Recently a few people have expressed opinions about someone close to me. They don’t know her, but they see how her actions have caused unpleasant effects on my life. As a result, they’ve judged her, and judged her pretty much harshly. Additionally, they wanted me to join in their judgment and act according to their expectations.
For a while, they almost persuaded me to make a decision that promised to alleviate my predicament at her expense. In a way, it’s a bit tempting, I admit. But then I remember all the factors involved in her situation — factors that those criticizing her don’t know about or don’t understand. And I realize that those other people have no right to pass judgment on her. In fact, since I’ve never experienced her circumstances, I have no right to pass judgment on her.
My years as a discernment blogger have conditioned me to feel a little queasy when people quote Matthew 7:1.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. (NASB95)
And most assuredly, that verse often gets used to deflect attention from sin and/or false teaching. In such cases, people deliberately ignore the verses that follow, which actually tell us to deal with our own sin so that we can help someone out of error.
In this particular instance, neither I nor my friend has sinned. A series of unfortunate events have indirectly caused great inconvenience to me, but the person suffering with these events has no control over them. I can remove all the logs out of my own eye, but there are no specks in her eye for me to eradicate. As a result, neither I nor those criticizing her for causing my inconvenience have a right to pass judgment. We simply don’t know all the factors involved. Yes, it’s possible that she’s using her misfortune to deliberately mistreat me, but I have no evidence of that being the case. Unless such evidence appears, I refuse to judge her.
But this blog post isn’t merely about my personal temptation to judge this woman, and I suspect most of you know it isn’t. It’s a real situation going on as I write this article, to be sure, but the principle applies to a much bigger situation that calls the 53-year-old ministry of John MacArthur into question. As I’ve pondered this controversy, I’ve started thinking a lot about judging people without knowing all the facts, and I believe we must learn from the social media back-and-forth to slow down and carefully consider whether or not we have the right to make a judgment on MacArthur’s guilt or innocence.
Before going further, I want to clarify that, while I concede that I don’t know all the facts, I tend to trust John MacArthur. I can’t judge whether or not David Gray deserved to be convicted as a child molester, and I don’t know if Eileen Gray was resistant to the counseling she received from Grace Community Church. The case was tried in a court of law in 2002, and I must abide by the court’s decision. I must also abide by the decision of Grace Community Church to excommunicate Eileen. I witnessed neither event, and know only the opinions that have surfaced online in the past two-and-a-half weeks. I’m not willing to express opinions about either of the Grays, and will not accept any comments about those two individuals on this blog post.
On the eve of this year’s Shepherds Conference, hosted by Grace Community Church (which MacArthur pastors), Julie Roys of The Roys Report dropped an article connecting the church and MacArthur with a sex abuse case that happened 20 years ago. She has since written two additional articles that pretty much only reiterate her first one. You can find them, as well as other articles criticizing this pastor, on her website.
My concern here is with Julie Roys’ apparent campaign to use this 20-year-old case to turn public opinion against John MacArthur and the church he pastors. I’ve done some research (and a lot of praying) about the matter, as well as thinking about Matthew 7:1. The Lord always brings me back to the thought that Julie Roys has no legitimate business asking people to pass judgment on John MacArthur at this point in time.
Proverbs 18 contains a passage that helps set the stage for responding to the charges that Julie Roys has made:
15 The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man’s gift makes room for him
And brings him before great men.
17 The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.
18 The cast lot puts an end to strife
And decides between the mighty ones.
19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.
20 With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied;
He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit. ~~Proverbs 18:15-21 (NASB95)
Let’s think a bit about the history between Julie Roys against John MacArthur as we analyze this latest controversy. First, let’s refer back to the article she posted on the eve of The Shepherds Conference. You can read her followup articles on the same website as well as older articles trying to discredit MacArthur. In linking to her pieces, I am in no way endorsing her, nor am I seriously considering that her accusations are true. But fairness demands that I represent her position as accurately as possible, which is best done by presenting her own words in their context.
I have at this writing found nothing corroborating her stories,
I did some digging this past week, and found that David Morrill has written two articles analyzing Roys’ claims. Part One appears in Protesta, whereas Part Two appears in Gideon Knox Group. Why he uses two different websites baffles me, but I believe he handles his actual critique of Julie Roys pretty fairly. Elizabeth Prata also provides Grace Community Church’s response to the controversy. Thus far, I’ve found more evidence refuting Julie Roys than substantiating her.
The most thought provoking item I found was a YouTube video by Bible Thumping Wing Nut, posted March 20, 2022. Although BTWN has close ties with Grace Community Church and Grace to You, this video emphasized the fact that only the Grays and those who were active elders at Grace Community Church in 2002e really know all the details. Julie Roys doesn’t know everything. David Morrill doesn’t know everything. The host of the BTWN YouTube video admitted straight out that he doesn’t know everything. And most certainly, folks, I don’t know everything!
I don’t want to unfairly judge either Julie Roys or John MacArthur. What disturbs me the most about the whole firestorm is how quickly people accepted Roys’ first article as fact on social media without pausing to think that Grace Community Church might have another side to the story. The situation happened 20 years ago, and I see no reason for Julie Roys to drag it through the court of public opinion now. There’s no way that any of us can discern the truth.
One of the people criticizing the person whose situation adversely affects me came to understand that she had wrongly passed judgment. I pray that those who believe Julie Roys will do the same.