Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Scientists, the false idols of a faithless land

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BRITAIN is in desperate need of spiritual direction. Liberal secularism has fashioned the national mindset in such a way that responses to national crises are now totally different in character from, say, those which prevailed during World War Two.  

While I am not likening the pandemic to the grave adversity of war, the comparison has undoubtedly been made. So let us examine the current response to the coronavirus in the light of how the nation dealt with the affliction of war. I would argue that the virus has exposed the deep spiritual void in our contemporary national life, whereas during the war, although the nation’s spiritual condition was far from thriving, there was still a general acceptance of the concept of God’s providence overruling in the affairs of men. 

Faced with a powerful enemy in the form of Nazi Germany, society understood that military might and strategy were not the only answers, but that there was also a need to seek the aid of the Almighty, He who determined the outcome of wars. Even the politicians publicly acknowledged this. As a result the war witnessed no fewer than 12 national days of prayer, all widely supported throughout the land, and this revealed that society still broadly appreciated the words of Psalm 20:7 – ‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.’

Britain today is doing the equivalent of trusting in horses and chariots in respect of dealing with Covid-19. It is putting all its hope in stringent medical precautions and in lockdowns, even when the scientific foundations for such measures are a matter for intense debate. The nation today thinks itself far too sophisticated to humble itself before the Lord, but its trust instead is in the precautions. 

The virus has also witnessed our God-ignoring nation resorting to a thoroughly unwholesome trust in the State and its institutions, most notably the NHS. The rainbow is meant to be a symbol of God’s covenant promise to be merciful to undeserving men; it is therefore deeply regrettable to see it being used to foster the notion that without the NHS and the State’s benevolence to us through it, we would all be hopelessly lost. A whole generation of children is being brought up to regard the NHS as the nation’s Saviour. 

We of course value the work of dedicated doctors and nurses, but idolising the NHS is symptomatic of a deep God-rejecting malaise in contemporary British society. It is a classic example of man without God needing to look around for an alternative focus for his trust and devotion. 

Secularism lacks the mental and philosophical faculties to deal with a pandemic. Its abandonment of the reality of the providence of God makes it react disproportionately to the need of the moment. When society loses an understanding of the sovereignty of the God over creation, it resorts to excessive fear and a misplaced trust in human ingenuity. 

We have seen this with climate-change alarmism, leading many, overcome with anxiety, to argue that our whole mode of economic existence must be radically changed, if ever WE are to save the planet. However, the very notion of man saving the planet or controlling the climate is in God’s sight a foolish usurping of authority which man simply does not possess. 

Similarly with the virus, society has been ramped up to disproportionate levels of fear. Yes, we should take reasonable medical precautions and pursue the appropriate scientific research, but this must not be at the price of forgetting our dependence on the Creator God. To do so is to idolise science and scientists. Excessively severe lockdown policies are leading to economic chaos. The Biblical principle for containing disease, as laid down in Leviticus 13, is to quarantine the sick, not the healthy and economically active. 

Many will doubtless be shocked by this statement, but Covid-19 has come upon us in God’s providence. Ever since man’s first rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden, all subsequent generations have lived in a fallen world which is no longer a paradise, a world always characterised by ongoing anti-God rebellion. This fallen condition includes sickness and disease, and always will do. It is impossible for modern man to create a world where there is no risk and no viruses. This is what secularism fails to understand.

We are drifting into frightening levels of State control over every nook and cranny of our lives. Also, whilst governments in the past have occasionally endeavoured to direct the nature of Christian worship, the current situation of the State preventing Christians from worshipping at all is unprecedented in our history. As Mrs May rightly pointed out recently in Parliament, this is dangerous territory indeed. 

Covid-19 is God calling upon the nation to humble itself before Him and to come in repentance and faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, instead of crying out, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us’, the nation has tragically been proclaiming, ‘We shall beat this virus by working together and stopping normal living, until such time as we find a vaccine.’ 

Such is the contemporary secular response, but I submit that there is an alternative, namely that we should learn from the willingness of the wartime generation to swallow their pride and to confess in time of adversity their utter need of the help of the one true Trinitarian God. 

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Peter Simpson
Pastor Peter Simpson has been Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire since 1990, and is a keen open air preacher.

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