TODAY’S GUEST is James Coates, is the pastor-teacher of GraceLife Church of Edmonton, Canada. James was fined, arrested, and imprisoned for being faithful to Christ and keeping the church open, disobeying Canadian authorities. He graduated with MDiv and DMin degrees from The Master’s Seminary. He and his wife, Erin, have two sons. He is co-author of the new book, God vs. Government: Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide.
In the spring of 2020, government mandates forced churches across North America to close their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As societal fear and unrest increased, Christians were forced to grapple with how God wanted them to respond to these state-imposed restrictions. After all, didn’t the closure of churches pose a serious threat in a time when people needed spiritual direction more than ever?
Guided by the command in Hebrews 10:25 that churches not forsake meeting together, pastors John MacArthur and James Coates led their congregations to return to in-person meetings—and were swiftly met by unsympathetic governing authorities ready to shut them down again. The ensuing legal battles raised important questions about religious freedom, and more importantly, illuminated what it looks like to take a stand when Christ and compliance collide.