Do Christians have special protection from the corona virus pandemic compared to non-Christians?
A question that came up in my systematic theology class this week, in light of the corona virus pandemic. The class was discussing the origin of evil and suffering, and why Christians also seem to suffered horrendous evils and fall sick like everybody else. Does not God protect the Christian?
Is it true that Christians have a special protection?
This was an unfortunate headline in New Zealand on March 01, 2020. The preacher was quoted in newspapers all over the world, resulting in some unpleasant pushback for Christians in general and Jesus in particular. To quote one of the newspapers, the UK Daily Mail, he stated the following in his message to his church:
“Satan has control of atmospheres unless you’re a born-again, Jesus-loving, bible-believing, Holy Ghost-filled, tithe-paying believer. You’re the only one that can walk through atmospheres and have literally a protection, the PS-91 protection policy.
And he threw in a biblical quote: “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence”.
Basically, the said preacher is claiming that ‘airborne demons’ are responsible for the Coronavirus – and suggested born-again Christians could have special protection from the deadly disease, by quoting Psalm 91:3. The PS-91 protection policy!
The aforementioned preacher’s assertion is a belief shared by many Christians who have been fed a diet of feel-good sermons, best life now books, and a health and wealth gospel that takes Scripture out of context.
Psalm 91 is claimed by many today to offer extraordinary protection from disease and harm, but it was misused by Satan to tempt Jesus to sin. In response, Jesus clearly told off Satan in Matthew 4:7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”.
Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 in the context of disobeying God by going against God’s will. Just as Jesus did not take the bait of jumping off the pinnacle of the temple to “prove” God’s protection, we cannot claim Psalm 91 to recklessly deny common sense actions to “prove” that God will protect us from disease or harm.
Do Christians have special protection from disease compared to non-Christians?
The issue has to be approached experientially first, in order to be honest. There are too many claims in the Christian world that God would grant Christians health, and even wealth, if we accept Jesus as our Savior. From personal experience and form a medical evidential perspective, we can see all around us that Christians suffer from disease and involved in accidents in the same proportion as those who do not believe in Jesus. Earthquakes and other calamities affect Christians and non-Christians alike.
For every story that is told anecdotally that Christians have been miraculously preserved from some calamity, stories can also be told of non-Christians having been preserved from similar calamities. In the medical and scientific world, the same observations apply.
Therefore, from an evidential point of view, we have to conclude that the evils and suffering in the world today is experienced equally by those of faith and those who do not have faith in Jesus.
Does that mean Christians will likely be affected in the same proportion by the coronavirus pandemic as non-Christians? The answer is yes.
God has given us human responsibility to care for our health. If we ignore appeals to protect ourselves from possible accidents, diseases or exposure to danger, it is unlikely that we can expect God to miraculously protect us from our indiscretions. We will have to face the consequences. God has given us discernment and responsibility to look after ourselves, steward our environment, add to protect one another.
Does God miraculously protect us or heal us? Yes, he can.
But He does not do so on demand. He does so according to His will and we cannot demand such protection. That is the sin of presumption, to attribute to God what He has not willed.
This may seem unfair of God. Why not keep His people safe and prove to the world that God is all powerful, and will protect His own?
This falls under God’s inscrutability, i.e. the things that God knows which He has not chosen to reveal. There were two incidents in the New Testament where people died for no obvious cause (Jesus was asked about such unspeakable evil – Galileans being killed by Pilate or the Tower of Siloam collapsing and killing many for no particular reason).
Jesus did not explain the reason. All He said was “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. ’” Luke 13:2-5).
In essence, Christians can suffer evil just like everyone else, but their focus should be on repentance and to be part of the coming Kingdom of God.
The message given by the preacher above shows the misuse of Scripture. He talked about PS 91 insurance policy. He has used the text out of context and has attributed to God what he has not said.
Psalm 91 was used out of context by Satan to tempt Jesus to do something outside of God’s will. But Satan was asking Jesus to “prove” God’s protection. Jesus replied that such a notion to prove God’s promises was actually achieving the opposite – it was to tempt and test God. The result is usually causing the Lord’s name to be mocked, as we have seen by the responses to the preacher’s claims. If Christians ignored medical advice and refuse common sense precautions, even they can get ill with Covid 19, or any other disease.
Psalm 91 is more about the contentment of abiding in the Lord even in the presence of trials and dangers. The Christian who trusts in Jesus, if he fulfils his human responsibility and discernment and common sense, can expect with prayer and supplication that God will be with him in the time of any suffering or evil that may have befallen him.
Please contact us if God is speaking to you today about repentance and believing in Jesus for salvation.
Dr Joshua Thambiraj accepted Jesus as Saviour in medical school. He has a passion for preaching and teaching, and to share God’s word with those who do not know Christ. He holds a postgraduate theology degree and was ordained in 2002 and consecrated bishop in 2009 . He blogs at the Sword and Scalpel Reflections.