Coronavirus and Confession

Look at the reactions to coronavirus.

The reactions are all over the place. It is the fault of the Chinese. It is the fault of the United States Army. It is the fault of America’s Evangelical Christians. It is a United Nations conspiracy.

Included is the age-old superstition.

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:1-5]

Despite what Jesus teaches here, still many react to coronavirus saying, it is a judgment on America’s particular sins, or it is a judgment on the particular sins of other infected nations.

All of these blind reactions happen for one and the same reason: We won’t confess original sin.

The reason for coronavirus is original sin. Because there is so much neglect and confusion about original sin, many will find it difficult to see the connection between it and coronavirus.

The denial of original sin leaves only actual sins, if any. That is why superstition blames calamity like the tower in Siloam or coronavirus in the United States on some actual sin. Having denied original sin, there are no other suspects.

There are two classic and presently abiding ways that we deny original sin:

  1. First, we refuse its true definition, the true meaning of the term.
  2. Second, when someone presents the true definition, we deny that it is true.

The first was on parade in the Reformation. When the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession, the confessors confessed original sin early, in Article II. The Papists responded in the Confutation. Superficially, by subtleties, they made a show of agreeing. The confessors declined this sleight of hand. In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, they took pains to delineate how the Confutation, while purporting to confess original sin, denied it. Upon this root of denying original sin so many evil fruits of Papist theology grew, and they still grow wherever the root is found. That root is spread widely in American religion today.

As confessed in the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, this is original sin.

Since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

When translated from the German, [It is further taught that since the Fall of Adam all men who are naturally born are conceived and born in sin, i.e., that they all, from their mother’s womb, are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.]

Let’s observe the text. Since the fall of Adam, by nature:

  • We are without the fear of God
  • We are without trust in God
  • We have concupiscence (evil desire, evil inclination, lust)
  • Original sin is truly sin
  • Original sin is condemning sin
  • Without Baptism and the Holy Spirit, it brings eternal death
  • We can have no true faith in God

Furthermore:

Some contend that original sin is not a depravity or corruption in the nature of man, but only servitude, or a condition of mortality [not an innate evil nature, but only a blemish or imposed load, or burden], which those propagated from Adam bear because of the guilt of another [namely, Adam’s sin], and without any depravity of their own.

From this added text, we add this observation:

  • Original sin is my sin. Yes, it is Adam’s sin, and it is my sin.

How did the Papists deny, and how do so many today continue denying, this true definition of original sin?

The writers of the Confutation were deficient not only in judgment, but also in candor. For whereas we, with a simple mind, desired, in passing, to recount those things which original sin embraces, these men, by framing an invidious interpretation, artfully distort a proposition that has in it nothing which of itself is wrong. Thus they say: “To be without the fear of God, to be without faith, is actual guilt;” and therefore they deny that it is original guilt.

See what happened there? What the confessors confessed as part of original sin the Papists removed from original sin and relocated into actual sins. They affirmed that those things are sins and by this pretend to agree, but deny original sin. For the confessors to zero in on this subtlety is the furthest thing from splitting hairs. It is more like distinguishing one continent or ocean from another on a globe of the earth.

The error grows to an enormous degree. It denies that original sin in my sin.

They add that no one is condemned to eternal death on account of original sin, just as those who are born of a bond-woman are slaves, and bear this condition without any natural blemish, but because of the calamity of their mother [while, of themselves, they are born without fault, like other men: thus original sin is not an innate evil, but a defect and burden which we bear since Adam, but we are not on that account personally in sin and inherited disgrace].

With just this much, we can anticipate already one effect of denying original sin on understanding coronavirus. Because original sin is denied and the only sin is actual sins, therefore if sin has anything to do with coronavirus, only actual sins explain coronavirus. There is no original sin, so original sin cannot account for coronavirus. This lands us right in the same superstition about “those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell.” Coronavirus must be happening because of some particular sin we have committed.

Of course, actual sin is truly sin, condemning sin, and brings eternal death. Papists and others can preach against actual sins with such ferocity that hardly anyone would think they are covering up for us. They focus especially on visible sins, the outward sins against the Second Table of the Law. Again, these are truly sin, condemning sin, and bring eternal death, of course. The problem is not in confessing actual sins, sins against the Second Table, or outward sins. The problem is confessing them in such a way as to deny original sin and neglect invisible sin against the First Table of the Law.

There is another consequence of denying original sin and focusing in a predominating way upon outward actual sins.  It leads to or supports a notion that it is within our fallen human power to repent or convert ourselves, or at least contribute something to repentance. We need grace not to grant forgiveness of sins and impute righteousness objectively and forensically. We need grace to supply what is lacking in our own powers of repentance. By adding what we do from our own powers together with what grace supplies, the sum of the two together attains righteousness.

Under that notion, not only can Papists and all others holding to the Papist root of denying original sin go on about sin and seem to be really indicting it. They also can go on about grace and seem to really be crediting it. Therein lies the double-barreled error and deception. They credit grace for only part of our salvation.

Look what Papism and all religion having the same root do about the following facets of sin:

  • Not fearing God as we ought
  • Not loving God as we ought
  • Not trusting God as we ought
  • Not hungering and thirsting for righteousness

Papism slights God by slighting these as sin which are the soul of sin, so to speak. While making a production about other sins, it neglects the weight of sin at its center: fear, love, and trust of God. Because they deny original sin, they go so far as to teach that we, of our own fallen human nature, have power to love God above all things. The confessors confess the following facets of original sin in the Apology.

We made mention of concupiscence also, and denied to man’s natural strength the fear of God and trust in Him. For we wished to indicate that original sin contains also these diseases, namely, ignorance of God, contempt for God, the being destitute of the fear of God and trust in Him, inability to love God.

Now in the Scriptures, righteousness comprises not only the second table of the Decalog [regarding good works in serving our fellow-man], but the first also, which teaches concerning the fear of God, concerning faith, concerning the love of God. Therefore original righteousness was to embrace not only an even temperament of the bodily qualities [perfect health and, in all respects, pure blood, unimpaired powers of the body, as they contend], but also these gifts, namely, a quite certain knowledge of God, fear of God, confidence in God, or certainly the rectitude and power to yield these affections [but the greatest feature in that noble first creature was a bright light in the heart to know God and His work, etc.].

[Original sin includes] the not being able to believe God, the not being able to fear and love God; and, likewise: the having concupiscence, which seeks carnal things contrary to God’s Word, i.e., seeks not only the pleasure of the body, but also carnal wisdom and righteousness, and, contemning God, trusts in these as good things.

Look at this sin: ignorance of God, contempt for God, destitute of fear and trust in God, and inability to love God.

If human nature have such strength as to be able of itself to love God above all things as the scholastics confidently affirm, what will original sin be? For what will there be need of the grace of Christ if we can be justified by our own righteousness [powers]? For what will there be need of the Holy Ghost if human strength can by itself love God above all things, and fulfil God’s commandments?

Luther confesses original sin in his explanation of the Third Article of the Creed in the Small Catechism.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

Paul confesses original sin. “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” By Baptism, he received the gift of the new inward man. The inward man delights in the law of God. But before our resurrection, the Old Adam remains and still gives evidence of original sin persisting in us. Whereas before Baptism, we had only one nature, the sinful Old Adam, after Baptism we have two natures, and they war against each other.

How does this connect to coronavirus? Disease, such as coronavirus, indeed does result from sin. It results from original sin. When Adam fell into sin, God said to him, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” (Genesis 3:17-18). To Eve He said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:16).

These expressly named calamities of original sin are the epitome. They stand for themselves and for a host of calamities. What farmer should think only the thorns and thistles in his fields are the calamity of original sin, but other calamities, such as hail, drought, locusts, vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol), scab (fusarium head blight), and others are calamities only of his actual sins? Had he the thought that a hail storm must be a judgment of God on some particular sin of his, the farmer would have sunk from Christianity into superstition.

Jesus says, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45). “The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: The LORD gives light to the eyes of both.” (Proverbs 29:13)

This is not to say that God has not and could not bring calamity for particular sins. He has and He could. (Jeremiah 5:24-29) Just look at the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. (1 Kings 8) But in Scripture, that specific interpretation of specific events is given by prophets. In other words, God gave those interpretations by inspiration. Where God’s inspiration is lacking, where His Word is lacking, we don’t know that any particular sin is the cause of a calamity. There need be no particular sin, because pain in childbearing and thistles in the field continue due to original sin.

For calamity to be an occasion of confession of sin is good when we confess sin rightly. Consider confession as made in the Common Service.

Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against thee by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This, albeit very briefly, confesses both original sin and actual sins.

Perhaps the term “actual” confuses people. In its regular use today outside of religious speech, the word “actual” often means “real” versus potential, phony, or imaginary. So, when we contrast actual sins and original sin, that can give an impression that original sin is not real sin. But the matter is simple. The word original is rooted on the word origin. Original sin is sin in our nature, our origin. The root word of the word actual is act. Actual sins are acts of sin. Before any particular act of sin, we already have the nature of sin in original sin.

When we assign calamity only to actual sins, we miss this confession: Original sin, as our own sin, is iniquitous and enormous enough before and without any actual sins to deserve not only the present calamity, but condemnation and eternal hell. By nature we want to deny this, because if the calamity only could be caused by some voluntary actual sin, that would leave us leverage in the situation. We could bargain with God, placate him, or force him to relent by some self-chosen works. As the cause was our choice, the solution is our choice. If we volunteered our way into the calamity, we imaging we can volunteer our way out of it.

For the Christian, confession has two aspects: the confession of sin, and the confession of the Savior. Our error about the definition of original sin or denying original sin leads us to miss another confession, the confession of faith that God for Jesus’s sake forgives us all our sin. Confession of original sin goes together with confession of Jesus Christ as Savior. My calamity of sin is so deep, so original, so in my nature, as well as in every thought, word, and deed, with even my best works so corrupted by sin as to be worthless and worthy of death, that only the death and resurrection of the Only Begotten Son of God could save me. To use this calamity well, confess sin truly, and with that confession, confess also your Savior.

24 thoughts on “Coronavirus and Confession

  1. “Where God’s inspiration is lacking, where His Word is lacking, we don’t know that any particular sin is the cause of a calamity.”

    This needs to be shouted from the rooftops during times of any calamity.

    To ascribe anything to any particular sin (or set of sins) without the Word of God confirming it is to make one’s self out to be a prophet…a FALSE prophet. Thus, when we hear someone claim that such-and-such a calamity/punishment is a direct result of such-and-such sin(s), we need to ask them to shush.

  2. Thank you so much for this clear and very timely exposition of the Biblical teaching of original sin. God bless you!

  3. Would the distinction between Formal Cause (Say China) and Material Cause (original sin, meaning our fall) be of help here?

  4. I don’t disagree with anything you wrote about the nature of original sin and the curse it brings upon the world. In fact, if you had just held forth on this topic, I would have no objection at all, but you stressed from the beginning that we must never connect temporal judgement to particular or actual sin. Somehow you reason that if one believes God judges particular sins he is denying original sin. I don’t know whether you believe that God no longer judges particular sins with particular judgements or whether you believe that we can never know when He is doing this. Either way, I think you have overstated the point.
    It is impossible to deny from Scripture that God judges particular sins and not just original sin (as He does through natural consequences of the curse). Though it is important to note that the curse of sin as well as God’s blessing affects us all indiscriminately, it is also quite clear that God often judges particular sins particularly. His wrath was manifested against Cain for his actual sin of murdering Abel. The great flood was not a natural consequence of the general curse upon the world, but a specific, miraculous judgement against mankind’s violence and murder. Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed by natural consequences of original sin, but because their actual sins were a stench that reached heaven. Jerusalem was not captured and the temple destroyed because of natural consequences of a cursed world, but because God used Babylon as a rod to judge the unbelief and wickedness of His own people. Not only DID God do this in history, but He caused these things to be recorded for our instruction, warning us not to test Him. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 is a very specific warning of God’s temporal judgments that will befall a disobedient nation. When Israel saw these things happen, they would not be superstitious in recognizing God’s wrath. Their conscience should have been stirred even before the Prophetic voice was sounded. In 1 Corinthians 10, St. Paul calls God’s judgements against particular sins of Israel an example for us not to follow in their steps. Paul also declares in Romans 13 that God’s wrath is regularly exercised through the judgments of civil government, but he does not limit God to government as we see from Romans 1:18-32. When we see sin pervade our culture and such afflictions begin to happen, it is not superstition which afflicts our conscience. We KNOW God works this way through the abundance of Scripture testimony. It is His Word that afflicts the conscience.
    In the Book of Revelation we see a series of “bowls of wrath” poured upon the world in order to bring the nations to repentance. Does not God intend for us to see our sin and His wrath through the afflictions and sorrows we endure individually and collectively so that we may humble ourselves before Him in repentance and flee for refuge to his infinite mercy in Jesus? Should not our nation, in this time of plague, soberly reflect upon the millions of innocent babies we have slaughtered in abortion mills, upon our rampant sexual immorality, our mocking of marriage, our greed, our multifaceted forms of idolatry, our hatred of God? Should we, in remembrance of the great flood and of Sodom, not tremble and cry out “God have mercy upon us!”? Jesus was not denying that calamities reveal God’s wrath against particular sins. He was warning us that we need repentance as much as those who suffer the calamity. To draw from this that Jesus only refers to original sin is a mistake. He refers to the universality of sin, both original and actual.
    Obviously, not every affliction is a manifestation of God’s wrath, and there is a great difference between chastisement and punishment, but those topics are for another time.

  5. “It is impossible to deny from Scripture that God judges particular sins and not just original sin”

    Glenn, you just highlighted the very argument of the article. It is impossible to deny FROM SCRIPTURE that God HAS JUDGED particular sins. However, as scripture is now closed, there can be no further revelation about particular judgments on particular sins, otherwise we make ourselves to be prophets…false prophets who claim to be speaking on God’s behalf.

    Should we as a people, as nations, and as individuals, repent of our many particular sins? Of course! Oh my, we are a sinful people, as you state above. But can we make any claim that the current crisis is punishment/judgment for any particular sin? Absolutely not, unless you want to make yourself to be God. That doesn’t stop a myriad of false prophets from proclaiming as much, but we Lutherans should know better.

  6. Interesting discussion, men.

    “but you stressed from the beginning that we must never connect temporal judgement to particular or actual sin. Somehow you reason that if one believes God judges particular sins he is denying original sin. I don’t know whether you believe that God no longer judges particular sins with particular judgements or whether you believe that we can never know when He is doing this. Either way, I think you have overstated the point.”

    I see in the above Glenn’s seeking a point of clarification. Perhaps this point of clarification can be addressed?

  7. He said, “I don’t know whether you believe that God no longer judges particular sins with particular judgments or whether you believe that we can never know when He is doing this.”

    It’s the latter – we don’t deny that God MAY be punishing a particular sin or set of sins (He certainly can, and He has many to choose from). We simply cannot SAY that He is, as He has not given us direct revelation to know as much, nor is it disclosed in scripture. So if we SAY God is punishing a particular sin, we may get lucky and be right. But more likely, we are speaking on God’s behalf with no evidence to back up our claims. And that’s where we don’t want to be!

  8. Okay, so the whole argument is that we cannot KNOW whether God is judging us so we cannot apply the plague, draught, affliction, etc. to sin in such a way that we reflect upon our evil deeds and repent. But this we DO KNOW.
    1. God judges actual sin regularly all through history and warns us that He will continue to do so until the end.
    2. God warns us repeatedly to reflect humbly upon His judgments in history so that we may fear His wrath and not follow in the path of evil (idolatry, sexual immorality, etc). In fact, He even attaches a temporal curse to the commandments in order that we may fear His wrath.
    3. God specifically identifies temporal consequences of sinful behavior both in His word and in His actions (which He calls “examples”).

    But if we follow an evil path (such as we are) and see these very consequences all around us, we are not to hear the Divine call to repent of our sins (original and actual) through the word of warning already given in Scripture? When God Himself, through the inspired word, identifies His way of dealing with sin through temporal judgments and warns us to avoid such behavior, should we simply ignore this Word and say, “God must talk directly to me before I conclude it is His message?”

    Let me give another kind of example where God tells us how things will be, expecting us to put the pieces together and make reasonable conclusions. He set forth a multitude of specific future events that would identify the Messiah. He identified the bloodline, the exact place of birth, the three empires that preceded His coming, and even the Roman empire under which He was born, and much more. Did He not expect the people to see the time of His visitation? Also this, Jesus tells us what signs will precede His second coming. Does He not intend for these natural events (Earthquakes, wars, etc) to be the voice of God reminding us of His coming and calling us to prepare? I’m not talking about theophanies or inner voices. I’m talking about God’s WORD applied to present events in which He calls us to humility and repentance.

  9. Glenn, you’re really making this too complicated. All the article author is saying, and all I’m saying, is that SPECIFIC JUDGMENTS/CALAMITIES cannot be attributed to SPECIFIC SINS about which God has not already spoken through His word. That’s it. No one will deny that it’s entirely possible Covid-19 is a specific judgment sent by God for the sin of abortion. BUT we cannot state as much, unless we have specific, direct revelation from God (as the prophets had) or specific statements from scripture.

    Regarding prophecies of Christ, yes, God laid the SPECIFIC prophecies before man THROUGH HIS WORD, so the people could have drawn conclusions from those specific prophecies (as they did, ala Mt 2:5). That being said, even with all of those very specific prophecies, no one recognized Jesus as the Christ unless it was revealed to them by God, ala Mt 16:17).

    Does this mean we ignore God’s law and chastisements found therein? NO!!! That is not what is being said at all. We should pay very close attention to all of God’s law, and repentance is a daily act of contrition and faith for every Christian. But we likewise cannot attribute a specific outcome to a specific transgression.

    EOM.

  10. These are fair points and I appreciate the discussion.

    I did include this is the article:

    “This is not to say that God has not and could not bring calamity for particular sins. He has and He could. (Jeremiah 5:24-29) Just look at the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. (1 Kings 8) But in Scripture, that specific interpretation of specific events is given by prophets. In other words, God gave those interpretations by inspiration. Where God’s inspiration is lacking, where His Word is lacking, we don’t know that any particular sin is the cause of a calamity. There need be no particular sin, because pain in childbearing and thistles in the field continue due to original sin.”

    Does that answer sufficiently your question about whether I would say God does not still punish particular sin?

    I also said:

    “What farmer should think only the thorns and thistles in his fields are the calamity of original sin, but other calamities, such as hail, drought, locusts, vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol), scab (fusarium head blight), and others are calamities only of his actual sins? Had he the thought that a hail storm must be a judgment of God on some particular sin of his, the farmer would have sunk from Christianity into superstition.”

    What do you think about that?

  11. JWSkud said:

    “it’s entirely possible Covid-19 is a specific judgment sent by God for the sin of abortion. BUT we cannot state as much, unless we have specific, direct revelation from God (as the prophets had) or specific statements from scripture.”

    I agree with that statement.

  12. Had I waited only 3 days before this article was published, I could have added into the examples at the beginning that now the Pope says coronavirus could be nature’s reaction to human failures regarding climate change. Now, where does that fit into what my article says?

  13. @Christopher Martin

    That is an interesting idea of looking at this as matters of formal and material cause. I had not given thought to that before you asked. My totally unconsidered, knee-jerk first reaction is that it might work, but original sin would be the formal cause, and something else the material cause (except when God actually is punished or seeking repentance for a particular sin or set of sins).

  14. Gentlemen, you speak as if it is wrong to call the nation or our people to repentance at this crucial time for anything other than original sin which afflicts everyone. My concern is that you are severely limiting the pastoral use of this plague at this critical time by implying that God is not angry with the sins (actual) of our nation – or at least that we should not SAY that He is. Let me go at it from another direction: ”In all trials and affliction man should first of all run to God; he should realize and accept the fact that everything is sent by God, whether it comes from the devil or man.” (Martin Luther, LW vol 14, page 141). Every affliction manifests God’s law (wrath) to the conscience – as you acknowledge when you credit it to original sin. Your limitation means that we can only say generally that God’s wrath is against our nature sin …. So “Repent!” While I don’t object that we should repent for original sin, I also know that God’s wrath is not limited to original sin as if He was concerned to fit our theological distinctions. Is God angry with the flagrant and vicious violation of His Holy Law in our nation’s willful legalization of shedding innocent blood, in our abuse and rejection of holy matrimony in many ways, in our sexual perversions, etc., etc. etc.? The answer – and I’m sure you will agree – is YES. We know absolutely and completely that His wrath has been stirred by such evils because His Law has revealed it. You are saying that we should not include a call to repentance for these actions of defiance because God has not specifically told us that this particular manifestation of His wrath intends to include such sins. I think you are straining at gnats here. God speaks to individuals and nations through afflictions, sorrows, loss, etc. He humbles our pride, shows how fragile our lives are, and terrifies the conscience so that we might repent. We have Christians in our churches that have foolishly reconciled the sins of culture with their “faith.” We need to confront them where they are, with specific examples of what original sin does and has done in them ….in us. We do this that we might all flee for refuge to His mercy and find comfort in these trials. From a practical point of view you foster a Deistic kind of view concerning God’s temporal judgments as if God placed a curse upon the world in the Garden and allows that curse to work its way through humanity without a specific purpose or discrimination for individual lives or communities. I believe His providence is far more personal and specific in our lives. I appreciate your responses and the opportunity to debate. Thank you.

    PS: I don’t think God is angry about “climate change” issues. What is the “sin” revealed here? Of course the Pope is wrong. But i would not limit God’s call to repentance to my list ….. I’m just saying that both original and actual sins produced by original sin are included in God’s manifestation of wrath

  15. “My concern is that you are severely limiting the pastoral use of this plague at this critical time by implying that God is not angry with the sins (actual) of our nation – or at least that we should not SAY that He is.”

    “You are saying that we should not include a call to repentance for these actions of defiance because God has not specifically told us that this particular manifestation of His wrath intends to include such sins. I think you are straining at gnats here.”

    ” From a practical point of view you foster a Deistic kind of view concerning God’s temporal judgments as if God placed a curse upon the world in the Garden and allows that curse to work its way through humanity without a specific purpose or discrimination for individual lives or communities. I believe His providence is far more personal and specific in our lives.”

    I agree with Glenn, this pandemic should lead to reflection on every individual in the world today as to their relationship with the God they ‘know’ (Rom. 1:19=20). No one, and I mean no one, not a single person alive today, or dead and in the past, will be able to stand before God and say “I couldn’t find you. You hid yourself”. Malarkey. Every single person ‘knows’ God and is ‘without excuse’.

    As to false prophets JW. Yes, we cannot ‘know’ whether this is an act of judgment by God for this nation’s particular sins (of which Glenn has resolutely enamored), and should be on guard as to any who proclaim otherwise. But Glenn’s passionate description of those ‘particular’ sins that God has judged in history is accurate and should give us pause as examples.

  16. “I think you are straining at gnats here.” No, Glenn, you are the one straining and kicking against the goads. You repeatedly set up a straw man and burn him alive.

    Nowhere is anyone saying we shouldn’t call people to repentance for gross, distinct, outward, manifest sins (as our pastors do each and every Sunday, week in, week out). Nowhere. Not once, not never, not ever. ALL we’re saying is that you can not attribute this virus, or any other calamity on earth, to a specific sin(s), unless a voice from heaven tells you as much, or it is revealed to be (specifically) by scripture. Why would you want to, anyway? It seems from your posts that you want the world called to repentance for all of its sins, which is good and gold. So why would you want to target anything specific?

    It’s better to point sinners to their own mortality and imminent death, today, tomorrow, or some time long from now. The wages of sin is inescapable death – it matters not how or when it comes. So we proclaim the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins, the only remedy for any and all sin(s) [which may be the cause of a calamity which God allows to befall mankind, but again, we can’t say that].

    A couple of TV-type “pastors” got all worked up after 9/11, saying it was God’s punishment for tolerance of homosexuality. By saying that, they made themselves out to be the mouthpiece of God, which they were not. They were (and are) heretics, claiming direct revelation from God in some cases.

    I’m done here…you can have the last word.

  17. “ALL we’re saying is that you can not attribute this virus, or any other calamity on earth, to a specific sin(s), unless a voice from heaven tells you as much, or it is revealed to be (specifically) by scripture.”

    I don’t think Glenn is saying this JW.

  18. “A couple of TV-type “pastors” got all worked up after 9/11, saying it was God’s punishment for tolerance of homosexuality. By saying that, they made themselves out to be the mouthpiece of God, which they were not. They were (and are) heretics, claiming direct revelation from God in some cases.”

    Right you are JW. They were not the mouthpieces of God. Homosexuality, of course, is gross sin of the highest order against God and should be rightly condemned as the abomination of God that it is (Lev. 18:22).

  19. First of all blessings to you all and to all who read BJS on this blessed Easter morn! We rejoice that Christ is risen indeed; seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1:20, Heb. 8:1), and coming back for us again quickly (Rev. 22:20).

    I’m not sure JW, how an avowed evolutionist and God-denier such as Jane Goodall makes your case. She’s not speaking for God, so I don’t follow.

    Since you have not replied to me directly in any of your follow-on comments, and only engaged Glenn (perhaps there is a history there?), I will not assume you will engage me in this comment either, and I will proceed to make a few notes.

    We know that God looks at His created humanity as if in two camps. Those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and those of whom Christ speaks in Matthew 7; as foolish men building their houses on sand, not hearing these words of Mine and not acting on them, and great was their fall (Matt. 7:26-27).

    As noted pastor and theologian John MacArthur says about disasters, and I think it applies to this pandemic as well, there are: “Lessons for those who are Christians, and lessons for those who are non-Christians, or in another way, lessons for those who are prepared to die, and lessons for those who are not prepared to die.”

    I see in each of Glenn’s posts above an agreement with that concept. What is God saying to both groups? This pandemic should be teaching us something. It’s pretty direct.

    For those prepared to die, does it teach us about God’s sovereignty, our dependence on God, our need for each other, our ability to strengthen others and comfort those who are in affliction (2 Cor. 1:4)?

    For those not prepared to die, does it teach them of God, His judgments, that life is fragile, that there are limits to self-protection, and that death is inevitable? As believers, we are called to point this out, and they should be part of how we evangelize, and Glenn’s comment about missing a pastoral use of this pandemic as an opportunity to speak on these things is wise counsel. We shouldn’t miss that opportunity. Isaiah 45:22 comes to mind: “Turn to Me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth, For I am God and there is no other.”

  20. “I’m not sure JW, how an avowed evolutionist and God-denier such as Jane Goodall makes your case. She’s not speaking for God, so I don’t follow.”

    Exactly my point. Exactly. Who is to say, according to your (or Glenn’s) line of thinking, that she doesn’t speak the truth? Perhaps God told her this was true? No, no chance. And thus my point (and the point of this article) is that neither she, nor anyone else (whether they be Christian or not), can presume to speak for God, and pinpoint a specific sin and its consequences.

    “Since you have not replied to me directly in any of your follow-on comments, and only engaged Glenn (perhaps there is a history there?), I will not assume you will engage me in this comment either…”

    All of my responses are meant for anyone and everyone reading this thread.

    “For those not prepared to die, does it teach them of God, His judgments, that life is fragile, that there are limits to self-protection, and that death is inevitable?”

    Yes, it certainly does teach about all these things. All of these “non-specific” things. Again, my point isn’t that this pandemic doesn’t teach about sin and its consequences. It’s when someone stands up and says, “This pandemic is a direct result of THIS SPECIFIC sin” and names that something specific, that it becomes a problem. That is the whole point of this post. Does death in this world speak of sin? YES! Does a specific type of death (Covid-19-related, say) speak to a specific sin? NO! We cannot say that. We can’t say somebody’s grandma died of Covid-19 because America embraces abortion, or homosexuality, or idolatry, or anything else, specifically. But we can, and we should, and we DO say, “The wages of sin, in this fallen world, is death, and you are a sinner and need a savior.” All death teaches about all sin.

    I need to disengage from this thread, since I’m not getting anywhere. I notice you quote John MacArthur. He’s no Lutheran, so he probably wouldn’t agree with this article or my comments. No matter. The article author and myself use scripture alone as our guide. To go beyond scripture and attribute something to God which He has not Himself said, is to make one out to be a false prophet. Sin (any and all sin) leads to death? Yes, God says so. Covid-19-related deaths are a direct result of X, Y, or Z sin? No. Cannot and should not be said, not now or ever, unless one receives that word directly from God. EOM.

  21. Thinkin’ JW, thinkin’. With thoughts of the resurrection runnin’ round my brain, and the glory and majesty of God in that act on my behalf, I’m thinkin’. Thanks for your response. More to follow. Blessings.

  22. JW,

    I need to disengage from this thread, since I’m not getting anywhere.

    Interesting comment JW. Quite arrogant, wouldn’t you agree? Let that be your legacy, “I’m not getting anywhere”. As if everyone must agree to your opinions and if not you’re not persuasive enough or not throwing it down our throats in authoritarian fashion. Quite dictatorial I would think.

  23. Glenn,
    Appreciate your responses and comments to this post. Would love to hear more from you. Any relation to a Cameron Huebel?

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