Pulpit Politics

Pastor Tom Bentz, our interim pastor, started his sermon yesterday with a warning... a warning that "this" was going to be "a political sermon." A month or two ago it was brought to his attention that he was talking too much politics from the pulpit. Our congregation's great insecurity about political opinions was beginning to show, for all that Tom had done in the way of political discussion had been quick references to John McCain and Barack Obama... two names which you'd have been hard pressed to avoid if you were indeed making an attempt at speaking the gospel into relevant circumstances. So Tom made it clear that we owed it to one another, if we're too call ourselves family, if we're to all ourselves community, to talk politics and to recognize the diversity of opinion and practice in our community.

We should not be so afraid to speak about politics in our churches. First of all, to limit the conversation to lofty "spiritual" issues would be to undo the incarnation and to disembody the gospel which we seek to preach and to practice. To limit the gospel to some other realm of thought, to domesticate it and to limit it from the realm of the political and from the big questions of the Church's imagination verses that of the state, would be to silence it and to paralyze it from challenging, encouraging, and prophesying to us in our vision of the world and of the Kingdom of God. Yes, it'd be a tragedy if ever the church's politics matched that of some political party or if the church's vision matched that of Wall Street or the White House. But nevertheless the gospel is political insofar as it must distinguish it's vision from that of the state or any other governing systems of this world.

We as a family should not fear that discussion for in that discussion we find our unity. In seeing our diversity of opinion we can still find our unity in that counter cultural gospel and in that kingdom which is not of this world. In "talking politics" the gospel comes alive and frees us to imagine the world as God does even in the realm of the political and not just in some other realm... the "spiritual." It frees us to actually see each other, not hiding our eyes in fear of seeing a republican or a democrat, but as brother and sister in the same mission of God in the world.

Tom's "political sermon" began with a comment which went something like this: "ours is not a 'change we can believe in' but a change beyond belief" as the transfiguration comes alive in us and around us. And it ended with a commission to "go transfigure."
"If it is true, then, that all of secular life, its pomp, its diversions, its
charm, can in so many ways imprison and ensnare a man, what is the earnest thing
to do—either from sheer earnestness to be silent in the church about things, or
earnestly to speak about them there in order, if possible, to fortify men
against the dangers of the world? Should it really be impossible to talk about
things of the world in a solemn and truly earnest manner?If it were impossible,
does it follow that it should be suppressed in the religious discourse?
Certainly not…" _Soren Kierkegaard