Today’s question: John MacArthur finally admits that he had suffered from Covid. How should we interpret his actions?
Excellent question. John MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. He is perhaps the most famous preacher in Protestant Christianity. I love his great expository sermons. Unleashing God’s truth one verse at a time. Not many Christians would like to spend one full hour listening to God’s Word every Sunday morning. MacArthur preached one hour messages. We should appreciate that.
In his latest sermon he said that Covid swept through his church congregation last December to January. His wife Patricia and he suffered from Covid around the same time.
When the Covid started last year, John MacArthur advised people to follow the public health orders issued by local and state governments. Then he changed his mind and said that he was not required to do so. He went so far to file lawsuits against the governments.
MacArthur has been admonishing Christians to obey the government in accordance with the scriptures. He puts a lot of emphasis on Romans chapter 13, where Apostle Paul writes, ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God’. Paul was writing these words when Roman Caesars were ruling much of the world. Roman emperors would be more ungodly, more cruel in enforcing their rule over the people. Yet, Paul said ‘obey even the Cesar’. His words are true even for our time.
The California government asked churches to report all positive cases to public health officials. That’s a fair request. Reportedly Grace Community Church has not complied with those orders. I test my patients for Covid. I report all test results to the government. That data helps the government to take necessary precautions to curb the spread of the virus. Churches should also report all positive cases to the government. GCC did not do that.
John MacArthur was absent from the pulpit for a month last year. His substitution, staff pastor Tom Patton gave some reasons for John’s absence from the pulpit. He said, ‘John is taking rest’, ‘John is preparing for Shepherd’s Conference’. Looking back, now we know they were all lies. You should always tell the truth to your listeners. ‘I got Covid. Please pray for me’. People would know the situation and say, ‘Pastor MacArthur got Covid, we should take some precautions’, ‘Maybe we should wear a face mask’, ‘Maybe we should take Covid vaccine’ etc. I find it troubling that John’s true condition was not revealed to his congregation last year. Many of his congregants got sick from Covid and some even lost their lives.
MacArthur said, ‘Patricia and I enjoyed our own bout with Covid for about a week and a half’. Enjoyed? He was struggling to speak, he was struggling to take a breath when he returned from his absence. So, minimizing Covid’s impact using such expressions is unnecessary.
Then he talks about a study from Israel. A study was done in Israel of over 800,000 people. He says, ‘If you have only the vaccine, not the natural immunity from Covid, you are 13 times more likely to get Covid asymptomatically, 27 more likely to get Covid with symptoms.’
His insinuation is you are better off with natural immunity than immunity from the vaccination. That is not good advice. Natural immunity comes after you get the virus, after you survive the virus. What about the people who get infected and never recover from disease or its complications? What about the people who get infected and do not survive long enough to build up their natural immunity? They are better off with the artificial immunity generated by the vaccination than foregoing it. I agree with MacArthur to some extent. Natural immunity is great. But that should not be used as a rationale to deny the vaccination.
I realize that vaccination is not a popular subject among many Christians. I got a lot of angry emails when I made a video supporting vaccinations. But, I should tell you the truth no matter how unpopular it might be. Franklin Graham advised people to get the Covid vaccine. Donald Trump advised people to get the Covid vaccine. They were booed, protested and ridiculed . They did the right thing even though it is not popular.
Last night, one of my patients came down with a fever and headache. I told her, ‘Let us make sure this is not meningitis’. She was immediately terrified. She looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want meningitis. My son got it 18 years ago and never recovered from the complications. I was told at that time that he should have received the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine.’ She did not give Hib vaccine to her son and she still regrets that mistake. An attack of meningitis can leave you with complications that would last a lifetime.
The rationale for vaccination campaigns is to create artificial immunity in our bodies to protect ourselves from deadly viruses. It is not against natural immunity. Artificial immunity is a friend of natural immunity. Pitting them against each other is not a good idea. John MacArthur should stop doing it.
In 1721 a deadly smallpox epidemic ravaged the city of Boston. Hundreds of people died from the disease. Reverend Cotton Mather actively promoted smallpox inoculation in his city. Many people were so angry at Cotton Mather for supporting inoculations. Someone actually threw a bomb through the window to detonate his home. A message was attached to the explosive: ‘Cotton Mather, you dog, dam you! I’ll inoculate you with this; with a pox to you’.
People wanted to kill the Cotton Mather for supporting inoculations. Yet, the great preacher took a stand for truth. We successfully eradicated smallpox.
John MacArthur takes a stand for truth on so many important matters. As the most famous preacher in our time, he should use his pulpit to encourage people to take vaccines. He should be like Cotton Mather or Franklin Graham or Donald Trump. Advising people to take religious exemptions is not right. Praising the virtues of natural immunity in the absence of vaccines is not right. Withholding information about his own Covid infection from his congregants is not right.