Tearfund's Dr Ruth Valerio and Gideon Heugh explore the questions that Christians might be wrestling with during the coronavirus crisis.
How to beat coronavirus:
Stay at home. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Have a good theology.
Wait, a good what?
Theology is our understanding of the nature of God. This in turn influences the way we see the world. In times like these, when life as we know it has been turned upside down, it’s crucial that we have a good Bible-based theology.
To help, we’ve put together answers to some of the questions that Christians might be wrestling with at this time:
Will God protect us? Why is this happening? Is the virus God’s judgement? Does sin cause illness? Are these the end times? And, how should the church respond?
And the church, of course, means all of us. We are one in Christ, and no amount of social distancing can sever that connection. Speaking of which...
Will God protect us?
Having the right theology can save lives. Literally.
Most churches around the world have stopped meeting in person – for obvious, sensible and necessary reasons. Some, however, have not, citing their belief that God will protect them from the virus. This is bad theology, and it might cost lives.
God does protect. God does heal. Yet we are his hands and feet, and it’s vital that we play our role, listening and acting upon the advice of experts.
I trust God with my health – but I also try and make sure that I exercise and eat well. If I break my leg, I’ll pray for healing – but I’ll also go to the doctor.
Trust God, but take action too.
Why is this happening?
To answer this question, we need to go back to the beginning.
God created a world that he declared to be very good (Genesis 1:31) – a world in which everything exists in harmony with God. Relationship with God, with others, with ourselves and with the rest of creation is central to God’s loving purposes.
After those relationships go wrong, the Bible then tells the story of how God works to restore them – a plan that finds its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus.
Poverty, conflict, suffering, climate change – all these are the result of those broken relationships. The Bible is clear that God, people and the natural world are deeply interconnected, so if one aspect of that is broken then everything will be impacted.
As hard as it is to hear, the outbreak of coronavirus is not a ‘natural disaster’. It is a disaster of our own making. Viruses jump species and get into humans, and environmental destruction makes this more likely to happen as people are brought into closer contact with virus-carrying animals. Deforestation, mining, animal trafficking and unsustainable farming practices are all likely factors at play.1