The “sleeping giant” of the patriotic fervor in the American people is awakening again, thankfully. The question is whether the ventricular muscle of the often-comatose giant is suffering from a fatal level of congenital heart disease, has just been weakened by bad diet and lack of exercise or is on the road to recovery.
The heart I refer to, of course, is an active, engaged church that has always given the cry for freedom a firm foundation grounded in reverence to Almighty God.
Thanks to continuing and escalating attacks on the free exercise of Christianity (notice I did not say “religion” since some are actually being given favored status, e.g., Islam), pastors are realizing that hunkering down may work for hurricane survival but not for a war of aggression.
That aggression is zeroed in on the pulpits.
Alliance Defense Fund’s Pulpit Initiative is an act of ministry that I urge every pastor to consider participating in for one very specific reason. Nowhere in the Holy Scriptures are the governing authorities given jurisdiction over the preaching and practice of the Gospel, nor is any such authority granted in the Constitution.
The existence of this restriction on what is preached in pulpits is offensive and unacceptable in every way.
I am thankful that finally, after over fifty years of this tyranny, the ADF is taking the IRS and the anti-Christian establishment head-on. Pastors and lay leaders should go to www.speakupmovement.org and get your church on the front lines. What if just 1,000 churches nationwide participated in this program on September 26?
The paper tiger of these restrictions would go up in smoke.
With that said we have a much deeper problem in the church and, when we eliminate these restrictions on free exercise of religion, very little will change in the behavior of the pastors who are not now promoting godly citizenship in their churches.
J.P. Morgan once said that man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason. The real reason most pastors are not actively leading in making citizenship a part of their church ministry is that they have been persuaded that it is either illegitimate or counterproductive to their “mission.”
For example, if a pastor is clearly shown that he can legally do anything in relation to influencing public policy, informing and registering voters, educating on candidates’ positions, etc. – with the only exception being directly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate as an organization (pastors may clearly do so individually) – and the pastor is doing none of the above … there must be another reason.
There is. His biblical worldview is incomplete, his theology is fragmented, he has been “seminarianized” into the seeker-friendly, market-driven, church-growth mindset and/or he simply is not a leader.
Beyond challenging the IRS, we must challenge Bill Hybels, Jim Wallis, Joel Osteen and their ilk who are Biblically bankrupt, as well as – I cringe but must say it – even men like Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg and others who we may admire but are proponents of “abandonment theology” when it comes to our citizenship duties.
To illustrate, I am going to quote liberally from an 1896 political-science textbook used at the university level titled “Issues of the Day.” It describes the “Advantages and Responsibilities of an American Citizen” to include:
“Our nation is what we as citizens make it … safe citizenship demands a careful study of our country and its people, our government and all the questions of vital interest constantly pressing to the front. He who will not inform himself upon the living issues of the day and interest himself in these subjects so essential to national life, does not deserve the name of citizen, and by his very ignorance and selfishness become in fact, if not intention, an enemy of his own nation.”
Following the compelling assertion that ignorance and inaction are equivalent to being an enemy of the state, the textbook describes “Duties of an American Citizen”:
1. Political Rights – “… In order to sustain a good government every man should exercise his political rights to the best of his knowledge … every man should be able to vote intelligently.”
2. Your Duty – “It is your right to expose the folly or injustice of a law, to demand its repeal and to try to get a majority to repeal it. But while it remains a law, you are to obey it.”
3. Voting at the Polls – “It is the duty of every American citizen to exercise his right to vote at all the primaries and all the elections to which he is eligible. The American people are too indifferent in nominating and supporting men for office.”
4. Prompt Execution of the Laws – “It is your duty to insist upon the prompt execution of the laws.”
5. Act Generally with Some Political Party – “It is your duty to act generally with some political party and to exert your influence upon its leaders to induce the nomination of capable and honest men for office.”
6. Watch the Conduct of Public Officers – “It is your duty to watch the conduct of public officers, to see that they perform their duties and observe their constitutional limitations …”
There is so much more in this textbook that is profoundly relevant for today but I will just reference one more clause under “Political Training for the Citizen” that I think you will find of interest due to its obvious application:
Making Citizens of Foreigners – How safe we should be from the pernicious effect of much ignorance and vicious anarchism which now trouble us if committees of good citizens had attended at our courts of naturalization and had forced upon … all officers … that this wise law be obeyed. But in practice … the process is “mechanical”, because it is usually conducted in the interest of one or the other of the party “machines”.
As wise King Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.
If you notice in the principles listed above, there is no “exception” clause for Christians in general or for pastors in particular. If you are an American citizen, these are your duties, period.