The other day I had a conversation with a person who is in an EFCA church. My question was why aren’t evangelicals praying for the sick or for a vaccine to be found? Instead of preying what I am seeing is some evangelicals in social media and elsewhere saying that the virus is a hoax and no different than the flu. That horrifies me to be frank. Yesterday I saw something in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that I wanted to emphasize. While many evangelicals tend to be in conflict with science the other day Henry Williams who leads an EFCA church in Woodbury, Minnesota prayed for scientists to find a vaccine against the coronavirus and for the scientists as they work to resolve the issue. It was a refreshing take I wanted to single out.
“Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God.“
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matthew 5:44 NIV
The Yosemite Valley in California.
This blog points out and writes about the issues with evangelicalism. One of the issues with Evangelical Christianity is the topic of prayer. In my view prayer is cheep, shoddy and flippant. When an evangelical says I am going to pray for you that is the evangelical version of saying “bless your heart” in the south. I wrote about my thoughts with prayer in, “A Lesson in How Many Evangelical Christians Do Not Care About Prayer.” The other day I was having a conversation with someone involved in an EFCA church and we were discussing the COVID-19 situation. This guy was frustrated because everything was done by Facetime and more and he missed seeing people. As for myself I have passed out of church a while back and am mostly done with the evangelical concept of church. But when I was talking with this individual I asked him the following. You have a lot of evangelicals who claim to proclaim God. Yet in the midst of a pandemic where are they? Why aren’t they praying for the doctors or nurses on the front-lines of this infectious disease? Why aren’t they praying for people who are sick? Why aren’t they praying for a cure or a vaccine? If its happening then I am not seeing it happen. I am seeing other people appreciate the medical professionals but evangelicals have been silent. What I have been seeing is a group of evangelicals who have subscribed to the belief that COVID-19 is a hoax and no different than the flu. For many evangelicals what is happening is that Fox News has substituted their Bible. And their ignorance of scripture has been compounded by the evangelical culture wars. You can read more in, “When Fox News Competes Against the Pastor in the COVID-19 Era. Also When the Coronavirus Epidemic is Over What Will the Death Toll Be for White Evangelicals Who Consume Fox?”
Its in that mindset that I learned about something in an EFCA church in Minnesota. Five Oaks Church is in Woodbury. Woodbury is a part of the Minneapolis – Saint Paul metropolitan area. Five Oaks is led by Henry Williams. Williams according to my research is from the Miami, Florida area. Henry Williams has earned degrees from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Boston University. Henry did something the other day that got this blog’s attention, and its something that I wanted to write about. In a pandemic Henry actually prayed for scientists to find a vaccine.
When Evangelicals Usually Conflict with Science Henry Williams Prays for Scientists to Find a Vaccine
One key characteristic of evangelicalism from my perspective is their rejection of science. Many evangelicals are fighting the same wars the Catholic church fought in the 1600’s. Then you have the Scopes trial legacy which resulted in more people embracing fundamentalism. What is the legacy of that in my view? I would include Ken Ham’s ark park in northern Kentucky and a hostile view on science or one that embraces alternative facts. Now to be fair the Calvinists tend to be more intellectual and more open in this area. And I think that is where Henry Williams is coming from.
But against my criticism of evangelicalism and the problems that continue I say something the other day that I wanted to write about. On Facebook Henry Williams prayed for scientists to find a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. This is what Hnery Williams posted on Facebook. “Today I’m going to pray for scientists. Praying that they have clarity on how the virus is spread so that people can be more protected, for them to have wisdom as they make recommendations to government leaders and individual citizens, and insight as they search for vaccines and ways of treating the sick.” I was impressed when I saw that and found it refreshing. It actually was one of the very issues I raised the other day in criticism. So this blog wants to give a shout out to Henry Williams. What is also nice is that Henry seems to strike a balance. His prayer acknowledges the work that needs to be done by science to find a vaccine. The best faith from my perspective is one that merges both faith and science. Because in the end it will be the scientists who will eventually find a vaccine. But to support them with prayer is encouraging. Its nice to see something positive especially when you tend to see the problems with faith and religion as this blog does quite frequently. My hope is that other EFCA churches will follow this pattern. This blog hopes that those inside Five Oaks Church and the greater EFCA’s North Central District remain safe during this difficult time.