Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Should The Church Address Cultural Issues?

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With Associated Press mocking President Trump yesterday for carrying a Bible publicly, Seattle council member Tammy Morales making national news by commenting that she can't understand "why looting bothers people so much more than black people dying every day," and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stirring racism by taking to Twitter blaming "white men" for the "violence and destruction" that plaques American cities from Los Angles to New York, we can't avoid asking:

Should the Christian church be addressing these issues from the pulpit?

Sadly, too many are saying "no" by their silence.

Be warned.

The following is sourced from "The American Revolution Was Fueled by Preaching" and my personal sermon notes.

We have a history

Unlike our America of 2020, in which the most influential voice in the culture is the media---so-called news and entertainment-- in colonial America, the Christian pulpit was the single most powerful voice to inspire the thinking and reasoning of colonists.

What fired the contemporary colonial pulpit was the influence of great reformers like Luther and Calvin.

Their teaching and preaching on the Kingdom of Christ and the authority of the Scripture gave rise to the colonial form of self and civil government, which led to the founding of the greatest, most free, most prosperous nation in the history of the world: The United States of America.

And the creation of our founding documents ---the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution-- drew heavily from the authority of Scripture.

The colonial Christian pulpit included pastors and preachers like Joseph Cotton, a Puritan pastor of Boston in the 1630s, the preaching of Cotton Mather, the evangelical patriarch Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, who inspired the First Great Awakening, Rev. Dr. John Whitherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of Princeton College, Samuel Davies, the pastor of Patrick Henry who famously told his colleagues in government, "Give me liberty or give me death"---and unlike politicians today, he meant it.

In conclusion, of his Sunday morning sermon from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, Lutheran Pastor Peter Muhlenburg read verse 8--"a time for war, and a time for peace." Then stepping from behind his pulpit, he removed his clerical robe, revealing his military uniform, and called on the men of the church to follow him out the door to join Gen. George Washington in the fight for liberty and freedom.

More than 200 men stood and followed their pastor out the door to the battlefield.

The critic and the skeptic would say, Gary, that was another time and place. Things have changed. Besides no one would follow today. And that would violate the separation of church and state.

If we continue as we are, we'll never know, because the pulpit is mostly silent on the issues of the culture.

Things have changed.

Let's look at some of the things that have changed.

Education has changed.

Yale historian Henry S. Stout (Christian History Magazine, issue 50: Christianity and the American Revolution) says this:
"Over the span of the colonial era, American ministers delivered approximately eight million sermons, each lasting about one-and-a-half hours. The average 70-year-old churchgoer would have listened to some 7000 sermons in his or her lifetime, totally nearly 10,000 hours of concentrated listening. This is the number of classroom hours it would take to receive ten separate undergraduate degrees in a modern university, without ever repeating the same course."

Church was education. Education was Bible-centered.

The sermon was one of the chief literary genres in colonial America. Listeners followed sermons closely, took mental notes, and discussed the sermon with family members on Sunday afternoon.

Without even attending a college or seminary--although that was encouraged---a churchgoer in colonial America could gain an intimate knowledge of Bible doctrine, church history, and classical literature.

That's why Founding Father and founder of what we know as "public education" Noah Webster said the Bible could actually be the only textbook required for education. He was speaking not from the intellectually-stunted position of so-called "progressives" of our "enlightened, evolved" times--- those who criticize his comments today---but from a much broader, informed understanding of truth and knowledge.

The pastors were so influential that England's King George III, the king from whom we separated ourselves, called the Revolutionary War the "Parson's Rebellion."

The colonial pulpit was so powerful, that it influenced generations to follow.

One example:

Dr. John Witherspoon was especially prominent in the move toward freedom.

One official of the King's Crown in the colonies wrote back to England that John Witherspoon had so influenced the shape of the conflict that it had very much become a religious war.

Here's why he said that: Rev. Dr. Witherspoon tutored James Madison, architect of the Constitution and US President, Vice-President Aaron Burr, 9 cabinet officers, 21 US Senators, 39 Congressmen, 3 Supreme Court justices, and other public officials, 5 of the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention were his students.

He nurtured a whole generation of statesmen with Scripture and a biblical worldview.

JW Thornton (1860) wrote the following in "The Pulpit and the American Revolution":

The true alliance between politics and Christianity is the lesson that was deeply implanted in the minds and hearts of early America by the Christian pulpits.
The pulpit of the Revolution is the voice of the Founding Fathers of the Republic, enforced by their example. They invoked God in their civil assemblies, called upon their chosen religious leaders for counsel from the Bible, and recognized its precepts as the law of public conduct.
They prepared the new nation for the struggle for liberty with the Word of God and a deep trust in Him in their hearts. This was the colonists' source of moral energy.
This produced generations of bright articulate Christian men and women who could wisely discourse on complex issues of self and civil government.

Samuel Adams, patriot and father of the American Revolution, said in a speech delivered in Boston on October 4, 1790, and summarizing colonial education, said it's "to develop a wise and virtuous man, fit to be trusted with the liberty of this country."


The takeaway could be, that history was great, but America has changed---it's more diverse now, more multicultural, more secular---more spiritually depraved. That kind of influence could never be realized in today's America.

How do you know? Have you tried? Have you taken a stand for righteousness in the culture based on biblical Truth?

Or are we merely trying to "relate" by giving people "5 steps to a happy day" sermons from the pulpits of 2020 America?

While our schools are teaching our kindergarten boys how to put a condom on a cucumber, they're providing birth control pills and even abortions to young girls without even telling their parents.

And they're telling our boys he may be a girl, and our girls she may be a boy---while they marginalize and mock the Bible and its precepts. And forbid it be brought into the classroom.

They are obsessed with stealing the minds and hearts of our children

You know this is true. And it isn't isolated.

Some pulpits say "the culture ignores the church."

They'll start listening when we turn up the volume and turn on the lights, and begin to preach like we think there really is a problem in our culture, and we really believe Jesus is the answer.

Identify the problems. Present the answer.

Be Prayerful. Be Bold. Be Not Afraid.