The COVID Panic Is Waning. We Are Starting to Get Letters About Other Stuff.

Sharing Options
Show Outline with Links

COVID Letters First, Naturally

I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on what’s been happening with this pandemic. One issue that I’d love to hear your thoughts on is mandatory vaccinations. Recently, Alan Dershowitz said in an interview that no one has a constitutional right to not wear a mask or to not get vaccinated; and that if people refused, then the government has a right to force you to the doctor and to force a needle in you because you’re putting people at risk. He said he would argue this to the Supreme Court. I personally am not against vaccines per se. From what I’ve been able to learn, they have been effective for the most part, however, there are risks and people can get seriously injured and die from vaccines, however minimal. The government even has a compensation program to address this. What are the moral and ethical issues involved with regard to getting or not getting vaccines? I’ve heard people say that if a vaccine can save a million people then it’s ok if 10,000 people get seriously injured or die from them? I find this argument disturbing. How should Christians think through vaccines in general and mandatory vaccines in particular?

Kevin

Kevin, I am against forced vaccinations. But I do believe that a family with whooping cough can be lawfully quarantined. And I also believe that if they break quarantine, and someone else catches it from them and dies, then they are liable. And the fact that they did not “believe in” vaccinations would not soften the sentence, but should rather be an exacerbating factor.

Governor Whitmer never made planting beans (or any other crop) illegal. What she did was temporarily close garden supply and landscaping stores, by classifying them as non-essential commerce to get Michigan through the pandemic. This type of straw man cherry picking is intellectually dishonest. I’m truly disappointed to see such shallow spin doctoring coming from someone for whom I have such respect.

Daniel

Daniel, her initial order said that stores over a certain size had to cordon off and close their garden centers, so that a person could go to WalMart and buy shampoo there, but not a packet of seeds there.

Re: Breaking the Law and Cases of Conscience

It seems to me that we have a plethora of examples in Scripture where the people of God turn aside to worship an idol of one sort of another and the punishment visited on them is that they actually have to serve the evil proclivities of said idol. Are we not in the same situation in America? For the first, say, 150 years of the American experiment the nation was a Christian nation (February 29, 1892, Supreme Court declared in Holy Trinity v. United States that the United States “ . . . is a Christian nation.”). For the past 100 years or more the secularists have been driving Christianity from the public arena. We are now suffering the result of making our god the state.

David

David, I believe this is exactly right.

Breaking the law and cases of conscience: Pastor Wilson, thank you for this article. I think a prime example of what you are getting at here is found in Matthew 17:24-27. We may choose to obey “the kings of the earth” so as to “not give offense”, but we have no moral obligation to do so when they have overstepped their bounds.

The question I have – about which I have written to you before – is whether or not the Bible gives a clear limit to the civil magistrate’s sphere of authority? In relation to this article, how do we know when the “governor is being disobedient”? How do we know when our rulers “try to seize more power than they have any right to possess?”

It seems that without some overarching principle – sort of like a regulative principle of government — all we are left with is ‘private judgment”. As valuable as that doctrine is, it can’t on its own provide any sort of pedagogical value.

Practically speaking, does the civil magistrate have authority over vague issues such as “safety of the community”? Or does it have authority only over activities that God — as outlined in his divine word — has seen fit to categorize as crimes?

The Christian church desperately needs clarity on this matter.

Isaac

Isaac, I agree. We desperately need clarity on these matters. I think a good place to start would be Gary DeMar’s God and Government work.

Thanks for your piece “On Breaking the Law and the Case of Conscience.” Do you think your reasoning would apply to employers/institutions that impose unbiblical requirements, such as a requirement to abstain from all use of alcohol? Some Christian institutions impose this requirement on their employees, without scriptural warrant. I understand the need for Christians to limit their own freedoms to avoid tempting those with weaker consciences, but when institutions seek to regulate the private (non-sinful) behavior of their employees, do those employees have an obligation to comply?

Leroy

Leroy, I believe that private employers have the right to require that kind of thing in their own name. But Christian private employers do not have the right to require that in the name of Christ — because they are making a false claim about Scripture. That said, for the sake of good manners, if I worked for somebody I would want to comply with their requirements for employment.

Mr. Dr. Prof. Wilson, PhD YMCA,

This is another one of those COVID letters; I assume you have been receiving others like this. My wife and I live in Houston, TX, and have been going to church since week two of TX’s “lockdown”. After week one, our Pastor and Elders reckoned that splitting the service into two would be sufficient to give the congregants enough distance to follow the guidelines from the CDC.

My parents live out of state, my in-laws live in town here, and my wife has eight siblings, raised by parents who have made every attempt to live in the middle for their whole lives. They and the siblings have not been attending (we all attend the same PCA church), accusing us of being reckless, irresponsible, all the rest. Aside from the Lord turning the wine into everclear, I am not sure what would spur them to go back.

Well, I know what would, it would be the government telling them to go back. And that is the point I have been hammering with the in-laws who are not interested in debating this at all: all of this is the result of state-worship and disregard of Christ.

States are disallowing churches from meeting, yet governors are holding serv…I mean press conferences daily.

That Lutheran gal in Dallas was told to kiss the local officials lest they be angry.

And yet still my relatives, when presented with less jocular evidence and more, would rather live in fear of the state, in fear of the virus, and in the fear of death.

I have begun to realize that this ends in one way of two: reformation or enslavement. And I suspect that the enslavement might not be a foreign country but would instead be ours, seeing as some in our government want basic income, contact tracing, etc., basically neutering any independence we would once have had.

So my question is this: aside from doing our best to tell the world about its slavery, what should our next move be against this worldly tyranny?

CW

CW, the best response to fear is to live free of it. And be as gracious as you can be.

Open Road Recommendations

I love your open road pictures. A fun drive has always been a great stress reliever for me.

For a road that might be more challenging than most, search for “stelvio pass” in Italy.

After that, check out “Transalpina” and “Transfăgărășan” in Romania. To pronounce the latter properly, you will need to sample plenty of local libations (fetească neagră and țuică come to mind), but do that after the drive lest you and the whole car rush down a steep bank into the valley scattering a legion of parts.

John

John, thanks for all the good advice.

Postmillery

I watched the postmill doc in your Content Cluster, and I was intrigued enough to pursue further. After reading some sections in systematic theologies, I was wondering if you could point me to a book/article that might help me along. Specifically one that deals with the problem texts for the postmill position. I feel like I have a solid grasp of the position in general, so I don’t need one that lays out the postmill case. I’m looking for something that rebuts the rebuttals so to speak.

Daniel

Daniel, the best book I know for all the “whattabouts” would be Ken Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion.

Hi Doug, my wife and I started watching the recent documentary on postmillennialism that you feature in last night. To put it bluntly, we feel stupid for not having seen this before. Two questions follow: (1) how would you handle 1 John 5:19? and (2) if you had to recommend a single book on this subject for those wanting to get stuck in, what would it be?

Martin

Martin, I take 1 John 5:19 as descriptive of the way things were at that time, a situation we are commanded to change in the Great Commission. I would recommend Gentry (above), Mathison’s Postmillennialism, and my book Heaven Misplaced.

Different Direction

I would love to see you review the major systematic theology options available.

What are your top three systematic theologies? Single volume v. Multi-volume? Modern ones?

Joshua

Joshua, first, please note that I am probably not the best person to ask, as I am not exactly steeped in the literature. But when it comes to reference, I have found Dabney and Turretin and the Hodges profitable. For just reading through, left to right, I really enjoyed John Frame, and am currently working my way through Berkhof.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
C Martin
C Martin
2 years ago

At least in some Walmarts, shampoo was also considered non-essential along with car seats. But you could order beans off the internet, because no workers are apparently involved in that. Out of sight, out of mind.

Malachi
Malachi
2 years ago

To Issac, who said “It seems that without some overarching principle – sort of like a regulative principle of government — all we are left with is ‘private judgment.’ As valuable as that doctrine is, it can’t on its own provide any sort of pedagogical value.” We actually have a regulative principle already: it’s the Constitution of the U.S.A. It’s been amended a few times, and one of them–the Tenth, I believe–says that all powers not expressly granted in the Constitution are reserved for the States and the People. That is about as regulative as it gets, I think. “If… Read more »

Isaac Halls
Isaac Halls
2 years ago
Reply to  Malachi

Drew, I agree the constitution is pretty limiting. But I think the reason our leaders and others don’t care is that the church has failed to preach consistent messages about the limits of human authority, whether that be parents, businesses, pastors, or civil magistrates.

And that is why the church needs to teach and preach a consistent message first. Only then will individuals exercise self-control when they are elected to positions of civil government.

Robert
Robert
2 years ago

Joshua
I would read Taking Men Alive by Jim Wilson.
Teaches you how to witness to people.

Rob
Rob
2 years ago

Doug, I’m not a doctor, so I may be missing some obvious thing, but I’m having trouble following the logic in your reply on the forced vaccinations question. First, presuming no malice on the part of the unvaccinated person in your example, is your position that this person should be held liable for the other person’s death for the reason that they broke quarantine, or would you consider them equally liable in the absence of a quarantine order? Second, let’s suppose that this person who died was an infant. He was unable to make his own risk assessment or take… Read more »

jsm
jsm
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob

I saw a flaw in Doug’s reasoning on this as well. If someone doesn’t believe in the danger associated with spreading the coronavirus while asymptomatic and breaks the quarantine. If their breaking the quarantine results in someone’s death from the coronavirus does that make them liable? It seems the government could reason that since we can’t know all who are infected and most people who have it don’t have any symptoms we need to quarantine everyone. I don’t agree with the government on this but it seems to be a similar situation. That situation is someone doesn’t believe there is… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
2 years ago

Systematics? Gary North’s Unconditional Surrender, about 500 pp, free online last I knew.

Andrea
Andrea
1 year ago

Doug, I have a similar question regarding your position on liability for death or injury when unvaccinated. What about in the case where an individual is “fully vaccinated” but for reasons of primary or secondary vaccine failure Is infected and sheds the virus to a group or individual? Should they also be held liable then or should the government who failed to inform the vaccine recipients that in at least 5-10% of people most vaccines don’t mount a protective response at all, be held responsible? What about in the case where the vaccine only protects against a few of the… Read more »