|ad Dei Gloriam Ministries|
|What's New||Site Map||American Heritage||The Real Issue|
Culture > Pulpit Freedom Sunday
|Pulpit Freedom Sunday|
Posted: September 29, 2008 - 18:13 CT
Throughout our history, church pastors have, with great passion, spoken Scriptural truth from the pulpit about government and culture. Indeed, America owes a great degree of its independence to the moral impact proceeding from the pulpit. D James Kennedy writes that "The road to American freedom was paved in large part by the pulpits of New England. Sermons from the colonial era helped to shape the American understanding that resistance to tyranny is obedience to God". Pastors became such a force for freedom during the Great Awakening that they became known as the "Black Regiment" (named for the color of their robes). Even John Wingate Thornton (1818-1878), a lawyer, historian and sometimes critic of colonization, wrote "To the Pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our independence".
Since our founding, anointed preachers have proclaimed
Scriptural truth on the many great moral issues of their
time such as slavery, child labor, prostitution, and racial
discrimination. In the past, pastors did not hesitate
to speak from the pulpit for and against various candidates
for government office based upon the Word of God.
While some churches are outright challenging the IRS, others seek to impact the elections without a direct confrontation. According to the Liberty Counsel based in Orlando, pastors can still preach on biblical and moral issues, such as abortion and traditional marriage, can urge the congregation to register and vote, and can overview the positions of the candidates. Churches may distribute nonpartisan voter guides, register voters, provide transportation to the polls, hold candidate forums, introduce visiting candidates and support voter initiatives such as marriage amendments.
Should Churches be involved in politics?
While churches clearly have a constitutional right to free speech involving political issues, should they, and if so, to what extent should they be involved in politics? This subject deserves much more space than we can give in this posting, so we'll offer some thoughts here, and save the more detailed writings for other sections.
If we put this question in front of several Christian leaders today, we'll likely received several different answers. D James Kennedy believed the passage "fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28) to be a cultural mandate. Others cite the "salt and light" passages in Matthew 5:13-16. Still others have even claimed the "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Mt 22:21) as a mandate of involvement. John MacArthur, on the other hand, believes that pastors should avoid politics in the pulpit altogether.
My personal thoughts is that both pastors and Christians have a right to be involved, and bring their informed moral values to the table in political matters. Some believe that they have a right to hold a moral Christian belief, but no right to force this belief on others. Even though most immoral people don't hesitate in their attempt to force their beliefs on us, we as Christians should not force our beliefs on others, but we certainly have the right of persuasion. All parties should have the right to express their opinions and beliefs, then let the majority rule. After all, the beliefs of the voting majority, whether moral or immoral will become law, except in the cases in which liberal activist judges become involved and legislate from the bench.
So, even though churches have the right to be involved in politics, I believe they should proceed with caution. We should be aware of how the world sees us. If you ask the average person on the street what he or she thinks of the church, the answer will often be given in political rather than in religious terms. I think much of this is due to the liberal secular media, but some blame must also be assumed by the church herself. Many people get their only knowledge of the church from the media, the majority of whom have never set foot in a church. A reporter usually only knows of the church by its involvement in worldly matters. Therefore, churches and Christians must conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1-3).
We must be known first and foremost for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. This is ultimately the only way that we'll bring lasting change to society. For example, we should fight for legislation to protect the unborn child, but our main objective should be getting the Gospel to perspective parents. Perhaps Dr Kennedy struck the best balance in that he was often preaching against immoral laws, but his main thrust was spreading the Gospel through his various ministries, including Evangelism Explosion (the first ministry to take the Gospel to every country) and the Center for Christian Statesmanship, which offered spiritual counsel to members of Congress and their staffs.
We as Christians must also recognize the limitations of government. Government is not the ultimate power and authority. Government can't solve all our problems and certainly can't save us. We should not put our trust in government, which is nothing short of idolatry, but in the God who is sovereign over all.
I've often heard talk, even among Christians, that Christianity will greatly suffer if a certain political party gains power over all branches of government. While the individual rights of Christians certainly diminish under a hostile administration, history has shown that Christianity itself can still flourish. Even today, Christians are still relatively free to worship and minister in western European countries and yet, the Church is practically dead in France in England. In contrast, Christianity is exploding under some of the most repressive regimes such as China, Russia, and many eastern European, Middle Eastern and African nations.
To conclude, I believe it's time that pastors and
Christians reclaim our right to
free speech in the political realm, but we should also keep
our activities in perspective. As with all other
pursuits, we should prayerfully seek the will of God,
attempting to accomplish them in such a way as to not lose
our witness. The constitution
guarantees us the right to free speech in a legal sense,
but morally, we should evaluate all our actions, political or
otherwise, within the context of the Word of God.
Finally, we must always consider that, even though God often
uses us to accomplish his perfect will, the battle
ultimately belongs to the Lord.
October 24, 2008 - 18:43
I agree that the government continues to chip away at the rights of Christians in our country. I think that a pastor should be able to speak about issues in a non-partisan way, but endorsing a candidate is going to far if they want to be tax-exempt.