Pandemic disease, World-view, and Government
I recently saw an article concerning the Coronavirus that caused me to pause and reflect upon a mind-set that is extremely persuasive across the cultural landscape of America. The Providence Forum’s President, Dr. Lillback stated in 2012, “Today there are unceasing efforts to strip God from every facet of our public lives.” The mantra of today is ‘faith is a private matter and needs to stay private’ has only intensified since that time.
The article in MercatorNet is titled, “The response of Wuhan Christians to the coronavirus outbreak puts the government to shame” states, “Christians in Wuhan are living proof of the best qualities of humanity; they offer us a glimmer of hope in this world full of suffering and paranoia towards the epidemic. Their composure and efficiency, as well as their love and strength, stem from their faith.”
The city of Philadelphia in 1793 experienced the same when the yellow fever claimed the lives of 5,000 people which was ten percent of the population. Sandy Hingston records, “among the heroes of the calamity were preachers Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, founders of the Free African Society. The two men—who’d been born in slavery but bought their freedom—transported the sick, buried the dead, … and convinced Mayor Matthew Clarkson to free black prisoners from the Walnut Street Jail to serve as nurses.”
These examples of self-sacrifice are not isolated cases and is in fact seen over and over again throughout world history. The accounts of the Plague of Cyprian and the Antonine Plague of ancient Rome, even the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa bear witness to this selfless response of Christians. Eric Metaxas in writing on this would say, “Nearly eighteen centuries after the Plague of Cyprian, Christianity still prompts people to run towards the plague when virtually everyone else is running away.”
What is the point? It is when the calamities of life come, often in a life and death dance, that we truly see the effect of a worldview on the lives of people. There is no debate the effect of a pandemic disease will provide an amazing snapshot of how people will react and what ultimately motivates them. This in no way diminishes those not of a Christian faith who would do the same but the difference is the outpouring of the Christian not only individually but as a community. The fellowship of that community will rise beyond the self and seeks the greater good for those around them. The words “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” takes us to a higher power that transcends the individual.
What does the reaction of a people to a Pandemic disease have to do with governance and culture? Actually, quite a bit. A worldview does not remain silent as it will be exhibited in the lives of those who adhere to it. As mentioned above we see the best displayed in the worst. It happens because there is a foundation that supports it.
This foundation has been noted recently from two who are not Christians. Actor John Rhys-Davies (best know for playing the dwarf Gimli in “The Lord of the Rings”) stated, “’We seem to forget that Christian civilization has made the world a better place … We owe Christianity the greatest debt of thanks that a generation can every have.” He pointed to the ideas of religious liberty, free speech, and individual rights as evidence of that fact.
Douglas Murray (British journalist, political commentator) who is a self-professed nonbeliever and gay man speaks of “the positive role [Christianity] has played in building Western civilization.” He would also say, “the more atheists think on these things, the more we may have to accept that … the sanctity of human life is a Judeo-Christian notion which might very easily not survive [the demise of] Judeo-Christian civilization.”
This connection was providentially brought to me from two totally different places: a pew card and a speech that highlighted C.S. Lewis book, “The Abolition of Man”. The speech came from retired federal judge, Janice Rogers Brown (US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from 2005 to 2017). In her speech, she highlighted the book with the following reflection.
“A dogmatic belief in objective reality is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.” Lewis argues in the book that moral subjectivism will destroy society, Brown said. “In such a world, education and propaganda become one and the same,” she said, quoting Lewis. “So do legitimate rule and tyranny. Duty and goodness cease to exist, and man becomes whatever his appetites and passions make him.” “‘Abolition’ was written in 1944. It must have seemed wildly exaggerated,” Brown said. “Now, of course, it is merely prophetic. Something has gone terribly wrong.” (I would strongly encourage you to listen to this speech you can access it at https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/02/25/todays-political-mob-has-consequences-veteran-jurist-warns/)
Governance of man will either be based upon a transcendent authority or upon the appetites and passions of the one who controls 51% of the vote or the multitude by the power of the sword. For those who seek to remove God from the equation there is no middle ground. This will eliminate from the equation a power that provides incredible change that can affect outcomes even in the face of incredible calamity.
I end with the scribbles on the pew card. It stated that change can come “when we do our best and when we pray.” The power of pray must never be minimized let us do so “without ceasing” as our first and foremost weapon. The words “to do our best” is also a call to action for as Edmund Burke stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Prepare yourself for the fight by informing the mind and vote as an informed citizen of this great country.