While visiting Montana, I ran across a church sign that said this: “Congress is full of crooks, because our pulpits are full of cowards.”
My immediate reaction was to, as the kids say, LMFAO. And then I said, “Amen!”
I got to visit with the elders of that church, and they explained that this particular message had not been terribly well-received by the pastors of the other, local churches. A few of these pastors were worried that the sign had been made with them in mind, specifically. My reaction to that was, well, if the shoe fits, buddy.
American Christians have been taught since the middle of the 19th Century, with the rise of Dispensationalism, that the church founded by the Lord Jesus can count on increasing defeat around the world in time and history. This expectation of the progressive worsening of all things caused the bulk of them to withdraw from “secular” pursuits like political involvement.
Recent, popular Bible teachers have said things like, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship!” And, “All you’re doing is making a better world for people to go to hell from!”
The thinking is that things are so bad, the return of Jesus and the Rapture of the church must be just around the corner. (This corner has proven to be like those haunted house hallways in the scary movies, that keep getting longer and longer.) So why focus on stuff that’s about to burn, like society, or art, or literature, or politics, or schools? All we’ve got time for is the preaching of the gospel of individual salvation. Frankly, there’s not even time for that, at least not to do it well (apparently) so American evangelicals have truncated the gospel itself down until it’s nothing more than a short sales pitch aimed at getting folks to half-heartedly say a repeat-after-me prayer that they can then think of as their eternal Get Out of Jail Free card thereafter.
Politics is dirty, dirty business. Thus, I’m told, good, clean Christians ought to stay out of it.
But maybe the reason it’s dirty business, and full of every kind of corruption, is because those who are meant to be salt and light in the world have voluntarily left the field?
The Christian landscape in America is “fair teeming” (my nod to Tolkien) with egoistic entrepreneurs masquerading as ministers, building their own kingdoms on the backs of well-meaning dupes who continue to stuff their coffers for them. And since one key to business success is to appeal to the widest possible marketplace, these posturing prosperity poofters shy away from speaking about anything that might sniff of controversy. If they start talking about the strange brew of Islamo-facism and race-baiting communism that animates our President, that may not be good for business: they may wind up preaching in the same sort of tiny congregation I serve.
That would be sad, since the pastor’s salary at that kind of place will not pay to feed and house an average family, much less purchase a fleet of luxury jets. (I’m okay with working three jobs, though, and most of these soul-patch and skinny jeans preacher boys have never worked a full day in their lives. And no, eight hours on the couch with Call of Duty does not count as work.)
What kind of pastor do you have? Is he all about the rock band worship team, Power Point, sandals, and patchouli? Sermons based on movies and tv shows? When was the last time he explained to you where individuals get the right to private property, from the Bible? Has he ever even mentioned the fact that every civil ruler is accountable to God for how they use their authority? When did he last mention abortion in a sermon, or the evil of unlawful war? Gun control? NDAA’s warrantless indefinite detention provision? The Welfare state? The Presidential Kill List? Fiat money?
A thundering heir of the stout-hearted Black Robed Regiment? Or a guy who fears nothing more than that he might come off sounding like he has an immovable opinion on something?
Is she/he focused on you having your best life now? Have his messages tended to communicate the idea that the Gospel has no real effect on anything that is actually going on in the world?
Some Christians, because of the thin soup they are regularly fed, would be surprised to find that the Bible really does contain clear principles that would address and fix all the things listed above. They desperately need to find a different church, one where the pastor understands that and has been filled with the spirit of the prophets to forcefully declare such things. Please pass along this hint to them: the church they’re looking for will probably be small, because spiritual truth has never been terribly popular with the masses.
This week, get Gordan Runyan’s controversial book, Resistance to Tyrants: Romans 13 and the Christian Duty to Oppose Wicked Rulers for your Kindle reader for less than a decent, hipster latte’. (Paperback version here.)