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COVID-19: Koinonia House Update

Greetings!

Living in isolation can be both a blessing and a curse. Separated from the normal daily routines that previously filled our busy lives, we can struggle to find things to do during this unplanned free time.

Caught in the unalterable paradigm shift that is sweeping the whole world, I think that it is safe to say that “tomorrow will not be like yesterday, next week will not be like last week, and certainly next month will not be like last month.” Therefore, we are all witnessing the sweeping away of our previous life’s markers by which we measure and direct our daily lives.

During this time, we here at Koinonia House are analyzing and reevaluating our practices as a ministry. We acutely feel that we need to be making ourselves more available to those who look to us for assistance in their discovery of and/or journey through the Bible. Therefore, we are implementing some fundamental changes that we hope will be of some practical use to you during these days of isolation.

  1. Although we have implemented a work-from-home policy for our employees in the interest of their health and safety, our North American Customer Service Department is still available to help you 7-days a week, 6:00 am to 9:00 pm Pacific Time. Our toll-free number in the USA is 1-800-KHOUSE1 (1-800-546-8731).
  2. We are still able to ship physical products from our North American office, so don’t be afraid to order what you need.
  3. We are not able to ship physical products from our New Zealand office, but digital downloads can still be purchased as normal.
  4. We have discontinued the printed version of our “Personal Update” news journal. You can still get the electronic version for free through our website, khouse.org.

Please, please let us know if there is anything that we can do to help you. We may not have the answers, but we know a God who does. Are you stuck in isolation somewhere? Are you filling your day looking at your phone for answers? Are you overwhelmed by the constant flood of bad news that seems to fill your media portals to the outside world?

I have these three practical home remedies to suggest:

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Lockdown

Foreshadowing the Final Age?

In recent weeks, the world has witnessed a global phenomenon that is unprecedented in human history. National governments, businesses, churches, and local communities have responded to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic with, what appears to be, a sudden and severe suspension of people’s individual liberties. National borders are closed, travel is restricted or completely suspended, businesses are closed, and planned public events are canceled. One of the sad results of this global crisis is the panic-driven purchasing of essential goods by a bewildered public who have been forced into unwanted and unprepared isolation. At this point, it is very hard to discern what is really going on.

As I am writing this article, I have been communicating with friends in Italy, where they have been told that all citizens must remain in their homes until further notice. Limited to “essential errands,” the Italians are forced to remain in isolation. One gentleman told us that he was not allowed even to cross town to visit his own family. Restaurants are closed, coffee bars are silent, and streets are empty.

In the midst of these initial chaotic days, I was faced with a nagging question of “How did so many give up so much so quickly?” The speed of this blitzkrieg has surprised even the most pessimistic conspiracy-theory advocate. It has been said that Knowledge is Power. Therefore, it would appear that an informed and powerful elite can easily control an ignorant public if fear blinds the minds of the masses.

Now, the purpose of this article is not to debate the reasonableness of these actions or reaction as they are related to the current WHO1 declared pandemic but to examine a possible Biblical perspective that might give us insight into this current social phenomenon. In other words, is there a future parallel to the coming subjugation of the whole world as predicted in Scripture?

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Corona Crisis and the Concentration of Control?

Former President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel stated in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” The Russian dictator Joseph Stalin stated: “Crisis alone permitted the authorities to demand – and obtain – total submission and all necessary sacrifices from its citizens.” From the beginning of history, people have given up freedom in a time of fear. Fear and insecurity caused people to give up the independence of their farms and gravitate together for protection in the first communities. They looked for someone good at fighting to be their captain.

An example of fearful people wanting a captain is in the Book of Judges 11: “And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went … unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”

After captains won victories, people showed favoritism to them and their families, leading to a concentration of power in the hands of kings. An example this was after Gideon led Israelites to victory (Judges 8): “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.”

Another example is the Roman Republic, ruled by 600 senators. When there was an attack, they created an emergency one-year position called a “dictator.” After the year of crisis, the Republic went back to business as usual. Julius Caesar took the unprecedented step of making himself dictator for life.

Crises can be natural, such as the famine in Egypt, where people surrendered not just their freedom, but their cattle, land, and lives to the Pharaoh in exchange for food.

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WorldView Wars

In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 80 percent of people surveyed say they believe America is “mainly” or “totally” split right down the middle on a wide variety of very important subjects. This clustering effect is a galvanizing together of people into their preferred circle of social paradigms.

Why is it that we mostly align on one of two sides of the same coin when we are looking at the same set of facts? Another survey says 90 percent of people claim this deep divide between opposing cluster groups is so extreme, and often hateful, that it is damaging society as a whole. That’s the only thing we all seem to agree on, which is, we all disagree. Politics has always been divisive to the extreme and sometimes even spiteful: overflowing with rage. Let’s put that one on the shelf in this article and try to find out how some historically mainline social issues of the past and present have split our moral fabric in opposite directions.

To start with, we need to do a social autopsy on a few of those social issues. Most polarizations can be traced to society coming to a fork in the road on their journey in life. The road they chose was determined by many factors, but I would like to assign a label to the roads taken. One of the roads will lead to the “material” and the other road will lead to the “spiritual”. Even though America has been deeply divided on many issues in the Republic’s short history, let’s go back to the civil war for my first illustration on the fork in the road.

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Critical Conversations

Historic divisions within the church are well documented. Arminianism versus Calvinism; Pre-millennialism versus Post-millennialism; Protestantism versus Catholicism are among the more prominent ones. Paul in the early chapters of his letter to the church at Corinth labels the division caused by sectarianism as a symptom of carnality.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Paul, for the church, makes aspirational that its members “all come to the unity of the faith”1 Chuck frequently reminded us, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity2.” This rhythmic reminder begs two questions:

  1. What are the essentials?
  2. How do we discuss facts and defend beliefs when we discuss non-essentials?

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