Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For Christ and the Gospel, the Church and Clergy need to stay out of politics

I tweeted this about an hour ago:

“Now, at long last, will my fellow Christian clergy get out of politics? Instead of playing for worldly power and dirtying the Church’s reputation, let’s do our job: proclaim Christ and make disciples!”

I speak as one who, thirteen years ago, made the mistake of running for public office while serving as a pastor. While I was always quick to say that I was not a “Christian candidate” or that I knew what God’s politics (I don’t believe there is such a thing) was, running was a terrible risk.

Why was it a risk?

Because it risked alienating people from Christ, the Gospel, and the Church when people heard a pastor advocating particular political ideas.

No political idea is worth losing the chance to commend Christ’s saving gospel, which is the only way to forgiveness of sins and life with God. Nothing is important as that.

If I’m going to offend people, I want to do it by lovingly lifting up Christ, “the way, and the life, and the truth” (John 14:6).

I've written before that there are exceptional circumstances when the Church and its clergy will feel called to speak up about political issues. This applies especially when one feels that injustices are being committed. But such speaking should never be done in the service a political party or candidate, so as to avoid subordinating the gospel message to a human message or a human being.

To subordinate anyone or anything to Christ and His gospel is to engage in idolatry, a violation of God's First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me."

I pray fellow clergy and church bodies, both politically right and left, will stop playing politics and instead proclaim Jesus Christ!

[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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