Nov 19 18

Puny Preachers and Politics

vmsmith

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

 

This scripture is both appropriate and comforting in these days of political turmoil. Everyday there is a news story of mostly complaints about the activities of the president. In my lifetime, I have never seen the amount of sour scrutiny of every action in negative reporting of everything he does. It is as if the right action is always the opposite action of what he does no matter the subject. Those who clamored most that we should accept the results of the election in 2016 are the loudest in their protests we should not. Those who live to defend free speech die when the speech does not agree with them. Such is the hypocrisy of American politics.

This political unrest engages many pastors, and I do not want to ride on that bandwagon. As one author said, “I am concerned when I see pastors throw their weight behind causes good Christians might disagree on. There are many reasons one might be cheered by Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, but there is nothing in the Bible that says Christians must be originalists when it comes to the Constitution.” I certainly have my viewpoint on how the Supreme Court should be constructed, but I agree with this author. The pastor’s position is not to be an interpreter of the Constitution. Our calling is to interpret the Word of God. I do not need to inject controversies that have no bearing on the eternal destiny of the soul, nor if they do not speak of the virtues of the Saviour.

I will speak from the pulpit on moral issues that face us because those are addressed in the scriptures. We have an obligation to the people to engage them because they bear on righteousness. Other matters I do not care to address. Last year, I steadfastly refused to fight a battle over the Internal Revenue 501(c) 3 issue. It will neither help nor hinder me from preaching the truth from the Berean pulpit.

There is something that seriously irks me about political commentary. It is the strange concern over Hollywood’s opinions of governmental policies. I tend to believe much less attention is paid to their opinions than they think. Mostly they are ignorant people supported by other ignorant Hollywood people just like them. I care nothing at all what George Clooney or Leonardo DiCaprio say. How they get to congressional hearings is beyond my capacity to understand. I have never voted for or considered for three seconds whether Robert De Niro supports a candidate. I believe he probably still wants to punch Donald Trump in the face. I wish he would, then we would never hear of Robert De Niro again. These people have no policy expertise that compels any reasonable person to listen to their advice.

Ah, but here is the rub. Neither do preachers have any policy expertise. What makes a preacher any more a reliable guide than a Hollywood star? When he strays away from the field he knows, he is dumber than De Niro. At least, he ought to know better. Quite hypocritical, me thinks! Another quote strikes me: “I am concerned when I see pastors making extravagant, unqualified statements on issues that require some level of nuance and expertise.” Seems running the United States government might have a small requirement for that, doesn’t it?

I am content to leave the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord. Nothing he does or does not do will affect the church. The preacher who says it will needs to sit down and shut up. For most of Christian history, the government never favored the true church. It did not stop us then and it will not stop us now. We need to stick to the Lord’s business. On the individual level, go at it with all the vigor and vim you please. This pulpit will stay out of it. Do not expect to be ratified by the Word of God when God does not speak.

Pastor V. Mark Smith