By / Mar 10

As we observe the anniversary of the United States’ dramatic shutdown due to COVID-19, there are many things we could not have predicted at this time last year. 500,000+ deaths, long-term shutdowns, virtual schooling, and a prolonged lack of contact with loved ones were certainly not things I expected. But on March 11, 2020, when I checked my phone after a women’s Bible study to discover the NBA had suspended its season and Tom Hanks had tested positive, I got my first glimpse. The dominoes continued to fall with aggressive speed in the following days. 

While most of us couldn’t have predicted those aforementioned circumstances, we couldn’t have predicted the speed and efficacy of vaccine development either. Yet by the grace of God and the efforts of many, the vaccine for this terrible virus is effective and increasingly available to many who need it most. 

Our varied experiences with COVID-19

In the early days of our nationwide quarantine, I heard someone say we were all encountering the same virus but we were experiencing it differently. I have thought of this often in the past year. For my family, quarantine meant making space for each other as my husband transitioned to working from home, and we began homeschooling our children. Our proximity to high-risk family members meant more caution and care on our part so that we could see them. But compared to many, our life change has been minimal. We have experienced the past year quite differently than have many others. For a lot  of people, a return to a “normal” life is impossible without vaccination. 

My friend’s aunt, a resident in a nursing home in Georgia, has not left her room for eight months, except twice a week for bathing. With nursing homes closed to visitors and often short-staffed, there is little accountability for care. Patients are regressing socially, physically, and emotionally. 

A family member living in a lower-income community in Midwestern Indiana paints a picture of the past year that is vastly different from our experience. The lifestyle of her community does not often allow for virtual work, social distancing, or proper hygiene. Outbreaks are high, and the community suffers more than most from closed schools and lack of employment. 

Light at the end of the tunnel

These are just two examples of millions who will not live anything close to a normal life without the vaccine. Older people, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and caregivers for both the latter and former will be greatly served by vaccination availability. Some racial and ethnic minority groups are at an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Vaccination is a light at the end of the tunnel for those living in isolation and fear for the past year. 

In my more myopic moments, I easily forget that my experience of the past year is not universal. Because I do not see how others live, I can’t fully appreciate the sorrow and fear they have felt. But I have seen the relief on friends’ faces as they take their aging parents to be vaccinated. As my parents receive their first doses, I am thanking the Lord for sparing their lives and giving them a chance to hopefully return soon to a semblance of normalcy. 

For the good of others

I’ve been reading through Deuteronomy and encountering many passages in which God calls His people to care for the vulnerable in their midst—orphans, widows, sojourners, immigrants, and others. Many of these calls to compassionate care are still relevant to us, but the vulnerable in our midst also include those who are more susceptible to sickness and death. The principles of care that required the Israelites to sacrifice for the vulnerable in their community find ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. He sacrificed His life for the sake of those vulnerable to death because of sin. 

We must emulate this example as we look for ways to help those in our communities access the vaccination and consider what neighborly love requires of us in the coming days. We may be called to sacrifice further, in all  kinds of ways,  but we follow a Savior who willingly laid down His life for us. Greater love has no one than this, and this is the love that compels us to serve our neighbors. All of us may not have experienced the past year in the same way. But by God’s grace, we can experience the same joy as we set aside our preferences and desires and act for the good of those around us.

By / Feb 26

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Lindsay discuss the SBC’s executive committee meetings, J.D. Greear’s message, COVID-19 milestones, the approval of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, sounds from Mars, and the next generation of USPS mail trucks. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Josh Wester with “The Equality Act: A dangerous law with a clever name,” Michael McAfee with “Celebrating the American Sign Language Bible translation: And praying for more laborers to translate the Scripture,” and Joe Carter with “5 facts about Fred Luter.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Christine Hoover for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Christine

Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom of three boys, host of the “By Faith” podcast, and author of several books. Her latest offering is With All Your Heart: Living Joyfully Through Allegiance to King Jesus. Previous books include Messy Beautiful Friendship and Searching for Spring. Originally from Texas, she and her family live in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they planted a church in 2008. Find more about Christine on her website You can connect with her on Twitter @christinehoover.

ERLC Content


  1. Greear decries division and repudiates pharisaical spirit in SBC
  2. Greear, Floyd stare down division; call for focus on Great Commission
  3. SBC EC disfellowshipped four churches
  4. ERLC-focused task force releases report
  5. SBC Executive Committee creates ERLC study task force
  6. 500,000 lives lost ot COVID-19
  7. FDA analysis finds Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine is safe and effective
  8. Pfizer-BioNTech Shot Stops Covid Spread, Israeli Study Shows
  9. Not the mark of the beast: Evangelicals should fight conspiracy theories and welcome the vaccines
  10. Mars rover beams back first ever sounds from Mars
  11. Tiger Woods crash: What we know
  12. USPS unveils next-generation mail truck


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: by Jared Kennedy. This short book walks through six conversation topics designed to help you apply the truth and hope of the gospel to the complex issue of gender. 
  • Stand for Life: At the ERLC, we stand for life. Our work to save preborn babies and care for the vulnerable is vital to our work. Believing that abortion can end in our lifetime, will you join us as we STAND FOR LIFE?
By / Feb 19

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Lindsay discuss the winter weather hitting the U.S. this week, the Texas power crisis, why Covid-19 cases are dropping and cutting life expectancy, Rush Limbaugh and Carman passing away, Ravi Zacharias investigation, and spring training starting up. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including the Policy Staff with “Explainer: How should Christians think about France’s “separatism” bill?,” Stephen Stallard with “3 ways to engage our neighbors during a pandemic,” Julie Masson with “Common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Carl R. Trueman for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Carl

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College. He is an esteemed church historian and previously served as the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Public Life at Princeton University. Trueman has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including The Creedal Imperative; Luther on the Christian Life; and Histories and Fallacies. Trueman is a member of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

ERLC Content


  1. Winter storm slams dozens of states and leaves millions without power
  2. Record-setting cold snap turns deadly
  3. Winter storm strikes much of US
  4. Texas power crisis
  5. Dispatch fact check on Texas power
  6. COVID-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why?
  7. Axios: Covid cases drop
  8. Covid cuts life expectancy
  9. Rush Limbaugh, conservative media icon, dead at 70 following battle with cancer
  10. Carman, Christian music icon and Gospel Music Hall of Famer, dies at 65
  11. Open Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM
  12. Investigation reveals Zacharias’ years-long history of sexual abuse of women
  13. Spring training is here


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: by Jared Kennedy. This short book walks through six conversation topics designed to help you apply the truth and hope of the gospel to the complex issue of gender. 
  • Stand for Life: At the ERLC, we stand for life. Our work to save preborn babies and care for the vulnerable is vital to our work. Believing that abortion can end in our lifetime, will you join us as we STAND FOR LIFE?
By / Feb 19

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden outlined his plans for addressing the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic. The president pledged to make 600 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines available by the end of July and said that teachers should be moved “up the hierarchy” of the vaccine queue. 

Here’s what you should know about vaccine prioritization and when you can expect to receive the vaccine. 

How are the vaccines being rationed?

There are several factors that result in the vaccines being rationed and given to certain groups of people before others. The primary factor is the extraordinary demand for the vaccines. There are approximately 210 million adults in the U.S., and to reach herd immunity about 80-90% will need to be vaccinated. That means 168 to 189 million U.S. adults need to receive the vaccine. Some of the vaccines also require two doses, which puts a further constraint on the supply. 

The first coronavirus vaccine was administered to U.S. health-care workers a mere two month ago, on December 14, 2020. To date, about 16 million people have been fully vaccinated. At the rate of 1.5 million doses a day, vaccinating 80-90% of the adult population won’t occur until late July or early August. 

The second factor is that not everyone has an equal likelihood of being exposed to or affected by COVID-19. Some people are more likely to be exposed because of their jobs, while others are more vulnerable because of their age or health conditions. While it may appear more fair to distribute the vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis, the result of taking such an approach would be tens of thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths. 

Who decides which groups are given priority for vaccines?

The CDC has provided recommendations for who should be offered priority in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. But each individual state is responsible for deciding who will be vaccinated first and how they can receive vaccines. 

What are the CDCs recommendations for who should be given priority on the vaccines?

The CDC recommends giving COVID-19 vaccine in four, somewhat overlapping, phases. 

Phase 1a includes healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. These are the first groups because of their increased chances of being directly exposed to the virus. Healthcare personnel, according to the CDC, should include all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. This includes such personnel as doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, pharmacists, and hospital cafeteria workers. 

Similarly, the communal nature of long-term care facility residents and the population served (who are generally older adults with underlying medical conditions) puts this group at increased risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19. (As the CDC notes, by November 6, 2020, approximately 569,000–616,000 COVID-19 cases and 91,500 deaths were reported among LTCF residents and staff members in the United States, accounting for 39% of deaths nationwide.)

The next category is Phase 1b, which includes frontline essential workers and people aged 75 years and older. Frontline essential workers such as police officers, fire fighters, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers). People aged 75 years and older are also at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.

The third category is Phase 1c, which includes those aged 65-74 years, people aged 16-64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19, and other essential but non-frontline workers. This last group includes people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.

The final category is all other persons who did not fall into the previous listing of groups.  

Who exactly is a “frontline essential worker”?

During the quarantine stage of the pandemic, the U.S. government had to decide which jobs were necessary for the economy to function. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, essential workers are those who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations, such as energy, defense, or agriculture.

The US. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) created a list of such essential workers to aid federal agencies and state governments in determining who should qualify. Currently, of the 43 states with essential worker orders or directives, 21 now defer to the federal definitions developed by the CISA.

Because the list includes so many people, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) had to narrow the list. ACIP used CISA guidance to define frontline essential workers as the subset of essential workers likely at highest risk for work-related exposure to SARS-CoV-2 because their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity (six feet or less) to the public or to coworkers. ACIP has classified the following non–health care essential workers as frontline workers: first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.

Some states use the ACIP guidance and narrow or broaden the category even further. But there appears to be no clear rationale for how such determinations are made. As the National Conference of State Legislatures observes, “in some states workers supporting religious organizations and churches are considered essential, while in some others workers who support the cannabis industry receive the essential designation.” 

Why aren’t ministers included in the category of essential workers?

There are sound reasons to include clergy in the list of essential workers. Many pastors serve some of the same functions as groups currently performed by essential workers. Clergy, for example, provide mental health services (e.g., counseling), aid those with special needs, and even serve in the distribution of food and other resources. Some ministers are also exposed in the same way as healthcare workers. Catholic priests, for instance, are required to perform “last rites” on Catholics who are dying of COVID. Many pastors may also be exposed when performing funerals. 

For the purposes of phase 1b vaccinations, clergy are considered frontline essential workers in some states, such as Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.  

By / Dec 18

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Lindsay discuss the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine, Biden and Pence getting the vaccine live on TV, how mouthwash slows COVID-19’s spread, Brexit, J.D. speaking at the March for Life, snow days, and Dolly Parton saving someone’s life. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including the ERLC Staff with COVID-19 and the concern about aborted fetal cells in medicine, Jordan Wooten with “How lament can lead to hope in a time of plague: Grieving our losses amid the pandemic,” and Jason Thacker with “What is Parler, and why does it matter?” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Mary Wiley for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About Mary

Mary Wiley is the author of Everyday Theology, an eight-week Bible study exploring essential doctrines and why they matter in our everyday lives. She holds an MA in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, works in publishing, and hosts the “Questions Kids Ask” podcast. She and her husband, John, have two children and live near Nashville. You can connect with her on Twitter: @marycwiley

ERLC Content


  1. Critical care nurse in New York is among first in US to receive a coronavirus vaccine
  2. Covid has killed more than 300,000 nationwide
  3. Biden, Pence to get COVID vaccine soon
  4. Gargling Could Slow COVID-19 Spread, Mouthwash Makers Say
  5. Emmanuel Macron: French president tests positive for COVID
  6. Brexit Countdown: What To Know As The United Kingdom Breaks With The EU
  7. AP: The Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden on Monday as the nation’s next president
  8. Inauguration committee urges people not to travel for Biden’s inauguration
  9. Greear to be first SBC president to speak at March for Life
  10. Parts of the Northeast blanketed by over a foot of snow
  11. Fantastic snow day letter from Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia
  12. National Treasure Dolly Parton Literally Saved the Life of a 9-Year-Old Actress on the Set of Her Latest Christmas Movie


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • End of Year Giving: If you’ve benefited from the content shared on this podcast, would you please consider making a year-end donation? Any individual donations we receive, apart from the Cooperative Program, goes to placing ultrasound machines in pro-life pregnancy centers, advocating for religious liberty, and human dignity here at home and across the globe.
  • Searching for Christmas by JD Greear. This book is perfect for giving to unbelieving friends and family this Christmas.
By / Dec 15

With the first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer being delivered throughout the U.S., we wanted to bring you a discussion about the vaccines between Dr. Russell Moore and Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Collins is one of our nation’s key scientific leaders battling the pandemic. In this conversation, he shares insights about the development of the vaccines, misconceptions about them and what it will take to get our church life back to “normal.”

This discussion was hosted as an ERLC webinar on December 3, 2020.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Searching for Christmas by JD Greear. Find out more about this book at

Guest Biography

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his selection of Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director. In this role, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research.

Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Before coming to NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009. In 2020, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (UK) and was also named the 50th winner of the Templeton Prize, which celebrates scientific and spiritual curiosity.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Dec 11

In this episode, Josh, Brent, and Lindsay discuss the first people to receive the Coronavirus vaccine, Middle America racking up a ton of new Coronavirus cases, Mardi Gras being cancelled, Biden’s ‘skeleton staff’, record unemployment claims, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and a rare Christmas star. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jared Kennedy with “Two foundational truths to teach our kids about gender: Celebrating who God created us to be,” Annie Kratzsch with “3 practical Advent practices to meet you in your suffering: Simple activities for your family from the “Unexpected Gift”,” and C. Ben Mitchell with “What defines personhood? The distinct difference of humans.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by David French for a conversation about life and ministry. 

About David

David French is an American attorney, political commentator, and author. A fellow at the National Review Institute and a staff writer for National Review from 2015 to 2019, French currently serves as senior editor of The Dispatch. David is the author of Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. David and his wife Nancy live in middle Tennessee with their three children. You can connect with him on Twitter: @DavidAFrench

ERLC Content


  1. A UK woman aged 90 was the first in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine today
  2. William Shakespeare: to be vaccinated nor not to be vaccinated
  3. Middle America is still racking up a ton of new coronavirus cases
  4. New Orleans Mayor Cancels Mardi Gras Parades In 2021
  5. Biden may start with ‘skeleton staff’
  6. Explaining the Supreme Court lawsuit from Texas and Trump challenging Biden’s win
  7. Weekly jobless claims surge to 853,000, highest since September
  8. Unemployment insurance claims
  9. IMB missionaries and staff give more than $800,000 to LMCO
  10. Jupiter and Saturn to align in rare ‘Christmas Star’


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • End of Year Giving: If you’ve benefited from the content shared on this podcast, would you please consider making a year-end donation? Any individual donations we receive, apart from the Cooperative Program, goes to placing ultrasound machines in pro-life pregnancy centers, advocating for religious liberty, and human dignity here at home and across the globe.
  • Searching for Christmas by JD Greear. This book is perfect for giving to unbelieving friends and family this Christmas.
By / Apr 24

What just happened?

Earlier this week, the University of Oxford announced that patients have been enrolled in clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, and the U.K.’s health secretary said the country would be “throwing everything” behind the project. Medical researchers at Oxford are among the thousands across the globe who are working on potential treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.

Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there were three vaccine candidates in the clinical testing phase while 67 potential vaccines are in the preclinical phase. There are also more than 150 different drugs—such as antivirals—being researched and tested as possible treatments for COVID-19

What are vaccines, and how do they work?

A vaccine is created from the same infectious agent that causes a disease, using extremely small amounts of weak or dead microbes such as viruses, bacteria, or toxins. A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly as it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to actually get the disease.

Vaccination is the act of getting a vaccine, usually as a shot, while immunization is the process of becoming immune to (i.e., protected against) a disease. The purpose of vaccination is immunization.

Why is it so important to develop a vaccine for COVID-19?

The human body has an immune system equipped with several tools to fight infection from germs such as bacteria or viruses. The first time the body encounters a germ, it can take several days to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to overcome the infection. After the infection, though, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that infectious disease. Vaccines serve a similar function by helping to develop immunity by imitating an infection. 

People who are immune can’t pass the disease to others. For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, 4 out of every 5 people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick and won’t spread the disease. When a high enough percentage of a community has become immune to a disease because of vaccination and/or prior illness, they have developed herd immunity. Because it limits the spread of the infection, herd immunity protects those who aren’t able to be vaccinated (e.g., infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals) or who would be at higher risk of injury or death from the disease.

Based on early estimates of this virus’s infectiousness, it is believed that we will need at least 70% of the population to be immune to the novel coronavirus to achieve herd immunity. Because the death rate for COVID-19 is unknown, but believed to be up to 10 times higher than for the flu, developing herd immunity solely through infection would lead to extraordinary levels of mortality from the disease. The development and widespread distribution of a vaccine would make it possible to achieve herd immunity with a lower rate of fatality and serious injury.

Even when herd immunity is reached, though, our communities will still suffer deaths from COVID-19. “Herd immunity is not this magical number where once you reach that point nobody else gets infected,” says Shane Crotty, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California. “It would no longer be a full-blown epidemic once you get to herd immunity, [but] the virus would still spread, it would still infect people, it would still kill people. It would just be a less common event.”

What are antivirals, and how do they work?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) that help your body fight against viruses by killing or preventing the growth of viruses.  Such drugs are most helpful when they are able to impede multiplication of the virus before it causes significant damage to the body. (They are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.) Antivirals are most commonly used to treat influenza (e.g., Tamiflu is an antiviral commonly used to treat flu).

Currently, several companies are developing or testing antivirals against the virus that causes COVID-19. Antivirals in current use that are being considered or tested for treatment of COVID-19 include: Chloroquine (used for malaria), Favipiravir (used for influenza), Kaletra (used for HIV), and Remdesivir (used for Ebola and MERS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), antivirals are a “second line of defense” (with vaccines being the first line of protection). But most researchers believe antivirals to treat COVID-19 are likely to be developed and approved before a vaccine becomes available.

What are clinical trials and observational studies?

Before vaccines and antivirals can be approved for use on humans, they must undergo  rigorous study. The two types of medical research involving people are observational studies and clinical trials.

In an observational study, medical researchers assess health outcomes in groups of participants according to a specific research plan. Participants in such studies may receive interventions (e.g., drugs, medical devices) or procedures as part of their routine medical care, but participants are not assigned to specific interventions by the investigator (as in a clinical trial). As applied to COVID-19, an observational study might perform such functions as collecting data on symptoms in a group that has recently been diagnosed with or exposed to someone with the virus.

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate the effectiveness of a medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention. They are the primary way researchers find out if a new treatment, such as an antiviral drug, is safe and effective for use on people. 

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a clinical trial to begin, researchers perform laboratory tests and studies in animals to test a potential therapy’s safety and efficacy. If these studies show favorable results, the FDA gives approval for the intervention to be tested in humans.

Clinical trials advance through four phases to test a treatment, find the appropriate dosage, and look for side effects:

Phase I. The drug is given to a small number of healthy people and people with a disease to look for side effects and figure out the best dose.

Phase II. The drug is given to several hundred people who have the disease, looking to see whether it works and if there are any side effects that weren’t caught during the initial testing.

Phase III. In this large-scale trial, the drug is given to several hundred or even up to 3,000 people. A similar group of people take a placebo, or inactive compound. The trial is usually randomized and can take 1 to 4 years. This stage provides the best evidence of how the drug works and the most common side effects.

Phase IV. Drugs that are approved for use undergo continued monitoring to make sure there are no other side effects, especially serious or long-term ones.

The FDA has issued guidance on the conduct of clinical trials of medical products during the COVID-19 public health emergency.