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Two Christian leaders disagree with John MacArthur position on church reopening

Mark Dever

John MacArthur has decided to reopen his Southern California church despite state policies Two Christian leaders said they respect his decision but disagree.

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

President Mark Dever of the church-equipping ministry 9Marks and Jonathan Leeman, the editorial director of the same organization, discussed the issue this week during an episode of “Pastors Talk,: a 9Marks podcast. “I just wanted to carve out a little Christian freedom there. … I hope we can demonstrate that Christians can love one another and disagree about these kinds of judgments,” Leeman said.

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MacArthur said the congregation would not obey a California order prohibiting in-person religious gatherings.

Jonathan Leeman

“When any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance or prohibitions against gatherings and services),” the statement said, “he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority as a civic official and arrogates to himself authority that God expressly grants only to the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over His Kingdom, which is the church.”

Leeman responded by saying that “civil disobedience may not be the only legitimate or moral course of action at this moment. I don’t necessarily disagree with their decision to not meet and to act in civil disobedience. That’s a fair judgment for them to make,” Leeman said during the podcast.

Dever said one of his concerns with the statement was that if church leaders and Christians didn’t read it carefully, they might believe they are in sin if they follow a state’s restrictions during the pandemic.

“I fear that this was written in such a way that any pastor who was considering whether or not they should go along with a [state] prohibition” would believe they must disobey the state or be guilty of contradicting our Lord’s clear commands,” said Dever, who serves as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. “I want [Christians] to understand that you can believe all of these scriptures [in the Grace Community statement], and yet not come to the conclusion they’ve come to.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice