Faith and Politics

Pastors:  What, if anything, are you going to say to your people before the upcoming election?  Or maybe said differently “what have you said or taught on thus far?”  Do you ever preach a topical sermon on an issue like abortion as John Piper does each year?  How do you address issues without having people assume you are trying to support a specific candidate or party.  (footnote: I wish more Democrats were pro-life and pro-family and that the issues they’re debating were not issues at all).  One of my modern day heroes of the faith is John MacArthur but this is one issue we (Pastor John and I) do not agree on 100%.  What say you?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Caleb

    Here is what I have found in these 45 years of ministry. People made up their own minds. Many people in our churches will agree what they believe is biblical, but when it comes to issues in the political world, they make their own mind up.

    You can not address political issues in preaching and not have your people assume you are not trying to support a specific candidate.

    I say I am a Rep. and they know who I will vote for. I do not try to change the minds of those who are Dem. by addressing issues.

    I try to change mind to see biblically, and if that works they might view the party differently.

    You would do well to agree with MacArthur on this issue, Caleb.

    But you can and should address biblical issues that are also political issues, like abortion.

    We will pray that you are wise in the Scriptures and wise in your preaching.

  2. Well, I don’t have 45 years of ministry experience (only 30), but I take a different direction. I don’t say much about the political season from the pulpit during the height of the campaigns. But I DO try to address what the Bible says about such issues as social justice, poverty, personal responsibility, abortion, the environment (or for us here in Oregon, legalized suicide and gay marriage) during the 3 to 3-1/2 years between election cycles. If I have not done a good job helping people develop a biblical world-view and perspective during those times, they are not going to change their minds during a campaign season when everyone else is screaming at them re: the way they should vote.

  3. Cal

    You are correct, it is the responsibility of the pastor to teach the Biblical world-view on these very important issues that the Christian is facing. Scripture does address all the issues that you mention.

    Even MacArthur has mini series from time to time.

  4. I think Mark Dever would be a wise one to interview about these issues. He is in the heart of DC and tries to be as “neutral” as possible. I don’t understand how he does it.

  5. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on August 20, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Cal,

    I like this statement you made “If I have not done a good job helping people develop a biblical world-view and perspective during those times, they are not going to change their minds during a campaign season when everyone else is screaming at them re: the way they should vote.”

    Though i disagree with many things that Rick Warren does/says i did think his statement on the difference between the separation of church and state and faith and politics was a good one.

    How this should or should not translate into the church is a matter of wisdom.

  6. A couple of thoughts while on blog sabbatical. I hold these truths to be self-evident:

    1. Both of the majority parties (and numerous minority parties) have little to say in the way of platform for evangelicals. By this, I mean that Christians should never take their cues from a political party or look to its leaders for applied theology. If believers truly voted their convictions then we would not be stuck with only two candidates who have a shot at the office of President.

    2. Most people, which includes a lot of Christians have conceded an unconstitutional amount of weight to the office of President. Last time I checked we have three (supposedly equal) branches of gov. which are to keep one another in check. Therefore, debates about which president will balance the budget and cut taxes should not even be up for debate (it’s not in their job description).

    3. We (Christians) are a long way in practice from understanding the first amendment (“Congress shall make no law”). Observation tells me that we like this when it favors us and we don’t like it when it gives free speech and religious practice to say a Muslim.

    4. Telling my congregation who to vote for assumes they understand none of the above and have not thought about these sort of issues (which is an insult). Conversely, acting or preaching like everything in life hinges on an election is a denial of my theology.

    5. My general observation is that expository preachers tend to rarely speak on political issues because they are usually preaching the word. Likewise, non-textually oriented preachers are more prone to speak on political issues and therefore have the appearance of being “more political.”

    6. I really value the concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . . a lot!

  7. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on August 20, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Our blog leader has surfaced and just in time…

    On a serious note, i love the points made above. I would argue that the judicial branch has overstepped it’s boundaries as much or more than the executive branch. But i’m not trying to turn this blog discussion into CNN so i will refrain myself.

    Lastly, I have strong opinions on all the topics i’ve posted on during the last few weeks. I simply don’t have time right now to articulate those thoughts in a helpful blog format. I do value the wisdom of my fellow contributors and our Christian readers.

  8. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on August 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Paul in response to #5 My general observation is that expository preachers tend to rarely speak on political issues because they are usually preaching the word. Likewise, non-textually oriented preachers are more prone to speak on political issues and therefore have the appearance of being “more political.”

    Faithful expositors do give topical sermons and lectures in other church settings… Such as Sunday nights (MacArthur) or Wed. nights (Lawson).

    Those are probably the preferred times that i would choose to address issues like abortion or marriage or war in a topical manner.

  9. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on August 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    One last point, one of my fears is offending a brother or sister in Christ over the wrong issue(s). I learned this during one ministry i had in CA.

    I don’t want someone not to listen to my lesson from Acts because they were put off by my political views during a private conversation about “the border”.

    Their are many issues like the border where good Christians agree to disagree. I still have my political opinions i have just tried to be careful when and where i share those thoughts.

  10. I ask the folks tonight in the Wednesday Service if they would want me to address the election of 08, in order for them to make up their mind who to vote for. They laughed. No pastor, we know how to vote already. They gave me the answer.

  11. I think one of the challenges I face is the balance between helping our folks apply their faith to all aspects of life (including the ballot box) but also challenging them not to be tripped up by secondary powers (the horses and chariots of politics).

    In many ways the call, responsibility and challenges of our faith will be unchanged by the result of November’s elections. Many are whispering in our people ears that every thing hinges on the presidential election, I want to remind them that is not entirely true.

    I will carefully try to speak those words in the days ahead.

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