America’s churches must step up and step out

Ralph_BarkerFrom, by Ralph Barker, January 25, 2013 – Today’s churches, by and large, distance themselves from anything they perceive to be political or controversial. It’s time that changed.

When Adolph Hitler assumed power in Nazi German in 1933, the Christian churches by and large didn’t resist. Others thought it was a great thing, even a divine thing. One leading Lutheran theologian, Paul Althaus wrote in 1934:

“Our Protestant churches have welcomed the turning point of 1933 as a gift and miracle of God…. We Christians know that we are bound by God’s will to the promotion of National Socialism, so that all members of the people will be ready for service and sacrifice.” (Kirche and Staat, p. 29)

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.” – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), from a letter to Abigail Adams, February 27, 1787

Unfortunately, churches in general during that era did little to fight the Nazi agenda after it was fully exposed. Although many did not directly participate in the atrocities, God may still hold them accountable for not doing something to stop it. In Scripture there is a law that few seem to know about today. It is called the Law of the Bystander.

This law is presented in several ways in the Bible. For example, Deuteronomy 22:1-4 says:

You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman…. (Deut. 22:1-4).

Then there is the familiar Parable of the Samaritan found in Luke 10:29-37. God doesn’t give us the option to just look the other way. There are many more Scriptures concerning this law. The late, and I would say great, theologian R.J. Rushdoony wrote on the Law of the Bystander in ample detail in his classic bookInstitutes of Biblical Law, pages 363-367. This is, in my opinion, one book I think every serious student of Scripture should have in their library.

I’m not in any way directly comparing today’s churches to those of Nazi Germany, but we are facing similar evils that demand that churches, and individual Christians, respond. I truly believe that if God’s people will do what they should, God will intervene on their behalf. But in today’s world, the churches, by and large, distance themselves from anything they perceive to be political or controversial.

Just this week a good friend of mine, a Baptist pastor, shared with me that a woman from the local Methodist church came into his office and chewed him out. Why? Because the roadside sign in front of his church said: “We don’t need gun control; we need God’s control.” What was her beef? She was appalled that the church would make a political statement. She was so offended that she said she would take another route to work.

My point is that this church and every church in America should make political statements when appropriate. They have a moral responsibility to do this. I have a book titled Political Sermons of the Founding Era, edited by Ellis Sandoz. If you are a pastor, please get this book. You will see how far we have fallen from the role the early church in America played in social and political issues. It was deemed essential especially during political cycles.

I’ve been a pastor in the past. I know it is among the world’s toughest jobs. If one isn’t called to it, he will probably suffer greatly and fail. I am well aware of some of the modern dynamics that take place upon the American spiritual landscape.

Before I continue, let me ask a few questions to help illustrate my point:

  • When is the last time you heard a sermon on abortion?
  • When is the last time you heard a sermon on homosexuality?
  • When is the last time you heard a sermon on the death penalty?
  • When is the last time you heard a sermon about politics and Christian responsibility?
  • When is the last time your pastor encouraged you to do a Walk for Life, resist the homosexual agenda, or take a public stand on an issue?
  • When is the last time your pastor endorsed a godly candidate for office? And yes, he can do that.
  • When is the last time your pastor encouraged you to take a stand on some hot issue such as gun control, or the national debt and deficit?

Now, we have to ask the question: Why is addressing these things so rare in American churches today? Before I answer, let me quickly say that my purpose is not to denigrate ministers in any way. I am one.

But the truth must be told. My heart is to encourage pastors to take the necessary moral stands in the pulpit and preach all of God’s Word and not just selected, non-offensive portions. Generally speaking, the sheep are being fed an unbalanced menu. Certain parts of the Bible are just avoided.

We are in a pickle in this country, and I personally believe the churches must take a good portion of the guilt for it. This doesn’t let us individual Christians off the hook either. We can all share in the guilt and responsibility. Folks, we are not talking about a covered dish dinner here. We are losing our nation — fast! It’s not gone yet, so there is still time.

We need to hear sermons on the above topics articulated from the pulpit. We should encourage our pastors to do this. Then, we must support them when they do step out of their comfort zones, take the risks, and do what is often politically incorrect. There is one thing that I know I am right about, and that is that God does not care one bit about political correctness. Does anyone think that Jesus, Paul, and Peter were politically correct?

One nasty problem that festers in too many churches is the debt load they carry on their buildings. When debt hangs over a pastor’s head, it can tempt him to avoid controversial issues. He knows that if he does, he could offend those who pay the mortgage. So he is forced to choose between taking a stand along with significant risks or to preach from only non-controversial Scriptures.

We should all pray that our own pastor is not put in this position. To avoid debt will help tremendously. The Bible addresses debt extensively and it isn’t put in a positive light. It makes us slaves to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)

Another question: Do you realize that the problem — no, thedisaster of the national debt and deficit is not just a political issue? It’s a moral issue. I know we don’t like the sin-word anymore, but this is sin. Why? Because of our selfishness, we have chosen to rob our children and grandchildren of their futures.

Have you told your kids that they already owe $52,321.49? That number will increase by the time you read this article and even more by the time you tell children. Unless things change, they will probably end up slaves of the state. We already have a few chains on us that restrict our freedom and continue to lower our standard of living. What will their future look like by the end of President Obama’s second term? Not a pretty picture.

As I close I want to encourage you, your pastor, and myself to get involved and fight the evil in our land. Personally, I believe that our pastors, missionaries, and evangelists are much more important to the future of America than our elected officials. God honors his people’s obedience. We need the churches — and that means you and me — to take the lead, to stand up, and to step out.

Also, take a stand. Write editorials for your local papers. Call into talk radio and television programs. Vote for those with integrity.

Make an effort to form a relationship with your elected officials, local and national. I spent a good length of time recently with my newly elected U.S. congressman, Doug Collins (Georgia, 9th District). It was encouraging. I got to know his local aide and his communications director.

I also had lunch with a friend of mine, Joe McCutchen. For 30 years he has repeatedly called into almost every major radio and television talk show in the country, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, C-SPAN, and PBS. He raises the pressing issues to make millions of listeners aware. This is his way to make a difference. And he has, and does. Let’s emulate Joe and others like him. If not you and me, who?

Are you one who thinks that just one person can’t make a difference? Think of it this way: Picture yourself in a sleeping bag joined by just one little friend weighing only one eighth of an ounce — a mosquito. All by its little teensie self, it can certainly move you to action, can’t it? So too, each of us can make a difference. Thank God for all those in our past who have.

From 1981-2994, Ralph Barker served as vice president of American Vision Ministry, a national communications and educational ministry. He has ministered in churches across America and has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs over the years. This column was first posted at

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One response

  1. Senator_Blutarsky

    I think Chuck Baldwin said it in a more direct manner –

    Now, it is time for pastors to take a stand!

    Let me ask readers a question. Those of you who listen to TV and radio pastors, how many have you heard mention even one time the current effort underway in Washington, D.C., to outlaw semi-automatic rifles? How many? One? Two? How many? I dare say that the vast majority of preachers across America have not said one word about it from their pulpits. Not one word!

    When the epitaph is written on the tombstone of America, it will read, “Here lies the United States of America: killed by the apathy and indifference of its pastors and churches.”

    Think about it: what did the pastors and churches do in 1962 and 1963 when prayer and Bible reading were expelled from America’s public schools? The vast majority did nothing. What did the pastors and churches do in 1973 when abortion-on-demand was legalized in this country? The vast majority did nothing. What did the pastors and churches do in 2001 and forward when the federal government began turning America into a giant police state? The vast majority did, and continues to do, nothing.

    full link to the column-

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