Rev. Mark H. Creech
In an egregious ruling by the L.A. Superior Court, Grace Community Church, where John MacArthur pastors, is now prohibited from “conducting, participating in, or attending any indoor worship services” during the pandemic.
MacArthur issued the following statement: “In an inexplicable ruling, the judge said the ‘scale tipped in favor of the county’ [Los Angeles County], 1/100th of 1% of Californians with a virus apparently wins over the U.S. Constitution and religious freedom for all? That is not what our founders said. Nor is it what God says, who gave us our rights that our government – including the judicial branch – is supposed to protect. The scale should always tip in favor of liberty, especially for churches.”
The incomparable author and pastor is entirely right. He is to be commended and applauded.
But there is an irony here too obvious to dismiss. Pastor John MacArthur is the same man who wrote the book, Why Government Can’t Save You. In that publication, MacArthur contends that Christians should refrain from political activism. He said that Christians shouldn’t declare war on our culture and that their task is to obey the government, whatever it tells them to do.
It appears MacArthur has been forced into a different mindset. He is fighting for the life of his church fellowship. He’s plunged headlong into politics to protect religious liberty, and rightly so.
Consider what the lack of political engagement by Christians through the years, especially Christian clergy, has produced in our republic. It has created a vacuum of righteous influence, which has sucked us into a black hole of moral anarchy and government despotism. Today the state has interjected itself into the very sanctuary of God, literally or figuratively, and is telling Christians they can’t freely worship or obey Him.
Although I hold MacArthur in the highest esteem and do not consider myself worthy to shine his shoes as a fellow theologian, it’s been a source of never-ending consternation for me when pastors have either encouraged or practiced neutrality in desperate times. Our country has been experiencing the tremors of political, social, and ethical earthquakes for quite a while. Yet too many preachers never sounded the alarm. Instead, they remained silent, neutral, and neglected to take a bold stand for righteousness' sake either in their pulpits or the public square. Countless have been their excuses and most spurious their arguments for not doing so. The outcome has been profoundly negative for the country and the church.
A tale, which appears in Aesop’s fables and Native American lore, has a warning for religious leaders who seek to play it safe when there’s a war going on for the soul of our nation. Here’s how the story reads in William J. Bennett’s The Moral Compass:
Pastors who remain dispassionate and indecisive in these perilous times, those who fail to stand on the Lord’s side resolutely, will be as Bat, destined for the black night and caves of irrelevance. They will be the “salt” that Jesus said had lost its savor and become good for nothing but to be trodden under the feet of men (Matt. 5:13).
MacArthur is now standing quite like never before. And so should every preacher stand along with him. Pastor, stand up or shut up. Get in the fight or get out of the way. This is no time for neutrality!© Rev. Mark H. Creech
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