Should Pulpits Ring with Trump – Especially This Week?

 

I was encouraged this morning by a pastor colleague that this is the moment to stand up and say something to denounce the immorality and corruption of the Trump administration. In some ways, it was the standard clerical collusion with the anti-Trump media — but at the moment in which things seem to be legally breaking against the president. I have mentioned the president only a few times in my public ministry, and certainly not to denounce him, as I did not denounce President Obama in the preceding eight years. We pray regularly for all public officials as the Bible commands, and I say very little about the goings-on of any administration.

I included below my response to this group of pastors that you may find helpful if you are considering such speech, or are wondering how your church should be responding to the present political moment:

Gentlemen,

I generally would not counsel in favor of this. (Especially in your case XXXXXX — you may not “have much to lose”, but I would encourage you to keep your eye on the task before you as an interim pastor. I would argue it is not something like ‘telling the church the truth they don’t want to hear’ but something like ‘creating unity and expectation for a new season of spiritual fruitfulness’. I don’t suspect making this an issue is going to help with that unity part.)

If our preaching is in conversation with the events of the Trump administration, then we are going to be drawn into something every week. And as clergy, we are charged with not being possessed by any particular political ideology or philosophy. There were a number of actions during the Obama administration that I found profoundly troubling and deeply totalitarian as ways of reshaping Democratic and Republican institutions in ways keeping with collectivist and revolutionary European ideologies. Which is more troubling for example, a president unilaterally making a treaty with a foreign country including billions of dollars of financial incentives (the ‘Iran deal’) which might lead to a rogue nation possessing nuclear weaponry, or a man paying someone hush money for an affair so that it wouldn’t interfere with his campaign (I have heard from one source that it is not illegal to pay someone a hush settlement, but that they did it wrong under the American campaign finance laws)? Or, considering fact checking, has anyone been listening to fact checks concerning the American anti-Trump media?

This is why you are not going to hear me include these things in my work from the pulpit directly. I may talk about the moral issues related to some of the things going on in politics, but I see it as my job as a pastor to help people not fall into the bigger lie – that everything is politics. The one lie that all of the public figures are falling into, is that everything is about the actions of public figures – which I believe is something Christians should not believe. If we look, for example, to the early writings of the Christians, you will find very little of this kind of writing even though the governments they labored under were much more tyrannical. They reference the government in so much as to instruct Christians how to behave under those governments, tyrannical as they were. And when they did, they did so with extreme moderation, addressing the government itself (see Justin Martyr).

Remember, you are probably not competent to talk about these issues anyway. Just because most of the people talking about them are incompetent ignoramuses, doesn’t mean that we should go rushing in to do the same thing as even less competent in this subject matter. Probably 3 to 5 people in the country are up to the day-to-day facts on the Mueller investigation, do you know who they are? One of my first pastors said “It is a great injustice for pastors to pontificate about things they are incompetent to talk about. Study the Bible and preach it to your people, for in it, and in its authority you have competence and authority. Deviate from its scope but a little, and you are a peddler of fleshly opinions standing on the misused authority of the word of God written.” Remember, it is not newscasters who the Bible says will be judged more strictly, but we who are the church’s teachers.

There are both pro and against versions of Trump derangement syndromes, and it is difficult not to get attached or infected by one or the other. If we wanted to be a nation that drew the line at moral dealings with women and the moving around of monies under $1 million to shut them up, we missed our chance with Bill Clinton a long time ago. Bill Clinton was actually openly accused of rape, and profound sexual misconduct, including engaging in adulterous behavior while in public office and within the public precincts themselves. For myself, I was for the impeachment and removal of Clinton then, and I understood at 19 or 20 years old that his ability to remain in office after such behavior would probably permanently justify such behavior in office. Yet no mainline pulpits rang with his denouncement.

However, as Adam Smith said, there is much ruin in a nation, and this is all the more true the larger the government gets. If our elected leaders, whether Republican or Democratic, will content themselves with consensual womanizing, it seems to me that this is a small price to pay in corruption for the extraordinarily large opportunity for corruption accessible in a government our size. One Hollywood actor said that Trump reminded him of a Shakespearean antihero. I completely agree. But Trump reminds me much more of King Lear than Macbeth, and I would rather have vanity and infidelity at the top then raw and rank murderous ambition that leads to war.

So for this and many other reasons, I would encourage anyone reading this not to be caught up in the especially stirred up atmosphere of the American press this week.

Remember, if you wish to preach Isaiah correctly [the subject of the message this responds to], he condemns everyone and everything everywhere for turning their backs on God. He condemns not just the immorality kings, but he decries the immorality of peoples.

The problem with America, as with most of the countries lamented over in Isaiah and preached against, is the veniality and immorality and lack of responsibility in the nation’s people. Trump did not create our immorality, Nor did Clinton. We created it ourselves through everything we constructed to shield us from our own terrible decisions, in every way we sought to put off our own responsibilities. And we will not recapture it with a better leader — though we should definitely seek to elect one as soon as possible. We must become substantive and godly people ourselves. And if we seek to encourage this by using words either in preaching or writing, we should start by not falling for the larger lies, before attacking the lies discussed presently by the chattering classes. A deeper wisdom is required, not the glandular insights that are so pleasing to our emotions.

nic

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  1. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Nic Gibson: I was encouraged this morning by a pastor colleague that this is the moment to stand up and say something to denounce the immorality and corruption of the Trump administration.

    Did this pastor or you stand up and denounce the corruptions, immorality and traitorous actions of the Clinton and Obama administrations? They were far worse than anything Trump has done. If they did not, then nothing this pastor and you say about President Trump is of of any importance. President Trump has accomplished wonderful things for this country and since my dad was a bus driver, Trump’s crude mouth doesn’t bother, nor his occasional wandering away from his home front.

    • #1
  2. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I don’t believe paying hush money is illegal nor is it connected to the campaign other than in the minds of deranged Democrats. If this money was demanded by the porn slut for her silence then it is she who is guilty of extortion. DJT used his own money for the payment not campaign funds. Your point is well taken that not many know all the details of this coup being fostered on the country by the Democrats. Remember this was about Russian collusion suddenly we are concerned about with whom DJT had an affair with 11 years ago.

    • #2
  3. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I would further caution about talking about the “corruption of this administration.” When people say that, they’re really referring to past transgressions of Donald Trump. Not by this administration. I know of no credible allegations that this administration has acted outside the law. Indeed, it would seem opponents of this administration are the ones who’ve corrupted the Intelligence Community, the DoJ, and further back, the IRS, HHS, NASA… 

     

    • #3
  4. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    My impression is that many Spiritual Leaders have far too little knowledge of politics, political philosophy, and economics to be making unqualified public assertions about these topics, and that includes specifically the current Pope.

    If you don’t know what you are talking about, then using a position of influence to propagate your beliefs is as irresponsible as attempting to fly an airliner without even having taken flying lessons.

    • #4
  5. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    David Foster (View Comment):

    My impression is that many Spiritual Leaders have far too little knowledge of politics, political philosophy, and economics to be making unqualified public assertions about these topics, and that includes specifically the current Pope.

    If you don’t know what you are talking about, then using a position of influence to propagate your beliefs is as irresponsible as attempting to fly an airliner without even having taken flying lessons.

    (FIFY), then…

    This.  My pastor certainly does have sufficient knowledge of the above, and he demonstrates it in private conversations – but never from the pulpit, or any other position that would reflect on the church itself.

    He does not shy away from the things where the church – nay, the Church – are to be involved – matters of morals, principles for our lives and faith, not how we are use out morals to attack others. Many times liberals have tried to couch morals as political issues.  But the liberals are dead wrong in this, among their many lies.  To the extent that a church abandons its principles because somebody cries, “politics,” that church utterly abandons any reason for its continued existence.  It is a church in name only, and if I correctly judge the winds of the future, likely not long as that, either.

    • #5
  6. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Nic Gibson: Should pulpits ring with Trump- esp this week?

    I’m thinking Catholic parishes got other stuff they need to be talking about.

    Good post, Nic.

    • #6
  7. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    I think the best mention of a government official’s name in church is in prayer to God for wisdom and discernment in their knowing how to guide our nation well.

    Rather than denounce Trump, it might be more helpful for Christians to work a bit more on who/what God holds us 100% accountable:  our own behavior and interaction with our communities

    “We should not ask, ‘What is wrong with the world?’ for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, “What has happened to salt and light?”

    John Stott

    Part of being salt and light I’ve come to realize is being a counter to the increasing threat(s) Leftism poses to God-given freedoms we have enjoyed for over 200 yrs in the US.  In the way that we are taught to love the sinner/hate the sin, we should be able to resist Leftism/Leftist behavior with all our might while not hating the Leftist.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Nic Gibson: We must become substantive and godly people ourselves. And if we seek to encourage this by using words either in preaching or writing, we should start by not falling for the larger lies, before attacking the lies discussed presently by the chattering classes. A deeper wisdom is required, not the glandular insights that are so pleasing to our emotions.

    Nice conclusion.

    • #8
  9. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Nic Gibson: Should pulpits ring with Trump- esp this week?

    I’m thinking Catholic parishes got other stuff they need to be talking about.

    Good post, Nic.

    I was going to post this link, but a member beat me to the story. 

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/ex-nuncio-accuses-pope-francis-of-failing-to-act-on-mccarricks-abuse

    http://ricochet.com/547071/francis-toast-the-perverts-in-your-rear-view-mirror-are-closer-than-they-appear/

     

    • #9
  10. YouCantMeanThat Coolidge
    YouCantMeanThat
    @michaeleschmidt

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    Did this pastor or you stand up and denounce the corruptions, immorality and traitorous actions of the Clinton and Obama administrations?

    Did either you (or the four upticks) read through this very thoughtful and well-reasoned piece of most excellent advice? (A real “wow;” you can almost hear applicable scripture being spoken in the background.) Is this a testament to the attention span wrought, in part by TV and similar entertainments? Until roughly the ’50s, reading was obviously necessary to convey serious thinking. It still is; we’ve just gotten out of the habit. At best.

    Hint: the nswer to the above is slightly past the halfway point in the letter.

    • #10
  11. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    “The Kingdom of  God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”. 

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    “The Kingdom of God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”.

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    One point I tried to make with my pre-confirmation class back in the day is that when it comes to politics, you can come up with evidence that Jesus favored libertarian, liberal, conservative, socialist, or just about any political ideology out there.  

    • #12
  13. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    “The Kingdom of God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”.

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    One point I tried to make with my pre-confirmation class back in the day is that when it comes to politics, you can come up with evidence that Jesus favored libertarian, liberal, conservative, socialist, or just about any political ideology out there.

    Yeah.  That’s because He didn’t get involved.  He was not concerned with affairs of this world. 

    • #13
  14. TheSockMonkey Coolidge
    TheSockMonkey
    @TheSockMonkey

    Nic Gibson: The problem with America, as with most of the countries lamented over in Isaiah and preached against, is the veniality and immorality and lack of responsibility in the nation’s people. Trump did not create our immorality, Nor did Clinton. We created it ourselves through everything we constructed to shield us from our own terrible decisions, in every way we sought to put off our own responsibilities. And we will not recapture it with a better leader — though we should definitely seek to elect one as soon as possible. We must become substantive and godly people ourselves. And if we seek to encourage this by using words either in preaching or writing, we should start by not falling for the larger lies, before attacking the lies discussed presently by the chattering classes. A deeper wisdom is required, not the glandular insights that are so pleasing to our emotions.

    Dead on accurate.

    • #14
  15. TheSockMonkey Coolidge
    TheSockMonkey
    @TheSockMonkey

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The problem with America, as with most of the countries lamented over in Isaiah and preached against, is the veniality and immorality and lack of responsibility in the nation’s people. Trump did not create our immorality, Nor did Clinton. We created it ourselves through everything we constructed to shield us from our own terrible decisions, in every way we sought to put off our own responsibilities. And we will not recapture it with a better leader — though we should definitely seek to elect one as soon as possible. We must become substantive and godly people ourselves. And if we seek to encourage this by using words either in preaching or writing, we should start by not falling for the larger lies, before attacking the lies discussed presently by the chattering classes. A deeper wisdom is required, not the glandular insights that are so pleasing to our emotions.

    Indeed.

    C.S. Lewis had something to say about the folly of a culture that denounces and disregards morals, and then complains that people act immorally. It would be refreshing to hear the “mainstream” media, and pop culture denounce Trump’s many flaws, if they’d acknowledge they’ve been promoting similar flaws (or worse) for the past few decades, and continue to do so. One could bear their concern about Trump administration corruption, were it not for their silence over the much worse corruption of the last administration, and their attempt to elect someone as thoroughly corrupt as Hillary Clinton, in his place.

    The OP is correct. It’s not just the people at the top. We, as a culture, have condoned many of the flaws we see in Trump. We watch the reality shows that glorify confrontation and smack-talking. We’ve accepted the viewing of pornography as a past-time, which is only the lesser form of what Trump (allegedly) did in sleeping with porn models himself. We’ve excused the kind of casual exaggeration and white-lying for which Trump is infamous.

    • #15
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The problem with America, as with most of the countries lamented over in Isaiah and preached against, is the veniality and immorality and lack of responsibility in the nation’s people. Trump did not create our immorality, Nor did Clinton. We created it ourselves through everything we constructed to shield us from our own terrible decisions, in every way we sought to put off our own responsibilities. And we will not recapture it with a better leader — though we should definitely seek to elect one as soon as possible. We must become substantive and godly people ourselves. And if we seek to encourage this by using words either in preaching or writing, we should start by not falling for the larger lies, before attacking the lies discussed presently by the chattering classes. A deeper wisdom is required, not the glandular insights that are so pleasing to our emotions.

    Indeed.

    C.S. Lewis had something to say about the folly of a culture that denounces and disregards morals, and then complains that people act immorally. It would be refreshing to hear the “mainstream” media, and pop culture denounce Trump’s many flaws, if they’d acknowledge they’ve been promoting those similar flaws (or worse) for the past few decades, and continue to do so. One could bear their concern about Trump administration corruption, were it not for their silence over the much worse corruption of the last administration, and their attempt to elect someone as thoroughly corrupt as Hillary Clinton, in his place.

    Amen!

    • #16
  17. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    This was a great column.  I think I read it on Patheos first.    I think the church should focus on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ ,  and how to be a Christian.    If the people in the pews manage to apply it their daily lives, wonderful.  If the people in the pews manage to apply it to their politics and voting habits – lagniappe!  But the daily lives are way more important than the politics.

    • #17
  18. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    “The Kingdom of God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”.

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    I completely agree.  There is no place for politics from the pulpit.  The only thing I want to hear from the pulpit is that we pray for all of our leaders.  Period.

    • #18
  19. TheSockMonkey Coolidge
    TheSockMonkey
    @TheSockMonkey

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    “The Kingdom of God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”.

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    I think that would make things easier, but I think I disagree, for a number of reasons.

    First, there’s no hard and fast line between the moral and the political. For example, when Jesus’ cousin and fore-runner, John the Baptist, denounced Herod’s sex life, were there no political implications? In our own day, should preachers remain silent on the so-called social issues? We can’t say those aren’t political issues. They’ve become very political. Should the Roman Catholic church refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians? Should preachers weigh in on maintaining civility in our political disputes, or on racial issues?

    I also disagree with the idea that Jesus was entirely apolitical. It’s true that he wasn’t interested in His church being a political power, but that doesn’t mean he had nothing to say about earthly politics. Even the oft-quoted example of “render unto Caeser,” has political implications. We think of it as separating Church and State, but in Jesus’ day, it was a choice between militant nationalism, or acquiescing to imperialism. I also don’t think it was entirely apolitical for Jesus to issue harsh denunciations of the politically powerful religious leaders of His day.

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    “The Kingdom of God is within you” said Christ.

    He was not concerned at all, not one jot or tittle, with the political events of the day, nor with”social justice”.

    “Render unto Caesar”. “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. “The poor ye have always with you.”

    Let the churches, Catholic and Protestant , concern themselves with their own purity, their own morality, and keep out of the political arena.

    I think that would make things easier, but I think I disagree, for a number of reasons.

    First, there’s no hard and fast line between the moral and the political. For example, when Jesus’ cousin and fore-runner, John the Baptist, denounced Herod’s sex life, were there no political implications? In our own day, should preachers remain silent on the so-called social issues? We can’t say those aren’t political issues. They’ve become very political. Should the Roman Catholic church refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians? Should preachers weigh in on maintaining civility in our political disputes, or on racial issues?

    I also disagree with the idea that Jesus was entirely apolitical. It’s true that he wasn’t interested in His church being a political power, but that doesn’t mean he had nothing to say about earthly politics. Even the oft-quoted example of “render unto Caeser,” has political implications. We think of it as separating Church and State, but in Jesus’ day, it was a choice between militant nationalism, or acquiescing to imperialism. I also don’t think it was entirely apolitical for Jesus to issue harsh denunciations of the politically powerful religious leaders of His day.

    Sadly, Hypatia won’t be able to respond to you as she’s been banned. But, I tend to agree with you. I think it’s nearly impossible to separate politics and religion. They both speak to core values. 

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Sadly, Hypatia won’t be able to respond to you as she’s been banned.

    Banned or suspended?

    • #21
  22. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Sadly, Hypatia won’t be able to respond to you as she’s been banned.

    Banned or suspended?

    Hypatia was banned.  Back in July she was suspended for multiple, and rather vile, statements about multiple site members over a couple of hours.  This was not her first suspension for this sort of behavior either.  She was warned that when she came back, any further issues and she would be out for good.  It was a final warning, this was even stressed to her personally by Blue Yeti (who even gave her one additional chance when she started in on her first day back), and last night, after attacking another member, she was banned.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    It was a final warning, this was even stressed to her personally by Blue Yeti (who even gave her one additional chance when she started in on her first day back), and last night, after attacking another member, she was banned.

    Fair enough. Just wondered.

    • #23
  24. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Sadly, Hypatia won’t be able to respond to you as she’s been banned.

    Banned or suspended?

    Hypatia was banned. Back in July she was suspended for multiple, and rather vile, statements about multiple site members over a couple of hours. This was not her first suspension for this sort of behavior either. She was warned that when she came back, any further issues and she would be out for good. It was a final warning, this was even stressed to her personally by Blue Yeti (who even gave her one additional chance when she started in on her first day back), and last night, after attacking another member, she was banned.

    Thanks for the explanation, @skipsul.

    • #24
  25. Nic Gibson Inactive
    Nic Gibson
    @NicGibson

    Thanks for all the feedback and conversation everyone- and the time you took to read this post. I hope it built you up.

     

    • #25

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