By Tom Strode
NASHVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is providing ongoing content addressing issues related to church ministry, life in isolation and the intersection of church and state during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ERLC – which offers new resources nearly daily at erlc.com/covid19 – is doing so "to help pastors navigate new and challenging dynamics and equip Christians for this ever-evolving situation," said Daniel Darling, the ERLC's vice president for communications. "We believe Southern Baptists are ready to serve our most vulnerable neighbors in a variety of ways.
"This season of sacrifice is an opportunity to love our neighbor by protecting the vulnerable and to be a witness for Christ in troubling times," Darling told Baptist Press in written remarks. "With our hope anchored in the kingdom of Christ, the church can respond well to this pandemic with patient prudence, biblical wisdom and deep faith in God's sovereignty."
The latest resource, published Friday (March 20), is a blog post by ERLC President Russell Moore titled: "Does it violate religious liberty to close churches over coronavirus?"
No, for the time being, Moore writes.
"The current situation facing us is not a case of the state overstepping its bounds, but rather seeking to carry out its legitimate God-given authority," he writes. "Nowhere, at this point, have we seen churches targeted because of their beliefs or mission. At issue is a clear public objective -- stopping the transmission of a dangerous virus by gatherings.
"After this crisis is over, we will have learned much about the fragility of life, about our need for one another," Moore writes. "The church will be called to bear the burdens of our neighbors as never before. There will be no shortage of debates over all sorts of religious liberty questions, as there were before. But, in the meantime, concern for public health is not a violation of religious liberty."
Other content available at erlc.com/covid19 includes:
– An article on "How the church can respond to the coronavirus" that is updated periodically.
– An interview on the "Capitol Conversations" podcast with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Southern Baptist, on the response of the government and Christians to the coronavirus.
– A prayer written by Darling in response to the pandemic.
– An article on "How to talk to your kids about coronavirus."
– Advice on family worship during the shutdown.
– Book recommendations for reading while in isolation at home.
Moore also is posting a series of videos titled "Reading in Exile" at his website – https://www.russellmoore.com -- in which he comments on different books.
Also at his site, Moore has recent blog posts – "The Prosperity Gospel in a Time of Plague" and "Don't Quarantine the Great Commission – and a video in his "One Thing You Missed Series" titled: "Coronavirus, Communion, and the Body of Christ."
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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