Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vaccines, Jesus and John Wayne, and our Racialized Society

The morality of vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has Christians asking afresh whether it is ethical to take vaccines that use fetal cell lines from aborted babies in their production. Thankfully, this is not a new moral dilemma and serious Christian ethicists have weighed in.

Mere Orthodoxy: “The use of these vaccines does not encourage more abortions.”https://mereorthodoxy.com/others-may-live-fetal-cell…/

ERLC: “To determine the morality of using the tissue, it is helpful to compare it to another situation: the use of organs from a person who has been murdered. If a doctor were to offer to transplant a kidney or heart from the murder victim into a Christian, we would likely not have any objection.”https://erlc.com/…/explainer-vaccines-and-aborted…/

Public Discourse: An “appropriators” is someone who benefits from an evil act. Such a person is morally culpable if they approve of that act, if they make it appear as though they approve of the act, or if they encourage future acts. None of these must apply to the use of fetal cell lines in vaccine production.https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2020/05/63752/

The Vatican: The cooperation with evil is passive and remote and must be weighed against the common good: “The morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good” https://www.vatican.va/…/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20201221…

Jesus and John Way Reviews:

The Book Jesus and John Wayne by Calvin Professor Kristen Du Mez is getting a lot of buzz in evangelical adjacent circles these days and for good reason. The book tells a compelling narrative that, for many Christians, has incredible explanatory power. Instead of writing my own review, I will share two reviews that capture the best and worst of this provocative book:

Review #1: “Perhaps I’m a particularly needy reader, but if Du Mez hopes to persuade skeptical readers, you wouldn’t guess it from the book. Due to frequent sarcasm as well as a lack of charity toward its critics and, at times, a lack of evidence to back up its claims, I fear this book will be rejected by many of the people who would most benefit from reading it.”

Review #2: “All to say that Jesus and John Wayne should be required reading for those who live and move and have our being within American evangelical denominations and churches. And the first thing we should do is to look in the mirror and say, “It’s true—let me see myself as I am.” Then, going forward to change will prove whether we evangelicals are doers of the Word or just hearers only.”

White Evangelicals in the Racialized Society

Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith has a haunting thesis: White evangelical Christians, despite their best efforts, don’t only fail to address the problems of our racialized society, but perpetuate them. I wish their thesis weren’t true, but despite a few bright spots, I’m pretty sure they’re right.

I’ve done my best to partially explain their thesis in a couple of posts over at Reading in Babylon. The first discusses the concept of a racialized society. The second, and explanatory key to the whole book, is the description of the white evangelical religious and cultural toolset, applied to race.

While we’re on the topic of race, I want to recommend to you this fantastic podcast from The Gospel Coalition. Collin Hanson interviews Thaddeus Williams about his book Confronting Injustice without Sacrificing Truth. You’ll want to hear Williams distinguish between “Social Justice A” and “Social Justice B”.

Introducing… Reading in Babylon

Hi all,

I’m excited to introduce my new blog for 2021: Reading in Babylon Book Club.

We live in an age of confusion. The world is complex and, in the face of that complexity, we might be tempted to look for simplistic answers parroted by the leaders of our particular tribe. Unfortunately, this often comes at the expense of truth.

Christians are not immune. The rapids shifts in culture are disorienting. Surface answers rarely do more than fuel our outrage or confirm our biases. The purpose of this blog is to help Christians dig deeper.

I will be looking for the most interesting ideas found in books, articles, and podcasts and then evaluating through the lens of a Christian worldview.

My hope is that this will fuel understanding in an age of confusion and that, through that understanding, the Church will be built up. And, as the church is built up, we will be better equipped to love and bless our neighbors in Babylon.

Check out the site. Then click the “Follow” button to get new posts in your email once a week.

-Steven Kopp

Personal Update and the Future of the Slasher Pastor

This past Sunday I announced to my church family that I would be stepping down from my pastoral role. This was probably the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make (I spent a long time making it, it was not spur of the moment), and one of the most difficult announcements I have ever had to give.

I gave my church a fuller explanation of my move, but the short answer is that I believe that God is re-directing my path. Pastoral ministry, especially the role of a Senior Pastor, requires a unique and broad set of gifts and disposition, and I came to the conclusion that my gifts/interests are more narrow (focused on teaching/preaching), at least at this point in my life. I’m extremely grateful for the 12 years of ministry and WPBF, including 10 years of pastoral ministry.

My church family, being the kind and loving people that they are, were really supportive. They have been for the past 12 years, so I’m not surprised, yet I especially appreciate it now. The leadership at the church is strong. My co-pastor (and mentor) is picking up the slack. The church body is in good hands.

By God’s grace I am leaving pastoral ministry with a clear conscience. There was no moral failure. There is no unresolved conflict. I believe I faithfully – though certainly imperfectly – did the work God called me to do. God has given me a sense of completion.

So, what’s next?

I am going on a short ministry sabbatical where I enjoy life as a regular church member. If I do return to ministry in the future, I expect to focus specifically on role focused on teaching – verbal and written. That’s my sweet spot in terms of skill and interest.

Professionally, I will be going full-time at my other employer where I work as a Project Manager.

I also look forward to spending more focused time with my family. When you have two jobs, many nights and weekends are taken up with ministry work, though I tried to reduce the impact on my family as much as possible.

What does this mean for the Slasher Pastor?

A number of people asked me if I would continue to write, and encouraged me to do so. I plan to do just that. I expect to re-brand my blog. The title “Slasher Pastor” doesn’t work great for someone who isn’t a Slasher (bi-vocational) or a Pastor. Look for more news on this going forward.

Finally, I appreciate your prayers. As I enter into a period of waiting, pray that God will give me patience and wisdom. Pray that I will learn to rely on him more every day.

Book Review: NIV Halley’s Study Bible

Disclaimer: I received a copy of NIV: Halley’s Study Bible for as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid in exchange for this honest review.

One of the first Bible study aids I ever used was Halley’s Bible Handbook, which is why I was interested in the opportunity to receive and review NIV Halley’s Study Bible.

The concept for this study Bible is exactly as it sounds: The editors combined notes from Halley’s famous handbook with the text of Scripture in a standard study Bible format. The edition contains notes before each book of the Bible, short summaries of most of the chapters, and notes on specific verses or paragraphs. It also contains maps and pictures that go along with the text. At the end, the book contains the NIV Concordance and another set of maps.

Physically and visually the Bible is high quality, ideal for use in study (a little too large and clunky to bring to church). The designers did a fine job making it easy to read (easier for me than the ESV Study Bible). The insertions – chapter summaries, verse notes, are unobtrusive yet accessible.

We now come to the primary purpose of a study Bible, the contents of the notes: While performing my normal Bible reading and some of my sermon preparation, I used this study Bible and reviewed Halley’s notes. I found them helpful and fair. The difficulty with study Bible’s in general is that they place biblical interpretations alongside the infallible word.  For that reason, I prefer study Bible’s which demonstrate humility whenever there are competing interpretative frameworks. Here, Halley’s Study Bible passes that test.

For instance, Ezekiel 40-48 describes a rebuilt Temple after Israel’s exile. The Temple was not built to these specifications after their return from Babylonians exile. Interpreters, then, look for some future fulfillment of this vision. In one view, we should expect a literal rebuilding of the “millennial Temple” and re-instantiation of the priesthood. In another view, the Temple and priesthood are ideal, not literal, pictures which are already fulfilled in Christ.

Halley’s notes identify both of these perspectives and outlines some of the challenges to the millennial view: “God was to live in this temple ‘forever’ (43:7). This can hardly be said of a literal, material temple. It must be a figurative representation of something, since Jesus, in John 4:21-24, abrogated temple worship and there will be no temple in heaven (Rev 21:22).” Yet, he does not take a definitive position. Speaking of the life-giving stream described in 47:1-12 he says “Whatever specific or literal application these waters may have…” I think he strikes a good balance between sharing the variety of perspectives available while also tipping his own hand. This helps the reader draw a distinction between Word and Interpretation.

All in all, I found this to be a helpful study Bible, and I’m glad to have it in my library.

Dear Christian, please wear a mask

Dear Christian,

Please wear masks in enclosed spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I appeal to you on three grounds: To care for the physical well-being of your neighbor, to love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to demonstrate respect for governing authorities.

To care for the physical well-being of your neighbor

Let me be clear: I do not think Christians who are opposed to wearing masks, or are blase about it, do not care about the well-being of their neighbors or are inherently selfish – though some may be. Instead, they just don’t think that wearing a mask helps slow the spread of the virus. They are skeptical of the evidence.

The evidence, to me anyway, seems clear that masks are effective against viruses, including COVID-19. Check out this article which gives a good summary of the logic and studies behind this argument. You don’t need to take the author at face value. He provides plenty of links to studies which you can follow to conduct your own research.

For the purposes of this post, I will provide a brief summary.

First, masks are more effective at slowing the spread of viruses than they are as a personal protective equipment. That is, our proper motivation for wearings masks is one of concern for others, not fear.

Second, masks protect others by trapping droplets that come out of your mouth when you speak, cough, or sing. This YouTube video uses a laser-scattering experiment to shows how wearing a simple washcloth drastically reduced the number of droplets expelled into the air. This matters a lot, since aerosol spread is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.

Third, people can spread the virus even before they have started showing symptoms, so wearing a mask prevents the spread of the virus after a person has contracted the virus, but before they would know that they have it.

Fourth, many people are skeptical about wearing masks because at the start of the pandemic, health officials discouraged wearing masks. They see this as evidence that health officials are untrustworthy. However, this guidance changed simply because the situation changed. Early on health officials looked at wearing masks primarily in terms of PPE, not in terms of protecting others. Also early on there was a mask shortage so health officials wanted to ensure that medical workers had priority. As evidence for even simple cloth mask effectiveness has increased, and the overall stock of masks has increased, health officials began to issue the guidance we see today.

To quote from the originally linked article:

There are numerous studies that suggest if 80% of people wear a mask in public, then COVID-19 transmission could be halted. Until a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 is discovered, cloth face masks might be the most important tool we currently have to fight the pandemic.

Christians often respond that by wearing masks we are giving in to fear. I don’t think that’s a great way to frame the discussion. While wearing masks can be an expression of fear, it can also be an expression of love, of concern for the well-being of our neighbors.

To love your brothers and sisters in Christ

As churches begin to re-open Christians who wear masks and those who don’t will be attending church together. Each will have a strong opinion one way or the other. Both may be called upon to demonstrate Christian humility by giving up their “rights” or by acting in a way that is uncomfortable to them.

And so, brother or sister, if you are healthy and unconcerned, consider those in the congregation who have a weakened immune system and are more vulnerable. I appeal to you who don’t want to wear a mask, to consider doing so to make your fellow congregants more comfortable, even if you yourself are not particularly convinced by the first argument.

To demonstrate proper respect for authorities

In many places, wearing masks indoors is mandatory. Many businesses put up signs stating as such. Christians can demonstrate respect for authority by following these guidelines.

While human authorities are not absolute, obedience to human authorities should be the norm for Christians. Obedience to authority, unless it contradicts obedience to God, demonstrates a respect for how God has ordered our lives. Contradicting authority requires us to demonstrate how doing so would cause us to disobey God. That is not the case for wearing masks.

Conclusion

We should show each other grace in this matter. I have written this post merely to appeal to the Christian conscience. When and where we wear masks isn’t always simple. I personally wear it when going to a store but never when I am outside. And, if I’m meeting indoors with just a few people and we can stay six feet apart, I typically won’t wear one. That may be hypocritical on my part, I’m not sure. My point is that there are a lot of gray areas.

However, I want to show how the Christian conscience should move us toward, not away, from wearing masks during this pandemic. Dear Christian, please wear a mask.

Is the gospel sufficient to deal with systemic racism?

Is the gospel sufficient to deal with systemic racism? Yes, but only if we understand and proclaim it in all its implications.

The gospel is the story of God’s work in the world through Jesus: His life, death, resurrection, and future return. The gospel has many implications, but we tend to just focus on one: Personal salvation.

Personal salvation: Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection are what make it possible for us to be forgiven and saved. This is a core implication of the gospel, but it is not the only one. When we reduce the gospel to personal salvation – as important as that is – we diminish its power. [1]

The person with this limited view of the gospel has very few resources to deal with racism or practically any other sin. The best he could do is say that at least we can hope for a better existence when we die.

Personal sanctification: Having been cleansed of our guilt, the believer is given a new heart. She is transformed in her inner being and experiences continuing sanctification through the Holy Spirit over time that causes her to be more like Jesus.

The Christian who understands this takes an essential next step, both in her Christian walk and in her ability to confront sin in its various forms. She can now begin the process of self-examination, confession, and personal responsibility. She can identify issues within her own heart and disciple others to see the same.

The creation of the people of God: The gospel has an important communal application. It reconciles Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free, into the unified body of Christ. This teaches us to see our brotherhood in Christ as the essential characteristic which bonds us together. All other identities of nation, language, race, and partisanship become secondary at best.

This understanding of the gospel allows for the formation of reconciled communities that bear witness to the peace-making Kingdom of God. In such communities, we begin to learn from and love one another. As one part hurts, so the whole body hurts. We can then begin to see the world from a different perspective. This new perspective is an essential next step in dealing with systemic racism.

The cosmic renewal of all things: The gospel has personal, communal, and cosmic implications. Jesus is coming again, and when he does, he will bring about perfect justice and righteousness on the earth. This is the hope for all believers and, indeed, for all of Creation.

This view could lead us to inaction. If Jesus is going to sweep away the old, why should we do anything? Why not just hunker down and wait for his return? We find the answer in the second implication of the gospel – personal sanctification. As we become more like Christ, our values are brought in alignment with his values, or loves with his loves.

We see that he loves justice, so we love justice. And when we love justice, we pursue it, in hope that while we will never accomplish it on this earth, our love for our neighbors drives us to approximate it within our sphere of influence. The fact that true justice will come spurs us on, knowing that our work is not in vain.

Here we see the gospel in all its glorious implications. This gospel is what drove people like William Wilberforce. He understood the personal and societal implications of the gospel and worked for justice. He knew the transforming nature of the gospel was our only hope, but he saw that transforming work as extending beyond (and springing forth from) personal salvation or sanctification, into the community of the church and beyond.

Two errors: This full vision of the gospel saves us from two errors. The first is to view the gospel only in its individualistic implications. This leaves us few resources to sufficiently love our neighbors.

The second is to conclude that the gospel is really not enough and that if we want to deal with systemic racism we must, then, seek some other solution. Many people are seeking to solve racial issues in this country, but some are not doing it from a perspective antithetical to Christianity. Beware of these false narratives. At best they deal with the symptom of the evil in the world, without properly reckoning with its cause.

For people who long for racial justice, we owe it to the world to present them with a distinctly Christian solution. That means we must have one.

The gospel is sufficient to deal with the problems of the world, but only when we see it in all its glorious implications.

[1] Beth Moore described this “reduction” of the gospel message in a more colorful way on Twitter: “

The current state of American Evangelicalism is what we get when the gospel is reduced to an entrance exam instead of a whole way of living, serving, loving & self-giving. The point of discipleship & Bible study is to grow in relationship with Christ and in resemblance to Christ. American Evangelicalism needs to file a missing person’s report. We have lost Jesus.

Mourn sin and Identify sin. Two reflections on George Floyd’s death

In the second half of our church’s “family conversation” mentioned in the last post, I talked about the killing of George Floyd and the events that surround that event. I certainly can’t speak authoritatively or exhaustively on the topic, but I wanted to share two passages that have helped me process and come up with a response. Again, here is a portion of the discussion, which is applicable to a broader audience:

The first one I think of is Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

I have been reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermons on the Sermon on the Mount and I love what he says about this verse. To paraphrase, he says that this is a mourning over sin. First, we mourn over our sinful and hopeless condition. Second, we mourn over what that sinful condition leads to, our sinful and rebellious actions. Third, we mourn over the sin in the world and the effects of that sin in the world. Mourning and lamenting are a good first step for us.

A member of our church shared a video of her son-in-law and he modeled this so well. We need to allow ourselves to see and feel the brokenness and injustice in the world and then mourn over it. His heart is so evident in that video. It was very moving. It was moving because it was personal, because he entered into the heart of his brothers and sisters. I was convicted by that video.

Let me talk to you white people – and that’s the majority of our church – you and I have a privilege, a luxury that many African Americans do not have. We can ignore this issue if we want to. We can check out whenever we want. I just want to invite you to do something different, to mourn. Even if you don’t know exactly what you are mourning, enter into the mourning of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The second passage I think of is the entire book of Jeremiah.

I was preaching through the book recently and I made the observation that Jeremiah both points out the universality of our sinful condition and calls out the sin of specific individuals – the powerful civil and religious leaders. We need to go beyond saying “All have sinned”, which is true, and be willing to deal with sin, not just in the abstract, but in the concrete.

I have to do that in my own personal life. When I confess my sin I should not just say “Lord, I sinned, please forgive me.” I need to say “Lord, I feared man instead of fearing you” and “Lord, I was impatient with my children” and “Lord, I was callous toward my brother.” Naming our sin is an important part of confession.

The same principle applies to these events. It is good to say “All have sinned” but it is better to say “Here is a specific sin. Here is a specific rebellion. Here is the way in which specific people are being unjustly treated by other people. Here is my part in that whole mess.”

That means we can and should use words like “systemic racism.” It means acknowledging the historical reality and present experience of our African American brothers and sisters. We can say “racial hatred and violence work in more than one direction” and that would be true, but we should not fail to acknowledge that in our setting and in our nation and communities these exist in asymmetric and unequal ways.

If we fail to do that, we will also fail to adequately deal with the specific injustice. It is true that we will never defeat racism this side of heaven. But we can work towards its end. We can and should work towards a more just future in the hope that Jesus will make all things right, and in the power that he gives us.

Where do we go from here? I don’t really know. The problems seem so large, so much bigger than us, and they are. So for now mourn the fallenness and injustice of our world. Name and confront the sin, and be specific. Then go to God in prayer. Ask him to guide our steps. Trust in the gospel to do its slow and reconciling work in you, and in our world.

Six values that inform the decision on how/when to resume in-person services

In a “family conversation” with my church I shared six values that are driving our decisions on how/when to reopen in-person portions of our ministry. Much of the conversation was unique to our church, but I think the six values themselves are applicable to a wider audience.

These values sometimes live in tension with the others, leading church leaders to think creatively and make difficult decisions. These values are not unique to us our to our church. Pastors, staff, and elder boards all over the country are wrestling through them and their implications.

Value #1: God intended for his people to regularly gather.

While I’m grateful that we have Zoom and Facebook Live, and believe that God is using those tools right now for the spread of the gospel, the current model of virtual services is not ideal and is not, in the long run, sustainable.

I believe that the New Testament expects that his people will regularly gather around the Word and sacrament, participating in fellowship and worship.

However, the New Testament is not always clear about the nature of those meetings such as their size and location. Acts 2:46 tells us that the church met in the Temple courts and in people’s homes. Church buildings are great, but maybe not the only way to “do church” right now.

Value #2: The health of our church members.

As I observe Jesus’ ministry in the gospels, it is clear that he cared about both the spiritual and physical well-being of those who followed him. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He fed the hungry.

While the first value draws me to think on the spiritual importance of gathering, this second leads me to articles and health guidelines which draw out the risks of gathering.

Caring for the health of those who attend our events is one of my duties as a pastor. To disregard it would be pastoral malpractice.

Value #3: The health of those in our community.

Jeremiah 29:7 tells us to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city.” In a pandemic, gathering in the wrong way or at the wrong time does not only affect those who gather, but those to whom they might spread it. We cannot simply say “I do not care about whether I live or die” since we do not live in an individualistic bubble.

We are part of a broader society and have a responsibility to our neighbors. Every decision we make impacts our neighbors whom we are called to serve and love.

 Value #4: The witness of the gospel.

What does it say to our culture to re-open before it is safe or to re-open in an unsafe manner? For many, the answer will be, and has been: “They do not care about life. They care about continuing to receive money.” Or, perhaps, “They want to make a political statement against their political opponents.”

These accusations may not be true and may not be fair, and we cannot be controlled simply by how others perceive our actions (that would be the fear of man) but, for the sake of the gospel witness, it matters how we present ourselves to our neighbors.

More importantly, we need to search our own souls and ask whether what we are doing fits with the gospel we proclaim and adorns that gospel with love and truth.

Value #5: Honoring our governing authorities.

Our church’s relationship with the governing authorities are complex and those authorities do not have an ultimate authority over the church. However, the Bible emphasizes that we should honor those authorities. If they are not calling us to disobey God, obedience to authorities is the default position.

In Michigan, churches are exempt from the stay-at-home order and so, to meet in any form for worship, would be technically legal as far as I understand. However, I believe that proper honoring of the authorities involves observance not only to the letter, but the spirit of the law.

Even if we do not always agree with those authorities, we are at least called to show them the respect and honor that is their due.

Value #6: A respect for the medical and scientific community.

Underlying the values of #2, #3, and #5 is a value for medical experts who are issuing guidance on when and how to safely meet.

In many sectors of evangelicalism respect for these experts is being undermined in what I believe to be a dangerous and unbiblical way. I say unbiblical because it ignores the doctrines of common grace and general revelation. General revelation tells us that God speaks through his creation and that truth can be discovered through a process of observing the creation around us. Common grace tells us that God sends rain on the just and unjust alike. That is, he gives even to unbelievers the ability uncover that truth.

The history of medicine, its incredible advances over time, have shown us the truths of these doctrines. Therefore, we will continue to listen to and read the advice of the broader medical community. This doesn’t mean they are always right, but it does mean that they are the most reliable source of this type of information right now.

These values, along with a desire to properly disciple the church, leads to a tension and that tension requires creative thinking. These values lead me to ask not just “if and when” we can open, but “how” we can do it in a safe, God-honoring, government respecting, neighbor-loving way.

A Call to Prayer

Today, May 7th, is America’s National Day of Prayer. While every day, for the believer, is a “day of prayer”, we can set aside today to specifically bring our nation before God in prayer. Please consider the following prayer requests:

Confess and repent of sin.

Begin with a posture of humility.

The Bible records instances of both personal and corporate confession of sin and we need both. Begin by repenting of your own sin, as the Holy Spirit convicts you.

Then move on to the nation and the America church. At the national level, confess our injustice (failing to treat others as persons made in God’s image) and idolatry (putting other things ahead of allegiance to God). At the corporate church level, ask God’s forgiveness for our moral compromise and failure to be faithful witnesses to the gospel.

Pray for your civic leaders.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Ask God to give our leaders – national, state, and local – wisdom in how they carry out their civic duties. Ask God to guide them in administering justice in their various spheres of influence.

Pray specifically for our moment of crisis.

Pray that God will spare us of both a public health and an economic/social disaster. Pray for those impacted the most. Pray for vulnerable (physically, emotionally, socially, economically) people. Pray that God we will grant wisdom in when and how to re-open aspects of normal life.

Pray for the witness of the American church.

Pray that God will give the church a spirit of reconciliation in a world of divisiveness. Pray that the church will model love of God and neighbor. Pray that we will have “peace the surpasses understanding” as we are freed from the fear of judgment and death. Pray that we will not be ashamed of the gospel but will proclaim it clearly and boldly. Pray that the light of our good deeds will shine brightly and adorn the gospel. Pray that, in all we do, we bring glory to God.

Pray for individuals near and far.

Pray for those within your direct circle of care and influence – family members, friends, co-workers, and members of our church.

Pray also for believers around the world, especially those being persecuted because of their faith.

Finally, pray as the Holy Spirit gives aid.

Is Bill Gates behind a plot to usher in the new world order of the Antichrist?

In the past week two people recommended to me a video by Pastor J.D. Farag, a self-appointed biblical prophet. In the video he makes the claim that Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci are the “global players” who created the coronavirus pandemic in order to reduce the global population and provide vaccines which simultaneously give people the Mark of the Beast described in the book of Revelation.

While Pastor Farag said some things with which I agree, I believe that his mixture of biblical truth, tenuous speculation, and misrepresentation of facts is a danger to a clear gospel witness.

Farag’s basic argument

The video is split into two sections. In the first 26 minutes Pastor Farag shares his theory for how Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Deborah Birx fit into biblical prophecies concerning a global government, economy, and religion.

His argument, which focuses on Bill Gates, is based on several important points. First, Bill Gates is a nefarious actor who wants to reduce the global population through abortion and vaccines. Second, he and Dr. Fauci “predicted” that a pandemic would come, which implies that they planned it (a “plandemic”), and are thus behind it. Third, that Bill Gates plans to use this pandemic as a reason to use vaccines to implant miniature microchips into the global population which will be required for people to do business. Fourth, these chips constitute the “mark of the best” described in Revelation.

Checking his claims

My first observation from this video is that many of the points he makes involve a lot of inference and speculation. As I researched his claims, however, I learned that some of his claims are simply false or are gross misrepresentation of the facts.

I will not address every claim, but here are a few examples by way of illustration:

Is there a 666 patent for tracking people using implanted microchips?

Pastor Farag points to the patent W02020060606A1 (notice the 666) as evidence for a global tracking system. He claims (or strongly implies) that it involves implanting a microchip into the skin in the form of a micro-tattoo. The patent number does exist, and it does involve tracking bodily activity and cryptocurrency, but it is about wearable technology (like a smart watch). It makes no mention of a tattoo or implanted microchip (source).

Pastor Farag links this patent to Bill Gates and project called ID2020 to prove his point. Again, he misrepresents the facts. You can read more about it here: source.

Do Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci’s foresight of a pandemic show they planned it?

Pastor Farag also makes a big point about Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates warning of global pandemics or leading efforts to simulate pandemic responses. He muses, “I wonder how they knew?” They knew because we have plenty of historical precedent to know that pandemics of this nature are a danger to humans. It is pure speculation to imply conspiracy when simple wisdom and foresight are a much plausible explanations.

Does Bill Gates want to reduce the world population through vaccines and abortion?

To prove that Bill Gates is nefarious Farag points to a TED talk where Gates said “First, we’ve got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent …”

This is a real quote, and on its surface may appear damning, especially if you believe that (1) reproductive health services equals abortion, (2) vaccines are also intended to reduce the population, and (3) Gates is talking about the population, not the population growth. Farag clearly believes (1) and implies (2) and (3).

Point 1: Abortion is tragic, and Bill Gates probably (I could not verify) imagines this as part of reproductive health. That’s terrible. But, in what I was able to discover, His biggest emphasis is on contraceptives and other forms of family planning. I do not mean to minimize the tragedy of abortion, but it does not appear to be Gates’ emphasis.

Point 2: Gates has the counterintuitive view that in places where there is high infant mortality, women have more babies because they know some of those babies will die. Ironically, then, high infant mortality leads to greater population growth. If infant mortality is decreased, through vaccines, then population growth will decrease. While the effectiveness of this plan is debated, he clearly believes that vaccines will save lives and are not harmful.

Point 3: It is clear from the context of the quote that Gates is talking about reducing population growth, not the overall population. He does believe the world is better served through reduced population growth. I do not share his view, but it is very different from saying that the population should be reduced. (source)

A mixture of biblical exposition and speculation

As Farag transitions from his “prophetic” speculation into more mainstream biblical commentary (again, most of which was very good) he takes up the mantle of Jeremiah. He is Jeremiah, the doom and gloom prophet, who is telling people what they can’t handle. His opponents, then, are those who love their lives too much and therefore reject the truth. In doing this, he sets up anyone who disagrees with his speculation (like me) as a “false teacher” who is saying “peace, peace where there is no peace.” As such, he is dangerously mixing biblical truth with his own personal speculations, and misrepresenting those who disagree with him.

A danger to a clear gospel witness

In the last ten minutes he gives a clear explanation of the gospel. For that, with Paul, I am glad that at least the gospel is going out. But before presenting the gospel he has put up a massive and unnecessary stumbling block. Skeptics will listen to the first 26 minutes, research, and see through much of what he is saying. If they see that the first half of his argument is discredited, what will they think of the second half?

With so much uncertainty about what is going on, and with such a desire to see Jesus return, as he has promised to do, it is not surprising to see theories like this. In fact, the history of the church is filled with such speculations and predictions whenever there is a crisis of any sort. However, I think it is better, instead, to stick with what we know. We do not need a detailed picture of the end to know that it is coming. We can still call people to faith and repentance, without this extra “prophecy.” And, I believe in doing so, we become more faithful witness to Jesus.

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