We’ve been arguing for years that The Gospel Coalition (TGC) has abandoned the gospel — but it’s usually in favor of some form of social justice activism. There is a lot of useless debate on whether or not it is acceptable for churches to put off weekly assembly during this largely overblown coronavirus scandal that is still taking over the world right now. While some have argued that to neglect the assembly for any reason is serious treason against God while others have argued that we, as the Church, must submit to Caesar.
The Gospel Coalition, however, has repeatedly argued in favor of government-sponsored persecution. In the wake of a trial for Canadian pastor, James Coates, who was obedient to God and continued to hold worship services despite the fact that the government imposed draconian measures on the church to keep it shut down, The Gospel Coalition defends the government’s actions.
In an article titled Persecution, Birth Pang or Pruning? How Should We Interpret This Pandemic?, Paul Carter argues that the actions specifically imposed on this church against the church’s bona fide religious beliefs are, in fact, not persecution.
At certain points in our journey with COVID19 the various protocols and safety measures prescribed by the government may have felt to some Christians like a form of state persecution. After all, many churches were forced to temporarily suspend their main large group gatherings and normal Christian activities such as singing, taking communion and sharing a meal together were either strongly discouraged or forbidden outright.
Doesn’t that qualify as persecution?
It certainly qualifies as unusual hardship, but in most cases it probably did not rise to the level of formal persecution. Persecution is typically defined as, “hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs.” Is that the best way to understand what we’ve experienced, over the last 14 months?
It wouldn’t seem so.
With a few potential exceptions, the majority of the protocols we’ve had to deal with here in North America appear to have been enacted in the interests of public health. Has there been incompetence? Surely. Have there been missteps? Certainly. Has there been overreach? Probably. But has there been hostility and ill-treatment because of our religious beliefs?
I’m not sure how any reasonable person could argue that.
Well, here’s how you can argue that–God commands Christians to assemble. It’s not optional. Going to a gym is optional. Going to a restaurant is optional. Going to a barbershop is optional. But Christians assembling together for corporate worship is not optional.
“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:25
Let’s be clear, the Canadian government is absolutely targeting Christian churches. It is Christian churches that they know present the most political threat to their own power. There is absolutely no evidence that Coates’ church–or any other church in Canada–has significantly contributed to any spread of the coronavirus. And even if it did, meeting is still not optional, albeit extra precautions may have needed to be taken. The Canadian government is acting exactly like the Chinese government and The Gospel Coalition is supporting this. This should speak volumes about this useless organization.