Desperate times call for desperate measures, and even more faithful preachers. This is an open letter to pastors in general, and for the few that shepherd me and mine in particular. A few qualifiers are in order: First, this has been a long time coming, and I have reached the line that I cannot cross, nor compromise without severe weight upon my conscience. The burden has long been on my heart to make known my thoughts on pastors in their station amidst the current socio-political climate. Second, I am merely a layman, and a young layman to boot. I am aware of my own lack of wisdom, and am willing to learn the winsome ways of others more gifted and experienced than myself (that includes you, pastor). Last, I want to establish this from the start– so that you may know my intention in writing such a cruelty as this–I aspire to fill the role of shepherd of a flock of God one day. I intend to fulfill my calling as a minister of the gospel of Christ to the glory of God. When this day comes, God willing, I will be written open letters of encouragement, correction, reproof, and rebuke. Lord willing, I will be quick to hear, and slow to speak. Lord willing, so will you.
A Pastor’s Pulpit
The pulpit, in churches where pulpits are found, is the place where a shepherd preaches to His flock from the Word of God. He is, as Spurgeon spoke of it so disdainfully, encased in an upended casket. The mentality of the pulpit is that the man behind it is no more important than the pulpit itself. He is preaching a truth that would be true whether or not he be there. It has nothing to do with him, yet he stands behind a small boat on-end, and declares the Words of God to the people of God, to the glory of God. He is there to declare, “Thus saith the Lord,” and to lead the flock entrusted to him. He is not there to preach about himself, as is the habit of many modern “preachers” who tout their transparency and vulnerability as a virtue, like self-centered piety is actually humility. Self-centered piety is just pride, and the pride of a preacher means lost sheep. Preachers like this do a great dishonor to the people of God, and to the office with which he was entrusted. Faithful pastors preach truth in love.
A pious pastor is the kind of shepherd who surveys his sheep, not his navel. The time will come where his love for sheep will call for the kind of piety that is dirty, violent, and full of risk. A time will come to be like David:
“Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear” (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
Here we see how David defends his sheep. Not by running. Not by hiding. Not with cowardice, but with courage. Not with passivity, but violence. How much more does David the shepherd maintain the house of Israel than his father’s flock? David speaks to Saul concerning Goliath:
“…and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”
You know what happens to Goliath–toppled and beheaded. The enemies of Israel scatter–not for fear of David, but of his God.
Pastors, Shepherds, Preachers. Adopt the attitude of a shepherd. Topple the stronghold of the enemy. It’s not an option. It’s a command:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
A Little Diddy on Law
Many pastors’ pulpits are bankrupt of the kind of piety above. It’s high time this kind of piety is reclaimed in the churches, and behind the pulpits. I began this little escapade with a statement on the tumultuary days in which we find ourselves, and I will now delve into the specifics.
The culture is rife with mostly-one-sided discussions on “social-justice” and political ideologies. The one side being the secular-left and the Christians that side with it. “Secular-left” being defined here as those who side with the Democratic Party platform, and all, or much of what it stands for. This includes things contrary to the law of God, such as the thievery of socialism, and things as damnable as sexual chaos and the basic reproductive “right” of a mother to murder her preborn (or, if you live in Virginia, born) baby. This is not merely a political critique. It is a moral one. As Christians, our moral compass should rest firmly on the God’s law, given to us in the Scriptures. Christ did not die and rise again so that the Law would be nailed to the cross, die, and remain dead. The Law of God was raised in glory with Him, and now resides in human hearts: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
A political party exists in our country today which propagates evil all the way down. It is a platform built on the secularization and humanization of a culture built (by a large margin) upon the laws of God. The Democratic Party lays claim to partiality (BLM, racial equity, dismantling the white system, socialist-economic and neo-Marxist cultural reform, and wealth distribution), rejection of biblical patriarchy (LGBTQism, baby murder, deconstructionism, and egalitarianism–all of which amount to sexual anarchy). BLM and its sympathetics are rioting, looting, and burning down cities; The police are being defunded; Joe Biden and Donald Trump are vying for attention on every media platform imaginable––all the while, the sheep in your flock look on, scratching their heads, ballots in-hand.
Until now, many pastors have been silent on every single one of these issues, while their sheep are struggling to find their footing amidst the chaos–all for the sake of “avoiding division,” “staying out of politics,” or other such nonsense as that. The gospel is political. The gospel is divisive. Avoiding these issues for any reason whatever is a misuse of the office of shepherd. A Shepherd not only leads sheep along calm streams and smooth grass, but also kills wolves and slays giants out of love for them.
In the beginning God separated: light from darkness, waters from waters, land from sea, animals into kinds, plants into kinds, woman from man. All this was very good, and He accomplished it through division. God separated Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the nations. The prophets cut off Israel from idols. John the Baptist divided from the Pharisees. Paul divided from the Judaizers. John divided the spirits, and implored us to do the same. Jesus will divide the sheep from the goats. Pastors are to rightly divide the word of truth.
Staying out of politics? Good luck. The gospel is political. The kingdom of God is political: “…’All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…'” (Matthew 28:18-20). The gospel of the kingdom is what Jesus preached (Matt. 4:17), and he was killed, in part, because of the Jews’ accurate accusation that His Messianic kingship claimed authority over Caesar (Luke 23:1-3). Christians were later subjected to refuse Caesar worship under Domitian, under penalty of death. Christians have many times throughout history divided from a certain political power for the sake of keeping Christ exalted in their hearts, as the Scriptures command (1 Peter 3:15). At other times, it is necessary to name names, or to denounce entire political parties in order to do the same. In this way, Bonhoeffer, who resisted an evil political platform until it killed him, said this about keeping quiet: “We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing–for that is nothing but fear.”
Bonhoeffer is right. Silent theology is no theology at all. It is a skeleton with no body. It is dead. Speak boldly against worldly philosophies that are not according to Christ, which raise themselves up against the knowledge of God. They say evil is good and good is evil; that light is darkness and darkness is light. They exchange sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet. An 8-year old boy can choose to have surgery and hormone treatment to become a girl. A man can marry a man and a woman marry a woman. Traditional gender norms are misogynistic. A woman has the right to kill her baby. These are basic tenets of the Democratic Party platform. Declare the Woes against it that it deserves. Your sheep are looking for guidance–guide them.
A Closing Note
As stated in the introduction to this letter, I am a layman. I have not been entrusted by God with the authority and high calling that you have been. That being said, please know that I pondered long on what to say in this letter, which is an open letter with no individual in mind. It was not done in haste, but over the course of the last two months. I say these things with humility, knowing that my youth often excites passions that ought not be as zealous as they are. I have thought and prayed on these issues continuously for several months before committing it to writing, and waited just as long to send it out. It is not an effort to stir up contention, though its contents may prove contentious. After thoughtful prayer, deliberation, studying and observing, I believe this is not a time for softness in the pulpits, but rather a time of war–not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against philosophies and worldviews that are anti-Christ, which have raised themselves up in our culture to contend with God and with His church, which has been sent into the world to bring it under the obedience of Christ, to whom which we take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:4-6; Matt. 28:18-19).