Though I missed it, I guess this past Sunday was "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," as some ministers decided to tell their congregations for whom they should or should not vote. In response, Cal Thomas, a Christian political commentator, has made it quite clear that pastors and churches are really not to be involved in the business of addressing political matters. The great pastor and theologian Martyn Lloyd-Jones would seem to agree. In urging the preaching of Christ rather than politics, he said, "I am in no position to stand and address a company of Christian people as to whether I think the Government has acted rightly or wrongly. That, I repeat, is not the primary business of the Christian minister."
I find myself drawn to the spirit of Thomas and Lloyd-Jones' point, as our focus in the pulpit should always be in the exaltation of Christ. Certainly turning the pulpit into a place for political stumping is foolish at best and idolatrous at worst. Yet I still find that I cannot agree with the gagging effect on the preacher these men's chief idea if practiced would bring. At key times and issues, pointing out the rightness or evil of our governing leaders and their policies is how we exalt Christ.
For instance, take the current financial chaos our nation is facing. Our government is voting whether to give these failed financial institutions an incredibly large bail-out - $700 billion! You do not have to be a mathematician to know 700,000,000,000 dollars is a lot of money. Neither do you have to have a PhD in economics to understand why we are in this crisis. You just need to understand two things. 1) Money is printed at the will of the government and therefore its value is changed as they try to control the economy. This is akin to having a yardstick that is one day 34 inches and the next 41. 2) On the insistence of the government, through its making of laws and regulations to promote "equality," this money has been loaned out by banks and loan institutions (i.e. Fannie May and Freddie Mac) to thousands and thousands of people that you or I wouldn't even loan a shovel to based on their reputation, much less the amount of a house.
And I'm not supposed to say anything? What did the prophets do when confronted with corrupt rulers and practices? What did Jesus say to those who suppressed the poor through evil monetary policies? Does the Bible say anything about changing scales and differing weights? Consider:
"You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God." Deuteronomy 25:14-16
This is not only law. It is basic wisdom:
"Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good." -Proverbs 20:23
We have grown so accustomed to an economic system based on differing weights and measures that when things grow haywire and unbalanced, our collective response is to take from one side (tax, increase money supply, borrow) so we can put more on the other side (entitlements, loans, grants). We have forgotten that slightly more than a century ago the chief campaign point was the money system we would use. We need to see that the problem is not so much that the balance is tipping, but that differing scales are causing the tipping.
With that in mind, might I add that those telling pastors to be quiet are just part of the same problem? For at the same time they are instructing preachers not to speak about politics, politician and pundit alike see no irony in moralizing, using the church, and invoking God's name when it serves their cause. Talk about differing scales!
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