“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”
(This article appeared in our bulletin before the 2016 election.)
I cannot think of a more appropriate psalm to read in this time of political unrest than Psalm 146. For too long, evangelical Christians in America have done what this psalm clearly tells us not to do. In the early 1970s, the Christian right formed a political organization named The Moral Majority intended to advance an agenda for the restoration of the Ten Commandments to our public schools and the repeal of abortion rights. We certainly applaud their righteous stands and we are very much aware of how changes in our laws have critically affected our society. We are at the point of complete moral collapse and possibly a Romans 1:28 problem in which God has turned us over to a reprobate mind.
Although the Moral Majority no longer exists as an organized political movement, its impact on fundamental churches is still alive and well. I have no problem with Christians carefully choosing candidates to ensure we vote pro-life and pro-morality, but I do have a problem with the way many Baptists think we will change America. Our hope is in princes instead of the LORD our God. When politics were brought into the church, the focus of the church’s mission began to change. Our aim was to make America great instead of proclaiming the greatness of God’s kingdom to the American populace. In this year’s election, the party in whom many Christians trust has promised to make America great again, but unlike former days God has no part in it.
In 1984, I attended a conference in Washington, D. C. known as Baptist Fundamentalism ’84. I was privileged to hear both President Ronald Reagan and Vice-President George H.W. Bush speak. It was a rousing event with plenty of doses of American pride. The arena was awash in patriotism with enough to make the eyes well up with tears. We thought a political party was America’s savior. It was events like this that gave American Christians an unhealthy attachment to a party in which the church began to focus on men instead of God. In fairness, it was a logical move since it was the other party that was like the northern ten tribes that quickly fell into apostasy.
Pastors of churches jumped on the political bandwagon to motivate congregations to vote and to involve themselves in political processes just like a political action committee seeks to influence legislation. It is not uncommon to have patriotism days in the church or to have church services whose purpose is to applaud public servants. These are manipulative ways to draw crowds which only goes to show these churches have little confidence in the Holy Spirit to draw to Himself those He pleases to save.
I am trying to point out that politics has become the church program. We gather to ourselves those who are politically like us which the New Testament apostles avoided. With each person we draw, there are ten others who are repelled because their politics do not fit ours. We are dependent on changing things with politics rather than gathering all publicans and sinners to hear about Christ. We are reaping the results of our trust in party rather than God. The party leadership is made up of those whose program it is to stay in power, which means compromising Christ will never be a problem for them. The egregious violation of commandments, especially of loving self, has never been more apparent than in this year’s choices.
This year we get the consequences of misplaced trust. We are told to vote for the lesser of two evils. Hopefully, we will delay the worst of the inevitable for at least a little while. Perhaps there is some sense in this reasoning. However, be assured a clean thing will never come from the unclean. I believe the church is better off backing off from the political process. We should preach against the immorality of the culture whenever it intersects our teaching of the word of God. We should seek the salvation of the people of this culture through our dependence on the Almighty God, not on the princes of politics. Let us return to the preaching of Christ instead of the preaching of the Constitution.
Pastor V. Mark Smith