John MacArthur Calls out Ministry for Criticizing Him During COVID Lockdowns: ‘What are you Talking About? We Fight EVERY Battle’

During yesterday’s Q&A Chapel service, John MacArthur addressed the question of courage in the face of adversarial circumstances. He utilized the COVID church lockdowns and talked about the flack and pushback he received from 9Marks ministry. He referred to a July 2020 article by Jonathan Leeman, who cautioned churches not to follow Grace Community Church’s footsteps of insisting that churches remain open. 

Specifically, he called out the advice that the Church should not push back so hard and save their ammunition for bigger battles, with MacArthur retorting that every instance that attacks the church is worth going to the mat for.

I was saying to somebody the other day who said ‘you’re courageous, you fight these battles’ and I said, well, that’s not what it is. It’s not about courage. When when we stayed open (during) COVID, some of the guys at 9Marks wrote an article criticizing me, criticizing Grace Church. They said you know, you’re wasting your ammunition on a minor detail. Why are you fighting this battle? This COVID battle, lockdown, close the church battle. Why don’t you wait for a bigger battle like homosexuality or something?

And my response was ‘What are you talking about? We fight EVERY battle.’ It doesn’t matter what it is. Anything that attacks the church we rise up to defend her. This isn’t about evaluating the attack and trying to figure out whether it’s a three or a six, or an eight, then decide what you’re going to do about it. This is about FIDELITY.

And sometimes what might appear to be a kind of a one on a scale of 1 to 10 is still an assault on the church and on the truth. So it isn’t that we all of a sudden become courageous when we face some kind of large scale attack, it’s that we just keep doing exactly what we’ve done all along, no matter what comes and what goes.

It’s, you know, being a steward and being faithful. So I think the defining reality of my ministry, and it should be, it is of course the mandate for all of you as well, and everybody else. The defining reality is how do you handle the word of God in your teaching and preaching and living?

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20 thoughts on “John MacArthur Calls out Ministry for Criticizing Him During COVID Lockdowns: ‘What are you Talking About? We Fight EVERY Battle’

  1. A pastor with unflinching courage – how I wish we had more like John MacArthur and Voddie Baucham.

    1. Amen to that, RoP. One million thumbs UP! John & Voddie are the top two of my go-to pastors and theologians.

  2. It’s funny to me how selective the memory of certain people are.

    Even if they recognized the error of their ways after a few months, the fact of the matter is that John Macarthur and the GCC elders *did* shut down their church.

    There’s a video on GCC’s facebook page from March 16, 2020 where John Macarthur says, “As you can tell, I’m sitting in an empty worship center, and that’s the way it’s going to be I think for perhaps weeks and even into a couple of months…”

    There’s also a video on youtube titled “Thinking Biblically About the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Interview with John MacArthur” where John Macarthur says:

    “first of all the clear demand of Scripture is to be subject to the powers that be because there are deigned of God Romans 13 Romans 13 and first Peter talks about the same thing honor the king and those are an authority over you God has set them in that authority the Apostle Paul tells Timothy that were to be good citizens where we live a quiet and peaceable life we aren’t rebels we
    don’t start protests we don’t defy the government we conform we we’re submissive to the government as as basically ordained by God so that [closing GCC] was an easy call for us…”

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Does anyone know the date they opened up? Just about every church shut down for a week or two, but then some opened up after a couple of weeks. This then led to emboldening other churches to open, which is what I think happened to GCC, but it was likely after several weeks. I give them credit, but it seems they might be taking far more credit than they deserve.

      1. I don’t know how long they were closed but after a couple of months they probably figured out that: 1) covid isn’t that scary, and 2) it’s socially acceptable among conservative-leaning people to buck against “government tyranny”.

        Once they realized this, GCC did a good job of standing up to the LA government but they talk about it like it was a principled decision and not a pragmatic one. When GCC announced they were going to online services, Phil Johnson defended the decision on twitter by citing some puritan who lived during the great plague of London.

        The point is that John Macarthur is saying that the church’s response to covid is a matter of principle and is black and white but in reality the initial response of GCC was not that of principled conviction but a matter of how much risk they were willing to take.

        1. Let me reword that – the initial response of GCC was not of principled conviction but of cowardice.

          It needed to be said straight. It’s hardly the only thing the place needs to be avoided for – it may be one of the least, but it is completely in character with the place. The insistence – pride – that they were really right when wrong reminds me of Hillsong, whose leaders were really right according Hillsong, while they were going down everywhere. That isn’t over with Hillsong. And if it isn’t over with Hillsong, How can John Macarthur Ministries, incorporated. be spared?

          1. As someone in Southern California, Grace was only one of a handful of churches that reopened in the face of LA County Public Health’s tyrannical order and enforcement. Yes Grace closed for a short period as did virtually every church in the country, certainly in LA County. We really didn’t know what we were dealing with and people naively believed two weeks to slow the spread. When the closure order continued, Grace and John MacArthur were one of the first to say, no this is nonsense, we are being mislead about the danger, staying closed violates God’s word, and we are reopening. And they took enormous heat from the county, the press, LA City, the health department, and just about everyone else for it. They were threatened with millions in fines and had their parking permits (which they had held with the County for 40 years revoked.) Yet they stood strong.

            People attack other Christians holding them against a standard of perfection and it really gets old. Either you don’t know the facts, or you have some other reason for disliking Pastor MacArthur and are using this to try and seed discontent. Was Grace’s actions perfect? No. Were they far above just about every other church in this county of ten million people? Absolutely. Did Pastor MacArthur recognize and admit that closing was a mistake and reopen in the face or incredible hostility? Yes (and Amen).

            Please, if you are going to attack that character of a good man like John MacArthur at least get your facts straight. And comparing this fiercely biblical church to Hillsong is so absurd it’s laughable.

      2. Let’s not forget about the many that were still closed up to two years later. Northpoint would be one example.

    2. It’s not selective, it’s intentional. It’s like many other things said about this ministry – saying things that are untrue knowingly. If idolatry is foolish stubbornness, intentional deception over it is something else.

      I said a prayer as soon as I saw this. It’s ongoing sin to prop up a man – not unlike Trump who also can do no wrong – and whose known public life is the filthiest we have ever had as a republican former president.

      And yet also, no repentance or remorse, but deception.

      Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them

    3. John MacArthur and the Grace Church elders initially closed doors as a precaution against ‘what if the threat is as dire as we’re being told?’ That remained the case only for a couple of months, when it became clear that ‘there is no pandemic’ and the chances of survival were akin to many other threats to life and limb including seasonal influenza.

      No-one knows the exact date that Grace Church re-opened. That is because there isn’t a date for that. Members of the congregation just started coming back of their own free will, and sitting down in the pews as JM recorded the live stream. All of this is on record. I watched all of the regular updates.

      John MacArthur does not hold to blind subservience to the government. He never has. His view is that in matters of Church governance, worship, biblical exposition and morality, God trumps the government. If the government brought in laws limiting the number of children per family, and enforced abortion if that limit was exceeded, then that is a case for civil disobedience, right there.

      1. Max Kennedy is an obvious Julie Roys want to be. John MacArthur could say “the sky is blue today,” and he would scream “liar!”

      2. Yes.

        We were told that we would all die if we ventured outdoors. It took some longer than others to realize we had been lied to.

        I fault no one that it took time to realize that we were grossly misled. Those that took a year to come to this realization ? Zero grace

  3. Prudence required every church to forego meeting together as a churchbody. Fear is why churches stayed closed beyond several weeks.

    1. Fear, perhaps, but also because they were shamed, mocked, fined, attacked, etc. Most of these assaults were done by christian leaders, and by those who brutalized Scripture to do so (especially Romans 13, and “love your neighbor”).

  4. In Jesus’ time, the sick were kept separate. Lepers were made to stay in certain areas, sometimes outside the entire city, beyond the city gates. As I understand it, they weren’t allowed in the Synagogue either. And as far as I know, He never condemned the practice directly, nor does the Bible condemn it anywhere else.

    Covid was an odd one. Some people showed symptoms, some didn’t. Some got very sick, others didn’t. I had it twice, and for me it wasn’t any worse than a regular cold. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as some seasonal flues I’ve had. We didn’t know much about it at the beginning. There was no test or anything of that sort. Nobody knew who might have it, or how bad it might affect them or those to whom they might spread it.

    I’m in agreement with some posters here. There was much uncertainty, very little credible information coming from the powers that be, and so on. I’m not going to judge any church for closing for a short period of time at the beginning, when we didn’t know much about what was going on. I’d put that in the category of keeping lepers separate.

    IMO, the main problem with churches closing was not their choice to close, but the fact that it was a government mandate. And the government has no business, under any circumstances, at any time or place, to tell churches when they can and cannot open the doors. I don’t care if a category 10 super storm is barreling right toward the church, the government needs to shut its mouth and stay in its lane.

    1. As far as I’m concerned, the same applies outside the church also. If it falls within God’s jurisdiction, the government has no authority in such matters.

  5. While I vehemently disagree with him closing his church at all, I can almost understand it in the early days when many (who didn’t know where to look) were fooled about the severity of covid. But that’s not what MacArthur did, just look at what The_Peter quoted from him above:

    “first of all the clear demand of Scripture is to be subject to the powers that be because there are deigned of God Romans 13 Romans 13 and first Peter talks about the same thing honor the king and those are an authority over you God has set them in that authority the Apostle Paul tells Timothy that were to be good citizens where we live a quiet and peaceable life we aren’t rebels we
    don’t start protests we don’t defy the government we conform we we’re submissive to the government as as basically ordained by God so that [closing GCC] was an easy call for us…”

    He was perfectly willing to acquiesce and allow the church to be closed at first. While he did eventually reopen and start defying mandates, it is dishonest of him to pretend to have had a principled stand the entire time.

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