California pastor challenges governor: 'Christ is Lord over Caesar'
This will be interesting to watch. The doors to Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California were open this past weekend, in defiance of Governor Gavin Newsom. The church is pastored by a giant among evangelical leaders. John MacArthur is very well known, well respected, and often quoted.
In a blog post late last week, MacArthur argued powerfully that Christ's Kingdom and reign supersede Newsom's.
The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church. Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both. Neither church nor state has any higher authority than that of Christ Himself, who declared, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18).
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.
It will be interesting to see if other pastors follow MacArthur's lead. I suspect that many will. Breitbart News reported that another large California church, Calvary Church in Chino Hills, opened its doors on Pentecost, May 31.
Other Christians, meanwhile, have left the building and are holding services on the shores of Huntington Beach, California. CBN News reports that one of the group's leaders sees history repeating itself.
Bethel Music's Sean Feucht told Fox News that the movement reminds him of the Jesus People Movement from the 60s and 70s.
"It's eerily similar," Feucht said, "There were protests, racial and social strife. Hippies were getting saved. A movement happened in California and swept across America, and even major news outlets covered it."
In a video shared on Twitter, Feucht declared that a movement is rising up as people are stepping forward to give their lives to Jesus Christ.
"We just had an amazing time of worship. We are here baptizing people in the Pacific Ocean and God is moving in California, he added. "I know it's the middle of a global pandemic and things are crazy, but in the midst of it all, God is moving."
Maybe this is what push-back is supposed to look like.