We believe in the authority of Scripture. We also acknowledge that working through consistency in obeying all aspects of Scripture (both objectively and in principle) is important and at times it is challenging to understand the “how” and “when” of obedience.
We believe that Scripture establishes different spheres of authority with specific structure and purpose – the family, the church, and the civil government. In the sphere of the family, we believe that the husband is the head of the household (Ephesians 5:23) and the function is the health, education, and wellness of those in the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 1 Timothy 5:8). In the sphere of the church, we believe that the council of elders are the leaders and shepherds (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-3) and the function is the ministry of the word and the sacraments (Ephesians 4:11-16). In the sphere of the civil government, we believe that for our country the authority is the Constitution of the United States, and its biblically established function is to punish evil and reward good (1 Peter 2:13-14, Romans 13:3-4). We acknowledge that there is some overlap in these spheres, however, when the civil government begins to dictate how the church can gather and worship, we understand this to be a violation of biblical principles.
The passages of Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 instruct believers in local churches that they are subject to governing authorities. National and State officials occupy a sphere of authority the churches of Jesus Christ are to recognize. We also believe the teaching of Acts 4:19-20 and Acts 5:19 indicates that God’s authority and our obedience of His word supersedes all other authorities and obligations for obedience. It would be great if obeying these instructions was always crystal clear, but we know that it is not, and we need to work hard at seeking understanding and maintaining consistency.
Establishing the context of Scripture is essential for accurate interpretation. Knowing how the truth and principles of truth apply in a particular cultural context is important as well. The audience of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 vary in their context from our current context in the United States. They were in the Roman Empire governed by an Emperor, to whom they were subjects. We are in the United States and are part of a constitutional republic, and we are citizens, not subjects. Citizens of the United States are involved as enforcers of the rule of law and our constitution uniquely gives the governed rights to hold those in positions of authority accountable to the rule of law. The responsibility of citizens to hold those in authority is woven into the function of the rule of law in our country.
Romans 13 and the COVID-19 Virus
A Biblical Case for Civil Disobedience & the Right Use of Romans 13
As part of our constitution, we believe those in elected and appointed positions of authority have the lawful authority to exercise executive powers during times of crisis, including pandemics, and citizens are to obey. These powers are limited in time, meaning they are not to be indefinite, and as such, the authority taken is not to be misused and abused.
At the outset of the COVID 19 crisis a serious threat was detected by the government and communicated to the citizens as a potential pandemic of epic proportions. Millions of lives were threatened by this virus and extraordinary steps were taken to protect the lives of the citizens of the United States and peoples around the world. We believe the governing authorities have this limited right, and we also believe the citizens of the United States have a role to play in keeping the rule of law in force. Our founders wisely realized that governments do not like to surrender control once they have established it and it is the responsibility of citizens to hold them in check.
We believe that COVID 19 is a real virus and poses a real risk. But as time goes on, and as one researches the evidence, the reality of the threat is now different. Information from the CDC continues to surface that gives a more realistic and different picture on the COVID 19 threat. The illness is not as deadly, harmful or infectious as the original warnings indicated.
However, those in positions of authority are moving the goal posts in dealing with COVID 19. The original concern was for the mortality rate. There were concerns that millions of people would die in the United States. The curve they want to flatten is flattened. Now the concern is with the number of people infected. Even here the survivability rate is over 99.7%. There is a good deal of bickering in our country over the interpretation of statistics, but it is reasonable to conclude that some people in positions of power are being less than honest for political reasons. We know our enemy the devil is a liar and deceiver (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9). When truth is replaced by a lie, we know who is standing behind the lies and deception (1 John 3:7-8).
Every elder of Nor’wood Bible Church loves God, loves the truth of God’s word and loves the people of Nor’wood. Each embraces the role of shepherding the flock that is among them, willingly and lovingly exercising oversight (1 Peter 5:1). The elders have more care and concern for the wellbeing and protection of the flock under their care than any secular governing official, and it is primarily their responsibility, not the government’s, to do so (Hebrews 13:17). Each elder is sensitive, supportive, and protective of the flock, desiring to show genuine care and concern for those in the high-risk categories.
As Christians and as citizens the elders of NBC believe it is time to return to obeying Scripture as it relates to the assembly of the church and no longer comply with guidelines that are both keeping us from obeying Scripture and are also beyond the constraints of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado. As elders, our primary focus in this matter is not one of civil disobedience, but one of Scriptural obedience. (Please see the passages of Scripture referenced at the end of this document.)
We will never be able to keep COVID 19 or any other infectious sicknesses and diseases from spreading. Several studies can be sighted that indicate there are good reasons to question the effectiveness of wearing masks to protect others or for personal protection against a Corona Virus.
Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers
A cluster randomized trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers
Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures
We should all take reasonable precautions, but because we are part of a fallen world, God’s judgment for sin includes infectious sicknesses and diseases. Until Jesus comes, this is the reality we cannot escape.