Fast forward a hundred years and it seems the church has lost its collective mind. The NAR loves clinging to Romans 13 to defend anything done by this president but seemingly ignore it when it comes to laws banning gatherings during an epidemic. And please, do not hand me the constitution. It has already been litigated and decided that as long as the laws/edicts are applied evenly to all denominations, then gatherings can be put on hold during times of national crisis.
Which brings us to the subject of "essential services." We have seen recently the push back from many in church leadership offended by the church being labeled a non-essential service. The machismo and bravado usually taken by these leaders indicates the level of carnality in their response. Now, take a seat because what I am about to say may hurt. Church services are not essential. Relax relax. The church is essential. The body of Christ is essential. Having an official gathering in a steepled building however, is not essential. I believe in the value of corporate assembly but no one is prohibiting church indefinitely. Consider the key verse for today. Where two or three are gathered in His name? He is there with them. We are the church beloved. Not some building. Gathering in His name means a whole bunch of things today that it did not during the Spanish Flu. Now churches can live stream services. Worship can use track music instead of live bands. Sermons can go forth unfettered as can prayer. What is essential is that the body convenes, not where they convene. I had a powerful prayer service with only six people last Friday through Skype. Three friends and three people I had not met. Yet corporately we had communion and prayed for two hours. The best part? No one got sick and died because of it.
Think that is hyperbole? Consider Lifeview Church of Glenview Illinois. They held a church gathering with a guest speaker back on March 15. This was before there was any prohibition on such gatherings. Nonetheless, 43 of the 80 attendees are now sick with flu-like symptoms and ten have tested positively for coronavirus so far. Consider the Virginia pastor who said that COVID was an anti-Trump hoax and went to New Orleans to "cleanse it from their sin and debauchery." He instead caught COVID and died on the way back to Virginia. We are starting to look a lot like those fringe cult churches that handle snakes during services because they do not know how to exegete Mark 16. Like Pastor Tony Spell, also from Louisiana, who has refused to disband services and had this to say:
'"We're free people. We're not going to be intimidated. We're not going to cower. We're not breaking any laws."' -- Tony Spell
The tough guy nonsense is simply reprehensible. He is breaking the law because it was ordered that gatherings of 50+ were not to occur. It is not about intimidation! That is the NAR victimization card being played. Spell spat in the face of the law, violating Romans 13, and not only held service for over 1200 people but was seem running through the crowd and laying hands on all. Here are some other nuggets of idiocy from Spell:
"I'd rather die than kill the church. If you can't stand up to COVID, don't expect to stand up to a man called the Antichrist."
"What's going to happen when they come for your guns?"
"This is the America we're living in now, where people are being persecuted for their faith,"