Conservative Southern Baptists are taking sides in the dispute between conservative Pastor John MacArthur and the Leftist Tyrants in California. Ronnie Floyd, Barrett Duke and Robert Jeffress were among conservative voices supporting MacArthur’s stand for liberty.
SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd said: “I’m praying for and thankful for Dr. John MacArthur @johnmacarthur & other pastors across the country who are facing government encroachment on the fundamental rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of assembly. May the Lord give pastors wisdom.”
Barrett Duke, executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention said, “I believe California has applied a more burdensome restriction to churches than to other groups. In addition, the church must follow what they believe is the Lord’s will for them. The least we can do is pray for them to prevail.”
Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, said California’s actions against churches are “an abomination” during an interview on the Todd Starnes Radio Show.
Jeffress said of MacArthur, “I think he is doing the exactly right thing. These shutdown laws in many states and including California have certainly been inequitable.” Jeffress cited the insanity of public protests with shouting while banning singing.
“There is no constitutional right to allow a person to go to a movie, a mall, a restaurant or to a casino in Reno, Nev.—there’s no constitutional guarantee to that…but there is a constitutional guarantee for the ability to go to church. It is called the First Amendment. And by the way, it is the same first amendment that lets people to protest in the streets. You can’t allow one activity and disallow the other activity.” Jeffress said. “John MacArthur is showing courage in standing up for that constitutional right, but even more foundational it is a biblical mandate.”
Ryan Helfenbein, executive director of the Falkirk Center, penned an Op-Ed in support of MacArthur. He said, “In the face of this wildly unconstitutional oppression, however, Christians must not cower and quake as the Israelite army did. Persecution is a refining fire to the Church, and MacArthur now stands as a David of religious liberty before the government’s unscientific, unconstitutional Goliath where weaker shepherds would break.”
Ronnie W. Rogers, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, OK, posted a letter in support of John MacArthur.
“Many of us around the country are praying for you and speaking in support of your desire to follow God and reopen for worship despite the state threats. You are also not alone in fighting for Grace Community Church because what is happening with you has similarly happened across our country of late to other churches, and unless you, along with the rest of us, stand firm on the Scripture, we will all find ourselves in similar positions. We know history. We know the depravity of man. And we know the ungodly desires of some political leaders.”
Rogers is a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist pastor. This is an important point that should not be missed. Christians must work together in this critical time—putting aside internal debates over soteriology to focus on the Devil’s attacks on the Church. We can all profit from Pastor Rogers’ example.
Former SBC President and seminary leader Paige Patterson also voiced support for John MacArthur. He wrote,
While I have not agreed with John MacArthur on everything, he has a sheaf of letters from me commending him for a plethora of prophetic books and bold statements of faith across the years. MacArthur’s approach is simple. If the Word of God says it, then repeat it. If the Word of God is silent, one may have an opinion, but he must not speak such personal observation authoritatively. MacArthur told no one that he had to attend church. But with hundreds of believers desiring to hear a Word from God and/or seek the face of God in corporate prayer, John invited the populace to gather around the Word of God and hear a message from the Lord. California Governor Newsom has issued an order outlawing churches from gathering in their houses of worship to hear from God. Now he is threatening to cut off water to MacArthur’s church (that will certainly aid the health of the congregants) and to stop the flow of electricity, to fine MacArthur $1,000 a day, and potentially to arrest him for his protest against government intrusion despite his exercise of religious liberty as guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment. Antifa and others plot protests all over the USA with no threats from Governor Newsom. Only Bible-believing Christians receive such a threat from the governor.
The hour has come for Christians—anyone who is part of the Free Church Movement—to stand and be counted. I am personally disappointed in the silence of Southern Baptist leaders, who seem to hover in fear.Paige Patterson
Also, now is a good time to take note of those celebrity Southern Baptist and evangelical leaders who are not voicing support for MacArthur. Even if a leader feels the Pandemic is too dangerous to meet–the outrageous actions of California illustrate this is not about a disease. This is about Tyranny.
This is the battle for the Church in our generation. Pay attention to who joins the fight and who cowers at home.