Political Pulpits

Should pastors preach politics? Yes, but distinctions are important. If by preaching politics we mean promoting the Republican Party (or, heaven forbid, the Democratic Party), or repeating the talking points from “Meet the Press,” or elaborating on Tucker’s Carlson’s cleverest recent monologue, or evaluating the details of the latest Congressional legislation (which many of the august members haven’t even read), then, no, pastors shouldn’t preach politics. The pulpit is all about exalting Jesus Christ and the Word of God and the Gospel.

But you can’t do that faithfully if you don’t consistently preach about issues that today are known as political or sociopolitical: Covid lockdowns, abortion-on-demand, gay “marriage,” transgenderism, divorce laws, immigration, the Ukraine war, socialism, student debt forgiveness, taxation, and much more. The fact is that the Bible directly or indirectly addresses each of these topics. The fact that this might surprise some Christians just shows how little of the Bible they’ve read, or how they’re studiously avoided some parts of it (See “Torahic Christianity”).

For a preacher to say, “There’s no reason to mention Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness idea in my sermon since I’m called to preach the Gospel, not politics” is to misunderstand the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good News that God in Christ’s death and resurrection is gradually reversing and erasing Edenic sin and restoring and enhancing Edenic righteousness. That includes the sin of covenant-breaking (that’s what illicit debt “relief” is) as well as the righteousness of repaying one’s honest debts. If it’s a sin issue and a righteousness issue, it’s a Gospel issue.

“But,” some well-meaning preachers protest, ”I’m called to preach Christ.” Indeed you are. But you’re called to preach the entire biblical Christ, not the modern minimalist Christ. Jesus Christ isn’t just priest and prophet. He’s also king (see Hebrews 1:1–3). He’s the priest — he pays for sin. He’s the prophet — he speaks the Word. He’s the king — he rules the world. As the world’s king, his Word is law. To evade his law, or postpone it until his second advent, is to deny his kingship. This is just as bad as denying Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and that he is the Father’s only sinless, infallible prophet.

When Jesus replied to the Roman governor Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11), he was making a fundamental political postulate.

When the apostle Peter told the apostate Jerusalem Council, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), he was meddling in politics.

When the apostle Paul states that Jesus is the ruler over all his creation (Colossians 1:15–20), he was making a political statement.

When he declared that God has presently placed all things under Jesus the Christ’s feet, that he is now “far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else” (Ephesians 1:19–23), he was mixing religion and politics.

When he wrote that God has elevated to the highest place the crucified and risen One, to whose absolute lordship every knee will bow and every tongue confess (Philippians 2:5–11), he was preaching politics.

You cannot preach Jesus Christ, the Word, or the Gospel without preaching politics.

Church leaders often say, “We’re not going to let politics into our church.” But they’re dangerously naive. By refusing to preach on politics, they don’t keep their members politics-free. They simply assure that their church will be politicized by CNN, MSNBC, Nancy Peolsi, Chuck Todd, or, for that matter, Tucker Carslon or Sean Hannity.

Every church and every pulpit is political. The only question is: Whose politics?

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