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pastors and politics?

I encountered an interesting clip on youtube, courtesy of Justin Taylor’s blog.

Say what you want about the different candidates running for president, feel free to debate the quality of these pastoral opinions of Barak Obama; there is much to call into question in regard to both candidates.

I certainly have my own political opinions and convictions, but that is not what concerns me most about this clip of various pastors endorsing Barak Obama.  

Biblically, a pastor/elder is to shepherd the church, especially through teaching them the Scriptures (Titus 1, 1 Timothy 3).  The pastor is to be a man who speaks truth, who helps his flock to rightly understand their Bibles and be transformed by them into wise disciples of Christ who believe truth and live according to that knowledge.  

When an individual presents themselves as a pastor and crosses over into politics, naming names and claiming party allegiance, their voice is not merely that of a single individual.  When a pastor speaks with the clarity and specificity of Pastor Brian McLaren and the other pastors in this clip, their opinions are communicated as Pastor – as an authoritative voice that is to come before his congregation, Bible open, to say, “Thus says the Lord.”

Should a pastor remain silent on all issues of political concern? No, that is not what I am suggesting.  

I am suggesting that pastors teach with clarity what the Bible itself teaches with clarity.  Teach your people how to think about politics, what the bible teaches about government, how we should love and care for the poor, why we should care about issues pertaining to the preciousness of human life – teach your people the truth found in God’s word.

 Pastor, yours is a calling to explicate that which is true and refute that which is false, when you herald the name of a political figure or party, you are overextending yourself and saying more than you have biblical warrant to.

Tread carefully with your political opinions: it is just as wrong for you to teach more than what Scriptures say as it is for you to teach less that what the Scriptures say. 

So, is it a sin for a pastor to have strong political convictions?  To be passionate about a particular candidate?  Not necessarily, but the role of pastor should supersede political convictions and cause him to recognize that he is not merely a spokesman for his own individual opinions.  

Pastor, posit and opinion with extreme care in this political season; your task is to shepherd your flock through teaching them their Bibles, not espouse your voting intentions.  

The Pastor should speak with soberness knowing that theirs is a voice with authority. Whether spoken or unspoken, the words of a pastor are marked by “thus says the Lord.”  

Brothers, we will have to give an answer to our words some day (Hebrews 13:17).  Shepherd your people to their Savior, not to their president.

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