Last week, I wrote about a tract published by North Platte Baptist Church and its pastor William Reeves that used fear to evangelize people. (Please see North Platte Baptist Church Uses the Coronavirus Pandemic to Evangelize People and Dear Pastor Reeves, Let Me Explain to You Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself.) Today, a reader shared with me a new COVID-19 tract written by Paul Chappell, pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California. Chappell is a well-known IFB pastor. He is also the president of West Coast Baptist College.
Titled Seeking a Cure, the tract states:
Hours before the world rolled into the new decade of 2020, a group of Chinese doctors worked tirelessly to understand the sickness they now found themselves treating.
Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, noticed seven cases of an unusual virus, which he thought looked similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which had led to a worldwide epidemic in 2003. He was correct. What he did not know, however, was that this virus he had seen, while related to SARS (both are a coronavirus), was an entirely new virus, which would eventually be named COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the virus began to spread. On January 13, a case was reported in Thailand. On January 20, it showed up in South Korea. On January 21, it was discovered in the United States. By March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared it a pandemic. Now, the virus has infected every continent on the globe, except Antarctica.
This, of course, is not the first pandemic that has swept our world. In fact, as our society searches for a cure for Covid-19, many have looked back to previous epidemics, such as the flu of 1918, to learn how practices such as social distancing can slow the virus’ spread.
But even before 1918, or any of the other world-altering epidemics of the previous centuries, our entire world has been infected with a different kind of virus. This virus cannot be stopped by social distancing, for it is a spiritual disease — passed down to us from our planet’s first parents, Adam and Eve.
The Bible tells us . . . blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada
I recently read an article about a woman who lived to the age of 102, but had experienced what came to be known as the Spanish Influenza in 1918 at the age of 3. What saved her life—and undoubtedly the lives of others—was the white scarf tied to the family’s outside doorknob, alerting others that there was a quarantined patient inside.
Even as a virus patient will only receive treatment if they acknowledge their condition, so we must acknowledge our need for Christ.
Will you turn to Christ alone? Although Jesus already paid for our sin and offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven, we must choose to receive his gift. We must stop trusting ourselves, our works, and our religions, and turn our full trust to Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sin. Health viruses will come and go, but in Christ you can have forgiveness and a home in Heaven that can never be taken away.
You can read the entire tract here.
It should not surprise me that preachers such as Chappell look for opportunities such as the Coronavirus Pandemic to preach their truncated fear-based gospel. I preached a similar gospel for many years. Put the fear of God, judgment, and Hell into people, and they will come running to Jesus. Or so the thinking goes, anyway. What I find shameful is how Chappell and others like him use a worldwide viral epidemic to promote their religion; that instead of focusing on helping people, they focus on saving them. That way, if people get infected with the COVID-19 virus and die, at least they were told the TRUTH before they died, right? Profiting from the fears of people is the worst of human behaviors. And believe me, Chappell wants to profit from the virus. Souls saved=new church members=increased offerings. Ding! Ding! Ding! Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
This kind of behavior by IFB preachers and their churches will never change. It’s part of their DNA. Without fear, IFB churches would empty out overnight. Without fear, Chappell’s congregants just might get snockered on Saturday nights, sleep in on Sundays, and, Loki forbid, church women might wear pants. Or better yet, they might seek out kinder, gentler expressions of Christianity; churches where love and kindness, not fear and judgment, permeate the air.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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