Most of us have seen the videos of either right-wing protestors at state capitals, taking no social distancing precautions, and demanding to have all the restrictions lifted or evangelical pastors who insist on continuing to hold in-person church services. Both the evangelicals that take part in the protest and the pastors who insist on big church gatherings say things like, “Jesus is my vaccine,” or “I don’t need precautions because I’m covered in the blood of Jesus.” They spout these clichés with a big dose of spiritual pride (in my opinion) and not faith.
So, this begs the question, will God determine if you get COVID-19 and possibly die from it? If so, there is nothing you can do to stop God, including social distancing. I have already address this indirectly. I have also addressed, many times and in many ways, the question does God gives cancer and does He then direct the cancer to cause you to suffer and die from it?
But back to this simple question that is a hot topic at this present time. It really comes down to some fundamental metaphysical questions. Now, if the word metaphysical makes your feel uncomfortable feel free to think of it in theological terms. As I said before, Francis Schaeffer used to say that the only differences between philosophy (which deals with metaphysical concepts) and theology are not in the questions asked but, in the answers given.
It is woven deeply within colloquial (meaning common or everyday) Christianity, not just in American Evangelical circles but in many other types of Christian, and many Islamic sects, around the world, that for God to be God, He has to have absolute control of granular fate. What I mean by “granular fate” is the everyday things, even smaller of getting a disease, things like God controls if we blink or if we eat an banana, or if a particular raindrop will fall from 30,000 and hit me in the head… or not.
I will make a bold statement, and you are welcome to prove me wrong (in comments), that nowhere in the Bible does it say that God is control of the granular things of our life. That these things are predestine or controlled by His power. There are many passages that we used and I hear other using now to support their position that God controls these detailed things such as Luke chapter 12 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+12&version=NIV). But read this passage if you want without the cultural glasses that automatically interpret this for you. Listen to what it is really saying. It is saying that for those people not to worry about their housing, their clothing, or their food because worrying does not help. It says, in a general way, God will provide the basics.
It is my opinion (based on my study) that this problem of the God intervening in the small things stems from the adoption of non-Christian philosophies into Christianity, those which dismissed this material world as insignificant. Therefore reason, cause and effect, physics, chemistry, and so on are meaningless and therefore everything is controlled by God, the puppeteer’s hands.
Instead, I say that God created this wonderful world and all the laws that control it. Consistent with the long history of Christian teachings, these wonderful laws that govern life have been fouled, in places—not everywhere—but in spots, which we call the fall. Therefore, viruses exist and cause horrible havoc. So, in the case of this novel coronavirus follow the laws of biology. You will get it if you are exposed and are in the right circumstances. It is not based on how much faith you have or if God loves you or not. It has nothing to do if you are “covered in the blood” or if you believe Jesus is your vaccine. I could write a book on the abundance of historical examples of very devout Christians that were 100% certain God would save them in a situation… and yet they perished in the end. If you hold to their God model, then He failed. But when we liberate God to be the great other, then it has no implications. But if you insist on God controlling granular fate, then you better deal with the example where that kind of god seems to fail.
When I discuss this with evangelicals, almost invariantly they assume that I am saying God is too small to control the small things and the larger things such as if I get COVID-19 or not. I will no be surprised if someone writes me a private e-mail from this post telling me how concerned they are about my soul and that I’m not walking with God. I’m used to it. I am not saying God is too small to control these things,but simply he chooses not to. In ways, I am saying almost the opposite. That for us to insist that God must control the details of our life in order to be God, I am shrinking God down and putting Him in the box I’ve crafted for Him.
If you take historical Christianity as it was, then it is clear that God is in control of the really big picture and in the end, the very end of everything, all will be well. On that point, the major monotheistic belief systems agree and even the pantheistic (although we disagree in other areas).
Note: I hope to get back to posting here. I just finished my 10th round of editing of my novel Ristretto Rain and tomorrow it goes off to the professional editors. If you read an early version, the final is much better. The book should by out by June.