Love, regardless of vaccination status

Should one get vaccinated or not? There will be no official statement from the New Apostolic Church on this. Just as little as on eating meat or not, or driving combustion vehicles. The Chief Apostle explains why in his weekly circular.

“As far as I am concerned, I am vaccinated,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider writes to the Apostles around the world. “By necessity—to travel—and out of conviction.” He admits, he says, that he does not understand the arguments of the anti-vaxxers. This is often completely foreign to his way of thinking. “But this is not a reason to ostracise my brothers and sisters who do not share my opinion!”

Lately, many voices have been raised to request that the New Apostolic Church, like other Churches, take an official position in favour of vaccination against Covid. “The intention of these brothers and sisters is certainly commendable. But we will not act upon their wish.” For the Church leader, there are fundamental considerations that speak against this.

Not with spiritual authority

For one thing: “As Apostles, we have been given the authority to proclaim God’s word. Our mission is to preach the gospel.” He said that they cannot use this authority to assure the faithful that the vaccine is safe or tell them that God wants them to be vaccinated.

Secondly, an appeal by the Church without reference to the spiritual authority makes little sense. “Why should we succeed where governments, the medical profession, and the media have failed?” it says in the circular. “I very much doubt that it would change the mind of anyone who is opposed to the vaccine.”

And finally: “Some people accuse those opposed to the vaccine of lacking love for their neighbour because they are putting those around them in danger.” The same arguments are used by those who stigmatise smokers (they endanger the health of others), drivers of large vehicles (they contribute to global warming), and even meat-eaters. Following the same logic, the Church would then have to speak out against this behaviour as well. “Who should decide on the issues and according to what criteria?”

Not at war with the world out there

The Chief Apostle draws two very different lessons from the Covid crisis:

“First, many opposed to the vaccine are convinced that they hold a truth that the general public does not know.” If some New Apostolic Christians subscribe to these theories, it is perhaps because they recognise familiar structures. “For them the world, understood as everything outside the Church, is fundamentally bad.”

There were times when this was even preached in our Church. “That is why we need to watch how we proclaim the gospel,” the Chief Apostle points out. “We are not at war with the outside world, but with evil. We have been chosen to make Christ’s love known to mankind.”

The only unchanging truth

And secondly, in this unprecedented crisis, governments and experts have also shown uncertainties and issued changing, sometimes contradictory rules. This “reinforces the anti-vaxxers in their distrust of the authorities and media”.

Chief Apostle Schneider draws the following conclusion from this: “The only unchanging truth is the truth of the gospel.” Everything else is a matter of human understanding and is therefore only valid for a limited time. “Let us only use our ministerial authority to proclaim what is essential for salvation.”

The same love and concern to all

In any case, he said, the mandate of the ministers is to urge believers to base their decisions on the gospel. “In no way can we decide for them! What the Lord asks of us is that we show the same love and concern to all, regardless of their opinions and behaviour.”

One thing, however, the Chief Apostle also made clear: “As an institution, and in line with the Tenth Article of our Creed, we ensure that the rules laid down by the authorities are observed in our premises.” Because: “As far as I know, the various regulations that are in force are not contrary to God’s law.”

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Andreas Rother
Chief Apostle