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Faith in the Shadow of a Pandemic

Book by John T. Pless and Jacob A. Corzine

· Prayer,Quotes,Books

Lutheran professors John Pless and Jacob Corzine have written a book "Faith in the Shadow of a Pandemic," published by Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis. Here are some quotes from this book.

On Luther's response to the plague in his day:

"Avoiding both impulsive heroism and cowardly avoidance, Luther urges Christians who serve in both spiritual and earthly offices to exercise both faith and love. Entrusting one's life and well-being into the hands of a faithful Creator as we do in the catechism's morning and evening prayers, Christians have the boldness to act in love for the neighbor. (p. 24)

On "Deliver Us From Evil"

To scorn or minimize the practice of medicine or to make light of sound medical advice for curtailing the impact of a pandemic may be an act of unbelief, a tempting of God. . . . We are not to tempt God by refusing to allow others to do what they are capable of doing. . . . To refuse the instruments that God has provided is not a heroic act of courage but impetuous unbelief that fails to recognize God's good work. (p. 28-29)

On "Bearing the Burden of Masks and Social Distancing"

Galatians 6:2: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." That's the burden of accounting for the neighbor's comfort level with the outgoing pandemic danger. Or rather, it's the burden of continuing the social distancing practices and the mask wearing, at least in certain times and situations, for the sake of the neighbor's comfort. (p. 34)

On "Discipleship From a Distance"

Connected yet physically distant, we are bound together in faith and love. Faith clings to Christ's promises, and love clings to the neighbor. We have been called together by the Gospel into the Holy Christian Church, where the Spirit daily and richly forgives our sins and the sins of believers. This Church does not evaporate when we cannot ourselves come together in one place. If the gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ's Holy Church, neither will a microscopic virus. (p. 50)

On "Praying the Psalms in the Shadow of the Pandemic"

Salvation in the Old Testament is depicted as being brought out of the tight, narrow, and constricting bonds of death into a spacious place. In this pandemic, we are confronted not only with physical confinemnent but with a spiritual claustrophobia as well. Cut off from others, many feel isolated from God as though He has forgotten them or given them over to the powers of enemies. Psalm 91 is a sturdy reminder that in the unpredictable swirl of this crisis, God has not foraken us. (p. 68)

On "Death in the Pandemic"

Luther's commentary on Psalm 90 helps us think more clearly (and biblically!) about death and the fear of death as we confront a lethal pandemic. It might even be said to be eye-opening, for it forces us to look at death as an enemy that ultimately cannot be defeated by medical science or triumphed over by the enforcement of more effective public health measures. (p. 74)

On "Providence and the Pandemic"

God is the Maker of heaven and earth, and He is continually at work in His creation defending against all danger and guarding and protecting from all evil. Yes, it is true as Luther said somewhere (or could have said) that when we look at God's work in the world, it often appears as though a mad axman has been let loose in the forest. God is at work under opposites, bringing health through sickness, raising up by tearing down, and most offensively to the mind of the old Adam, making alive by killing. . . . God's alien work is to crush, destroy, and kill all that stands in opposition to His good purpose to rescue sinners. His proper work refers to His gracious will to be our Savior and have us as His own precious possession, free from sin and death for all eternity. (p. 94-95)

Trying to pinpoint cause and effect flirts with God's hiddenness, and that is a danger zone to be avoided. We cannot pry into God's majesty without destroying ourselves. God in hiding, God not preached, is of no concern to us. Instead we lay hold of God in the flesh - God as He is for us in the Son of Mary and the Man of Calvary, Christ Jesus. . . . Thus Christians confess God's providence not in terms of a philosophical . . . theory of how a good God could allow evil to persist. Rather, God's omnipotence is seen through the lens of His condescending love and kindness for sinners in the blood of Christ. (p. 96)

On "First, Repent"

Repentance is . . . the response that shifts all that we do onto the new foundation of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. In this turn to God in faith, we're enabled to bear every burden and meet every need. This doesn't mean that repentance turns us into supermen, but rather that in it our relationship to God is set aright, so that we can turn to the neighbor. (p. 105)

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