I’ve taken some grief over the years as a pastor from individuals who feel like I should include more political commentary in my preaching. This is doubtless because of the fact that you can find many-a-pulpit across our great nation that will feed your hunger for political commentary laced with biblicism or theological jargon. In the worst cases, these pulpits compare the United States to Old Testament Israel, or use New Testament examples from the ministry of Jesus or the apostles in an attempt to offer political commentary on the latest issue that has everyone’s panties in a bunch.
At LifePoint we stay away from preaching politics. We instead seek to redeem the time we have together on a Sunday with the expositional preaching of God’s Word, centering our messages on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean that we avoid passages of Scripture which lead to application in our lives that inform our engagement of contemporary issues. There are certainly issues that are politicized in our day, that are actually moral and theological issues that the Bible clearly addresses. In regard to these issues (such as the sanctity of life or the definition of marriage), we preach the Scriptures and seek to apply them to our lives. But we must always make sure that the goal of preaching is to address these issues biblically and theologically, rather than politically.
I’m reading an excellent little book today called Preaching for God’s Glory by Alistair Begg. In the first part of the book he addresses the dearth of faithful expositional preaching in the world today. As he does this he examines the predominant reasons, as well as the content that comes from many pulpits. Many pastors are still talking, they’re just not preaching the Bible. This section of the book has me thinking about the issue of politics and the pulpit.
“When pastors become convinced that the central issue facing the church is political or psychological rather than theological, exposition will be forsaken in favor of political speeches and calls to wage war for “the soul of the nation.” Congregations are then more urged to vote than to pray. They are mobilized not on the basis of a divine mandate, but on the strength of a human agenda.”
He then quotes D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on this issue. This quote is a great summary of why we choose to preach the gospel at LifePoint, instead of political agendas.
“The thing that makes the Christian message a Gospel is that it is a proclamation of the good news. It is not just topical comments on the latest scandal in the newspapers or the latest bit of news. It is not that we spend our time in telling kings and princes and presidents and prime ministers how they ought to be running their countries and how they ought to be solving the international problem. We are not qualified to do so…What was it the Apostle preached about? Did the Apostle preach politics to these people? Did he say to them that it is about time you banded yourselves together and raised an army to rid yourself of the yoke of the Roman Empire? Did he object to taxation? Did he protest against the various things that were happening? That was not his message at all.”
There are those who would bemoan the fact that a pastor doesn’t preach politics, as if he’s abdicating his responsibility, or missing his opportunity to add to the discourse. I would take the opposite perspective on the issue. I think those who get distracted by politics, psychology, or other such things are wasting their pulpits. People can tune in every single night and hear the talking heads debate ad nauseam about how we can treat the symptoms of the problems in our culture.
Pastors and preachers,
Can these same people find the real answers to the issues that face us by listening to the content coming out of your mouth when you step into the pulpit? If that content isn’t God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then why are you talking?
2 Timothy 3:16-4:2
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.