On Irony

Have you noticed a certain irony in the vaccine mandates? The issue of “bodily autonomy” or “bodily integrity” has come to the forefront. Can the State or an employer demand your submission to a medical procedure, even a vaccine? (In making my case for bodily autonomy, I do not mean the autonomy of the person before God. I mean, the freedom to refuse a medical invasion into their bodies. The requirement to receive a medical treatment for employment, housing, education—to participate in society—autonomy not in the face of God, but of other humans).

The irony is this: since 1973 in the United States and 1969 in Canada, millions of children were denied their bodily autonomy by the medical community, Planned Parenthood, and NGOs. But all involved knew that the killing the “product of conception” is killing a real child. The preborn child is no less a human than a born child or an adult.

Killing an innocent is the ultimate violation of bodily autonomy—there is no consent, certainly no safety—the child has absolutely no opportunity to say, “My body, my choice.” Where is the choice of the preborn? What child would choose to be tortured or burned to death? Does the child voluntarily surrender her organs to labs?

When abortion was legalized in the US, the buzzwords were, “It’s just a blob of flesh,” or “it’s not a human,” “an abortion is just like having a tonsillectomy or an appendectomy.” Where was the scientific community when these false claims were circulating? Certainly, any biologist knew in 1969 and 1973 that these were human babies, not mere blob of flesh. The scientific community let millions of children down and let them die. Many scientists and doctors participated in this lie.

So “my body, my choice” has nearly vanished as a rallying cry for abortion rights. This is good because 1) the phrase was never true. It is obviously a case of the “preborn child’s body, someone else’s choice.” An abortion kills a human. 2) But the phrase is also gone because it is so inconvenient for those who demand state rights over each person’s body. How can, “My body, my choice” help the vaccination cause? It cannot. What has been a battle-cry for the pro-abortion crowd is now unutterable.

So there’s one irony—a decades long demand for bodily autonomy of the mother is now set aside in favour of a demand to submit all to vaccines, even by coercion and force. I don’t have statistics on this, but I would venture to guess that the vast majority of those who demand unrestricted abortions will also demand total restrictions on human liberties, including the liberty to decline a medical procedure.  “My body, my choice” has finally found a home in science, logic, and morality.

But there is even a greater irony here: the demand for the abortions of millions, in the name of bodily autonomy, has brought us to the point where we are fighting for what is lost . . . bodily autonomy!

Yes, we have denied the protection of the body in the womb for so many decades, and God has brought us to this point—where we are finally willing to fight for the protection of the body. This doesn’t apply to non-Christians who are all two happy to surrender their bodies (and yours, and your children’s) to vaccine mandates.

The church, overall, has been complacent in the face of the abortion holocaust. We might make some donations, protest a bit, but we have made little progress. There are, of course, some shining stars. Compare the protesters in Ottawa—they are raging over this issue, and most of them do not even understand that our nation is under the judgement of God. They know deeply that there is a serious problem but are unlikely to identify its source as the idolatrous aspirations of the atheist State. They have lost the rights to their own bodies and can only explain this as Christians.

Because we have permitted abortions, we have surrendered the rights to our bodies. The State can invade the womb, and so it can invade your body too.

Everyone is affected by this war of the State against its people, but it is the church that needs to confess and repent of her sin of complacency. We know why this is happening. When a million people or more didn’t show up to protest abortion, and refuse to leave until it was declared unlawful, we knew how little the church cared. Now it seems that the loss of bodily autonomy for all the born reflects the loss to the unborn.

So what is it, church? Will we be revived and reformed?

Anti-Intellectual Christians

[edit: I want to clarify that an intellectual is not defined by one’ s formal education or credentials, but by the act of thinking. An intellectual is a critical thinker who asks questions, evaluates them, asks more questions, and seeks answers. When contradictions and inconsistencies arise, further questions are asked. When stonewalled and gaslighted, a critical thinker knows he is over the target.
A university education alone in no way creates a critical thinker–indeed it may promote group-think and close off critical thought. This is especially the case in the past few decades. I also know that this statement will brand me as an anti-intellectual. So be it.]

[The problem of anti-intellectualism in the church has a long history. I am skirting that history and hope I am forgiven for this. By anti-intellectualism I mean that form of religion that resists critical-thinking. It is an accusation that gets tossed around far too easily. It is a conscious withdrawal from the intellectual conflicts that inevitably arise when one holds to a religious faith in the face of another faith.]

“Christians are anti-intellectual.” This has been the charge since the late 19th century. At that time, many denominations and universities, once explicitly Christian, scrambled for credibility in the academy by accepting the presupposition of modernism: the universe is a closed system with no God and no supernatural intervention. On these terms, every miracle in Scripture had to be reinterpreted as myth. Of course, the divine inspiration of Scripture had to be rejected and God could only be kept as a personal chaplain to one’s own feelings, fears, and hopes.

There are really two reasons Christians who rejected the anti-supernatural biases of the day were labelled anti-intellectual: First, Christians rejected the assumptions of the modernist view of the universe. The assumption that the entire universe, all of it, was reducible to matter and energy. Because they did not accept the findings of the “assured results of modern science,” they were labelled as far less intelligent and backwoods rubes.

The second reason, and much more serious one, is that far too many Christians actually were anti-intellectual. Difficult, complex, and challenging questions left unanswered. Darwin, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, all presented challenges to the Biblical narrative, and many churches, denominations, and schools simply were not up to the task. Some were frantically trying to “save faith” from the onslaught of materialism and not spending their energies answering the false worldviews. These worldviews have proven in the 20th century to be devastating to humanity, but the Bible-believing church was largely quiet.

Some saw this as an answer:

Brunner maintained that the biblical witness could not be taken seriously in light of the assured results of modern science: “The conflict between the teaching of history, natural science and paleontology, on the origins of the human race, and that of the ecclesiastical doctrine, waged on both sides with the passion of a fanatical concern for truth, has led, all along the line, to the victory of the scientific view, and to the gradual but inevitable decline of the ecclesiastical view.… The pitiable comedy which is produced when theology claims that a ‘higher, more perfect’ human existence of the first generation existed in a sphere not accessible to research, as it retires before the relentless onward march of scientific research, should be abandoned, once for all, since it has for long provoked nothing but scorn and mockery, and has exposed the message of the Church to the just reproach of ‘living at the back of beyond.’ … The ecclesiastical doctrine of Adam and Eve cannot compete with the impressive power of this scientific knowledge.” Emil Brunner, Man in Revolt: A Christian Anthropology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1947), 85–87.

But we know better now. We should have pointed out that atheistic, materialist science is thoroughly religious: it presupposes that God does not exist because it cannot prove His existence. But if science cannot prove His existence then it must also admit that it cannot disprove it either. Both the Christian and the atheist live by faith at this point, but the atheist must be arbitrary and irrational. The Christian believes that knowledge is only rationally possible, that is, certain, if there is a God who Created and ordered the world.

But rather than to address this as the worldview assumption it is, the answer from the church was often, “just believe,” or “you need to accept what you are told,” or “your questions show a lack of faith.”

This led to a “Check your brains at the door” mentality. Although it has always been true that the faith speaks to the mind, the assumption was that faith had no answers. Faith was separated from fact. It became widely accepted that Christianity had no answers, so those asking the questions went on as thought that were true. Looking to the church for alternatives to the dehumanizing view of mankind, (Darwin, Marx) none was offered. (I will note here that there were many who did answer and did so very well. Those answers were largely dismissed because they rested on a pro, not anti supernatural worldview. It must be remembered that anti-supernaturalism has not nor cannot be proved. It is assumed).

I have much more to say about how this has worked out in our culture—the loss of Christian influence in almost every institution and sphere of life, most notably those of government, education, and media, but others have pointed this out.

But I want to get to the point: we are doing it again. We are choosing to be anti-intellectual in our response to Covid-19 and the rules set down by civil governments.

How often did we hear these phrases? “Stay home, stay safe,” “follow the science” “masks save lives” “vaccines save lives” and others? Besides these, how many churches, (following a defective reading of Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17), have without thought (critical thinking) succumbed to mandates to close their doors, restrict attendance, track attendance, demand masks, forbid worship in song, forbid the Lord’s supper, forbid assembly, and demand vaccine passports for attendees? We have uncritically accepted that online worship is equivalent to the assembly that defines the church (see Hebrews 10:25). It has even been reported to me that a group of churches in New Brunswick met with the Minister of Health in that province to ask how they might further co-operate with the already severe lockdowns.

Were any of these rules, regulations, and bylaws ever arrived at by real science and critical thinking? Were any of them adopted by churches after careful study of the Scriptures (which are sufficient for faith and practise in the church) and prayer? I don’t think so. It was “the State said it and that’s good enough for us.” We did what we were told and even with the science changed and contradicted itself, we held on to the myths that promised safety and freedom in exchange for obedience.

Why are we accepting a science that is based upon the irrational worldview of atheistic materialism? Why is the church, apparently without much thought, bowing to this?

This is anti-intellectualism! In allowing the State to define us, we have shouted to the world that we have no answers and no hope. Our hope is in the name of the State! Just believe and obey the State. Check your brains at the door (when you’re finally allowed to approach it).

There are people looking to Christ’s and His church right now, but they will be disappointed in us.

We proclaim that we have a hope in the resurrection, but our fear betrays our unbelief in that reality. Our fear of sickness and death shows that we are as terrified as anyone else.

We proclaim that Christ is Lord over all things and is Head of the Church. Our actions have shown the watching world that we only acknowledge Christ as King over all if we have permission!

We believe that God is sovereign, and in His providence, nothing happens outside His will. But we live as though we too are on our own. We are practical atheists.

We are in a crisis of credibility, and we have largely lost it. Perhaps as many as 300 churches in Canada, many of them very small, have done the hard work of resisting the propaganda. Some have paid a high price in fines and imprisonment. All have been smeared as foolish. But in God’s history, we will be seen as anything but anti-intellectual.

Repent.

Closing Your Church is Neither Loving Your Neighbhour Nor is it a Good Witness to the Community

First, to dispense with the second point in the title. Yes, Christian leaders are to be well thought of by outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7). By extension, this command applies to all Christians at all times (1 Timothy 2:2, Titus 3:2, Romans 12:8).

This command does not, however, cover the message of the Gospel, which will be despised by outsiders, along with the man delivering it. If the Gospel is preached, God’s Law must be preached first. The penalty for sin must be stated, and the righteous wrath of God, poured out on sinners, must be fully explained. The love of God in sending Christ as a propitiation for our sins must be stated fully. Romans 3:19-26. Men will hate this, and count it foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). If leaders wish to always be well thought of by outsiders, they would need to be in full accordance with the powers, principalities, and authorities who are against Christ.

What needs to be said is that being thought well of by outsiders is to not be a hypocrite. Romans 2:24, quoting Isaiah 53:5, says, “For, as it is written, “‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'” (English Standard Version). When Christians condemn sin, yet sin in the same manner, they act hypocritically and will spoil their witness to the watching world. But the world is not who we must please—it is Christ, and we must honour His word. When we obey Christ, we will bring scorn and dishonour upon ourselves. This is the history of the church in Acts and the experience of Christians at all times and in all places.

When we follow government edicts, made over the church where the government has no rightful rule, we declare to the community that the civil government is lord of the Church, not Christ. The civil government has declared Christ’s church gathered to be nonessential, and thousands of churches agreed! That was our witness! Churches that have done so must repent, and so witness to the community that they have failed and resolve not to fail again.

It is also said that closing churches in a time of pandemic is “loving your neighbour.” This is curious for a people who believe that the Lord’s Supper, remembered weekly, is of utmost importance. This is odd for a people who believe that without the Gospel, men and women must enter Hell. This is strange thinking for a Christians who have decried the cheapening of faith by televangelists, only to become televangelists en masse in one week!

By misreading Romans 13:1-7 and submitting to the lockdowns we have taken up the cause, (in the name of neighbourly love), of those who turned long-term care centres into death camps; sacrificed the spiritual well-being of children under the misguided attempt to keep vulnerable people safe; ruined careers and hopes; left many elderly to die alone and heartbroken. There is much more. But we did that, Christians, when we out of fear of overwrought obedience, denied Christ’s lordship over His church. If we had affirmed Christ’s Lordship, Canada would be a different place today.

This is pressing upon me because we are about to go around again, this time over the issue of vaccines. I have no interest in discussing the efficacy of vaccines at this time. But the medical ethics of a civil government demanding a medical procedure on an unwilling populace is at the same depth of depravity as Nazi Germany or modern China.

If a pastor, elder, or congregation will demand proof of a medical procedure, such as a vaccine, to worship Christ in His peoples’ gathering, in person, they  must be condemned as anti-Christian. In such cases, safety and compliance have become gods. Christians must refuse such idolatry.

Contrary to Paul Carter of the Gospel Coalition Canada , there is a command in Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (ESV). Carter does not deal with verse 24. The subjunctive (let us consider) can serve as an imperative (a command). “Let us consider” is the main verb, not “to meet together” in verse 25. Verse 24 is the command, and what no one seems to ask is, “How can verse 24 be obeyed if the church is not meeting?” It cannot. Failing to meet together is a failure to “stir up one another to love and good works.”

But we have Zoom! Facebook! YouTube. Yes we do. But one of the foundations of Biblical interpretation is that the interpreter must understand a Biblical text as it was understood by the first hearers! How could the readers of Hebrews understand these verses in any way except as meeting together face-to-face? They had no way to encourage, teach, exhort, or discipline one another unless they could see and hear each other.

The first readers did not have Zoom, or any other technology. God meant for the Christian life to be lived in-person, in a real time and a real place.

Meeting together is a necessary condition to obey verse 24 and failing to meet together is to disobey the command. This is why neglecting to meet together is such a serious problem, and can lead to the consequences in verse 26!

This current wave of oppression and outright persecution is going to continue as long as the Lord permits. He is looking for His people to call upon His name and repent from their fear and their idolatry of safety and compliance to the state.