I have autism. As such, I don’t like to be touched by other people or to be around a crowd. I am usually faced with both at church every Sunday morning, but not this week. When I got to church this morning, I was very happy to learn that the pastor had discouraged all activity that involved touching. There was no hand-shaking greeter at the front door, there was no handshaking during the service greeting time, and we didn’t hold hands to pray in Sunday school. The church, First Baptist of Cartersville, is taking precautions due to concerns about the coronavirus, which has shown up in a neighboring county.
FBC is not alone in its behavior; churches across the country are doing the same. Most conspicuous (and ironic), however, are the precautions being taken by Bethel Church in Redding, California. Bethel Church is a New Apostolic Reformation church that makes regular claims of divine healing and even features “Healing Rooms” for which, due to their popularity, attendees are expected to register. This weekend, though, amid the coronavirus scare, which is especially prevalent in California, Bethel Church’s Healing Rooms were closed.
Of it’s Healing Rooms, Bethel Church writes:
“The Healing Rooms is a ministry that is pursuing the Holy Spirit and His healing power. We are creating a place for Him to bring life, wholeness and love to those who are suffering from physical ailments. It is a place where passionate, joy-filled believers gather to host the presence of God and see Him bring complete restoration and healing…Due to the high demand for our ministry, our focus is not on emotional healing or spiritual deliverance.”https://bethelredding.com/content/healing-rooms
Bethel couldn’t be any more clear that its Healing Rooms are for physical healing. Yet, in the middle of California’s worst public health crisis in recent memory, its Healing Rooms are closed. Seventeen people in the United States have already died of coronavirus, including one in California. The worldwide death toll is much higher – over 3,000. Bethel Church, for all its claims of miraculous healing power, is just as incapable, if not less, as the atheistic Chinese government at curing people of coronavirus. Shutting down during a viral epidemic should prove, once and for all, that Bethel Church’s leaders are absolute charlatans.
Personally, my faith in my church or my God was not eroded this morning when handshaking was suspended. I understand exactly why it was done. It was done for the exact same reason Bethel shut down its own Healing Rooms – concern over public health. The difference between Bethel and any other church is that Bethel claims to have special healing power. If you know someone who has been caught up in the wild claims and errant theology of Bethel Church, please use this situation to reason with them. Perhaps God will providentially use the coronavirus scare to point those deceived by Bethel towards sincere and biblical Christian faith.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. I am not a member of FBC Cartersville, and this blog does not carry the endorsement of the church’s leadership. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.