Viral Vaccine Vacillation
The approval and rollout of two Covid vaccines in the UK has been heralded by many as the answer we have been waiting for, and it has birthed hope that we may be able to return to some level of normality in 2021. However, not everyone is so pleased about the vaccines or so confident that they are such good news.
Some are raising understandable questions about the safety of the vaccines. It is wise to ask about the safety of any new medicine or vaccine, and the incredible speed with which these vaccines have been developed may make us even more inclined to do so in this case. We can benefit from looking into this and learning about the rigorous safeguards put in place for the testing and approval of new vaccines.
But these are not the only concerns being raised. A number of different ideas are circulating both online and offline. Some are convinced that the vaccines contain microchips which will be used to track and control those who receive them. Bill Gates is often believed to be one of the key masterminds behind this idea. There are also claims that the vaccines will alter DNA or that they contain fetal tissue. In Christian circles, some of these ideas are then being linked to concepts such as the mark of the beast in Revelation 13.
Many of us will dismiss these ideas as conspiracy theories and will assume that they will gain little traction among the people around us. I think that was probably my position initially, but over the past few weeks I have heard of people in UK churches who are considering or are even fully convinced of some of these ideas, and I have been approached by people in pastoral ministry unsure of what ideas are circulating and how to respond to them. For those of us in leadership, this is something we need to be informed about in order to be able to engage with people in helpful ways.
Since the internet has been part of the problem in the circulation of these ideas, it can be hard to know where is best to turn to find helpful engagement with them. Here are some resources I have found helpful.
There are a number of useful fact-checking articles that look at some of the misinformation circulating about the virus.
John Wyatt also continues to serve us well with both a FAQs article on the vaccines, offering helpful responses to questions about safety and the various theories, and a podcast on coronavirus misinformation.
Many of us will encounter these ideas about the vaccines because some Christians are linking them to certain passages in Revelation.
Last summer, Ian Paul posted a helpful article which talks more generally about the pandemic and the Book of Revelation and the ways in which it does and doesn’t speak to us about our day and age.
Over at the Logos Academic Blog, Tavis Bohlinger has a useful piece on ‘COVID-19 and the Mark of the Beast’, and Matthew L. Halsted directly addresses connections between the coronavirus vaccines the mark of the beast in ‘The Covid Vaccine has 666 Written All Over It…and Why that Doesn’t Matter According to Revelation’.
A Moment of Opportunity
Within the mess of this misinformation, there are also opportunities. There’s an opportunity to talk about truth, its importance and the fact that it needn’t be afraid of careful examination. We can talk about common grace and God’s kindness to us in the provision of scientists, scientific understanding, and medical technology. And we can talk about eschatology. In the context of fear about the mark of the beast, we can offer peace as we share the good news of the mark of the lamb (Revelation 7:3; 14:1).