Pastor facing jail laughs at plea to keep doors closed

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Billy Davis, Steve Jordahl (

Unlocking church doorsAndy Stanley, the prominent Atlanta-based pastor, is telling churches not to come together on Sunday mornings while, across the country, a California pastor is vowing to go to jail to keep the doors open.  

Back in July, Stanley announced that his North Point group of churches were done for the year due to the spread of COVID-19. More recently, he explained his thinking in a Q-and-A video chat with Liberty University students. Christ's command to love one another as He loved the us, Stanley said, means the pastor and his church must sacrifice gathering together for the good of the community.

Then, with no further explanation, he said this:

I keep hearing them say, over and over, 'The Lord commands us to meet. The Lord commands us to meet.' He does not. He commands that we lay down our lives for our friends, that we do what's best for others.

That observation amused Pastor John MacArthur, who is fighting local and state government to keep the lights on at Grace Community Church, even if it means a jail cell for defying a judge.

church pews“We're commanded in Hebrews 10 to assemble together and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” MacArthur, responding to Stanley, told radio host Todd Starnes. “Paul said in First Corinthians 11 --- over and over and over he said, 'When you come together, when you come together, when you come together, when you come together.' And of course, in the Book of Acts, as soon as the Church was formed, they met together every single day in the temple.”

Dr. Alex McFarland of Exploring the Word says Stanley is making a fundamental error in interpreting Scripture.


“This is an example of bringing your presupposition to the table rather than taking scripture prima-facia for what it says,” McFarland says. “You can't define love in a way that goes against the clear teaching of scripture.”

What's more, McFarland adds, Pastor Stanley is “dangerously” misleading the flock.

“I would say he's a wolf in sheep's clothing,” McFarland warns, “but having raised sheep, I know that the most timid little lamb is actually stronger and bolder than some of the positions Andy Stanley has taken.”

Stanley started North Point in 1995. He is the son of Charles Stanley, the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta who has announced he is stepping down as senior pastor at age 87. 

MacArthur, meanwhile, has pastored Grace Community Church since the 1960s. He authored a lengthy blog post in July explaining why the church shuttered its doors earlier this year, when the virus was expected to be a lethal pandemic, and why the pastor and church elders decided to open up the doors after being closed for nearly four months.

“Christ, not Caesar, is Head of the Church,” is the title of the online post.

Grace Community Church 2 (California)MacArthur’s 2018 guest appearance with writer-speaker Ben Shapiro has been viewed more than 350,000 times on YouTube and likely introduced the elder pastor to a new generation. The pastor presented the gospel message to Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, by reading from Isaiah 53 to link Old Testament prophecy to Jesus Christ.

More recently, MacArthur said he was willing to go to jail over his legal fight with California authorities.

“If they want to tuck me in a jail, I'm open for a jail ministry,” he told Fox News. “I've done a lot of other ministries, but I haven't had that opportunity to do that one. So bring it on."     


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