The biblical values which have provided the foundation for western culture, and specifically that of America, are under unprecedented assault. The passive silence of the church and her pastors in the face of this attack had been a key component in its success.
It is sadly ironic that in their crusade to banish people of faith from the public square the radical secularists of our day regularly assert that the great reformers shared their dedication to the absolute separation of church and state. With their characteristic disregard for truth or factual accuracy this contention is endlessly repeated by the secularists.
As Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of Propaganda cynically noted, “Truth is nothing more than a lie repeated a thousand times.” Contemporary secularists recognize that they must silence the voices of faithful pastors if their godless religion is to prevail in America.
Unfortunately, their efforts have met with considerable success. All too many Christians have been convinced that the Reformation’s assertion of the biblical doctrine of the two kingdoms forbids any involvement by God’s spokesmen in politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. The eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary is a most appropriate time to reassert what faithful witnesses like Dr. Martin Luther actually said
about church and state, Christian pastors and political issues. For our purposes, a handful of Luther’s comments must suffice.
Luther was renown, or notorious, depending on one’s perspective, for his blunt outspokenness. As he once acknowledged, “I am no soft-stepper!” The reformer described the pastor’s God-given responsibility to address and condemn the sins of government leaders as “grabbing them by the snout.” It would seem that the nature of politics and politicians hasn’t changed much in the past 500 years! Luther recognized that government is a divine institution, established by God to maintain order and justice, to protect its citizens from the violence of criminals, and to defend against the threat of aggression from foreign enemies.
Pastors, as the advocates of God’s Word, were to play a crucial role in supporting godly government and restraining the sinful abuse of power by government leaders. Luther recognized that this kind of witness has always required rare courage:
That other religion despises and scorns everything that we, in the name of Christ, profess to cherish. Only one of these two religions is going to prevail. The other will be cast aside as impotent and irrelevant. The discernment to recognize the nature of this conflict and the courage to speak out on the basis of God’s Word is the fundamental challenge which confronts God’s faithful pastors at this critical moment. The same was true at the time of the Reformation.
Note the stern declaration that the pastor who fails who fails to courageously defend that which is good and right and godly is personally responsible for the triumph of evil. That responsibility is inherent in every pastor’s call to preach the Bible. Strong words for difficult times – times like these.
500 years ago God raised up His champions to be fearless defenders of His Truth. They proved the authenticity of the Gospel. They changed the world. In this desperate hour for our church and for our country, God’s pastors need to be His faithful, fearless champions once again. If we will trust Him and obey His Word, we too can change the world.
Dr. Laurence White
Senior pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church