John Haas of Bethel University (IN) responds on Facebook to my post “Civility and the Search for Common Ground Are Important, But Sometimes We Need a Prophetic Witness“:
So, if this “spade” is what you say, is it enough for para-church institutions such as CT to call it out, or must churches not do the same? Let’s be frank: Most evangelical churches are doing what CT says it can no longer do–dodge the unpopular task of actually drawing a line–and they’re doing so in large part for reasons that have to do with protecting the institution as a going concern.
Indeed, I think it’s the case that we are where we are now–the 81%–because so many churches have been doing that all along. At best they insinuate at the line during sermons, but they don’t draw it so explicitly as to make it offensive.
Should the preaching of the Gospel at this time be *offensive* (not just to Trump supporters, but others too, of course)?
Good question. I think the primary role of churches is to bear witness to the Gospel and help form the faithful in Christian teaching. In other words, speaking out on politics is not the church’s primary role.
A magazine, it seems, is something different. The church should engage the political culture, but it will often do so by addressing the symptoms–power, fear, idolatry, etc.–that might lead members of the congregation to support someone like Trump. Each church will do this in different ways and in accordance with their local circumstances. A magazine such as CT will put out a position based on clear Christian thinking and then local pastors who agree with that position can translate it to their congregations as they deem appropriate. It seems like there must always be a pragmatic dimension to all of this.
But I need to think about this some more. Is there a way to be prophetic and “offensive” from the pulpit without diving directly into the specifics or naming names? Or should pastors be naming the name of Trump?