Resolution on Vaccine Mandates

Resolution on Vaccine Mandates

The following resolution was adopted by the Session of Reformation Presbyterian Church during a called meeting on September 29, 2021, for the purpose of providing clear, biblical, and moral rationale for any members under its care seeking religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination mandates:

Whereas, the Holy Scriptures command “Honor your father and your mother,” (Exodus 20:12), which requires willing obedience to the lawful commands and counsels to all those who “by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth” (Westminster Larger Catechism, 124);

Whereas, God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers (WCF 23.1);

Whereas, the Holy Scriptures teach humble and righteous submission to governing authorities, whether civil, ecclesiastical, familial, or vocational (Romans 13:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-15, Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 6:1-9), this does not require absolute obedience of those in authority, but only “to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 23.4, Westminster Larger Catechism 127, 128, and 130);

Whereas, the Holy Scriptures never teach that jurisdiction over health care is granted to the State, to the Church, or to employers, but to individuals and families, we find that a vaccine mandate would by definition transgress the jurisdiction granted to the State or an employer, and thus could cause a Christian to sin by forcing obedience to such a mandate;

Whereas, the Holy Scriptures command “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13), which requires “all careful studies and lawful endeavors to preserve the life of ourselves and others” and forbids that which “tends to the destruction of the life of any” (Westminster Larger Catechism, 135-136); this teaching requires the careful stewardship of the body and the judicious use of medication and medical procedures (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 135), including the decision to take or to forgo a vaccine in the interests of one’s bodily wellbeing;

Whereas, the sixth commandment requires “all careful studies… to preserve the life of ourselves and others” (WLC 135), data currently and widely available indicate significantly higher adverse reactions and death caused by Covid-19 vaccines relative to all other vaccines given from 1990-present;

Whereas, the long-term effects of all Covid-19 vaccines are unknown and impossible to know at this time, Scripture enjoins prudence (Proverbs 22:3) and preserves the personal and family responsibility to make such decisions according to wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6b);

Whereas, the Holy Scriptures teach that our “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” purchased with the blood of Christ; that we are not our own but belong body and soul to the Lord Jesus Christ and must glorify God in our body and in our spirit, since they are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:23); this teaching also requires the careful stewardship of the body and the judicious use of medication and medical procedures (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 135), including the decision to take or to forgo a vaccine in the interests of one’s bodily wellbeing;

Whereas, the Session of Reformation Presbyterian Church is seeking to provide for religious exemption for explicitly religious, theological, or ethical reasons, and is by no means prohibiting any from pursuing vaccination if they so choose;

Therefore be it resolved, that the Session of Reformation Presbyterian Church approves this resolution for the sake of religious exemption from Covid-19 vaccine mandates to any of its members who desire it.

Furthermore, the Session has expressed its support of a motion to be presented at the meeting of the Presbytery of the Southeast (October 15-16) that asks the Presbytery to adopt similar language on behalf of the regional church. In my letter to the stated clerk of the Presbytery, I wrote:

Dear Ken,

I’m writing to notify you that the session of Reformation Presbyterian Church (Virginia Beach) has adopted the resolution on vaccine mandates in the form presented to us by Heritage Presbyterian Church (Royston). We have also voted to support such a resolution being presented to the Presbytery of the Southeast for its consideration at our upcoming meeting. Please include us as one of the sessions supporting the discussion of that resolution.

Our congregation, and our church plant in Yorktown, have been particularly affected by the vaccine mandate. We have members serving in the military who are facing possible disciplinary action, or even involuntary discharge. A Navy chaplain whose wife and children are members of RPC is caught in the tension between the desires of his commanding officers and the religious liberties of sailors he is called to minister to. We have other members who are employees of government agencies (such as NASA) and government contractors (such as the Naval Shipyard in Newport News). The NASA employee is being threatened not only with the loss of his job, but also his retirement benefits. Our perspective is that, no matter what one’s view of vaccines and vaccination in general, or the COVID-19 vaccines in particular, the church must support its members against the unlawful assertion of authority by the State over the consciences of believers. We believe the church has a duty to speak when the State transgresses its God-ordained sphere of jurisdiction. This is not a political stance for us, but a profoundly spiritual one, for we speak not on the basis of political principles, but on the basis of Scripture and the confessional standards of our church. “God alone is Lord of the conscience” (WCF 20:2).

For these reasons, we humbly ask you to include our congregation with those who are bringing this resolution for consideration by the Presbytery of the Southeast.

Your servant for Christ’s sake,
Lowell Ivey
Moderator of the Session of RPC

The Session’s resolution may be downloaded in PDF form here:

RPC Session – Vaccine Mandate Resolution (9-29-21)

 

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