When we trade in our greatest hope in God for the hope of men, we are pawning away something invaluable (hope in Christ) for something of far less value. Essentially, we’re voluntarily ripping ourselves off.

I’m now thoroughly convinced that the infiltration of politics into American Christianity may be the largest heresy that has crept into the church in recent history. I’m witnessing its malignant, invasive behavior from shouting matches on social media to another current movement what I want to focus the majority of this blog on.

A growing number of pastors have decided to buck the Federal Government regarding separation of Church and state, in a effort dubbed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” where they will openly engage their congregants in a “sermon” specifically geared toward political issues followed by an endorsement of a particular candidate from the pulpit (if the pastor chooses to do so). If an endorsement is made, the pastor will send evidence of the endorsement to the IRS in hopes of invoking the IRS to challenge (by law) the church’s tax exempt/non for profit status.

All of this is being done in order to challenge the legality of the Johnson Amendment, a law passed in 1954 that made it illegal for churches to engage in political campaigning without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

Why was the law passed in the first place? Because, political contributions are not tax deductible. Therefore, it’s impossible for a finite organization like the IRS to track the proper or improper use of donations if organizations are half-political campaigning and half not. It’s simple. If someone could wane in and out political campaigning part time while preaching the gospel on the side, they could then dodge taxation by claiming to be a non-profit while dabbling in politics from time to time. That’s something that purely political organizations could not do.  It’s the only way to minimize abuse of the system. I’m not sure any of us could imagine the corruption if it weren’t this way.

For those who aren’t buying the idea that “Christians” would abuse the system there is historical evidence to prove otherwise. The first occurred in the early 1990′s as rebellious Christian organizations attempted to test the system. The first occurred four days before the election of 1992. A church in New York took out an ad in two national newspapers urging Christians to vote against Bill Clinton because of his policies. Their tax-exempt status was revoked. The second instance occurred in the same year, but two days before the election when Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition campaign distributed over 40 million highly-biased voter guides, distributing them nationwide and placed inside church bulletins. [1]

It’s these types of activities that I believe undermine the very fabric of what pastors are called to do from pulpits. Pastor’s should preach the Word, and the word alone. This does not mean that they should forgo teaching scripture that speaks to a certain moral issue of our age or time.. I think that they should, because it’s important for Christians to be aware of how the ancient historical stories of the bible relate to us today. It helps us to better evaluate where we stand relative to the stories that we hear. What should not take place, is a pastor recommending or endorsing a particular candidate. Here’s why…

(1) The very act of endorsing a candidate sows unnecessary discord amongst the body. The moment my pastor tells me who he’s voting for it can and will inevitably change how I or others perceive him, and even the message(s) that he preaches. The same can happen amongst brothers in the body. The bible is pretty clear on how God views those who knowingly sow discord and disunity within the church.

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Romans 16:17

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 (2) A poor example is set for the body when pastors openly disobey government authorities. It’s difficult to preach with biblical authority about biblical topics, like honoring the king, and being subject to governing authorities when pastors are not choosing to be subject to do so.

Romans 13
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

In closing, I feel this is the often danger in attempting to mix the kingdom of the world with the kingdom of God. When a hair’s difference, if not an indistinguishable distance is left between the two it’s far too easy to allow worldly wisdom and pursuits to poison our salt and light. We end up looking like a religious version of worldliness rather than a counter-cultural example of the love and meekness of Christ. In the end, we our called to challenge the world’s forms of power by presenting a unique alternative – placing our trust in the power of God.

Psalm 118:8-9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

[1] http://www.alliance1.org/magazine/spring06/nonprofit-law/mixing-politics-with-nonprofits

[2] http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/05/pastors-prepare-to-take-on-irs-over-political-endorsement-ban/?hpt=po_c2

 

 

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