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  • Shifting Sands

    Posted in ,
    April 10, 2020

    “Lord, what are you saying during this crisis?” That is the question on every Christian’s mind. The mighty, miniscule virus is slaying thousands every day. On March 29th, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that the US might see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths before the crisis fades.[1] Christians must yet remain calm, asking God to give us peace. Even as the normal foundations of our lives are dissolving like shifting sands, Christians say, with the hymn: “On Christ the solid rock I stand: all other ground is sinking sand.”

    The coronavirus has defined a new “normal.” Those who never thought homeschooling was a good idea are at home with their children and governments that banned it are now commanding it. Someone joked that God must be displeased with us because we’ve all been sent to our rooms! There may, of course, also be some upsides. “Social distancing” may reduce promiscuity and perhaps allow prostitutes and sex slaves to escape from a life of horror. Fewer children may be slaughtered in the womb, and the irony of working so hard to save some lives while blithely obliterating others may make some join those who want to rescue the most vulnerable! Abortion rates may drop; some little ones will live and make their mothers thank God for the coronavirus.

    Franklin Graham interacted with Governor Cuomo’s repugnance at the idea that only a certain kind of person should receive treatment: “My mother is not expendable, and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable, and we’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable.” Graham commented: “I agree with Gov. Cuomo on the high value of life and applaud his efforts to defend lives from the coronavirus. Yet he signed a law that legalizes abortion up to birth for nearly any reason.”[2] Clearly Covid-19 is challenging the way we typically think, but will it change our worldview?

    Our Culture’s Answers

    Britney Spears—Kiss and Hold

    Britney Spears gives the following advice for the Covid-19 era: “During this time of isolation, we need connection now more than ever. Call your loved ones. Write virtual love letters…We will learn to kiss and hold each other through the waves of the web. We will feed each other and…re-distribute our wealth.”[3]This encouraging sign of newly-discovered generosity in the mind of a multi-millionaire is contrasted by the soccer stars in Spain who earn from $250K to $500k a week, yet refuse to take a wage cut to help their team survive the cancellation of games.[4]  

    Idris Elba—A Self-Healing Earth

    The actor Idris Elba, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, is calm because he believes the Covid-19 virus is simply the earth taking revenge for climate change. As a representative human, who is one with nature, he is nobly taking the hit. “We damaged our world, and it’s no surprise that our world is reacting to the human race…So [what] any organism would do is try to get rid of an infection, so maybe this is it for the world.”[5] For Elba, the real disease is the human race. This is stated even more clearly in the chant by the anti-global warming lobby, called Extinction Rebellion:

    Earth is healing. The air and water is clearing.

    Corona is the cure.

    Humans are the disease! [6]

    Such an ideology does nothing to motivate us to relieve the sorrows and diseases of our neighbors in this pandemic scourge, better named a purge, according to Elba.

    Pope Francis—Nature’s Revenge

    Only slightly more serious is the “spiritual” wisdom flowing from the Vatican where Pope Francis, doubtless inspired by the Amazon Synod that sought to integrate indigenous people’s spirituality into the Gospel,[7]stated that “the COVID-19 pandemic is nature’s way of taking “revenge” on humanity, and calling for attention. According to the Pope, “There’s a saying, which you have heard: ‘God always forgives. We sometimes forgive. Nature never forgives.’ Fires, earthquakes … nature is throwing a tantrum so that we will take care of her.”[8] This mystification of Nature, which removes God entirely from the picture, is really a spiritualized form of ideological environmentalism, which is easily recuperated by committed Nature-worshippers of the goddess Pachamama. It was good to see in his urbi et orbi (“to the city and to the world”) address the following words: “Jesus’ cross is the anchor that has saved us, the rudder that has redeemed us, and our hope, because by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love.”[9]

    However, in these various environmentalist approaches, we are led to believe that COVID-19 is a useful tool in the hands of angry nature, though scientifically what the coronavirus has to do with climate change is beyond imagination.

    Jean Houston—Become Isis

    Once a close spiritual councilor to Hillary Clinton, Jean Houston describes her source of moral power in her book The Passion of Isis and Osiris: A Gateway to Transcendent Love. “When a society is in a state of breakdown and breakthrough,” she writes, “it often requires a new alignment that only myth can bring.”[10]Her favorite myth is that of Isis and Osiris, who “are becoming our stories today.” She continues: “After becoming Isis we return to our own life enhanced. I am divine like Isis, I have the Infinite within. We form a powerful sense of identity with the mythic characters, not only for our own existence, but for the remaking of society.”[11]

    Twenty-five years later, in response to Covid-19, Houston again turns to the power within, the power to “become noble, kind and compassionate people.”[12] She believes in “our potential…to allow this crisis to evoke the best of us. We can give without any expectations until goodness flows from our depths, presents new possibilities, and expands our sense of purpose.” After years of contemplation of the pagan mystical powers, she affirms the “nobility of our humanity, as we return to wholeness as the family of humankind. May our will light our way.” Houston still calls on her Oneist solution—the divine within—to solve all human problems. Alas, human will has a deep weakness; the light often goes out because of selfishness and sin. Of course, intelligent and well-meaning citizens, made in God’s image, will solve immediate practical problems, but the salvation of society and the defeat of death (issues that Covid-19 dramatically evokes) are larger, long-term issues. 

    Diana Winston—Mindfulness Meditation

    Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, recommends the practice for those who are quarantined, stressed-out and depressed by the virus crisis.[13]Since our current culture is soaked in Hindu and Buddhist thinking, it is little wonder that Winston and others are calling on anxious people to practice Mindfulness Meditation to ease their suffering and fear. As my colleague Pamela Frost cogently explains, Mindfulness Meditation focuses attention solely on the present moment while suspending all judgment. Things are neither good nor evil. The just “are.” She explains that the goal of Mindfulness Meditation is “to enter the state of nondual consciousness called Samadhi, the state experienced by both Hindus and Buddhists in which the sense of self ceases to exist as one merges with the ocean of divinity (Brahman in Hinduism or the Void of Nirvana in Buddhism).”[14] When practiced as a therapeutic escape from anxiety over Covid-19, it creates detachment from reality, giving a false sense of peace, while training the mind toward nonduality. 

    The Uniqueness of this Global Event

    There are 195 countries in the world (197 if the Holy See and Palestine are counted). As I write this, over 190 of them are already affected by Covid-19. This may well be the first time since the flood that a grave crisis is truly world-wide. Previous plagues were localized to one portion of one hemisphere; the so-called world wars included a limited number of warring nations. To see every country brought to its knees by an invisible virus is stunning. The solutions we saw above are hardly satisfying answers to this humbling event. Many feel that life will never be the same. Some hope the aftermath will produce a new world community. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on world leaders to form a “temporary” global government in response to the coronavirus pandemic.[15] But global unity must be based on a commonly held and convincing truth. Such crises always interrogate the Christian faith, seeking cogent answers to the human predicament. As the Apostle Paul said: “Wake up … “the night is far gone; the day is at hand. Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” At the very least, Christians must use this moment to ask how we live our lives and how we prepare for our death.

    What Says the Christian Faith?

    The Being of God

    We must begin with the independent being of God as Creator of and Ruler over all things. Distinct from his creation, he yet made a universe that reflects his intelligence and morality, especially as expressed in human beings, made in his image. This most secure and reassuring notion explains why every human being deep-down, knows that we are intelligent moral beings with a mandate to do what is good and right. Without a God like this we cannot make sense of the universe, nor can we determine how to live in it. If God made and rules over all things, then nothing that happens is outside of his control, including the outbreak of the coronavirus, though it causes sickness and death.

    The Reality of Death

    Death is the result of human sin, but God uses death to bring people to himself, namely the specific death of his son, Jesus. This death of the only just human being ever to live on earth cancels God’s just judgment of death on sinners who put their faith in him because Jesus, in his death, bears their sins and is punished for them, and so gives them righteousness and forgiveness. The resurrection of Jesus brings unparalleled hope to those who now face death through the coronavirus, where, in New York, one sufferer is dying every seventeen minutes.[16] Each of us faces certain death, yet when Christians die, God brings them into a new and eternal life on a new earth that will no longer have plagues, illness, hatred, sorrow, or sin.

    The Goal of Life

    The goal of God’s creation and his act of forgiveness is to bring fallen humans to worship him as Creator and Redeemer, so that they bless him forever, as the text says (Rom 1:25) and are finally united with him in a new heavens and earth that he is preparing for them. All human thought and action is meant to bring glory to God the Creator and Redeemer. In bringing God such honor and praise, we find our true meaning and worth. We are not diminished in such humility, but lifted up by the love God sets on us.

    The Self-Giving Life

    The self-giving life, death and resurrection of Jesus becomes the model and motivation in this life for those who place their faith in him.3 If believers “are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world,” it is because Jesus is the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Only he can clarify our situations. Since his suffering was redemptive, our suffering can also be redemptive. We are called to keep God’s law, live as males and females, be faithful spouses and establish God-honoring families, be faithful to our churches and serve God’s glory in our daily work. We are here to glorify Jesus, our only Savior.

    Dr. Julian Urban, who is working with coronavirus patients in Lombardy (the northern Italian virus hot spot), describes taking part in a group of atheist doctors who were in for an enormous spiritual shock.[17] These doctors believed that science had eliminated God from intelligent human thought. Exhausted by their work, from which two had already died (indeed, 61 Italian doctors have died of coronavirus and thousands of medical workers have been infected) they all noticed the arrival of a patient, a 75-year-old pastor, who, though breathing with great difficulty, went around reading Scripture to the other suffering patients and holding their hands as they died. These atheistic doctors were so intrigued that they began listening to him reading the Scriptures. Finally, surrounded by the reality of death, including the death of the pastor they were watching, they began to pray that God would come to their aid and they discovered the peace that comes from knowing Jesus. This just happened in Italy!

    The Motivation for Selfless Living 

    Why are such Christians as that pastor able to remain peaceful and even help others in a time of their own distress? It is Jesus who gives us motivation to live for him in a selfless way that brings hope to those who see our loving behavior. Believers “look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2) as the only source of truth. He is the only man who was also God, so only his actions and words bring unique hope and motivation to live selflessly toward those around us.  

    The Apostle Paul describes who Jesus is: 

    Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:6–11 ESV).

    Jesus reveals how we should live, willing to suffer for the eventual joy of knowing one day full fellowship with God. Hebrews 12:2 continues: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    What will our present and future life look like? No one can say, since our Lord, whom we know is good, does not tell us ahead of time. That is where faith comes in; not faith in the goddess Isis within; not faith in the earth’s ability to dispense justice in the form of a virus; not faith in the good will of mankind; not faith in an economy that is “bound to bounce back.” Our faith is in the personal, Twoist God who knows what we need both now and in the future. He will establish our days, just as it pleases him, in accordance with his secret plan. We can trust his plan, though it is unknown to us, because we can trust in him. May God’s people be faithful and fervent in prayer as God brings about his own good plan, using even the coronavirus to draw people to him, as they seek the peace that only Jesus can provide.  


    [1] http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/3829530/posts

    [2] https://www.wnd.com/2020/03/franklin-graham-andrew-cuomo-babies-lives/?ff_source=Email&ff_medium=wnd-breaking&ff_campaign=breaking&ff_content=breaking

    [3] https://www.gopusa.com/?p=86594?omhide=true

    [4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-8155625/Barcelona-verge-crisis-players-face-wage-cuts-coronavirus.html

    [5] https://pjmedia.com/trending/actor-idris-elba-new-coronavirus-is-world-reacting-to-the-human-race/

    [6] #CoronaCrisis #coronaviruspic.twitter.com/nYJp30WhtH

    [7] Lianne Laurence, “Cardinal Burke: Church is ‘experiencing one of the greatest crises … she has ever known,’” LifeSiteNews, (November 1, 2019). See also “Cdl. Burke Rebukes Church’s Pagan Idolatry,” Church Militant (March 23, 2020), 

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/3828678/posts

    [8] Thomas D. Williams , “Pope Francis: Coronavirus Pandemic Is Nature ‘Throwing a Tantrum’, 
    Breitbart  (March 23, 2020).

    [9] https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-urbi-et-orbi-blessing-coronavirus.html

    [10] Jean Houston, The Passion of Isis and Osiris, 2.

    [11] Houston, The Passion of Isis and Osiris, 7.

    [12] Jean Houston, QuantumPowers@evolvingwisdom.com

    [13] https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-03-24/meditation-tips-coronavirus-crisis

    [14] I quote from a private email.

    [15] http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3829235/posts

    [16] http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3829243/posts

    [17] I received this testimony from a friend in Switzerland whose daughter is a specialist in infectious illnesses and received a letter from Dr. Urban.