Murray Palmatier of the Church of God International Canada recently delivered a sermon titled "There Is No Fear in Love." The message was delivered within the context of two sermons by Pastor Adrian Davis against public health measures related to Covid-19 which had been previously deleted from CGI's website by the executive council of the church. With this background being clearly understood by his audience and in the forefront of their minds, Mr. Palmatier decided to push back against the fear which he believes has motivated these public health measures.
He quotes I John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." Mr. Palmatier implies that fear has manifested itself in the general public's exercise of these public health behaviors as a reaction to the appearance of Covid-19. He suggests that this fear has caused people to alter their lives and belief systems in irrational and outlandish ways. Of course, there is no mention of the fact that Covid-19 poses a real and lethal threat to humankind, and that those public health measures were designed to mitigate its deadly consequences. He also doesn't mention the fact that the folks who are opposed to these measures are motivated by a FEAR of government overreach and/or the loss of their freedoms/rights.
Mr. Palmatier then proceeds to take a fresh look at the first seven verses of the thirteenth chapter of Paul's letter to the saints of Rome. You know, the one that states: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." According to Mr. Palmatier, these instructions to be subject and obedient to rulers ONLY applies to righteous rulers. Hence, according to this unique interpretation and understanding of these verses, the implication is clear - Christians aren't REALLY obligated to follow these wicked public health officials!
Mr. Palmatier went on to single out the folks in Ohio as being courageous for calling attention to "these things" (could he be talking about Ohio's antivaxxer-in-chief, Bill Watson?). Unfortunately, they aren't courageous enough to plainly say what they are talking about! Like Mr. Palmatier, they imply, suggest, use posters and euphemisms to talk about their resistance to public health measures. He goes on to laud truckers for having the courage to protest those measures. He goes on to strongly imply that the executive council of CGI is trying to shut them down - to silence any discussion about these public health measures. Yeah, sorry I'm hearing a whole lot of anger and fear in Mr. Palmatier's remarks. Finally, didn't I predict that the anti-public health folks within CGI wouldn't be content with the executive council's attempt to deal with this division/controversy and unify the church? Does that make me a prophet?