Todd Friel has a message for pastors who haven’t opened up their churches yet 14 months into the pandemic, along with those planning on staying shut for months longer- perhaps even years- on account of the novel coronavirus: he fully supports you.
The Wretched Radio show host made the comments during a program uploaded April 19, where he sought to explain Romans 14 and how it applies to Christians.
What Romans 14 tells us, brace yourself for this and please don’t think suddenly I’ve become a member of the Democratic party (or) I’ve become a liberal theologian. No, but there are times when certain issues are ‘a truth’ and not ‘the truth.’
Todd explains that he’s not being postmodern, but rather he’s offering a straightforward summary of Romans 14, positing that if we as Christians can properly understand that chapter, then we will have more unity over divisive issues raging in Christendom, like COVID.
There are Christians with differences of opinion. Some are opening up their churches, some are adhering to the government mandates whatever they happen to be- a percentage, distance between people, wearing the masks – different churches are reacting differently to the same set of information that we all have access to.
And I’ve noticed we’re starting to cop a bit of an attitude toward those churches that don’t do it exactly the way that we do. Or some of us are leaving our good churches because we don’t agree with what the elders have decided is the right way to approach this situation.
Might I suggest to you (that with) COVID maybe there’s an aspect of it where this doesn’t apply, but COVID is an ‘a truth’ issue that different churches are going to see the situation based on their history, their people, maybe even for all I know their comorbidities, what their government is mandating, where they’re at in the history of the church.
And they’re making decisions that some perhaps don’t agree with. And I would suggest to you that if they are working through the subject, whatever it is that they decide about whether or not they should open up, whether or not they should tell the government, ‘Sorry, we have to obey God,’ wherever your church is at on that spectrum would suggest to you that is ‘a truth’ but it’s not ‘the truth.’
Friel offers the caveat, “If your church is obeying government ahead of God, that would be a sin,” but makes it clear he does not consider a church shutting down on the demand of the government to be putting the government first, reiterating that “I can’t judge your church because you are following ‘a truth'” and “different Christians are going to have different takes on it and we need to recognize that is okay.”
Later in the message, Friel offers his thoughts on James Coates and the stand that he has taken, saying that the pastor was right to insist on keeping his church open, but that another pastor who has chosen to keep his church relegated to virtual services for over a year, and even for another year or two, would be right to do that, as that would be “a truth” too.
And so do I agree with what GraceLife Church is doing? Sure. If your church is doing the opposite I think what you’re doing is right too, because we let other believers go about the business of making decisions on subjects that are not theologically crystal clear issues, and ultimately have a different conclusion. And here’s the – this is the tough part about this – they’re both right. They’re both right.
We leave Friel with the words preached by Pastor John MacArthur more than seven months ago:
I’ll tell you what is disappointing to me, how few churches are standing up. How few large churches or even Christian leaders are willing to say, “Look, we’re, not going to bow to Ceasar. We’re going to serve our Lord.” Churches are shutting down. Large churches are shutting down until they say January. I don’t have any way to understand that, other than they don’t know what a church is and they don’t shepherd their people. But that’s sad. And you have a lot of people in Christianity who seem to be significant leaders who arent giving any strength and courage to the church, they’re not standing up and rising up and calling on Christians to be the church in the world.
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