Church Has Reached Its Limits With Caesar Newsom

Church Has Reached Its Limits With Caesar Newsom

Church Has Reached Its Limits With Caesar Newsom

Gavin Newsom took the opportunity to institute a new lockdown in California and in 30 counties included the complete shutdown of indoor worship, including any private Bible studies. After twenty weeks of cooperation from faith communities, Grace Community Church declared Friday they will no longer obey Caesar.

In a respectful, but forceful post, Pastor John MacArthur lays out the Biblical reasons why he will no longer comply.

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. […]

[I]t has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship. When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar. Caesar himself is subject to God. Jesus affirmed that principle when He told Pilate, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). And because Christ is head of the church, ecclesiastical matters pertain to His Kingdom, not Caesar’s. Jesus drew a stark distinction between those two kingdoms when He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Our Lord Himself always rendered to Caesar what was Caesar’s, but He never offered to Caesar what belongs solely to God.

The vast majority of churches, synagogues and mosques voluntarily cooperated with the government right from the beginning of the unprecedented house arrest of the healthy. They did so willingly as to do what they could to support the stated mission of flattening the curve in order to not overwhelm the healthcare system. This was never a surrender of their authority to the government.

However, as we have witnessed, those original goals have been abandoned in an ostensible effort to eradicate the virus. As Democrat governors and mayors have moved the attainable to the impossible, their seizure of power has grown. With it, the contradictory and irrational policies that have eroded public confidence. This is no more glaring than Democrat-run cities where mass protests, riots, looting and occupation of whole city blocks by insurrectionists have not just gone unmolested by law enforcement, but are praised by Democrat politicians.

Meanwhile, a 5-4 SCOTUS split allows discrimination against the faith community. The majority of those judges refused to even try and justify their ruling against the church.

Pastor MacArthur makes clear he isn’t making his argument on First Amendment grounds.

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 1:26–27; Acts 4:18–20; 5:29; cf. Matthew 22:16–22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is powerful. Too many of our ill-educated fellow citizens fail to understand that the Constitution does not grant rights but secures them.

Those negative human rights exist outside of government. While we may not be able to exercise them at any given time, that doesn’t negate the right.

Grace Community Church did, indeed, hold in-church worship yesterday.

This was an answer to Caesar Newsom’s overstepping his jurisdiction. Let’s see his next move.

featured image, cropped, Adobe Stock standard license

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  • Hate_me says:

    THIS is civil obedience. THIS is what America is and should be. I’m not religious (did my confirmation just for the presents), but I support what this church is doing, wholeheartedly.

    The pastor’s letter is eloquent and worth reading in-full.

  • Russ Wood says:

    Doesn’t your First Amendment say something about “shall make no laws regarding the practise of religion”?

    • Scott says:

      Yes it does, though most politicians seem to have never read the Constitution, and if they have, they prove themselves completely incapable of understanding plain English…

    • GWB says:

      The courts have long taken a “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” approach, however, allowing for certain restrictions that are universal, tied to other issues (like health or crime), and least restrictive in pursuit of their ends. So, you can worship any way you like, except human sacrifice, as that would entail homicide. Or you can give any message you would like, except for instigating criminal activity. Or you can give your message just about anywhere, but you can’t do it at 3am in a residential neighborhood with a bullhorn in the street – because that’s disturbing the peace.

      So, the gov’t can say “you can’t have more than 300 people in this church at a time because of fire code” as long as it applies to everyone. They might have the authority to change that due to a declared health emergency. How long and how drastically is an issue for the people to take up with their gov’t. Making that rule change for some places and not for others? No.

      (BTW, I’m a big advocate for using the other amendment against these tyrants: the 5th amendment. Part of it is known as the “takings clause”, and prohibits the gov’t taking anything “for the public good” without compensating the owners. If I had any sort of business interest impacted by shutting down due to Wuhan Flu, I would have already filed my 5th Amendment lawsuit.)

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