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A duel for the ages in California

Pastor John MacArthur takes on Gov. Gavin Newsom


California Gov. Gavin Newsom Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group via Associated Press

A duel for the ages in California

Headlines from the People’s Republic of California rain down like a progressivist flood, and the state’s government is virtually a one-party system when it comes to statewide office. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed more than a dozen pro-abortion measures in recent days, he is a lead driver of the LGBTQ revolution, and he is eager to lead the parade for as just about any progressivist cause imaginable. In California, that’s apparently considered a governor’s job description, and voters in that state can hardly claim to be surprised.

After all, Gavin Newsom was woke before anyone knew what it meant. As mayor of San Francisco, he had “married” same-sex couples in defiance of the law. He knows how to read the liberal tea leaves, and he was ahead of the pack in calling for same-sex marriage and just about every progressivist cause. In just the last few days Newsom has declared his intention to make his state a haven for women seeking abortions and teenagers seeking transgender treatments (offered in the Orwellian package designated “gender-affirming care”).

The specific act by Gov. Newsom that propelled Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church into action was a billboard advertisement placed by Newsom’s campaign operation in support of abortion. The fact that citizens of the other 49 states cannot vote in California’s state-wide election did not stop Newsom’s campaign from placing the billboard advertisements outside the Golden State—a sure sign of his true political aspirations.

Still, John MacArthur was not primarily concerned with where the billboards were placed, but by what the campaign dared to cite as support for its abortion mania. The text of the billboards stated: “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.” After offering a web page, the billboard cited the Gospel of Mark 12:31—“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.”

On Twitter, Newsom baited governors of pro-life states by name, taunting them. To Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Newsom condescendingly stated that “the people of Mississippi deserve to know they have access to the care you are refusing to provide,” adding: “This will be launching in your state today.”

But the central catalyst for MacArthur’s outrage was the campaign’s unforgivable misuse of Mark 12:31. The preacher unleashed a torrent.

Writing to the governor, MacArthur pulled no punches: “The diabolical effects of your worldview are evident in the statistics of California’s epidemics of crime, homelessness, sexual perversions (like homosexuality and transgenderism), and other malignant expressions of human misery that stem directly from corrupt public policy. I don’t need to itemize or elaborate on the many immoral decisions you have perpetrated against God and the people of our state, which have only exacerbated these problems.”

But Pastor MacArthur did cite the billboards that dared to suggest that Jesus’s words about love of neighbor meant the insane inhumanity of killing our neighbors in the womb. MacArthur accused Newsom of revealing “how thoroughly rebellious against God you are” and described the governor’s re-election campaign billboards as combining “the wickedness of that murderous campaign with a reprehensible act of gross blasphemy.”

Gavin Newsom identifies as Roman Catholic, but more by family tradition than personal practice. He attended a Jesuit college, Santa Clara University, but later said that what he had mainly learned was that “independence gets in the way of orthodoxy.” He added a bit of sarcasm directed at the Jesuits: “In many respects, I think it’s been nice to sort of celebrate that independence of thinking which I will hold Santa Clara responsible for. So there would be no gay marriage except for my education at Santa Clara. Eat your heart out, guys.”

Like John Knox before Mary, Queen of Scots, Pastor John MacArthur is more concerned about Gov. Newsom’s soul than his policies.

A few months ago, San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone banned Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who like President Joe Biden claims to be a faithful Catholic while pushing radical pro-abortion legislation, from the Eucharist. Gov. Newsom appears to be in no similar danger from Catholic authorities, since he evidently does not attend services anyway. In his own words, “I have an incredibly strong sense of faith that is perennial: day in and day out, every day of my life. And so I don’t feel the need to exercise that formally in a symbolic setting, a church.”

Well, John MacArthur has an incredibly strong sense that Gov. Newsom’s soul “lies in grave, eternal peril,” and that is why he wrote the governor this letter. The pastor cited Scriptural warnings of God’s judgment against sinners, and then told the governor: “One day, not very long from now, you will face that reality. Nothing is more certain.”

MacArthur continued: “You will stand in the presence of the Holy God who created you, who is your Judge, and He will demand that you give account for how you have flouted His authority in your governing, and how you have twisted His own Holy Word to rationalize it.”

But the pastor’s admonition was followed, immediately, by his declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a call to faith and repentance. MacArthur’s words deserve to be read slowly: “My plea to you, Sir, is that you would not let it come to that—that you would not go to that day of judgment apart from receiving forgiveness and righteousness through faith in Christ alone.”

Like John Knox before Mary, Queen of Scots, Pastor John MacArthur is more concerned about Gov. Newsom’s soul than his policies. But policies are a window into the soul, and Newsom’s policies are deadly indeed. Pay heed to the preacher, Gov. Newsom.


R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.


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