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Jace Pibil


29 October 2020

Final draft

A Rhetorical Analysis of “A Christian Response and Witness in the Time of Covid-19”

I am a Religion major and I have chosen to research the Christian discourse community

and the ongoing conversations in it regarding Covid-19. My research question is this: how can

Christians respond in a way that is biblical and shows why Christians are content with their lives

even if Covid-19 is bringing so much sorrow to their lives? The article I am choosing to analyze

is “A Christian Response and Witness in the Time of Covid-19” by Annette Brownlee. This

article is featured on the Wycliffe College website and Brownlee argues what the proper

response is for Christians during the coronavirus pandemic and how Christians can find

satisfaction with Jesus. Furthermore, Brownlee argues how to biblically respond to the Covid-19

crisis. Brownlee’s main audience are the readers of the Wycliffe College website and also

Christians, or believers, and divides her argument into two areas of a believer’s life, practically

and theologically, theology is the study of God. The summation of Christianity is that 2,000

years ago, God loved us enough to send His beloved Son in the person of Jesus Christ to take the

wrath of God, that we deserve because of our sins, on the cross for us to be reconciled with Him.

This is what the Gospel, or good news, means. That we do not get to face the wrath of God on

Judgment Day because Jesus already paid the fine of death when he was tortured and suffocated

to death on a cross (Romans 6:23). For me and as a Christian, I generally agree with Brownlee’s

arguments and I think she brings forth some solid points that Christians can and should mirror

during the pandemic.

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To start, Brownlee’s main audience is the Church, specifically students and alumni of a

major Christian theological school in Canada. Brownlee is a “Chaplain, Professor of Pastoral

Theology and Director of Field Education at Wycliffe College” and her article is posted on the

Wycliffe College website (Brownlee). Wycliffe College is an evangelical graduate school of

theology in Toronto, Canada. This shows that Brownlee is an educated theologian and is very

knowledgeable of the God of the Bible and can be trusted and reliable. This article was published

on March 18, 2020, which is around the relative start of the pandemic in America and the start of

lockdowns. This is an important topic because Covid-19 is unprecedented in the way society was

shut down and as Christians, we are commanded to be a light to the world, meaning, Christian

believers need to figure out what the best way to represent Jesus, their Lord, to the rest of the

world for unbeliever’s sake. Brownlee provides a biblical way of continuing the Great

Commission of making disciples of all nations during the pandemic. The article’s argument is

biased because Brownlee is a professing Christian and believes in the God of the Bible. As a

result, Brownlee’s arguments come from the Bible and they are not her thoughts and Brownlee is

rooted in the Word by giving her audience multiple references.

Next, Brownlee starts off her article by giving her readers three practical ways that

Christians should biblically respond. The first way is to obey officials and follow their guidelines

because these, after all, are meant to protect us. This is biblical because Christians are

commanded by Scripture to obey the authorities that “have been established by God” (Romans

13:1). Secondly, Brownlee urges believers to pray, specifically for the healthcare workers risking

their safety and their family’s safety. The reason why I love this is because this is exactly what

the Bible tells us to do, Philippians 4:6 says “in every situation . . . present your requests to

God.” The Bible tells us that God hears our prayers and wants to answer our prayers. If we have
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any concerns we should talk to God about it because after all, that is what prayer is. The last

practical way to respond to Covid-19 is to care for people more affected than us. This is also

very biblical. A major theme of the Bible is to be selfless and truly embody valuing other people

more than we value ourselves. If the life of Jesus is examined, the whole purpose of his life was

to serve other people, particularly people that were looked down upon, such as prostitutes, tax

collectors, and beggars. Jesus, who is God, valued these people’s lives more than he valued his.

But more importantly, to prove he truly embodied being a servant to all is how he died. Jesus

was nailed on a cross where he suffocated to death. This is the most excruciating death humans

have ever invented and Jesus gave himself up and died this way just so we can be reconciled

with God. Giving ourselves up to death is also what Jesus commands his followers to do. Jesus

says this in Luke 9:23, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their

cross daily and follow me.” Jesus is telling us to lose our lives and die to ourselves daily to live.

This message is no different during a pandemic, it makes this more realistic. I like these three

responses to the pandemic. Each of them is proven by scripture and simple enough to do right

away. I believe these are very effective and boost Brownlee’s credibility moving forward.

Later in the article, Brownlee looks at plagues that happened in the Bible and how God

handled situations of mass death. For example, in Exodus God sent plagues to Pharaoh and the

Egyptians to set his people free from their slavery. The point of this is to point all of that

destruction to God and an opportunity “to recognize God’s sovereignty over creation” because

Pharaoh did not revere God (Brownlee). Natural disasters can and will eventually bring glory to

God. One of Brownlee’s arguments is that God will use this pandemic for his glory as he does

for all things. The evidence for this is in Exodus 9:15-16 and how God used the 10 plagues “to

show his power” and make his “name resound through all the earth.” The Bible supports these
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claims. Moving on, I will discuss my favorite argument from this article. Brownlee calls

quarantine a “civil sabbath” and that lockdown is a chance to rest and reflect on the fact that “we

are first and foremost recipients—and not the creators—of all that is good in our lives”

(Brownlee). A big theological point Christians like to hit on is that humans are naturally

self-loving and God-rejecting and Brownlee relates this point to the whole pandemic. Since the

whole world was put on hold, people were able to reflect on the fact that they rely on things of

this earth for satisfaction and happiness. But, Christians have seen in their lives that they have

stood firm in their faith because they know that all good that has come from their life is from

Jesus. Even if everything is taken from them, they still have their savior. As a result of

Brownlee’s point of a civil sabbath, this grabs my attention and proves that Brownlee is

theologically sound and I can trust her. Brownlee first starts her argument with evidence from the

Bible and then expands on that for her argument. The fact that Brownlee is relating the pandemic

to the Bible makes her argument very effective. The biggest thing a Christian can do in an

argument is to relate it to the Word. Brownlee bases her arguments on the Bible which shoots her

ethos through the roof, so to speak. After all, God’s Word is eternal and is “God-breathed” (1

Timothy 3:16).

Lastly, I will be able to use this article in my research paper with Brownlee’s arguments

from the Bible of how to practically respond by praying and embodying a selfless life, and how

to think about the pandemic theologically by relating Covid-19 to God’s glory forever. In my

argument, I will use this as a source for Scripture-based evidence of why Christians have to

suffer to have joy and an argument of why Covid-19 is happening and why God would allow it.

Another way I can use this for my research paper is the three ways Brownlee describes how
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Christians should respond, biblically, to the coronavirus. This will be one of my calls to actions

and responses after reading my research essay.

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Works Cited

Brownlee, Annette. "A Christian Response and Witness in the Time of COVID-19." 18 Mar.

2020. Web. 13 Oct. 2020.

The Holy Bible: New International Version.​ Zondervan, 1984.