Wednesday, August 22, 2007

divining the paradoxes

i get kinda squirmy on sunday mornings when politics creeps into worship via the pulpit. it makes me even more uncomfortable than when some of my colleagues attempt to indoctrinate students from their position of power in the classroom. i don’t much care for an agenda from either point of view, left or right, being foisted on a congregation. this goes double when the opinions are buttressed with very little or no real Biblical basis or contextualization. an open discussion of debatable political points of view might be more productive in a small group Bible study where a chance exists for a legitimate exchange of ideas between those who struggle together toward a workable truth. often, from the pulpit, there seems to be no struggle, just an agenda not unlike what might be presented by al frankin or rush limbaugh. should we not at least struggle in our examination of the paradox of a text which tells us on the one hand that those who make peace are blessed (matthew 5:9), while clearly asserting, on the other hand, the certainty that there is a time to kill (ecclesiastes 3:3)? can we be so quick to ignore the fact that the same savior who asks us to turn the other cheek (matthew 5:39) also instructed his own disciples to buy a sword if they did not have one (luke 22:36)? is it not possible to objectively examine paul’s claim that governing authorities do not bear the sword in vain, but are God’s servants and agents of wrath to bring punishments to wrongdoers? the level of civil discourse in the public sphere is shrill and grating enough on its own. there is a place in the church for political debate, no question. but must it be on the most hallowed of days during the most sacred of hours when we gather together as one body to worship?


Bezner said...

Soooooo...are you going to tell us what prompted this post? Or are we simply left to speculate?

I struggle with this, too. I think that politics from the pulpit is beyond difficult to pull off unless a lengthy explanation and exegesis precedes the discussion. And, frankly, that's often not possible.

e. l. wood said...

basically, my wife and i left our church for over a year because at least once a month seemed like a "bash bush and the troops and the war day" whether it fit the text or not. it would take a while to explain in detail the various instances. be that as it may, i am as equally uncomfortable with a "rah-rah let's go get the infidel 'cause God's on our side" sort of trope coming from the pulpit, and i know that's out there in equal parts. i guess what i'm saying is that on sunday mornings, i'm not at church for political debate. and if i'm getting unfocused and pissed off because someone is bemoaning the failure of the war and our christian duty to not support a failed campaign, i can only imagine what someone who is serving or has a kid serving is thinking. it just doesn't seem like the worship venue is appropriate for this sort of rhetoric.

Bezner said...

I agree wholeheartedly. And I think that most pastors think that everyone thinks the same that they do. And most people don't. A lot of the time.