This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Freedom in the Pulpit

On Sunday, October 7, hundreds of pastors intentionally violated IRS regulations and publically endorsed candidates for political office from their pulpits. They were participating in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event designed to give clergy a forum to protest what many see as an infringement on religious freedom.

As those who were at our service on October 7 already know, I did not participate.
Others have offered interesting perspectives on whether or not such an event was appropriate (for example, see here). Let me offer just a thought or two (or four).

I believe I legally could have participated if I had thought it right.

From a legal standpoint, I think the pastors are in the right. Their argument is that the IRS stipulation violates freedom of speech and religion. It’s interesting to note that even though the organization has been doing this and participants have been sending videos of their messages to the IRS since 2008, they have yet to be charged with any crime.
I think the manner of protest is misguided.

The biblical injunctions to be in submission to our government are ones we must take seriously. To purposefully flaunt IRS regulations, just for the sake of proving you can, seems intentionally antagonistic to me.
I’m more comfortable pointing out the flaws in a candidate than praising his opponent.

The recent Democratic Convention featured an embrace of the pro-choice position that I found chilling. Gone was the fa├žade that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Instead there was a full-throttled defense of abortion-on-demand. As Margaret Carlson noted: "“I hate to bring up abortion during the Democrats’ festivities, which are going so swimmingly, but I have a question. Why has the party removed the sentence ‘Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare’ from its platform? It was in the 2004 document but not in 2008’s or this year’s. Can’t Democrats just throw a crumb to the many millions who are pro-choice but not pro-abortion?”

I have no problem encouraging people to not vote for Democrats who embrace a platform that is openly hostile to life.

Where I get uncomfortable is encouraging people to vote for the opposition. Just as one example, I'm cynical enough to know that some within the Republican party will give lip service to the pro-life agenda while having no intention of advancing the cause of life.

My task is to proclaim Christ not man.

Last Sunday, I noted that my task as a pastor is to proclaim Christ as revealed in His word. Even in a country where I have the right to endorse a candidate, to do so seems like it would be unwise to promote one in most circumstances.

For to do so would deflect attention away from Christ. As important as an election is, it's not as important as Christ. My limited time in the pulpit should be used judiciously to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and prepare people to worship Him forever.

Those are some of my thoughts… what are yours as we near the end of this election season?
By His Grace,
 
Daniel

6 comments:

  1. I wanted to take a moment to encourage you, that you made the right call not
    preaching against a candidate. I agree that you should be preaching God's
    Word and not endorsing political venues.

    As far as I am concerned, with our current political system the way it is,
    my vote is easy and has only one factor in nearly every election. The
    'right to life'. If you where to focus on anything, that is where the
    attention should be. God clearly wants us to treasure each life he gives to
    us. No matter how small.

    I enjoy the God centered christian blog and look forward to its content and
    encouragement.

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  2. Pastor Bennett,

    Pleased to hear you would out right oppose the errors of certain political ideology. I wish more pastors would do that and deal with very specific aspects of the political ideology as it relates to scripture.

    My question for you is, how would you pastor a politician in your flock? If they came to you and ask you how they should govern, what would you say? How would you council them?

    Blessings.

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  3. "The biblical injunctions to be in submission to our government..."
    I agree with being in submission to Government, which is easy in our country. Right now. But I don't know if this submission is supposed to be unconditional. Praise God for the common grace this country still enjoys.

    -Dan H

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  4. Grandson, I must admit I had not read this post when I talked to you last week. It is an excellent post, and I do agree with your views. I know my former pastor in New Market would no doubt agree with you on the pointing out the flaws of candidates rather than stating who he would support. I believe that when Peter speaks of submission to government, he means to submit except when one would be breaking God's laws, and then the duty is to God and not government. Great post! Love, Grandma

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