Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Gag Order

Before, during, and after the Revolutionary War, the “Fathers of the Republic did not divorce politics and religion, but they denounced the separation as ungodly.” (Quoted in Gag Order; John Wingate Thornton; The Pulpit of the American Revolution, 1860, reprint N.Y.: Da Capo, 1970, p. I)
For a century after the war, the message of the Bible, from the churches, influenced politics among other and all events of nineteenth century America (Idea from David N Hall; Election Day Sermons, Oak Ridge: Kuyper Institute, 1996, pp 20-21)

Such providence that I read these quotes while waiting for a chance to chat with Nancy Pearcey at Geneva College. The message of Ms. Pearcey’s book, Total Truth, was common experience in early America! We have surely moved in a backward direction, obvious to some but not most citizens. The idea here being, Biblical ideas were not isolated, pretty little stories that maybe endured remembrance till the congregation arrived home for lunch! At best, the message is taken to heart and applied in a personal or family sphere.

Gary Cass, author of Gag Order, quotes yet another voice, this of contemporary Baptist minister, Mark Coppenger. Addressing the IRS code, which prevents pastors under 501(c)(3) tax exemption law from freely speaking on certain political matters. Pastor Coppenger says, “the IRS is reinforcing the woeful impression that Church is only a devotional center and not also a base for cultural reformation.” Explaining it most clearly, Cass writes, “This is a governmental attempt to reduce the claims of Christ to the private sphere of the individual soul…this does violence to the absolute and universal Lordship of Christ over the whole world.” (P 38)

From what I’m getting, the church has taken a double blow in recent decades. From the churches, teaching and preaching was confined to personal or family application to some extent. From the government came strangely motivated, quietly passed tax rules blocking political activity from churches. I have no idea if the latter aggravated the former. There is likely a correlation to the decrease in political sermons. After all, pastors have been running scared of losing non-profit status as far back as I can remember…especially conservative ones under the double standard!

But don’t underestimate Satan’s power. I think he’s THAT good (bad). It is quite an orchestration if you think about it. If you have read Total Truth, you’ll remember the in-depth description of philosophies going back to Plato! Man’s thinking has been influenced for centuries by the separate spheres of material-ism and spiritual-ism…double minded Christians. Isn’t that why the sermons don’t stick, usually? We move from one sphere to the other on the road home! Then we feel guilty for focusing on lunch preparation and not soul preparation! But there is nothing unspiritual about eating lunch! It’s all in the attitude but guilt does not belong. And if the pastor feels led to go into a political issue Sunday morning, can we stop the nagging pre-conceived notion that it doesn’t belong?

Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn hit a nerve in my current read, Being the Body:

“The job of church, living as it does in alien country, must always be to be a beacon of the truth, not only in evangelism but in bringing Christian revelation to bear on every aspect of life. When we don’t do so, we have little influence on the shape and direction of our culture.”(P186)

This evidence of the Christian downfall has been a long time coming…for the questions of what went wrong, why are we in such bad shape, and where is the Church’s voice…have been tormenting Western Civilization with relentless upheaval.

Now that there are answers as to why Christians are missing on many fronts, it is only a matter of training and dispatching the troops, God willing.

Onward Christian soldiers! Marching as to war,
With the Cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see His banners go!

This looks like a nice lead in to my next topic, the cultural mandate.

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