My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We are now entering new territory in the global fight regarding Covid-19. Recently, the Federal Government of Canada and other provincial leaders and corporations are heading towards a “mandatory vaccination.” Such policies will undoubtedly impact many of you based on your religious convictions and conscience regarding the right to body autonomy to accept or deny medical practices. Furthermore, we have seen significant restrictions over the Christian church with her faith and practice over the last year, which Western civilization has not commonly or historically accepted. Canada has always been a nation that promotes liberty, democracy, and human rights; unfortunately, such freedoms are quickly eroding.
With the great concern of such erosions since March 2020, I am writing this open letter. First, as a Christian and as an ordained minister in Baptist ministry, I firmly hold to the Supremacy of Christ and His rule over the
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
(Colossians 1:16-19 ESV)
I also hold to the historic doctrines of the Reformation, in which Sola Scriptura became a focus. This doctrine is vital, as it highlights that neither tradition nor the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) has the church’s final authority. Only Scripture is the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice. Tradition and papal interference were just as harmful in the past as civil interference is now, and one must never forget that. As such, civil interference with the church is not permitted. Such truth is cemented into the Westminster Confession of Faith, where it says;
Civil authorities may not take on themselves the ministering of God’s word and the sacraments, the administration of spiritual power, or any interference with matters of faith. Nevertheless, it is the duty of civil authorities to protect the church of our Lord, without giving preference to any denomination of Christians, so that every person with church affiliations or duties will be able to function with complete and unquestioned freedom. Since Jesus Christ has directed the establishment of regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any civil government should interfere with, abridge, or hinder the proper exercise of church government among the voluntary members of Christian denominations, acting in accordance with their own professed beliefs
(The Westminister Confession of Faith, The Westminster Divines, 1646 Chapter 23).
As a Reverend and brother in Christ, I will not act as or claim to understand all of the science and medical information available. However, there is an objection to the state restricting media, science, and other medical professionals from providing important information needed to make a proper and informed decision over our health. With this, I cannot and will not in good conscience restrict any person from their public, corporate worship of Jesus Christ for any reason.
It is a violation of Scripture (sin) to limit any person to enter the assembly of Christ and to show partiality to any person based on their wealth, position or medical status (James 2:1-8). Based on these deep-rooted convictions, as a Pastor, I will not comply or act as an enforcement agent on any restrictions the civil magistrate attempts to put on followers of Jesus Christ in their worship of Him.
Secondly, since 2020, we have seen churches close, and “pastors” fail in their responsibilities to undershepherd the flock. Whether it be through cowardice, financial motives, or feelings of pressure, they have attacked the authority of the church, twisted (either knowingly or not) passages relating to civil government, and have denied historic confessions on church and state issues. It is not my purpose to address everything in this letter, but closing down churches and imposing extreme measures for one to practice the ordinances of the Christian faith is evidence enough. I am calling pastors, elders, editors, and those contributing to this sin to repentance and to make a public reform over such things (including The Gospel Coalition and The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches).
With this said, I make this resolution to you, the flock of Christ, in which I have been called to undershepherd (as well as to any individual looking for safe pasture in these troubling times). I will not ask nor require any medical proof of mask exemption or proof of vaccination from any person in order to minister to them. Further, I will not enforce any such requirement from the civil government. The ordinances of the Christian faith will be available to all at all times. I am also resolved that if the state determines that practicing Christianity, which is protected by rights and freedoms enshrined by the Canadian Bill of Rights (1960, c 44) and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is illegal; or demands any violation of conscience based off law or direction from a medical officer, I will follow conscience and not comply. Regardless of the penalty being financial or imprisonment.
Lastly, please join me in prayer for sitting justices to uphold the law faithfully, for sworn police officers (who have taken an oath to protect the citizens of Canada and their Charter rights) to rise above the pressures and speak up, and for elected officials to awaken and once again stand for what is right and true. May Scripture and this letter help you as you think upon these matters during these difficult times. Your fellow servant in Christ,
Reverend. Steve Bainbridge
The Mill Christian Fellowship