where MacArthur described former President Obama as intending “to destroy everything this country was built on,” he has the following views with regard to the current President:
“You’ve never seen any Congress or Senate attempt to do to a President what this one continues to attempt to do to Trump without any evidence, and where they don’t have any evidence, they invent false evidence, coming out of the very systems that are supposed to protect justice.”
No objective person, regardless of their views of either, having paid any attention to the last two Presidents could reasonably conclude the foregoing. Or shall I put it this way: can you imagine President Obama doing any number of things that President Trump has done and the consequences be the same? And I can’t imagine a greater indication of MacArthur’s political idolatry than for him to suggest to President Trump, whose walk indicates he is a lost man, that anyone not supportive of him is condemned to hell, thereby suggesting to Trump that God is wholly on his side, reaffirming his publicly stated position that he does not need personally to ask God for forgiveness.
For Christians, politics are not, and should never be, easy. Men are sinners. Political parties offer a mixture of moral and immoral platforms. We must remember to whom we belong and owe our lives. We must remember where our citizenship resides. We must remember our calling as ambassadors for Christ. We must not permit the trappings of the country’s political system distract or separate us from our foremost responsibility. We must stand for what is biblical on all accounts, which will put us at odds at times with either or both political parties. And let us consider the hard lesson in the tragic demise of John MacArthur’s testimony, having been swept away by his worldly political passions to the point of compromising and rationalizing his hypocritical views and actions. Let us prayer for God’s deliverance of MacArthur from his current blindness, and that he may be restored and lead back those he has led astray. And if that not be God’s will, let us pray that he blunt the actions of MacArthur and his followers that would further corrupt, misinform, lead astray, and divide. And above all, let us examine ourselves and seek God’s face with regard to our own discernment, attitudes, and behavior, that we might glorify and not dishonor our God and Savior.
*MacArthur is expected in court in November to face contempt proceedings for his and his congregation's open violation of the health mandates and a prior court order enjoining him from engaging in such violations. As reports of an outbreak among members of the congregation have unfolded, church leaders announced MacArthur would be taking a break from his ministry activities to refresh.
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