Acts 29 Remnant Church in Richmond, Virginia allegedly is planning to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doug Ponder in a recent article explains some of the disastrous logic in a post through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The alleged reckless behavior is not only a threat to Richmond but also to Ponder’s own son who has a kidney disease. This blog is still calling for people to leave Remnant this time for your physical health and your elderly relatives in addition to your spiritual health.
“Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.”
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12 NIV
Acts 29 Remnant Church with Doug Ponder on the left.
This blog has been spending time looking at how some of the churches or ministries I have written about are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other day I wrote about how John Bryson’s Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis is responding. You can read that in, “How Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis in Tennessee is Responding to the COVID-19 Virus.” I have been in touch with a member of the congregation who communicated to me their concerns about Remnant’s current behavior. I poked around to corroborate the information and followed up with that information to compose this post.
Remnant Allegedly Plans to Continue Meeting During the COVID-19 Pandemic
When other churches in Virginia acknowledged the government’s concerns and canceled church services Remnant allegedly ignored such guidance. Remnant had service yesterday and Josh Soto preached a sermon called, “Jesus is King.” Remnant explained in a church wide email that the Acts 29 entity will continue to meet. It will continue to meet in community groups and have services in the Sundays to come. Below is the email that Remnant sent out to the congregation.
|CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: LOOKING TO JESUS!|
Many of you are aware of the concerns surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to let you know how Remnant Church is responding.
Our pastors are carefully and continually monitoring this situation at all levels, including local, state, and federal recommendations. We will also continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines for community and faith-based organizations. As information evolves, we will continue to provide necessary updates and answers to commonly asked questions. We are committed to doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for our church family and surrounding community.
First, we want to encourage you not to fear or panic, but to trust Christ in all things. We believe in and serve a God who raises the dead. We are told numerous times throughout the Scriptures not to be afraid. We have a faith that fights worldly fear and is rooted in the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, which leads us to “not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). So don’t panic, but continue to trust Christ, who is before all things and who holds all things together (Col. 1:17).
SUNDAY GATHERINGS & COMMUNITY GROUPS
We will continue to gather on Sundays (Gatherings) and throughout the week (Community Groups) as regularly scheduled. As God’s people, walking together with Christ, we place a high priority on gathering together to hear the gospel preached and respond to Christ through worship! That being said, we are taking some specific precautions to fight against the spread of illness:
The question must be asked why is Remnant bucking CDC guidelines and acting like this? A recent article at the Intersect that was written by Doug Ponder helps explains this reckless behavior.
Doug Ponder’s “Plea for Christians Facing the Coronavirus” at SEBTS Intersect
Doug Ponder after graduating from Liberty University attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forrest, North Carolina. At SEBTS they have the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture which works to engage in apologetics it appears and influence culture. The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture publishes an publication called The Intersect. On March 9, 2020 Doug Ponder published an article at the Intersect about how Christians should respond to the coronavirus. The article is called, “A Plea for Christians Facing the Coronavirus.” In the article he tackles the issue of how the Bible says do not be afraid. Three years ago Ponder published about fear and politics. Doug said in a world fueled by fear Christians have a responsibility to not show fear but to bold. But what about the COVID-19 situation? The Remnant pastor uses the Bible to show the different ways people are commanded not to show fear. He then says that Christians are to focus on the resurrection of Christ. This is how he describes it.
Of course, simply saying “fear not” works about as well as telling someone to “calm down.” Thankfully, we worship a God who not only commands his people but also empowers them to do what he asks (Philippians 2:13). Specifically, the faith that fights worldly fear is rooted in the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, which leads us to “not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Isn’t that amazing? Our God raises the dead. Jesus wasn’t lying when he said, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 10:28). For since he is raised from the dead, if you are united to Jesus by faith then the worst thing that can happen to you is literally incomparable to the glory that awaits you (Romans 8:18).
Ponder argues that everything from God is a gift including Biblical fearlessness. Everything is a gift from God including your own life. So how should one respond to the COVID-19 virus? Three ways according to the Remnant pastor. The first is not to panic and to remember God reigns and raises people from the dead. Second is that one should be wise and wash your hands and not share food with others. Avoid conspiracy theories and be careful as to what information one is consuming. Third is be kind to others and remember they need Jesus. Ponder draws from the a plague that happened during the era of John Calvin and Theodore Beza in which they commanded the church to still trust God in a plague and be kind to others. Therefore the conclusion is that church should continue to meet. Don’t stop Sunday services and create an environment for the sick and the poor. In addition one is to risk their own life for the sake of one’s neighbor.
What was even more concerning is what Doug Ponder said in response to a question from Melinda V. Inman about what should people do with compromised health situations? Ponder explains that he would extort people to still go to church and says that his own family is at risk. Recently one of his sons was diagnosed with a kidney condition and will probably need a transplant. Here is how the exchange went.
I am currently watching the latest White House press conference where a phalanx of health care leaders are advising people of my age with underlying health conditions, which I have, to avoid crowds, to remain at home, to cancel any trips / flying that were previously scheduled. Are you suggesting that Christians disregard these instructions to attend local services?
Doug Ponder’s response
I would never *command* someone with potentially life-threatening health conditions to throw caution to the wind. That course of action is covered, I think, under the “be wise” section.
But I would absolutely *exhort* people to go to services (among other things) as long as it’s in their power to do so. If it helps, this is not just theoretical for my family. One of our sons was recently diagnosed with a chronic kidney condition that, in addition to meaning he will likely need organ transplants for the rest of his life, also means he at much greater risk of health complications, even death, in circumstance like those I think we’re about to face.
So again, while I would not bind the consciences of my fellow believers, I would *plead* with me to follow our family’s example in glorifying God through fear-defying acts of faith that show the world there are more important things than life itself.
Hope this helps!
Remnant’s Reckless and Dangerous Behavior and an Issue in Neo-Calvinism
I normally would not say this but when I read about Doug Ponder’s son’s kidney condition and “pursuing” God even when it means placing his family at risk I have to ask, what kind of father does that? Is Doug Ponder emotionally equipped to be a father? His comment above leads me to express concern about his ability to make sound decisions even regarding his own offspring. If Doug Ponder wants to create an environment that will allow the sick to come to church, well disregarding the Center for Disease Controls’ instructions will do that. My advice to Bryan Laughlin, Doug Ponder and Josh Soto is to make sure that Remnant also purchases respirators so that they can put their members on them or their elderly relatives as they start to experience lung distress.
This article in my opinion shows a church that is reckless and a danger to the public health in Richmond. What do you do when one’s freedom to worship puts the community around it in danger? Doug quotes the Bible in all the reasons why one should not fear. But here is another question is Doug Ponder also violating Romans 13 about following civil authority and the government? The instructions by the government are for the safety and health of Richmond and the greater United States. In the case of Calvinist theology you will have people who attempt to show their faith by being “macho” will also act in foolish ways. In this case they are also violating other Neo-Calvinist theologians as well. For example Mark Dever of 9 Marks recently explains why people should not go to church during the pandemic. Doug Ponder is not only going against health guidelines but also prominent Neo-Calvinist theologians as well. You can read more about this in, “What Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman of 9 Marks are Saying About the COVID-19 Virus and Church Attendance.”
This blog has raised a number of issues about Remnant and its spiritual health over the past two years. This is another indicator as to why people should leave Remnant. A church that puts your family, friends, elderly relatives and neighbors at risk is reckless and dangerous. Its not a model of church instead its a model of being perilous. When those that continue to go to Remnant who are healthy start to transmit the COVID-19 virus to their elderly relatives and those with compromised immune systems then the damage will be too great. The fact that Remnant is not thinking of its community or neighbors troubles me deeply. Remnant is a church that this blog believes should be closed. To those who attend Remnant why would you go to a church that puts your young ones or your elderly relatives at risk? How is that glorifying God? Hopefully this post will give many people reason to toss and turn in bed and to ask, “what kind of church am I in?” If Remnant changes its decision to close this blog will write about that to be current on this quickly changing health crisis.