COVID-19 and Christian (?) Dualism

blog hovorun coronaCyril Hovorun
A Blog of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University

In this brief editorial, I try to explain what underpins the widely spread belief that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted through the communion of the holy Gifts.

This belief is based on the assumption that the Body and Blood of Christ constitute an absolute good, while the virus is an evil infection. Good, therefore, cannot transmit evil.

However, the virus is an infection only for us, and even not for all of us, because most people will get over it without even noticing it. Per se, this virus, as any micro- or macro-organism, is a part of God’s creation. As a physical reality and a part of nature, the virus is ontologically “good”, like any creature (see Gen 1:21). We consider floods, volcanoes, typhoons to be evil, but they are natural processes, and as such are not ontologically evil. The snakes and spiders that bite us are also deadly to us, but by their nature they are good.

Together with other viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, the COVID-19 is part of the ecosystems created by God. I will not now go into the question whether these ecosystems have been created directly by God or emerged through the laws of evolution laid down by God. I’ll just say that some parts of these ecosystems are helpful for us, and some are not. However, regardless of this, they are all a part of God’s creation. Moreover, COVID-19, together with other creatures, is included in the “recapitulation” described by Paul in the Ephesians: “To unite (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι) all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth” (1:10). Maximus the Confessor explains this in his Ambiguum 7: “And He recapitulates all things in Himself, for it is owing to Him that all things exist and remain in existence, and it is from Him that all things came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason.” Not all things, which are to be recapitulated in Christ, are currently at peace with one another. Some of them kill each other: humans kill other organisms, including human ones, while some organisms, both macro- and micro-, including COVID-19, kill humans.

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