Pastor John MacArthur and the body of Christ at Grace Community Church have got a giant to slay.
After doing what should have been a simple, mundane act — that is, holding their regular Sunday worship services — the church and its leadership have been threatened with legal action by the city of Los Angeles, including possible arrest and a daily fine of $1000 targeting MacArthur himself.
Now, in the face of the unconstitutional, godless mandate by California authorities to indefinitely cease in-person worship of the living God, MacArthur and GCC leadership have picked up their five smooth stones.
A news release by the Thomas More Society announced today that MacArthur and GCC will be represented by nationally renowned attorneys Jenna Ellis, a seasoned constitutional law attorney and private counsel to President Trump; and Charles LiMandri, a religious freedom expert and special counsel for the Thomas More Society.
The law firm’s decision to secure such stunning legal firepower, however, does not indicate sinful rebellion by MacArthur or GCC in violation of scriptural commands to obey earthly authorities.
Earlier on in the pandemic, GCC expressed its willingness to temporarily suspend services.
While never once ceding to the government the right to dictate how, when or where the church may worship, MacArthur explained that “because we could not possibly have known the true severity of the virus, and because we care about people as our Lord did, we believe guarding public health against serious contagions is a rightful function of Christians as well as civil government.”
MacArthur and GCC’s willingness to love their neighbor in the face of a then-mysterious virus appears to have paid off tremendously.
Across the nation, the curve is effectively “flattened.” Case rates may rise, but the predictions of hospitals being overrun and millions of American deaths due to the virus have — praise God — not come to pass.
In spite of this apparent success in mitigating the pandemic, certain states have seen the goalposts endlessly shifted as governors grasp more unilateral, unconstitutional (read: illegal) emergency powers. Few states have realized this totalitarian horror quite so brazenly as California under Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“The State of California is using COVID-19 as a pretext to attempt to force churches to close indefinitely,” the Thomas More Society news release declared.
“This illegitimate, over-broad, and unconstitutional order to indefinitely cease assembling, and exercising their religion and sincerely held religious beliefs, forced Grace Community Church to defy the order and continue exercising their rights, seeking shelter in the guaranteed religious freedom protections of the United States and California constitutions.”
This is perhaps the single most consequential First Amendment case of our lifetime.
Now is not the time to be lukewarm. While every single shepherd will answer to God for how he has led his flock during this unprecedented age, few will be subject to the public scrutiny now endured by MacArthur, even from those professing Christ.
In the face of this wildly unconstitutional oppression, however, Christians must not cower and quake as the Israelite army did.
Persecution is a refining fire to the Church, and MacArthur now stands as a David of religious liberty before the government’s unscientific, unconstitutional Goliath where weaker shepherds would break.
Yet now, as in the beloved account in 1 Samuel, the battle belongs to the Lord. It is in his strength that MacArthur and those like him can find their courage.
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