There is a perceptive article on Christian Concern by Rev Dr Joe Boot, originally from England and now based in Toronto. His focus is on the religious nature of the response to COVID over the last two years.
In fact he identifies this response as a state religion, involving all the persuasive and coercive powers of government, but also filling the religious vacuum left by the rejection of Christianity to encompass not only the citizenry, but the institutions and corporations of our culture, as has often been pointed out here.
Whatever one concludes about the ideological forces at work in our society (for example, the Long March through the Institutions, the corrupt power lust of the elites and so on), I don’t think one can understand what is going on – still less resist it as a Christian – without perceiving the profoundly religious dimension Boot describes. So his article is essential reading.
His purview being mainly COVID, he only briefly touches on the more general social phenomenon of identity politics, though clearly seeing it as closely related in principle. If, in fact, we extract the principles from what he argues, we need to include not only critical theory in its various manifestations, but climate alarmism, in which exactly the same scientistic fanaticism is as manifest as it is in COVID, and quite possibly with much greater duration, for it began thirty years ago and looks set to continue “while the earth remaineth warm.”
In Seeing through Smoke I bracketed together progressive morality and climate change, but only mentioned, without greatly stressing, health issues because COVID had not then happened. However, an increasing number of commentators see how comparable, and even co-ordinated, the three issues are, because of the identical “ethos” surrounding them. They may, as Boot shows, be justly taken as elements of a single new religion – in some sense a trinitarian religion (of Weather, Misbegotten Sin and Unholy Spit?).
Another recent article makes this connection explicit. All three relate to a denial of Christian views of God as Creator (such as the denial of male and female), as sustainer of creation (only we cause climate change, and only we can repair it), as Saviour (certain identities as not needing salvation, and others as being beyond it) and as healer (artificially-produced mRNA being the only orthodox healer, albeit gradually proving no more effectual than the priests of Baal). We still await, though I fully anticipate, a more coherent anti-Trinitarian formulation than I have made here!
The serious lesson is that Christians must, if they are to maintain their Kingdom-distinctiveness, learn to recognise the signs of this false, but increasingly universal, religion,and so to recognise when they are being religiously seduced or, worse still, when they have already bowed the knee to Baal.
Specifically, whilst there is undoubtedly a significant disease called COVID, we are to doubt the explanations and remedies of the new priesthood and our apostate neighbours, and instead seek what Christ,the Truth, says about it. There is no error in equating Jesus even with scientific and logical truth, because the characteristic of the new religion is that it rules by power, rather than by truth. Never forget that Christians accept the authority of Scripture because they are convinced after investigation that it is God’s word, not simply because it is an authority… the opposite is the case for COVID, which we must accept by law even when we know it is false.
There is, as there has always been, a measurable shift in the climate, but nothing else about the question, from its human causation to its assessment as a “problem,” should be taken on trust by the Christian, once we recognise its role in promoting an alternative religion. Remember that the Little Ice Age also caused problems for Europe including famines and plague, but possibly was advantageous to other civilizations closer the Equator. Yet it was undoubtedly the product of divine providence rather than human physical activity. The same goes for the Minoan, Roman and Mediaeval Warm Periods, with the difference that these seem to have produced a greater proportion of blessing to tribulation across the world. As I suggested in a recent post, would it not be ironic for us to dismiss the possibility that God is warming the earth to bless it as he has so often before, whilst we are deceived into seeing only harms, and attributing the whole to ourselves out of misdirected guilt?
And thirdly, let Christians not be blind to the fact that our own religious language has been co-opted and subtly altered to make us accept the identitarian agenda. True, the Bible talks about oppressed, and about oppressors. But look at the context, and the content, for goodness’ sake, and in particular that the great emphasis in Scripture is that we are primarily oppressed by our own sin, to which the solution is repentance and reformation of life, not the cancellation of human oppressors. Woke inclusivity is not the same as the offering of the gospel to all, and diversity is not the same as election from every tribe and nation. And so on.
I think Boot’s clear appraisal of the COVID problem helps us both to make such judgements, and to recognise their importance. For to accept the tenets of a false religion is not merely to hold a mainstream opinion on a topic of the day – it is to risk the eternal salvation of both oneself and those with whom one carelessly shares the deception. Once we understand that subtle and authoritative people are actually asking us to deny Christ, then we will pay more careful attention to exactly what it is they are telling us.
Raising the spectre of false religion is also a reminder to us of the spiritual origin of false religion. Recognising the religious nature of what is going on should alert us to the deception of the powers and principalities of which Scripture warns us, whether that be the onset of Satan’s “final fling” through the coming “man of sin” or just another expression of the “spirit of antichrist” along the way. Conversely, if the current insanity of the world leads us to suspect the activity of the devil, then we should expect the nature of the problem to be, at heart, religious, rather than merely political or corporate.
In fact, if we recall the unholy trinity in Revelation of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, and what they are said to represent, we are going to understand why the present situation seems to encompass the corruption of government, commerce and religion, all three.
“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”G. K. Chesterton