Should Pastors Run for Political Office? – Bethany Blankley

In his 1958 book, Stride Toward Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr. argued that pastors must play a critical role in politics. While pastoring the Montgomery Alabama Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he wrote,

“The important thing is for every minister to dedicate himself to the Christian ideal of brotherhood, and be sure he is doing something positive to implement it.

“He must never allow the theory that it is better to remain quiet and help the cause to become a rationalization for doing nothing. Many ministers can do much more than they are doing and still hold their congregations.”

Similarly, in January, 2015, David Lane, the founding director of the American Renewal Project organized a movement to encourage 100,000 pastors, their friends, family members, and congregants to consider becoming more involved in their communities, and in particular, to consider running for political office.

One of his primary goals was to equip 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016– either for city council, school board, county commissioner, mayor, or state legislator. But, pastors, after learning about the process from attending the American Renewal Project’s Issachar Training events, began encouraging their congregants, friends, and family members to run for office.

Lane estimates that “by simple arithmetic, if the Lord called 1,000 pastors to run in 2016 and if they averaged 300 volunteers per campaign, then that would mean 300,000 ground-level Evangelicals working within their local precincts. When my own pastor, Rob McCoy, ran for office, he saw 625 volunteers join in his campaign. A similar grassroots, Evangelical movement—from coast-to-coast—would change America for good.”

“No one I know is under the illusion that politicians are going to save America,” he repeatedly says. But, because “virtue is a key component of freedom,” it is necessary for “spiritual men and women … to bring wisdom and righteousness to every area of society.”

Naysayers may criticize Lane and others for attempting to “create a theocracy.” But it’s important to recognize that a theocracy, and whatever that supposedly means, isn’t even realistic. And, genuine Christians recognize that a “theocracy” is not even remotely close to the purpose of Christianity.

More importantly — it is because of Christians — that America is not a “theocracy.”

(The Puritans tried, but failed quite miserably, evidencing that most Christians cannot agree on what theological interpretation should govern, if it should govern at all.)

What most may not realize and take for granted is that pastors– more than anyone else–are best equipped to meet and suggest solutions for societal problems.

Why? Because they are already on the front lines of every societal problem– from beginning to end of life. Pastors are the ones teaching about healthy marriages, relationships, and family development– officiating marriages and blessing births. They are already supervising the oversight of educational initiatives, Christian schools, homeschool and community activities, acutely aware of children’s needs. They’re pro-life beyond protests– they adopt and are foster parents.

Pastors are already counseling grieving, hurt, and broken people. They speak at funerals and spend time with prisoners– even on death row. They, better than anyone else, know firsthand the needs, struggles, and dreams of their congregants and neighbors– average Americans who struggle and celebrate every stage of life.

Also taken for granted, and not well known, is the reality that pastors and their wives are involved in perhaps the most stressful and discouraging profession of all. The majority lead small churches, struggle financially, receive death threats, and in no way compare to the mega-churches advertised on television. According to nearly 20 years of research compiled by several ministry research organizations, more than 70 percent of pastors– more than doctors, lawyers, or politicians– regularly consider leaving their profession because of stress and burn out. And 35-40 percent of pastors do give up within five years.

This initiative, even pastors who don’t run for office, encourages and reminds Christians of their rich heritage as Americans. Encouraging pastors to become involved in politics neither seeks to “reshape the face of America into a Christian evangelical one,” nor to create “Christian nationalism.”

Instead, the goal is to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, a heritage that never previously existed in any government in history. purposed to define and safeguard individual liberties and freedoms. And– a call for pastors to return to their historical roots. Indeed, the Revolutionary War would not have happened were it not for pastors teaching and encouraging their neighbors.

The British recognized the most powerful force in the colonies was pastors, whom they called the Black Robe Regiment. Famed political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, also pointed out that Christianity, more than anything else, was instrumental in defining American exceptionalism.

If pastors can encourage people to live in such a way that embraces fathers and intact families, prevents teen pregnancy, alleviates poverty, drug abuse and crime, squashes racism, and condones materialism and greed– wouldn’t that “make America great again?”

If a better alternative to the status quo exists for individuals, families, and societies, why not be open to it, even embrace it?

Bethany Blankley is the Senior Editor for Constitution.com. Her syndicated show, “America’s Betrayal,” can be heard on Conservative Review Radio, WAAR Radio, and other talk radio stations. Her columns have been published by The Washington Times, Newsday, Western Journalism, Townhall, The Christian Post, Charisma News, and others. She was a former communications strategist to four Senators, one Congressman, one New York governor, and several nonprofits. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in Theology and Political Science. Follow her: @bethanyblankley & http://www.bethanyblankley.com.

Are You a Smartphone Smombie? – Jim Denison

“Smombies” are people who stare at their smartphones while walking like zombies. They are a problem: according to a University of Washington study, one in three of us is busy dealing with a smartphone or other electronic device at risky road crossings.
 
Here’s one solution: Officials in the city of Augsburg have installed traffic lights embedded in the pavement. The idea came after a fifteen-year-old girl was killed by a tram. Police say she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks. The new lights are more obvious to those looking down at their devices while walking.
 
Technology fixation is not just dangerous while we are ambulatory. Hearing loss, sedentary weight gain, sleep disruption, and damage to the eyes, neck, wrist, and fingers are all connected to excessive smartphone use. In addition, media multitasking contributes to poor attention span, depression, and anxiety. One study showed that people who multitasked while doing cognitive tests dropped as many IQ points as if they had just smoked marijuana.
 
In other words, smartphones make dumb people. What’s the answer?
 
Experts tell us to make rules such as: no smartphone usage at social events, while driving, or during interactions with others. Turn off all alerts at certain times during the day. Some people even create a long, frustrating password that makes it harder for them to turn on the phone casually.
 
This is all helpful advice, but I think something more visceral is at work. My smartphone makes me feel relevant by connecting me to the world. It also makes me feel important when people call, text, or email me. And feeling relevant and important is relevant and important to me.
 
Perhaps there’s a better way than basing our self-esteem on a slab of technology. Perhaps the best way for us to find significance is to stop seeking significance and seek Jesus instead. C. S. Lewis:
 
Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking at Him.
 
Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.
 
Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
 
Jesus was clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24). Have you answered his call yet today?
 
For more, please see my latest website article, Shakespeare and the Quest for Purpose.
 
 
Publication date: April 27, 2016
 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

How Can You Maintain a Christian Worldview in a Post-Modern Culture? – John Stonestreet

I meet folks all the time who sense that things have changed. What Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson once called “a post-Christian” culture has become a “post-Christian-and-darn-proud-of-it” culture. Living out your faith is, well, difficult these days. And it’s frustrating.
 
Yet here we are. We, like every other generation of Christ followers, are still called to share our faith in this cultural moment. We’re still called to live our faith out in our communities, places of work, neighborhoods, etc. But how do we do this?
 
The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means.
 
While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know when and how to use it in public discourse.
 
Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them.  Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”
 
When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
 
The point is that oftentimes we need to understand things that aren’t covered in the Bible. And we need to understand things that help us apply biblical teaching to all of life. This is why I teach biblical worldview.
 
A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible.  Listen to what Chambers said:
 
“My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight…The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”
 
And when it comes to making a biblical case on any hot topic—taxes, the deficit, homosexuality, whatever—we need to understand the issue and how to make that case in a way that is accessible to believers and non-believers alike.
 
The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening.  So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been known as natural law.

This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts.  He thoroughly engaged their culture.  And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.
 
This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.”
 
That vision led Chuck to start an exclusive nine-month training program for Christians that is now known as the Colson Fellows. The program is intense: reading the best worldview books, participating in teleconferences with top Christian leaders, and attending three in-person residencies with the best worldview teachers in the country. Now it’s not for everyone, but if your heart is being tugged to go deeper in the way that Chuck described, it may be for you.
 
The next class of Colson Fellows will begin their study near the end of summer, and the deadline to apply is May 15. Visit ColsonFellows.org to learn more.