Pastors demand liberty

Pastor Dave Gobbett

Pastor Dave Gobbett

Seven hundred Christian ministers have written an open letter to the Prime Minister and First Ministers of the devolved assemblies demanding freedom of worship and liberty to get on with life.

The letter was published over the weekend. It remains open for signature. (Requires Google account.)

Pastors back up Professors

It echoes that written by Professors Sunetra Gupta, Carl Heneghan and Karol Sikora last week. The learned professors and dozens of their colleagues called for ‘targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk.’

The pastors ‘call upon the Westminster and devolved governments to find ways of protecting those who truly are vulnerable to Covid-19 without unnecessary and authoritarian restrictions on loving families, essential personal relationships, and the worship of the Christian Church.’

Use this link to the Parliament website to email your MP and demand the UK can get back to normal.

More damage than the virus

The Christian ministers say they have ‘carefully followed government guidance’ on Coronavirus and “entirely support proportionate measures to protect those most vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2.” But they ‘question whether the UK Government and the devolved administrations have it in their power either to eliminate this virus or to suppress it for an indefinite period while we await a vaccine. And we cannot support attempts to achieve these which, in our view, cause more damage to people, families and society – physically and spiritually – than the virus itself.’.

Once, again, that was what the doctors said: ‘The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible (notwithstanding our more specific concerns regarding existing policies) and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits.’
Even MPs are now asking when and how‘Protect the NHS’ morphed into ‘Suppress the virus until we have a vaccine’.

Life in all its fullness

The lead signatories are Rev A Paul Levy, Minister, Ealing International Presbyterian Church, London, Rev David M Gobbett, Lead Minister, Highfields Church Cardiff, Wales, Rev Dr William JU Philip, Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow, Scotland, Rev David Johnston, Minister Emeritus – Presbyterian Church in Ireland and Rev Dr Matthew PW Roberts, Minister, Trinity Church York, England. They say:

‘Our God-given task as Christian ministers and leaders is to point people to Jesus Christ, who said he came to bring ‘life in all its fullness’. Therefore we are troubled by policies which prioritise bare existence at the expense of those things that give quality, meaning and purpose to life. Increasingly severe restrictions are having a powerful dehumanising effect on people’s lives, resulting in a growing wave of loneliness, anxiety and damaged mental health. This particularly affects the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society, even as it erodes precious freedoms for all. In our churches, many have been working tirelessly to provide help to those most affected.’

The Bible verse they cite is this one:
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (KJV)

See thy children’s children

Both the doctors and the pastors speak of proportionate or ‘targeted’ measures to protect the most vulnerable. This ministry has called for the same approach. But the sense of the pastors’ letter is that life cooped up in a care home, forbidden any visits from spouse or relatives, or grandparents denied by social distancing or ‘rule-of-six’ the pleasure of hugging their grandchildren, is no life at all.

People must be free to decide whether to ‘put themselves at risk’ in order to live the sort of life our gracious Lord expects us to live The Bible describes grandchildren as ‘the crown’ of their grandparents in Proverbs 17:6, while the psalmist says:

Psalm 128:6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

If anyone argues those ‘vulnerable’ to the virus are thereby putting an unwarranted burden on the NHS, we can point out that those who play contact sports, or go downhill racing or base-jumping do the same. That is not even to mention those who drive too fast or drink to excess or smoke. In fact, the cruel science of ‘health economics’ might even welcome someone who dies earlier than they might and forgoes some years of their state pension.

Public worship ‘essential’

Early on, governments took it upon themselves to decide which industries were ‘essential’ and which were not. The pastors cleverly employ this language:

‘The public worship of the Christian church is particularly essential for our nation’s wellbeing. As we live in the shadow of a virus we are unable to control, people urgently need the opportunity to hear and experience the good news and hope of Jesus Christ, who holds our lives in his hands. The supportive relationships that churches nurture between people are vital, and simply cannot be dispensed with again without significant harm. And most of all, we know that regular gathering to worship God is essential for human life to be lived to the full.’

Defy orders to shut

Oppressive: Helen Whately MP

Oppressive: Helen Whately MP

Over the weekend, we have heard from Government ministers – Care Minister Helen Whately MP and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP. Both threatened the public and incarcerated students with more oppressive measures if we and they do not obey the rules such that infections, which they duplicitously call ‘cases’, rise more than some arbitrary figure.  How dare they?

Although a majority of the public are still gripped by Project Fear, we pray the tide may be turning. Conservative MPs intend to call the Government to account on Wednesday. The letters from the professors last week and from the church ministers this weekend mark a change of tone.

Writing in ‘The Critic’, David Scullion comments: ‘The letter has been signed by ministers of several denominations in all four parts of the UK and is a strong hint that Christians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who up to now have acquiesced to coronavirus legislation, may defy a future instruction to shut their doors.’

Example of the Apostles

Comments from one of the authors of the letter lend weight to that view. Rev. Dave Gobbett, Minister of Highfields Church in Cardiff, said:

‘The government is in an impossibly difficult situation, seeking to balance competing needs within society, but we wanted to show how vitally important it is that churches remain open. Christians live in a tension between being called to obey our governing authorities on the one hand, and realising that our final authority is God, on the other. Certainly in the book of Acts we see the apostles continuing to preach the gospel even when they have been ordered to stop. Ultimately we answer to God and not the state.’

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Use this link to the Parliament website to email your MP and demand the UK can get back to normal. Use the arguments above.

If you are a pastor or church minister, add your signature to the letter. (Requires Google account.)

If you have already signed it, please let us know in the comments below.

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  1. I am not eligible to sign the letter, because I am of the laity, not of the clergy (so-to-speak). However, it is for His saints in general that the Lord is jealous and zealous, not only our leaders under Him.

    Earlier in the year, certain other church leaders began, but then secretly abandoned, a judicial review of the lockdown. I applied on 16th August to give evidence and to make representations in that case, as a representative of lay Christians generally. It was only thus that I learnt of the clandestine abandonment of that judicial review, which had been launched with a fanfare of publicity (and the solicitation of funds to pay the lawyers).

    The court to which I made my application, the Government Legal Department who defended the judicial review and the solicitor acting for the 20 or so Christian leaders concerned, instructed via Christian Concern, have not sent me copies of the consent order when asked to do so, so I cannot comment on the secret terms on which the said judicial review was disposed of without publicity.

    The original legal papers of the discarded legal action can be found here.
    https://christianconcern.com/cccases/church-lockdown/

    My application to give evidence and to make representations can be read here.
    https://twitter.com/John_Allman/status/1296190683611631623

      • Stephen on 28 September 2020 at 17:27
        Author

      Perhaps someone from our friends at Christian Concern could comment.

    • John S on 28 September 2020 at 18:49

    The government should be in church too. I know of a church that is meeting, albeit in “bubble” groups 6 feet apart, singing hymns sotto voce into their masks. Not fun but I think right. It is singing that the government is afraid of. Where SARS-CoV-2 has us by the privates is in creating healthy carriers of infection which can be deadly to some and may cause long-term disability in others. I don’t know the theology of taking the risk of harming others as opposed to accepting harm oneself. Perhaps we should be making representations not so much to the civil government as to the Lord God Himself.

    • Denning on 28 September 2020 at 21:32

    Thank you John for your very interesting email. I would love to know why the JR was abandoned but I am encouraged that some Christians thought to use what rights we still have.

    Regarding the church leaders letter, at least it is a start. I think Christians should be far less docile and door-mouse like over this lockdown-internment which now appears to be rolling ahead every 6 months, with no end in sight. I foresaw this as the outcome right from.the start, which is the main reason why I am totally opposed to this lockdown, treating people like lepers, wearing the mask of the beast and other associated evils that the Government has forced upon us, with almost no debate.

    It is highly convenient for Christians and particularly leaders and preachers, to play the Romans 13 card and tell us that we just have to obey, obey, as if there is no context and no other balance to what Paul wrote. Here are my instant reactions to leaders and preachers who play the Romans 13 card:
    1.How do you reconcile Exodus 1 and the two midwives who disobeyed a direct order from the Government of Egypt. Exodus says they were rewarded by God, so were the midwives right to disobey or wrong?

    2.As I understand it, 11 of the 12 disciples died martyrs deaths. In the Roman empire you could not be put to death unless there was some legal process. The Roman empire prided itself in having what they saw as the rule of law. In order to be a martyr, you had to break a law and Paul himself was executed in Rome as a martyr. Were those disciples right or wrong to break the law and become martyrs?

    3.In 1776 the American colonies famously rebelled and broke away from the British monarchy and empire. They rebelled particularly over the payment of taxes, which Paul commands in Romans 13, should forever be paid (at least according to every preacher I have ever heard on this subject). Can you explain whether the American colonists were right or wrong to rebel? Can you explain whether they were right or wrong to rebel against the payment of taxes? If they were wrong, will you be demanding approximately 250 years of back taxes from the United States and will you be encouraging the United States of America to rejoin Britain and have the monarch rule over them again?
    What about Martin Luther, another rebel who disobeyed?
    What about the Act in Restraint of Annates 1534? It was the first step in rebellion against paying taxes to the pope in the Vatican, and the first step in the break from Rome and the setting up of the English Church.
    And what about Brexit? We have just rebelled against the EU and all its laws.

    There are many other examples that could be added, I have chosen a few. The problem here is lazy theology. It is just very easy for preachers to preach a superficial, knee jerk, just obey messages, and it is very damaging. The reason why the church does this is because in reality it is scared stiff of confronting the evil state of our nation, and hiding is much easier, because we can all keep our treasure.

    My view is that anyone teaching the RSE agenda in schools, is totally within their rights to disobey a direct instruction to teach it, on the basis that RSE is the state attempting to destroy children. I hear almost nothing from church leaders about this vile, iniquitous crime against children. I don’t even see leaflets displayed in churches, warning parents about what RSE means.

    We have to get back to proper understanding of the obedience principle in the Bible and start campaigning for freedom because without freedom, I don’t think you can have a visible, public, church. You have to go underground, where life is much harder, although I suspect we might get back to having the power of the Holy Spirit.

    How interesting that Paul who wrote Romans 13 also wrote Galatians 5:1 ‘It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm therefore and do not be yoked again by a yoke of slavery.’
    Come and join me at Trafalgar Square , on Saturday, for some great opportunities for proclaiming the freedom God gave each of us, and which no Government has the right to take away. Now, more than ever we need to get out of hiding and proclaim it to a nation that has lost its mind.

    Save the children – Stop RSE

    • Christy on 29 September 2020 at 01:03

    Hi Stephen

    Just a quick late night email concerning the letter written to the Government. I’m a little confused about two things. The email I was sent states that as ministers we are here to help people live life to the full? We as leaders are gifted in ministry to equip the Church for works of service that God has prepared in advance for them to do. Personally locking down pubs, nightclubs, illegal gatherings for drugs and questionable lifestyles is not a bad thing.
    Secondly the Government has not led us into a difficult Choice between obeying God rather than man. We have not been prevented from preaching the Gospel, in my opinion it’s the very opposite we have never had so much interest in the gospel for a very long time. It saddens me that mature leaders are making divisive statements that could lead to sickness and death. The church is not locked down, the buildings where we meet may be under restrictions but we the believers, the body of Christ are not locked down. We can meet up in small groups, in houses, in the great outdoors. 16 times the bible tells us believers met in homes, they were banned from the temple so they gathered in people’s homes. It would seem to me that Church is not locked down, but Jesus is locked out.
    Surly leaders like yourself understand that the Church of our Lord Jesus is not under attack but admittedly the western mindset of a failed Church is being challenged and unfortunately the Pew fodder don’t like it.

    “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
    ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭KJV‬‬
    I don’t need to tell you that Jesus is not knocking on the doors of gothic buildings or even converted warehouses up and down the country. It was Luther who put his articles of faith on a Church door.
    Catch yourself on and fulfil all the duties of your ministry, a good solider does not get involved with civilian matters.

    Every blessing.
    Christy.

      • Stephen on 29 September 2020 at 11:35
        Author

      NO, that is too ecclesiocentric and also neglects our prophetic role. Almighty God is not merely concerned with ‘the church’.
      Firstly, do not forget, for months the churches were shut at the behest of the government. How dare they? Now we are constrained to sit 2 metres apart, forbidden to sing praises, in Anglican churches not having the communion wine, told to wear muzzles. That ain’t freedom.
      Secondly, above all that, Christians have a responsibility to proclaim that this life, with students imprisoned in their halls of residence, old folks not allowed to hug their grandchildren, people told who they can have in their homes or to their weddings, is not life as God has ordered it.

        • John S on 29 September 2020 at 19:18

        I seem to remember that the C of E churches closed before the government did anything. I don’t know about the other denominations. The reason we are constrained to sit apart etc. is a virus which God has sent, taking away the blessings of normal life. I would expect a prophet to preach repentance.

          • Stephen on 29 September 2020 at 23:43
            Author

          We need to repent of our silence in the face of oppression, IMHO. And our nation needs to repent of its sins. Let’s keep praying for that.

    • Skyeye on 30 September 2020 at 15:26

    Thank you for your representations – you are brave and faithful.
    The issues with the virus restrictions are an enigma.
    I regret the lack of singing together in church (or singing behind masks) but I cannot jump on this bandwagon of protesting these issues because I feel we still have fellowship and opportunities like never before.
    What opportunities? Well, on daily Facebook services, making comments. Before the virus, we did not have daily morning and evening services. We could not make any comments in church. Before computers, we did not have the opportunity to comment beneath every video ad finitum and witness to God’s grace and truth to everyone in the world.
    True, we have to keep ‘social distancing’ and wear masks (which I find pretty awful) but we do meet and have fellowship – we pray together, and homegroups are able to listen and watch worshipful videos together.
    There’s a lot to protest about – feminism, abortions, equal rights, deviant practices legislated for – but the virus is here, sent by God, or permitted by God – just as God gave permission for Job’s temptation.

    • Christy on 30 September 2020 at 22:20

    Hi Stephen,
    Ironically I have now been tested positive for Covid 19 probably because someone thinks that they have a right not to wear a mask, to hug everyone they love, to meet as many people as they want when they want. Those poor students no alcohol or drugs for the next two weeks. Although because of their rights they watch endless violence and porn. While the God fearing students will use the time to study connect spend time with God.
    Congregations in the UK are made up of a majority of older people some with underline health issues. The days are evil stay alert make the most of every opportunity.
    Thankfully I’m not seriously ill but my main concern is that I have not passed it onto anyone who is vulnerable.
    Bless,
    Christy

      • Stephen on 2 October 2020 at 10:17
        Author

      Hi Christy. Have you just tested positive or do you have actual real symptoms? I believe we should carry on as normal and put our faith in Jesus. Mind you, if the scare-mongering stops some of the blokey hugging which has been gathering force in the last few years it will have done just a microscopic amount of good!

    • Christy on 30 September 2020 at 22:21

    Well said Skyeye

  2. The judicial review could have been refused permission because as I understand it, the right to life overrides the other rights, which is logical. I had a look at the bundle but could not see the paperwork of what the judge said in the permission hearing. I might have missed it, but phew, there is so much reading there, and despite it sounding persuasive, much will not really have any bearing on this case. What does count is previous case law. I don’t think what the Americans have done is a lot of good. It’s the ECHR stuff that has clout, and this is the first virus problem we have had of this severity in the time the ECHR has been in operation. I’m guessing some people have lost a fair bit of money over this. It does not look good when the money could have been used to help those really suffering, like say the homeless.

  3. ‘We as leaders are gifted in ministry to equip the church for works of service……’ I would respectfully suggest that some leaders are gifted and a lot are not. Most church leaders I have come across in the last twenty years are not gifted in interpreting the Word but in giving church-goers a good time. That is why the church never speaks out on issues today. I do not know of any church leader in my area (possibly excepting independent evangelical, brethren, some pentecostals but even then you cannot be sure) who believe creation over six days as set out in Genesis 1. They certainly never preach it. If church leaders preached Genesis 1, they would immediately cover all the issues we are faced with, gender being male and female, sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, identity and image, family, the gender roles of men and women. We are in the mess we are in because the vast majority of church leaders refuse point blank to teach any of this, but prefer to concentrate on an ever decreasing, narrow band of love theology.
    This came from the foolishness of the ‘seeker sensitive service’ format, which basically said don’t preach the truth of the Word but just the positive stuff, and let people find out for themselves the other not quite so pro-worldly bits.
    Since when were all pubs only places of drugs and evil? This is a terrible failure to understand the role of clubs and even nightclubs. The local pub down my road is like the majority I have known; places where people can meet and socialise. The shutting down of pubs is nothing more than a disgraceful attempt to destroy us by removing what little social interaction people have. I am grateful to those pubs who have fought back. I admit, I never thought I would find myself defending pubs but that’s where we are now.

    ‘The church is not locked down’ – Well technically no, they are open but under the most onerous and ridiculous restrictions, which I must add, no leader of integrity should ever have agreed to. To worship God in church now, one has to: 1.Sit two metres apart, treating fellow worshippers as if they were infected like lepers, when there is no evidence that anyone is; 2.Wear a face mask, which I now identify as the mask/mark of the beast; 3.Not sing.

    I note that Jesus went up to lepers and physically touched them. To do this he was presumably breaking the laws against their isolation, (Lev 13-14) in an era when there was no known treatment. That is a far cry from the UK church’s scared response.
    I note that church leaders negotiated for themselves an opt out from wearing a mask, but not for members of their congregations. Why did church leaders not also insist that those with a theological or moral objection to wearing a mask in a worship service should also have an opt out? Worship of God with a mask on, robs us of our personality and identity, given by God. As well as making one look gagged and inhibiting breathing.
    I note that no church makes people aware of their exemptions to wearing a mask, which is a major problem for those with disabilities. Why is that?
    Why did church leaders not ask for a break clause? As I understand it, the church is now signed up to social distancing, mask wearing and non-singing worship until next March. Did no one in leadership think to insist on a break to review this? Next March the Government will simply spin another Project Fear yarn about renewing the restrictions for another six months. Will the UK church simply agree again?

    The UK church needs to get real and do some serious repentance. This is not God’s blessing on the UK church, it is judgment.
    Then the UK church leaders and congregations, need to find their courage, stop behaving like a bunch of fearful soldiers, running from an invisible (largely non-existent) enemy, and fight back by standing firm (Eph6). Only then is anything going to change.

  4. It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were all being amazed, surprised, worked up, about the remainers trying to derail Brexit. I don’t suppose by any chance that this whole corona virus flu plandemic was created to somehow provide a distraction for the Government to get Brexit through without it being constantly attacked by the remainer lobby?

    If so, it should mean that when Brexit gets done, deal or no deal, at the end of this year, we should be able to expect the corona hysteria to gradually die down and the forces of corrupt media/deep state etc etc, to allow it to fade away. Then they will start on the next Project Fear. Any suggestions for what that will be? My favourite is an asteroid from outer space, possibly followed by a world smoothie shortage.

    What a shame that media always tries to hide the real thing people should be concerned about – the fearfulness of God’s judgment for sin, and the way out, the salvation message of Jesus Christ, the only sure way to escape the coming wrath.

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