The way is shut: evangelical silence and the illusion of virtual Church

May 31, 2020 by

from Christian Concern:

The Rev. Dr Joe Boot, Wilberforce Academy Director and Christian Concern’s Head of Public Theology, comments on how ‘virtual church’ in lockdown can never replace physical fellowship.

If a recent Evangelical Alliance (EA) article by Danny Webster entitled, The Media Have it Wrong. Churches are not rushing to reopen their Doors,first published by Premier Christianity, is a true reflection of evangelical opinion in the UK, then the Covid-19 related social crisis has only further highlighted the precipitous decline of the evangelical mind. As such, should we be asking ourselves whether in some measure we deserve our present exile and if so, will we learn anything from it?

When it comes to reacting to the spread of a virus, Webster and the EA apparently believe that the UK government’s treatment of the churches as equivalent to restaurants, bars and cinemas is appropriate. It strikes me as tragic that the EA can find no evidence of UK church leaders anxious to get the churches open as soon as possible, suggesting instead that the vast majority of pastors implicitly support the notion that the people of God gathering for Word and sacrament and its wider ministry in the community is non-essential at this time. For the EA, being a good witness in our cultural moment means passive compliance with government policy and protecting people or being ‘safe’ means not meeting at all.  If that were in fact the churches’ primary mandate, to keep everyone safe from all risk, then the persecuted church in communist and many Islamic nations today are dangerously irresponsible for continuing to meet and develop underground movements, because all such action exposes their congregants to extreme risk.  Perhaps they have something profoundly significant in mind in terms of the overall well-being of the church of Jesus Christ that makes trusting the sovereign God with the ordinary risks of life more important than the illusion of ‘being safe.’

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