Last week, San Antonio pastor Max Lucado became the most high-profile pastor to speak out against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “It is a break with precedent with me,” Lucado told CT in an interview about his decision to disavow Trump. “I’ve never done anything like this. It’s an unprecedented act on my part. I do not want to continue this. I have no desire to police presidential candidates.”
Does Lucado’s disengagement from politics make him the exception or the rule? We asked 11 pastors from around the country about the last time they preached about politics and why.
Here’s what they had to say:
Pastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, D.C.
Since we launched Anacostia River Church last April, there’s hardly been a month wherein I haven’t preached “something political.” I don’t think it can be avoided if you’re committed to expositional preaching of the sort that makes contact with contemporary life. The gospels, for example, are explosive in their political import. Preaching “something political” is necessary if we are to live under Christ’s lordship in every area of life. Not doing so means Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and other secular news outlets disciple us instead. I fear that’s been the case far too long and to disastrous effect for the church and the country.
Corey J. Widmer
Lead pastor, Third Church, Richmond, Virginia
In some ways I seek to preach a political message every week. The earliest creed, “Jesus is Lord,” proclaims Christ as the public ruler over all the kingdoms of the world and is a challenge to all earthly rulers. Practically, this means equipping people to live out their faith in the public spheres of the world, demonstrating how our confession of Christ leads us to embrace certain cultural trends and to reject others. Nevertheless, because of the complexity of living in a post-Christian society, I hold back from giving specific directives about every public decision people must make, including who to vote for.
Senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Hacienda Heights, California
If preaching “something political” means preaching core Christian beliefs which accord with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1) and are often politically charged (i.e., the definition of marriage, the value of all life), my answer is often. If it means preaching the application of said convictions to today’s culture and public policy, the answer is I have not and don’t plan to, but I may if the case requires. If it means preaching that Christians are morally required to vote for a particular candidate, my answer is never. My authority as a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be exercised carefully, lest I bind the consciences of Christ’s people to a rule Christ has not given.
Lead pastor, South City Church, St. Louis, Missouri
Never expressly preached about politics. As a black pastor in a predominantly white, conservative denomination, there is no good way to do that.
Pastor, New City Fellowship OPC, Grand Rapids, Michigan
I recently delivered a sermon on Jesus and politics from Mark 12:17. While laying out some biblical principles for political engagement, I avoided political partisanship, political primacy, and political complacency. In the end, we learned that Christians are called to gospel-grounded active socio-political engagement in service to God. Among faithful Christians, this can take a variety of forms across political parties. Whatever their political persuasion, Christians should always be challenging the scope of the moral concerns represented by their political parties. We should never line up in lock-step with political parties or be co-opted by them. The Word of God determines our moral assumptions and concerns rather than party platforms.