EXPANDED PODCAST VERSION HERE.
I was heartened to see that Affinity is taking the initiative to bring people together to "explore what the Covid-19 pandemic taught us about the health of the UK church", because there has been precious little serious reflection on all that has gone down over the last few years.
As some friends recently wrote to me (emphasis added):
"We are firm in our belief that the recent pandemic was (amongst other things) a compassionate attempt by a merciful God to wake up His church, both by closing our church doors to get our attention, and by highlighting our sinful attitudes (such as our fear, our love of this world, and our lack of discernment). We don’t believe the church was ready before the pandemic, responded rightly when going through it, or has learned its lessons from it since. The church had an opportunity to recognise the pandemic as a message from the Lord and to repent, but instead was determined to carry on and 'build back better'; the Lord may therefore have to bring a mightier shaking upon us, and we are concerned that the church isn’t prepared for this."
So I am grateful that Affinity is trying to tackle at least one of these problems and in a sense the primary one, in seeking to reflect and listen and learn.
Sadly I am unable to tune in tomorrow as I have an all-day meeting, but I wanted to take this opportunity to collate some of the concerns that I have had and still have about the health of the UK Church as revealed through the Covid-19 years, and to add in one or two new ones.
My hope is that these might provoke questions and discussion-points for those who are able to participate tomorrow.
Rather than develop any of these into substantial arguments here, in no particular order I will simply flag some of the issues and questions that I believe deserve deeper consideration.
In a word I think our problem could be summed like this: We are worldly. The world is in the Church.
We share the same idols as our wider culture: we idolise the State, looking to them to provide at some level our “salvation” and trusting in their inherent goodness (though we say we believe in original sin and total depravity); we idolise the “experts”, particularly scientists, as the high priests of secular humanism; we idolise the NHS and healthcare professionals; we idolise health and safety; we idolise what people think of us and take that as the guide for how we are to “love our neighbour”.
We certainly idolised the vaccine.
I don’t wish to be pedantic or ungenerous, but I do see a glimmer of our being overawed by the “experts” in part of the introduction to Affinity’s event (emphasis added): “Hosted from the offices of the Christian Medical Fellowship in London, leveraging their medical expertise…”
There is an assumption within the Church that when it comes to issues like “abortion” or Covid-19, it is the doctors and scientists who are the experts. Of course, they will know more than the rest of us about their specific field and these technical subjects, but that is not to say that they will necessarily have more moral, theological, or ecclesiological clarity. Indeed, I have found anecdotally when speaking in churches that doctors in particular can be the most resistant to a clear pro-life message. Perhaps that is a discussion for another time.
We allowed these counterfeit authorities to tell us what is good, what is right, what love is, and how we should worship God, over and against what Scripture says. (I explore this here.)
We largely believed and followed the mainstream narrative somewhat uncritically.
One example: The media, together with the Government, strongly asserted (without any evidence) that the jabs would prevent or significantly reduce transmission, and on the back of that made out that the spread of the virus was thanks to the “unvaccinated”. “Anti-vaxxers” were demonised or at the very least treated with suspicion. We were called selfish. Too many church leaders jumped on board with this: they parroted the mainstream message and slapped a Bible verse on top ("love your neighbour"). It is clear that this directive originated with the world and then was pushed through the Church. This simply is not good enough.
We now know for sure that the jabs do not prevent transmission, so the entire premise is found to be false. (The premise that forced care workers out of their jobs, incidentally. Why didn’t we speak up for them? What about love for those neighbours?) But we also knew this at the time, if only we cared to look and think for ourselves – even the manufacturers of the jabs said that they did not know whether it would prevent transmission. So why did we all act as though they did?
Instead of making up our own minds based on the facts, we were swept along by the currents of the mainstream narrative.
COMPLICITY WITH CHILD SACRIFICE
This is all the more concerning when we consider the fact that the jabs used a fetal cell line from a healthy baby girl deliberately killed through “abortion”, and the fact that such organ harvesting continues to this day. What about applying “love your neighbour” to these helpless babies? I suppose, given the Church’s apathy in the face of child sacrifice generally, it is hardly surprising that this wasn’t a question even worth discussing for many. We were also so blinded by fear and propaganda that questioning the goodness of the vaccine had become almost a blasphemy, so for many this had become an unaskable question.
SILENCING AND CENSORSHIP
Following on from this there was very little room for open discussion – those deemed with dissenting opinions were frequently silenced in their own congregations, seen as trouble-makers. This shut down opportunities for reflection and discernment. It was not uncommon to be smeared as selfish (in line with the mainstream narrative) and for our motives to be called into question.
In one post John Stevens labelled those who decided to follow the Bible’s directions for public worship rather than the Government’s guidelines as “petulant teenagers, using our freedom for libertarian self-indulgence rather than exercising wise voluntary self-restraint for the common good”.
We showed ourselves to be willing to entertain total insanity.
This is not in keeping with the “sound mind” we have been given in Christ.
MORE HARM THAN GOOD
It is hard to even mention this without immediately getting drawn into a web of detail, but at the very least we need to ask whether the Government’s measures (chiefly jabs and lockdowns) and our almost wholesale encouragement of and cooperation with them did more harm than good.
When we look at financial catastrophe, continuing excess (non-Covid) deaths, mental health problems, educational and social retardation amongst young people in particular, widespread isolation, suicides, the huge backlog on the NHS, problems for cancer patients being seen to, one has to admit that whether it was jabs or lockdowns or paying people to do nothing or whatever it was: it has deeply damaged the nation.
When you consider this alongside the already-very-low IFR of Covid-19, to me it is clear that overall it has done more harm than good. That has been the net effect.
And that is without even going into the question of vaccine harms, or at the very least the relative ineffectiveness of the jabs, and of the lockdowns.
Everyone still got the virus, and the jabbed still got ill and passed it on.
This isn’t so much to point the finger at the Government but at ourselves: Why did we play along with all this? When so much of this was entirely predictable? We should have been a prophetic voice against the madness.
Or, if all that is too much for you - if you believe that the jabs and lockdowns did save considerable numbers of lives and that this could reasonably be weighed up against the monumental costs (including on people's health and physical lives) - what about this more conservative question: If we were willing to go to such great lengths for such a modest benefit margin, why are we so unwilling to do anything against the genocide of a quarter of a million babies every year in the UK?
What's really driving us?
My points, no doubt, raise more questions than they answer. Good! That is what tomorrow is for.
I encourage anyone who can to sign up and participate in the event.
I pray that the Lord guides the discussions and brings clarity and, where necessary, repentance.
May all hearts and minds be open to what the Spirit is saying.