Blame God for the coronavirus! (and maybe evangelicals too)

I feel obligated to write this post as the current outbreak grows and claims more lives because it perfectly illustrates why we need to exterminate fundamentalist or radical religion around the world kinda like the virus.

Evangelicalism is an ideological virus masquerading as a spiritual panacea. Like a virus, it continues to grow infecting those with whom it comes into contact. Unlike the virus, the world has yet to realize its potential for destruction.

NOTE TO READER: Lest anyone think I am exploiting this current pandemic by equating it with the dangers of evangelical ideology, I have been trying to alert people to the subtle dangers of this virulent strain of evangelicalism for years. The thing which makes evangelicalism so pernicious is they tout their beliefs as improving society while in fact making it worse.

It only takes a few irresponsible people to undo the efforts of millions. I have been reading with frightening soberness how “some” evangelicals are scoffing at this pandemic in the name of their sovereign and all powerful God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who i have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

If I were an evangelical today, I would be fearless in the face of this pandemic. To those who place implicit trust in the sacred words of the Bible, every trial and tribulation is a test of faith. Those who remain true to God rest in the assurance he will protect them. This is wonderful if true but if it is not, it is like snake handlers believing they are impervious to venom. The difference is the irresponsibility of even a small segment of society could jeopardize the health of the rest of us.

14”What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
(Romans 9:14,15 quoting Exodus 33:19)

Who’s to blame for Covid-19? God, Satan, China? But more importantly, what is God doing about it?

God could stamp this virus out today if he chose. So why doesn’t he? Evangelicals, Christians, any response?

The world should not be surprised evangelicals are blaming China for the coronavirus. It’s either that, Satan or both but it is certainly not their God. Furthermore, God is “using” it to advance his glory!

The theological concept of divine election and sovereignty is sticky business. It is one of those things that only makes sense in a seminary class because its practical implications are severe.

The Christian idea of predestination is an outgrowth of Judaism. Israel, God’s chosen people, were singled out from among all other nations on earth by divine favor. This was no different from any ancient peoples. It was tribalism at its finest. There was no room for religious pluralism in the fiercely competitive and violent ancient world where survival transcended everything. Victory over your foes depended on internal cohesion and confidence your God was better than your enemies.

Either God is causing/allowing this pandemic and evangelicals are obligated to inform the world of his divine plan and purpose or he is not because he does not exist. Evangelicals do not have this option. They cannot choose to remain silent and wait for things to return to normal before re-assessing it through their world view then boldly declaring God’s righteous design in it. Evangelicals bask in the glow of hindsight thinking to offer their biblical perspective once the dust has settled. Everything is retroactively filtered through their “God lens.” This is cowardly.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

Of all people in the world, evangelical Christians should confidently assert the divine reason behind this pandemic. Own it now or shut up later!

Long before this pandemic started, I have been sounding the alarm regarding the dangers of any fanatical religions but particularly home grown evangelicalism. It is easy in the West to point fingers at the obvious fanaticism we see in places like the Middle East and Africa. This is an outward display of a radical belief system. Here in the West there is a more subtle form of fanaticism circulating among evangelicals.

Hypothetically, evangelicals who are unabashedly seeking to drive American foreign policy have found sympathetic recipients in Trump and his administration who rely on biblical end time scenarios to draft policy (Pompeo, Pence). Key individuals such as these could foment a major war in the Middle East. While evangelicals take refuge beneath the false security of “The Rapture,” they have little fear in the repercussions of global strive. Apocalypticism is not only accepted but celebrated as fulfillment of God’s divine plan and in alignment with his prophetic timetable.

At home various groups are already suffering under the primitive (Read: literal biblical teaching) thinking of evangelical politicians who view members of the LGBTQ community and women’s advocacy groups as dragging down the moral standards of traditional family values. Immigrants and minorities are increasingly being viewed with suspicion as challenging the American way of life as they see it. Poverty is regarded as a choice by those seeking free handouts rather than working. Social justice is viewed as a temporary solution to a spiritual problem.

Environmental stewardship or global care resonates among younger evangelicals but is also seen as part of a scientific conspiracy by older evangelicals. This again is rooted in a false and dangerous eschatology were God alone will determine the time and place when the world will come to its predicted end.

Evangelicals proudly proclaim themselves as carriers of the cure for mankind’s illness — the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe sin is the real cancer plaguing mankind (Romans 3:10-12, 23). If one is willing to have sin eradicated (Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20) from their lives and replaced with God’s holy spirit (Romans 8:11), they become children of God and fall under his divine care (Romans 8:37-39).

Here is how evangelicals think. They have the spiritual cure for the coronavirus in Jesus Christ but the world doesn’t believe there is a current pandemic. Sin continues to spread and infect society and unless evangelicals seek to arrest it through aggressive policy changes, the situation will only worsen. The world’s condition blinds them to what is so obvious to evangelicals. Ironically (and unfortunately), the more antipathy grows against evangelicals, the greater their confidence becomes. Antagonism is evidence of godliness.

Monitoring evangelical reaction to this virus has been telling. Initially it was slow with evangelical leaders being reticent to urge caution. This reaction is typical. If they can downplay an “emergency” indefinitely, they can claim victory in the name of God for not responding with fear and letting it play out. If, on the other hand, science makes it obvious action must be taken, they acquiesce and claim God is in control of the medical community and their prayers are helping ameliorate the pain and suffering of those affected. However not all evangelical leaders are willing to surrender to science.

In South Korea, it was shown a single individual (religious) who was reluctant to self isolate after contracting the virus could be responsible for half that countries infections. In Iran religious leaders initially urged followers to ignore warnings and congregate regardless. Recently, I read an article where an American pastor not only refused to urge his congregation to social distance but encouraged them in the opposite direction to shake hands and hug one another. He labelled those who succumbed to the hysteria of social distancing as “pansies.”

Because Covid-19 is an invisible enemy, it is easy to make grandiose statements. Some American televangelists are claiming they can “pray it away” or provide actual healing of the virus through laying one’s hands on the tv. Others are urging supported to send in donations as acts of faith. Trump’s spiritual adviser, Paula White, is continuing to encourage her viewers to send her money or “seed” faith.

What if ninety percent of the population acts responsibly while ten percent does not? The virus could continue indefinitely appearing to recede then resurge like in China. Or the efforts of the majority could eventually successfully curtail it while some evangelical zealots smugly proclaim they were right all along.

It may take the virus manifesting itself and clustering among certain evangelicals who have been lackadaisical and nonchalant in safeguarding against it before extreme actions are taken.

I know all too well how powerful it is to ignore “worldly wisdom” because my God is ultimately in control. I can rest in the assurance the world will not end with a pandemic but in a cataclysmic war in the Middle East. And as long as I am faithful to God, I need never worry about what befalls me. Whatever happens will be according to God’s sovereign will and timetable not mans.

Evangelicals are masters of theological “spin.”

It is easy for the religious mind to see each detail of life as carefully measured by one’s relationship to their God. It is also incredibly dangerous.

The pandemic has forced evangelicals to rationalize a biblical response. Some are reluctant to “blame” God for it because it casts him in a poor light as less than all loving and merciful. Instead, they are laying the blame at the foot of Satan.

There is no difference in according responsibility for this virus to God or Satan!

Satan does not have free rein in this world according to the Bible. He is restricted by God’s sovereignty and of course love for his children. God must approve whatever Satan decides to implement on the world; otherwise, he (Satan) could kill all Christians and create total anarchy. Therefore, following theological logic, God at the very least has allowed this pandemic.

Evangelicals are scurrying to explain possible reasons for what is gripping the world as a call for spiritual revival. Implicit in such thinking is God’s sovereign plan. God who could stop it has chosen instead to allow it to continue in order for people around the world to accept Jesus as their personal Savior and bring spiritual renewal to his people.

Covid-19 is here for one reason and one reason only: To bring people closer to God through Jesus Christ.

Evangelicals are fearful of saying in public what they think in private. God is the author of every natural disaster. Satan as a convenient scapegoat but ultimately God orchestrates everything.

Moments like this should force religious people to either stand up or shut up. Evangelicals either have to take full ownership of global disasters like this and confidently explain God’s purpose however callous it may be and accept the consequences. Or they can sit and silence afraid to admit the obvious that there is no justification for an all loving and merciful God to allow this other than to promote his own glory.

The God of the Bible unashamedly proclaims himself (through his prophets) as allowing and even causing suffering to achieve this end. The plagues on Egypt according to Paul came about because God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart thereby making it impossible for him to acknowledge God (Romans 9:17,18 with Exodus 9:12).

For the record, I am not attacking God. I am attacking the biblical concept of God. It would be akin to being offended at attacking Santa Claus if you were a child. I am under no false illusions regarding the existence of God. If he/she/they/it does exist, the God represented throughout the Bible is at very best a grim mischaracterization of who God truly is or would be if he existed.

The Bible pictures God is excessively tribal, jealous, bellicose and belligerent. The New Testament continues this portrayal but includes, according to Paul, a temporary suspension in his love for his chosen people to allow a fraction of Gentiles to participate in redemption through Jesus.

This divine hiatus was supposed to end during Paul’s lifetime when Jesus returned, thereby closing the door to the Gentiles. At this point “all Israel would be saved,” the land restored and the messianic kingdom instituted. Jesus never returned and the Jews have forever turned their back on him as messiah.

According to Christian eschatology in general, either God forever abandoned the nation of Israel and replaced her with Gentiles; hence, the current state of Christianity. Or, God has “temporarily” suspended his divine plan for Israel until Jesus returns. Then there will be a massive conversion of Jews as they see the messiah return with their own eyes. However, this perspective is not without problems. Two thousand years of Jewish rejection of Jesus means compared to Gentiles, only a fraction of those comprising the eternal kingdom will be Jews. The bulk of believers over the centuries will be Gentile Christians.

No reasonable person could possibly believe this is God’s perfect plan for mankind. It is much easier to relegate this to ancient superstitions and the unfortunate continuation of a religion (Christianity) that should have ceased in its early centuries. Were it not for Paul’s vision of the risen Jesus and a bizarre vision by the Emperor Constantine, Christianity (Jewish) would surely have slowly died in the shadows of a kingdom and king who never came.

Published by ronarends

I was born in London, Ontario, Canada. I attended Capernwray Bible School (England and Austria), Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Il.), the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario), London Baptist Seminary (London, Ontario) and Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Tx.). I have had several temporary jobs over the years but my focus has alway been on an investigative study of the Bible, Jesus and Christianity particularly evangelicalism. Currently editing a massive literary undertaking deconstructing Christianity and Jesus.

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