As a seminarian, I’ve been exposed to a great range of people. This is especially true of the number and types of other seminarians and pastors – across a spectrum of Christianity. I’m grateful for all of these encounters.
And at the same time, I am left wondering about some people I have met. I’m not sure if they are a pastor (or seminarians) or a political party activist. Yes, I hear plenty of people say that a person can be both. I disagree with that assessment. Maybe I should clarify.
I have no problem with pastors and seminarians speaking out on political issues – I think it would be impossible not to and I think the church has a great deal to add to the conversations that occur. These are important conversations and important issues that affect people’s lives. Lord knows that I’ve certainly written about politics plenty on this blog.
The challenge I come across is when a pastor (or seminarian) makes it sound like one political party (that they happen to be a member of) has all the answers and is innocent as the wind driven snow and can do no wrong. They’ve got all the talking points and use them very ably. They make it known that they only consider candidates from one political party for election. I have to wonder are they a pastor or a political party activist?
And political parties lap this up. There’s nothing better than getting someone with some authority to parrot the lines they are fed. I don’t think most people realize that people who do this are being duped and used. And when the time comes that someone doesn’t parrot the lines, they will be thrown under the bus because politics is about power – anyone who doesn’t conform or meet the purity test is a danger to pulling power away. It’s not about changing lives for the better – unless you are referring to the lives of people in power.
Oh I can hear it now – but what about this policy or that policy that’s designed to help people. Sure. And its a striking coincidence that the politicians who pushed that policy go around campaigning for office highlighting this policy in order to get votes. It also helps that they also mention the people who opposed the policy. The message comes across – vote for me – I gave you this. If you want more things like this, you have to vote for me, not the other evil people who voted against it. They support causes that benefit other people who are not you.
Recently, Dave Gipson, who is a pastor, wrote an article about politics in the pulpit. Preaching politics in the pulpit is a big no-no (never mind the fact that politicians end up in the pulpit during election time – I have a big problem with this – they are preaching a different Gospel and churches that allow this should be ashamed of this practice – it’s the epitome of partisan political activism).
Here’s a couple of lines from the article that caught my attention and really captures my thoughts.
I believe things won’t improve until we begin individually helping to change lives, rather than just voting for generic “change.”
While I’ve seen the Gospel of Christ change lives, most politics is little more than talk.
Frankly, it’s sad how many Christians believe political reform is the key to bringing “spiritual revival” to our country. Why would God bless such idolatry? In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God never said “If the government” will turn back to me, I’ll heal your land. He said, “If my people…”!
Pastors are called to preach the Gospel message. I just wonder what Gospel message some of them are preaching.
Now, if you are sitting there, reading this as a lay person (a non-pastor), and saying “right on” I have to point out something. If you replace the word pastor with Christian, wouldn’t the same idea apply? Aren’t we all called to live out the Gospel of Christ as Christians, not the Gospel of the the Democrat or Republican parties? Does this mean I advocate separation of Christians from politics? No. Be political. But also recognize that politics is flawed – seriously flawed. Recognize that our salvation doesn’t come through politicians and laws and government. There have been too many instances of these things enslaving people over time and destroying lives, not helping them. Recognize that politics is about power. Is that where you really want to put your hope? Or are we called to something else – something much higher?