COVID Vaccines and Christian Thinking: A Reading List

Many Christians have been anxiously waiting and fervently praying for the arrival of an effective COVID vaccine. For others, the availability of a new vaccine raises a multitude of ethical questions that will likely deter many from receiving an injection.

It is possible that faithful Christians will examine the evidence and arrive at different conclusions as to whether or not the COVID vaccine is morally permissible. Our consciences can be bound to the truthfulness of holy scripture and still arrive at different conclusions on a variety of issues. Some of us will not reach the same conclusions as other faithful members of our congregations.

As a pastor, my greatest concern is not so much what a church member concludes about the COVID vaccines as it is how they reach their conclusion. To be certain, we will begin to see a swarm of politically-driven social media memes and status updates that will stem from sources that lack integrity and reliability. Followers of Jesus should stay clear of these tempting kinds of posts.

For those who genuinely desire to seek out the facts and make informed, ethical decisions, time should be invested in reading, listening, and contemplating reputable news sources, medical professionals, and trusted theologians and spiritual leaders. Your local pastor will not have all the answers, but they will be happy to talk and point you in the right direction.

To that end, I have compiled a reading and listening list that I hope will be helpful in your study. I have included articles and podcasts that primarily discuss the concern related to fetal tissue in the development of the COVID vaccine. Other concerns have and will be raised, such as the vaccine secretly being the mark of the beast, or the vaccine being used for GPS tracking by the federal government. I might address those separately, but I think the most significant concern is tied to the use of aborted babies in vaccine development, so that is what these links primarily address.

For those who might want a quick summary of what is linked below, here is a simplified explanation: Two of the three COVID vaccines under development, Pfizer and Moderna, were not created using fetal cell lines, which is good news. However, both of these vaccines did undergo confirmatory lab testing using a cell line called HEK293, which has ties to fetal tissue from the early 1970’s. The third vaccine, Oxford University’s vaccine, did apparently use fetal cell lines in its production.

Protestant and Catholic ethicists and scientists largely agree that the vaccines do not create a moral or ethical roadblock for Christians. However, for the implications on what the above bottom line means for Christians, please take some time and read over the following links. Grace and peace to you as we depend on the Lord for the days ahead.

Here are two good places to start:
Our Hope is in Christ, Not a Vaccine. – I appreciate Kenneth Berding’s simple article reminding us that our final hope is in Jesus alone.

Whatever Is True. – Francis Collins, the NIH director, exhorts Christians to consider Philippians 4:8 when considering issues related to COVID vaccines. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right…”

COVID Vaccine and Pro-Life. – Melissa Moschella at First Things does an excellent job summarizing the issues.

Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID Vaccines? – Joe Carter provides an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) article on fetal cells and the vaccines.

Moral Acceptability According to Catholic Bishops. – Although we disagree on much, the Roman Catholic Church has historically been passionately pro-life. Here is a statement from the US Bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees.

Fetal Tissue and COVID Vaccine. – Southern Baptist Convention ethicist Andrew Walker provides a clear and consise response.

Statement from the Charlotte Lozier Institute. – Here is the most recent statement from CLI, a leading Christian organization devoted to education on the value of human life.

How the Vaccines Were Created So Quickly. – The ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Comission) answer a common question related to the rapid creation of the vaccines.

Are the COVID Vaccines Ethically Acceptable. – The Colson Center podcast with John Stonestreet and Shane Morris respond to the question. The relevant discussion begins at the 05:30 mark.

A Conversation with Dr. Francis Collins. – Russell Moore of the ERLC interviews Francis Collins of the National Institute of Health. This interview covers a wide variety of issues related to the COVID vaccines and not just the fetal tissue concern.