As Christians confront what could be the most consequential election of our lifetimes – one on which the fate of our nation will hinge – this is no time for neutrality. The Church must be involved in educating, mobilizing and activating committed Christians as never before.
This does not mean turning churches into the equivalent of precinct committees. But it does mean bringing God’s message into the political arena, as it must be brought into every other area of our lives.
It is with hesitation and humility that I must disagree with the prominent Christian apologist Marvin Olasky, author of many excellent books and the editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine.
In a commentary in the June 16 issue of WORLD (“The Politicized Pulpit”), Olasky criticizes the book “The Political Imperative: An Assignment from God,” championed by my friend Tom DeLay. In this book, author Norm Mason argues that political involvement isn’t optional for Christians.
Olasky doesn’t disagree with that. Instead, he warns against what he sees as the politicization of the Church. Specifically, Olasky disagrees with Mason urging churches to “develop and communicate to the membership reliable sources of data” as well as providing “specific information (political) to the church body as applicable.”
Mason isn’t recommending that pastors tell members of their congregation how to vote (“Vote for candidate X and against ballot measure Y”), but is asking them to provide useful information on how the outcome of the political debate will impact on their lives as citizens and Christians. This might be thought of as an extension of the voters’ guides, distributed in the millions by Christian groups in each election cycle.
While Olasky is in favor of pastors explaining the Bible’s perspective on, say, abortion, he’s opposed to what he views as political advocacy. Thus, Olasky writes, “Overall, it’s not the task of the church as church to take political stands or provide political information.”
Olasky cites the example of the Revolutionary War, when, he says, colonial clergy preached the Bible’s message on liberty, but left it up to secular groups like the Sons of Liberty of give the message practical application.
This ignores examples like that of Peter Muhlenberg, pastor of a Lutheran Church in Virginia, who, at the end of a sermon on independence in 1776, threw off his clerical robe to reveal the uniform of a colonel of the Continental Army. The next day, Pastor Muhlenberg led 162 men, more than half the men in his congregation, into the 8th. Virginia Regiment and ended the war as a general.
Prior to the Civil war, the anti-slavery movement was practically organized out of Northern churches. Evangelist Charles Finney, the greatest soul-winning evangelist in America of his day, whose preaching is credited with initiating the Second Great Awakening that empowered Christians to throw off the tyranny of slavery, stated:
"If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it."
The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s sprang from black churches in the South. The living symbol of that movement was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
No one is suggesting that churches become centers of political activism. Rather that they keep their members informed and point out the Biblical imperative of applying Christian principles to issues and elections.
Information is not the equivalent of indoctrination. Christians are mature enough to critically evaluate input from all kinds of sources, including their church.
Besides the Democrats and Republicans, the public receives political instruction from the news media, talk radio, Hollywood and public education. Why should America’s churches – which should be our nation’s conscience – be the only citizenship-free zones?
I consider Mr. Olasky and WORLD Magazine both to be gifts from God, providing an excellent alternative to most news magazines that tilt toward the left with a secular worldview, but, on this issue, Mr. Olasky is simply wrong, in my opinion.
After spending more than 15 years beseeching pastors to simply remind their congregations that which makes a man a good Christian also makes him a good citizen, it seems to me that Mr. Olasky’s commentary could encourage the continuing silence of most pastors which has led to the moral vacuum in politics that produces politicians rather than statesmen.
John Jay, our nation’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice, stated, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Who better than our pastors to teach their congregants such truth? We no longer have justices of the caliber of John Jay, and I lay the blame for that at the feet of our preachers.
We need a revival of the spirit of John Peter Muhlenberger if America is going to step back from the brink of destruction. Norm Mason’s book, “The Political Imperative; An Assignment from God,” should be studied in every church in America.
June 6 marked the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the greatest amphibious-landing in history and the beginning of the liberation of Europe from the horrors of Nazism.
There is no record of the exact number of chaplains among the more than 60,000 Allied troops who waded ashore along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in Normandy. But they were a vital part of what General Eisenhower called the Great Crusade in Europe. When Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, there were 8,896 chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces.
On D-Day, they led prayer services on board ships in the English Channel, prayed with soldiers as they lay dying in the sand, and died themselves in the line of duty. Together, they are part of a glorious saga and another chapter in America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA – a Season of Prayer, Fasting and Action (September 28-November 6)
The Church must be involved in our nation’s renewal.
That’s why Vision America called more than 100 leaders to meetings over the past few weeks, asking them to join our national call to prayer and repentance called 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA – a Season of Prayer, Fasting and Action. God promises to hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land…IF we will humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. (See II Chronicles 7:14).
We now have over 80 groups in our Alliance of Participating Organizations. Together, we are attempting to launch the biggest prayer effort in our nation’s history, calling on 40,000 pastors to lead their respective congregations in a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and action for America.
Will you join us? Please select here
to find out more about 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA – A Season of Prayer, Fasting and Action. Please forward this email
to all on your lists in order to help us get this message out.
God bless you.
Pastor Rick Scarborough
To sign up for 40 DAYS TO SAVE AMERICA
– and receive periodic updates on our progress as well as access to our materials –click here
You can also make a tax-deductible donation by selecting here. Because your contribution will be used to call our nation to prayer, it will be blessed as well as a blessing.