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The Church: good news and bad news about the Coronavirus

The Church: good news and bad news about the Coronavirus
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Matt 7:21

By David W. Virtue, DD
March 31, 2020

Surprising as it might seem, there is some good news amid the bad news about the coronavirus pandemic.

Let me start with the good news for churches.

Churches that enjoy close fellowship with one another have gotten closer. Surprisingly, social media is effectively being used to bring us together in ways that have only deepened friendships and concerns for one another.

My own small parish (under 30) has found us more deeply committed to one another through emails, FaceTime, Zoom and other forms of social media. We have committed ourselves to prayer, especially as our parish includes a doctor, an ultrasound tech, a social worker at a clinic for the elderly, a hospital chaplain, and a retired nurse. We pray more fervently for one another. When it is all over, we will come back together more deeply committed to one another.

But will that work for mega churches? I suspect not. Nobody really knows another person in any depth in a church of a 1,000 or 10,000 unless they have small focus groups. In small churches we know each other. We will not lose a single member when this is over.

Now consider mainline progressive churches that are hanging on by their finger nails. What will happen to them? I predict that nominal believers will ask themselves the question why do I need to go back? Why write out checks to an organization I am not deeply committed to, now that I have other new concerns that preoccupy me.

Money. This is where the rubber hits the road. Orthodox churches will see a minimal drop in income. I predict these committed folks will play catch-up when the virus dissipates.

That will not happen with progressive churches. The pray, pay and obey crowd will dissipate, sermons on climate change will prove utterly irrelevant in the face of death by virus. The money won't be there to pay the rector and keep the lights on at the same time.

Endowments will be hard hit; bishops will not get the income that they have come to expect. Threatening parishes won't work. Bishops are good at that, but this time round it won't work. You can't give away what you don't have.

There will be a weeding out of the wheat and the tares, the chaff from the real stuff and nominal Christianity will take a hit like never before.

Before the advent of the coronavirus it was a slow drip as aging Episcopalians died or moved to warmer climes. No more.

With the massive drop in the stock market people will be scrambling financially, and progressive churches will be the first to feel the pinch. Why give to something you don't really believe in but have gone along with because it was easy and the Episcopal thing to do. The speed of departures will quantitatively rise.

I predict that those people will not come back..and of course they won't be writing out any more checks.

Nominalism is the death wish of a theologically and morally bankrupt church.

Sermons on climate change will be seen to be so irrelevant as to be laughable.

Sermons about niceness, homosexual marriage, inclusion, diversity and interfaith will seem irrelevant in the face of death.

When sermons are devoid of talk about eternal life, of sin and salvation, of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, then the church SHOULD go out of business. It is no longer the Church of Jesus Christ it is something else...a social service agency with a creed.

The good news is that the weeding out will mean that only those who really believe will be found standing. Now I am not saying that God deliberately sent this virus to make the point. The virus, however it began, did its own work in weeding believers from unbelievers. That's good news for the Church universal.

Has the virus provoked revival? Not that I can see, it may yet come, but it won't be manufactured by evangelists who plan to tell God what to do on their timetable. God has never worked like that and He certainly won't be persuaded by televangelists looking for a way to make money manipulating the third member of the Trinity with Holy Spirit revival calls.

The virus is focusing people on life and death issues and if progressive churches can't talk about sin and salvation as people die, they have sold out the gospel and consigned themselves to outer darkness.

God is not mocked. Liberal, progressive churches are reaping what they have sown.

The tower of Siloam story is singularly absent of talk of structural integrity concerns, who the architect and builders were. But were those killed believers or unbelievers...and then the kicker by Jesus, beware, it could happen to you...repent.

In these new times, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is dead. A Course in Miracles teaches that there are no absolutes; truth is relative and subjective, determined by one's experience and, according to Marianne Williamson, Jesus is one of many enlightened beings. Jesus is a way-shower...all gone. Good and evil reign and one must choose. Like Christian Science where pain is not a reality, these Pelagian religions offer little consolation in the Time of Coronavirus.

When did you last hear a progressive "Christian" preacher talk of God's wrath against sin! Would a progressive Episcopal preacher even touch the Book of Romans? One is more likely to hear shouts of inclusion and diversity from pulpits across the land and God's love for absolutely everybody (a Louie Crew meme) without a single call for repentance. Now you know why progressive churches will never fully recover once this virus has run its course.

No one predicted this virus would happen despite all the so-called "prophetic" words normally heard from some evangelical pulpits who didn't get the "prophecy" revelation in time.

"Lord, Lord...and He will say depart from me you workers of iniquity."


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