Christian apologist: No time for churches to keep doors shut
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)
American churches seem split on whether to hold in-person worship services – some in violation of state and local restrictions – or keep holding services online, but a Christian apologist is urging churches to not forsake assembling.
North Pointe Church, located in Atlanta, has informed members it would remain closed to in-person services for the foreseeable future.
“Based on the uptick in COVID-19 cases, the results of our attendee's surveys, and the experiences of churches that have already reopened,” Pastor Andy Stanley stated in a video, “we've decided to suspend in-person adult worship services for the remainder of the year.”
A federal judge in New Mexico, meanwhile, has ruled against a New Mexico church that filed suit to keep its doors open. Judge James Browning ruled it is not a violation of religious freedom to ban church services during a public health crisis.
The suit was brought by Legacy Church, located in Albuquerque.
Browning ruled that the state’s lockdown orders are "neutral with respect to religion and generally applicable."
If the ruling is appealed, it will join a growing list of legal challenges to church restrictions around the country.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel is behind several of the lawsuits and appeals, and tells OneNewsNow that rulings are pending in four courts.
“The courts of appeal are split. The lower courts are split,” he advises. “And so really, at the end of the day, we need to get this resolved nationwide.”
Pastor and apologist Alex McFarland says North Pointe and other churches that are keeping their buildings closed need to rethink the decision.
“Merely to roll over and play dead, as it were, and to say that we're not going to meet again, that's not New Testament Christianity,” he insists. “If you're not meeting for corporate worship, you're not practicing New Testament Christianity.”
Many churches in the West are witnessing a decline in attendance, he says, so now is no time for churches to permanently adapt to online services and to conclude that is the new way to “do church” in the 21st century.
"I am saying," McFarland adds, "it is time for churches everywhere to meet."
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One attorney says Pastor John MacArthur declaring his church in California will meet for services, regardless of what Governor Gavin Newsom (D) says, is constitutionally and theologically sound.
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