Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A New Thought (for Me) about Political Involvement

A friend and I were exploring the finer details of what level of political involvement is or is not appropriate or wise for churches and pastors. The conversation inexorably wound up in discussions of when a pastor is operating in "official capacity" and when he is not. Before long, it all started to sound pretty sacerdotal to me. So, why do we place so much emphasis upon what pastors do with regard to church-state issues? As Baptists who believe in the priesthood of all believers, isn't it strange that some sectors of Baptist life seem to be far more concerned with pastors tiptoeing through a careful labyrinth of church-state rules than with all Baptist believers properly relating faith and citizenship?

10 comments:

Scott Gordon said...

Yes, I have found, at my former church, people became more upset with what signs I might put up in my yard during an election year than with the theology of my messages (which were quite conservative with a pleasant reformed flavor ;-) )!

Sola Gratia!

Dave Samples said...

The key for me is to let the Scriptures guide my views and my preaching without compromise. Beyond that, my personal political opinions are just that--"my opinions". I actively volunteer for candidates and do all that I can to ensure their success. However, with that said, my primary mission in life is not to elect candidates but rather to populate the kingdom of heaven. I wouldn't want my political views to offensively keep anyone out of God's kingdom.

Baptist Theologue said...

Bart,

My guess is the IRS takes the personal endorsement of a candidate by the pastor in the pulpit as an official endorsement of the candidate by that church. By the way, does the title of your blog have anything to do with Mr. Praise God Barebone, who was an English Separatist and later a Baptist? Apparently he was one of the leaders of the JLJ church from which came many Particular Baptist leaders. (McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, pp. 45-47)

Bart Barber said...

Brother BT,

Yes, the title has EVERYTHING to do with that person.

See here.

Bart Barber said...

Now, regarding the subject of the post.

We've wound up talking in the comments about what the pastor says from the pulpit. But that's not really about the pastor is it? In other words, if any member of the church stepped up to the pulpit during worship and said, "Vote Obama," wouldn't the effect be the same?

I'm talking more about what happens outside the worship service. In that context, we seem to care not at all if a church member who happens to be a politician or a business owner decides to contribute toward or endorse a particular candidate. But let a pastor do the same, and it makes some people uncomfortable.

What I'm asking is how, along with the Baptist view of the priesthood of all believers, we come to conclude that a pastor's private political endorsements are in a different category from a church member's private political endorsements?

Bart Barber said...

By "private" I don't mean "secret." Rather, I mean, not associated with his official capacity with the church.

CB Scott said...

Vote for Mike Huckabee for President of the United States of America.

Tell all of your church members to vote for Huckabee. Tell your barber to vote for Huckabee. Matter of fact, tell all of your "barbers" to vote for Huckabee.

cb

Bart Barber said...

CB,

First, move your family to South Carolina, where it will matter.

Tim Guthrie said...

cb,
You and I agree on this and Bart is probably right also. South Carolina is key to him getting national respect.

GO MIKE!!!!!

Tim Guthrie said...

Bart,
Is the pulpit or speaking on church property or speaking under the title equal "speaking as a Pastor" or????

I personally do much outside of the pulpit and property and have never had a problem even when Pastor or Rev is attached in a public setting.

Great question.