Thursday, April 17, 2008

FAITH QUESTIONS: Should churches talk about politics?


ASK THE PASTOR: Should churches talk about politics?

To bring some precision to the question, let us define something as political when (a) it relates to the policies of our nation and (b) when it does not fall within the ethical domain of Scripture. Thus defined, I firmly believe that politics has no place within the ministries or programs of a local church. Political issues are never mentioned from the pulpit in my church, and we choose not to display political literature (such as voting guides). It is our desire that people assemble with us for the sole purpose of learning and responding to God’s glory. As such, we refuse to engage in any activity that will distract our people from this primary purpose.

Yet many American Christians (even worse, pastors) wish to use the pulpit as a place to bemoan the secularization of America or to decry the socialist (or perhaps even conservative) agenda of whom they perceive to be the opposing political party. The two chief offenders are liberal congregations and fundamentalist congregations. Both of these suffer from a serious departure from a biblical understanding of God’s kingdom. Christ clearly taught us that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). This is not because worldly affairs are unimportant. In fact, I would maintain that Scripture encourages (or at least allows for) Christians to be active citizens, but their citizenship in a national entity is utterly distinct from their citizenship in Christ’s heavenly kingdom—and Christ does not want his disciples to confuse the two. John McArthur recently said that “what happens in American or world politics is irrelevant to the kingdom of God”. 1 Our kingdom-mission is the same regardless of our nation’s policy on NAFTA or taxation. When we allow politics to enter into the worship or teaching ministry of our services we dilute (and perhaps even hinder) our ability to engage in kingdom work.

Scripture does call us to take a stand on moral issues, regardless if these have become politicized. We have the obligation to call for national repentance. Most importantly, we are ordered to pray (as congregations) for our political leaders. Even here we only do these things because of their direct relation to our mission (to display Christ’s holiness and love).

We must stay focused on the kingdom-mission of proclaiming the gospel. When we move from it ever so slightly, we are in danger of losing it all together.

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1April 16, 2008 – Discussion panel. Together for the Gospel Conference-2008.

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Questions for Pastor Josh can be submitted via Email. "Faith Questions" is a feature in the monthly newsletter of Indian River Baptist Church. This blog republishes those Questions, along with others not selected for print publication.

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