The Gospel Coalition continues to peddle false doctrine and be wrong or weak on every major cultural issue. In Australia, The Gospel Coalition’s Overton Window is so warped that those in the world and of the world stand very much apart from their believers in other countries as The Gospel Coalition types continue to simp for despotic government wherever they may be found. Australian TGC published an article titled “COVID Vaccination and The Church” written by Megan Best, a bioethicist that seems to understand neither biology or ethics.
In a liberal society, restrictions imposed by the state on an individual’s liberty are justified only to prevent harm to others (rather than harm to ourselves). Unvaccinated individuals present a risk to society by being more likely to get infected and thereby infect others, possibly overburdening the health system and preventing others from accessing care (as is currently a concern in NSW).
After beginning peddling a lot of false assumptions about the vaccine, Best goes Minority Report suggesting that individual liberties may be restricted to protect others. She then argues that the unvaccinated are a threat, indicating her her cultish devotion that bypasses how vaccines work.
She then argues against how Christians have been using Hebrews 10:24-25:
The situation being addressed in the letter to the Hebrews is not one in which the readers have found themselves temporarily prevented from holding large, face-to-face gatherings. Its challenge is not to believers who are conscientiously minimising health risks by complying with a public health order; it is to believers who are growing slack in their care for one another and shrinking back from publicly identifying with Christ and his people.
There are providential interruptions that interrupt church gathering. Inclement weather or you being sick is one. Being afraid of getting sick is not a providential interruption to neglect the physical assembly of the saints.
Best then argues that the connection between vaccines and abortion are about the only grounds for a conscientious objection.
Other Christians (and other members of the broader community) resist vaccination for a variety of other reasons, including anxiety about the vaccines’ extremely rare side-effects or scepticism about expert opinion, government policy or the motives of the pharmaceutical industry. Objections of this nature may be firmly held, but in most cases they are not of the sort that should rightly be described as matters of conscience.
However, these are all conscientious objections. Best is attempting to frame many believers outside the bounds of Scripture.
In the absence of any convincing argument to the contrary, accepting vaccination should be strongly encouraged as a way to reduce the duration and severity of the pandemic, lessening risk of illness and death, the stress of lockdowns and the strain on our healthcare system. It is an obvious and practical way in which Christians can obey God’s command for us to love our neighbours.
Rather than preaching the gospel, she preaches a false gospel of temporal salvation via works. Obviously, the vaccines have not made coronavirus go away. Anyone could have told you that we would be facing new variants that the vaccine would have diminishing efficacy against. This is basic biology. She’s peddling false promises. She’s peddling her father’s lies.
Our government has a legitimate, God-given responsibility to protect the safety of its citizens and safeguard the interests of the most vulnerable. It is not overstepping the boundaries of its mandate if it requires religious groups to install smoke detectors in their buildings, obtain WWCC clearances for their staff and volunteers, or observe public health regulations to restrict the spread of a pandemic. There are situations in which our duty as Christians to love God and seek the good of our neighbours may require us to stand in civil disobedience against an unjust law, but it would be a rare situation indeed in which conscience required us to disobey the public health measures put in place by a democratically elected government.
All of these examples are, except fire codes as churches generally do not build their buildings, violations of ecclesiastical authority regardless of good intention. The government has no right to tell Christians how to meet. Christ is head of the church, not Caesar.
Given our responsibility to love our neighbours and prioritise the interests of the most vulnerable, there are good and persuasive reasons for us to support and implement a system in which proof of vaccination (or medical exemption) is a standard requirement for attendance at large indoor gatherings such as church services. Because of the high levels of vaccination that would be required for herd immunity, the interconnectedness of the world’s populations and the likely emergence of new variants of concern, a requirement of this sort may continue to be necessary for some time into the future (along with other measures such as social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent handwashing).
But this should not mean that we exclude those who have not been vaccinated from the fellowship of the church or from the circle of our ministry. If a regime of vaccine passports is to be with us for some time into the future, then our energy should be expended not on fighting against it but on finding safe, inclusive and responsible ways to gather and minister within such a context. One obvious option would be to advocate for a system that permitted those who remain unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated to produce evidence of being COVID-negative as a condition for church attendance. Another would be to continue and expand the range of online opportunities for Christian fellowship and online communication. And, as restrictions on outdoor gatherings continue to be relaxed into the future, another would be to take more of our gatherings, both small and large, into suitable outdoor spaces.
Like most Branch Covidians in the church, she misquotes and misapplies “love your neighbor as yourself ” to compel you to action. This is legalism and is a primary reason why and how Branch Covidianism has become a distinct gospel. Moreover, Best’s compromise is to impose unbiblical mandates on those who refuse to vaccinate to provide proof of a negative test as a condition for fellowship with believers. 1 John 2:15-24 instructs Christians:
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
In Australia, simping for despotic government is the easiest way to love the world. Lockdowns were even and killed many. Calling evil good is sin (Romans 1:32). Lastly Christians are not called to live in fear as the Branch Covidians would have us do. We are not called to worship our own safety at the expense of the mission. We are not called to proclaim the state as head of the church.
It is increasingly clear that this is a false gospel that the church needs to combat more.