My main concern is that a number of Christians have begun to point the finger at churches which have opened. They are being called childish, dangerous, and rebellious. Their leaders’ character is attacked. Some believers point at Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, and demand unconditional obedience to government. It is simple, they say. Even if there is low risk to health, we must obey the government. To do otherwise is a bad example, and a poor witness. It does not show love.
This attitude is not, and never has been, taken for granted in Reformed churches. We deny that God has given the government the authority to either call or to unilaterally prohibit worship. Worship is called by God himself.
Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of believers refusing to listen to government edicts when it comes to worship. Daniel’s three friends defied the emperor, and refused to worship the statue, and the Lord defended them. Daniel himself defied the emperor, and insisted on publicly worshipping the Lord, and the Lord defended him. The temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ involved a call to bow to Satan. At that time, Satan was the ruler of the kingdoms of the earth. The Lord Jesus refused to worship him, and would worship God only. The examples of the apostles, especially Peter and Paul, show that they preached and worshipped often against the will of governments.
Throughout history, believers and their worship were unjustly blamed for all manner of social ills and problems. Fingers were pointed at them for rejecting the gods, and refusing to bow to superstitions. Their lack of fear was seen as foolish. During plagues, many Christians stayed in the cities with the sick, while the others fled…
It is in times like these that this article [85: No church shall in any way lord it over other churches, no minister over other ministers, no elder or deacon over other elders or deacons.] becomes vitally important. Churches are in different regions and under different jurisdictions. Each consistory must wrestle with a unique hodge-podge of factors. There are, undoubtedly, varying views within some consistories. In one area, there may be zero cases for weeks on end. In another, a church may be next door to an overwhelmed hospital, and have had recent COVID deaths. Some consistories may have nurses or doctors sitting at the table with strong opinions, or even have lost an elder or deacon to COVID. We are human, these factors make some cautious. There are good biblical and historic reasons we do not have popes or archbishops, we prefer a multitude of counselors. (Prov. 11:14) That is why things in Reformed churches sometimes move slowly, but we trust with a little more wisdom. It is also why many of us do not agree with letting just the medical experts steer the ship, and why many Ontario folks think that voices like the Honourable Roman’s should be heard out and not cancelled. Knee jerk reactions abound in our day, and they do not actually help with either unity or a comprehensive approach to health.
Christians should be aware that some municipal governments, local police forces, and health units have been veryrespectful to churches as well. Other government agencies have been dismissive and even cruel. Some churches can legally divide into small groups. Members of the churches must understand that few churches are in identical circumstances. We ought to be slow to judge, and quick to think the best of others. We ought to pray that wisdom is given to each consistory.
Due to article 85, we are bound to say that whatever happens in another congregation is not ours to judge in circumstances like these. Despite our own convictions, it is not my place to unilaterally call on all of the churches in Canada to open. Some of us may wish that many of the churches would open. But to “call” them to open would be a step too far. It may even be impossible for an entire denomination or synod to rule on whether churches should be open or closed, as circumstances constantly change in each locality. Perhaps in the future. But for now, beating up our brothers is not going to move the needle forward, in fact it may bring it back. If they are going to stand, their convictions need to be well-held first. Without conviction, a stand is not going to be steady. Still, no matter where a church is, the need to return to living and breathing worship of the Lord is growing.
From True. North. Read the full article here.