When the government announced a general lockdown (“two weeks to slow the spread” as the US gov’t put it) people took it in stride because it’s something the government did for our good. When shutdowns continued and brought with it the cessation of in-person services, I read a number of articles discussing pros and cons about defying the government and holding in-person services regardless. Some laity even got into the fray by circulating a paper “Lutheran Laymen’s Declaration and Petition Sine Dominico Non Possumus (Advent 2020 AD)”
If there’s one thing we Lutherans are good at is publicly posturing. But when it comes time for people to put their money where their mouth is….many peoples’ actions (or lack thereof) clearly speak to their actual beliefs are and loudly contradict what their words say.
In Alberta at least one pastor is putting his money where his belief is. Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church near Edmonton AB has defied the AB government’s reduced capacity orders by repeatedly holding services without limits to in-person attendance. Pastor James has since been arrested and is not only in a maximum security facility, he’s been put in solitary confinement for 14 days “because Covid” while other non-violent offenders have been released because (you guessed it) of Covid. Rebel News has been covering this case – see one of their reports here.
If you read the ‘home’ page of Pastor James’s church it lays out the history of what’s happened, the research they’ve done, and the conclusions they’ve arrived at. Regardless of how you feel about the veracity of this document, the one thing you can’t disagree with is that they’ve come to a point of “Here I stand, I can do no other” and are acting accordingly.
For anyone in the Lutheran Church that has written articles and papers advocating holding weekly in person services without limit in defiance of the government shutdown orders, the course is clear. The question, though, is if they’re willing to pay the price that comes with such action and risk getting arrested? And if they’re not, the question naturally rises – if they don’t really believe this, what else do they say but don’t really believe?
Here’s another ANO/Lutheran Watch article. They went for a long time without sending anything – wonder what lit a fire under them now :-).
Having a life and other things to do tends to have that effect. 🙂
Coates/GraceLife are the opposite of “here I stand,” because where they stand is in direct opposition to God’s word. They stand for their politics more than faith.
Romans 13:1 is clear. To rationalize it to say anything other than that they should obey their early leader simply demeans scripture and renders their own faith impotent.
Romans 13:1 is not absolute – if the gov’t ordered you to disobey Scripture then you’d be bound by faith to disobey.
I’m one of the authors of the laymen’s declaration and petition. Despite opposition from many in the clergy, we never stopped gathering as we saw fit. I feel that we did what we were asking the leadership to do: lead us. I prefer to let them answer whether they did lead or not. We, laymen, knew what we had to do and kept doing it. Unlike the pastor out west, we saw no value in deliberate, voluntary martyrdom.
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