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Second Alberta Pastor Plays the Victim for the Self-Absorbed Church

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It is not the purview of a pastor to make decisions based upon their conclusions of matters they do not understand, such as viral scientific knowledge, epidemiology, or the spread of pathogens. It is sheer lunacy to expect that our pastors would have this knowledge base to override people in the government who have decades of such experience. That said, the purview of the pastor is most certainly the word of God but only if it is being correctly interpreted and applied. In the cases such as Pastor Stephens, the word of God is being used. It is being leveraged to support a position already held. Yes we are supposed to practice hospitality but that directive is not contained merely to the church service. In fact, most would argue that it far exceeds our little hour and a half on Sundays. Where is our hospitality in our workplaces? Where is it in our communities? How in the world is it hospitable to deny science and the law and potentially spread COVID amongst your community? Realize it was complaints from other Alberta citizens about the church continuing to meet that prompted the crackdown. As for meeting together, the bible is clear that we should not forsake the gathering of the brethren but that is hardly in the context of mega-churchdom today. It was a warning against people who thought they did not need to be part of the larger body of Christ. You are not speaking nor living by the truth if you deny the key verses just because you have reasoned yourself to a different point than the governing authorities. The government seized the building because Stephens refused to comply with the law and they then seized Stephens for breaking the same law in secret, after the building has been seized. Fairview could have still been the church. They could have creatively met until it was safe to gather again. They could have fought legislatively and at the polls to change laws they felt were unreasonable. They chose none of that and simply said, screw the law. That is not biblical in the slightest.

"AHS still wants Tim to tell people what to wear, where to stand, and forbid some people from being the church - the gathered people of God who unite in presence and voice to worship the risen Christ who redeemed us with His own blood. I asked the police officers if they've ever broken the health orders. They answered yes many times. So has everybody else. Even our Premier admitted it in his half-apology for his Sky-Palace "working dinner." But I guess if you are an officer or a politician, you get a pass when you break the health orders. Time went before a Justice of the Peace this evening. He was offered bail conditional upon his agreement to abide by all public health orders. He couldn't agree because doing so would prevent him from faithfully shepherding the flock that has been entrusted to his care. He will remain in custody until his next court date on June 28." - Raquel Stephens

This is just getting silly. The what to wear must refer to masks. The where to stand must refer to social distancing guidelines. I can only assume forbidding certain people must refer to those who are pre-disposed or already positive for COVID. This redefinition of the church does not stand. We are not the gathered people. Nowhere in the bible does it refer to the church as such. Christ's sacrifice remains regardless of whether we are corporately gathered. The next line of attack is known as" whataboutisms." So other people, who are not bound by scripture, also broke the law so you think this justifies your own breaking of the law? Seriously? Perhaps the most telling part of this statement however is in how Pastor Stephens dealt with bail. He could be free today. He chose to stay in jail. Of course, the government would expect that he obey the law as the condition of his release. This is standard practice. How sad is it that this pastor thinks the only way he can faithfully shepherd the flock is to meet for and hour and a half on Sundays? Could he not have had prayer calls for the sick? Zoom meetings for praise and worship? Organize community outreach to show the true hospitality of the church? Nope, must have that hour and a half of purpose driven slop in order to be the church. How truly sad. The Tweet concludes:

We are shaken, but our faith is not. We are sorrowful, but always rejoicing. As I prayed with the saints tonight, I couldn't help but sense their joy at this opportunity to proclaim the excellencies of our Lord Jesus. In God's providence, Tim's imprisonment will strengthen us in the faith and embolden us to love and obey Christ, no matter the cost. Pray for: Tim to stand firm; that he would meditate on the love of Christ and His sacrifice for sinners; that he would be comforted in his chains; pray for his release. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body. (Hebrews 13:3) - Raquel Stephens

Fighting with the government as you disobey the law is not proclaiming the excellencies of our Lord Jesus. It is not showing hospitality to expose your sheep to a deadly virus and then set them free to roam their communities. Realize however that even if you think the scientific points are wrong. Even if you think the government is being too protective, or acting too much like a nanny state, it is not the role of the pastor or church to disobey the law to express our disagreement. Never lose sight of the progression here:

Government passes health code laws to protect the overall citizenry from COVID.

Church disobeys those laws and gathers anyway.

Government pleads with the church to stop disobeying the law.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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