POWER FROM THE PULPIT
December 16, 2004
I know this column will step on a few toes. Good. It is about time a few toes were stepped on.
It is amazing how many emails I receive after I publish a column. They arrive in clusters, either praising what I wrote, or attacking. The ratios so far have been about 98% pro, and 2% con. I imagine this column will increase the “con” emails substantially, for I am now attacking a sacred cow.
I am writing this just after I attended church. It is Sunday, and once again I have listened to a sermon that sounds almost like the sermon I heard last Sunday, and the Sunday before. It is as if there is a computer program that the preacher keys into, clicks a few buttons, and the computer shakes up the words and then prints out the sermon. They always seem to address the same issues: how to conduct yourself, how to conduct your marriage, how to raise your family, how much to tithe, and in Christian churches, how to be saved.
All of these things are important. But there are other things that need to be addressed by preachers that are never touched upon. More about that in a moment.
It seems like our “organized religion” has become regimented to a point that you can almost set your watch by events in the church service. In the church I attend, which is Southern Baptist, we have opening prayer, followed by announcements, followed by 25 minutes of music and choir, followed by a few minutes of greetings and hand shaking, then the offering, followed by the sermon, then alter call, a closing prayer, and quite often, we run past noon for baptisms—which means the Methodists beat us to the restaurant and get all the good chicken first.
It’s the same every Sunday. And when we travel we find not only that the other Baptist churches seem to be following almost the exact same blueprint, but the same messages on that particular Sunday!
Ever wonder why when you watch the evening news and you change channels, the talking heads seem to be telling the same news story and at the same time? It’s as if they have their scripts all issued from the same source. It appears to me that our churches do the same.
Maybe that’s by design. As one who is suspicious of too many coincidences, I can’t help but wonder if there are conspiracies in the church hierarchy to keep pastors muzzled in certain areas, and on a limited track on what they can preach on these days. In other words, have the shepherds of the flocks succumbed to political correctness?
My grandfather was a Primitive Baptist preacher in the mountains of east Tennessee. He preached two or more hours of fire and brimstone if the notion moved him. He was not afraid to address any issue, whether it was a known sinner in the congregation or a corrupt official in Washington. His church was one place where he did not hesitate to mix politics and religion if he felt that politics was interfering with our freedom to practice our faith. There was not such a thing as “separation of church and state” in those days. There were no computer programs that conveniently printed out politically correct, non-offensive, safe-to-preach sermons. In fact, I do not remember him ever even reading from notes. He just spoke his heart, and his measuring stick had one scale that ranged from right to wrong. It was simple, plain, country preaching. All black and white, no gray areas.
Today things are different. We have ministers who are actually afraid to get into areas that might be “dangerous.” They avoid certain topics so that they do not offend certain special interest groups or government officials. They fear the Internal Revenue Service and its prohibition against a “tax-exempt church” taking a political stand. They are afraid to address the growing activist homosexual movement, the attacks on Christianity in our public institutions, attacks on the Boy Scouts, prayer in school or any other public place, the growth of Satanism, the growing threat of militant Islam, the United Nations, the New World Order agenda, the infiltration of our government by international socialists, NEA control of our schools, globalism, the threat of our alien invasion of our southern border, the attacks on exhibiting the Ten Commandments, a Cross, or any other religious symbol in public.
The sermons preached in too many churches these days are given by what I call “Woosie Preachers.” Woosie is a term we used in the military for weak, non-assertive, non-committal individuals. Therefore, a woosie preacher (or minister, priest or rabbi) is one that either does not have a firm grip on national and world affairs and the dangers they pose—and does not want to learn them, or simply is afraid to address them from the pulpit. The former class is “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” The latter class is comprised of individuals who are simply in the “church business” and not willing to make waves that might offend anyone, or cost them their jobs.
Jesus made waves. He was not afraid to address politics, nor was he afraid to stand up to the organized religion of the day. In fact, in Matthew 21: 12-13, he threw the money changers out of the temple. He didn’t “ask” them to leave, he threw them out bodily. Are there any ministers today who would do the same?
American history is filled with pastors and ministers who stood firm against attacks from outside, whether it be a foreign power or our own government. Some ministers took up muskets and fought in the Revolutionary War, which was considered treason by the Crown at the time. Others bravely marched into the fields of battle in the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam. I remember two chaplains at Da Nang, one a Christian and one a Jewish Rabbi, who teamed up and visited the wounded in the hospital, then would catch a helicopter out to the field, land in a hot LZ, and minister to the wounded and dying while under fire. They both carried .45 pistols in their kit bags, just in case. They were what we called “fightin’ chaplains.” Where are such men in our civilian churches today?
As an example, I once asked a preacher what he would do if a law was written legalizing homosexual marriage, and then a homosexual couple walked into the church and demanded that he perform a marriage for them, or they would file a discrimination complaint. He replied, “I would not perform the ceremony, of course.” I then said, “well, if the law said that if you refused, the government would arrest you and close the church, what would you do?” His reply: “I don’t know. That’s different. Of course we wouldn’t want to lose the church.” What he meant was he didn’t want to go to jail, or lose his job. Forget what the Bible says in Romans 1: 24-32, or Leviticus 20:13.
Another preacher would fall back on the old crutch “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” To that I responded that this was not the Roman Empire, and that the difference now is that our government is supposed to be We the People, not some dictator or emperor. Government, according to our Constitution, is you and me. It originates in the family first, then progresses DOWN to local government, then the state, then the homeowner’s association in Washington known as the federal government. But somehow the perception of this has changed over the years and we are led to believe in our government school system that the federal government is the supreme entity in the land instead of the obedient servant of the people as designated in the Constitution. I found myself explaining that Article One of the Bill of Rights addressed freedom of religion and not freedom from religion, and that the Tenth Amendment specifically prohibited government from making any law contrary to the limits of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. I further explained that the Supreme Court stated that any law passed in violation of the 10th Amendment or the limits of the Constitution was “repugnant, and would upon inception, have the force and effect of no law at all.”
He stared at me blankly, then said “what does that have to do with me?”
The responsibility of preachers, pastors, and other church leaders is to educate the flock, and warn of dangers. Christianity and Judaism has been under persecution and attack throughout the centuries. But both are under more assaults today by our own government and media than ever before, and at the same time have less resistance from the pulpit than any time in our history. I once asked a Jewish Rabbi what he planned to do regarding an upcoming gay pride parade and march on city hall, considering what was written about homosexuality in the Old Testament. His reply? “Things are different now. We accept things now that were not accepted in the past.”
Really? Since when? And who decided this?
It is time we demand of our church leaders that they begin addressing the issues that threaten us most. If they don’t identify the threats to our “freedom of religion,” then who will? They should be leaders. Outspoken. Firm. Brave. Standing in the Armor of God as addressed in the Book of Ephesians. First they must become educated in the topics that need addressing. Then we must encourage—demand if necessary—that they speak of them. They must preach with courage and conviction and not worry about offending a few “pew warmers” or back row tithers, or the ACLU, or government bureaucrats, or the Devil himself.
I fear today we are experiencing the “luke-warm church” written of in the Book of Revelation (Rev 3: 15-16). You know, the one God spews out of his mouth for being neither hot nor cold?The pulpit should be a fortress of power, not a soapbox for woosie preachers.