Under the Sovereignty of the Triune God, the year 2020 saw a crisis of enormous magnitude and generational significance coming upon the world. However, whereas the narrative pushed by governments and media around the world has been that the crisis was caused by a virus, it is our belief that the real crisis has not been the virus, which numerous studies have shown to have a median Infection Fatality Rate of around 0.2%-0.26% [see notes 1 & 2], but rather by the reaction to that virus, which has been wildly disproportionate, deeply authoritarian in nature, and extremely dangerous to individuals and society on so many levels.
Amongst the many issues that have been highlighted during 2020, it has been clear that the response of much of the church in Britain has been both superficial and inadequate. The history books will record that in this year, church buildings were ordered to shut for a total of four months, which was the longest closure of church buildings since the Papal Interdict of 1208, which shut them for six years. Furthermore, they will also record that when churches were permitted to meet, a number of measures were introduced by the Government which altered aspects of worship and fellowship, but which the church accepted with little pushback. This included the compulsory wearing of face masks in places of worship; the mandating of congregants to be socially distanced from one another; the banning of “mingling” in the Rule of Six; guidance about how the Lord’s Supper should be administered; and guidance stating that congregational singing should not take place inside places of worship.
Not only do we consider these rules to have been unnecessary, given the far lower threat posed by the virus than early reports suggested, but we also consider each of them to be contrary to the express will of God. The Bible commands us to worship God together physically (Hebrews 10:25); to cultivate fellowship together physically (Acts 2:42); to sing loudly and joyfully (Psalm 47:1; Psalm 98:4); and as those who are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), who have been washed from the guilt of sin through Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11), who have been raised up and seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6), who worship at the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22), we are to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) – all of which means that covering our faces is entirely inappropriate.
Yet on each one of these points, the majority of churches appear to have unquestioningly accepted that the state has jurisdiction over these things, appealing to Romans 13 without giving it its proper context, and without considering it together with the broader teaching in Scripture.
We have also been dismayed at the tepid response to the calamity that has come upon us. Scripture teaches us that it is God who sends calamities (Isaiah 45:7), that he does so in order to bring a people to repentance (Jeremiah 26:3), and that our response to such events should be to cry to God in our affliction, that he might deliver us (2 Chronicles 20:9). This ought to have been the response of all churches, regardless of whether the calamity was seen to be the virus, or the response to the virus, but sadly this reaction does not appear to have been the norm.
The Psalmist asks rhetorically, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). The creation of the Fellowship of Biblical Christians is our answer to this question in our day, and is intended as a response to what we consider to be the sadly inadequate response of much of the church during this time. We believe that there are likely to be thousands of Christians across the country who have been dismayed at what has taken place, who long to see a more robust, Biblical response from the church on this and other issues, but who have found themselves feeling somewhat alone and isolated in their local situations, being very much in the minority.
We understand that this statement will inevitably be seen by some as controversial. However, our intention is not to create contention or division in the Church of Jesus Christ, but rather to achieve the following three-fold aim:
• To glorify God by offering support and encouragement to those who share the views expressed above. • To glorify God by setting out a more robust, Biblical response to the crises we face. • To glorify God by helping to foster reformation, whereby the church returns to a solid Scriptural basis.
The FBC is non-denominational, yet distinctively within the Reformed tradition.