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John MacArthur’s religious freedom shocker and its troubling implications

John MacArthur is respected for many reasons, but his attitudes about both Charismatic Christians and the fight for religious freedom are not among them.

MacArthur’s book about Charismatic Christianity was titled, Charismatic Chaos. His recent remarks infer that he sees religious freedom as unworthy of defense.

MacArthur said, in a conference of church leaders: “I told our congregation a few weeks ago that I could never really concern myself with religious freedom ... I wouldn’t fight for religious freedom because I won’t fight for idolatry. Why would I fight for the devil to have as many false religions as possible and all of them to be available to everyone?”

If the State of California refused the right to exist of Charismatic churches or others not in lockstep with his theology, would MacArthur not fight for their freedom? Can he not see the implications for himself and his church?

As pastor of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, MacArthur has taken a valiant stand against that state’s attempts to restrict and control religious gatherings during the pandemic. In that light, his opposition to fighting for religious freedom is a stark contradiction.

Pastor MacArthur doesn’t seem to realize the troubling implications if everyone took him seriously and there were no one fighting for religious freedom. Among the most serious of those outcomes would be the rise of a national church. Logically, If all others were outlawed, and only one permitted that functioned under state-mandated criteria, by default it would become the official, government-sanctioned “Church of America.”

This sounds extreme, but, again, the very suggestion that a much-published, highly visible Bible teacher and pastor would even toy with not supporting religious freedom is chilling.

One more time: This means that a leader who has challenged government threats against his church’s freedom apparently would not fight for religious freedom generally. MacArthur seems to be inferring that he would fight for the assembly of his church and others like it, but not those outside his doctrinal and ecclesiological fold that he might consider as practicing “idolatry.”

This conclusion may be extreme, but no less than MacArthur’s remarks. He is not merely indifferent about religious freedom but would not fight for it because in his view such liberty gives the devil opportunity.

So, again: In the absence of religious freedom, would one become the “national church” with all others treated as outsiders? Would there be a national church council to certify those that could exist and decertify those that could not? Would the government-sanctioned church be the core institution of a dominating “Christian nationalism” aligned with the state?

This is what MacArthur has so strongly criticized and resisted, and rightly so.

Without religious freedom government control would become even more intense. It would necessitate the formation of ...