But Bill Smith still raises good questions for any pastor, priest, bishop, or pope who pretends to think his spiritual jurisdiction gives him credibility in the civil realm. His questions also apply to those w-w advocates who think that Christ’s lordship justifies Christian rule (of course, in a benign way these days unlike those old heretic executing ones) over all things:
a) What would Jesus preach about Black lives matter?
b) What would Jesus preach about the economic system in the United States?
c) What would Jesus preach about Wall Street?
d) What would Jesus preach about healthcare? Would he want to repeal, maintain, or expand the ACA?
e) What would Jesus preach about the upcoming national election? Would he preach that one party serves the interests of righteousness and justice better than the other?
f) What would Jesus preach about Islamist terrorists? the godly U.S. response?
e) What would Jesus preach about voter registration, voter ID, etc.?
g) What would Jesus preach about military readiness, the military budget, and the use of military power?
h) What would Jesus preach about foreign aid?
i) What programs to aid the poor would Jesus endorse in his preaching?
j) What would Jesus preach about immigration? Would he preach in support of a wall? of barring Muslim refugees? Would he preach in favor of deporting, granting citizenship, or granting permanent residence to illegal immigrants?
k) What would Jesus preach about gun control?
l) What would Jesus preach about the vacancy on the Supreme Court?
Our favorite priest puts these questions to Thabiti Anyabwile who said “I don’t think [politics] can be avoided if you’re committed to expositional preaching of the sort that makes contact with contemporary life.”
But isn’t it the case that if you want to connect with contemporary life, you really connect and talk about specifics? Or is the point of bring politics into the pulpit a way for the pastor to seem like he’s not operating in an ivory tower or removed from real life? (At least when Pope Francis comments on contemporary life he doesn’t go to Scripture but to — ahem — the authoritative magisterium of social teaching.)
But what happened to Paul’s preaching which distinguished between contemporary and ephemeral things and those truths and realities that endure?
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11-16 ESV)
The priest’s lesson, then, is that pastor’s need to be wary about appealing to the itching ears of the natural man that still lurks within.