October 19, 2017

I’ll Vote for That!

My friend, Pastor Mark, has this sign up in front of his church.

Now that’s the way Christians do it! Can I get a witness?

Comments

  1. That is exactly how it is in the congregation that I am a member of. We are approx. 50% of each.

    Why? Because our pastor refuses to have ANY political gospels and when he does speak about politics he puts a pox on both their houses.

    __

    Should we be political? YES! Just not at church. Something is far too important to risk alienating half your congregation and taking valuable time away from the preaching of the law, and the gospel.

  2. That must make the church (gasp!!!) moderate!!! o.O

  3. I have found the Lutheran Hour Ministries recent series “Intersection of Church & State” very refreshing. We used it in during an after services teaching hour with great discussions from both conservative and liberals. Good stuff.

  4. I didn’t have to go to the church’s website to know that it ain’t Missouri or Wisconsin. It screams ELCA. I like it.

  5. I’m not sure I want to exclude politics from church. I tend to be conservative, politically. This morning, as I was reading Psalm 72, some of my conservative assumptions were challenged (relative to the purpose of the state). A sermon along those lines would be, for me, edifying. What I do want to do is make sure that in church political views are challenged by Scripture rather than theology being formed by political views. We are called to be prophets, not publicists, with respect to Herod.

  6. My only regret is that he uses “worship” without an object — an unhealthy trend, though I don’t mean to imply in the least that he follows that trend.

    • Interesting point, Damaris, and not one that I’m sure I ever thought about before. And you’re right. People worship all sorts of things all over the place. “God” would be appropriate for this sign. Or “Jesus.” You know, just so people don’t walk in expecting Romeny Worship or Obama Worship…

    • I thought that could be assumed, but see your point and like it. Maybe I’ll add “God” tomorrow!

      • Pastor Mark — I wish it could be assumed — I’m sure in many cases it can be. But the most appalling church sign I’ve seen said, “Have a nice worship!” Worship there was entirely an activity that people do for their enjoyment, like playing miniature golf or scrap-booking, not a relationship, either salvific or damning, with the object of worship.

  7. It’s good and healthy that a church doesn’t become politicized, but this church sign I think is bad for a few reasons. First, that space could have been used to proclaim the gospel of Christ, which should recieve the most treasured place within any church’s message. Secondly, I think by saying that both conservatives and liberals worship here, the church will be a bit hamstrung when tackling issues that aren’t political per se, but are issues that by their very nature do have political implications – views on money, abortion, and homosexuality. When you become worried about not offending one side or the other, you’re less likely to take strong stands on controversial issues. That leads to watered down stances on various issues and a hesitancy to take on a culture which often stands diametrically opposed to the gospel message.

    • It is proclaiming one aspect of the Gospel — no Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female — and may I say, no Republican or Democrat — in Christ. All are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, apart from the works of the law, and apart from political opinions.

      • He may have meant it that way, but unlike the dichotomies Paul presents, conservativism and liberalism are ideologies that do affect how people live. And while liberalism and conservatism are large enough camps with enough varying viewpoints that people can fall into either camp while still following Christ, one could imagine them mutating enough so that much of their main message would be incompatible with Christian teachings.

        I think some observers will think the billboard implies not only that conservatives and liberals worship there, but that such a welcoming attitude also implies a more postmodern attitude towards beliefs and actions. A church willing to accept conservatives and liberals, wherever they lie on that spectrum, might also be more willing to ignore a couple that sleeps together before marriage, or someone who dishoners their parents, or any number of culturally acceptable actions that go against the gospel message (that’s not to say such people shouldn’t be church members – they’re no more sinners than anyone else – but it is to say the church has a role in speaking out against sin and telling people that they must repent for their sins).

        This might not be true, and I certainly may be reading into the sign more than what was intended. But the very fact that any message using the very charged terms republican, democrat, conservative or liberal gets people thinking politically rather than about Christ means it unwise to mention it on a church sign or in a sermon. You yourself imply a good alternative: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    • Those are not things Lutherans talk about in worship, Matt.

      As our friend Steve continually reminds us here, “No political gospels.”

      • I’m Lutheran and have gone to the same Lutheran church for most of my life. I’ve never heard a pastor discuss politics. I think this an excellent thing. We’re probably in agreement in that. I’m a very sporadic follower of this blog, so I’m not sure the context Steve made his comments in.

        I think religion and politics are closely related in the sense that our positions in both inform our views of the world. It’s only natural that our faith informs our political views, and sometimes, unfortunately our political views inform our faith. It’s that latter thing we have to guard against. We don’t want our view of the gospel to change because we’re staunch conservatives or liberals. That’s the basis for a cafeteria style version of faith, which I think becomes rather meaningless. An overabundance of focus on law, also takes away from the amazing grace of Christ’s life and death. And politics is about how people should act, or, in essence, all law. So I would definitely prefer never to hear any politics from the pulpit or in the church.

        However, just because we don’t want our political views to overwhelm our Christian faith, does not mean shouldn’t let our faith influence our political viewpoints. Jesus (and Paul) spoke on life, money, marriage, the poor and other issues which our political parties have taken very different stances on. Just because those issues are political does not mean that our faith should not influence our views on them. Obviously if Jesus makes a point on something, it’s a message we should take to heart.

        What the sign you’ve endorsed seems to imply (to me, at least) is that our faith doesn’t really have anything meaningful to say when it comes to issues that have become politicized and that it’s really okay whatever view you take on such issues. This clearly isn’t true. “Do not murder” and “love your enemy” does have something to say about a whole range of political issues – drone strikes, abortion, the death penalty, and more. And if Jesus’ words have relevance to such issues, and differing political viewpoints are on drastically different sides of those issues the unescapable conclusion is that the position Jesus would advocate is closer to one of those two sides (well, since neither party is great I suppose Jesus might have said a pox on both your houses). The fact that Jesus didn’t talk about drone strikes, or abortion or other current issues means there often aren’t answers quite as simple as we might like to those issues. We have to pray and wrestle with these issues. Nevertheless, our faith, given by God by grace, has to play a central role in how we come to view these issues.

    • That’s a rather utilitarian view. It IS, after all, just a billboard, not a legal declaration of faith.

    • I guess the way I view the billboard’s message and church in general is that church is not a battle ground for politics. Church…a healthy Jesus-shaped church, anyway…is a battle ground for grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy.

      Let’s take this back ~150 years to the Civil War era. A billboard back then might’ve read: Northerners and Southerners Worship God Here. That’s just saying, “People in this house of worship leave their political stances at the door. All who are inside worship the Almighty God and Jesus our Lord and Savior.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I think is bad for a few reasons. First, that space could have been used to proclaim the gospel of Christ, which should recieve the most treasured place within any church’s message.

      Not enough Wretched Urgency Soul-Winning for you?

      • Even if you take the sign as is, and don’t read anything extra into it, what does that leave you with? Just because liberals and conservatives worship there – which are political views, not theological ones – what does that leave me with in terms of giving me a reason to go there? I could also join a book club that provides some great commraderie and is non-judgemental. Or any number of other social groups. Those aren’t the primary reasons to join a church. What makes Christianity unique is Jesus Christ and all he represents. Why not write on the sign something with that message?

        • (This may be a total failure of a thought, but I’ll try…)

          Take my Civil War era example. If you put out a sign that said, “Slave Owners Worship Here,” you’ve just limited who will walk into your house of worship. You’re probably not going to get many non-slave owners in, because you’ve stated your wordly beliefs right on the sign. And if you put out a sign that said, “People Who Believe Slaves Should Be Free Worship Here,” you’ve also limited who will walk into your house of worship. You’re probably not going to get many slave owners walking in.

          By limiting who you want to walk in through your doors, you’re limiting the extent to which the Gospel Good News can work. We all might be in agreement with the BELIEF that slaves should be free, but if we state that on the signage of our house of worship, we’re not going to get the people in through the doors who might need to hear the message. It also severely limits our ability to hear different viewpoints, seek to understand, and treat others with differing viewpoints with respect. A more “inclusive” billboard outside allows for the Gospel message to work on the inside.

          • I like the Civil War analogy. It works.

            I wouldn’t have a sign in front of my church that said anything about it.

            But within the walls and out in the community I would decry the wickedness of slavery and work hard to show from reason and the scriptures that it should be abolished.

            Today we have a similar civil war: religious freedom, abortion, social welfare system, judicial system, the constitution and protection of inalienable rights.

            I wouldn’t put these on a billboard but would form a clear picture of righteousness that forms how we handle these issues from inside and outside the church.

            Politics are formed by ideas. The scripture is the place to begin for dealing with issues of mercy and justice.

            Hopefully our Biblical precepts effect unity in our congregations. Unity is centered around the truth of righteousness and truth is not discarded for the sake of unity.

            This unity of vision should affect the politics of our country.

  8. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    It works differently in a Canadian context: Sure, Liberals and Conservatives worship here. But none of those pesky NDP’s or Separatists 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. I think this has been over-analyzed. What I read is, “In this divisive election season all are welcome here.”