John MacArthur vs Russell Moore on Religious Freedom


Welcome to Defender’s Voice. I am Dr.Paul. Thank you for joining us today. Defender’s Voice is about discussing matters of importance to Christians. Please visit our website This year we are raising a fund to support orphan children and medical missions. People who are in starvation and people who need medical treatments – we should show them the love of Christ. Please make a tax-deductible donation by visiting our web site Those of you who already made a donation, I thank you for that. May God richly  bless you. 

    Today’s question: John MacArthur and Russell Moore are fighting over the role of religious freedom. Who is right? 

   First things first: I like both John MacArthur and Russell Moore. I respect both of them. Who is right on religious freedom? Let us see John MacArthur’s comments: “The Gospel offends the sinner and seeks to break the sinner’s comfort and contentment by bringing him into stark realization of the eternal judgment of God. Evangelicals have become like Peter. They are looking for alliances with Satan that they think somehow can aid the Kingdom,”    “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?” Then John said, ‘I could never really concern myself with religious freedom.” 

“‘I could never really concern myself with religious freedom.”?

    Are you sure John? You were fighting so fiercely with the government of California and of Los Angeles to keep your church doors open through the Covid Pandemic. If religious freedom means nothing to you, why are you fighting the governments of California and of Los Angeles to keep Grace Community Church open during this pandemic? If the Government orders you to stop preaching from the Book of Romans, would you say, ‘I am not concerned about religious freedom’? If Government orders to seize all your books in which you condemned homosexuality, would you say, ‘I am not concerned about religious freedom’? 

   Then he said, “ I wouldn’t fight for religious freedom because I won’t fight for idolatry.” Why is that idolatry? Religious freedom means believing and upholding what your conscience dictates without coercion from external sources like government. America did not create religious freedom. Religious freedom created America. The Pilgrim Fathers came to America because they wanted religious freedom. They wanted freedom to worship God in the way their conscience dictated. They could not practice their religion in England without encroachment from the Government of England. So, they left England and came to America to practice their faith without government interference. It is not idolatry. 

     Then John said, “ Why would I fight for the devil to have as many false religions as possible and all of them to be available to everyone?” 

The Devil did not create religious freedom. God created it. All freedom came from God. The Devil is only known for tyranny. He enslaves people, he never gives freedom to choose. If the Devil had his way, he would force every person into hell. Nobody would escape his power. 

John says, “Religious freedom is what sends people to hell” There is some truth to it. Once upon a time, every one in the Western world was a Catholic. You have no freedom not be a Catholic. Leaving Catholicism means asking for death penalty. Then the Protestant Reformation came, and after many wars of religion, we got rid of the tyranny of Catholic Church. Now, we can choose our own denomination. Some people said, ‘I don’t want to join any denomination’. I want to be secular. That is how secularism is born. Religious freedom gave birth to secularism. 

All those people who embrace secularism will end up in hell because they rejected the salvation God offered to humanity in Christ. John MacArthur is right to say that religious freedom is what sends people to hell. But we should remember, the same religious freedom sends many people to heaven. God says, ‘I created heaven and hell’. I gave you freedom to choose. Make your choice, heaven or hell. Where would you like to spend your eternity?’. If I have religious freedom to preach the gospel of Christ, many people would listen, repent of their sins, put their faith in Jesus and go to heaven after they die. Religious freedom sends many people to hell, that is right. But it also sends many people to heaven. 

  Why do we have so many false religions? Because God gave us freedom. He told us truth, but when we deny His truth He leaves us to embrace falsehoods. That takes us back to Romans chapter 1, John MacArthur’s favorite chapter in the Bible. 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

     God speaks to us through the Created order in nature, through our conscience, through our moral obligations and through His Word. But when we deny His truth, he gives us freedom to go down our own paths. As we go down those paths, we create idols and false religions. Even atheism is a false religion. So, false religions are here because God gave us freedom to choose.     Our Lord Jesus Christ said, in Matthew chapter 7,  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.Enter the straight gate. It may be narrow but it will take you to heaven. But if you don’t like the narrow way, go on the broadway. It will lead you to destruction, the eternal hell. God gave that freedom to people either to choose him or deny him. So, for John MacArthur to say that religious freedom is bad is wrong. 

It is the little Calvin inside him speaking out. John Calvin called human nature a “perpetual factory of idols”. How do deal with these idols and false religions? Let us burn the heretics. In Geneva, John Calvin burnt the heretics and ordered only married people should have sex only married people should have children. We know that Geneva did not last long. 

Salem Witch Trials….People who were accused of witchcraft were executed. The false religions must stop. 

   I don’t think John MacArthur would try to convert Los Angeles into Calvin’s Geneva, but the ideology is the same. ‘More freedom means more false religions. So, let us not have religious freedom.’ Of all people, Christians should be more concerned about religious freedom. In many nations around the world, the Muslim radicals denied religious freedom to Christians. Christians are being hunted down for worshiping Lord Jesus Christ. Over a million Christians had to leave Iraq because there is no religious freedom to Christians in that nation.    Also consider the Asia Bibi blasphemy case in Pakistan. This Christian woman was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and was sentenced to death by hanging. Her crime was she accused of saying bad things about Muslim prophet Muhammad. In Pakistan, Christians don’t have freedom to freely exercise their faith. In 2011, at the time of his death,  Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian cabinet minister in Pakistan’s federal cabinet. He opposed the blasphemy law and was murdered in broad daylight in the capital city, Islamabad. He became a martyr for religious freedom.   Those Christian brothers and sisters in persecuted nations around the world knew the value of religious freedom. Chike Uzuegbunam…..he was preaching the gospel at Georgia Gwinnett College. He was stopped by the authorities. His gospel preaching was stopped. He started a legal fight, which went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 8-to-1 ruling, the Supreme Court supported this young preacher. We got another John on the Supreme Court, John G.Roberts, who does not believe in religious freedom and he voted against it. He is the lone dissenter in this case. Chike Uzuegbunam….we can’t even pronounce his name right. He knew that we should do better when it comes to religious freedom. In India, Hindu radical groups are attacking Christian groups for preaching the gospel to the lost.  They need religious freedom.   So, religious freedom is a gift of God. We should cherish it, enjoy it and  fight for it. With all due respect, John MacArthus is wrong to belittle the importance of religious freedom in  our society. On this question, I have to say, Russell Moore is right and John MacArthur is wrong. Please leave your comments and opinions. Thank you, God bless you. 

Paul Kattupalli MD

Leave a Reply