Paul's Passing Thoughts

John MacArthur Jr. and The Gospel of Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 13, 2020

Slide04John MacArthur Jr. has spoken on whether or not churches should defy lockdown orders. The transcript is at the end of this post if you care to read it. He believes Christians should submit to the lockdown. Missing is any instruction on how to obtain the “ordinary means of grace [salvation]” found only at church and efficacious for “growing in grace [salvation].” During normality, pastors pound the pulpit hard on the authority of the church and faithfulness to it being synonymous with being part of the body of Christ. But, during abnormal circumstances, some sort of doctrine that keeps the “salvation process” moving along is conspicuously missing. Why?

MacArthur states WHY Christians shouldn’t defy the order, But like many other pastors, offers no HOW on keeping the salvation process moving. And yes, Protestantism clearly teaches that salvation is a process found only in the church and not a onetime and for all-time finished event.

I think the answer is found in what I refer to as the “gospel of authority.” This is salvation by submitting yourself to the authority of men. This is also a vital element of ecumenicalism. Obviously, sound and consistent doctrine is not really the issue at all; the issue is submission to religious authority as religious authority defines it. Basically, you are saved by showing a “willingness to submit to godly men.” and “obeying God’s anointed.” And of course, “Men of God (a Protestant authority designation) have disagreed on doctrine for thousands of years.” Que, sera, sera.

And obviously, no fruit demonstrated by church says anything about church at all because it is full of “sinners saved by grace.” When a leader gets caught with both hands in the cookie jar, it’s because he was taken for granted and not prayed for enough. So, shut your damn mouth and put the tithe in the plate or some man of God will remove your salvation.

Apparently, during an abnormal time, your assumed submission to the “men of God” secures your salvation until church resumes. Primarily, this is probably demonstrated by mailing your tithes to the church. Tithing is one of the ordinary means of salvation, so it’s probably an unwritten law that tithing covers the other means of grace (like the Lord’s Table) until church resumes. Another ordinary means of grace, “sitting under gospel preaching (because as a Christian, you still need the gospel),” can be obtained by watching videos.

However, the one most likely to elicit a mass text message is tithing.

This post will not address the mass cognitive dissonance throughout the statement, but I will close with one mention. MacArthur touts submission to the authorities, but calls a defense of the Constitution on which that authority rests as “irrelevant.”


John MacArthur on churches reopening despite government suggestions and policy.

Yeah, let me make very clear this question because it keeps coming up. If the government told us not to meet because Christianity was against the law, if the government told us not to meet because we would be punished, fined for our religion and our religious convictions, we would have no option but to meet anyway. And that takes you to the fifth chapter of Acts where the leaders of Israel said to the apostles, “Stop preaching.” And Peter’s response was very simple. He said, “You judge whether we obey God or men,” then he went right out and preached.

If the government tells us to stop worshiping, stop preaching, stop communicating the gospel, we don’t stop. We obey God rather than men. We don’t start a revolution about that; the apostles didn’t do that. If they put us in jail, we go to jail and we have a jail ministry. Like the apostle Paul said, “My being in jail has fallen out to the furtherance of the gospel.” So we don’t rebel, we don’t protest. You don’t ever see Christians doing that in the book of Acts. If they were persecuted, they were faithful to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it took them to jail; and that’s been the pattern of true Christianity through all the centuries.

But this is not that. Might become that in the future. Might be overtones of that with some politicians. But this is the government saying, “Please do this for the protection of this society.” This is for greater societal good, that’s their objective. This is not the persecution of Christianity. This is saying, “Behave this way so that people don’t become ill and die.”

Now you may not think that you’re going to have that impact on somebody, you’re not going to be the one that becomes a carrier and causes something to be passed on to somebody else down the road and somebody dies. You may think that’s going to be you. But you cannot defy the government. And I don’t think pastors should do this. You cannot defy the government and say, “We’re going to meet anyway because God has commanded us to meet, no matter what damage we do to people’s lives.”

I mean, what should mark Christians is mercy, compassion, love, kindness, sacrifice. How are you doing that if you flaunt the fact that you’re going to meet; and essentially you’re saying, “We disregard the public safety issue.” You don’t really want to say that.

That does not help the gospel cause.

What helps the gospel cause is to say, “Of course, we don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s sadness, anyone’s sorrow, anyone’s sickness, and certainly anyone’s death. So we will gladly comply. This is consistent with what Scripture says, that we are to live quiet and peaceable lives in the society in which we live. We don’t rebel, we don’t do protests, we don’t fight the government, we don’t harass and harangue, we don’t march, we don’t get in parades, we don’t stop traffic; we lead quiet and peaceable lives, and we pray for those in authority over us, and we submit ourselves to them.

In Romans chapter 13, Paul says, “You submit yourself to the government, the powers that be.” But Peter adds to that, “You submit yourself to the governor and the king,” whoever that personal authority is. I’ve heard people say, “Well, this isn’t constitutional.” That’s irrelevant. That is completely irrelevant. When you’re told by an authority to do something and it’s for the greater good of the society physically, that’s what you do because that’s what Christians would do. We are not rebels and we’re not defiant, and we don’t flaunt our freedom at the expense of someone else’s health.

How do we back out of that to communicate the love of Christ? Look, Jesus came and basically banished disease from Israel. He was a healer. The last thing the church of Jesus Christ would want to be is a group of people that lived in defiance and made somebody sick, caused somebody’s death. So you restrain yourself from that.

Again, the issue is so clear that even going back to Richard Baxter back in 1600s, Richard Baxter has a great section in one of his books where he says, “If the magistrate,” as he calls it, “asks you to refrain from meeting because of a pestilence, you do not meet. On the other hand, if the magistrate tries to force you not to meet because of persecution of Christianity, you meet anyway.” I think that’s the dividing line.

5 Responses

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  1. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on May 13, 2020 at 2:47 PM

    “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…unless there is a national emergency because of a deadly virus and the government threatens to issue you a citation and/or throw you in jail for going to church and violating your governor’s orders. Then you can meet together on virtual church over live stream because that’s just as good.”

    ~ Hebrews 10:25 ALPV (American Loose Paraphrase Version)


  2. Hank Fritsch said, on May 13, 2020 at 6:30 PM

    “Some tell me “Preach the pure gospel!” This reminds me that the Communist secret police also told me to preach Christ, but not to mention communism. Is it really so, that those who are for what is called “a pure gospel” are inspired by the same spirit as those of the Communist secret police?” ……… “I have decided to denounce communism, though I love the Communists. I don’t find it to be right to preach the gospel without denouncing communism.” Richard Wurmbrand

    Continue preaching for Christ and against the Calvommunists!


  3. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on May 13, 2020 at 7:34 PM

    Let’s not also forget that Protestants like J-Mack get to claim intellectual autonomy when it suits their purpose. They are the last ones who should be preaching to us about submission to authority. Lest we forget, Protestants find it perfectly acceptable to rebel against the authority of Rome. If they want us to submit to whatever government happens to be in power, then need to go back to Rome on their hands and knees in repentance for 1500 years of rebellion and beg for forgiveness.


    • lydia00 said, on May 14, 2020 at 7:24 PM

      Yes, McArthur should swim the Tiber since that is what he preaches.

      And even more recently this country was founded on not obeying the king who was the defender of the faith. Maybe he could be Anglican?


  4. lydia00 said, on May 14, 2020 at 7:20 PM

    As to Romans 13, Paul was not operating within a constitutional republic. Amazingly that seems to be totally left out of the contextual equation. Lol


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