John MacArthur's church has multiple COVID cases, staff pressured to keep silent: report

"L.A. County requires places of worship to report to the Public Health Department when there are at least three COVID-19 cases within a span of two weeks, after which the agency determines whether there is an outbreak. GCC did not respond to a request for comment by press time." - C.Post

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Jonathan Charles's picture

I thought Julie Roys specialized in exposing evangelical scandals that needed to see the light of day so evangelicalism reform itself.  What does this piece of news have to do with that?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't know who Roys is, but I don't think specializing in A means you can't know anything about B. 

In this case, if she's an evangelical misdeeds whistleblower, it makes sense. JMac and GCC decided to make a very conspicuous public display of the nobility of their COVID health order defiance. By doing so, they made anybody getting sick with COVID there news, especially if it's widespread and being covered up.

Or the whole thing could be bogus.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Jonathan Charles wrote:

I thought Julie Roys specialized in exposing evangelical scandals that needed to see the light of day so evangelicalism reform itself.  What does this piece of news have to do with that?

If indeed staffers at GCC are hiding the reality of COVID to keep the doors open, and are thus endangering their older members, wouldn't that be a scandal?  Seems right up her alley.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Wayne Wilson's picture

It must be very hard, when you have said it's the flu, and it is not that dangerous, and you don't need any preventative safety measures because people are free to come or not, and you have become a hero to many and are loudly applauded whenever you talk about it in church, and you declare publicly you are standing alone as your friends have abandoned you --- to stop and say, "Well, this is worse than we thought." That would take great courage and humility. 

WallyMorris's picture

Important to remember: The virus is dangerous for some people and presents a genuine risk to certain people. However, that does not mean the gov't is right in every regulation it implements. Just as churches have a moral duty to protect people's health, churches also have a moral duty to resist and oppose gov't requirements which they believe are wrong. I find it interesting that Christians who are so quick to use "Christian liberty" as the justification for so many choices, those same Christians are quick to criticize Christians who oppose some of the gov't requirements concerning the virus.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

T Howard's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
I find it interesting that Christians who are so quick to use "Christian liberty" as the justification for so many choices, those same Christians are quick to criticize Christians who oppose some of the gov't requirements concerning the virus.

That's because you're comparing two situations which are not similar. The typical Christian liberty issue doesn't involve a question of disobeying / defying government authority in the exercise of said Christian liberty (e.g. drinking alcohol, smoking cigars, etc.).

josh p's picture

I hope this isn’t true. If it is, I don’t understand not admitting to the Covid cases in the church. Once you stake out a position of ignoring the government on an issue, you should just own it. If you think you have the moral high ground, preach it from the rooftops.

Bert Perry's picture

My wife and I were discussing this today--COVID is going through our house, thankfully so far without huge effects.  At least four of the seven people here have had it, as evidence by virus tests, loss of sense of smell, and the like.  

What we've seen regarding the virus is that in MN, everything was shut down at a time when almost all of the fatal cases were occurring in nursing homes, and most people simply do not understand why their lives had to hit the pause button when it was the nursing homes where people were dying--and the leaders were sending sick patients back there with horrific results.

Shift that to churches, and it's simply that people are fatigued of the shutdowns, and refusing to tell authorities about COVID cases is one way to show a passive aggressive response.  It's not something to brag about, but that's the psychology of what's going on to a degree.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

WallyMorris's picture

Just because 2 situations are not similar does not mean that, to some extent, the "Christian liberty defense" can't be used. Perhaps you are confusing Principle and Application. Part of the Christian liberty argument is that, where the Bible is vague in some applications, we have the "Christian liberty" to apply Biblical principles differently. Seems that's exactly what some in the debate about the virus, gov't regulations, 1st Amendment guarantees, and Biblical teaching/commands about worship are saying.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

dgszweda's picture

The church continues to obfiscate the issue by focusing on the fact that 99.8% of the people survive COVID.  The issue has never been the death rate, even though COVID is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US for most age groups and the 2nd leading cause of death for some age groups, despite only being in the US in March.  With that said, the issue is the overcrowding of hospitals and stress on the medical system.

https://laist.com/latest/post/20201217/icu-capacity-runs-out-socal-coron...

The issue is that as COVID spikes and consumes medical resources, doctors and beds, that this now cascades to other conditions as individuals are not able to get appropriate medical treatment for their condition.  LA is currently out of control right now.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's true that where Scripture is ambiguous, believers must make up their own minds... and then there are the ambiguities of application.

But a question that is "a matter of liberty" is not a question that is unimportant or beyond criticism.

In this case, whether to defy the powers that be in light of Romans 13 is certainly not trivial, liberty or not.

I would argue that there is no ambiguity in the text and rarely any real ambiguity in application either. But even if there was, that doesn't make it off limits to criticism, especially when you post a petition and encourage other churches to join you in your defiance, as GCC did. (It's still there, too https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1988 )

In their defense, a person wasn't dying of COVID every ten minutes in LA County at the time, as I hear they are now. Still, is defiance of efforts to protect everyone's lives (whether those efforts are 'consistent' and effective or not) really what a church wants to be known for in its community? ... seems unwise and wrong.

Edit: The restrictions have been lifted as of last week some time. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-21/church-ban-county-st...

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

in criticizing what other churches do? Are you their master?

Focus on yourself. Jesus is their Lord, not you.

Move on.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mark_Smith wrote:

in criticizing what other churches do? Are you their master?

Focus on yourself. Jesus is their Lord, not you.

Move on.

JMac and GCC decided to go on a public "church defiance of COVID health orders" crusade. Representatives spoke on national news outlets. They posted a petition. They made it everybody's business. 

Stand with us in support of the biblical mandate to gather for corporate worship. SIGN NOW

....

Our prayer is that every faithful congregation will stand with us in obedience to our Lord as Christians have done through the centuries.

They presented themselves as a national model of heroic faithful defiance.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

in criticizing what other churches do? Are you their master?

Focus on yourself. Jesus is their Lord, not you.

Move on.

Mark, a great portion of the epistles of the New Testament consists of the apostles' rebukes of churches.  Were they in the wrong to do so?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

The NT has apostles rebuking churches.

Something tells me you aren't an apostle...

Second, before you fire off a critique of another church, make sure your motivations are pure. Make sure you are doing so for the sake of the Church as a whole, and not to fire another volley in some battle. I suspect a good portion of the criticism of MacArthur is rooted in, shall we say, "less than" pure motivation.

Just because someone says they speak for everyone, and set the example, doesn't mean you have to fire back at them.

I sense a lot of antagonism towards MacArthur by lots of people. Has he earned a lot of that? Perhaps. But still it is there. I seem to remember something like make sure the beams in your eye are taken care of before you fire away at the small things in other's eyes.

 

Joeb's picture

Mark and Bert have good points.  There is a whole lot of Churches pulling the MacArthur move and some the Pastors leading charge are now dead from Covid 19.  So from the stand point of Mark's statement there is whole lot of other congregations doing the same and even have had come catch Covid parties so what's new.  

The only thing I don't like is if they are giving it to innocents by ignoring the Government rules.  From that point I'm with Bert.  It's hard to say.  Julie Roys has been following this issue for a while.

My only real issue is Pastors downplaying it in support of Donald Trump. Then doing it for that motivation is really wrong.  The young people after all the above nonsense and the on going Me To and Church To issues and people not getting fired for it are driving people away from Christ.  The Evangelical Trump Church is a joke with everything.  
 

Now my plug for BJU.  The way things are going with the Corruption at the Christian Colleges and Universities BJU is going to have the only honest Christian Educational Institution game in town.  President Petitt deserves a cigar and much more.  Between White Falwell Jr  Ryken Moody's Presindent and others they are making Pettit look  like Einstein and Babe Ruth all wrapped into one package.  No Covid Baloney No more Scandals and no extremely tarnished Administrators in key positions who should be fired. Keep up the good work out their pretty soon BJU will be picking and choosing who they want as Students. My how the worm turns. 
 

 

Bert Perry's picture

My take is that the prophets, apostles, and such are in great part there for our example.  Hence the notion that we're somehow out of line to follow the example of apostles because we're not apostles ourselves is nonsense.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

 

Apostles were there for

They were there for authoritative revelation to the church through direct revelation from God. If you have direct revelation from God, don't follow their example. Just be an apostle. If you don't have direct revelation from God, then use their direct revelation.

To the direct point, I don't recall any place in Scripture where apostles rebuke the church for meeting. Can you think of one?

Bert Perry's picture

....there are any number of places, Larry, where we can not find direct apostolic example, but where I would nonetheless feel very comfortable piping up and saying "knock it off" when a church leader is dragging the name of Christ through the mud.

And really, that's the example one sees in fundamentalism.  Sometimes it's been done beautifully, and sometimes it's been done horrendously, but we fundamentalists have always seen at various points a need to "butt in" and warn an erring church leader that what they're doing has the side effect of making it very hard to minister to people.  

Regarding MacArthur specifically, the reason I pipe up is that I care enough about him and those who share his views to let them know that if things are as represented--and Jim's presented a hint above that they may not be--that their neighbors are not exactly going to be impressed with how we care for the sick.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

But I would say that's not following the apostolic example. It is obeying the apostolic revelation, which I suppose might be a thin slice of sorts, but an important one. We can pipe up and say knock it off, but that has to be based on revelation, not our personal intuition or desires.

In this particular case, the NT weight is on the side of the churches who meet in spite of governing authorities' commands to not meet. So if we are going to follow the apostolic example, we must obey God rather than man.

Bert Perry's picture

....precisely what is Biblically debatable when a church's actions are knowingly going to get people hurt or killed by COVID, Larry?  Is there, perchance, a Biblically permissible level of injury that one can knowingly inflict on one's neighbors before God is displeased?  Did all those bits of case law in the Torah about precisely that sort of thing disappear from my Bible when I wasn't looking?  If we become aware of a problem, does Scripture really tell us to cover it up?

To be sure, Louis Pasteur's germ theory of disease wasn't available in Moses' or even Jesus' day, and to be sure, Acts does not record the church's response to any epidemic.  That noted, the response of the Apostles to various cases of misbehavior is pretty clear:  "Knock it off.  You're embarrassing the cause of Christ." 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

....precisely what is Biblically debatable when a church's actions are knowingly going to get people hurt or killed by COVID, Larry?  Is there, perchance, a Biblically permissible level of injury that one can knowingly inflict on one's neighbors before God is displeased?  Did all those bits of case law in the Torah about precisely that sort of thing disappear from my Bible when I wasn't looking?  If we become aware of a problem, does Scripture really tell us to cover it up?

I think you are having a conversation I am not having. I am talking about the authority issue of whether a church should obey God or man. 

I have long said that churches should have stopped meeting at least for a while. We have learned a lot and we know that meeting together is not necessarily exposing anyone to danger or illness. Most people do fine with common sense practices. I don't know what part of the Torah you are referring to but typically in the Torah, you quarantine sick people, not healthy ones. The whole community wasn't told to stay home because someone had leprousy, at least that I can recall. 

I agree we should not embarrass the cause of Christ. That may require a church to meet.