GUEST: NATHAN BUSENITZ, co-author, God vs. Government
As the Covid-19 virus spread across the world, governing authorities mandated shutdowns on businesses, schools, and churches. We were promised that it would be just “two weeks to stop the spread” or “a month to flatten the curve.”
Well, two weeks turned into 24 months of shutdowns, mask mandates, gathering and movement restrictions, and “get-vaccinated-or-else”. And while the virus has retreated for now, just wait for the next variant to arrive and the vise will be tightened again.
One perspective became abundantly clear during the mandated lockdowns—the government views in-person church gathering as “non-essential”. Meanwhile, liquor stores and big box stores like Wal-Mart were allowed to stay open as “essential”. The duplicity and ineffectiveness of the measures was obvious to any discerning observer.
In the midst of all this, a large church with a well-known pastor in Los Angeles (Grace Community Church, John MacArthur) and a small church with a little-known pastor in Edmonton (GraceLife Church, James Coates) came to the same conclusion: they “must obey God rather than men” and reopen their churches in obedience to what Scripture declares, particularly in Hebrews 10:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Both churches (and some others) opened in defiance of government edicts. National media covered the story, certain Christians sniped how these churches were “not loving their neighbor” or were “disobedient to Romans 13”. The government levied threats and fines, even arresting and jailing Pastor Coates for 35 days.
The dust has settled for now, but perhaps the most important result has been the church having to arrive at a deeper understanding of its duty to God vs. government.
Nathan Busenitz, elder at Grace Community Church and co-author of the new book, God vs. Government—Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide, joins us on The Christian Worldview to discuss this increasing relevant issue.
God vs. Government by Nathan Busenitz and James Coates