Christianity: Nothing to Say About Coronavirus?

I recently read an online article by N.T. Wright which brazenly claimed “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” The article may be found here: https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/. It served as a powerful reminder to me of the importance of maintaining the truths of God’s sovereignty and providence.

N.T. Wright is a widely-known and highly influential theologian in the broader Christian world. Because he is so well-known, this article has likely been read by many Christians and non-Christians alike, people eager to understand how exactly Christianity relates to a global pandemic. Unfortunately, Wright steers his readers completely in the wrong direction. Wright argues that Christianity has no need (or even ability) to say where coronavirus came from or why the pandemic has happened. Rather, all Christians ought to do is “lament,” pouring out their “frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why” as the Psalmists do because “God also laments.” The implication both of this and what Wright goes on to say is that God too is struck with frustration and an inability to understand what’s going on right now. Coronavirus is bewildering to God; He just doesn’t seem to know what to do, except grieve over it!

This is further implied by Wright’s sarcastic remark at the beginning of his article: “No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign?” Such opinions, says Wright, are merely rationalism in Christian clothing. Attempting to see God’s hand behind the pandemic is not what Christians ought to be doing right now.

I wonder what Job would say to N.T. Wright. We read in the story of Job that God was completely sovereign over Job’s circumstances (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). Satan was acting, but God dictated to Satan exactly what he could and could not do to Job, and Satan was forced to comply. God providentially upheld Job through it all. This included even a horrible physical ailment in chapter 2. Clearly, God is sovereign over sickness and disease. If Wright were to tell Job, “Your faith says nothing about what is going on right now; God had nothing to do with this,” would Job not be driven to despair? God has abandoned me would be Job’s only logical conclusion!

I also wonder what Jesus would say to N.T. Wright. In Matthew 24:7, Christ lists “pestilences” among the signs of His return. Such signs “must come to pass” prior to the end (v. 6). Wright apparently groups Jesus Christ with “the usual silly suspects” who consider the coronavirus to be a sign of the end drawing nearer.

Lastly, I wonder what the rider on the fourth horse of Revelation 6 would say to N.T. Wright. That rider, verse 8 says, was Death, and he was given power “to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (ESV). As with the other horses, that power came from God Himself and from the Lamb. Contrary to what Wright would say, the coronavirus is indeed God bringing punishment on this sinful world.

Fellow believer, don’t get swept along in the thinking God is somehow powerless with respect to the spread of a pandemic. Remember that “our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3, KJV). If standing up for the sovereignty and providence of God in such times as these makes you just another one of “the usual silly suspects,” then wear that badge with honor!

 

Matt Koerner

Is Asking God “Why” Ok?

I grew up with the mindset that asking God “why?” was wrong and that it made me a bad Christian for asking. I found out recently that my brother holds the same view that I used to. Somehow the conversation came up when, as a family, we were sitting around the dinner table one Sunday. My parents were saying that asking God “why?” was fine as long as you are respectful. My brother was arguing that we should not ask God that question because it shows doubt towards God. I piped up a little in favor of my brother but mostly sat in silence since I was caught up in my own thoughts.

As I thought more on this topic, I realized that my brother and I both held to this view based on what we were taught in school. Throughout our schooling we were taught, whether through it actually being said or simply implied, that asking God “why?” is wrong because it shows your distrust in God, and it shows you doubting Him.

I now believe that asking God this question is perfectly fine. I think that people can believe either view of this question, it just depends on whether a person is asking this out of doubt or out of a humble desire to understand. I do not think that asking God “why?” is wrong in all cases.

As someone who has gone through trials and is still going through trials and, like everyone else, will go through many more trials as I go through this life in a sinful world, I think we need to make this a more common question that is ok to ask. Before I came to this conclusion, I would find myself asking “why?” to God and then immediately feeling like I had sinned and that I was a horrible Christian for asking. This made me less inclined to talk to God in prayer and come to Him with my questions and concerns. As a result of this, among other things, my spiritual life became non-existent.

In one of my college classes last semester, there was actually a guy who did a presentation on why it was wrong to ask God “why?”. This made me feel even worse as I resolved never to ask God that question again. However, recently I came across a certain song that really hit home for me. The song is called “Why God” by Austin French. I listened to the official music video and in the beginning, French is explaining that he felt like a bad Christian when he asked that question when his father was dying. He felt like he was not allowed to ask that. But then, he says, he became a dad and his son started asking those “why” questions. And through this God showed him that He is not afraid of our hard questions; and that asking “why God?” did not make him a bad Christian. Instead, it made him a kid. God is our Father; we are His children.

I believe that it was God that placed this song right where it needed to be so that I found it. It was exactly what I needed to hear in a really important time in my life.

I believe it is perfectly fine to ask God “why?” It does not show that we are doubting Him. It shows that we are having trouble understanding our situation or circumstances and that we really do want to understand. It shows God that we see Him as a Father whom we can go to with our questions and concerns no matter how difficult they might be. God is our Father, and we are His children. Ask Him “why?” and listen for the answer.

 

Brittany Bylsma

How Has Jesus Changed Your Life?

“Come, hear, all ye that fear the Lord,

while I with grateful heart record

what God has done for me;

I cried to him in deep distress,

And now His wondrous grace I bless,

For he has set me free”

~ Psalter #175, verse 3

In Psalm 66, we read a fundamental expression of Christian fellowship: talking to one another about how God has worked in our hearts. It’s easy to forget this when our conversations are filled with our jobs, friends, and weekend plans. And these days, it seems like all we can talk about is the coronavirus.

But during this time of uncertainty, we’d like to spend more time thinking about what God has done for us. We’d like to start a conversation about things that are bigger than a pandemic and that hold more hope than anything we can find on earth. We’d like to help each other look up together at our incredible, sovereign God.  

So while you are reflecting on all the ways your world is changing because of COVID-19, take a minute to reflect on how Jesus has changed your life.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting short testimonies from various people of what God has done for them—that might be something that has happened in the last few weeks during quarantine or something much broader. We would love for you to join us.

Come, hear, all you that fear the Lord, and then record your own thoughts on how you see God in your life. Tell a friend and maybe your neighbor, and then send us your thoughts at youngcalvinists@gmail.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram.

 

The Young Calvinists Committee