Historically, the Church of God has taken a very cautious and conservative approach to medical interventions. Central to that approach is our belief in the primacy and authority of the Bible, which is inspired and infallible, the very Word of God itself.1 As such, it informs our approach to our decisions related to health, life, and death. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the embodied Word of God, in the time of His temptation in the wilderness, left us the example of appealing to Scripture in determining our conduct.2
As a body of people, we also appeal to tradition to guide us in interpreting and applying Scripture to the challenges of the present day.3 We also believe that God has placed leaders within the Church to assist believers in the development of their faith.4 It is imperative to the faithful execution of their offices that those entrusted with this calling prayerfully consider and set the Church’s position on issues in light of both Scripture and our tradition as a people. Pronouncements by the leadership are to be heeded and are considered a beneficial part of a believer’s individual spiritual growth.5
We believe that God is the Creator and Giver of all life.6 All natural things in the universe are objects of His particular pleasure and are upheld and preserved by His divine power.7 God is, therefore, sovereign over the natural order.
This fact is no less true when it comes to humankind. Men and women are the climax of God’s creation, made in His own image, and are therefore of especial interest to Him.8 He is concerned with both their spiritual and physical health.9 Scripture speaks of His prerogative as, and desire to be, the divine Healer of the body.10 Indeed, provision in the atonement of Christ is made for our healing.11 The New Testament itself abounds with miraculous interventions by Jesus Christ and the early Church in the healing of sickness, disease, and injury.
At the same time, we understand that God’s power to heal does not always equate to His wise purpose for our lives. Even in times of sickness or physical suffering, He can be glorified. Affliction can serve to teach us and bring us more fully into communion with Him and obedience to His Word.12 God maintains firm control over both the good and the evil things of life.13 He cedes His design and authority to no one. Given this truth, we understand that even things like viruses are subject to His control and purpose.
Accordingly, the apostles of the Church of God make the following statements regarding our opposition to vaccinations:
We oppose the introduction of unnatural substances into the body for the purposes of circumventing or provoking the body’s normal immune system response. We hold that God, as the supreme Giver and Arbiter of life, reserves this power unto Himself. It is against our faith to tamper in any way with the ordered and purposeful design of the immune system.
We are also opposed on moral grounds. Many vaccinations have either been developed with, or have been tested on, aborted fetal cell lines. This violates our strong stance on the sanctity of life, which begins at conception.14 Vaccines also contain chemicals and components that we deem harmful. As the temples of God, we cannot knowingly and conscientiously defile our bodies with such substances.15
Furthermore, vaccinations violate our trust and reliance on God’s sovereignty over our bodies. They are a humanly-devised mechanism that places our health in the hands of pharmaceutical companies rather than in the will of God. Scripture forbids us to place full reliance on human intervention in matters of health.16 In fact, it outlines a different and specific process for the children of God to follow in times of sickness.17 We believe that this process is still valid for the Church today.
We believe that it is both wrong and immoral to encourage people to violate their consciences. Doing so could cause them to sin.18 We therefore stand firmly beside any individual who opposes a health regime that violates the tenets of their sincerely held religious beliefs, even if their understanding on some specifics differs from ours. We exhort the people of God everywhere to stand by their religious convictions.
Our belief in divine healing does not preclude the possibility of death. Rather, it places the locus of our faith in the determinate will of God concerning our lives. We believe that God can be glorified in either life or death, and that Christians ought to make peace with the sovereignty of God over their lives and trust His design and plan for them individually, not seeking to prolong life through artificial means.19
The Apostles of the Church of God
1 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
2 Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13
3 “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
4 Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-14
5 Hebrews 13:17
6 “In the beginning God
7 “For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11; “Upholding all things by the word of His power…” Hebrews 1:3; See also Nehemiah 9:6, where the creative power of God is joined with His interest in their preservation.
8 Genesis 1:27
9 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2.
10 Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:3
11 “And with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.
12 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119:67.
13 Isaiah 45:7; Deuteronomy 32:39
14 See David’s description of the process of conception and fetal development in Psalm 139:15-16; “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13.
15 “For ye are the temple of the living God…” 2 Corinthians 6:16; “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
16 King Asa is spoken of negatively in Scripture because “in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.” 2 Chronicles 16:12; “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8.
17 “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…” James 5:14-15.
18 “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23.
19 “So now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” Philippians 1:20; “Whether…life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.” 1 Corinthians 3:22; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.