Let Pulpit Freedom Ring!

In the 1920s a group of young people in the RPCNA asked their ministers why they chose to pastor in their particular denomination. As I reviewed the answers of these long dead ministers, I realized that common themes were found within each of their answers. One of the most common themes was that these ministers appreciated the freedom in the pulpit that they enjoyed in their denominational home. The whole counsel of God was preached and no topic was too base or taboo for the pulpit. Here are a few samples:

“Accepting the whole Bible as inspired and authoritative, this church believes that it should all be preached. This means that we have a freedom bounded only by the revealed will of God to preach truth and to condemn error…”
-RC Wylie

“The Covenanter pulpit is a free pulpit. The breadth of the Church’s confession makes it a forum for the fearless discussion of sin regardless of the form it may assume. The Covenanter minister may preach against the prevalent sins of the age and still feel that he stands on a pulpit which supports him; he may proclaim all the fundamentals of the Gospel, untrammeled by the conventions of the age.” -J. Boyd Tweed

“In the pulpit the Covenanter minister has freedom to speak…” -WJ Coleman

“The church stands for the whole body of revealed truth. Her ministers are never muzzled from exposing any sin or expounding any truth. What saith the Word of God? Proclaim it!”    -Robert Park

Freedom in the pulpit is a wonderful blessing indeed. Pulpit freedom, centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ, was the means that God used for expanding the church through the ancient world. Hear the words of the Apostle Paul:

I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
– Acts 20:20-27

The bounds of the minister’s freedom is the Word of God itself, and that freedom ought to be maintained in the Church of Jesus Christ. Pulpit freedom, like in the life of the Apostle Paul, leads to fearless Christ-centered living.

Pray for your pastor that he may enjoy the freedom of expounding the whole Scriptures. Pray that congregations would love their minister enough to afford him this freedom. Pray that Christ would raise up young men to boldly proclaim the whole counsel of God. Pray that pulpit freedom would result in the conversion of sinners and the building up of saints.

Many who are looking for new church homes have stated that they are tired of the safe, predicable, watery, and simplistic preaching that does not change hearts, minds or lives. May freedom ring in our pulpits. May Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of God be proclaimed unto his glory!

3 Comments

  1. Phil Pockras December 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    This freedom is, of course, as long as we are within Scripture, as you mentioned, and within our mutually covenanted understanding of Scripture as summarized in the Westminster Standards and the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. I cannot, for example, preach up free will-ism without (proper!) censure.

    Some might say that this is binding! No more than, as Tootle the Train found, tracks are to a locomotive. They free it to do the work for which it’s designed. Keeping to the Holy and inerrant Scriptures, as we together understand them, allow us in the RPCNA to function in the way God designed for us as part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.

    • Nathan Eshelman December 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Rev. Pockras, of course our liberty is bound by the Word of God and our Standards which are faithful summaries of the Scriptures. I really appreciate the train illustration as well.

      When a faithful minister of the Word enjoys the boundaries of his freedom he will proclaim with joy the message that Christ has given to him!

      Thanks for your words.

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