In 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originated in bats and civet cats at a wet market and transmitted to humans. In 2009, H1N1 influenza, also known as Swine Flu, was transmitted from pigs to humans. In 2012, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was transmitted by the consumption of camel milk and meat.
In 2014, a family from a village in south-eastern Guinea where bushmeat (bat) is frequently eaten, was where the deadly EBOLA virus outbreak occurred. In 2019, COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, from the coronavirus family, has spread to over 200 countries from a similar wildlife market as SARS and thought to have originated from a bat or pangolin animal-human transmission.
Interestingly, the Bible teaches us in the book of Leviticus that these unclean animals (bats, cats, pigs, pangolins) are not to be eaten by human beings. Now, this is the question I pose to Christians who say God’s dietary restrictions were “nailed on the cross” and therefore null and void during this dispensation of grace. If one can argue that eating these unclean animals are a direct result of this miserable pandemic, then should Christian leaders be willing to change their hermeneutical views concerning God’s Torah laws?
If so, then theologians will need to rethink through the following questions: “Is Christ really the end of the Law according to Romans 10:4?” How do we understand Jesus’s parenthetical statement in Mark 7:19? Is it the food or the handwashing? If the Law still stands, then how do we interpret the Sabbath? Do we still keep the Jewish festivals? How far do we go?
In essence, if you change your view on the dietary laws, you will inevitably wind up in a hermeneutical spiral because the dietary laws are attached to the Jewish feasts, which are attached to Torah, which are attached to the Sabbath, which is attached to the Mosaic covenant. Will you have to reinvent cultural evangelicalism if this is the case? Maybe so.
Now, during this pandemic, I don’t want you to think too much about this. I want you to minister to the needs of your congregation and loved ones. There is serious suffering we will be experiencing, and it’s vital to share the mercy and grace found in our Savior Jesus Christ. But while you have time, maybe read Dr. Jeffrey Seif and his book, “Is Christ really the end of the Law?” It may help you navigate through the muddy waters of continuity and discontinuity of the Old and New Testaments. It may also give you a more enriching understanding of the entirety of Scripture. Blessings to you during this difficult time.
Your brother in Christ,