In her introduction to the New City Catechism, Kathy Keller writes, “Catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel… The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counterculture that reflected the likeness of Christ.” While this ‘catechism’ (below) is somewhat different, it ticks all three boxes. For it is grounded in the gospel, designed to combat heresy and correctly form the church’s thinking about COVID-19.

1. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that mainly affects the respiratory system and is caused by a virus known as SARS-CoV-2 or Coronavirus. It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.

2. Can I be infected by this Coronavirus?

Yes. I am not exempt because of my race, age, location, health or religion from infection with or even death by COVID-19, even if the majority that have died have been the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

3. Should the greater risk to the elderly and sickly encourage the younger and healthier?

No. My neighbour, regardless of their age, race or religion is made in God’s image and worthy of my sincere and pro-active love, compassion and concern.

4. Can Christians die from COVID-19?

Yes. God does not exempt his people from trials, tribulations, suffering, sorrow and physical death.

5. Are we at the mercy of COVID-19?

COVID-19 cannot harm the soul. Nor is it sovereign to infect or kill the body according to its own will. But, like all things, it is under God’s holy and wise providence over his creation. He works all things according to his will.

6. Why should we take precautionary measures?

To honour authority, value the lives that God has given to us, as well as our neighbours’, and to recognise that God delights to use our obedience as the means to achieve his purposes. Yet we do this without trusting in those means but in God alone.

7. What precautionary measures have been advised?

We are to act as though we already have the virus, and so take measures not to spread it by avoiding close contact, practising good sneezing, cough etiquette and correct hand washing.

8. How should you pray for Christians under the threat of COVID-19?

Being united as one body in Christ with all the Church we should pray for all Christians earnestly and constantly, as those whose very lives I share, being united in Christ with them, whether they are near or far.

9. What should you pray for them?

Besides helping their practical needs, we have many great promises and firm realities in the gospel to plead on their behalf. We specifically ought to ask that the Holy Spirit comforts their souls with the knowledge of God’s presence, unbreakable love for us in Christ and the hope we have in death. Finally, if God wills death, pray that Christians will glorify God by the faith we display in dying.

10. What hope do believers have in death?

Our hope is that when we die we will die in Christ, having in him the wages of sin paid and the rewards of his obedience guaranteed. Thus while we are here in our wasting bodies, we are away from our home and loving Saviour, who waits to receive and finally raise us with new bodies in an undefiled, imperishable and unfading creation.

11. What should we pray for unbelievers who lack this hope?

Knowing that only God’s Word, and not his judgement, is able to bring the nations to repentance, we should pray that God opens hearts to receive Jesus, who delivers us from the greater judgement to come, and from which no one is exempt apart from faith in Christ.

12. What should I do when anxious and fearful?

We must remember that it is right to have godly concern for all that is good and dear, and that nothing is truly under our power yet all is under our wise and powerful Father, who commands us not to fear or be anxious but to entrust ourselves to him in prayer.

COVID-19 Catechism Scripture References:

  1. Romans 8:20
  2. Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12; Revelation 21:4
  3. Mark 12:31, Luke 10:21, Romans 12:15
  4. Romans 5:12, Rev. 1:9, Acts. 11:28-29, Revelation 6:8
  5. Matthew 10:28-29; Psalm 103:19, Revelation 15:3,
  6. Romans 13:1, Exodus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Proverbs 21:31
  7. Mark 12:31, Deuteronomy 22:8
  8. Acts 12:5, Ephesians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 12:26
  9. James 2:15, Romans 8:39, Philippians 1:20
  10. Revelation 14:13, 1 Peter 2:24, Romans 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 2:23, 2 Timothy 4:18, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 1 Peter 1:4
  11. Revelation 9:20, Acts 16:14, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10.
  12. 2 Corinthians 11:3, Luke 12:25-28, Romans 11:33, Philippians 4:6, Matthew 8:26