New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:
New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:
Thanks for the good kick in the pants, dear pastor! I needed that. Daily.
“Many are out there saying COVID-19 is no crisis…”
If saying there is no crisis, i.e. using words, using speech, is an act of rebellion, I’ve got a lot of questions for Pastor Bayly.
Has not this very website, and the senior man writing here, spent decades as the contrarian, the dissenter, the one man in the room with the different opinion that everyone else thought was crazy? Was that rebellion?
What about Joseph Sobran? E Michael Jones? Is questioning our foreign policy regarding Israel now sedition, worthy of being unceremoniously fired by fax machine?
The most disturbing thing to me about this crisis has been the groupthink. The herding of all “respectable” people to a single position, together with all of our nation’s chattering classes, in a fit of giggling excitement over doom and gloom. Dissenters are angrily denounced and demagogued. You hate old people. You care about money more than human lives. But I’ve seen enough of this over the years to know that this too will pass. We will move on to the next thing. And we will wonder why we did not listen to dissenters.
A man must obey the civil authorities, but he may not be compelled to agree with them. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.
The sentence “Many are out there saying…” was clearly denouncing the tendency/intent of those people to incite disobedience towards the govt authorities. To me it is clear that they didn’t do this out of care for their flock but for puffing up and self glorification. If you really see problems for the people you care about in this situation you can find other ways to serve them than just to say “I want to keep it like it has been always!” That is an act of rebellion not worthy of Christ.
Just because you disagree doesn’t make it right. If Pastor Tim was a lone dissenter and he was wrong - so what? Nobody cares. But if he was right, he was very important and a voice to listen to. “Test everything and keep the good things.”
Yes, we are not to be compelled to agree with the authorities. They got a lot of things wrong. But the overwhelming sentiment for probably most political leaders was to avoid what happened in Northern Italy, and they wanted to be on the safe side. There is nothing wrong with it.
According the ratio in my twitter feed, the position of Pastor Tim was NOT the majority opinion, but rather the dissenting one!
I’m convinced that the situation also brought out a lot of good things, many people questioning their lifestyle.
Here’s the quote in context: "This parable was inspired by watching and listening to Christian men and women on social media crying down government authority in our present health crisis. Many are out there saying COVID-19 is no crisis; abortion has destroyed the government’s claim to authority; elders and pastors who move church worship online are lemmings; pastors who violate public health laws by going ahead with worship are martyrs for the faith; the government has no right to tell the church what they can and can’t do; Christians should obey God rather than man/Christians should obey God rather than man/Christians should obey God rather than man; and so on.*
You have to allow all those statements to be linked together to get the sense of what I was saying, dear brother. My point was to oppose Christians “crying down government,” then providing some of the justifications they use for their rebellion. I was not intending to promote groupthink, but rather to show that rebellion is of a fabric and has its endless justifications. You realize, right, that a particular statement can be a justification of rebellion in one mouth while a cogent argument in another? Depends on person and context.
So no, this parable is not in any slightest way any condemnation of dissent. Andreas is right and helpful on this. Dissent away, Ben; and let me know if I can help. Likely we have the same perspective on the Calamity Janes everywhere today. Love,
May I say at the outset that your warnings against rebellion were helpful to me personally these last few weeks? May I say that I am certain I have sinned in my thoughts, words, anxieties and in this very forum, where I have said many words?
Now to my criticism. Dear brother, you know how to use rhetoric. The overall drift of not just this piece, but others, combined with the many things left unsaid, leaves the simple reader with the impression that strident dissent and criticism of official narratives is rebellious. Of necessity you’ve painted with a broad brush, but under that brush you must know that there are many believers who have used the words “paranoia”, “panic”, “hysteria,” and so on, but who have also tried to bear up under the commands of our magistrates.
You say, “look at the context.” Well, the context does tell me something, but I’m not sure it is what you want me to see. And you must know that appeals to context often sound like special pleading, and often are. “Oh I didn’t mean it that way.” You didn’t?
You and others have also hinted at having criticisms of our magistrates but you’ve only hinted. You have never published. As such, it sounds like a throwaway line. Of course I agree with you, buuuuuuttt…
Can you hear this plea from one of the plebs: could you take maybe 1% of the ire you’ve been directing against overprotective homeschooling antivaxx Moms and redirect that toward those who actually have power? Those men who, relying on a lack of data, are leading us to an economic crash that will affect your parishioners, your ministry, your church? Could we get specific? Could we get more East Coast and less Midwest?
haha I’d argue Pastor Tim WAS actually East Coast in this post, the Midwest are the rebels!
Tim, in a previous post you mentioned there are nuances to the obedience you are defending. Could you expound on what you understand as those nuances?
It is also disingenuous to take a swipe at those who homeschool. I’ve read similar comments before. One could easily write a parable about how Johnny or Sally were indoctrinated by government schools and universities and left, as Richard Baxter writes, in a sad and doubting condition. This is not so far-fetched.
An argument could be made that this kind of obedience led to men like Bonhoeffer being thought a radical in his time. It happened little by little. He was a voice crying in the wilderness. Here in Lebanon I see how neighbors delight in the legalism of this obedience. They’ve deputized themselves into being agents of the state. I don’t see this as a positive good.
Yes, you have medical men and lawyers. They have their opinions. There are others who have modified or diametric opinions. Caution and prudence is called for. It is part of loving our neighbor. There is much we do not know or understand about this virus. But after these draconian restrictions are lifted, then what? The virus is still out there. What will happen? What will we do? What will be reasonable as men cannot be forced to stay home and not provide for their families? Dogmatism does not fit well.
You are a man of passion and conviction. These are good gifts. Yet our good gifts can also be our worst enemies. There are good men of other opinions with well-argued cases about this whole issue. Some grace and charity would not hurt.
For what it’s worth (not much, I admit), I never saw anything like what you call “the overall drift of the piece.”
Last night I was reflecting on how the coronavirus situation has developed in the United States and came to the conclusion that our particular circumstances may likely be God’s judgment on our rebellion against authority. Other nations are handling it better, and it may even be the case that China will come out of this with fewer deaths and less economic damage. Many sober-minded commentators without ideological axes to grind have reported astonishment at how ineptly the federal government has handled the crisis, and the rot goes far deeper than Trump and his administration. And what is the response of the typical American? Yet another complaint about an incompetent government tyrannizing an undeserving people. But the Bible teaches that an incompetent government is God’s judgment on a nation (Is. 3:12).
The particulars of the situation in the U.S. support this interpretation. The two primary reasons why such brute and economically destructive social distancing measures are being employed is that we lack information on who and how many are infected and we lack the medical resources to treat a large number of sick people. The U.S. had two months to prepare but completely wasted that time and continues to do so even now. Why? Strict adherence to bureaucratic procedure that has both greatly slowed the federal response and prevented lesser magistrates and individuals from effectively responding at the ground level. One might think that inflexible adherence to bureaucratic procedure in the face of extraordinary circumstances is an expression of strong authority, but it is not. It is an expression of the fear of exercising effective authority over a stubborn and rebellious people.
Well said, Joel. Dad pointed out during Nixon’s presidency that the people most susceptible to totalitarianism are not men who respect authority, but rebels.
Ben and Jeff, I’m content to let you say I’m “painting with a broad brush,” engaging in “special pleading,” avoiding taking on those with “power,” not being “specific,” being “Midwest” and “disingenuous,” lacking “caution and prudence,” engaging in “dogmatism,” and having no “grace and charity.” Whew!
I thought I was saying we should submit to our governing authorities when they gave their order two weeks ago, now, not to assemble in large groups publicly. That is what I’ve said. That.
That is what I still say. Then I’ve written a parable of rebellion of a homeschooling wife as a way of showing how easy it would be for homeschooling mothers to see their husbands’ rebellion against the governing authority and bring it home to church and family. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right? If the husband can call the governing authority a fool and foment rebellion against him, why can’t the wife call her elders and husband fools, also, and foment rebellion against them, too?
But of course, people missed the point even when I explained it at the end of the parable. Rather, some of you are up in arms about my saying homeschoolers are rebellious. Of course they are, but that was not my point. My point was that no goose wants his gander to deal with his goose-authority the same way he deals with the governing authority.
Anyhow, sorry to disappoint you both. Maybe my great passion and conviction have driven me to hold the cloaks while Bonhoeffer is martyred?
Love you both,
PS: There is a way to disagree without fomenting rebellion, and I have commended those disagreements a number of times on FB and Twitter. Guess I have to write a post on Warhorn for them to register with some, but my main concern with longer posts has been the longstanding rebellion against church and civil authority (and increasingly husband’s authority) endemic within the reformed church and world. This is largely the subject of Church Reformed, so it’s no new concern of mine. But boy oh boy has COVID-19 put it on display for those with eyes to see.
To give a couple examples of what you say I haven’t said:
I wrote and posted this: “Greensboro, NC, uses quarantine as excuse to arrest law-abiding Christians protesting baby slaughter. ADF takes on the case.”
I commended (“Good personal commentary from Scott Tibbs)|”) and linked to this piece by Scott Tibbs which begins with this paragraph:
I am concerned that some Christians are far too eager to reflexively obey the government’s quarantine orders during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it seems that many of them do not recognize that there are ominous and frightening storm clouds on the horizon. We need to watch this carefully and closely guard our liberties, especially our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.
I commented thusly:
I have no need to defend the legitimacy of the governing authorities’ every order when I say that they are in their proper sphere of authority by banning the assembly of large groups of people. Ground zero of the authority God has delegated to the civil authority is the protection of life. You know, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” in that order. We may quibble over the way the civil authorities protect life, but we must admit it is their authority to do so. And also, that they are the ones with the right to be wrong in this duty. If you decide to disobey their orders, just resign yourself to your punishment and move on.
Which caused a brother to comment:
I will submit myself to their authority, acknowledge their ridiculous and foolish methods that have cost hundreds of thousands of people their livelihood and use my authority to vote them out of office.
Which immediately resulted in my commenting under his comment above:
That’s precisely as it should be, dear brother.
I could continue, but won’t. Again, love,
Would you believe me if I said I was holding back?
Dear Jeff, I’m not sure what you mean by “opinions.” Quarantine authority is a historical fact. Countries and American states and local governments have exercised such authority for centuries. In American history, churches have closed in response to government quarantines. I have yet to see the legal argument based on Scripture, legal texts, or history that such authority doesn’t exist.
Dear Ben, Huh? Speaking for myself, I haven’t been herded into an opinion. I’ve read the primary source documents and historical sources, which are facts. Quarantine authority exists and civil magistrates may exercise it to protect life. If you dispute this, please make an argument based on the facts and law, not rhetoric. Is it possible that libertarians and political conservatives ever fall prey to groupthink?
Yes, it is entirely possible for libertarians and conservatives to yield to groupthink and fail to crticially examine ourselves. What’s the key difference between us and the other side? We have no power. The longer this goes on, though, I’m confident that will begin to change. We will see. I’m reminded of the run-up to the Iraq War.
I’ve made a lengthy comment under the Warhorn post “May Civil Authorities Exercise Authority Over Churches.” If you care to respond there, feel free to do so. Would love to see pushback.
Thanks Brian for your reply. Let me clarify. This was in response to Tim saying he has you and a noted physician he respects and relies upon as experts. There are other fine medical and legal experts who have different opinions on the issues of the day. Dr. Fauci has done a 180 since January. It is a difficult and confusing time and there don’t seem to be any men of Issachar.
Regarding quarantine, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement.
Second, I think a stronger argument for mitigation is loving your neighbor.
Dear Jeff, I haven’t been saying “I have” anyone. Rather, I’ve been saying our seventeen men on session, our seventeen pastors and elders, have been privileged to be counselled by two of them who are well-qualified to speak as authorities given their callings as a lawyer/former civil magistrate and a physician who keeps in close touch with the best man on infectious diseases in our city. We have listened to them and are happy to take their wise counsel.
I realize other men prefer their own counsel and think they are experts and can do a better job on their own, but we have the obligation to lead the church and submitting to the authorities God, in His kindness, has placed on our session is a joy.
And I will add one more time what I have said before, which is that the anger and resentment over social media aimed my way has been over my statements that quarantines are legal and should be submitted to. Honestly, the rebound I have watched to those simple truths which are, as Brian has been saying, irrefutable, has only raised my concerns about the reformed church’s commitment to the authority of God and man. Love,
It truly is a blessing that you have wise men and counselors. Our church does, too. In my experience this is rather rare.
I’m not quite sure what you are getting at with the comment ‘I realize other men prefer their own counsel’. Is this to mean my pastor and session prefer their counsel to others? Or is it to be taken individually as in ‘every man did what was right in his own eyes for there was no king in Israel’? It seems that it leans towards the latter meaning. I confess to being a dullard at times, but is meant as a slight to me or to other unnamed men in general? I heartily embrace there is wisdom with many counselors.
I don’t follow Twitter or other social media you are on so I’ll take you at your word about the anger and resentment. I would ask you to consider that those are only a very small slice of life and keep that in perspective.
The things I’ve read and people I’ve talked to are ‘with the program’ so your experience and mine are different. People are concerned about future consequences. But having these concerns, even strongly held and stated, are not rebellion.
Perhaps this rebellion as you are currently defining it is not as pervasive as you think? Something to ponder.
There is a context for this discussion you may have missed. Ask someone who’s been on FB and you’ll understand. Love,
It would be helpful at least for me, if a thread is carried over from another platform to state that and perhaps give a digest of the part that you think is profitable for discussion here.
I use FB almost exclusively for my honey and beekeeping business. I’ve found any type of constructive discussion on FB has a half-life of Beryllium. I stick to bees and honey.
Twitter seems to be the equivalent of passing nasty notes around in junior high. Bees and honey. And my daughter takes care of the RJ Honey Twitter account at that.