The Bible favors neither democracy nor religious freedom, John MacArthur said in a pair of January sermons where he lamented the perceived persecution of his church by government.
The highly influential pastor — who has been at war with Los Angeles County over COVID-19 restrictions — preached the sermons to his congregation at Grace Community Church and the sermons then were shared worldwide through his Grace to You ministry.
MacArthur’s comments were made in connection to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The California pastor has been an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump.
‘Persecution’ of the church through COVID
In his Jan 17 sermon, MacArthur gave an update on the congregation’s litigation with county officials; the church refused to stop conducting in-person services despite public health restrictions.
He said the church has “been under a massive assault” with “all kinds of people … telling us what to do, what we could do and couldn’t do. This has been a season of trials without any equal in my rather long life. Everything has been taken out of our control. So many attacks.”
In a statement not previously reported out of the litigation, MacArthur said the church had been fined by the county “every Sunday since August.” He added: “That money went into an escrow account because they can’t get to it because it’s held up in court.”
He continued with a list of ways he believes his church has been singled out for persecution by government officials. “They tried every way to close Grace Church. And I think it’s true that there is no more scrutinized church in the United States than Grace Community Church.”
Despite the perceived attacks by ABC, CNN, the Los Angeles Times and “ungodly bloggers,” MacArthur claimed divine protection. “I just wonder once in a while what Satan is saying: ‘What does this MacArthur guy got?’ What I have is divine grace and protection, just what you have, right?”
He then portrayed himself as a protector of the true Christian faith in a battle against a godless nation.
“We tried to have an influence on our nation last year,” he said. “We tried to uphold the truth, we tried. We tried to uphold righteousness. We tried to uphold integrity. … Our nation didn’t want that. Our leaders didn’t want that. Satan doesn’t want that. The kingdom of darkness isn’t interested in that. But we did what God’s people always do: we preached the truth, we preached the gospel, we upheld righteousness.
“Our nation has no interest in that; they voted that out permanently,” he added. “That doesn’t change anything; we’ll keep doing exactly what we’ve always done.”
Critique of other pastors and churches
America, MacArthur said, “is going the way of Satan.”
He linked this to other Christian pastors “trying to create a cultural Christianity that could appeal to nonbelievers,” a reference to the seeker-church movement. “It was accepting of immorality, accepting of homosexuality, accepting of racial hatred. There was a kind of superficial, shallow Christianity that watered down the gospel, didn’t talk about sin, tried to have a positive message, and it was very successful.”
The Trump-supporting pastor then lambasted “superficial” pastors and Christians for not calling people to “faithfulness when you could be so corrupt and so successful in Christian religion.”
“Who are these people? Filthy rich, immoral, corrupt, narcissistic. … But liars and frauds and false teachers and conmen and all of that have been very, very successful. Massively, media exposed. People have turned that into a fortune. And that’s the seduction of corruption. False teachers always do it for the same reason: filthy lucre, money.”
Yet he has steadfastly been found “preaching the word of God,” MacArthur said.
About religious freedom
Such faithful preaching must not be concerned with religious freedom, he declared.
“I don’t even support religious freedom. Religious freedom is what sends people to hell. To say I support religious freedom is to say I support idolatry.”
“The new administration will uphold religious freedom? I don’t even support religious freedom. Religious freedom is what sends people to hell. To say I support religious freedom is to say I support idolatry, it’s to say I support lies, I support hell, I support the kingdom of darkness. You can’t say that. No Christian with half a brain would say, ‘We support religious freedom.’ We support the truth!”
He linked this belief to his end-times theology, motivated by the belief that church is destined to lose its earthly battle before the reign of Christ.
“We don’t win down here, we lose. You ready for that? Oh, you were a post-millennialist, you thought we were just going to go waltzing into the kingdom if you took over the world? No, we lose here — get it. It killed Jesus. It killed all the apostles. We’re all going to be persecuted. … We don’t win. We lose on this battlefield, but we win on the big one, the eternal one.”
Religious freedom actually will lead to more persecution of the true church, MacArthur asserted. “If the new administration supports religious freedom, get ready; persecution will be ramped up because the more supportive they are of the devil’s lies, the less they’re going to tolerate the truth of Scripture.”
He added: “We will proclaim the exclusivity of the gospel, the unique revelation authority of Scripture. We’re not going to lobby for freedom of religion. What kind of nonsense is that? We are in the world to expose all those lies as lies. So this is just part of what’s been on my mind.”
Against social justice
“Compromise” in the church has come as a result of seeking social justice, MacArthur preached.
“That is a disaster maybe more than any single disaster, but collectively with everything else, has done irreparable damage. … The whole evangelical, seemingly elite, rolled over and bought into social justice, Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, racial identity. And now we’re going to have the fruit of it.”
To illustrate his point, MacArthur said the American ideal of equal justice has been replaced by social justice.
“What social justice means is unequal justice. It means that it’s justice to basically determine by whether you’re a part of the oppressed group or the oppressors.”
“America’s always functioned with equal justice. Get that? Equal justice. I mean, the modifier is clear, right? Equal. Equal for everybody. Everybody’s equal under the law, that’s equal justice. No, it’s gone. Now we have social justice. What social justice means is unequal justice. It means that it’s justice to basically determine by whether you’re a part of the oppressed group or the oppressors.”
He claimed Biden has said “all the money from the government is going to go to homosexuals, LGBTQ, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” And that the attorney general nominee has said, “In the future all charities are going to have to give their money to disenfranchised, oppressed minorities like homosexuals.”
“How could a Christian jump on that bandwagon?” MacArthur asked. “That is social justice. That’s not equal justice.”
This is all part of the expected persecution of the church, he said. “The Christian life is about two crucifixions. It’s about the crucifixion of Christ and it’s about the crucifixion of the believer.”
Democracy not biblical
MacArthur continued this line of thought in his Jan. 24 sermon, where he challenged democracy itself.
But he started by attacking Catholicism and Pope Francis. Citing Vatican City as the world’s only “true monarchy,” he called the pope “a former bar bouncer and janitor who likes the tango by the name of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who took the name Francis.”
Yet MacArthur appeared to make a case for monarchy as a more biblical idea than democracy.
“Now it may shock you. The Bible doesn’t advocate democracy. The Bible doesn’t mention democracy.”
Americans typically “celebrate the end of monarchies, the end of dictatorships, the end of kings,” he said. “We hail democracy. In our country we have spent countless dollars, countless lives, countless years trying to turn other countries into democracies like us. Now it may shock you. The Bible doesn’t advocate democracy. The Bible doesn’t mention democracy. The Bible doesn’t comment on democracy. The Bible doesn’t define democracy. There is no place in all of the Bible where you even find democracy. There is no country revealed in Scripture where it existed; it is never affirmed by God.”
He added: “The ancient world had kings. No other form of government appears either in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Kings were a common grace. We talk about God giving common grace; and government is common grace to bring order to society, we understand that. But do you also understand that the most common common grace of governmental character is a monarchy; in fact, so common were kings that we find in the Old Testament no nation under any other kind of government. So normal was it to have a king that the epic tragedy of Israel in the Old Testament was that they wanted a king like all other pagan nations.”
He linked this statement to the previous week’s sermon where he spoke against religious freedom. Religious freedom, he reiterated, violates the First Commandment, to have “no other gods before me.”
“You say, ‘Well, doesn’t the church need freedom of religion to move forward?’ No. In no way does any political law aid or hinder the church of Jesus Christ. We are a separate kingdom. Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my servants would fight.’”
Therefore, “the church does not need help from Washington or any other government,” he said.
Warning to Biden and Harris
MacArthur concluded the second sermon with a warning to Biden and Harris, who just four days earlier had taken their oaths of office.
“When you place your hand on the throne of God — because God is enthroned in his word — and you place your hand on the word of God and pledge to do the very things that blaspheme his name, you talk about a high-risk action.”
“You’d better be careful when you put your hand on God. I thought of that in that inauguration. You can say whatever you want to say, but when you touch the ark, when you place your hand on the throne of God — because God is enthroned in his word — and you place your hand on the word of God and pledge to do the very things that blaspheme his name, you talk about a high-risk action. All Uzzah did was what he thought was showing some respect. God doesn’t want your respect; he wants your obedience.
“Don’t tell me that you advocate the slaughter of babies in the womb. Don’t tell me you want to destroy masculinity, femininity, marriage. Don’t tell me you want to fill the world with LGBTQ people in leadership, you want to justify transgender activity. Don’t tell me you want to invite more Muslims in who represent a religion from hell and then put your hand on the throne of God. You can make any pledge you want; don’t mock God.”