COVID-19 and GCC

I was asked by a PCA minister whether I might publish a new post based upon a comment I made in the original post. That comment is #2 below. At his recommendation I expand a bit upon the original comment. I have also taken the opportunity to contextualize comment #2 by including in this new post another comment (#1) from my original COVID-19 post.

#1 [Grace Community Church (GCC) deems it sin for their doors not to be open for congregational worship. They must offer the opportunity to assemble but to my knowledge they don’t suggest member non-attendance is sin.] If the obedience to God premise is somehow now unwittingly off the table as it relates to congregants attending worship, then the entire GCC argument hangs on the premise that the government “overstepped its bounds” yet without requiring worshippers to disobey God. Given that the church is not the ecclesiastical magisterium but those who profess the true religion along with their children, who does GCC leadership believe is in a position to disobey God by submitting to civil authorities?

Granting the validity of the GCC premise, which I don’t subscribe to, that’s a pretty weak hand to play given that Scripture teaches we are to submit even to tyrannical government unless it would be disobedient to God to do so. [Note: Disobedience would have to be considered not just in light of the objective law that binds objectively, but also in light of he law of love that leaves room for taking civil abuse for a season yet also affords room for defying an oppressor lest one sins in non-action.] If the leadership at GCC has abandoned, or never held to, an obedience to God premise as it relates to congregants having to assemble lest they sin, then what’s their case? Even if our government would one day overstep its bounds in this regard, it would be difficult (though not impossible) to build an argument that begins with the government violating two other lawful spheres of government (ecclesiastical and family government) to the conclusion that: we must break the civil law (based upon a subjective wisdom-driven application of the moral law of God) but aren’t objectively required by the moral law of God to break the civil law. That would take a bit more finesse than I believe I’ve seen. And as noted in the original post, the command not to forsake assembling may not be used here in that wooden way. The church hasn’t been forsaking its first love for the charms of this present age. Hebrews 10:25 does not apply. Neither does Acts 5:29.

#2 What I have found most striking about the debate is that neither side distinguishes an edict from the consequent of an edict. The consequent is derivative, not immediate. For instance, imagine a radioactive leak near a community. The civil authorities ban assembling (malls, schools, churches etc.) within an x mile radius. Churches are within that radius. The edict is the ban. The resultant effect is the church may not assemble in its building. Or imagine road construction involving explosives on a main artery that runs by a church. The work is only done on the weekends. The government forbids traffic for months. In both scenarios assembly would be forbidden as a result of the edict. Is the government regulating worship or is it mandating safety that in turn impinges upon worship? That seems relevant. In such cases the government would not be directly regulating worship. Rather, the government would be operating within its divinely appointed sphere. The result would in turn impinge upon the practice of another sphere. That’s common place. Fire codes can impinge upon worship assembly. If a government feared evening bombings during war time, it could ban evening lights in a city, which in turn would impinge upon worship. 

The government may not overstep its bounds and directly regulate worship. If it tries to, the church need not submit (though it may be wise to for a time) even if submission would not require objective sin as it relates to law proper or simpliciter; though in such cases not to submit would have to be predicated upon a personal conviction that to submit would be a violation of liberty of conscience against the law of love and a greater cause for Christ. But that is not what is going on here. The government is impinging upon our comforts but only as it operates within its rightful jurisdiction. Our discomfort is a byproduct of the government exercising its lawful mandate to rule in a divinely instituted sphere, as apposed to a result of the government assuming unto itself the church’s sphere of government and attempting to influence the church directly. It’s simply naive and hazardous to think that divinely appointed spheres of government (civil, ecclesiastical and family) can or should operate in hermetically sealed silos. Not only do spheres impinge indirectly, they may also directly interfere. Can’t fathers lawfully be removed from the home? Can’t abusive priests lawfully be locked up?

If government were actually to overstep its sphere and in doing so directly impinge upon ecclesiastical government, we would then be placed in the unhappy situation of determining not the government’s sin (that would be a given) but rather our personal sin with respect to acting or not acting, defiance or acquiescence. That must be determined on a case by case basis (and person by person), which without question would require delving into binding aspects of the law of love as it relates to personal application. The point is simply this. We must be mindful, should we ever find ourselves in such a dilemma, that in an objective revelatory sense we don’t have to wage non-spiritual activist-type war against oppression, though we may and sometimes should in a wisdom non-revelatory sense. The oughtness in such cases would be a matter of spiritual discernment and not a matter of objective black and white law. A more common example would be when should a wife exercise the liberty to put away her unfaithful husband for his abuse of his governing role as her head? Although God’s revealed law allows divorce, it doesn’t require it. In some instances it’s imaginable that a woman should divorce as unto the Lord, even for the sake of her children and her personal service to God. We are often required by God to act when there is no objective command to do so. Discernment and wisdom presuppose these normative aspects of life.

8 thoughts on “COVID-19 and GCC

  1. These are well thought out arguments. However, I don’t think they’re accurate. When the government has a radioactive leak or road construction, they’re banning congregating at the church, but not the Walmart right next door. That’s the problem. The other problem is that there isn’t any construction going on, nor is there a radioactive leak.

    If there were an actual pandemic, there would be no need for the government to warn people of this fact, nor would they need to notify someone that they’re sick. People are glued to their technocracy rather than looking at what is going on in reality.

    The claim is that we need to look at the science, but there is no science behind these mandates. I was just in a library and the air conditioning was practically blowing a gale. To then suggest that singing is more likely to spread this virus is patently false.

    I have yet to see anyone practicing social distancing around me. I routinely see people either not wearing masks, or wearing them below their nose, or around their necks. Nobody is taking this seriously, and for good reason. There is no pandemic. I can’t count how many people have admitted that this is nothing more than a power grab; a test run to see how many people comply.


    1. “These are well thought out arguments. However, I don’t think they’re accurate. When the government has a radioactive leak or road construction, they’re banning congregating at the church, but not the Walmart right next door. That’s the problem. The other problem is that there isn’t any construction going on, nor is there a radioactive leak.”

      The first part is unclear to me. The second part seems to dismiss the relevance of analogy.

      The rest of your post doesn’t seem to interact with the substance of my post. You’ve merely voiced an opinion on the government’s judgement. Even granting that your opinion is correct, it doesn’t undermine the position that is before you. Moreover, do you see that you have proved too much? If correct opinion trumps incorrect opinion, then there is no such thing as true authority in any sphere. We’d only submit when it seems correct, which isn’t truly submission.


      1. Why is the first part unclear? Have you see any Walmart, Home Depot, etc. closed lately? It is churches that are closed, not any of these other establishments that also allow people to walk around, talk, sing, etc. The analogy is accurate so I’m not the one doing the dismissing here.

        I have not merely voiced an opinion. Do your due diligence my friend. There is no scientific evidence to even accurately identify this corona virus to begin with. Furthermore, only the CDC is even allowed to provide testing materials. Do you know why? Because they own not only the patents on these viruses, but the methods for conducting testing. Are they conducting double blind tests? Not yet, and don’t hold your breath either. They don’t have to. They don’t have to provide a safe or effective vaccine because they have legal immunity from prosecution. Bill Gates has pointed this out repeatedly as well, and he ought to know given how much of the CDC and WHO he already owns.

        The average time it takes to come up with a vaccine for one of these corona viruses is 20 years. The shortest being 7. As of right now, there are no safe or effective vaccines for any of the corona viruses that have been around for the last 20 years, and yet we’re supposed to believe the prophetic utterances of the likes of Anthony Fauci just because he predicted with pinpoint accuracy that there was going to be a pandemic this year? How did he know that? Was it their Event 21 simulation? How about the fact that they had been planning this for the previous two years?

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      2. “Why is the first part unclear?”

        It’s unclear because this statement appears to be an assertion without support: “When the government has a radioactive leak or road construction, they’re banning congregating at the church, but not the Walmart right next door.”

        “Have you see any Walmart, Home Depot, etc. closed lately?”

        No, but neither have I seen a radioactive leak or road construction that has banned churches either. Therefore, your counterfactuals appear bias, they also don’t interact with the post.They strike me as more opinion than interactive argumentation.

        “I have not merely voiced an opinion.”

        Let’s see… First off, you won’t deny that you have voiced your opinion. Therefore, what you must be objecting to is that you believe you have not *merely* voiced your opinion. In other words, you believe you’ve actually argued something. If so, then would it be too much to ask that you string together a series of premises (from your posts) where the conclusion follows with necessity?

        “There is no scientific evidence to even accurately identify this corona virus to begin with…”

        That makes my point. Even if I grant all your opinions, you have yet to address the substance of the paradigm. Even if the government exercises bad judgment when acting within its divinely appointed domain of authority, the affect upon the church is derivative and not direct. Therefore, they are not assuming to themselves ecclesiastical authority. Since they haven’t assumed to themselves ecclesiastical authority (either in act or discernible motive), how may we say they’ve overstepped their bounds? Do their edicts if obeyed require sin on the part of worshippers?


  2. Consider a different scenario: For safety reasons the government reduces the allowable occupancy of a church building from 5,000 to 50. Does the church just comply? Or do they defy, recognizing that God has set limits on what laws the government is permitted to enact?


    1. I cannot render a worthy opinion without knowing more about the hypothetical. For instance, I could imagine scenarios in which congregants would be unwise to gather up to fifty persons in a 5,000 person capacity building. Given such scenarios, it would not be disobedient to comply with government by not exercising even such restricted liberty granted by government. Yet if the restriction only pertained to churches and not to other sorts of similar size gatherings, then we would enter into the question of whether the government for all intents and purposes is directly regulating worship as opposed to impinging upon worship derivatively with no intent to single out worship services. In those such cases, we must apply other principles, some of which are touched upon above.

      What the unthinking Christian does not grapple with is there are conditions that would have to be met in order to defy government ordained by God. So far, the conditions put forth that I’ve seen either are explicitly or implicitly inconsistent and arbitrary. Inconsistent because they would not be applied in analogous scenarios, and arbitrary because they are not placed within any resemblance of a reasoned defense of a paradigm or system by which those conditions can be tested for consistency sake. All I’ve seen is frustration giving way to irrational rhetoric coming from the defenders of the GCC decision.

      Perhaps better and more relevant questions we might be asking pertain to whether there is a biblical basis of having so many members if they cannot all be adequately shepherded by the elders.


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