Out of Context: Efrem Smith

"People cannot tell the difference between a conservative evangelical message and Rush Limbaugh, or a mainline Protestant message and Howard Dean. Because of the media, any news item related to a major social issue...is politicized in 24 hours. By the time I get up to preach about it on Sunday, it's been spun and polarized a hundred times over."

-Efrem Smithis pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis. Taken from "Does Your Preaching Touch Politics" in the Summer 2008 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

September 04, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 11 comments

Ruth

September 08, 2008  5:38am

I am heartsick over the politicization of our Christian faith these last years in America. In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes via Wormwood that the main way to trip up Christians is to get them into a cause for the right reason and then make that reason the end in itself. At that point, all the other, weightier matters of the law (like justice, mercy, kindness, being one in the Spirit) will be absent. Abortion has become more a focus than these other ways of Jesus at this point. So it is now in "evangelical Christianity" (and could anyone tell me what that means if 40% of us don't believe Jesus is the only Savior?) Frances Shaeffer also said 40 years ago that every church had an American flag at the front, equal to the Christian flag. He said the greatest test for the church as it moved into the post-Christian era coming would be if we could separate our vision of what it meant to be an "American" from what it meant to be Christian. That day has come and so far, we are failing the test.

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mike rucker

September 05, 2008  6:59am

i'm finding that the same thing that happened in my religious / spiritual life is now happening in the area of my political views. we get so well-versed in one side of the story that, over time, we feel it's the only true side of the story, and that the other side is either (a) stupid, (b) evil or (c) just plain wrong. and while there are some that make an effort to understand both sides, they unfortunately then settle upon one and over time forget what they learned about the other. each side has an agenda, sure - we're all quick to say that, but what we really mean is your side has an agenda. i've started studying some liberal economics texts to counter the republican, supply-side view i grew up in, and it amazes me how naive i've been to think that one side has all the answers. it's funny to watch the rnc and see how it's trying to paint the dems as 'them' and the republicans as the 'party of the people,' which any student of history will tell you is exactly the opposite of what their records are. do we need to eat all food groups? i don't know: i've lost 26 lbs cutting out carbs, eating no fruit, and snacking on bacon. i guess the problem is we get set in our ways and want to stick to the path of least resistance. i'm sure paul would have included 'no right and left, no republican and democrat' in the his letter to the americans if he'd been around today.

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Geoff Baggett

September 04, 2008  3:57pm

I agree with Melody. Try preaching the Word and letting it be your guide instead of preaching the news and current events.

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Chris

September 04, 2008  3:34pm

Interesting that the comments are longer than the original post. Was that intentional? (the short little blurb from Efrem?) If it was a "teaser" type of post just meant to stir up the comment community...I fell for it!

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Drew Hill

September 04, 2008  2:05pm

None are unbias, no not one. And I'm not talking about the media. I'm talking about preachers like me. We are all pretty blind to our own lack of objectivity when it comes to politics. We all color and interpret the facts through our own lenses. What is needed most of all is humility. Speaking as the mouthpiece of God is scary enough when we know we are standing solidly and squarely on God's Word. We better be careful not to arrogantly pronounce God's politics while condemning our brothers and sisters in Christ who apply their faith from a different viewpoint.

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Tim

September 04, 2008  12:25pm

Why is "polarizing" seen as always bad. Truth is polarized from error. Righteousness is polarized from evil. To suggest the truth is always in the middle is flat out wrong. Mix a little error in with truth and you have error of the worst sort. Regarding "politicized": Most of what happens in politics is politicized from the start. Neither Rush nor Howard make it so. They may add a little color or add details the main media has purposely left out.

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Todd Burus

September 04, 2008  10:52am

from what i can tell, most commentators left sarah palin's daughter alone this week, but the hannitizers made an issue where there was none trying to paint the whole obama crowd as 'vicious' in their attacks, with palin as the victim. I'm sorry, Hannitizers? Did you see the cover of "Us Weekly"? I didn't even know that was a political magizine and somehow they picked up on the story. What I don't get is why it's okay to be religious and political as long as your religion, I mean politics, are liberal? I think it is interesting to note that all four candidates claim to be Christian (or Catholic, Biden), yet Obama-Biden get a free ride on it while McCain-Biden are labelled theocrats or phonies. At the same time, it seems okay for the Dems to speak in a church, but if a Republican were to do that (save a minister, Huckabee) then it would be derided as a failure to separate church and state. There is a clear double standard when it comes to religion and politics, both among liberal Christians and liberal pundits, and I think it is far-stretched to say that's the fault of Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reiily.

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sheerahkahn

September 04, 2008  10:47am

"This is why it is your job, dear pastor, to risk it all and preach what the Bible actually says to your congregation. What are you afraid of? Let the Bible do the work. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." http://www.americanbible.org/brcpages/Peace

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Melody

September 04, 2008  8:21am

This is why it is your job, dear pastor, to risk it all and preach what the Bible actually says to your congregation. What are you afraid of? Let the Bible do the work. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

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mike rucker

September 04, 2008  5:45am

amen. it seems everyone's handing out 'talking points.' i think i saw a book at borders last night called, 'are we really that stupid?', apparently lamenting how prone we are to following all the IWMs (idiots with microphones) who occupy everyone's drive time. from what i can tell, most commentators left sarah palin's daughter alone this week, but the hannitizers made an issue where there was none trying to paint the whole obama crowd as 'vicious' in their attacks, with palin as the victim. outside of a few quacks, that wasn't what happened. this is one of the few times i believe we owe ourselves to finding and defending 'absolute truth,' yet it seems those that push it the hardest in the biblical sense are quite careless with it in the political arena. they complained about the air pollution that was supposedly going to hang over beijing for the olympics - i bet it pales in comparison to what's going to come out of the mouths of politicians and pundits and hang over america the next two months.

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