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I have not yet read, though one or more may have been posted, a “Theology of the Pandemic” — a “Practical Theology” — more than such theological observations as — “God is Sovereign.”

There have been a few articles here and there, which I have tripped across, that touched on some interesting and valid points. [1] 

There is a need for far more who make some practical points about how to handle this health and financial crisis as believers and as a church — though the two are intertwined.

This is another divisive issue that will have repercussions past June 2020.  The Trump Presidency has already created fractures, and this crisis will add some more cracks, and deepen other past finer lines — though the two are intertwined

What Do We Agree On:
Let me begin by listing out a few “Starting Points Of Agreement.”  There are probably more, but these are probably the safest points of agreement.

#1) The Same But Different:  “God’s people” AND “the church” are the same, but yet very different. This differentiation is more significant than one may initially grasp. Because it accounts for some of the crevices which will occur in the local church.

I understand that some would say that the church is God’s people, and I agree.  Nevertheless, there is an institutional entity that encompasses a local body of believers and speaks for that corporate body.

√  Without this differentiation, some will think that “a church” speaks for all believers — at least some of those in the world who are watching on.

√  Without this differentiation, pastors will not grasp that their role is far different than that of individual believers.  What they say will carry a profitable weight or an undue  “burden.” — at least with those who want to honor and respect their pastor.

 

#2) Governmental Regulation Is Not Definitively Equal To Persecution:   There are all kinds of regulations that churches and believers are required to follow.  The span of such runs from wise, unwise, necessary, unnecessary, discriminatory without malicious intent, discriminatory with malicious intent, constitutional-in-America, unconstitutional-in-America, and add-your-own.

  • Yes, regulation can be a form of persecution.
  • There may well be some malicious intent by some political leadership.
  • There is a Constitutional argument to make about some forms of gathering.
  • No, Vice-President Pence is not a co-conspirator of persecution when he agrees with the government’s ban on gatherings of over 10 people.
  • Yes, it may be a slippery slope. [2]

 

#3) Politics Are Tainting Thinking:  Some of the division and divisiveness are being generated from political positions.

The conversations, positions, and responses of believers and the church may be dependent on who in the political world is saying what.  This is not an untarnished response to a health-and-financial American crisis.

 

#4) The Death Is Real:  People are dying, and the reality of those deaths is overwhelming to those watching throughout America.  Whether or not it is overblown, typical, politically motivated, a real pandemic, God’s judgement, a ploy for political advantage — the deaths overwhelm the media messages.

 

#5) Interpretations Vary: There is a lot of information (Haven’t we all learned a lot about the flu and viruses?), misinformation, confusion, numbers, commentaries, talking heads, political interpretation, policy response, national responses, finger-pointing, etc.

Whatever you take, people are dying in “unusual” numbers.  The word “unusual” may cause some hesitation, but when you think about the short period of time during which these “flu” death have occurred, you may see why the concerns, thinking, and reactions are what they are. The typical flu season runs from October-May, and peaks in February.

 

#6) “The Church’s” Response “Matters”:  It matters, at least to the believers/members who make it up.  It may matter almost only to them — depending on what the church does. —  ????  What pastors/leaders do and say will have a significant impact on what the church looks like when this all ends.

 

#7) Hindsight Will Be 20/20:  When this is all over — whatever that means — there will be those who will try to convey that they saw it clearly, that they were right, but they were not.  Few of us – maybe almost none of us –  will have saw what is happening and has happened clearly — including me!

 

#8) No Exemptions Granted:  Believers are not exempt.  This is not like the Egyptian Plagues under Moses, where Goshen did not experience what the nation did.

Some of friends, family members, and/or church people probably will die — maybe even us!

 

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I have included Scriptural references with each point, not as some kind of “proof-texting” but to identify clear and definitive biblical principles which surely must be part of our thinking in order for us to respond as believers and as a church.

Here are my “Ten Theses,” which I would include in my “Pan-demi-ology” — in no particular order.  — Well, #1 may be my front runner.

 

#1) Pinnacle Jumping Is Off-Limits — Matthew 4:  There is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained by those who know that this world is not where life ends.

If the Lord uses this COVID-19 epidemic as the means of my death, I understand that juncture.  I have complete faith in His will and His ways.

One day, He will use some physical “sickness” to bring me home — though I am continually anticipating His return before that day.

However,  it is not “faith” — if my death was the result of my own “care-less” attitude,  carelessness, risky, or even foolish actions.  While my death was still His sovereign will — and He used my “carelessness-to-foolishness” to accomplish His will.

Nevertheless, He does not expect us to count on  His angelic host to “bear us up” — Matthew 4:6.  He expects us to walk through life carefully and wisely.  It is true, in regards to more than money, that “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

 

 

#2) Love Of Others Is Still The Royal Law — James 2:8:  Whether or not we as believers or as a church are comfortable with the risk — real or imagined — does not negate the fact that others also matter.  Those with comorbidity issues, and the workers on the front lines who have to deal with what is REALLY happening on various fronts.

 

 

#3) Appearances Do Matter — I Corinthians 89-13:  Let me simple illustrate that point by using a recent Federal ruling regarding church gatherings.  The Federal courts have agreed with churches and pastors that holding a drive-in church service is permitted.  I am in no position to know whether the government’s original intent was malicious. 3  Nevertheless, even with that present-day allowance, as a local church or as a pastor, I would not hold a drive-in service — Romans 14:1-16 — conclusion: “Let not then your good be evil spoken of.”

While I might be allowed, I believe that it will be easily misunderstood and viewed as Christians not caring about others, Christians have no regard for the laws, Christians are the crazies we thought they were.

May God forbid anyone who attends from dying of  COVID-19.  “Real, imagined, or perceived,” it will not matter.  It will go viral — and by some, maliciously.

 

 

#4) Politics & The Church Is A Bad Mixture — I Corinthians 6:14-18: Yes, I could have quote the words of Jesus — Luke 24:20.  However, I Corinthians 6:14-18 is often used with respect to marriage, but is it not equally politically true.

There has been enough divisiveness and division in the church because of politics.  Oblique and circuitous references to what the government . . . . .

is doing
should be doing
is strangely not doing
may be doing without our knowledge
is maliciously looking to do
is not doing, which they should be
etc.

. . . . only strains the already present divisiveness in the church.

When pastors/church leaders make oblique and/or even clear political statements about this health-and-financial crisis, they portray this crisis as a biblical issue and the worthy subject of a Scriptural examination.

Our response to this crisis is worthy of a Scriptural examination, but the politics which attach to this crisis are just that — politics.

 

 

#5) The Sheperd’s Role Is Comfort — Psalm 24:  The Shepherd of the flock is not there to beat the sheep up — whether it be politically, financially, or theologically (“trust God!”).  God’s people do not need political opinions, but practical, spiritual, biblical truths brought home to our minds and hearts, which comforting and control — “Let this blest assurance control.”

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.”

 

 

#6). The Church Is Diverse  — I Thessalonians 5:14: There are real concerns, fears, anxiety, and doubts.  That does not speak of “faithlessness” or of an inferior spirituality. Instead, it illustrates for us today what the book of Psalms, the trials of Job, the story of Joseph was really like as they lived it out.  It gives us an understanding of the saints of ages past, and those today who face such fears and doubts daily in lands that are facing daily persecution and death.

There will be a great variety of responses and mixed responses to what is taking place in the areas of health and business.  Mixed emotions are what we all work our way through, given time and thought.  Much will be said and written after this is all over —  hindsight is 20/20.  But for now, rejoice in the church’s diversity — from some “who-have-just-been-saved” to those “who-have-been-saints” for 50 plus years — and everywhere in between!

 

 

#7) Disconcerting Is Okay, Overwhelmed Is Not —   II Corinthians 6:9-10 states, “As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

There are events in life which are difficult, painful, tragic, and disconcerting. We are not to be overwhelmed with or paralyzed by fear.  Rather, we are to balance our fears by what we know — “for we know” — II Corinthians 5:1 / Romans 8:28 / I John 2:18; 3:2; 3:18 / Revelation 5 / Romans 8:22  . . . . .

 

#8). Christianity Is Not Stoicism — II Corinthians 4:16-18: There are events in life which are difficult, painful, tragic, and disconcerting.  Let’s not go “stoic.” [3] Christianity is not a form of a Scriptually packaged stoicism.  Rather, it is — faith, hope, and love

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

 

#9) Be The Church — Matthew 16:18 :  A great reminder, which our church placards, states, “Still The Church.”  Be the church!  Don’t try to be what we have not been called to be.  We are not a political organization.  Pastor/leaders are not called upon to be prophets, which proclaim that this is God’s judgement of America.  We are the church that has “Good News,” “The Gospel of Peace.” [4]

 

 

#10) Be Biblically Practical — I Timothy 3:2: If anyone ought to be practical and effective when it comes to communicating, it ought to be the preachers and teachers.  You have spent your life in the world of Scripture and communication.

Be biblical AND ALSO PRACTICAL!  I have already addressed that, if you are interested in more on this last point, click on the link.

 

Ready for some “Peer Review”

 



 

Other Notes & Footnotes:

1. There have been a few articles, here and there, which I have tripped across, that touched on some interesting and valid points. I would have expected more pastors and church leaders to write and/or speak directly to the subject, other than from a political vantage.

 

2. Regulation can be a form of persecution, but then so is using the pandemic to close down abortion clinics — and I am pro-life.  Nevertheless, that use of the pandemic is the very kind of over-reach that can be used against believers and churches.

 

3. John Dryden

“Since every man who lives is born to die,
And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend;
The world’s an inn, and death the journey’s end.”

 

4.  I am sure that the Lord uses all the events of life for His purposes.  Nothing happens without coming across His desk and stamped approved.  I am sure that most all would agree with the fact that God is “involved” in this event — outside of those who attribute this to Satan — and maybe they are right as a secondary cause? – hummmn?

However, God’s involvement and activity would be true about all the various health “epidemics” — seasonal flu which takes out 40-80,000 – yr / heart disease which takes out 635,000 -yr / cancer-600,000 / accidents 160,000 / respiratory disease 154,000 / death via stroke 140,000 – – – – etc.  — and these are in America, not to mention around the world and in third world countries even higher per capita numbers.

It really is amazing how many people die, and how few the average person is aware of around them and in their world of family-friends-acquaintances.

Primary and/or Secondary causes by a sovereign God! — Yes, He decrees and allows — stamps approved — of all the event of life and living, of all the events of the nations

The fact that God is at work would be true across this globe because we are living in a fallen world —  the pain, sorrow, sinful consequences, anguish, despair, depression, psychological illnesses, violence, wars, drugs, cartels, trafficking, sexual disease, divorce, family breakdown, alcoholism, WORLD-wide wars, etc.

His everlasting message has been — “this world is broken” — something is terribly wrong, and the cause is sin and rebellion

Therefore, I am not sure I want to say that God is judging America . . . . .

a- because theologically the plan and program of God — of blessing and curses — was the old covenant with Israel.  “Do this and live,”  “rebel and die.”  That was for Israel under the Mosaic covenant.  America and the church was never part of that covenant.
b – because I am not sure we as God’s people or pastors have been called to be prophets, who can announce the mind of God, and what He is or is not doing through this, doing in relationship to America, doing in regards to God’s people in America, etc.
Proclaiming that we know the mind of God is a pretty slippery path.  And prophets who are mistaken can be stoned – lol.
c- While God took out Sodom and Gomorrah, He did not take out all cities, or other cities, in other ages, which were as wicked as S&G.  I have a few I could suggest He ought to go after.
I have a few groups He ought to strike down dead, and it would change what is happening — How about those who make money off of sex trafficking — and that of women and of children.  How about drug traffickers.  Or those who seek to make money off of the misery and ruined lives of others by the sales of opioids and alcohol — Just a few on my list.
Does God, by not causes an epidemic of death on such groups of people, mean that He has no interest in judging them and shaking up their world — unto repentance?
d- Is American more wicked that Iran, China’s XI, etc.?  Why are they still standing?
e- How come the poorest of the poor —  third world countries — are also being impacted?  It must be that they are too materialistic and/or irreligious, God-deniers, etc.

5.  You are the leader of the church ministry!  This is not the time to figure out what you want to do or what you want to be as the church. You should have been a smooth-functioning church before this crisis, so that these days operate far more smoothly that much of the world’s organizations.   What are you doing today to make the church run smoothly tomorrow — financially, socially, technologically, operationally, spiritually?

 

 

 

 

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