Dismal theology-related story of the day

John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church is going to ignore a government shutdown order and denies that the state has a right to issue it.

About two weeks after California indefinitely closed churches and other businesses in more than 30 of the state’s 58 counties as part of its response to the coronavirus, author and theologian MacArthur has given a biblical basis for his decision. “Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands,” he wrote in a statement to the congregation on Friday.

“Government officials have no right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders,” MacArthur wrote.

But, of course, the state is not interfering in an ecclesiastical matter; it is acting in behalf of public health. To interfere in an ecclesiastical matter would be to make a pronouncement on infant baptism.

It’s entirely possible, of course, that MacArthur is so stupid that the distinction is inaccessible to his mind. I’ve never met him and can’t say.

I’m especially charmed by the complaint that the order “undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders.” Our Invisible Friend has put MacArthur over the duly-elected civil authority? I suppose it’s possible that MacArthur is so stupid that he believes that, too — but I doubt it; it’s more likely that he’s got notes coming due, receipt are way down, and he doesn’t actually care a hoot if his church serves as the locus of yet another outbreak.

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