We’re not surprised it went here, we’re only surprised it took so long. Rev. Nathan A. Russell, the senior pastor of Washington Avenue Christian Church in Elyria, Ohio preached a delightfully wretched sermon where he made the claim that if anyone wants to follow the Lord, they’d better get the vaccine and wear the mask properly, as “A vaccine and a mask are minimal requisites for anyone who would wish to follow Jesus.”
WAAC is part of the Disciples of Christ (DOC) a mainline protestant denomination that is in full communion with the unregenerate rapscallions in the United Church of Christ. The DOC has been bleeding members over the last decade, losing nearly half their congregants, the majority of which died of old age, and now have a little over 110k on a weekly basis.
As a denomination, they have adopted the 19th-century slogan of the Stone-Campbell Movement “In essentials, Unity; In non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Charity” and have taken it very, very literally.
Because they promote unity above doctrine, and they allow a wide range of freedom to interpret the scriptures, being anti-creed and anti-confession, the fact that they are openly pro-LGBTQ and pro-abortion is the least of their problems. Many within the denomination question or outright deny primary doctrines, such as the virgin birth of Christ, a belief in the Trinity, Jesus performing miracles, the scriptures being inspired and without error, and even the atonement of Christ-all with the blessing of their General assembly and denominational heads.
This is the backdrop for this non-pastor to deliver this blasphemous message.
“For anyone who wants to save their life,” Jesus says, “they’ll lose it. And anyone who loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it.” If this episode were to happen today, September the 12th, 2021, here’s how I think it would go: “If anyone wants to become my follower, then get your vaccination and find a mask and wear it, over your nose and your mouth, and follow me.”
But as we’ve seen in our national discourse, people would come up to Jesus and rebuke him with a conversation about rights. Individual rights. What do we think Jesus would say in response to those trying to teach him a lesson about rights? When he said “Get behind me, Satan.”
Now, if you go home and you call your friends who are unvaccinated and say that you heard in church earlier today that they are saying, uh-uh, don’t you dare try it. It won’t go well for you or them. You may be crucified.
I want to be clear that I’m not calling anyone the devil in this sermon. However, when the ideas of individualism and isolationism come at the expense of accountability and communal responsibility, we know that people are putting their minds not on divine things but human things.
Such desires are antagonistic and adversarial to the purposes of God at work in the world. And those antithetical attributes, like names, they have power, too. They’re contagious. They’re infectious. They kill, steal, and destroy.
A vaccine and a mask are minimal requisites for anyone who would wish to follow Jesus. And if that’s difficult to swallow, well, let me tell you what Jesus actually said, what Jesus requires of people who follow him. It’s far more consequential and costly to oneself than a vaccine or a mask will ever be.
“For anyone who wants to save their life will lose it, and anyone who loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. For what will it profit someone to gain the whole wide world and forfeit their life?”
h/t to @wokepreachertv for transcript and vid.
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