Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. -- Philippians 3: 17-21 (ESV)
Kevin DeYoung at the Gospel Coalition recently did an article (linked above) regarding the preacher and politics. In it he provides seven points he feels could help pastors in these difficult times. It is not all bad but it is also not all quite right. There is no subject today that will make Christians abandon their bible faster than carnal politics. I lost ten "friends" on Facebook in this last election cycle. Not because I posted anything favoring either candidate but because I would not anoint President Trump the second coming of King Cyrus. It was a sad display to watch the church embrace the least moral president ever in the name of Jesus. The fact that his "spiritual advisor" is Paula White should be enough to convince a discerning Christian to stay far away. So let us reason together and review what Mr. DeYoung has to say in light of Scripture:
"This post is addressed to preachers and is about preachers. While many of the reflections may be useful for all Christians, I'm writing specifically with my fellow pastors in mind. We live in a day where politics are everywhere, and everything is about politics. On one level this has always been true. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. That's a political statement. Every sermon touches on the polis , on the city of man, on our earthly citizenship. But that's not what I have in mind, at least not entirely. What I mean by "politics" are the elections, the elected officials, the political parties, and the endless stream of policy debates and legislative, economic, and judicial controversies that so much of our daily news and social media feed comment on constantly. What is a pastor supposed to do with these controversies and debates? That's my question.
When preachers are quickly criticized for saying too much (you're not gospel-centered!) or saying too little (you're not woke!), it behooves us to think carefully about the relationship between pastoral ministry and politics. Here are seven thoughts." -- Kevin DeYoung
Let me say at the start that it appears Mr. DeYoung is approaching this from a sincere place. I would gently push back however on a couple of points here. "Jesus is Lord" is not a political statement; it is a spiritual statement. We make it political by adding, "Not Caesar." The idea is to not mix the two as if they belong mixed. Render unto Caesar what is his and what is the Lord's unto Him. I also am not sure about the notion that every sermon touches on our earthly citizenship. As believers, we no longer have an earthly citizenship. Read the key verses above and realize the dichotomy that Paul is laying out for the church. There are two choices. There are the enemies of the cross and those that serve it. There are those whose minds are set on earthly things, the city of man, and those that realize their citizenship is in heaven. We do not have, nor should we aspire to, dual citizenship. This corruption of Christian thought has infiltrated the church through the NAR teachings of nation worshipping and dominionism. So as we get into his seven thoughts let us begin by realizing there is no relationship between pastoral ministry and politics. Just as carnality has no fellowship with righteousness and light has none with darkness.
1. Let the Bible set the agenda for your weekly pulpit ministry. I love preaching through the Bible verse by verse. I'm not smart enough to decide what the congregation really needs to hear this week. So they're going to get John 5:1-18 this Sunday. Why? Because last week they got John 4:43-54. And in the evening they're going to get Exodus 24, because last Sunday was Exodus 23. That means I've talked in the last two months about abortion, social justice, and slavery, because that's what's been in Exodus. I want my people to expect, that as a general rule, the Bible sets the agenda not my interests or what I think is relevant. -- Kevin DeYoung
Allow me to scream half a hallelujah! The first half of this statement is spot on. A preacher should approach the Bible wanting to hear what God has to say. Far too many purpose driven pastors decide what they want to topically preach on and then strip mine the Bible for any verse fragments they can rip out of context to support the conclusions they have already made. This is a great recipe to hear thus sayeth the pastor but not the Lord. The most responsible way for a pastor to bring the Word of God is to preach it in order, without pre-bias. The reason I only give half a hallelujah however is because of the notion that DeYoung appears to have taken the Scripture in order and then forcibly applied them to politics and this world. That is equally unwise and only allows you to carnalize the Word. I have read the portions of Scripture he references and there is nothing in there about abortion, slavery, or social justice. Now, perhaps there is a referent to slaves in one or more of the referenced chapters but does that mean God is speaking about slavery? Not at all. Beloved, the Bile is not our story -- it's His. It is not about this life but about the eternal life. We apply it to our lives to better serve Him and His purposes not to understand our world and navigate it better. DeYoung got halfway there. He still decides what social matters will be preached on each week but does not decide what that subject is until he reads the text that is next in order.