Understand that this article contains elements of informed opinion about an issue that is open to judgment.
There is no arguing that the will of God for His people is to “gather together,” “come together,” and “assemble” on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:17ff. In my judgment, Zoom does not fit the will of God, nor does dividing into two services or multiple groups. These are stopgap measures that continue to be defended. Methinks the defenses protest too much, but whether God accepts Zoom meetings and divisions is for Him to judge.
Looking at such verses as 1Peter 2:13-14 and Paul’s statements in Romans 13:1-7, would we state categorically that every ordinance or institution must be obeyed without question? Such a meaning cannot be what Peter and Paul intended. It was Peter and John, after being warned by the religious leaders not to teach in the name of Jesus anymore, that said in Acts 4:19, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge” and “We ought to obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29. Clearly, no ordinance of man is to be obeyed when it contradicts the will of God.
So why are Christians obeying these ordinances that clearly contradict the will of God? “Places of worship must, therefore, discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower,”1 and “Churches, mosques and synagogues will have to shut down for at least three weeks, with people banned from entering and liable to fines if they defy the rules. …And we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.”2 Additionally, the Supreme Court denied a church’s request to strike down a 50-person cap on worship services as part of Nevada’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.3
One may say that we obey because these are dire times and people are dying and we need to stop the spread of disease which places the emphasis on more than just obeying the institution. It puts the emphasis on “saving lives”. If we do what the institution says, we will save lives. A win-win, except that God’s will gets pushed to the side.
Especially when we consider the information we are receiving. What has been the track record of the institution? First it was a two to three week shutdown to “flatten the curve,” which was accomplished. Then they told us not to wear masks; Dr. Fauci said they do not help. Then he said we should wear them. Then he said he was just trying to save the PPE for healthcare workers. Then they extended the lockdowns or dragged through a slow torture opening. Then when they were opened, they focused on cases not deaths and wailed that we needed to shut down again. Backtracking began. This is the government we are obeying and obeying blindly. When coupled with the record, it is clear that these edicts are capricious.
The real nub of the matter is how long churches will abide by such draconian and arbitrary orders. How long will churches continue on Zoom or divide their worship? Till we have a vaccine? Till after the election? Till after the next flu season? Till next Spring? Till whenever the institution says so?
Many Christians refuse to inform themselves on the truth of the virus and choose instead to believe whatever the institution says. But they have been wrong about everything. They hide the scientific truth of all of this. The reality is that coronavirus may be highly contagious, but only serious for a particular subset of people: those with a median age of 80 with pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes. There have been more deaths over 85 years old than under 35 by far,4 (2nd graph). Children do not get it with any seriousness, nor do they transmit it; however we are being told that opening schools would be the worst thing possible. Deaths in this country are so low that many believe we have achieved herd immunity already. In fact in PA, the chance of contracting and dying from coronavirus is .0006.5 But the emphasis continues to be on a false narrative that cases are rising. Studies showed early on that the number of people infected was higher than expected by a great multiple which means we are merely exposing already existing cases as we test.6
Regarding an issue that affects our worship, how can we Christians remain ignorant as to the false information put out by the institution and claim we are merely obeying or even trying to save lives? I wonder if we are as concerned about saving souls as we are about saving lives. As with anything else, we Christians must be honest with ourselves. Is this virus as horrific as we have been led to believe? Or does that not matter? Are we afraid to die? We should not be, Philippians 1:21. Do we love this world too much? We should not, James 4:4. And have we considered that this pestilence may be from the hand of God, and if so, why?
It is past time to open true assemblies in the vast majority of places7. “Pastor” John MacArthur tells that the congregants there just started showing up. They made their own decisions about how to deal with this virus. They wanted to assemble. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for a green light from the institution to assemble to worship God? Wear masks if you wish. Social distance if you must. Fumigate your buildings. Each do whatever you feel you must do, but please get back to assembling as God wills.