The Point of the Pulpit

I think it’s safe to say that our opinions are going to differ on a great many things.  For instance, if you’re a Christian in America, you might be perturbed by what I’m going to say, and that’s OK.  We can disagree on things without everybody calling each other evil and whatnot.  This will probably irritate about half of my friend list on Facebook.  You know who you are.

But some things need to be said.

I don’t think I’ve spent much time at all responding to articles on other blogs.  Generally it isn’t worth the time, and I would rather spend mine attempting to generate my own content.  But being the political season, and me being standoffish regarding politics, I couldn’t help but say something about this article from CNN’s Religion Blogs page regarding “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a day where at least 1400 pastors are planning on preaching politics from the pulpit.

When Ron Johnson takes take his pulpit on Sunday, he will willfully break the law. After presenting his views on President Barack Obama’s handling of religious issues –- like abortion, gay marriage, and religious freedom – Johnson will ask his congregation a question.

“In light of what I have presented,” Johnson says he will say, “How can you go into that election booth and vote for Barack Obama as president of the United States?”

- Dan Merica, CNN

People are passionate about politics, I understand that.  But since Mr. Johnson is asking questions, I think an even greater one needs to be asked, and that is what is the point of the pulpit?  Do we attend church on Sunday to hear an opinion-filled speech about politics?  Should time be spent arguing political points in order to sway the votes of hundreds of church members?

“As a pastor, I am going to tell it like I see it and I am going to communicate from the word of God,” Johnson said. “I hope that on Election Day, I hope that I have influenced people to protect their conscience.”

- Pastor Ron Johnson

You are correct, Pastor Johnson.  As a pastor your job on Sunday is to communicate from the Word of God.  Your role is to preach the Gospel, to preach Christ crucified.  Well maybe . . . maybe there is that one point in the gospels where Jesus advocated rebellion against the oppressive Roman presence in Jerusalem.   Turn with me in your bibles to Mark 3:44:

” . . . . . . . . . . “

- Jesus, Mark 3:44

Well this is embarrassing.  It turns out that not only is there not a Mark 3:44, but Jesus advocated no such rebellion.  However, he did command his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey everything He commanded them.  He also proclaimed freedom for believers, and came to call sinners.  Honestly, there are umpteen verses that we could look at that show why Jesus was here, and what it is we are to do about it, but not one of them should inspire us to influence secular elections.

I attended a preaching class where a wise professor once said that nobody will know who he votes for, and I think that’s a good thing.  Rather than standing behind a pulpit and arguing why one un-Christ-like millionaire should be voted in over the other un-Christ-like millionaire, maybe we should offer solid, biblically-based teaching that challenges and encourages people, preaching whose purpose is to draw everyone rather than alienating half of them.  We don’t even need a catchy name; we’ll just call it “Sunday.”

11 thoughts on “The Point of the Pulpit

  1. Thank you for this. Far too often I feel like I’m the only one who thinks that loving God has nothing to do with what political parties say about it. I don’t want my beliefs to be tools by which those who hunger for money or power achieve their goals. I want my life to be a prayer.

    Anyway, thank you.

    • You’re very welcome, Dennis. Thank you for commenting. One of the more frustrating things about being associated with, well, pretty much anything, is the reality that the loudest, most obnoxious people, are the ones who define your group. It happens in both the Church and in politics.

  2. Stopped by to read you blog and see what you are about. I really do appreciate this one. I attend an evangelical church and most folks there are very political. I believe it would be a sad thing, indeed, to be known more by what party one votes for or political ideology one supports than for knowing and appreciating Jesus. We often forget that the powers of this world crucified him–and still would, given the opportunity. Maybe we do need to vote our conscience (I keep telling myself I should), but we need to remember, no matter who is in office, Jesus is King and Lord. No matter who we vote for would probably be ashamed of standing with Jesus, simply because of how many voters it would alienate. Now what was that I said about voting my conscience? Anyway, whatever lever I pull will not be a vote for Christian beliefs, but the lesser of two evils–sad but true.

    Lord bless you.

  3. What about being “salt and light”…? What about prophecy that speaks to the culture and world at-large, e.g., abortion? This should come from other places (and people) than a pulpit and a pastor, but certainly there, as well.

    • Being salt and light does not require endorsing any candidates. Once you break down that wall any pastor can be strong-armed into endorsing xyz’s son BillyBob who is running for city council. It’s irresponsible, in my opinion for a church to do this. No law restricts a pastor from preaching on abortion, but it does prevent him from endorsing a candidate, so long as the church is considered a non-profit. I wonder though, speaking of the point of the pulpit, I wonder if Jesus would preach more about how the Church should act against the evils of abortion, or how they should be reaching out and offering help, hope, and good news (the Gospel,) to hurting, desperate girls who are willing to undergo such a procedure.

      • Not all girls (or women) who seek an abortion are “hurting and desperate.” Especially since abortion is now legal. Many in our society don’t consider the morality of their actions; they consider only what’s legal, and take their cues concerning what’s right and wrong from the legal standard. That’s especially true of the young. Leaders that we elect have a direct impact concerning what’s “acceptable” in our society. If no pro-abortion leaders had ever been elected to office, then we would have no legal abortion today. So, leadership does matter in establishing what’s “right” or “wrong” legally and in people’s minds. I don’t want to see the pulpit turned into an election prop, but pastors should speak out against those seeking election who endorse what is clearly against God’s will. As far as what Jesus would preach about, I think he would preach concerning helping the desperate, against those who promote and perform abortion, and against government leaders who promote ungodliness in their leadership. If a person were running for elected office and they promoted letting the hungry starve, would you want pastors to limit their preaching to the topic of feeding the hungry or go so far as to single out the person who promoted such a position, especially if they stood a good chance of winning?

      • “I don’t want to see the pulpit turned into an election prop, but pastors should speak out against those seeking election who endorse what is clearly against God’s will.”

        Once you cross that line of speaking out against a candidate, you’ve opened the doors to being forced to endorse a candidate; there’s no turning back from that. Honestly though, if a pastor believes he should exchange preaching the gospel to endorsing a candidate, he is able to do so. All he has to do is trade his church’s non-profit status for that liberty. At that point he can say whatever he wants.

        “As far as what Jesus would preach about, I think he would preach concerning helping the desperate, against those who promote and perform abortion, and against government leaders who promote ungodliness in their leadership.”

        I understand where you’re coming from, but I can’t disagree more. The Roman government leaders clearly did not promote godliness, yet Jesus did not spend an iota of time condemning their corruption and brutality. To assume He would do so today would be completely uncharacteristic of how He communicated His message.

        “If a person were running for elected office and they promoted letting the hungry starve, would you want pastors to limit their preaching to the topic of feeding the hungry or go so far as to single out the person who promoted such a position, especially if they stood a good chance of winning?”

        If a politician promoted letting the hungry starve, such as they did in Orlando when they made feeding the homeless illegal, I would have no problem acknowledging the law and pointing out how the lack of compassion some people have towards those who are needy, and then I would preach on Matthew 25:31-46.

  4. What about our command to be “salt and light” in this world? What about prophecy that speaks to the culture and the world at-large concerning moral issues, e.g. abortion? Issues should be addressed from places other than a pulpit and people besides the pastor, but certainly there, as well.

  5. Sorry for the double-post! WordPress used a pop-up to require that I log-in again stating that my first post wouldn’t be posted until I logged in again…

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