Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pastoring and Political Endorsements

Should a Pastor Endorse a Candidate for President?

This is an election year. This year, as every election year, will determine the President of the USA and the direction our country will be heading. Should a pastor, should I, be political? Should a pastor make a political endorsement of certain candidates?

There are some churches and pastors that openly, even from the pulpit, endorse polticians. I think this is wrong. Even if it is allowed and was legal, I don’t think a pastor should go so far as to endorse particular candidates. I think this is an issue of wisdom and priorities. Let me break this down into a few different lines of thought: offense of the gospel, Biblical issues inform political ones, and shepherding people from all parties.

#1 The offense of the gospel.
A pastor and church should never shy away from the offense of the gospel. The gospel will offend. That is a non-negotiable. But, we must be careful not to offend with things that are optional or secondary. By making an endorsement of one political candidate or party, we run the risk of offending those people who are for the other guy or other party. A pastor needs to make sure that the gospel is the first priority, not an election. The good news of Jesus is the primary proclamation that should come from the pulpit of a pastor. Everything a pastor chooses to say is also excluding something else he could be saying. To be overly political runs the risk of lessening the gospel of Jesus Christ.

#2 Biblical issue inform political ones
Don’t get ahead of me yet. While I think it is unwise of a pastor to endorse a particular political party or candidate from the pulpit this does not mean that he should not address issues and values. A pastor absolutely has a responsibility to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. The Bible gives believers many mandates that are relevant to modern social issues. A pastor should never shy away from faithful proclamation of the Biblical view of these social positions.
For example, it is critical necessary for a pastor to preach sound Biblical messages on the horror that is abortion. The Bible is unequivocal on this issue. We can’t let politics hijack our courage from preaching the Biblical truth that abortion is wrong. Obviously, that Biblical position should be used by the wise Christian to guide us in who to vote for.
I think the wise course of action would be for a pastor to defend the sanctity of life without saying, “Don’t vote for so and so candidate.” Preach the Biblical truth unashamedly, but don’t mandate a particular vote. This is true for other important issues of the day that are addressed by scripture.

#3 Shepherding All
The pastor must shepherd, minister, and teach all different types of sheep and church members. Some are more mature in their faith, some are not. Some are from one political party, some from another, some from no party affiliation at all. The church is not an arm of the Republican National Convention. It is the body of Christ. As a pastor I lessen my leadership ability by being overly political from the pulpit. I need to teach the Biblical issues and lead the people no matter what party that they might prefer. It is my opinion that this philosophy is the wisest course for a pastor.
I do not think that this means a pastor cannot have a personal opinion. He does, and he does have a vote. I do and I will. I will not endorse a candidate from the pulpit, but if it comes up on a personal level I have no problem voicing my political opinions.

One more note. I hope this serves as a good example for others. As followers of Jesus, our home is not this world. We already belong to a political party – it’s called the kingdom of God. No human president is going to usurp the throne and power of our God. In fact, scripture is clear == God allows whoever is president to be president. So, no matter how this election turns out, Jesus Christ still rose from the dead and will return with the sound of a mighty trumpet. Let’s serve Him above anything else.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Recommendations

These are books that I have read that have made an impact in my life in one way or another. I have tried to include some books from different categories. Some of them are books that I think every believer should read. If you are looking for something to read I hope this can give you some helpful direction in something to choose.

These are in no particular order:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (Amazon)
This is a classic that I have used over and over again.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer (Amazon)
This is another classic book. This is about the Biblical theology of knowing and being known by God. Every believer should be familiar with this book. (IMO)

Gospel: Recovering The Power That Made Christianity by J.D. Greear (Amazon)
Greear is a youngish pastor and this book is a great book on what the gospel is and the place it should be in our life. (hint: the center)

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream (Amazon)
This is a great book that identifies some common misconceptions about the gospel. We must look at the gospel from the pages of scripture and not through the lens of our western, american culture or we will distort that gospel.

To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson (Amazon)
This is my favorite missionary biography. If you have never heard of Adoniram Judson you should read this book. It always challenges me and encourages me to courageously engage in the great commission of Christ.

George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A.T. Pierson (Amazon)
This is another one of my favorite missionaries. Mueller's life and story inspires me to strengthen my faith and be a man of prayer.

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken (Amazon)
I read Ripken's book last summer and couldn't put it down. Some of the stories in this book are absolutely stunning and evidence of the work of God among persecuted people groups. I challenge to read this book.

Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias (Amazon)
I love Ravi Zacharias. He does Christian apologetics. He will make you think. I love to read apologetics but not because it helps me witness to atheists. It does that, but I like to read them because it makes me think deeply about my faith and strengthens it along the way.

Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case by Frank Turek (Amazon)
This is another book on apologetics. I started reading it last summer and couldn't put it down either.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Amazon)
I know this came out as a hit movie last year. If you have seen the movie, you need to read the book. There is so much more to the story. It is thrilling and has a great message about the power of the gospel that the movie leaves out.

That is probably enough to get you started. If you finish these, let me know and I can recommend some others.