In the face of attacks on religious liberty, freedom, and Biblical truth, literally nine out of ten Christian pastors, by their own admission, have retreated to the safety of their church grounds, refusing to take up the battle and to equip their congregations for that battle. [American Culture & Faith Institute, “Conservative Clergy Canvass”, a national survey among 412 theologically conservative senior pastors of Protestant churches, conducted October 2013]. Where are we to find the leadership that our nation so needs? In the ultimate irony the demise of our culture is often used in these pastors’ sermons as the motivation proposed for people to spend more time in the Scriptures…so they will better understand the destruction of our nation and its people as it takes place before their very eyes. There is no call to action to the people in the sanctuary beyond satisfying the typical measures of church success: attending regularly, giving generously, and enabling the organization to expand.
There is no acknowledgment that the failure of the Christian body to do as both the Bible and the Constitution encourage…that is, to stand up for righteousness and freedom…will result in a nation where Christianity itself could one day be outlawed as an intolerant, exclusive faith system that is detrimental to the health and well-being of the country, where preaching the Word of God is construed as “hate speech”, and where the Bible is banned because of its politically incorrect teaching. The expectation is that churched people will know the Scriptures better and eagerly wait for God do something miraculous…without recognizing that the Scriptures they are studying consistently demonstrate that God always uses His genuine followers to change the world, regardless of how many are available. Waiting for God to show up and do the miraculous sounds like a demonstration of faith, but it is really a flawed. un-Biblical strategy. God does not call upon His followers to wait for miracles to change the world. Instead, He is waiting on us to get moving and bring forth those changes.
When a majority of senior pastors of Protestant churches proclaim that there must be a separation of religion and politics and that it is unacceptable for pastors to use the pulpit to incite people to political action [Barna Group, “PastorPoll F-10”, a national survey among 602 Protestant senior pastors, conducted November 2010; American Culture & Faith Institute, national surveys conducted among theologically conservative senior pastors: “C3-1”, among 1,420 pastors in February 2014; “C3-3”, among 1,036 pastors in April 2014; and “C3-4”, among 1,679 pastors in June 2014]…that is, to exert any Biblical influence on public policy and thus shape the culture…we are a nation in grave danger. Who else besides our pastors would be the protectors of Biblical truth and action? Why would we not expect our spiritual leaders to guide our public policy reflections based on Biblical exegesis? What does leadership mean if not motivating, mobilizing, resourcing, and directing people to pursue a strategic course of action to bring our society in line with the purposes and precepts of a loving and almighty God?
Throughout history Christianity and Christian influence on government has been responsible for removing some of the most heinous acts from society:
- Outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (AD 374) [Alvin Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004; formerly published as Under the Influence, 2001), pgs. 51, 53, 59].
- Outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (AD 404) [Ibid, pg. 63].
- Outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (AD 315) [Ibid, pg. 65].
- Instituting prison reforms such as the segregation of male and female prisoners (by AD 361) [Ibid].
- Stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations [Ibid, pgs. 65-66].
- Outlawing pedophilia [Ibid, pgs. 87-88].
- Granting of property rights and other protections to women [Ibid, pg. 111].
- Banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today) [Ibid, pg. 115].
- Prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829) [Ibid, pgs. 116-117].
- Outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912) [Ibid, pg. 119].
- Persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century) [Ibid, pg. 179].
- Advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries [Ibid, pgs. 179-180].
- Although it is not just a matter of influencing laws, Christians had an immense influence on higher education. By the year 1932 there were 182 colleges and universities in the United States and of that number, 92% had been founded by Christian denominations. [Ibid, pg.190].
- Two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the 1830’s were Christian clergymen. [Ibid, pg. 279].
- There was a strong Christian commitment among several of the most influential of the anti-slavery crusaders including Elijah Lovejoy, Lyman Beecher, Edward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Finney, Charles Torrey, Theodore Weld, William Garrison, and many more. [Ibid, pgs. 279-290].
- The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups. [Ibid, pgs. 287-289].
- Christian ideas, principles and influential Christians played a main role in the formulation of the Magna Carta in England (1215). [Ibid, pgs. 251-252].
- It was Christian principles and the influence of the Christian churches that played a major role in the formulation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, two of the most important man-made documents in the history of the world. [Ibid, pgs. 253-258].
God did call the church and the thousands of Christians…more likely millions…withing the church to work to bring about these momentous improvements in human society throughout the world. These changes did happen because Christians did realize that if they could influence laws and governments for good, they would be obeying the command of their Lord,”Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” [Matt. 5:16]. They influenced governments for good because they knew that “we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” [Eph. 2:10]. It is obvious that these are not the days for the Christian church to ignore it obligations to society and the world. If the church doesn’t get some political guidance from the pulpit, where then will it come from?
Next week we will close out our search for Christian leadership and then redirect our attention to restoring the government.
– Bob Munsey