Friday, April 9, 2021

Some very good pastoral advice on the church's responses to the response to Covid-19

From the minutes of the 36th Council of the Reformed Churches of Brazil, March 22–26, 2021. They are a product of mission work by the Canadian Reformed Church. Article 75 is a response to one of their congregation's request for help in navigating government orders in connection with covid-19. May the Holy Spirit give to the undershepherds of His church wisdom and boldness to instruct and practice according to His Word.

ARTICLE 75. Request for advice and pastoral guidance on how a Christian's posture should be, as well as that of his church, in the face of the current pandemic moment of Covid-19. The internal commission, which was responsible for organizing a compilation of the advice given by the delegates, according to Article 34 of these Minutes, presents its work to the Council. The following delegates ask that it be recorded that they did not give any of this advice: Pr. Madson Marinho and Pb. Josemir Lopes. The advice given by the delegates of this Council to IPSEP IR questions is:

1. On the nature of the pandemic: we can say that we are facing an unprecedented real health crisis, or that we are experiencing the advance of an anti-Christian front, which wants to take advantage of the health crisis to stop the worship and worship of the true God? And what to do in the face of this?
● Some delegates responded that, although we are in a health crisis, we are not in the biggest one, as there have been much worse ones. Others said that there is no health crisis, as they believe that the virus does not have the power of lethality as disclosed. The real crisis is economic and not health related.
● Delegates generally believe that the virus has been used to curtail people's freedom, including freedom from public Sunday worship.
● In this circumstance, an attack of evil against the church of the Lord is visible, an anti-Christian force, which has used the present health crisis to prevent the worship of the church. This has revealed the great antithesis in the world: the forces of evil and the church.
● When the Church faces such persecutions, it clings to the gospel. With this, the church must continue to fear the Lord, trusting the Scripture, being simple as the dove and prudent as the serpent and announcing the gospel.
● The Church must live in the “old normal”, and always attesting to the information given to her.
● In the face of all this, the church must move forward trusting in the Lord.
2. On the restrictions on public worship: to what extent should we accept the State's determinations regarding its interference in Sunday public worship? Is it lawful to stop conducting public services in person and adopt the so-called “online services”? Would celebrating services in person under restrictive decrees break the fifth and sixth commandments?
● The church should only follow the State's instructions as far as it does not exceed the limits of its task established in the Word of God, and when it does not hurt the conscience in the Lord.
● Christ is the only head of the Church who knows what is good for her.
● The State cannot legislate about worship, as it does not have the authority to interfere in
Church issues.
● “Online” services are not services. Such “on-line” services are a breach of the 2nd commandment, since it is a form of worship different from the way God prescribed. Worship is a
irreplaceable gathering.
● Some delegates spoke about freedom of conscience to justify the absence of face-to-face meetings.
● In the Bible, the Church is never prevented from solemn meetings as a whole, but only the infected individual, such as OT lepers.
3. About mandatory vaccination: how should we proceed regarding the mandatory vaccination, since there are risks to the health of our siblings and ethical issues involved, such as the use of aborted fetus cell lines for testing? Should councils advise their members on this issue?
● The mandatory vaccine is an abuse, a violation of freedoms.
● Some vaccines against covid-19 can cause more harm than the disease.
● There is early treatment.
● We are being used as a “laboratory experiment”.
● The vaccines presented are not safe, as they have had adverse reactions and involve an ethical issue regarding the use of aborted fetus cell lines.
● Because of the danger that the vaccine can offer, taking it is a breach of the 6th commandment: “A light exposure to danger”
● Councils should warn their members of the danger of getting the vaccine and instruct them as to the ethical damage involved in this.

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