Jerry Bowyer: The Church and State in a Time of Pandemic

Should churches defy state shutdown orders in order to gather in person yet again?

This question goes to the heart of both America’s founding principles and the core convictions of Christianity. The early American position was strongly influenced by the Bible—and a disposition “to be subject to the governing authorities.”

But sometimes the state becomes tyrannical and forbids what God commands. What then? We reason with them, we exercise patience, we appeal to other authorities—as Paul appealed to Caesar.

When all other options have been exhausted, then we respectfully disobey.

The evangelical pastor John MacArthur recently quoted the Puritan Richard Baxter, “where he says, ‘If the magistrate, asks you to refrain from meeting because of a pestilence, you do not meet. On the other hand, if the magistrate tries to force you not to meet because of persecution of Christianity, you meet anyway.’”

That’s wisdom.