Praying Like Its 1350? The Effect of Coronavirus on “Proving Faith”

Praying Like Its 1350? The Effect of Coronavirus on “Proving Faith” March 14, 2021

In the light of the COVID-19 epidemic we are seeing some of the deepest darkest places in the church come to life. Things that we thought the church had stopped doing in the dark ages are being laid bare, and it is surprising, saddening and in some cases downright embarrassing. The biggest way it is showing up is Pastors, telling their people to ignore scientific and medical evidence and continue to go to church. When it comes to a church having service during a time of health concern, I have heard many voices from many different churches, but one in particular has cut me to the core. It has saddened me and frustrated me at the same time.

“Prove Your Faith”

This voice is the voice of “Prove your Faith” within many churches. I am hearing that during this time of mandated social distancing there are churches who refuse to change their schedules or refuse to cancel services because “God is bigger than Coronavirus.” I have this to say regarding that statement; And even though it is specific to the issues we have been facing since March of 2020 it does not change the reality of the truth of scripture seen here in any timeframe.

Yes, God is bigger than Coronavirus and yes our faith is stronger than the fear the virus is spreading. However, it concerns me church leaders are convincing people that they need to prove their faith by going to church. I have a few thoughts regarding this stance. 1.) If you are going to church in the middle of an outbreak to “prove” your faith, you do not understand orthodox Christian theology.

  1. As Christians, totally dependent on Christ, not only do we not have to prove our faith, we are incapable of proving it.
  2. Romans 3:10-12: 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Nothing you are EVER going to do is going to prove you are a “good Christian” or that your faith is strong. Going to church amid a Pandemic to prove your faith is a pointless gesture. And it is dangerous, putting people in vulnerable populations at risk. If you are a pastor, telling your congregation to come to church and they will be safe, you are playing a dangerous game of virus chicken. And for what? You can not prove your faith, so what is the point?

Cherry Picked Gems for the Moment

This “gem” has been thrown around to show that Christians will be protected: This is how you will see that the Lord shows the distinction between Egypt and Israel. -Exodus 11:7

The argument is that God will not allow the true people of God to be infected by this modern-day plague. The problem here is if you believe this, you are cherry picking scripture! Context matters when discussing scripture! The plagues of Israel were created specifically by God for one purpose- to free the people of Israel form the bondage of Egypt. The people were made aware of it before hand by God and then given specific instruction by God on what to do to prevent dying from this plague. See Exodus 12:1-13.

Read these verses in their entirety and then read them again! Do you see how specific the Lord was in His instruction, so there was no mistake? Do you see both Aaron and Moses were told this? This tells me two things. If you believe the Lord has told you to continue to hold service at the risk of your congregation, who else did he tell? He has always informed the people as one unit! The Coronavirus doesn’t meet the context of this verse. No one, including myself has received a word like this at this time. Not to mention, the Word came before the plague, not during! Are we saying if a Christian dies of the Coronavirus they weren’t really a Christian? That’s very Salem Which Trial of you to say!

Using the Faith of The Black Death

If Christians come into contact with Coronavirus, they will be infected. This idea has also been thrown around Facebook- “The church held service during the Black Death” Maybe we don’t use the incarnation of the church that created the Pear of Anguish to decide the next steps of the modern church. This is a theologically and scientifically ignorant argument. Yes, Churches did hold service during the Black Death, And Christians died! In just three years, 1348 to 1350, the Black Death killed more than one-third of the entire population between Iceland and India. The disease, bubonic plague, was so lethal some went to bed well and died before morning; some doctors caught the illness at the patient’s bedside and died before the patient, about 20 million deaths.

And what did the church do? It encouraged prayer and marches through plague areas to petition God. And they died. This is not martyrdom, this is murder by pastors and leaders of the flock. The Black Death occurred in the most Christian dense part of earth at the time, and over 20 million people died. So firstly, comparing Coronavirus to the Black Death is grossly inaccurate, but using an argument from the 1350’s on what the church should do about it is far more egregious! They didn’t die because they lacked faith or didn’t attend service, they died because they didn’t know congregating would make it worse. We know better and we must do better.

No Fear and Sound Mind

I have also seen the “God did not give us a Spirit of Fear” attitude as a reason to not be afraid and go to church. Again, this is high order cherry picking and unacceptable Theology. Let’s look at this verse: 2 Timothy 1:7-8:   6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. 8So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. 

What is the reason for not having fear? Persecution, not disease. But even if your argument is that the government is trying to prevent you from assembling, there is a comma after “God did not give us a spirit of fear, not a period. The amplifying information tells us we were given, peace, love and a sound mind. A sound mind speaks to intelligence. If my congregation has an average age of 72, and the virus is most deadly to those over 60, is it intelligent to have them gather? Absolutely Not!

You Were Given Intelligence, not just Blind Faith

You were not given a spirit of fear, you should not fear the coronavirus, but you should not intentionally advocate for those who could die from it to expose themselves. How are you suffering for the gospel by getting Coronavirus? What are you proving?   Exercise the sound mind God has given you. Are people overreacting? This is possible. But we have facts that this virus will kill older people and those with preexisting repertory conditions.

As a pastor, you must make the decision based on what you know. If you know you could spread it and hurt anyone, cancel service, conduct alternative services online. Don’t apply 1350’s logic to 2020. Lastly, I’ve heard during this time that since it is only killing 2% of the infected, we shouldn’t care. You will think that way until your relatives or your grandparents fall in that 2%. We must value Christian life the way Jesus values it. If we can save 1, the 99 should stay home. I find it hard for someone to be Pro-Life and put their congregations at risk for nothing.

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4 responses to “Praying Like Its 1350? The Effect of Coronavirus on “Proving Faith””

  1. Huh. Seems that even today there are unscrupulous people who, for their own empowerment, seek to force others to do stupid and foolish things. The pastors who say “God is bigger than Covid” and ignore sensible safety warnings are examples of this: gross arrogance seeking its validation by forcing others into stupid and foolish things for no real reason.
    Sadly, religion has always attracted this sort of Con-person, one who preys on those who seek guidance by giving them foolish and often dangerous directions solely for the Con’s personal Narcissism.
    They can be held responsible – but those who foolishly conform to their self-dealing directions will take more hurt than they do. Why must “religion” too often equal “Abandon good sense”?

  2. As part of the faith community, former pastor’s wife, and a teacher in a Christian school, I realize people take great comfort in the church. The rhetoric about coming to church about no matter what is about money. People who don’t attend in person often don’t give. Churches have budgets to make.
    Thousands of people have contracted the virus through attending church during a pandemic. Many pastors have urged attendees not to wear masks to show their faith. This type of behavior is the equivalent of being double dog dared on the playground. The difference is people become ill and some die. 500, 000 and counting.
    These same pastors tell the congregants that Jesus is their vaccine and to forgo an actual vaccine. That’s gambling with people’s lives. In the end, people need to exercise their intelligence and free will.

  3. To those who say goig to your preferred house od worship during a pandemic, I say, “You shall not tempt God.” You should be using your God=given commonsense and follow the instructions of public authorities who have in most cases have been acting on the best, most recent information from scientist. God gave them the intelligence to investigate and figure out infectious diseases. Even the Saudi authorities cancelled the Hajj last year in order to halt the spread of Covid-19, and mosques have been closed to public services. Why? Because this is a disease which is passed on by those infected individuals to others. Wearing masks, washing hands and social distamcing are ways to break the chain of infection.

    If you have to go to church to prove your love for, and faith in, God, you need to question yourself. Christians believe that God is everywhere, so he can be worshipped at home just as well as in a church. The pastors who are encouraging these mass services have much to answer for.

  4. I’ve been reading a bit of Medieval history and find that much of this behavior we’re seeing now was in evidence then as well. People engaged in various behaviors to beseech God to save them from the plague. Extreme examples of this were the flagellants. I cannot see how the behavior of many today during this pandemic is not in any respect different from that of Medieval folks.
    And some of the cruelty is reminiscent of Medieval madness, also. People trying to grab masks off someone’s face. People intentionally coughing on others. People going into stores and raising a ruckus because some underpaid employee suggests they should wear a mask. In Medieval times, there were sick individuals going around tossing the clothing from plague victims into houses in order to infect the occupants.
    In some ways, humans just can’t change.

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