He’s sometimes affectionately called “Johnny Mac.”
But there’s nothing frivolous about 83-year-old Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. The man can be a low-key teacher or a tightly-aimed laser beam.
And his every word embodies gravitas. Ask California Governor Gavin Newsom.
On Thursday, MacArthur wrote Newsom an open letter accusing him of “gross blasphemy” and of reversing the scriptural duty of a civic leader “to reward those who do well and to punish evildoers.”
Critical of Newsom’s promotion of abortion, MacArthur ended his thousand-word letter with a call for the governor to repent of his sins and to receive Christ.
It’s a powerful letter. And, contrary to a lot of squeamishness some have on the issue, MacArthur demonstrates how the church is to relate to the state.
He takes aim not only at Newsom reporting California’s posting of pro-abortion billboards in seven states, but of using in the advertisements the sentences “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these,” quotations of Jesus.
“You further compounded the wickedness of that murderous campaign with a reprehensible act of gross blasphemy,” wrote MacArthur, “Quoting the very words of Jesus from Mark 12:31 as if you could somehow twist His meaning and arrogate His name in favor of butchering unborn infants.
“You used the name and the words of Christ to promote the credo of Molech (Leviticus 20:1–5). It would be hard to imagine a greater sacrilege,” MacArthur said, referring to ancient child sacrifices to the god Molech.
Regarding Newsom’s obligation to promote good and punish evil, “You have not only failed in that responsibility; you routinely turn it on its head, rewarding evildoers and punishing the righteous,” MacArthur said.
He told Newsom “many of your policies reflect this unholy, upside-down view of honor and morality.
“The diabolical effects of your worldview are evident in the statistics of California’s epidemics of crime, homelessness, sexual perversions (like homosexuality and transgenderism), and other malignant expressions of human misery that stem directly from corrupt public policy.”
But MacArthur said he was not writing to “contend with your politics, but rather to plead with you to hear and heed what the Word of God says to men in your position.”
He then quoted scriptures from the Psalms, Proverbs and 2 Samuel about how kings and rulers must bow before and fear God and must avoid wicked acts.
John MacArthur’s open letter to Governor Newsom:https://t.co/qFxl0MgUez
— Phil Johnson (@Phil_Johnson_) September 29, 2022
Regarding the words of Jesus on California’s pro-abortion billboards, MacArthur told Newsom that at the same time Jesus gave the command to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. “You cannot love God as He commands while aiding in the murder of his image-bearer.”
He told Newsom to consider the judgments of eternity: “My concern, Governor Newsom, is that your own soul lies in grave, eternal peril.”
Grace Community Church “and countless Christians nationwide” are praying for repentance on the part of the governor, MacArthur said, ending his letter to Newsom with a quote from 2 Corinthians 6:2: “now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Events surrounding COVID-related church closures and other social situations have prompted some Christians to review scriptural teachings regarding the relationship of the church to government.
MacArthur has squarely addressed the issue surrounding the oft-examined Romans 13 verses that call for submission to government. Careful reading in those passages shows the God-ordained purpose of government is, as MacArthur told Newsom, to enforce good and punish evil.
Grace Community Church has represented a test case for what Jesus described as the division between God and Caesar.
When the 2020 lockdowns began, Grace Community Church closed, although MacArthur remained in his pulpit preaching by video. The church doors remained open, and slowly members of the congregation began to drift back, to the point the building began to fill up again.
Government authorities ordered the church to close, but the position of MacArthur’s church was that the church, not government, should make that decision. While Grace Community Church initially felt caution was justified, their own research came to a different conclusion about the virus and they remained open, the church website stated.
While MacArthur has preached against churches being directly involved in politics, he has indicated that as citizens, Christians should be involved in government, as in other social issues.
His letter to Newsom shows he takes seriously one of the roles of the church: to be preaching righteousness to all, including those in government authority.
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