"Who We Are, What We Do"
October 21, 2010
Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above. ..." John 19:11a
"The opinions you have heard expressed in the previous program do not necessarily reflect those of the management or owners of this station."
In some places those words are heard after every Lutheran Hour Broadcast. Because of the laws and penalties levied when those laws are broken, in some places it is dangerous for Christians or programs to speak out for the Lord and condemn immorality and sin.
And how is it in the U.S.?
Maybe it's not as bad as we thought. That's the opinion of Christian activist, David Barton of Wallbuilders. Mr. Barton maintains the IRS won't go after a pastor or a parish that speaks out for or against a candidate or an issue of morality.
Mr. Barton believes the IRS won't prosecute pastors because they fear they might lose the case. If the IRS were to lose, they fear America's 370,000 pastors would speak out without any fear of losing the congregation's tax exemption.
It's quite possible Mr. Barton may be right.
So, are our pastors supposed to use the Lord's pulpits to go after those leaders who have disappointed, dissatisfied, or disillusioned? For a number of reasons, I think not.
First, the law of the land says doing so is illegal. More importantly the Lord has told us we are to pray for those who are in authority. Lastly, our confessions tell us not to judge others when we have not been entrusted with that authority.
Not that I don't find the possibility of criticizing the government intriguing. There are any number of government officials whose conduct and voting record I would love to address. Still, that's not who we are, and it's not what we do.
Most definitely we must stand up for God and right by obeying God rather than men. Equally true, we must be crystal clear in condemning sin. But first, foremost, and always the job of Christian pastors and pulpits is to point people to Christ and away from sin. That is who we are, and that is what we do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, help us walk that narrow line which condemns sin even as it proclaims the forgiveness of sin won by the Savior. Grant pastors, pulpits, and parishes the gift of discernment and proper priorities. This we ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries