Friday, August 13, 2010

How should politics be handled in the church?

 This is an old article that talks about the role of a preacher/church in preaching about political issues and social issues, and various ways that churches might be involved in promoting causes. 

What issues do you think are appropriately talked about from the pulpit?  And what issues should a congregation promote and work for?


  1. The pulpit is for the proclamation of the gospel --the good news of God's love forgiveness and acceptance of all people. Discussions about how to live that out (which involve politics) are appropriate for forums, discussions, bible study, ect. Never the pulpit - because the only authority I have as a the preacher is in as far as I proclaim the good news...all the rest is opinion and belongs in a place where people have opportunity to discuss and disagree.

  2. Well put. Your answer helped me realize why I react negatively to a number of the speakers I hear on the Christian radio stations my sister listens to. The speakers, usually male pastors, speak almost like they are giving a sermon, but the topic is usually a "how to live your life" type of thing, which, to me, seems quite tied to culture and psychology or even pop-psychology. There is the aura of the pulpit, yet it isn't quite a sermon. And there is no, absolutely NO, place for discussion or rebuttal.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this piece, Deb. I forwarded it via e-mail to our Pastor, thanking her and our church too (collectively) for not being the kind of place that tries to tell me how to believe about what I don't consider to be affairs of my Faith. I really enjoyed reading this article -good words, for sure!

  4. Your welcome, Jeni, though I'm not Deb.

  5. I am not Lutheran but I am Protestant and have been doing some research on exactly what doctrinal differences exist within the umbrella of the Protestant religion. It is to this end that I found your post and for whatever it is worth would like to make a comment.
    It has weighed heavily on my heart for many years now that the(non-radical, traditional) pulpit is silent most of the time when it concerns the evil that we are living in and among. I wish it were not so but many, many times this evil manifest itself and controls our lives through the vehicle of politics and governmental controls. I believe that there is a place for reasoned teachings that deal with current events such as the health care mandate. The main stream press works very hard to make a Christian view not relevant to the discussion and I do not think we as a body that represents the values of Christ, should help them with this idea by voluntarily silencing ourselves! Evil wins when good men are silent. Our youth need strong direction and in many homes that firm guiding hand is not there. If a minister from the pulpit guides a young person to think about a topic from a Christian perspective rather than the secular perspective is that not a good thing?

  6. Thank you for your comment, CS. While at first glance I would think that I agree with you, when I reread what you wrote, I can't agree with your underlying premise, that the traditional pulpit is silent in many matters that might effect us, including evils among us. Not one person knows what is being preached in churches other than the one he/she attends on a particular Sunday. It may that some pastors preach the Gospel, and emphasize the Feel Good aspects of the Gospel, which is certainly what the Gospel message is about. Other pastors may preach about Sin and how the Gospel wipes out sin, making us white as snow, renewed so that we can live in fulness with God and with fellow Christians.

    But we aren't there to hear, so please don't make blanket statements that seem true, but can't possibly be true (or false.)

    Another point you bring up is about the main stream press, and I think we can include TV commentators in that. Unfortunately, these commentators and their producers tend to choose the loudest and most vocal representatives of the "Christian" community to give a view point on TV newscasts. Some of these "pastors" (some who may be self-ordained) often skew toward a specific political doctrine and seem to pick their Christian philosophy to match their politics, rather than the other way around. There is a petition going around the web currently asking that the TV producers try harder to pick a cross section of pastors to represent Christianity.

    Your deeper point does resonate with me: we may need some help in learning to use the Biblical lessons and principals to inform our personal politics and to help us see the insidious opponents of Christianity in our society.

    But I have to agree with Pastor Joelle's comment, that in the pulpit, straying from the Biblical lesson, the Gospel lesson, into other topics inevitably puts the pastor's personal leanings front and center. There is a place for open and free discussion, looking at all the guidance we are given in the Bible, prayerfully considering how to apply it to our lives.

    We can see in current politics many examples of people running for office who make a show of their Christian faith (maybe deep and real, maybe not) but who are not applying many of Jesus' teachings across the board in their pronouncements. Some example topics would be taxation, taking care of the helpless, capital punishment, going to war, holding people accountable for their actions, and self-defense. I'm sure that there are many more. Christians seem to come down on the left, right, and center of these issues, reading from the same Bible.

    I wish I knew who said it, but I heard a quote that the more time a person spends reading the Bible, the more that person will move in a "liberal" direction. Or to use the language differently, if being a conservative means doing and believing in the way that things were done in the past, then it would be conservative to try to work in the world as Jesus did: taking care of the poor and sick, advising us to pay our taxes, turning the other cheek, and forgiving people who do wrong, and giving them many more chances.

    Yes, I agree with Joelle, these are issues that need discussion, not dictates from the pulpit.


And what do you think?