Istruzioni e Dichiarazioni/Dichiarazione di Warrenton/English
The Warrenton Statement on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority
With the rise of COVID-19 and all of the attendant ramifications, it has been incumbent upon the church to come to terms with what it believes related to the intersecting areas of biblical ethics, authority, and medical mandates.
Unfortunately, due to a pervasive lack of understanding on these issues coupled with a tendency to over-attribute power and jurisdiction to the state, often times churches have defaulted to almost reflexively acquiescing to whatever government health agency statements are made and the policies they put in place. Rather than leading on these issues, pastors often become little more than mouth pieces for government health agencies who then are used by these same agencies to help carry out their bidding.
The reasons given for following such policies and mandating them in the local church are not typically justified by well rounded and systematic understanding of the whole counsel of Scripture on authority and what it means to love one’s neighbor as thyself. Instead the rationale given is usually disjointed, unbalanced, and confused.
To that end The Warrenton Statement on Medical Mandates and Biblical Authority was crafted in order to provide doctrinal and logical clarity on these issues, to equip local churches and their officers to provide clarity on where they stand, and to equip individuals who are being mistreated in their churches with a well-ordered summary of belief in this regard.
Section 1 – Authority
- We affirm that the only authority who has total and unlimited authority and jurisdiction is Christ Jesus, upon whom all true and Godly authority in heaven and earth is vested (Is. 9:6-7; Dan. 7:13-14; Col. 1:15-20; Matt. 28:18).
- We affirm that delegated, earthly authorities have been instituted by God as servants of God to function as a blessing to those in their jurisdiction through their Godly governance and rule according to His law (Rom. 13:1; Rom. 13:3-5; 1 Pet. 2:13). These may be civil authorities (Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-14), ecclesiastical authorities (Heb. 13:17), vocational authorities (1 Pet. 2:18), familial authorities (Eph. 6:1; 1 Pet. 3:1), and self-government (Prov. 25:28; Rom. 12:1-2; Mk. 12:31; Lev. 19:18; 1Pet. 2:16).
- We affirm that to ascribe total jurisdiction to any human authority is idolatry, since this kind of unlimited authority is reserved only for Christ Jesus (Is. 9:6-7; Dan. 7:13-14; Col. 1:15-20; Matt. 28:18). This establishes limits to the jurisdictional authority of all subordinate offices that exist under the authority of Christ.
- We deny that that the civil authorities that do exist have unlimited jurisdiction.
- We affirm that the scriptural jurisdictional limits of delegated human authority are also established by good and necessary consequence given that various offices are said in scripture to be required to be obeyed “in everything” (Col 3:20, 22; Eph 5:24; Tit 2:9) . The sense in which “in everything” is used in these verses cannot mean that obedience is obligatory for all commands regardless of their ethical morality since scripture also teaches Christian disobedience to sinful or abusive commands (Acts 5:29, Ex 1:15-20). “In everything” also cannot mean that obedience is obligatory for all non-sinful commands, since scripture also establishes multiple offices of human authority (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet 2:18; Eph 6:1; Romans 13:1). These offices may at times conflict, thus requiring Christians to consider which authority is acting within their rightful jurisdiction to determine if obedience is required. Thus, commands to obey “in everything” must refer to the obligation of Christians to obey all non-sinful commands of true authorities which are also within the proper jurisdiction of the authority giving the command.
- We deny that biblical commands to obey authorities, whether civil, ecclesiastical, familial, or vocational “in everything” (Tit. 2:9; Col. 3:20, 22; Eph 5:24) can be construed to negate the roles of their respective jurisdictions which Scripture also teaches (Rom. 13:3-4; Gen. 1:26-28; Deut. 6:6-7; Prov. 22:6, 23:13-14; 1 Tim. 5:3-16, 6:1-2; Eph. 6:1; 1 Cor. 11:3).
- We affirm that in instances where a Christian’s responsibilities to God and his fellow man are not harmed, the Christian may choose to obey some unjust commands when such commands can be obeyed without engaging in sin. This may be because compliance with the command is forced upon them or because, in lieu of retaliation, compliance is rendered in order to further expose the wickedness of the command and incur the future sympathies of the tyrant (Matt 5:38-42).
- We deny that any human or group of humans who claim to be civil authorities are in actuality, recognized by God to be civil authorities, solely by virtue of their claims to that authority or the claims of those who support them.
- We affirm that true civil authorities are legitimate to the extent they, as appointed by God, bear the sword to fulfill the description of what civil authorities are in scripture, namely, that they punish evil and praise good (Rom. 13:3-4; 1 Pet. 2:14) according to their civil office and jurisdiction.
- We affirm that civil magistrates have lawful authority to punish civil crimes like assault (Ex. 21:18-19), murder (Gen. 9:5; Ex. 21:12), rape (Deut. 22:25), theft (Ex. 22:1), fraud (Lev. 19:35-36; Deut. 25:13-16), man-stealing (Ex. 21:16), and false witness (Deut. 19:15-19), and to ensure proper due process through the civil courts, payment of liability for verifiably proven harm (Ex. 21:33) and proportionality of punishment (Deut. 16:18-20, 17:6, 19:15-21).
- We affirm that Christians should obey the biblically lawful instructions and commands of earthly authorities to the extent of their proper, God-ordained, role and jurisdiction (Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:13).
- We deny that the Pauline era reign of Emperor Nero can be credibly invoked to invalidate the limiting description of what constitutes legitimate civil authority in Romans 13:3-4. First, this is due to the clear witness of Scripture regarding the identity and characteristics of legitimate biblical civil authority (Rom. 13:3-4); and second, to the fact that the Neronic persecution did not begin until the great fire of Rome in 64 AD, which was seven years after the writing of the book of Romans (57 AD).
- We deny that the specific authority granted to Pilate to execute Christ Jesus according to God’s plan of redemption (Jn. 19:10-11) is evidence of a general principle of civil governance whereby civil magistrates retain legitimate authority to do evil even or make any commands outside the bounds of their jurisdiction.
- We deny that the only reason one may lawfully disobey an authority is if they are commanded to sin by that authority.
- We affirm that disobedience is also permissible should any command be given outside of the jurisdiction of the particular authority. For example, civil governments have in the past enacted one or two child policies to deter what they see as “overpopulation.” Though it is no sin for a married couple to have only one or two children, such a family would not be in sin should they disobey the civil authority’s command and have additional children. Regulating family size is not within the jurisdiction of the civil or ecclesiastical governments, but of family government (Gen. 1:26-28), even if the alleged purpose of such an order is purported to be for the “public good.”
Section 2 – Application to Medical Mandates
- We deny that the civil authorities have been granted lawful jurisdiction and authority over personal, familial, or “public” health.
- We deny that the leprosy-related passages in Leviticus 13 & 14 teach the general principle that civil government has unqualified and legitimate jurisdiction over managing “public health.”
- We affirm that the leprosy passages are related not to managing the spread of biological contagion, but of ceremonial uncleanliness as is evidenced by the fact that for typological reasons, the man covered head-to-toe in white leprosy was declared clean (Lev. 13:13). This rules out the notion that the threat was biological contagion. Moreover, the blight also afflicted houses (Lev. 14:34) and garments (Lev. 13:47). These ceremonial practices associated with the now defunct Levitical Priesthood have been made obsolete by Christ’s greater Priesthood, and cannot be credibly cited as providing civil government with jurisdiction over “public health.”
- We deny that civil authorities have lawful jurisdiction to remove any person’s God-given rights without proper and biblical due process of law. This includes the right of each individual to pursue their livelihood and conduct their affairs in public.
- We deny that civil governments have lawful authority to enact “lockdowns” predicated on protecting “public health” as this is not their jurisdiction.
- We affirm that individuals are free to restrict their own movement about society to this end should they deem it wise to do so. They may not lawfully demand that civil government employ force on their behalf to restrict the liberty of others.
- We deny that such violations of medical freedom by the civil government, or the subsequent mandating of vaccines and masks are rightly justified on the basis of the claim that unmasked or unvaccinated persons “present a general danger to the health of the public due to viral spread.”
- We deny that the existence of communicable viruses or the invention of vaccinations creates a new standard of morality whereby a healthy person simply conducting their affairs in society without vaccination or wearing a mask is evidence of criminally or morally reckless behavior. If such a standard for violation of medical freedom is adopted, conceivably, civil governments could permanently regulate and restrict every facet of life since according to this same rationale, various flu-like viruses can be unknowingly spread at all times. Further, there are a host of other far more deadly dangers such as heart disease, which, like virus-related hospitalizations, also place a burden on the health system. The civil government does not then gain authority to ban soda intake for obese individuals.
- We affirm that a biblically faithful view of the civil government sphere as well as the ecclesiastical government sphere provides no lawful jurisdiction for civil magistrates or ecclesiastical authorities to mandate or in any way coerce individuals to inject substances into themselves or their children or cover their mouths, noses, face, or any combination thereof, with masks.
- We affirm that any civil or ecclesiastical authority that attempts to coerce individuals or their children with any form of public banishment, fine, imprisonment, social ostracism, or other forms of coercion are ascribing to themselves authority not delegated by God and are in grievous sin.
- We affirm that any attempt to impede fellowship in the body by a believer on these grounds is also divisiveness and, unless repented of, is grounds for excommunication.
- We affirm that it is a Christian duty to seek the well-being of their neighbor.
- We deny that personal and family decisions to decline vaccination or the wearing of masks are necessarily out-of-step with the biblical command to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39); provided one is not seeking to hold his neighbor to a standard of masking and vaccination he does not apply to himself.
- We affirm that those who seek to bind the conscience of the believer by insisting that conformity with mask or vaccination mandates is the only way for a Christian to fulfill the command to “love one’s neighbor as oneself” are treating the traditions of man as the commandments of God. These individuals are themselves guilty of twisting the Scriptures and are effectively subjecting the law of God to the ever-changing and conflicting whims of “public health” agencies, the latest medical study, or majority opinion.
- We deny that choosing to decline a church officer’s request to wear a mask is in any way evidence of rebellion against ecclesiastical authority since the ecclesiastical office does not hold jurisdiction over personal or familial health decisions.
- We deny that all instances of requiring masks for church meetings are necessarily sinful or divisive in such cases where the meeting is held at a venue where the property managers are not the local church and such property managers require mask wearing for entrance. This is a property issue. In such cases, those who choose not to fellowship because of the mask mandate at the meeting venue should not be said to be in violation of any biblical commands regarding regularly meeting with the saints. If possible, church officers should seek to secure a meeting venue where the local congregation will not be forced to exclude non-masking individuals due to the whims of the building owner.
- We deny that conformity to a given recommended course of medical action is made to be civilly or morally obligatory by appeals to an alleged “majority” of expert opinion, or available medical data.
- We affirm that maintaining personal health and personal health decisions, including decisions about which medical interventions to adopt or forego, are the role and jurisdiction of each individual and their family.
- We deny that such areas are the jurisdiction of civil or ecclesiastical authorities.
- We affirm that it is anti-scriptural and abusive for a parent to deny any and all medical interventions to their children with the rationale that all medical intervention is, as a category, evidence of a lack of faith in God (1st Tim 5:23). In cases where such neglect and abuse are present and predicated on this rationale, this is not a matter of medical freedom. This then becomes the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate.
- We deny that if a parent chooses to forego a given medical intervention such as a vaccine for other reasons, such as not being convinced of the short and long term risk profile or effectiveness of a given action or non-action, that this means the parent is guilty of neglect or abuse, regardless of what recommendations they have or haven’t received from their doctors.