Updated: Aug 15
As you all know by now, Pastor John MacArthur has famously decided to open back up his church in defiance of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s banning of indoor church services and Bible studies. The praise came flowing in from many prominent conservative Evangelicals, saying that this is the leadership that we need. The focus of everyone’s comments are on the bravery, courage and leadership of the one and only, Pastor John MacArthur.
Now, I want to be clear, Pastor John MacArthur’s decision to hold church services again is the right decision. While it took WAY too long to get to this point, he should be commended for FINALLY making the right decision to open back up Grace Community Church. Praise God that they chose to submit to God’s Word over the word of Gavin Newsom.
One of the main problems that I have with Pastor MacArthur is that he’s flip-flopping, yet again, all without explaining how his exegesis of Romans 13 changed from last week to this week. I pointed this out in my previous article on this topic.
However, what I wanted to point out is the cult mentality amongst Pastor MacArthur’s followers. This is less an indictment on him, and more an exposing of the hypocrisy and blind following of his followers.
As someone who used to be a MacArthurite myself, I see how I used to have this kind of mentality, as well. When he would change his position or get something wrong, I would do somersaults trying to justify his position. So I understand this mentality, as I once was caught up in it myself.
What woke me up to this in my own life was seeing Phil Johnson and, soon after, Pastor MacArthur himself, justify Interfaith Dialogues. If you look at old sermons and writings from JMac, you’ll see that he strongly opposed IFDs. However, once it was a friend of theirs, James White, who was participating in them, we saw a 180 degree turn without any actual explanation of the Biblical principle surrounding this issue.
We saw Phil Johnson jump through hoops to make it seem like there’s nothing wrong with Interfaith Dialogues, even going so far as to say that Jesus, Himself, participated in them, even though he confirmed that Grace Community Church does not recommend them. Why would we not do something that Jesus, Himself, did? This is just an example of the somersaults that they did to try to justify this about-face in theological positions.
So now, we see Pastor MacArthur, yet again, flip-flopping in his interpretation of Romans 13. During the shelter-in-place orders, he has been adamant that we are to submit to our governing authorities and we are not to protest. Yet, last night, he went on Tucker Carlson’s show and bragged about being the original protestors, going back 500 years to the Reformation! Yet, he’s also talked about how the Founding Fathers were wrong to rebel against England, as they should’ve submitted to the tyranny of the British Empire. There’s so many contradictions here, it’s mind-boggling.
So all I want to know is this: What is the general principle that we can apply? What has changed your theological position on Romans 13 from last week to this week?
Pastor MacArthur’s followers, however, don’t ask these common-sense questions. They just follow right along, pretending like there isn’t any sort of contradiction. I mean, their Pastor John MacArthur said it, so it must be right!
Plus, throw on the fact that his followers are admitting that they are crying when he preached and had “full body chills”, and we’ve got a full-on cult mindset. His followers are blindly following him and are infatuated with Pastor John MacArthur. If you look at the praise heaping onto him for his “bravery”, where was the glorification of God? The focus was on glorifying the man, John MacArthur. This is a problem in the church.
When push comes to shove, we need to make our decisions based on God’s Word, not because of what a famous pastor says. Our decision to obey Hebrews 10:25 needs to come out of obedience to God, not based on what John MacArthur says about it. Don’t take your cues from celebrity pastors or megachurch preachers. Take your guidance from the Word of God.
If you’ve been following the guidance of Pastor John MacArthur and his interpretation of Romans 13 for the last 5 months, he’s been leading you astray. Thankfully he’s finally come around. But this is just evidence that you need to stop following men and, instead, follow God and His Word.
I know that I rail on the celebrity worship of pastors constantly, and by now I’m a broken record. But this is yet another glaring example of the problem with this mentality. I don’t even think that people realize just how much they are worshiping someone like Pastor MacArthur. But when you are getting full body chills and crying when a pastor preaches a sermon, you need to reprioritize your focus.
Bring glory to God. Not to John MacArthur.