By Letter to the Editor on April 30, 2021.
Editor: John P. Nightingale and I don’t often see eye to eye, but I’d like to add my “Amen” to his April 28 letter, “Where is writer’s compassion for others?”
It’s not as if this is the first time churches and other institutions have had to deal with government restrictions intended to safeguard the common good (i.e., to love our neighbours as ourselves).
Richard Baxter, a 17th century Puritan, writing during the time of the Great Plague of London, could have been addressing our situation when he asked: “May we omit church-assemblies on the Lord’s day, if the magistrate forbid them?”
Answer: “If the magistrate for a greater good (as the common safety) forbid church-assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him.”
During the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, schools, churches and theaters were closed to avoid the spread of the so-called Spanish flu.
Newspapers offered to print sermons, service outlines, scriptures and announcements sent in by various clergy to help people worship at home.
Granted, there was more public sympathy for religion in those days, but now we have Zoom and other online means to attend services.
A Christian Reformed publication from October 24, 1918 listed “lessons from this appointment of Providence,” including a renewed appreciation for “the value of our church privileges” that were being presently withheld. What a different attitude from those of my fellow-believers who insist on their right to defy government regulations in the name of Christ, thereby doing incalculable damage to the church’s already diminished reputation.
I’m grateful that John Nightingale and others recognize this not to be the true spirit of Christ or the teachings of the Bible.
J. Cameron Fraser