The thoughts expressed in the following article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the consensus of opinion of B. H. Carroll Theological Institute’s faculty, staff, and board of governors. They are offered in the interest of stimulating respectful discussion.
My family suffered through the Covid virus in July 2020 – months before treatment protocols were established and well before any vaccines were available. While my family quickly mended, my recovery took much longer. Being in a hospital with bilateral pneumonia gives one an appreciation for just how dangerous Covid can be. During a follow-up visit to my personal physician, he wisely stated that it will take the medical community about a decade to understand what this virus does to the human body and how to best treat it.
In contemplating Dr. Berry’s blog, “Is Refusing to Take the Covid19 Vaccine an Act of Faith?” I found that the conversation was incomplete. The multiple issues that surround this pandemic are highly complex. While I will not even attempt to address the plethora of issues that Christians face and the ways they make decisions, I will add to the dialogue by addressing some of the concerning conclusions presented in last week’s blog post.
Matters surrounding the Covid19 virus are typically fraught with strong opinions and equally strong emotions. In fact, our country is currently divided on how to manage daily living and matters of health during this pandemic. Making wise decisions concerning one’s health can be challenging. Often times there is no clear right or wrong choice. When that decision concerns whether or not to take the Covid19 vaccine, it is even more so. The Christian community is not exempt from these challenges.
Dr. Berry’s thesis revolved around the notion that God’s provision for Christians comes from the Covid19 vaccines. Indeed, Berry wrote, “[Christians] are refusing the help God is offering to them.” In describing the ways in which God works, Dr. Berry makes several excellent points including that we cannot dictate how the Lord chooses to handle situations. Our Lord is sovereign and we can completely trust Him with every area of our lives. Unfortunately, a subtle theme in Berry’s writing is that he is speaking on God’s behalf concerning the vaccine.
Did God send the vaccine as His answer to the pandemic? A wise man once said that when we represent the Lord, we speak boldly where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent. Consider the story of Job. His friends felt helpless and they hated to see Job suffer. As a result, they began to speak for God and blamed Job for his condition. That was a huge mistake. Towards the end of the account, God had Job offer sacrifices for the friends because they had greatly offended God by misrepresenting Him. A good principle here is to tread very carefully any time we speak for God.
A related concern is that those with innate authority, such as a minister or professor, must remain cognizant of the power differential that exists between those we minister to and ourselves. It is common for people to look to us for guidance and for answers that are outside of our areas of expertise. We must never misuse our positions to direct people to live their lives as we wish them to. Another principle that should be considered here is to protect those we serve, even from ourselves. We lead people towards God and we give them skills and understanding but we must keep our influence reigned in. So, while I have a doctorate and people call me Dr. Wolf, I am not a physician and should refrain from offering medical advice.
As a whole, most Christians view modern medicine as a gift from the Lord. However, not all medical practices are. To place one’s well-being in God’s hands – instead of the medical community’s – is not simplistic faith. It is not something to be shamed or made light of. Placing one’s health in God’s hands is a practice that is wise and spiritually sound. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also look to modern medicine for help. It does mean that in wisdom, we don’t have to accept everything someone in authority tells us to do, whether a physician or a theologian.
The final paragraph urges Christians to receive the vaccine to show the community that Christians are not mentally unstable and thus lead people away from Christ. His argument suggests that a person’s vaccine status could send people to hell. Such manipulative and coercive tactics are unethical and should never be used to sway a person’s decision on serious health matters.
Trusting God with one’s health is the wisest decision one can make. Ultimately, it is the only true decision for our very lives are held in His hands alone. There is room at the table for various views on any topic, including this one. It is by discussing these issues with respect for those we disagree with, that we can learn and have a clearer picture of the world we live in and of God’s work in the world.