Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday Question of the Week . . . Politics

Last week I was listening to Decently and in Order: A Presbyterian Podcast latest post. During their conversation they discussed a Minnesota Megachurch Pastor who stated things from the pulpit that are have a dramatic negative effect on his membership. Click here for more information.

He has some interesting point but he refused to name his political affiliation or even if he has an affiliation. So this made me think, is it ok for pastors and other church leaders to make known their political affiliation? and Why?


Russell Smith said...

I tend toward the conservative in both my politics and my theology (though there's not a necessary linkage) -- but I almost never promote political causes in the pulpit. My job in the pulpit and in the ministry of the church is to point people to the living lord Jesus Christ. I do encourage our congregants to be involved politically (and we have a good mix of both democrats and republicans) -- but I steer clear from making political pronouncements.


Donna said...

Thanks for directing me to an interesting story I had not seen elsewhere. I think it is inappropriate for a pastor to name their political affiliation. Doing so can be divisive and disruptive in a congregation. And it is not relevant to preaching the Gospel. I am not, however suggesting that a pastor has to pretend to be someone they are not. Their honest views are going to come through in their sermons and interactions with others. There is also a risk of losing a church's tax exemption if the pastor is busy promoting political views from the pulpit.

jim said...

Ditto the previous 2 commenters. The pulpit is a place for pastoral care and admonishment and as such it can become divisive if too much attention is paid to political concerns or if the pastor comes out on a different side than the church.

At the same time, there is a place even in the pulpit to say the Word of God says such and such and as Christian's we might hold to such and such and here's one possible way (political or otherwise) that this may play out in our engagement in the world.

It just needs to be done carefully and with pastoral sensitivity.

Teri said...

i second/third/fourth all these comments. I had read this article before--maybe right when it was published? Anyway, I have to say that I am really impressed with that pastor's courage to be prophetic. Though he and I would probably disagree on some issues (both theological and political), it sounds like we both agree that the church and politics are not synonymous, that it is NOT okay to allow politicians to define Christian faith, and that it's about time we start looking at Jesus rather than our country as the savior of the world.

I am an unabashedly political person--I have views and opinions, and I believe them to be informed by Scripture, my relationship with Jesus, and history/current facts. And I am not ashamed to tell people how I think Scripture influences the way we see things, the way we act, the way we vote, etc. But I will not be caught in the pulpit (or behind my desk) telling people what to think. If God wants to change their hearts or put a particular issue there, God will. The pastor's job in the pulpit is, as one of our preaching teachers said, to live in the text and then tell people what we saw there. Not to tell them what to see.

And I'm done for today...good question.

Stushie said...

Wasn't it Bishop Tutu of South Africa who said:

"When people say to me, "You can't mix politics with religion," I ask them, "What Bible have you been reading?"

The danger of always being politically silent in the pulpit may lead to evil governance by the politicians.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting issue and article. Did the backlash occur due to politics? Lack of a stance on sexual issues? Or lack of support for our country (regardless of your politics, this is your country and "bad mouthing" the gov't makes us all look bad). There are several different issues here, not just "politics"
I think as far as politics go: a man has the right to his opinion. Does he preach politics saying that his way is the right way? Is he telling congregations that they are wrong if they do not have the same political opinions? Does he give the impression that people with different opinions are not Christians or followers of God?

Or does he preach that his opinion is just that, an opinion.

Brett said...

Of course you preach politics. You're fooling yourself if you think you're not already doing it. Anybody who tells me he or she can separate his or her political self from the "religious" self is not sufficiently self-aware. Also, it's flat out not healthy for pastors not to be themselves in the pulpit and in their pastoral care.
I know that it can be divisive. But what's divisive is not your political stance but rather the fact that the relationship you have with your parishioners can't take that you have personal opinions. Personally, I'd rather go to a church that has a public backbone.