Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Evidence That American Evangelicalism Is About Politics, Not the Gospel

If your pastor thinks making politics the priority of his preaching in the way advocated here is a good idea, get out of that church now. You're very likely not in a Christian church.


J. Dale Weaver, M.Div. said...

I do not advocate preaching politics from the pulpit. I would not endorse a candidate outright from the sacred desk. I would, however, advocate that the Church, Pastors of conservative conviction and believers who hold to traditional values should have the same rights and privileges gauranteed by the Constitution as their liberal counterparts.

In short, this move by the ADF is not about "evangelicalism," but about the rights of ALL citizens, including those who attend traditional and conservative churches, to speak freely. The IRS has curtailed that right for too long, and usually ONLY enforced it on these same conservative/traditional churches.

Do you not think that's why Democrats parade by the scores to Black churches during elections? They aren't talking about building the Kingdom of God. Yet, the outright endorsements and political speech from behind liberal pulpits, and the voter registration drives and the like on minority and liberal church grounds, go unnoticed, accepted. That's a double standard that is neither American nor "Christian."

Finally, I think you should read the new "Evangelical Manifesto." They seem to take the same position you advocate. Apparently, many "Evangelicals" have decided that it is better to be apolitical than to stand on issues that effect the fabric of our society. By taking this position, they repeat the same mistake made by our Evangelical/Fundamentalist Forefathers who decided to "withdraw" from corrupt society in the wake of the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925. That 50+ year disengagement cost our nation an enormous price. It contributed to the de-Christinization of the culture, it provided the impetus for the removal of prayer and the Bible from schools, and it set the stage for the devastation of 45+ million abortions. And that's the type of the iceburg.

You disregard the Lord's command to be "salt and light" far too fast, and condemn those who understand that command differently even faster. "Evangelicalism" is not about politics. An inherent part of the Gospel, however, is to bring transformation to lost souls, and to present another vision of what society and culture could be. Evangelicalism has largely failed to do so, and that failure has been due in part to those with an attitude like those who penned the Evangelical Manifesto.

Your charge against Brothers in Christ that they are not "Christian Churches" because they understand their duties to Christ differently than you is unscriptural and unfounded in this case.

Other than that -- I usually enjoy your blog! :-)


J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Ben said...

J. Dale,

You wrote:
"Pastors of conservative conviction and believers who hold to traditional values should have the same rights and privileges gauranteed [sic] by the Constitution as their liberal counterparts."

I wholly agree. I said nothing that's inconsistent with that idea.

But the fact that pastors should possess those rights doesn't mean they ought to exercise them in the way the ADF is advocating.

Pastors who think they need to endorse a presidential candidate from the pulpit for the purpose of defending their religious liberty are selling their birthright for a pot of stew. The message of the gospel is far too precious to cheapen it by fusing it with a political message. Those who cheapen the gospel should not be recognized as Christian leaders. They do not (yet?) demonstrate the maturity to shepherd the flock in a way that's faithful to biblical priorities.

Does that mean a pastor should never demonstrate how the Bible speaks to issues that are prominent in the public square? Of course not. For one to suggest that I've opposed that would be a gross mischaracterization.

J. Dale Weaver, M.Div. said...

If I mischaracterized your position, it was not intentional. And I do not want my position to be mischaracterized either. I began my original post, "I do not advocate preaching politics from the pulpit. I would not outright endorse a candidate from the sacred desk."

I simply think it is unreasonable, unwarranted and unConstitutional for "preachers" of Liberal persuasion to be able to do so without criticism or censure, while Conservate Pastors are attacked not only by the IRS, the News Media and Leftists for doing so, but they are also attacked by their own brethren.

There is something inherently wrong with that. Wouldn't you agree?

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Ben said...

I believe the law should be applied consistently. I tend to believe pastors have the constitutional right to say things from the pulpit that are inconsistent with Christian faith.

I do not believe there's anything "unreasonable, unwarranted, or unconstitutional" in criticizing those who would endorse political candidates from the pulpit. I would not concede that such people are "conservatives." It's nothing new for churches to abandon the gospel through the pathway of political engagement and influence.