Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
Tillsonburg Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Steve Richardson says he will continue to hold services regardless of government restrictions and fines. He spoke with Diverge Media Tuesday regarding the state of church in the western world and says that the government is deciding what’s right and not right — regardless that schools and churches have the same safety and risk factors.
Richardson was fined on Dec. 27 for conducting an indoor service that exceeded the indoor limit of 10 people as per set by the province of Ontario. He was then issued a court summons on Feb. 7. That matter is now before the courts.
Q: “Are you allowed to share your date for your court summons and what does than entail?”
Richardson said he will be appearing via a phone call for his court summons on April 1st, 2021.
“I have a legal representation and we plan to challenge the constitutionality of what is happening,” he said. The implications I think of this case are going to be far-reaching. It’s not just going to be about whether I have to pay a fine or go to prison or something like that. It’s going to impact others I think across the province.”
Q: “Why do you believe the government keeps giving big box stores a pass but want churches closed?”
“Their standard is the standard — morality is decided by the government,” Richardson told Diverge Media. They say it’s safe to eat, but what they’re saying is that the government decides what’s safe and not safe, the government decides what’s right and what’s not right and so when it comes to the box stores and everything else — I don’t know if there is a hidden agenda there, I do think that there is certainly principalities and powers at play … but certainly it is fascinating to see the public fury.”
Q: “Do you believe these restrictions are a violation of Canadian’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”
“Yes absolutely because we have guaranteed under the Charter the freedom to practice our religion without interference and at the moment we are being interfered with. I’ve actually heard the question ‘well your religious freedoms they are not being interfered with.’ The irony of course in that is that those are not people that are familiar with our religion, they’re people who wouldn’t be able to recite the ten commandments. The civ of truth is that we have a duty to obey God, we owe our allegiance to Jesus Christ and he has commanded us to gather at least once a week to worship him and for prayer, for preaching and for the administration of sacraments and there is no church without gathering — there just simply isn’t,” he said.
Q: “What is your opinion on churches who continue to abide by government restrictions and continue to host just virtual services?”
“Well they are going to have to answer to God. I believe there is going to come a day where many of them — particularly the leaders in those churches are going to feel the piecing gaze of Christ even as Christ looked on Peter who had denied him and they are going to weep bitterly. I believe a day is coming where they will realize how profoundly they have dishonoured Jesus Christ,” said Richardson.
“As far as I’m concerned — those churches have un-churched themselves — at the moment they don’t deserve the name church. They have ceased to be churches and I’m personally utterly appalled honestly because the thing is — and we do hear from people who are living in persecuted countries — some who have been imprisoned and they don’t understand the western predicament. They don’t understand how anyone can take Romans 13 for example and say therefore we must stop worshipping God — they’ve been worshipping God with our the permission of their governments all along.”
Q: “Why do you think people are so quick to point to Romans 13:1 rather than other passages in Acts, Matthew, Hebrews and others?”
“To justify the course of action that they have already decided on,” said Richardson. “Most of these men were not prepared to take the hard painful road of suffering and so they took a text to justify the decision they had already made. It’s like what people do in other areas — people are masters of taking the scriptures and using them to justify courses of action that their own conscious’ tell them are wrong.”
“Romans 13 is actually plain — it’s very clear there that the authority that the civil magistrate has is borrowed authority … it comes from God. So the idea that you would disobey God in order to obey the civil authorities is utter nonsense … I use the illustration of a babysitter.”
The illustration is as such; The babysitter comes in and I tell the kids that you obey the babysitter but if the babysitter were to tell the kids to do something that I have forbidden that they know is against my home rules then they better disobey the babysitter.
Q: “Have you seen your congregations need for in-person church services and how did that manifest itself?”
“Well because we have continued to gather, we haven’t really seen the desperate need. However, what’s interesting is that we’ve had people driving from as far as Peterborough, Chatham way and they are doing this because they’re that desperate for fellowship prayer and worship. So there is clearly a hunger out there and I continue to get notes from people all over Canada saying — on one hand encouraging us but talking about a desire to be with us if they could,” he said.
“In fact there is one young man who is planning on moving here from another province simply because he wants to be a part of a church that would gather with or without the permission of the authorities. So he’s thinking long-term but I don’t know how necessary that is but I certainly wonder if this lockdown when it ends will not be the last but we might find ourselves in another lockdown before too long … that just showed that I think there is definitely a desire out there — a hunger for church among — at least among some.”
Q: “Your church was at one point closed, what was that plan to re-open?”
“We did decided partway through this second lockdown … we decided to no longer meet in the location we were meeting — so no longer to meet publicly but to gather elsewhere. I can say — and I’m being careful of course for the sake of the congregation — but I can say for myself — I have not stopped gathering with believers in either lockdown,” said Richardson.
Q: “Is there any scripture that comes to mind in regards to reopening?”
Q: “How did The Church of God come up in recent interviews you’ve done?”
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