Together 4 the Gospel? Para-Church 9Marks Leaders Question John MacArthur and His Fellow Elders of GCC

On Friday, July 24 John MacArthur and his fellow elders published a statement in which they informed their civic leaders that they intended to disobey the State of California’s moratorium on weekly congregational worship.

This caused a bit of a “dust-up” as Jonathan Leeman from the 9Marks para-church organization wrote an article in response titled, “A Time for Civil Disobedience? A Response to Grace Community Church’s Elders“, followed by some exchanges on Twitter with Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church, followed by an unscheduled 9Marks podcast from Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever titled, “A Conversation about Grace Community Church’s Statement on Civil Disobedience,” followed by another article today by Jonathan Leeman titled, “Further Reflections on Recent Conversations about Christian Freedom.”

Leeman’s stated purpose for writing his article was that he feared other churches may get the impression from MacArthur’s statement that they also needed to start holding congregational worship services in defiance of government moratoriums so that they were in compliance with Scripture. Leeman simply wanted to carve out a little room for churches to exercise freedom of conscience.

Perhaps Leeman is being totally honest, though I fail to see the need for the Baptist boys at 9Marks to get all worked up about this, after all, aren’t they frequently making the point of how every Baptist church is totally autonomous from every other church? My thought is there is at least some concern on the part of the 9Marks cadre that they will come out looking as weak compromisers with the State when compared to John MacArthur’s strong biblical stance of defiance of the State. At the end of the day Leeman and Dever attempt to convey that all is well between the two camps, but I doubt you will be seeing both Dever and MacArthur participating in the same conferences in the future. Together 4 the Gospel seems to have been torn asunder.

I have no dog in this fight, I am simply an interested observer. I would say that I think much of this is driven by money. We all know when the church isn’t “gathered” the budget isn’t met.  Dever initially made a big deal of the fact that they wouldn’t be “gathering” or using any type of technology to broadcast sermons, but if you listen to his early thoughts on the COVID pandemic it’s clear he thought that they would likely be allowed to “gather” in 3 or 4 weeks. As time went by with no sign of Big Brother relenting on their restrictions, Dever had a change of heart and started “gathering” outdoors on the property of another Baptist church.

Below is a partial quote of the statement by John MacArthur and his fellow elders. At the end of the quote you will find a link to the article.

 

A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open

Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:225:23Colossians 1:18). He is also King of kings—sovereign over every earthly authority (1 Timothy 6:15Revelation 17:1419:16). Grace Community Church has always stood immovably on those biblical principles. As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.

Some will think such a firm statement is inexorably in conflict with the command to be subject to governing authorities laid out in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. Scripture does mandate careful, conscientious obedience to all governing authority, including kings, governors, employers, and their agents (in Peter’s words, “not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” [1 Peter 2:18]). Insofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not. In other words, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 still bind the consciences of individual Christians. We are to obey our civil authorities as powers that God Himself has ordained.

However, while civil government is invested with divine authority to rule the state, neither of those texts (nor any other) grants civic rulers jurisdiction over the church. God has established three institutions within human society: the family, the state, and the church. Each institution has a sphere of authority with jurisdictional limits that must be respected. A father’s authority is limited to his own family. Church leaders’ authority (which is delegated to them by Christ) is limited to church matters. And government is specifically tasked with the oversight and protection of civic peace and well-being within the boundaries of a nation or community. God has not granted civic rulers authority over the doctrine, practice, or polity of the church. The biblical framework limits the authority of each institution to its specific jurisdiction. The church does not have the right to meddle in the affairs of individual families and ignore parental authority. Parents do not have authority to manage civil matters while circumventing government officials. And similarly, 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.

When any one of the three institutions exceeds the bounds of its jurisdiction it is the duty of the other institutions to curtail that overreach. Therefore, when any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), 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. His rule is mediated to local churches through those pastors and elders who teach His Word (Matthew 16:18–192 Timothy 3:16–4:2).

Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.

…Notice that we are not making a constitutional argument, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly affirms this principle in its opening words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The right we are appealing to was not created by the Constitution. It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state’s authority (Romans 13:1–7). Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon. The exercise of true religion is a divine duty given to men and women created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27Acts 4:18–205:29; cf. Matthew 22:16–22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.

By John MacArthur, “Christ, not Caesar, Is Head of the Church”

Below is a short video clip from the beginning of Sunday morning’s worship service at Grace Community Church. While I fully agree with their Scriptural interpretation as well as their First Amendment rights to hold church services, I don’t think they are acting wisely in their manner of gathering. Clearly they believe that masks and social spacing are not needed. I pray they have no huge outbreak of COVID in their congregation.  As news broke this morning of both the Miami and Philadelphia baseball teams having multiple players who have contracted the virus (in spite of their best efforts to prevent this from happening), one can’t help but wonder whether GCC members may get hit hard. If I were a member of their church I would not be attending their services yet.

Below are two clips taken from a recent conversation between Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman concerning John MacArthur and his fellow elder’s decision to disobey the State’s moratorium and hold church services. The entire conversation may be heard here.

In the next clip, Mark Dever states that he told a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church who thought it was sinful to not gather for church services that he should then resign his membership and join a church that was meeting together. Additionally, what follows is a quote from Leeman’s article, “A Time for Civil Disobedience? A Response to Grace Community Church’s Elders:”

“Let’s make sure we don’t “pass judgment on one another” (Rom. 14:13), but instead “accept one another” (Rom. 15:7). This attitude should characterize the conversation between Christians, between churches, and even between church leaders and members as they come to different conclusions, as challenging as that might become. We must “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” even if that means you decide to leave one church for another (14:19), because you’ve become convinced your leaders are making the wrong call. Go in peace, charity, and grace. God’s kingdom is bigger than any one of our gatherings.”

On a personal note, I will say that I think both Dever and Leeman are disingenuous in their remarks. I was a member of United Christian Church of Dubai. The pastor, John Folmar, was an assistant pastor to Mark Dever prior to taking the senior pastors position in Dubai. Folmar and Dever are good friends. I quit UCCD because I thought Folmar holding up a book authored by CJ Mahaney from the pulpit and heartily recommending it to the congregation was sinful. I resigned my membership. I was not allowed to “go in peace, charity, and grace.” Quite the opposite. I was placed on the “Care List” and was not removed from membership for 6 1/2 months.  Additionally, on the 9Marks website, they have articles such as, “Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign into Thin Air.”


Below is a brief quote from Jonathan Leeman’s first article written in response to the statement from Grace Community Church. The link to the complete article may be found at the end of the quote:

Before your church follows John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church and begins to gather in defiance of governmental orders this Sunday, hold on! Stop and think with me for a moment.

In case you missed it, MacArthur provided a wonderful statement affirming: Christ’s lordship over governments; our duty to disobey governments when governments forbid worship; and the government’s lack of jurisdiction over a church’s doctrine, practice, and polity. Plus, pastors do well to learn from MacArthur’s example of courage. In years and decades to come, we may have many opportunities to defy governmental incursions.

I also respect the decision of the Grace Community elders to “respectfully inform [their] civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction” and that “faithfulness to Christ prohibits [them] from observing the restrictions they want to impose on [their] corporate worship services.” That might be the right decision. I believe it’s a judgment call, but if they feel bound of conscience to gather their church, then they should gather (see Rom. 14:14, 23).

Yet I’d also like to add, civil disobedience may not be the only legitimate or moral course of action at this moment.

By Jonathan Leeman, “A Time for Civil Disobedience? A Response to Grace Community Church’s Elders”

Here are a few of the tweets that followed in the wake of Leeman’s article:

Then, today, Leeman wrote his “Further Reflections on Recent Conversations about Christian Freedom.” Below is a quote from the article.

Aside from what the authors of this statement may or may not believe, the statement itself makes no provision for the possibility that a Christian might choose another path and still be counted as faithful. It does not say, “Churches and elders will come to different conclusions, but we believe we are free to disobey the government and even feel compelled to do so.” And the point of my article, stated at the beginning and end, with four points in the middle trying to carve out the possibility, was to say, “This is not the only way of potential faithfulness.” So with the follow-up podcast.

Our response, in short, was to say that there is a difference between “We’re free to do this!” and “You have to do this, too!” The first insists on a political freedom, which is their right to insist upon. The second takes away a spiritual or Christian freedom, which is not their right.

So, again, why raise these points now, good saints have asked? We’re not, finally, so much interested in addressing the decision of Grace Church once more. Rather, we want to draw attention to the growing pattern by Christians across the political landscape, ironically, to close down Christian freedom by binding the consciences of others in pursuit of our political agendas, agendas which are often good! This is a drum we’ve beat before and will continue to beat.

To the best of our ability, 9Marks has stood for and will continue to stand for Christian freedom, particularly in matters of political judgment. Not every political matter belongs to the domain of freedom. Abortion does not. Racism does not. Worshipping God and gathering as churches does not (and, yes, that’s political!). But how we approach those issues, and what strategies we take, as well as the vast number of other issues that fall under the headings of pastoral and political judgments, do fall into the domain of Christian freedom.

Two Christians or churches can agree on the call to submit to government in Romans 13 and make different judgments about when and how to apply it.

By Jonathan Leeman, “Further Reflections on Recent Conversations about Christian Freedom”

Your thoughts?


For further thought:

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/pastor-40-infected-coronavirus-church-event-72006518


Comments

Together 4 the Gospel? Para-Church 9Marks Leaders Question John MacArthur and His Fellow Elders of GCC — 160 Comments

  1. “I would say that I think much of this is driven by money. We all know when the church isn’t ‘gathered’ the budget isn’t met.” – from the post.

    Liability of the enterprise run on $$$ but not on the *gifts* of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4). The three lists of gifts never mention the Holy Spirit gifting a private plane to the preacher. There are neither dollar signs nor tax exemptions/deductions/shelters in gifts. Gifts. Given. By God (Holy Spirit). Free.

    Recalling back in the day when Bill Bright, a businessman turned ministry businessman, sent his recruits to homes with the three points & a close to raise support for their ventures. Glengarry Glen Ross, Boiler Room, Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.: their playbook, for a god’s enterprise.

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  2. Well. If MacArthur and his minions want to take the high speed railway to,their version of Heaven, far be it from me to try to block the tracks.
    I would, however, advise all “outsiders” to avoid those church members like the plague because ….. well …..those church members might actually have the plague!!!

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  3. All that ink and thought and bandwidth and time spent on a narrow legalism, and nothing mentioned anywhere about love for God or love for neighbor. Surely, meditation on God’s great love and care for each person would yield a decision more reflective of God’s heart and more healthful and nourishing to God’s followers .

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  4. I wonder if they will plan to discipline members who refuse? I know Grace practices church discipline similar to 9 Marks and I know some people who have been disciplined there in the past who were order to keep it quiet.

    Paul talked about his freedom affecting his witness to others and refusing to social distance in a very serious pandemic will affect others outside Grace. Even if it’s just one person, which I doubt, their insistance on having in-person services might curtail the freedom of others do to anything and take their lives instead.

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  5. “While I fully agree with their Scriptural interpretation as well as their First Amendment rights to hold church services, I don’t think they are acting wisely in their manner of gathering. Clearly they believe that masks and social spacing are not needed.”

    This pretty much sums up my view on the matter. Most “essential businesses” try to provide protection for its employees and customers. GCC does not appear to be doing that for its worshipers.

    I do get queasy when the government tries to regulate what churches do. I believe in the slippery slope argument regarding use of the power of the State. That does not relieve a church from its duty to protect the flock.

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  6. Well, 9marks and CHBC both took PPP money from Caesar, while it appears that GCC, TMS and The Master’s University did not. So at least MacArthur is being consistent.

    The first commentary I ever bought was John MacArthur on Hebrews. Regarding submission to elder authority in 13:17, he writes “He rules His church through godly men. SUBMISSION TO THESE MEN, THEREFORE, IS SUBMISSION TO GOD.”

    So, the logic goes, “God is in control of the Coronavirus, and God is in control of GCC through the eternal wisdom of MacArthur and Johnson, God’s appointed mouthpieces. Therefore, we must meet on Sundays and let the chips fall where they may.”

    Thankfully, I have escaped “Corporate” worship and the MacArthur CEO model for a less structured version of Christian fellowship.

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  7. In the pandemic of 1347, the plague was seen as a judgment from God. In response, the Pope encouraged processions to be formed, asking God for mercy. Many pilgrims traveled to Rome. When the Black Death continued to spread, “Flagellants” went from town to town in an effort to atone for sinful humanity.

    About one-third of Europe’s population died.

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  8. I don’t believe it is fair nor right to judge the heart of individuals and say “it is all about the money.” Our church didn’t meet for almost 2 months and God’s people continued to support our church ministry as we looked for new ways to support those in need in our own community as well as missionary obligations. Our expenses were down for utilities obviously. Many in our church family missed the opportunity to be together worshiping God, learning together, praying together, encouraging one another in person. We worked hard to get digital “services” up as well as doing some zoom prayer meetings, etc. But it is not the same. We have been cleared by the state to meet again with restrictions. It has taken significant extra effort to follow protocols for cleaning, seating, exits, etc. If it were “all about the money” we should have just stayed closed and asked people to continue to support the church ministry. It would have been easier and less work. From my study of Scripture, I have developed a high view of the importance of the church gathered, as well as that of the church “scattered.” I might also add that loneliness and depression have increased exponentially with those who haven’t been able to attend services — even with phone calls. Let’s be gracious as followers of Jesus and not assume the worst about others that we don’t agree with. Grace, mercy and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  9. Ken P.: This pretty much sums up my view on the matter. Most “essential businesses” try to provide protection for its employees and customers. GCC does not appear to be doing that for its worshipers.

    I thought I had read that they were putting protocols into place to help provide protection. I don’t have the statement in front of me so I certainly could be wrong. Perhaps it was on Julie Roys blog.

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  10. Yeah, lets not judge hearts here. Contributions are up in many churches and closing churches means expenses are down. I think they sincerely want to meet a need in people. Lockdown is bad for ones mental health. I’m glad Macarthur’s church is trying to help people by doing what the Bible says to do. There’s a reason to meet in person. Watch (the real) Capitol Hill doctors press conference FB and Twitter are censoring. It’s on breitbart.

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  11. A few months ago, Dever claimed that God was chastising the church and that he would NOT do online sermons, etc. so that people could sit at home and contemplate their sins, etc. Now, Dever is running around, trying out different ways for his church to meet.

    Has their been any further followup with Dever to see if he beleives that the days of chastisement have ended? Also, did his decision have anything to do with donations? Maybe people decided that they would be better off at other churches?

    Perhaps this has to do with Dever getting pushback from his people for his decision in the matter?

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  12. Don Jones,

    As I said in my previous comment here, Dever claimed he wouldn’t be doing any online services for his people because he claimed that God was chastising His people. He wanted them to contemplate all of their sins on their own, with no input from Dever.

    Suddenly, things have changed. Dever is running around Virginia looking for places to meet. There have been no statements that Dever has changed his mind about God’s direction in the matter.

    So, if it has nothing to do with changing his mind (Dever) and admitting he was wrong, what happened? It is perfectly legitimate to question the $$$$ situation. Dever has said nothing about his former pronouncements and I believe he should. Was God *chastising* his people or not? Or is this the typical 9 Marx gambit. Pretend one didn’t say something stupid and carry on.

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  13. Don Jones: I might also add that loneliness and depression have increased exponentially with those who haven’t been able to attend services — even with phone calls. Let’s be gracious as followers of Jesus and not assume the worst about others that we don’t agree with. Grace, mercy and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Can I say *Right back at you?* How do you know this is the reason Dever has decided to start services again? he certainly hasn’t made any announcements about the lifting of God’s punishment so that CHBC could minister to the lonely.

    Let me say something about being *gracious.* Dever was the one who said God was chastising His people. I believe that Dever, who claims to know the mind of God in the matter, should state clearly why it is no okey-dokey to have church services when he was perfectly fine with the whole thing a couple of months ago.

    You are the one reading Dever’s mind. This is how these guys get away with their lousy theology. Sticking a *grace and peace* at the end of your comment, after claiming that we are not gracious, is a bit snotty. You are gracious, we are not

    Sola Fide. See, I can do it too.

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  14. If Mark Dever thinks that holding outdoor worship in Virginia was an act of civil disobedience, he is trying to have it both ways: freely worshiping while crying oppression.

    Capitol Hill Baptist Church crossed the river from DC to Virginia to worship outdoors in mid June. As I understand it, that part of Virginia was in Phase 2 of restarting activities. Probably an outdoor gathering of 50+ people was not permitted, in general.

    However, Virginia has highly relied on voluntary cooperation with emergency orders. The governor stated early and often that he had no intention of using the police to enforce his own executive orders. From what I can see, CHBC did not violate any requirements, if only because the Virginia Phase 2 document does not describe requirements for worship on a great big lawn (regs start on p 37 here: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Virginia-Forward-Phase-Two-Guidelines.pdf).

    Moreover, that very same weekend, other churches were holding outdoor worship in the District of Columbia. Those services took place in the street, on hot asphalt. Nobody tried to break them up.

    Dever’s gang crossed the river by choice, not from any necessity whatsoever. My best guess is that they wanted to sit on grass and vacuum up some attention. And yes, I’m sure that plenty of people just wanted to go to Sunday services.

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  15. Godith: I think we have to get out there and get the virus sooner rather than later. Vulnerable should stay home.

    Pardon me, did you leave off the /sarc tag?

    Our national death toll is pushing 150,000. We are having the equivalent of a 9/11 death toll every three days, or four plane crashes a day, from this virus. Are you really recommending more cases?

    For any who think the wrong cause of death is being written on death certificates, I recommend a chart that shows “Weekly number of deaths (from all causes)” in the US since January 2017. If people are not dying from covid-19, why are so many more Americans dying, and how can we stop those deaths?

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

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  16. Godith,

    Everybody wants schools to open, but safely. The US has no standards for determining classroom safety, especially in areas where the virus is established or spreading. Other countries do have such standards, and they opened schools after bringing the virus under control.

    Dee will probably want to speak for herself. As I recall, she has safely used one of the medications you mention (but not to treat a case of covid-19).

    As of now, the medications you mention are not accepted as effective treatments for covid-19. Remdesivir appears to shorten hospital stays. Dexamethasone seems to reduce deaths. Convalescent blood plasma therapy might help too. Here’s a current article from Johns Hopkins: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-treatment-whats-in-development

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  17. I think it’s understandable for a given church to make a sudden course correction on COVID response. I would not limit the reasons to strickly financial.

    *From reports on polling, we are in a major church detachment with large numbers disconnecting from online services.

    *If we had a God’s eye view of the Evangelical churches, I am confident we would see massive confusion, depression and anxiety of individual adherents.

    *Covid19 is comparable to a World War. We have long since past the total of Americans lost in WW1.(116,000- half of whom died of flue and other diseases)

    Denial to panic in a church leadership team might even be predictable. It would only require some triggering or underlying event.

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  18. Hard to pivot to online services, after CHBC parishoners had just heard this pronouncement from leadership in February!:

    “we cannot engage in corporate worship through a TV or radio broadcast, or over the Internet. Scripture commands us to assemble with other believers”

    https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/sermon/class-2-all-of-life-worship/

    [scroll down to just before ‘Concluding Thoughts’]

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  19. “As time went by with no sign of Big Brother relenting on their restrictions, Dever had a change of heart and started “gathering” outdoors on the property of another Baptist church.”

    Notably, it was in another jurisdiction, as Franconia is in northern Virginia. Kind of neat to be able to be compliant with the Caesars in DC when all that requires is to drive south on I-395 to a generally less restrictive regime as far as evolving gathering requirements.

    Funny how that contrasts with churches binding people to a covenant and then feeling entitled to follow them around on the basis of authority and having rule over them.

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  20. JDV: Funny how that contrasts with churches binding people to a covenant and then feeling entitled to follow them around on the basis of authority and having rule over them.

    I really think this is the key here with both churches. They are both heavily authoritarian and favor using church discipline for even minor disagreements.

    People can say that we can’t judge hearts, but we can judge actions, and historically, both CHBC and Grace have had little in the way of allowing their members the freedom to choose. So I find any argument based on our constitutional freedoms problematic from people that don’t allow that same freedom in their memberships.

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  21. I’m not a fan of 9Marks, but I’m VERY HAPPY someone in the same Reformed Baptist sphere of influence as MacArthur pushed back on MacArthur’s stance. I read MacArthur’s post and a young or immature Christian might absolutely be persuaded that the only “Biblical” thing to do is disobey government orders and gather to worship. Someone needed to push back on that for the sake of Christian freedom of conscience, and I’m glad 9Marks did. Let’s face it, nobody (or very few) from Grace Community Church is going to listen to people on a blog like this, but they might listen to Dever and Leeman.

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  22. dee,

    I am over 60 years old, and have been around fundamentalist, evangelical, and now main line churches for over 55 years. In addition, I went to a fundamentalist 7-12 grade, and three years to Christian liberal arts College, before my engineering studies. (also attended campus ministry orgs). So, needless to say, I have seen and heard allot. This latest “dust-up”, and further contradictory comments out of Pastor Dever’s mouth ( as Dee highlights) just further convinces me that these “leaders” do not deserve our respect. The more a “Christian leader” claims we should do this, or we should do that, the Faster we should “run away” from them. I have seen so may “leaders” claim “such and such” , and claim that they are the mouthpiece for G$d, I can not even count them…

    As I have mention many times on TWW, I wish I could put about a dozen of these various “leading Christian leaders” I have heard over the past 50 years in a room together, lock the door, and watch them go at it! It would quite a $&#@ show!

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  23. Jerome: Until Montgomery County moves into Phase 3

    Wow indeed.

    Especially since houses of worship CAN meet in Montgomery County, Maryland, during phase 2, although at quite a low density:

    “Houses of Worship – Virtual, drive-in, and limited indoor and outdoor services with requirements; 1 congregant/family per 200 sq. ft. of service space.”

    https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/reopening/whats-open.html

    The church tentatively plans to resume services Aug 2. Is this a new church that was already meeting in another congregation’s space, in Maryland?

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  24. dee: A few months ago, Dever claimed that God was chastising the church and that he would NOT do online sermons, etc. so that people could sit at home and contemplate their sins, etc. Now, Dever is running around, trying out different ways for his church to meet.

    Couldn’t stay out of the limelight, could he?

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  25. Ava Aaronson: Recalling back in the day when Bill Bright, a businessman turned ministry businessman, sent his recruits to homes with the three points & a close to raise support for their ventures.

    What’s the diff between Bill Bright’s “Multiplying Ministry” and an MLM Pyramid Scheme?

    After some Campus Crusade experience, I was not surprised when I found out Bill Bright had started out in sales.

    “Sending to homes with the three points and a sale?”

    “Door-to-door salea requires two: a Customer and a Customee.
    The Customer, or Victim, usually lives in a house.
    And the Customee, or Salesman, goes from house to house.”
    — Bullwinkle J Moose as Mr Know It All: Door to Door Salesman

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  26. Headless Unicorn Guy: limelight

    Key. Element of a marketing life$tyle. At enterpri$e $cale.

    Considering Voice, i.e. limelight:

    Are there women on that platform, their voices?
    Are there witnesses of violation (CSA) on that platform, their voices?
    Are there witnesses of violation (SBC etc. CSA) on that platform, their voices?

    (For reference: Voices at TWW. Represented. Actual. Daily. Freely. $$$ made: non-existent it seems.)

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  27. Headless Unicorn Guy: What’s the diff between Bill Bright’s “Multiplying Ministry” and an MLM Pyramid Scheme?

    What’s the diff between Bill Bright’s MO and traditional ministry/missions?

    It was weird returning from the mission field and having his recruits come to our home with their 3 points & close. When they asked to “visit” they were not honest about their purpose. It felt like entrapment – they were trained to do this.

    For our mission work, we had visited churches (not targeting individuals) where invited, shared our vision/plan, then accepted those who wanted to be a part of it financially. No coercion, no dynasty-building, no overhead, everyone raised their own support for their work. We updated our supporters monthly with a newsletter. We visited all supporting churches whenever we were back in the US. We put our lives on hold in the US, lived in the 1040 window overseas, never amassed $$$ (broke even), were accountable to our donors, learned the language & culture wherever we went, and basically donated a couple years of our lives just like donors gave $$$ for support – for sharing God’s message & love (in practical ways) with others. Very explicit & transparent.

    Sales pitch? Mixed message? Bait & switch? Admin costs? Hidden expenses/costs? No.

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  28. ishy,

    I agree. To me, the entire thing looks like an “I want to be the one with authority.”

    To be clear, California never said people couldn’t woeship. They did ask that it be outside with social distancing. But, hey, if GCC wants to test the waters and many get sick, well, God is Sovereign, right?

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  29. Godith,

    Are you seriously recommending that people expose themselves to covid-19, and then take a pill that continues to be shown ineffective?

    Have you taken action to contract the virus, either passively or actively?

    Are you enrolled in a clinical trial? Are you a vaccine volunteer?

    What “real) Capitol Hill doctors press conference” were you referring to? The only thing I can find today was a group standing on the steps of the Supreme Court. It featured a doctor who warns people against alien DNA and getting intimate with demons, and tells folks not to wear masks. She later posted a message about Jesus taking down Facebook if her videos were not restored.

    In real life, I go to a conservative evangelical doctor who provides actual medical advice about covid-19. None of my doctor’s advice involves seeking self-infection, aliens, or demons.

    #wearamask
    #zoomchurch
    #saferathome

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  30. Don Jones,

    I really agree with your overall theme.
    If we do not worry about the reputation or the motives of the individual church or specific leaders, and just look at the current situation, churches should stand up for freedom to gather (carefully for public health reasons) .

    If some choose not to gather in person at this hour, it’s their freedom too. But there is no need to have a big fight about it. The leaders of the world are already fighting against the church in very unfair ways. They are probably happy to see churches fight among ourselves, so they can exert more control.

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  31. birdoftheair,

    “The leaders of the world are already fighting against the church in very unfair ways. They are probably happy to see churches fight among ourselves, so they can exert more control.”
    +++++++++++++++

    But what about, “Let’s be gracious as followers of Jesus and not assume the worst about others that we don’t agree with.”–Don Jones

    I assumed you agreed with this. Why the selective application?

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  32. elastigirl: leaders of the world

    Notable that Jesus sparred with religious & NOT governmental establishment. Later, Paul faced similar situations.

    Or, is it that the religious establishment contended with Jesus? The theologians here can clarify this for us.

    IAO, the problems for believers in Jesus’ day (at least in the beginning, until the Colosseum provided a spectacle) always seemed to fester from within the religious leadership of his time.

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  33. birdoftheair: churches should stand up for freedom to gather (carefully for public health reasons) .

    If some choose not to gather in person at this hour, it’s their freedom too. But there is no need to have a big fight about it

    Elastigirl, this is not a selective whatsit and we are not differing. I would put it only slightly differently from BOTA to say the same thing. We have to input to policy at the practical level. Freedom to co-create safety, not unsafety. In my case I mean relating at all, not ceremonies (I don’t know if BOTA only meant ceremonies) and I CERTAINLY WOULDN’T want the two aforementioned organisations “speaking” for me. Christians and members of the public doesn’t mean church organisations. In my country we are not allowed to exert responsibility by doing homework.

    I don’t know whether you can survive without relating but over here we aren’t allowed to relate. I don’t have to “impute motive” to show a better practical way to achieve benefit to the population. The nation needs these contributions to the effort. Otherwise it’s a false dichotomy.

    Politicians like most of the church organisations trashed our ability to see or will anything. We can walk out of bad churches but not out of bad politics.

    A “POX” on Dever & Macarthur alike, we don’t need them getting in the way.

    Jesus said to assert constructively, towards church and state alike. And state didn’t have anything against Paul or Jesus. Until the religious ones told them they must.

    Being in pincer movements and memes you don’t realise we are called to a better way than pincer movements and memes.

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  34. Doubtful: So the early church faced death and actual persecutions. The American church can not abide to follow a few simple rules to protect themselves and the towns they claim to care oh so much about while a deadly disease rages. The hypocrisy is maddening.

    Even more than that, some of the Christians around me are saying and doing incredibly dumb things. They are convinced that anyone who points it out are persecuting them.

    Can you imagine what Jesus would say to someone telling other people a national crisis is a hoax or harassing people to buy from their MLM to people out of work? These haven’t just happened to me once since the pandemic started, but repeatedly, and all using their faith as a reason that others should go along with it.

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  35. dee: Can I say *Right back at you?* How do you know this is the reason Dever has decided to start services again? he certainly hasn’t made any announcements about the lifting of God’s punishment so that CHBC could minister to the lonely.

    @Dee, I didn’t say that was the reason for Dever — I was just acknowledging from our own experience and frankly from a number of the individuals that I have talked with they are experiencing significant depression and loneliness and so to responsibly return to services can be a good thing not driven by money. Even Dr. Fauci is purported to be saying that loneliness and depression are a significant danger. He goes on to add abuse in the home etc. I have no idea why Dever has changed his mind. Like you, I do believe people who claim to speak with extra biblical pronouncements (as Dever) has about “what God has said” do need to explain the change. We know that God is not confused nor does God give conflicting instructions. In Dever’s case, it could be the money, but it may not be. There are other explanations for why church’s choose to meet in person. As you said, it would really be helpful to know what changed for him. Thanks.

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  36. Friend,

    Don’t be silly. People who are sick need to stay home, or go to their doctor, or hospital if needed. That goes for any disease. I signed up for a clinical trial. Not sure why you care. I have relatives on the front line. The website of one of those doctors is Medicine Uncensored. You can disagree with the articles there, but please be civil.

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  37. dee: As I said in my previous comment here, Dever claimed he wouldn’t be doing any online services for his people because he claimed that God was chastising His people. He wanted them to contemplate all of their sins on their own, with no input from Dever.

    He sounds like he’s trying to fill John Piper’s spot 😉

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  38. Godith: I have relatives on the front line.

    Everyone in the United States is on the front line right now.

    The US has 4.25% of the world’s population but roughly a quarter of the world’s covid-19 cases and deaths. Right now people from the United States are not allowed to travel to Canada, the EU, the UK, and a great many other countries. We have turned into the world’s petri dish.

    I took a glance at the website you mentioned. It has an article against remdesivir, lashes out at clinical trials and medical journals, and lists a ton of alleged cover-ups and hidden agendas. As an alternative, I suggest the Johns Hopkins University website: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

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  39. Bridget,

    I have lots of comments on “medical opinions” coming from non main-line medical associations/well respected medical personnel. However, it would be really hard to avoid TWW’ s prohibition on political comments.
    Given that US Government agencies have asked me to review COVID related technologies, I think my these comments have so level of credibility…. I might add that it would be exciting news to me if I am consider part of the “deep state”!!

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  40. Don Jones,

    ““selective application””
    ++++++++++

    in response to bird’s comment, i was curious why bird wasn’t extending to the leaders of the world the same graciousness “as followers of Jesus and not assume the worst about others that we don’t agree with’.

    the leaders of the world were

    “The leaders of the world are already fighting against the church in very unfair ways. They are probably happy to see churches fight among ourselves, so they can exert more control.”
    +++++++++++++++

    But what about, “Let’s be gracious as followers of Jesus and not assume the worst about others that we don’t agree with.”–Don Jones

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  41. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    P.S. some of my past graduate students are involved in making experimental COVID vaccines, and I have a significant number colleagues that are researchers involved in some aspects of studying COVID as well as a number of colleagues that are front line physicians that are diagnosing and treating COVID.
    I have seen NO evidence of a conspiracy, and these physicians would use any drug, demonstrated by SOUND CLINICAL trials to be effective, to treat COVID.
    Now, with respect to the origins of the virus, I have read some of the early papers that have genetically sequenced the COVID virus, and those studies indicate that it is in fact a cross between a virus that infects humans and one from animal origin ( this had been scarring scientist for decades, and it is not new “concept” ). Further, research still needs to be done to find the origin. But, I have seen NO scientific evidence it was man made. Again, I need to stop, or this will get political…

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  42. I think churches gathering in person is important and needed up to the point of measured civil disobedience. I was reluctantly supportive of Grace, but what they did was not measured.

    Also, remember when online church was bad because it’s a refuge for fake Christians who won’t submit to authority?

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  43. Jeffrey Chalmers: I have seen NO evidence of a conspiracy, and these physicians would use any drug, demonstrated by SOUND CLINICAL trials to be effective, to treat COVID.

    I think if it were a conspiracy, it would have been limited to one or a few countries. That didn’t happen. A bunch of different countries absolutely won’t get along well enough for a global conspiracy.

    Moreover, the videos that conspiracy theorists sent me were some of the dumbest and fakest things I’ve ever seen. I am aghast that people I thought were sensible bought into their lies.

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  44. Stan: I think churches gathering in person is important and needed up to the point of measured civil disobedience.

    Please say more. Have you seen examples of churches engaging in measured civil disobedience that you approve of?

    That can be a very powerful technique, but some church protests amount to false claims of persecution. And some church leaders claim to enforce social distancing, while doing nothing to stop maskless people from crowding together and hugging.

    Likewise, some church leaders have said “we’ll obey the law because the government will squash us if we don’t” … while omitting any stated concern about their members’ health, or potential liability if someone sues, or if their facilities lose insurance. Church authorities live in the real world but sometimes pretend they don’t.

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  45. I call it survival – for ALL members of the public and all human beings – because they ALL need to stop regarding themselves as memes and pincer movements. Because “Christians” (TM) – incl. RC – absorbed the mechanical mentality, that’s all these can offer the world, which has copied them in it. I think it is a post WW One phenomenon.

    The thing the Devers and the Mcarthurs have reduced us and the world to alike is not as triumphal as they claim they’ve been offering, so they aren’t entitled to any opinion on any twists in events they have triggered.

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  46. Jeffrey Chalmers: I have seen NO evidence of a conspiracy, and these physicians would use any drug, demonstrated by SOUND CLINICAL trials to be effective, to treat COVID.

    Over the last four years conspiracy theories have gone viral (so to speak), with much of the evangelical-far-right leading the charge.
    PBS’s frontline did an excellent piece on how it arose and how it got traction.

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  47. Muff Potter,

    Again, I have to be careful to fall into the “political trap” and get put in the penalty box.
    However, I will say that part of the reason I attend a main line church is that, as a practicing scientist/engineer, I do not feel completely accepted in most fundamentalist/ evangelical churches/orgs… and have not felt fully accepted since my high school days…. I “learned” to keep my mouth shut when it comes to science, or, be ready to “do battle” with science skeptics….

    I am at a place in my life that I do not want to have to “censor my thoughts on science”, especially around people that always seem to talk about “THE TRUTH”; consequently, I pick and choose which “follower of Christ” I associated with…. having to defend my life’s work/profession gets old….

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  48. Bridget,

    There was no connection between what I had said and the remark by Friend that I think we should purposely expose ourselves to the virus.
    I think he’s being provocative. As when he more recently says: We are all on the front line now. He isn’t using language as we normally do. And that’s OK for him, but he ought not to think he will be taken seriously if he continues. I don’t take him seriously.

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  49. Start up schools, churches, gyms, restaurants, and workplaces. Be careful about germs. If you get ill, rest and take care of yourself. If needed, go to doctor,or very bad, the hospital. Get meds. If you want to pay for Remdesivir, go ahead. I’ll take hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin. Let people freely choose their medicine. Get over the virus. Repeat for non-vulnerable population. Gain herd immunity. Gain physical and mental health for all.
    Especially, think of the children. They have no choice in this matter. God have mercy on them.

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  50. Loneliness and depression are real and significant but are NOT valid reasons to risk infecting people by gathering in person. Some of the black churches in the south have chosen to keep the buildings closed, but use a robust system of phone calling, emailing, video visits, and “porch visits” where the resident remains seated on their porch and the visitor sits in their car with window down or at least down on the curb. Masks are worn, there is no close contact, and yet there is that person to person contact so vital. There are ways to be the church, and do it well, without gathering.

    My church considers this verboten but I applaud it: another church in our area offers communion once a month. It is open communion. You bring your own elements, remain in your cars windows up, and listen to the service on the radio. With windows up it is safe to sing as loud as you like, no masks are needed, and a you can receive communion without risk.

    We get our panties in a wad debating rites and rituals and forget we have, as Christians, two hardline rules we dare not break: to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and spirit, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    Get those right and we can be the church, and even “do church” without risking one.single.life!

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  51. Jeffrey Chalmers: I have seen NO evidence of a conspiracy, and these physicians would use any drug, demonstrated by SOUND CLINICAL trials to be effective, to treat COVID.

    I think the feet dragging on drug treatments for viral illness has been ongoing for decades and it is lamentable that one hasn’t been able to have them (although existent) when needed. It was a lack of vision.

    Because these drugs are broad spectrum they will probably be thought not lucrative enough. They may be offered if one goes through a narrow set of emergency protocols within a very short spoace of time (a few hours) – unconsciousness – emergency – puncture. Otherwise not.

    Medicines don’t treat a virus as to its own genetics, they treat illness which is what we have after all. There is experience but it doesn’t get put to enough use. I have reason to know these ordinary, unsensational, run of the mill facts.

    I don’t know which brand names are judged “politically incorrect” to so much as mention, and I don’t play silly B*****s, I just talk about plain plain.

    There are medicines that can ameliorate an acute phase and there are some (when taken with general treatments) that are likely to reinforce good recovery. Is it so treasonous to say I am “all for” all of those? Since health care stopped being your grandma and the corner pharmacist, and became solely geopolitics and macrocommerce, being ill has been MADE so much more complicated through no fault of small folks like you or me.

    How many of your parents had an average life’s experience or are they all too young? Leaving aside the fact that I’m no murderer, contrary to what the politicians have alleged, how often can “Christians” (TM) depict serenity, joy and realism in any circumstances whatever? What example in perspective and proportion have the world to copy? Of course this is a serious epidemic and I’m appalled that the list of symptoms hasn’t been given out (and the world are at fault there, not the churches).

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  52. readingalong: science should dictate

    Irrespective of where one stands on these issues, science cannot say or dictate anything because it is an inanimate tool. Just like any other tool, it needs to be used responsibly and and it should be the right tool for the job. Only people can dictate or decide what to do. To me it looks like the different sides are using scientific findings to prove their viewpoints and discredit other viewpoints. If the science was settled there would be no differing opinions. Among the competing voices are also changes (some drastic) within single voices. All the noise is making it difficult to know who to belive.

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  53. We can add to our lists of unhelpful figureheads, e.g Robertson, Roberts.

    On the RC side which is very influential in the UK, the final straw has been the abolition by the present pope of subsidiarity which means honouring the capacity for sharing in responsibility taking at the “lowest” levels. Autonomy in its genuine, pre “remote controlled” sense.

    The biggest oldest denomination has continued to lead the others much as they fancied it didn’t. Otherwise I wouldn’t mention it on a blog voted to protestant affairs. Pope Paul said christians should move over to media and the protestants were only copying. Now who have relationships?

    Christians only provisionally lost contraception and orientation battles in the 1920s to 1940s, but then “body theology” made the sexual revolution go wrong. Sight has been lost of body and of relating personality as wholes. Singles can tell “it how it is” and are at the cutting edge in a way that the married, and parents, need to agree to be complemented by, and not see us as competing against them.

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  54. Godith: I’ll take hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin.

    On what Scientific basis are you saying people should take these drugs/compounds?? There are sound studies that say that hydroxychoroquine can have significant negative side effects on sub-populations… In addition to Federal medical agencies stating no sound scientific evidence says it works, the State of Ohio Board of Medicine only allows it ONLY for specific studies.

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  55. readingalong,
    I have no problem with the FDA. They generally do a good job. They warn about heart issues in clinical settings. Long-term users, like dee of TWWW, need careful heart monitoring, which she gets and says she’s been on it for 5 years. It’s been around for 65 years. It’s best to talk to your doctor. Doctors will prescribe it for Covid-19. If a particular pharmacy doesn’t give it to you, your doctor can find another.
    Being careful about germs doesn’t mean you plan your life to never encounter them. You will encounter them, even in your own home. Still, if you like hiding out, aka, living like a hermit, no one is stopping you from such a life.

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  56. Jeffrey Chalmers: part of the reason I attend a main line church is that, as a practicing scientist/engineer, I do not feel completely accepted in most fundamentalist/ evangelical churches/orgs

    Thank you for all of your work, and especially for your efforts with regard to covid-19. It is awe-inspiring to see so much expertise and cooperation around the world.

    I’m not a scientist, but I am proud to do my little bit every day, studying graphs and maps to understand my local situation, and to pass along tidbits of information to the family, and to young adults in our circle.

    Our household started to reduce contacts in mid February. We plan every outing with care. One of us gave up working in order to reduce risk to all of us. We are all paying an emotional price, but caring for ourselves and one another. Cases in my region have remained stubbornly on a plateau for weeks. I consider it an honor and a patriotic calling to stay home as much as I can and follow basic guidelines about masks, social distancing, and hygiene.

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  57. Megapastors solely touted moral equivalency, instead of trying to see whether Jesus & Holy Spirit (through Scriptures) offer humanity ways of reinforcing integrity.

    This was because they were making the gate they kept too narrow so as to gain sole power over those who came into contact with them.

    Similar pitfalls are all-or-nothing, and once a _ always a _ . There are 8 billion unique paths to integrity, according to principle, each one of them was open before these guys blocked it.

    Christians need to recover the principle of principle, and of their true freedom under the real Scriptural (not “proof texted”) God.

    “Free” was touted as a specific kind of shallow manic mannerism.

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  58. Ken F (aka Tweed): If the science was settled there would be no differing opinions.

    Oh, no – even science that is ‘settled’ does not prevent people from believing exactly the opposite, or making up conspiracy theories, etc. (look at the autism/vaccine debate) Good science is always striving toward the truth, and poor ‘science’ eventually gets discarded or modified with more accurate information. Like the sun orbiting around the earth, instead of the other way around, and there are still people advocating a ‘flat earth’ theory even today.

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  59. Godith: Gain herd immunity.

    I’ve heard this idea being pushed by quite a few Christians. While I’m all for wiping out this thing via herd immunity, I’m not sure that it works this way.

    From what I understand, herd immunity through simple “exposure & recovery” works for relatively few viruses, if at all. For the rest, it’s simply not possible without a viable vaccine. So without that vaccine, are you sure it’s responsible to advocate opening everything up again?

    Is there anyone who understands this subject better than I do?

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  60. Friend,

    Have it in the parking lot, ask people to wear masks. That’s what we’re doing dealing with Texas heat. And if people need to get a little closer to each other to fit in, that’s what needs to be done.

    On the other hand I can see from Twitter that Phil Johnson is saying they were doing something like that and mentioned “110 degree heat”… in SoCal.

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  61. Don Jones: In Dever’s case, it could be the money, but it may not be. There are other explanations for why church’s choose to meet in person. As you said, it would really be helpful to know what changed for him.

    I have an alternate suggestion. It could be simply about the power and control, rather than the money.

    Further upthread, Nathan offered this little tidbit:

    *From reports on polling, we are in a major church detachment with large numbers disconnecting from online services.

    Could there be a similar trend at Capitol Hill Baptist? If so, I suspect that, without the constant reinforcement of social control through the direct presence of Dever and others, parishioners are starting to realize that they’re happier not going to his church, and finding the courage to slip away quietly. And for a 9Marx pastor, loss of control would be the Worst. Thing. Ever. That might explain “God’s” sudden change of heart.

    Just my take. I could be wrong.

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  62. Stan,

    That sounds like a responsible strategy (although it would not be civil disobedience in an area where outdoor worship is permitted).

    My own church remains voluntarily closed. We do not have a strong teaching that the congregation must gather physically; Zoom is acceptable. We also don’t have attendance requirements for individual worshipers. Our clergy are actually working more hours than before the pandemic.

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  63. Michael in UK: I’m appalled that the list of symptoms hasn’t been given out (and the world are at fault there, not the churches)

    It surprises me that you are having trouble finding a list of the symptoms. Here is an excerpt from the NHS website (found by Googling “nhs list of coronavirus symptoms”):

    Main symptoms

    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

    a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

    a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

    Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

    Here’s a list updated in May:

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

    The list in my house has been taped to a door since March. It is consistent with the CDC list, and it compares covid-19 symptoms with those of flu and allergies.

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  64. Serving Kids in Japan: Could there be a similar trend at Capitol Hill Baptist? If so, I suspect that, without the constant reinforcement of social control through the direct presence of Dever and others, parishioners are starting to realize that they’re happier not going to his church, and finding the courage to slip away quietly. And for a 9Marx pastor, loss of control would be the Worst. Thing. Ever. That might explain “God’s” sudden change of heart.

    Just my take. I could be wrong.

    Sounds very plausible.

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  65. Godith: I see the FDA says no using HCQ for hospitalized patients. I agree. And I don’t prescribe it for anyone. It’s just what I would do. Make up your own mind if you get Covid.

    Choosing a medication does not guarantee its effectiveness. One can decide to take aspirin for a sarcoma, but it will not work. Even in your hypothetical, if you were ill enough to be hospitalized, your chosen HCQ would not be available to you.

    Informed consent for medical treatment is very important. I have delayed and refused treatment once or twice. But when my life has been on the line, I have had long discussions with board-certified physicians, and rigidly followed treatment protocols.

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  66. Isolation has been known as the best way to avoid a pandemic since before the middle ages.

    I could not care less about the dustups among these various folks. I left evangelicalism years ago and am glad to be rid of the nonsense. However, to watch in 2020 as supposed church leaders gin up false theological outrage to defy basic public health directives intended to protect people is just beyond depressing and disgusting.

    This is pride and selfishness and foolishness masquerading as righteous outrage. It really is as simple as that.

    MacArthur and his elders are going to get someone very sick or dead. They may well already have.

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  67. Jeffrey Chalmers: Again, I have to be careful to fall into the “political trap” and get put in the penalty box.

    I hear ya’, and I too must guard carefully what I put into the comment box.
    There’s good reason for TWW’s policy of steering clear of the political realm, namely because some folks (not all) are as passionate about their politics as they are for their religion; and from there the discussion can quickly descend into incivility and rancor.

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  68. John: MacArthur and his elders are going to get someone very sick or dead. They may well already have.

    It was the same bunch in the Dark and Middle Ages who chose to ignore the tried and true Roman engineering methods for clean water supply and sewage disposal.
    When things went South because of poor sanitation, they’d blame the Jews instead.

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  69. Serving Kids in Japan: wiping out this thing via herd immunity

    I’m still not a scientist, but we are very far from achieving herd immunity, assuming that we’d need 70% to 90% of people to have antibodies. This article is about two states that had serious outbreaks. How much loss of productivity, consumption of medical resources, suffering, disability, and death would we endure to get the whole country from 5% to 70% of people with antibodies?

    “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied antibody testing results in five states. In Connecticut, testing indicates that nearly 5 percent of the population — approximately 167,000 people – have antibodies to the virus, an indication that they were infected at some point and might now have some level of immunity. New York’s rate of infection is nearly 7 percent.”

    https://hartfordhealthcare.org/about-us/news-press/news-detail?articleid=26868&publicId=395

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  70. Bad planning is standard, therefore it’s natural to form bad planning hypotheses. When interceding isn’t an article of faith for “Christians” (TM), amidst the usual Series Of Unfortunate Events, instead of helping God to continually help out, it’s now solely about the “success” (TM) of their pose.

    When correct attention isn’t given to detail, of course it’s (objectively) by no means unpatriotic or unlawful to speak up. Singles in the UK mustn’t relate, and that’s not “science”. It is however “body theology”.

    (As single retired, politicians have already classified me as “economically inactive” as if I wasn’t trying to pay my bills.)

    Another thing – just because you haven’t been ill much, don’t make out you know what medicines (drugs) might and might not be for. Covid won’t be the first illness that simultaneously interferes with immunity, and doesn’t confer much (and remember, we mostly don’t get told most of the symptoms). Somebody will have to help you or you will have to help somebody. During recovery phases, deprival of remediation is serious. Because individuals differ, several medicines will be useful. Rarely is a medicine a “cure”, but it’s not exactly an evil if it proves so occasionally. Why shouldn’t quite a lot of people be 60 % better from flat on their backs, instead of 20 % better?

    Politicians don’t trust the goodwill and good sense of ordinary people to call for ALL good. By false dichotomies they portray the public as traitors. I don’t have to go with them on things of this kind.

    Rather than just try to dodge the long arm of a lawman turned bad, it’s time Christians just intercede. Like we were used to supposed to (marginally before my time). Like the megachurch people DON’T.

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  71. Lots of free and open sharing here. Good thing.
    My small point regarding not having a persecution complex: based on facts in several states, casinos and other places are allowed to open for 50% capacity if social distancing is observed. “Protesters” and violence makers are not told to observe cdc guidelines. But churches are not allowed to gather at 50% or even more than 25% capacity in certain states, whether it’s for worship time or for small group fellowship time or prayer times. Zoom does not work for everyone.
    We don’t need to support any mega church functions or leaders, or make them our spokesmen, but the churches are treated unfairly in this case, at least in some regions. These are facts, not assigned motives.

    No one is against keeping people safe and healthy with reasonable adjustments.

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  72. And another thing, some churches were holding, midweek, Scripture readings and prayer and their premises are big enough to accomodate the expected congregation at social distances. These were, all, well able to present safe plans for reopening a couple of months ago now.

    The fact that some of their bosses cloud the issue is sabotaging the basic public cause. By figuring out what God finds disproportionate in our “worship” (I have things in mind) we can genuinely simplify or resolve practical issues with civil authority, instead of having civil authority decide because God isn’t listened to about that when God already told us.

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  73. birdoftheair,

    Great comment.

    I would add only that some folks (pastors, bar owners, and others) go out of their way to make inflammatory comparisons that don’t actually match the prevailing restrictions.

    Rationales are not always explained, either. One state closed a bunch of things but left the liquor stores open. They had a public health rationale, a projection that hospitals already near capacity for covid would be overwhelmed by cases of alcohol withdrawal. Unfortunately it took them weeks to share their thinking with the public.

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  74. Stan,

    Here’s the current document: http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/docs/protocols/Reopening_PlacesofWorship.pdf

    To sort through outdoor requirements, I searched for the word “outdoor.” This is fairly detailed, but clear and thorough. It would be manageable for churches with sufficient parking or land. Harder for churches with huge congregations or small property. They would have to find a beach, park, etc.

    I don’t see this document as singling out churches. It applies to all houses of worship, and I would imagine (not going to look) that the guidelines would be similar for a farmer’s market or other activity that brings a crowd. Churches, of course, are not always used to following standards that apply to other organizations.

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  75. readingalong: Oh, no – even science that is ‘settled’ does not prevent people from believing exactly the opposite, or making up conspiracy theories, etc.

    I should have clarified that no science is ever settled. Good science always continues to dig. As an example, Einstein’s theory of general relativity is the most rigoursly verified theory ever, but scientists continue to look for flaws in it (it continues to pass ever more challenging tests to an amazing degree of accuracy).

    And I should have clarified that science can never say anything decisive since science is an inanimate tool. Science cannot even prove the validity of the scientific method. Rather, humans interpret the results of scientific findings, and not all human interpretations are correct. In some cases it’s not clear if any current theories are correct (the various quantum models are a good example).

    In the case of COVID-19, the science is far from settled. And not everything about it has been rigorously tested because of impracticality. For example, I don’t believe there has been any rigorous double-blind study on the use of face masks. This does not mean it’s a bad idea to wear one, but this decision was not based on science. By necessity, people at all levels are making decisions based on a limited but growing understanding of the virus. So I think we need to be careful about being too dogmatic one way or another, or vilifying the other side. I hope and pray that it will not be much longer before we known how to beat the virus.

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  76. Muff Potter: PBS’s frontline did an excellent piece on how it arose and how it got traction.

    Thanks for the recommend. We follow nationally broadcast interviews and podcasts of epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm. Science, not faith, not politics, fine with us. Staying in the lane. Osterholm himself admits he misses his grandkids tremendously but he says he is in a vulnerable age range.

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  77. Ken F (aka Tweed): I don’t believe there has been any rigorous double-blind study on the use of face masks.

    Masks help to drive down rates of infection. Tons of mask studies are ongoing. It’s an easy Google. Look for articles from schools of public health and medical schools.

    This virus has been recorded in the human population for only seven months. Of course the science is still developing. We should all pay attention to the findings, which continue to evolve because experts continue to learn.

    #wearamask

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  78. Jeffrey Chalmers: part of the reason I attend a main line church is that, as a practicing scientist/engineer, I do not feel completely accepted in most fundamentalist/ evangelical churches/orgs…

    Everyone in our family is a scientist except myself.

    However, as new Christians in the faith, we attended fundie churches for years, w/o discussing science, but because we felt fundies were more moral & less liberal morally (nothing to do with politics).

    Two things happened:
    – politics crept in. Ouch. Right from the pulpit. Then, we had to silence about both science & politics. But were we left with morality?
    – No, as it turns out, the fundies speak morality but they live in complete contradiction maintaining the church as a hunting ground for predators. Again, this, right from the enabling or even participating pulpit. Evil. We were repeatedly shocked & continue to be horrified. From time to time, area fundie churches show up on TWW.

    – Hybels et al are remarkably not fundie but equally evil and predatory.
    – Famed Anderson & Associates, notably, litigate predatory church leaders that are mainline but neither fundie nor Willow-Creek-entertaining.

    Baseline, it seems “faith” and predation share company. So, eyes wide open – at church, with religion, among people of “faith”.

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  79. Friend: Masks help to drive down rates of infection.

    I am not a mask denier. I suspect that they make a difference and it wise to use them until proven otherwise. But that was not the point I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make is science does not actually say anything at all, only people do, and nearly nothing in science is settled. So I offer as a suggestion that we should not be too quick to denigrate people we think are on the other side. They probably have some valid reasons to believe as they do, and we probably have some invalid reasons to believe as we do. None of us are completely correct on this yet. I think our culture needs more graceful dialigue and less polarization, especially because there is so much we still do not know.

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  80. I don’t go to church and haven’t for a long time but I’ll give credit where credit is due.

    Most people in our province followed the rules and we had a multi week run of no new cases. We are experiencing a second wave attributed to the practices of a closed community but currently churches were able to meet with restrictions.

    Now those restrictions are easing further as the risk of community transmission has decreased.

    Since this began we had 8 deaths, 1 attributable to the second wave. That closed community is keeping to itself so I don’t anticipate to much spread.

    Physical distancing works, masking works. It just takes some time. These churches will be able to meet again but by bucking good advice they keep delaying that day and then it becomes a negative feedback cycle.

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  81. Doubtful,
    It is an interesting study, but it was not a COVID-19 study, so it may or may mot be applicable. It also only involved households with symptomatic children under the age of 16, which means It may not apply to asymptomatic people with COVID rather than influenza. It does not at all undermine my statement that masks have not been adequately studied for this COVID virus. So even if science was sentiment and had a voice, it does not have enough data to say anything definitive. We might learn later that all these non-medical grade cloth masks actually made the problem worse. We won’t know for sure until it is studied, which is not likely to happen because no one will want to knowingly expose un-masked well people to the virus as the required control group. A true scientific study would be deemed to risky (I believe Dr Fauci already said something to this effect). In the mean time, it makes sense to follow the opinions of the professionals (the same ones who earlier said masks are ineffective). One day we will look back on this and will be able to see what we did that was either brilliant or stupid.

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  82. Late to the party, but I do think it’s amusing that Jonathan Leeman is fretting about John MacArthur making rules for other churches to live by. I guess only 9Marks gets to do that legally.

    But, I give “Keys” credit where it is due, because this is a good point, though I read the document put out by Grace, and I couldn’t find where they make it a rule for other churches. I think their strongest point is the appeal they make to God’s grant of freedom to the individual to worship God. Their weakest point is the one made so many times on this thread which is the one of wisdom and neighbor love.

    Why, then, the articles? I suspect it is a matter of influence. Just like the secular sphere and the SBC, there are two poles of thought, regrettably. 9Marks and Dever and Mohler and Denny Burk and Russell Moore and Thabiti Anyabwile and SEBTS are aligned on the Social Justice Gospel side and John MacArthur and the Conservative Baptist Network and others are on the other side. Do they disagree on racism or police brutality? No. They disagree on Critical Theory and probably other lesser things as well. Jonathan was happy to recruit his church people to march in a mass gathering in defiance of a DC executive order in support social justice, but he does not support Grace Church. My question for Jonathan is, what’s the difference? What did you accomplish with your march? Except to socially signal your righteousness before others? The question for John MacArthur is what does your meeting say to the community of Los Angeles? What does this do for the name of Christ? Can you not come up with some other way of meeting the needs of your church and what if you harm others by your meetings? Surely there is the talent in a church of your size!

    Whether it is the secular political realm or the religious realm or the medical realm, I see people (like me) making binary statements about things which are really complicated and uncertain. It’s not helpful, but it seems that tribal concerns drive everything. We all have to make decisions under uncertainty and then live with that! Let’s help each other be better thinkers.

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  83. Stan: On the other hand I can see from Twitter that Phil Johnson is saying they were doing something like that and mentioned “110 degree heat”… in SoCal.

    In the inland low desert, maybe.
    But where I am (about 10-15 miles from the coast) the summer has actually been mild (except for that heat wave a few weeks ago, and that was into the 90s).

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  84. Muff Potter: Over the last four years conspiracy theories have gone viral (so to speak), with much of the evangelical-far-right leading the charge.

    PBS’s frontline did an excellent piece on how it arose and how it got traction.

    Is this the HCQ Suppression Conspiracy whirlpool?
    Where the rabbit hole just keeps going deeper and deeper and deeper?

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  85. Headless Unicorn Guy,
    My sister-in-law is into a triple-whammy variant of the HCQ Suppression Conspiracy involving Librul Media, the Persecution of Donald Trump, and Spiritual Warfare/DEMONIC activity.

    After four months of work/eat/sleep/wait to be infected lockdown, I’m at the point where I can’t tell if she’s bat-turd crazy, I’m bat-turd crazy, or everyone else is bat-turd crazy.

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  86. Muff Potter: PBS’s frontline did an excellent piece on how it arose and how it got traction.

    Is this Frontline’s “United States of Conspiracy” video?
    Found it and took a look.

    Two minutes in and I hear the name “Alex Jones”.
    And went “ALEX JONES? THE MAGIC SILVER TOOTHPASTE GUY?”
    Main Man of the 9/11 Truther movement?
    Master of Spiritual Warfare and End Times Prophecy buzzwords (which explains his Christianese base)?

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  87. Ava Aaronson: It was weird returning from the mission field and having his recruits come to our home with their 3 points & close. When they asked to “visit” they were not honest about their purpose.

    That sounds like Jehovah’s Witnesses…

    Incidentally, the JWs have not been knocking on doors in my area since COVID hit. Instead, they’re going by way of the Post Office. Last week I got a letter of invitation in my mailbox inviting me to an online JW Conference.

    “It just keeps getting Weirder and Weirder.”
    — Johnny Bravo (Baby!)

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  88. Gram3: Whether it is the secular political realm or the religious realm or the medical realm, I see people (like me) making binary statements about things which are really complicated and uncertain. It’s not helpful, but it seems that tribal concerns drive everything. We all have to make decisions under uncertainty and then live with that! Let’s help each other be better thinkers.

    Great comment. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find people who can or will discuss pros and cons of both sides of an issue. It seems to me that the vocal minorities on both extremes are dominating the discussions, and anyone not taking agreeing with the extremes is attacked and/or cancelled by both sides. I am hoping this illness will run its course and we can get back to having real dialogue.

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  89. Friend: Godith: I think we have to get out there and get the virus sooner rather than later. Vulnerable should stay home.

    Pardon me, did you leave off the /sarc tag?

    Our national death toll is pushing 150,000. We are having the equivalent of a 9/11 death toll every three days, or four plane crashes a day, from this virus. Are you really recommending more cases?

    I woke up this morning to a radio news item that my state has once more broken yesterday’s record for COVID-related Deaths per Day.

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  90. Jeffrey Chalmers: Bridget,

    I have lots of comments on “medical opinions” coming from non main-line medical associations/well respected medical personnel. However, it would be really hard to avoid TWW’ s prohibition on political comments.

    Especially when so much of today’s Evangelical Christianity has been thoroughly, utterly Politicized. This puts some real problems off-the-table.

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  91. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    And, not just “politicized”, but add in the evil, secular humanist “agenda” argument, and it really becomes a “THEM and US” world….and you can not trust ANYTHING a secular humanists says..
    absolutely no middle ground…. if you try to have a reasoned, Pro- Con discussion, you are a “compromiser”…. in the right wing political world, you are a RINO!

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  92. Headless Unicorn Guy: real problems

    One surprising and refreshing example of cooperation comes from the Department of Defense. Even though the science is in flux and people have a range of opinions, our military installations worldwide have a uniform standard to protect the troops and their families, and thus our national security.

    https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Inside-DOD/Blog/Article/2128863/hpcon-understanding-health-protection-condition-levels/

    Want to buy eggs at the commissary? Then wear a mask, show your ID and possibly submit to a health interview outside the door, sanitize your cart handle with the provided wipes, and keep your distance from other shoppers.

    If you are denied entrance for health reasons, you can order online and get contactless pickup at an appointed time.

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  93. Jeffrey Chalmers: Headless Unicorn Guy,

    And, not just “politicized”,

    The nice thing about TWW parameters, is that the “refrain from going there” is applied across the board. IMHO, works.

    Again IMHO, if churches applied this, we’d be in a better place. Questions such as, “Who is the least of the least?” and “Is this love?” would take center instead of “Who in the Media do you ‘love’?”

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  94. Godith: Lockdown is bad for ones mental health. I’m glad Macarthur’s church is trying to help people by doing what the Bible says to do. There’s a reason to meet in person.

    Yet no one ever seems to remember Matthew 6 5:6

    And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Wonder why people making a living from a church never mention this clear direction from Christ… I’m sure there’s a bunch of Greek-derived words that allow this bit of the Bible to not count any more.

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  95. As imperfect as the church is (and it is so short of the glory of Christ in many places), there is still the life of Christ that makes His Body an organic gathering of genuine believers. There are still many many unknown churches around the world that function with Jesus as the Head. The rest need to be purified.

    On the practical side, the church has been serving as a place of shelter for the community during disasters like floods, wild fires, earthquakes, or even political storms, etc. It serves as a place for some to go to find help physically or financially. Some still hear from God when they walk in quietly and sit in a corner to pray, or sing a spiritual song with lyrics that echo the living truth. God’s Holy Spirit can work in mysterious ways.

    A physical building does not represent a living church, yet the gathering of God’s children is important. Satan the Enemy would love to tear the church apart, and diminish the bond of love among us. Jesus was humiliated, whipped, nailed to the cross, bled, in agony…..and this is HIS CHURCH! By His stripes we are healed. He paid it all.

    P.S. I made the above comments not because I hold any position in a church.

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  96. Friend: I am so sorry. Are you and your household able to protect yourselves adequately?

    Masking up, hand hygiene, depending on home delivery, generally avoiding people, heavy on Vitamin D, outdoors instead of indoors, no confined spaces, airing out the house overnight when temperature permits, going out as little as possible (and when we do, hitting the stores at off hours when there’ll be the least number of customers).

    I do have a doctor’s appointment on Monday I can’t put off any longer. I phoned ahead to their office and will be taking the stairs to and from their floor instead of the elevators. And I’ll be taking my “kit” – a 6-drink carrier loaded with gloves, mask, can of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, small paper towels/napkins, and spray bottle of rubbing alcohol.

    And I might be able to get a haircut after four months of lockdown; the local barbershop I went to is partially-open, doing business under an open-walled tent in their parking lot.

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