Perspective on Life and COVID-19

Perspective on Life and COVID-19

Our friend Owen Olbricht sent us the following article titled “Perspective.” We want to share it with you during this time when we are facing the pandemic of COVID-19.

Imagine you were born in 1900.

*On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.

*Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years.

*On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%.

*That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

*When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath.

*On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII.

*Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

*At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.

*At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict.

*On your 62nd birthday, the Cuban Missile Crisis is a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.

*When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? When you were a kid in 1985, you didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was or how mean that kid in your class was. Yet, they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art, refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try to keep things in perspective.

Religious Anti-Science Rhetoric

Religious Anti-Science Rhetoric

For the 51 years of this ministry, we have confronted religious anti-science rhetoric. Our critics are those who feel that science is an enemy and that you can’t be a good Christian and embrace science. We are now in a period when the issue of whether people can meet together for worship services has become an issue of science and politics. Some politicians oppose churches resuming worship services saying there is strong scientific evidence that it will expose participants to the COVID-19 virus. Many religious leaders insist that this is an attempt by the government to restrict religion. They say that this scientifically-based objection is destroying the right of people to worship together.

In previous articles, we have pointed out that a great deal of ignorance is involved in rejecting science. According to the dictionary, science is knowledge. Knowledge is always neutral. The critical thing is how we use it. When new scientific knowledge gave us lasers, the question was how we would use lasers. Would they be weapons that cause massive destruction, or would they be medical tools to heal eyes?

We now understand how the COVID-19 virus spreads from one person to another. Will we use this knowledge to stop the progression of the illness, or will we use this virus to destroy whole masses of people? The bubonic plague from 1347-1351 killed 200 million people, which was nearly half of Europe’s population. Religious anti-science rhetoric today has the potential to create a catastrophe.

It isn’t our knowledge about the COVID-19 virus that is a threat to freedom or to worship. The reality is that science will eventually develop a vaccine that will allow everyone to worship together. Smallpox was killing 400,000 people a year in Europe, and it only stopped when scientists developed a vaccine. It is hypocritical for religious people to vilify science while they: 1) enjoy modern technology in their entertainment 2) go to medical facilities for treatment of disease, 3) use scientific advancements to grow and prepare their food, 4) use new scientific discoveries in their businesses, and 5) use science in their homes to improve their standard of living.

Proverbs 8 makes it clear that God has used science (wisdom) in all He has done. Psalms 19 and 139 refer to God’s creation, and Romans 1:19-20 points out that science reveals God’s existence through the things He has made. The following verses, Romans 1:21-32, point out that human moral and political choices cause the pain and destruction we see in our world.

Christianity doesn’t need to violate social distancing to worship and to practice our faith. James 1:27 defines true religion, and Jesus made it clear that He is there when just two people come together in His name (Matthew 18:20). First Timothy 6:20 tells Christians to avoid scams and religious claims called science. Ignore the religious anti-science rhetoric and know that God and science are friends. Don’t listen to politicians and religious hucksters and rely on evidence and the message of proven researchers. Join together in prayer and worship in our homes on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, or whatever method you choose. Rejoice that, through science, God has given us new ways to come together, encourage each other, and glorify Him even in the middle of a pandemic.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Data from Discover magazine, June 2020, page 11.

Christian Witness During the Pandemic

Christian Witness During the Pandemic

We are all aware of the destructive nature of the pandemic we are enduring. There is no question about how the virus is impacting families and the economy of the country. At the same time, some positive things are happening because of Christian witness during the pandemic.

There is a story circulated by SAT-7, an interdenominational Christian television center in the Middle East, which demonstrates how the coronavirus is being beneficial. A man in Iran called the television station and said that the people talking on the station were not like the ones that dominated his country. He said he couldn’t believe that they weren’t violent but had a joy and peace about them which he found attractive. He didn’t have a clue as to who Jesus is. However, he knew that what Jesus was saying was better than the violence, terror, and killing that were a part of the religion that dominates his part of the world. He wanted to know where Jesus lived so he could visit Him.

A week later, this man called again, but this time he had 25 young men crammed into a tiny apartment, and all of them wanted to hear about Jesus. Secret house churches are blossoming all over the Middle East. The coronavirus allows Christians to show compassion and bring help and necessary medications to people who are suffering. Similar stories are coming from Afghanistan.

In America, the coronavirus is showing the huge contrast between atheist beliefs and what Christianity offers. Survival of the fittest as a guide to life doesn’t work well with a pandemic. Isolation and competing for medicine and medical care are not attractive lifestyles for most people. Christians who are first responders talk about the dominance of believers in their efforts. The idea of serving others and saving lives even at personal risk to themselves is the exact opposite of atheistic belief systems.

The coronavirus is not God’s retribution for human sin, but, “All things work to the good of those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28). Christian witness during the pandemic brings a shining light in a culture that suddenly finds itself unable to manage. In this crisis, atheism offers no hope except perhaps personally, selfishly surviving the plague in whatever way possible. True atheism has no thought of helping others or being confident about the future, even if this life comes to an end. The contrast is a great apologetic for Christianity.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Communist Chinese Priority

Communist Chinese Priority

While the world is trying to stamp out a contagious virus that originated from China, the Chinese Communist government is battling something else. The Communist Chinese priority is to stamp out Christianity.

In March, the Chinese government went on a campaign to remove crosses from churches in three eastern provinces. They brought in cranes to lift the crosses off the church steeples because, they said, religious symbols cannot be physically higher than the Chinese national flag. Government officials told the church leaders that the crosses “were too eye-catching” and might “attract people into the churches.”

Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, has a Chinese Institute. The director, Jian Zhu, said that China’s persecution of house churches has intensified. Chinese authorities ask people to spy on their neighbors and report churches meeting in homes. They also require teachers and students to sign statements denouncing Christianity.

Zhu said, “Cameras are all over to watch church and Christians go to Sunday services.” What do the Communists do with the data they gather concerning Christians? According to Zhu, they threaten families not to go to church, “or they will be punished or their relatives could be in trouble.”

As those of us in the United States are prevented from meeting together because of a virus, remember the Chinese Christians. The virus will soon be controlled, but the Communist Chinese priority to persecute Christians will probably only get worse.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

Reporting by Fox News and The Christian Post.

Pandemic Refugees in 2020

Pandemic Refugees because of the Virus

What are you doing during this time of being forced to stay in your dwelling alone, maintaining social distancing? Do you feel like we are pandemic refugees?

Thanks to technology, there are many options available. We all have time to talk on the phone to family and friends. There are books to read, puzzles to do, clean up projects to take care of, and time to check on people we can help. Checking on folks by phone is easy and available to all of us. We can even send needed items using our credit card and the shipping that most suppliers provide. As the weather gets warmer, we can do outside projects that we have long neglected.

The volume of emails we receive has gone up, and our various websites such as doesgodexist.today, doesgodexist.tv, and facebook.com/evidence4god have seen an increase in usage. Our children’s website grandpajohn.club, has been used by some to provide some teaching to their children.

It is disturbing that a large percentage of our population has used this time to immerse themselves in various kinds of drugs. According to The Week (April 17, 2020, page 16) alcohol sales are up 55% with online sales up 243%. Cannabis stores report their sales are up 130%. Our culture has moved away from faith and belief in God and turned to “Survival of the fittest.” From that perspective, this whole experience is a disaster and the only answer is to use drugs to numb your mind to what you can’t control. For those with faith in God and a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is a time full of unique opportunities to serve others. It is an opportunity to become part of a solution to a global problem.

For Christians, instead of feeling like pandemic refugees, we have the assurance of God’s word. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea … the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalms 46:1-2, 7).

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

As the world and our country battle the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we see daily statistics on the death rate. Whatever the death rate from COVID-19, as someone has said, the real death rate is one per person.

Death is something we generally don’t like to talk about or even think about. Some people seem to believe that if they don’t think about it, they won’t die. That hasn’t worked for anyone so far. Failing to think about death leaves us unprepared when it happens. In his book Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection, Stephen T. Davis wrote that “Human beings are the only animals who know that they must die, and thus the only animals who try to hide from themselves the fact that they must die.”

One of the things that separates us from other animals is our reasoning power. Our reason tells us that it is irrational to believe that impersonal and nonrational forces could have produced us human creatures who are both personal and rational. In my opinion, that is one of the strongest evidences for a personal and rational Creator God.

Now, suppose that you were the Creator of the universe, and your crowning creative achievement rebelled against you. Would you be willing to take on the form of those rebellious creatures to redeem them? Would you be willing to leave your eternal abode to enter the world of those disobedient and ungrateful beings to show them how to live? Would you be ready to die for them, even though they still didn’t catch on and follow your instructions? Is it possible that the Creator could have that much love?

It is more than just possible. It happened. The Creator did it. He died for us—for you and me! But that isn’t the end of the story. He conquered death! Yes, you can say that the real death rate is one per person in this life. But just wait for what God has in store for those who love him! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9.)

— Roland Earnst © 2020

God’s Seasons of Hope

God's Seasons of Hope

We have mentioned before that God did not create the coronavirus that is causing so much pain to people worldwide. In this devastating epidemic, many of us have lost someone close to us. No one is minimizing the damage of COVID-19, but human greed and mismanagement have been the primary cause of it, not God. However, God’s seasons of hope can bring us through times like this.

One blessing that we should all be thankful for is the time of year when this pandemic has struck. It is now April. Geese are flying overhead. My daffodils are ready to bloom. A baby deer crossed my driveway this morning. The yard is greening up, and I will be outside rotor-tilling the garden and spreading fertilizer later this week. Experts say that viruses don’t like the ultraviolet light and high temperatures of the Sun, and the forecast is for clear skies and rising temperatures.

When Paul was teaching in Iconium (Acts 14), he encouraged his listeners: “Turn from these vanities to the living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea and all the things that are in them. In the past God allowed all nations to walk in their town ways, but he did not leave himself without a witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Verses 15-18).

The rain has come and melted the last of the snow. There is plenty of food, and congregations who operate food banks are meeting the needs of people in their areas. Before long, there will be strawberries, asparagus, greens, and mushrooms available outside our doors. We can once again fill our hearts with food and gladness.

Let us find encouragement in Paul’s words as we enjoy God’s seasons of hope and look forward to a future free from this virus threat.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Blaming Christians for COVID-19

Stop Blaming Christians for COVID-19

Atheists and the atheistic media are using the coronavirus to attack those who believe in God. They have taken the refusal of several extremist religious figures to practice social distancing and used it as a club against Christians. There is no justification for blaming Christians for COVID-19.

The New York Times and Salon.com cite Jerry Falwell Jr.’s reopening of Liberty University and the actions of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne as “crippling our coronavirus response.” Numerous atheist journals and websites have repeated those claims. This smear technique is an old tool of those who wish to attack others. Blaming Christians for COVID-19 is like saying that because Hitler hates Jews, all Germans hate Jews.

What Falwell and Brown are doing is in contradiction to the Bible. Romans 13 finds Paul telling Christians, “Submit yourselves to the governing authorities…He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted …” Paul goes on to say that God uses these rulers to help us. That is indeed happening in this pandemic. The fact is that Christians can worship anywhere, and Jesus made it clear that “where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). It seems that Howard-Browne is either ignorant of Romans 13 or has his eye on something other than spiritual matters. We suggest that finances are involved in both cases.

Washington Examiner writer Timothy Carney said, “It was entirely predictable that the Left would blame Christians for spreading the virus. Nothing is more satisfying to secular liberals than to look down on believers as self-deluded anti-science rubes.” The fact is that the virus started in China, where Christians make up less than 3% of the population. It has gone wild in places like New Orleans and New York City, which are hardly places where Falwell and Howard-Browne’s followers dominate the population.

Those blaming Christians for COVID-19 need to stop bashing God and Christianity and do what many Christians are doing. The followers of Jesus are serving those who can’t get out by delivering food and medicine, making face masks, and providing transportation for those who need it.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Holding “Church” Services in a Pandemic

Holding “Church” Services in a Pandemic

Ignorance can kill. That statement is so true that it doesn’t need any examples. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, some feel that their church is exempt from the medical facts. The “50 States” section of USA Today (Thursday, April 2) carried a report of Pastor Tony Spell of the Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana. He is holding “church” services despite government orders not to. Spell maintains that continuing to conduct services is “not any different from keeping the doors of Walmart or a hospital open.”

The first point we need to make is that the Church is not the building where Spell preaches. The Church is people, not a location. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” In Colossians 4:15, Paul sends a greeting to “Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” The first-century Church did not have a building or a single person who was dominant over everyone else.

The second point is that comparing the Church to Walmart or a hospital is a very ignorant thing to say. While all three are essential to human existence, two of them relate only to a part of our physical needs. You need Walmart or other stores only to get food or other physical essentials. You need a hospital only if you are physically very ill. You need the Church 24/7 for your emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social well-being.

In going to Walmart or the hospital, you rely on humans who are prone to make mistakes. When you “go to church” you are relying on God and His Word, which are always available, and are infallible. Once again, the Church is not a building and not dependent on a single human. The Church is people praying, singing, studying God’s Word, and serving others (See Acts 2:44-47). Holding “church” services by meeting together in one place is very good. But, when necessary, we can still do all of those things without physical closeness.

The third point is that bringing people into a dangerous situation contradicts God’s nature and His teaching. In Acts 12, we read about an angel releasing Peter from prison. The Christians were not exposing themselves to arrest but were secretly gathered in a home praying. Jesus frequently passed out of a situation that was dangerous to Him and others. He never exposed people to a dangerous situation, and His teaching was to avoid evil not to flaunt His power over it. When He rescued a woman from being stoned to death, He told her, “Go and sin no more.” (See John 8:11).

I would not impugn Spell’s motivation for putting his congregation in harm’s way, but that is not what the Christian community is called to do. Holding “church” services is not as important as being the Church.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Why Did God Create the Coronavirus?

Why Did God Create the Coronavirus?

Why did God create the coronavirus that causes COVID-19? The short answer is that He didn’t.

That question of disease applies to every human ailment caused by a virus, be it malaria, a common cold, or one of the SARS viruses. A virus is a microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium, and that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to survive and replicate. Viruses are not all harmful. They exist in the body to help cells change and adjust to allow reproduction, digestion, and respiration. The problem is that viruses, like everything else, can be mutated by external forces – radiation, pollution, etc.

Built into our bodies is an immune system designed to help reject destructive viruses. This system uses antibodies that attack the proteins in the virus and stop it from reproducing. The problem comes when a virus the body doesn’t recognize as an intruder can multiply and crowd out the normal function of cells. What causes the body not to detect and eliminate a virus? The immune system may not recognize a virus that is different because it has mutated. That usually happens when the virus was in an animal where it caused no problems because the animal’s immune system recognized and controlled it. The problem occurs when the animal passes the virus to a human. In the case of the Marburg virus and the Ebola virus, the source appears to have been bats. In the case of HIV, the virus was from chimpanzees.

The use of chemicals to fight insects has been a source of many changes in the insect population. Bats eat insects, and the chemicals cause changes in the viruses in the bats. In the current coronavirus outbreak, human interactions with bats for food apparently brought the virus into the human population. The results have been disastrous.

So why did God create the coronavirus that causes COVID-19? My preacher friends will simply say that Satan created the virus. Without getting into the theological difficulties with that explanation, how would Satan have done it? The point to remember is that God did not do it.

In theory, at least, the cure for virus problems is simple. Find a way to help the body produce antibodies that can recognize and attack the invading virus. We can do this, but the process is complex and will take time. We can do it because we have some understanding of God’s design of the human body and the immune system. Meanwhile, we need to avoid pathways for the virus to get from person to person. Washing our hands, social distancing, being careful about what we eat, and how we prepare our food are the best defense strategies for now.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News March 14, 2020, pages 6-7.