A new article by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) has taken a precipitous step closer towards the eventual and inevitable narrative that taking the COVID-19 vaccine is a “gospel issue” by arguing that Christians can’t effectively witness or share the gospel if they don’t take it, due to the negative impact it will have on their witness.
TGC writer Pastor Paul Carter sets up the story by writing off the notion of the vaccine as being in some way the mark of the beast, says that Christian should consult their family doctor about whether or not they should take it, and then writes:
“More obviously related to the question of whether or not to get the vaccine would be the many biblical injunctions to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Apostle Paul said, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10 ESV).
What about loving one’s neighbor?
As Christians, we should strive not to be known as the people whose refusal to take a vaccine (should our family doctors recommend that we do so) delayed our progress as a society against this virus. If our family doctor advises us to take the vaccine there is no compelling biblical reason for us not to and a great number of obvious biblical principles suggesting that we should…
The Scriptures to which we are bound to commend an awareness of what is respected and valued by our friends and neighbors. The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 said: ‘take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.’ (Romans 12:17 NRSV)
So if our neighbors value the efficacy and importance of the vaccine, our refusal to show it equal deference and inject it into our bodies right away shows a lack of love on our part, which they will remember next time it comes time to witness.
There will be a world to reach on the other side of this pandemic. There will be friends, neighbors, and loved ones to evangelize who are all watching us now as we navigate this last stage of COVID-19. If they see us caring more about our liberties than their safety, we may have a harder time having Gospel conversations with them going forward. If they see us getting our information from conspiracy news sites on the internet they may be less interested in attending Bible Study with us once this pandemic has finally passed.
While the decision to take a vaccine, or not, is primarily a medical decision, how you handle that decision and how you communicate that decision will have a missiological impact in the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead.
In short, don’t be that guy who refused to take the vaccine out of conscience or conviction. You don’t have a good reason not to, doing so will make you look crazy, and no one wants to hear about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord from a crazy person.
One wonders if the same concern applies to refusing to wear a mask or insisting on going to church when the whole state is trying to shut you down? Probably, I would have to think.
You’re so close, TGC, to saying it’s a gospel issue. You’re almost there. You can do it. We’re rooting for you. Just one article more…
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