Don’t blame anybody for Covid-19, Lutherans plead, say God does not speak through virus
The Lutheran World Federation has warned against putting the blame of Covid-19 on any single individual or nation.
In pastoral letter by the church titled “Church in times of Coronavirus”. signed by the President of the Federation, Archbishop Dr. Musa Panti Filibus, and the General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge, the body stated that it is wrong to put the blame of the virus on anybody noting that this is the time for all to come together and fight the virus.
Writing under the heading, Apocalyptic prophecies and end-of time predictions, the Church noted that there are people who see the current situation as signs of the imminent end of time or the second coming of Christ.
“Certain theological tendencies interpret the global pandemic as a punishment of God, often singling out specific nationalities, or ethnic and other groups as the source of God’s anger. This tendency has led already to hostilities and attacks. Expressions of xenophobia and the persecution of minorities are on the rise.”
The LWF pointed out that God doesn’t speak through a virus. “God speaks through Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, living in our times through the work of the Holy Spirit. Let this continue to be the basis for the preaching and the teaching of the church.”
It then called on all LWF member churches to remain steadfast to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ spoken to his disciples: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt 24:36).
It warned that churches should not preach what they cannot possibly know, “but they should preach the message they have received: the good news of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel (God with us), offered to humankind as a gift of salvation and freedom.”
The federation emphasized in the letter that LWF member churches should “oppose and reject any singling out of individuals or blaming groups as being responsible for COVID-19. This is a time to stand together and to support each other. The world does not need stigmatization and violence, it needs cooperation and solidarity.”
It urged member churches of the federation to listen to health officials, take all precautions and follow the measures that are being put in place to contain the spread of the virus, “even if this means refraining from gathering for worship in one place for a period of time.”
The LWF also urged member churches to teach diligently and to live out the gift of faith in humbleness and responsibility.
Citing the example of Jesus while he was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness the body noted that the example of Jesus “make us understand that faith should never lead to testing and tempting God’s power. Instead, faith in the Triune God empowers us to go through this time of trial with hope and with a loving heart towards those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its consequences.”
It urged churches to do everything to halt the spread of the virus out of love for their neighbors while also warning against losing sight of the most vulnerable.
It will be recalled that during the plague in 1527, Martin Luther whose idea helped begin the Protestant Reformation reportedly wrote a letter to a friend who was a fellow priest and stated, “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”