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Politics and Preaching – Part 2

Last time we saw that the key question we need to answer is this, “Is Christ Lord of our political views?” Are we living in submission to God’s Will and His way? Which means that our political beliefs must be shaped by the Word of God, not our wants. According to Gods Word, the primary purpose of the church is not politics but the preaching of the gospel of peace, Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” So the church must be careful that it doesn’t become known more for a partisan political stance than the preaching of the gospel. In this regard there are several things that the church needs to remember, first:

  • Evangelism not political power is God’s primary means of dealing with the problems of the world.

When we forget this we fall into the trap of believing that the answer to sin is to promote a social gospel instead of the salvation gospel.  Something many liberal theologians are preaching and encouraging people to practice in place of the gospel of peace today. Because the major problems of this world stem from sin in individual hearts, the only real solution is salvation, seeing people brought into a right relationship with God. Remember Jesus didn’t call us to go and win political races, He commands us to go and make disciple of all nations, Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We need sharing the story of salvation and keep the cross as our main focus. The cure for our country is found at the cross, not in civics. Our hope is in God and His gospel, not in political power.

  • When promoting political candidates we need to remember the doctrine of depravity.

All candidates, even if they are Christians are fallen sinners who are susceptible to the lust for power and prestige. If we are not careful we can become overly enamored and blinded by a particular political party or carried away with a certain candidate. The church needs to be wise and not posture itself with a particular political party, whether Republican or Democrat. Because in truth neither party is thoroughly biblical, there is a mixture of good and ghastly in both parties. We must realize that candidates of both parties posture themselves to appeal to large blocks of voters, and just because they promote themselves as conservative, or focused on family values doesn’t mean they are or that they will uphold these values once in office. We need to weigh their walk, not just their words. When a party, or its presidential candidate endorses sin, such as abortion then a Christian in good conscience should not vote for that candidate. These are moral issues, not political issues. Our current president has appointed two Supreme Court justices both of which have ruled against Christian moral values. The reality is that the next president will appoint at least one, if not several Supreme Court justices which will probably tilt the Court in one direction or the other. These rulings can greatly affect our country, either for good or evil, as the infamous Roe v. Wade decision proves. Over 60 million lives have been snuffed out because of that one reckless ruling, that’s 20% of our current population killed by the court. So while the gospel should be our main priority, electing officials who will enact laws or appoint judges in line with Christian values is also important. While the gospel is our only hope for lasting change, God has also ordained that righteous laws protect our society. As a result, the relationship between church and state is neither one of total separation nor one of total identification.

  • Because we are called to ministry to the whole person we should not neglect working for just laws

Throughout the centuries Christians have influenced governments positively and these changes have also facilitated the spread of the gospel. Some of these changes include outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire. Outlawing the gladiator battles in Rome, outlawing branding the faces of prisoners, as well as instituting humane prison reforms. Stopping human sacrifice, outlawing pedophilia, granting property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy,  prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India and outlawing the crippling practice of binding women’s feet in China. The church was also instrumental in advancing the idea of compulsory education for all children in Europe, and abolishing slavery. So to say that preaching the gospel is our only purpose and that the church should not influence the culture through promoting just and righteous laws are both short-sighted and foolish. Often as the church has engaged in efforts to promote justice for the oppressed God has opened the door for the proclamation of the gospel. So the church should not be afraid to share with the state when it comes to matters of morality. We see this throughout the bible, in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament we see prophets calling kings to account, while both John the Baptist and Jesus confronted the religious and political leaders in the New Testament. We also see in the New Testament the Apostle Paul confronting Felix the governor, concerning righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Acts 24:25: “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Paul didn’t base his preaching on Felix’s response but on what was right. Felix feared the truth and backed away from biblical beliefs. We have a responsibility to teach truth and share matters of morality with those in leadership. Their response is their responsibility. But this brings up a difficult question: How far should we push Christian morality, legislatively in a secular society? This is a hard question to answer and certainly it can be taken too far. You see during the colonial days there were some states that punished people who traveled on Sunday. Even in the sixties there were stores in America that prohibited the purchase of certain items on Sunday. This may seem absurd but it begs the question how far do we go? The point is that the relationship between the church and the state is neither one of total separation nor one of total identification. We need to be involved in both preaching and politics, but preaching must remain our primary means of bringing peace to a weary world. So here is the question we Christians need to ponder, “Do I put more energy and effort into sharing my political views or proclaiming and preaching Christ?”

 

 


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Politics and Preaching – Part 1

Society tells us that Pastors can’t be political but have you ever read the sermons preached from pulpits all across this country during the American Revolution? The truth is pastors are people who are passionate about both Christ and country, so when it comes to politics they probably have an opinion. But over the last few decades the message to ministers has increasingly been that pastors shouldn’t be political. We seem to have forgotten that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher whose powerful preaching changed the political landscape of our country for the better. What if he had been afraid to share his message to the masses? What if he had cowered to those who called for him to be silenced? No Mr. King didn’t cower to the crowds he preach his powerful message of equality even paying for it with his life. His political beliefs were shaped by the bible yet today when a pastor dares to share his political views the statement, separation of church and state is often thrown in his face. There is an outraged accusation of an alleged violation of the Constitution’s ironclad requirement for the “Separation of Church and State.” But where in the Constitution is the statement “separation of church and state?” The truth is the constitution doesn’t contain that phrase anywhere. The phrase actually comes from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association, because they were concerned that Anglicanism might become the official or Established denominational preference of the new nation. Jefferson was trying to reassure the worried Baptists that no such “establishment” trickery was taking place. What appears to be true today is that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is widely misunderstood by most Americans. Most people have erroneously been taught that separation of church and state means that pastors can’t be political especially from the pulpit. What it simply means is that the state will not set up any official state religion or prohibit any person from freely exercising the religious beliefs in keeping with their own conscience. This means that this restriction on the Government’s intrusion into the private religious convictions of its citizens does not mean that all aspects of religion should be kept completely out of the affairs of the State. Today’s secular ideology is actually completely foreign to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. They drafted the Constitution, including its Bill of Rights, as a clearly defined limitation on the power of the Government to interfere with the freedoms of the people, NOT as a limitation on the power of the people to control the Government according to the beliefs of their own hearts. The true intent of the first amendment was not to keep religion out of the government, but to keep the government out of religion. Our forefathers not only fought with a nation bent on holding power over the people but against all odds defeated them. Yet they knew the propensity of the human heart in its thirsty pursuit for power, and in an unprecedented move they drafted a constitution unlike anything the world had ever see. Not only did they dare to dream but they were willing to casting aside all social norms putting pen to paper to protect the people from Government greed and power. Unfortunately most Americans today are completely unaware that it was the fiery sermons of the Patriot Pastors that sparked the American Revolution. If pastors preached like that today instead of praise there would be prison. Sadly, most Americans today have been spoon-fed a poisonous porridge causing them to believe that politics and preaching should be separated. So where do I stand when it comes to politics today? Well like Mr. King my beliefs are based on the bible and it saddens me that this country has stooped to hurling insults instead of showing intelligence. Instead of acting like presidential candidates they act like punk children, belittling each other and acting like brats. Do we really want to give power to the prideful or let habitual liars lead? Is this the best America has to offer, because it seems more like the bottom of the barrel than the cream of the crop. We are no longer at a tipping point; the plate has been dropped because we are now at a place where we are being united by hate instead of hope. While we claim to live in the land of the free we are really following our fear. We have leaders who spend more time tearing each other apart than proposing policies. The Bible reveals the results of this kind of belief and behavior in Mark 3:24 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand” Our current political process reveals a deeply divided nation, where many are wasting their time trolling the internet looking for some little tidbit that they can use to blast and bash the other side. The greatest enemy of democracy is not the external forces of evil but internal division. We have become a nation more preoccupied with demanding our rights than just living right. We are a nation driven more by law than love. So back to where do I stand on politics, I stand with the great preacher the apostle Paul who didn’t place his faith in politics but in the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ. Our security is not found in Government policies but in God’s plan of salvation. There are many Christians today who have become caught up in the frenzy of fear. Instead of following the Father they are following fear. Yes we should care about our country and our constitution but not more than Christ. Today Christians are clinging to a way of life instead of to the Word of life. We are more motivated by our anger than the Almighty. We are defining ourselves by what we are against instead of who and what we are for. Look just because the country has gone crazy doesn’t mean God is not in control. Today there seems to be a lack of balance when it comes to the church and politics, either we swing the pendulum to the far side of, preach the gospel but don’t get involved in politics, or the other side that says getting conservative Christian candidates elected is of the utmost importance. The truth is not only did our Forefathers make room for religious beliefs to be lived out, not only in how we govern our hearts and homes but also our nation, but they intend for those beliefs to be lived out. The problem becomes when we swing the pendulum too far to either side we do damage. Our hope is not in political policies it’s in the Prince of Peace, yet it’s this peace that should influence politics. Politics is not our first priority the Prince is, yet because He is our priority, He should influence our political perspective not people. The key question that we need to answer today is this, “Is Christ Lord of our political views?” On paper the answer to that question may seem obvious, but in practice it is anything but obvious. In the church we readily preach about living in submission to Christ in lots of different areas of our lives, yet when it comes to politics we seem to throw this teaching out the window. Even people whose lives are otherwise in submission to Christ have a tendency to forget about His lordship when the subject suddenly turns to politics. Many believers have never taken the time to think through what the Bible teaches about politics and our involvement. Yet if Christ is to be Lord of all of life and not just compartments of our life, this means that we must allow Him to be Lord of our political views as well. If you call yourself a Christian then I challenge you to answer the question, “is Christ Lord of my politics?” Because if not you probably have a polluted political perspective and there is a danger that fear not faith is driven the bus.