Apologeet.nlIs the Church Losing Her Credibility?
Yes, you heard it right. I am worried about the credibility of the church and with that the message the churches ought to preach.
Before I continue, I would like to say that when I talk about Christians and the church I tend to talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’. This is because I believe that we cannot divide the church in partitions like you do with your hard-drive in your computer. The Christian church is the body of Christ. No matter what kind of church you are attending, if you confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died and rose again on the third day, that He is the only way to God the Father, and that He is the only One through whom we can be forgiven, than you are part of universal or catholic church. Mind you, catholic means ‘universal’, so we are not talking about the Roman catholic church here. So, again, I refuse to distance myself from my brothers and sisters in Christ! And thus I talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’.
Also, you should know that I hesitated for a long time whether I should make this video or not. This is not because of the message, but much more because of my position as a missionary. As missionaries we kind of live a visible life – we are looked at from all sides. There is a good chance that some of our supporters may not agree with this message. This also means that there is a chance that some may take offense. I would regret that since I believe that, despite different views, we belong to the same body of Christ. If you have trouble with your little toe you could cut it off, but it is better to find out what is causing the trouble. It might not be inflammation, it might be something else.
Anyway, in July 2020, I already said that Christians are way too quick to hide. I seemed to me that many of us forgot about their own message that, they, who are in Christ, do not have to worry or to be afraid. We have seen examples in the past of bold Christians who stood up for that what is right. They stayed behind in cities to take care of the ill and deceased, often with the risk of losing their own lives. They both talked the talk and walked the walk. They actually did what they preached. Like Jesus, touching the lepers and eating with sinners. .
But now we’ve arrived in September 2020. The virus has become political, or maybe it has been political from the beginning, I’ll let you decide about that. New scientific findings — already known in February 2020 — show that this virus is not as lethal as many feared. Yes, it can be a nasty critter, but mostly for those who already have a health-issue to deal with. For the vast majority of the people the results are varying between no symptoms, a dripping nose to a flu-like attack.
So what do we do with church meetings? Have we ever closed the doors because of a severe flu epidemic, like the one in 2017/2018? Did we ever restrain from singing God’s glory because there might be a Joe or Mary with a dripping nose close by? But now, we’re acting like terrified puppies, afraid of getting a beating from the big dogs.
Who are these big dogs?
- The government;
- the people who say that you’re an idiot when you say you are not afraid;
- the people who rather stay home than going to church because they want to be a witness to the world;
- the do-gooders, the people who want you to belief that they do it “not for themselves, but for the other!”;
- educated people who can not imagine that the media or the government would blow this whole thing out of proportion;
- educated people who know all about these things, and when you hear them talk it is like listening to the mainstream news broadcasts. Yes, some of them know so much and are regarded as the intelligent brothers in church. Still, they repeat information given on television, way back in February. And when you confront them with more up to date information, they say they’ve not heard that before.
Who is the big dog?
So, to put some things in perspective. Let me summarise the Dutch figures from the last few years during the flu seasons:i
- 2014/2015 Duration flu epidemic 21 weeks. Excess mortality 8.600
- 2015/2016 Duration flu epidemic 11 weeks. Excess mortality 3.900
- 2016/2017 Duration flu epidemic 18 weeks. Excess mortality 7.503
- 2017/2018 Duration flu epidemic 15 weeks. Excess mortality 9.444
- 2018/2019 Duration flu epidemic 12 weeks Excess mortality 3.124
- 2019/2020 Duration flu epidemic 2 weeks. Excess mortality 404 (Corona-deaths 6.200)
I see churches who are taking care of all the advises the government is giving. Following advice is okay. But hold on! Nope, we are going to do more than that because we want to be an example for the neighbourhood. Excuse me? What example is that? Is it to show everyone how obedient you are towards the government, or towards the media. How sensitive you are for criticism. Or are you setting an example to show people that it is okay to be very much afraid. Is it normal that someone, who didn’t see me for 2,5 years, hugged me and received a comment from a brother, telling him not to do that in front of the church building (in the Netherlands we call this a ‘Grapperhaussie’). Who are we following? Are we actually running for Pope? Or are we really following Jesus… You know, the One Who is still worthy to be praised. How would we react if Jesus walked into our church and just shook everyone’s hand and even hugged some of us? What would we say to Him if He started loudly singing Psalms to the glory of God? Maybe we can’t believe that He really is who He says He is else He would have adapted a little more to our ways, right?
I really believe this is more than a natural event. Don’t take me wrong! I know the virus is real! But in the West we tend to forget about the lord of darkness. Satan is quick to use these kinds of situations for his own benefit. Before I go into that, I tell you what I think is going to happen in the future.
We have seen periods in the last 60 years were people became less motivated to go to church. Every time this happened we analysed it some years later. Oh bother! It is because of the music, or the sermons are not practical enough, or people are disappointed etcetera.
I believe we will do the same in ten years from now. Not much sooner, because next year the feelings and emotions about this epidemic are still too fresh. No, after about ten years we probably wonder what happened. Our answer might be one of surprise and bewilderedness. “But we’ve had lovely and professional live streams, and we encouraged each other with Zoom meetings. Yes, we actually drank tea and coffee with each other during these great Zoom meetings!”
Yes, but despite all this, the message is clear. We do not believe our own words when we preach that, in Christ there is no fear. In Christ, we stand tall. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”(2 Timothy 1:7).
- Boy! Were we afraid!
- Nope, no power in our meetings, no singing, no lifting high the name of the Lord.
- Yes, we did love. We mostly loved to obey emotional and inconsistent rules, which, by the way, were not rules but advises.
- And then lastly we lost our sound minds. We believed all the propaganda on television. We believed the fear-mongering headlines in the newspapers. And we were quick to say that all other sounds, even those coming from professionals, were the sounds of conspiracy thinkers. Why? Because we wanted to belief that the government is honest. We wanted to belief that the ministers are not afraid to admit their mistakes. And since our ministers are so extremely honest we rather belief that all the doctors, virologists, biologists and all other ‘ists’ are in fact nothing more than a bunch of crazy people.
So, with this last point we have, in fact, also abandoned the idea that we live in a fallen world. How else do we explain the unlimited trust we’ve had in our leaders, news channels and newspapers.
Anyway, back to the spiritual factor of this event. The virus is real and like I said, it can be a nasty critter. The whole panic caused by this virus was logical in the beginning. We didn’t know what was coming. The virus is a new mutation of the old SARS-CoV-1 from 2003. The one from 2003 had a mortality rate or ‘infection fatality rate’ of about 9%. Now, nine months later, we are still frantic. But, now we cannot longer hide behind ignorance. Now we know what is going on… At least if you do your research and when you don’t solely trust the mainstream media. In February some experts still thought Covid-19 had a median infection fatality rate of about 3%.ii Since then this figure dropped to an average of 0,26%iii and for people under 70 some even say this to be around 0,04%.iv
So, what is keeping us from coming together again? What is keeping us from singing God’s glory, from listening to His word and from having genuine fellowship! I believe that satan is laughing his head of. Wonderful to see all those powerless Christians. The longer he can stretch the time of fear the better it is for his main work… Destroying the church of Christ.
No worries, Satan will not succeed. When Christ comes back to this earth He will find His church, His bride. Do I say that I think Jesus is coming back next year? No, I have no idea when Jesus will return. Jesus told us just to be ready for it. I do believe however that the church, the body of Christ, is going through periods of cleansing. When I say that Satan will not succeed, I mean that the real body of Christ will endure. Paul says that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves, and: “[they are] holding to a form of outward godliness (religion), although they have denied its power” 2 Timothy 3: 5.
Did your hear that last part? “they have denied its power.” And the thing that worries me is what Paul says a little further: “But they will not get very far, for their meaningless nonsense and ignorance will become obvious to everyone” 2 Timothy 3: 9. Is this how people will look at the church? Will they see our testimony as meaningless? I sure do not hope so and it is not what Paul tried to say. He describes church-goers in Timothy’s time with terrible moral ideas. Overall we do not see that today. Many of the people who leave the church and with that, faith — some hold on to faith, but most don’t — will do so with fancy words. They often still hold a form of outward godliness. These will be the so-called Christians who, with their actions and ideas, tarnish the image of the real church. Even though it’s obvious to everyone, they still will find itchy ears.
As you may hear, I deal with both the natural and rational matters in the same way as the spiritual. The attack of the evil one will seldom take place without a tangible event. Satan is the father of lies.v He will do everything he can to maintain ignorance. The more people stay away, the more people who are angry about the situation, the more people who live in fear, the better it is for his cause. My desire is that we, as the body of Christ, look up to Him from whom we can expect everything. The crisis we are in right now is really not that big. It is nothing compared to the crisis that our brothers and sisters have experienced in the past or that many of them are experiencing in other countries right now. How did they and how do they endure? They have learned to look forward to the future with joy in their hearts. We too must look at Jesus, Who says in revelation: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” Revelation 22: 13-14 (AMP).
Can we please go back to normal?
- Back to that time when we just continued worshipping God, even when we were in the flu season.
- The time people just used their common sense and stayed home when they were sick.
- The time when you told someone that you didn’t want to greet them with a kiss because you had a cold.
- The time, we as Christians massively accompanied a brother or sister when they lost someone.
- The time Christians still visited their sick brothers and sisters.
- The time we greeted each-other with a hand shake because we trusted that the other person washed his or her hands after going to the toilet.
- And finally, can we please go back to the time when we were real witnesses of the powerful Gospel as taught in the Bible. It would be nice to show our neighbours the love of Jesus through real social interaction, just like Jesus did.
i RIVM, Monitoring sterftecijfers Nederland, 10 September 2020, Website accessed on 16 September 2020, https://www.rivm.nl/monitoring-sterftecijfers-nederland.
ii Borger, P. The Corona crisis was expected, but nothing was done, 21 March 2020, Website accessed on 21 September 2020, https://www.apologeet.nl/en/corona_was_expected/.
Borger, P., A SARS-like Coronavirus was Expected, but nothing was done to be Prepared, 29 April 2020, Website accessed on 25 September 2020, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341120750_A_SARS-like_Coronavirus_was_Expected_but_nothing_was_done_to_be_Prepared.
iii Sanchez, F., CDC: Coronavirus Fatality Rate 0.26%, 8-15x Lower than Estimates, 27 May 2020, Website accessed on 15 September 2020, http://www.fccoop.org/?p=10552.
Mora, E., Doctor to Senators: Coronavirus Fatality Rate 10 to 40x Lower than Estimates that Led to Lockdowns,7 May 2020, Website accessed on 15 September 2020, https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/05/07/doctor-to-senators-coronavirus-fatality-rate-10-to-40x-lower-than-estimates-that-led-to-lockdowns/).
iv Ioannidis, J. P.A., The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 inferred from seroprevalence data, 13 May 2020, Websites accessed on 15 September 2020, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.13.20101253v2.full.pdf,
v John 8: 44 “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” (AMP).