Question: What is the position of the Continuing Church of God on getting vaccines?
Answer: Jesus said Christians should not live in fear (cf. Luke 12:32), but look forward to His return and the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
The Bible teaches that all people should try to live healthy lives (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 3 John 2) and should strive to eat what is good (Isaiah 55:2). All people should practice proper sanitation (Deuteronomy 23:12). All human should strive to avoid sin (e.g Romans 6:12; Ephesians 4:26).
Because of disobedience and other factors, many diseases afflict people (cf. Deuteronomy 28:58-61). Furthermore, scientists have produced various strains of difficult to treat infectious agents—which is something that should not ever have ever been done.
Instead of sufficiently striving to live according to God’s ways, society has developed modern medicine, genetically-modified organisms, and vaccines. Many of which have sometimes had undesirable consequences.
Vaccines, of themselves, are not bad. Some aspects of modern medicine can be good. Vaccines have helped prevent some diseases (like Yellow Fever) that even proper sanitary practices do not prevent. However, vaccines do not react the same in all people and some people have serious, and in rare instances fatal, reactions to them. Vaccines do not benefit every individual.
Various court decisions in the United States have upheld the rights of individuals seeking exemptions from immunizations/inoculations/vaccinations based upon “personal” religious beliefs (e.g. Sherr and Levy vs. Northport East-Northport Union Free School District, 672 F. Supp. 81, (E.D.N.Y., 1987); (Allanson vs. Clinton Central School District, U.S. District Court, Northern District Court, Northern District of New York (84 CV 174), 1984; Campain vs. Marlboro Central School District, Supreme Court Ulster County Special Term, November 15, 1985; Brown vs. City School District, 429 NYS2d 355; Maier vs, Betat 73 Misc2d 241).
Most nations have some provisions for not getting vaccinated, though since COVID-19, some prior provisions have been overridden (and this includes in the USA).
Some professions and others for various reasons may need to (or be required to) get one or more vaccines or other medical interventions and the Church does not prohibit this.
The Church also holds that we, as a body, are to work to fulfill Jesus’ commissions listed in scriptures such as Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:19-20, and Mark 16:15. These commissions involve reaching people in all nations. Hence, some individuals may wish to voluntarily receive vaccinations or comply with various medical guidelines which will allow them to travel to support the commission or otherwise support the work.
The Church holds the doctrinal position of “that which is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Therefore, being immunized/inoculated/vaccinated/medically-treated could constitute sin for someone based on their beliefs.
Because many issues with vaccines and medicines, as well as individual reactions to them, the Church fully supports any members request for exemption from immunization/inoculation/vaccination/medical intervention for his/her self. Church of God members, have requested exemptions from vaccinations (and some other medical procedures) since the 20th century, which is the century that vaccines became more widely used and available. In the Continuing Church of God we do give written requests for religious exemption to vaccines to actual members who request them.
It is not the position of the Church to tell someone if they must or must not receive a vaccine or some other medical intervention.
As the Apostle Paul wrote:
5 … Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)
Yes, the Bible supports individual choice in matters like this.
Count the cost (cf. Luke 14:28) and consider getting wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14) when making a vaccine or non-vaccine decision. When making decisions for children, also be cognizant of local laws.
It has always been my (Bob Thiel’s) view that if, in order to travel for church reasons or perform regular work (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 3:10), etc, my family (or others) would have to get a vaccine, we would consider doing so as we do not consider it biblically prohibited nor is it “the mark of the beast.”
In our family’s case, none of our sons were vaccinated as children as we saw no real need for them then.
In early 2021, my wife Joyce and I concluded that in order to go to Australia or Puerto Rico for the Feast of Tabernacles as well as for other travel to Europe on CCOG business, we may have to get a COVID vaccine to help fulfill Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, etc., even if there may be dangers (cf. Mark 8:35, 16:18). Other speakers from the USA who intended to go to foreign lands for the Feast of Tabernacles had to either forgo going or get one or more legally-approved shots in order to enter those lands (and most, if not all, took supplements to reduce actual and potential side-effects).
This does not mean any of us placed our trust in vaccines nor that we trust the pharmaceutical industry.
The new COVID-19 vaccines seem to be quite different from most earlier vaccines, and hence may cause problems in some people that no one has anticipated. Notice the following:
There is a race to get the public vaccinated, … these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients.
In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects. … there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions. …
MICHAL LINIAL, a professor of biological chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Post … that “mRNA is a very fragile molecule, meaning it can be destroyed very easily… If you put mRNA on the table, for example, in a minute there will not be any mRNA leftover. This is as opposed to DNA, which is as stable as you get.” … she said several questions remain, such as whether these vaccines will really be able to mount a sufficiently protective immune response and how long that immunity would last.
“It would be the worst [scenario] if people behave like they are immune but can still become infected,” Linial said. (Jaffe-Hoffman M. Could mRNA COVID-19 vaccines be dangerous in the long-term? Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2020)
Since that came out, the mRNA ‘vaccines’ have proven to be very fragile, which is one of the reasons that many are advising ‘boosters.’ And, many who have gotten vaccinated have been infected—though they tend to have less severe symptoms than the unvaccinated who get various versions of COVID.
Furthermore, we do not agree with the “expert” Dr. Anthony Fauci’s statement, “If you want to be fully protected, get boosted” (12/30/21 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/anthony-fauci-covid-vaccine-booster-omicron/) as that is scientifically inaccurate. Humanly speaking, the way to be “fully protected” is to be far away from any who may have been exposed–many who have gotten the COVID-boosters have still gotten some version of COVID.
Human “health experts” do not know ALL. Unlike God, whose understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), humans are limited, have biases, and simply cannot know everything. There can always be unintended consequences with medical interventions, including vaccines, for many reasons (including biochemical individuality).
Currently, many governmental leaders want to force vaccines and sometimes pretend that such pressure is voluntary–despite the short testing time, and relatively recent release, for the COVID ones they are in the process of pressuring people to take.
My wife and I recognize that there are health risks associated with pretty much all vaccines (and many medical interventions), and many of those risks are not known until years after people get vaccinated and/or treated.
Personally, I prefer more natural approaches to medical ones. And despite working with people of ill health for decades, I have not taken a prescription Rx since being persuaded to take a total of three pills over as many days in late 1977.
That being said, many overly tout what they call “natural interventions” to deal with issues that they do not always properly help with. And even if natural interventions do help (for example I have successfully treated people with viruses), airlines, most companies, and the majority of government officials often do not count them as legitimate–and hence we will see much pressure towards pushing vaccines as well as other medical interventions.
In the case of COVID, the most currently available vaccines have been reported to make many feel ill. But their use is something much of society is pushing.
Europe essentially now has a COVID vaccine passport as do various national governments. Without vaccine proof, travel, restaurants, shopping, and even work may be prohibited.
Back in 1885, the US government would not allow foreigners to enter the country without proof of a smallpox vaccination. For about 70 years, Yellow Fever vaccines, which are made involving mouse embryos, have been required to enter multiple nations, particularly in Africa.
Yes, biblically-unclean animals (cf. Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14) have often been used to make vaccines, and it has been stated that aborted fetal tissues have sometimes been involved. Also, there are various neurotoxins that are regularly used.
This does not mean that we must avoid all vaccines, but we need to use wisdom and place our true confidence in God. In order to visit and evangelize in many African nations, numerous Church of God ministers and members received that vaccine from the 20th century to present.
In the 1980s, the old Worldwide Church of God taught that ingredients in medications or shots which may be unclean to eat as food, were not prohibited for Christians to use. This was consistent with earlier statements it published in the 1970s related to “Insulin, whether of chemical or animal origin” (e.g. Hoeh H. Healing: Teaching and Administration. The Bulletin of the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College, September 23, 1974, p. 495) and Yellow Fever (e.g. Schroeder D. THE MOST NEGLECTED KEY TO BETTER HEALTH. Plain Truth, January 1977, p. 8). It also taught:
Paul expressed to the Roman Christians: “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10 ).
And: “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (verse 13).
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (verse 8). (Hoeh, p. 495)
Speaking of the old Worldwide Church of God, it sent ministers and their wives to various nations in places like Africa that will NOT let one enter without one or more vaccines. Though some seem to think that means that the door to proclaim the gospel to those lands is closed, that is not how the old WCG viewed it nor how the CCOG currently views it (cf. Romans 11:25).
Those positions are consistent with the words of Jesus, who said:
35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35)
Jesus (e.g. John 7:1-10) and the Apostle Paul (e.g. Acts 21:7-15) were willing to go into areas that held danger, not to test God, but to reach those they were supposed to reach (e.g. Acts 21:13).
It is good to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God to the world (cf. Romans 10:14-15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 96:2-3). The Book of Proverbs teaches:
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. (Proverbs 3:27)
And that is a reason many in the Churches of God have gotten various vaccines since the 20th century to reach people. We are to go where we can, and not rely on excuses (cf. Proverbs 26:13, 28:1).
Notice also something from the New Testament:
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:8-9)
Yes, GOD is able to make all grace abound towards those doing His work—which can include dispersing the word of God abroad (2 Corinthians 9:10-12).
We must be willing to risk all in this life to be Christians. The Apostle Paul wrote:
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Being a “living sacrifice” sometimes that involves pain and difficulties.
Furthermore, consider also that the fulness/full number of the Gentiles must come in before Jesus returns (cf. Romans 11:25-26) and many Gentiles dominate lands that require one or more vaccines to enter.
As mentioned before, scriptures like Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, and Mark 16:15 make it clear we are to reach people of lands all around the world. Furthermore, the principal in Mark 16:18 that those who do such proclamation will not be harmed by “deadly poison” (ESV) or “deadly things” (LSV) is also consistent with being willing to take a vaccine to ‘do the work.’
That being said, the world is moving more towards a type of religion that agrees with governments who often have little tolerance for those who hold minority views. Freedom of religion and freedom to make personal health decisions is being taken away around the world.
The vaccine situation is complicated, so you should do your own research. Be careful, however, as both pro- and anti-vaxxers are not always forthcoming and have been shown to exaggerate beyond real facts and/or make other inaccurate claims.
The CCOG cannot make the vaccine decision for you. But can declare that it is not biblically-wrong to get one for the sensible or biblical reasons.
“Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).