Christians and the Coronavirus Conspiracies

It has been intriguing to me, and also somewhat disappointing, to see how many Christians have reacted to the current situation with Covid-19.  It brings to mind this passage in Isaiah.

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Coronavirus Lockdown — No Longer About Safety (part two)

II Samuel 23:3

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

It is just for the Scottish Government to protect the safety of people who live here, and the Government claims the rules (including restricting outside gatherings to eight people) are about safety.  But what then of these pictures from 7 June and yesterday?

If coronavirus transmissions from this result in deaths, will these people be charged with culpable homicide?

Is it really about “safety”?  The Government is very clear about their political agreement with these people, and permits them to meet, but restricts Christians from meeting to worship (even with social distancing and face masks).  Is that just?

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Coronavirus Lockdown — No Longer About Safety

II Samuel 23:3

The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

It is the proper remit of government to provide for the safety of citizens.  I have tried to give the Scottish Government the benefit of the doubt, but recent events show clearly that the lockdown has moved beyond “safety”.

If it is safe for a divorced grandmother to have her grandchildren over to her home and give them a hug, why is it unsafe for a still-married grandmother to do so?  If it is safe for single parents to take their children to their grandparents’ homes and for those grandparents to give them a hug, why is it unsafe for married parents to do so?

This is one of many inconsistencies that show just how far this has gone astray.  The government has now decided that divorced people, and those who never bothered with marriage, have more rights than those who have remained faithful in their marriage.  This is obviously an injustice.

In general, Christians are to obey the law, not only in letter but in spirit.  When the spirit of the law has become capricious, and it includes restrictions on things that God has specifically commanded us to do, Peter’s statement that “We ought to obey God rather than man,” comes into focus.

The Scottish Government is putting Christians in a very difficult position.

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Lockdown and Churches in Scotland

The Bible makes it clear that Christians are to be law-abiding citizens.  But as Christians, we are supposed to obey the Bible as well.

We also believe that there are realms where the civic authority is appropriately using its power, and areas where the government should not intrude.  For Christians, as Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon continue their coronavirus lock-downs, this is becoming more and more problematic.

As we have now apparently entered “Phase One” of the Scottish government’s plan, here are some of the questions that really should be answered, if the government wishes to retain the respect of Christians.

“PHASE ONE” QUESTIONS

I.a) Is it legal to sunbathe or have a picnic in the town park and maintain social distancing?

I.b) Is it then legal to have a picnic on church grounds and maintain SD?

I.c) Is it then legal for multiple families to have picnics on church grounds and maintain SD?

I.d) Would legal picnics become illegal if someone sang a hymn, or read Scripture, or prayed, or preached?

I.e) Does the government think sunbathing is more important than worship?

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II.a) If it is safe to drive to a takeaway, why is it unsafe to drive to a church building?

II.b) Is it safer to take food prepared by someone else through your car window, or to take a sermon through it?

II.c) Are not drive-in services where all stay in their car safer than many things now permitted?

II.d) Does the government think fish suppers are more important than worship?

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III.a) Is it safer to go inside a garden centre to pay, or to attend an outdoor (or drive-in) church service?

III.b) Flowers are good, but does the government think flowers are more important than worship?

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IV.a) Is public transport safer than an outdoor or drive-in church service?

IV.b) Are people allowed to decide whether or not the risks of public transport are more important than the benefits?

IV.c) Why are people not allowed to decide whether the risks of an outdoor worship service are more important than the benefits?

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V. What gives the government any moral right to make those value judgments for everyone as to what is more important?

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VI. Is there anyone for whom worship is important included among the scientists or politicians advising the government?

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VII. a) Does the ECHR guarantee freedom of religion?

VII. b) Is there any evidence that it is “necessary for public health” to prohibit outdoor or drive-in services?

VII. c) How many people around the world have caught Covid-19 at an outdoor or drive-in church service?

VII. d) Does the Scottish government really have sufficient evidence to blow away ECHR Article 9?

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VIII. Does it at all bother anyone in government that Russia currently has more religious freedom than Scotland?

“PHASE TWO” QUESTIONS

I. If it will be safe to enter betting shops with social distancing, why no church services with SD?

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II. If pubs can reopen with outdoor seating, can churches have outdoor services?

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III. If professional sport (some involving close physical contact) can resume, why not church services with distancing?

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IV.a) Does the government think gambling, alcohol, and professional sport are more important than worship?

IV. What gives the government any moral right to make those value judgments for everyone?

“PHASE THREE” QUESTIONS

I.a) What if we never get to Phase Three and the virus is never “suppressed”?  Will the worship ban be permanent?

I.b) Can the government guarantee a vaccine or an effective cure is coming?

I.c) If there is no guarantee of virus suppression, why are freedoms (religious and otherwise) being taken away until it arrives?

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II.a) Does the “test and protect” program mean anyone identified as a “contact” by a new Covid-19 victim must self-isolate?

II.b) How can churches guard against malicious attacks by falsely identifying ministers as “contacts”?

II.c) Does the government really believe no one would falsely name ministers of religion as “contacts”?

II.d) Will church ministers have the right to know who has named them so they can confirm or deny contact?

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III.a) If we never get to Phase Four (virus no longer “a significant issue”), how intrusive do you intend to be in church life?

III.b) Is smoking “a significant issue” for health in Scotland?  Alcohol and drug abuse?  Obesity?

III.c) Why remove religious freedom over Covid-19 when government takes no drastic action over other “significant issues”?

“PHASE FOUR” QUESTIONS

I.a) If we do get to this point, will Phase Four ever end?

I.b) Is the government asserting a permanent right to dictate church practices?

I. c) How is any restriction at all, in Phase Four, consistent with ECHR Article 9?

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Coronavirus Testing for Christians – The Seventh Test

This is seventh in my series of other “coronavirus tests” – for Christians.  I’d intended to blog a “test” a day.  I missed out a couple days but here’s the next one:

Romans 12

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

II Corinthians 8

21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

This seventh test comes because the highly contagious nature of coronavirus means people are, more than ever, aware of the behaviour of others.

Though the second passage is focused on handling financial matters properly, the principle is stated generally in Romans, and applies to making sure that our behaviour is not only appropriate, but visibly so.  We should not engage in actions which give the appearance that we are doing wrong.

It doesn’t matter if you are sure you have not been exposed to the virus, or if you are sure that what you are doing poses no risk to anyone.  We still need to do all we can to avoid any actions, risky or not, that can appear to others to be risky.

There certainly are people who take unnecessary risks, and do things that spread disease.  In doing so, they may be responsible for severe illness and even the death of others.  We as Christians should not be doing things that give the perception that we are among those, that we are behaving in such a way, whether we are sure that what we are doing is safe or not.

It is obvious that it is not loving our neighbours, whether near or far, to spread a disease.  But it is also not loving them to put them in fear that we are spreading it, even if we know we are not.  That is especially true when we realise that many around us have a fear of death that Christians don’t need to have.

If we are doing that, we are failing in the second great commandment, and thus also in this test.  We are displeasing our Lord, and if those who see us behaving in an apparently-risky way know that we are Christians, we may even be tempting them to blaspheme Him.

Let’s not fail this test.  Be careful that your behaviour is not only appropriate in God’s eyes but also in the eyes of those around us.

The First Test
The Second Test
The Third Test
The Fourth Test
The Fifth Test
The Sixth Test

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Coronavirus Testing for Christians – The Sixth Test

This is sixth in my series of other “coronavirus tests” – for Christians.

I Peter 2

12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

The sixth test arises because there are new laws in many places which are highly restrictive.  God tells His people to obey “every ordinance of man,” not because we like or approve of the laws, or because we think the people instituting them are necessarily moral or honourable people, but for the Lord’s sake.

If you are like me, some of the restrictions seem a little over-the-top.  I fail to see why it helps to fight the disease if I take one longer walk in the morning rather than two a day, but the rules say only exercise once, so once it is!

I do not have confidence that the authorities are taking the best course in fighting the coronavirus.  They’ve already changed their plans here in the UK at least once.  The story on whether it is good to wear masks appears to be changing.  It appears to me that the Lord has allowed something to come which is showing all the self-confident rulers the limits of their own self-confidence.  They are up against something which they’ve not faced before and for which there are no perfect answers.  So it’s very possible that some of the rules they’ve established are counterproductive.

Nor is there any confidence that those who are setting the rules are acting with integrity.  Not only are there sad cases like Scotland’s erstwhile Chief Medical Officer, who flouted the very rules she advised for everyone else, but there are no doubt government officials in various places around the world who are looking to use the current situation to increase their power.

It’s a good thing we aren’t told to obey every ordinance of man for the ruler’s sake, isn’t it?  We’d have to try to figure out which rulers are frauds, which are just trying to grab power, and which ones are idiots!  Those diagnostics might be easy sometimes, but they wouldn’t always be.  However, that’s not the test — the Bible tells us to obey for the Lord’s sake.

The passage above tells us this is an important part of what the world sees of us, and of our faith.  The way we live our lives before an unbelieving world matters immensely, and their view of our behaviour reflects on our God, resulting in His being glorified.

And so the test comes, and it’s a hard one when the rules are stringent and may seem over-the-top or downright ridiculous.  The test:  does our behaviour within these rules show that we are more concerned with our rights and our freedoms, and with not being told what to do, or more concerned with glorifying God?  Are we going to respond to verse 13 above by inserting a “coronavirus lockdown exception” clause, or will we respond to it by saying, “This may seem excessive to me, but I want to glorify God”?

The answer to this test says a lot about what kind of Christian we are — and it will say a lot to those around us, who watch our behaviour, about what kind of God we follow and what kind of faith we practice.

That’s the test for today!  If you’ve been failing it, we’re late in the day but you can do better tomorrow.  There’s another test coming!

The First Test
The Second Test
The Third Test
The Fourth Test
The Fifth Test

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Coronavirus Testing for Christians – The Fifth Test

This is fifth in my series of other “coronavirus tests” – for Christians.

Psalm 119

97 O how I love Thy law!  It is my meditation all the day.

Ephesians 5

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

The fifth test is whether changes in our lives and in our schedules show whether or not we love God’s Word, and are using our time wisely.

Some people have even less time than usual.  The demands on them have become more intense due to the work that they do.

If this is you, if you have less time than usual, have you let the Word of God slip out of your priorities?  As your time has lessened, have you reserved any for the Word?  We always find time for the things we love.  It may mean listening to the reading of the Word, or to good Bible teaching, on the way to work.  Do you love the Word enough to find a way to make some time for it?

Other people have more time than usual.  They aren’t commuting as they usually do.  Or, they can’t do some of the things they would usually do in their evenings / weekends.

If this is you, if you actually have more time than you usually would have, have you allocated any of that time at all for God’s Word?  If not, you are revealing your values and your priorities.  If you actually love His Word, you would want to spend more time in it.  When more time becomes available, you’d want to use it well, and at least some of that extra time will be used in the things you value the most.

If you love God, you’ll love His Word, and for many people, the decisions we are making about our use of time during the coronavirus upheaval is very revealing about whether we really love Him and His Word at all.  So this really is an important test for us as Christians, in helping us to see whether our hearts are where they should be, or not.  If the “test results” don’t come back as they should, we have some things to sort out.

Sort it today — there’s another test coming!

The First Test
The Second Test
The Third Test
The Fourth Test

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