He’s Only a Priest and Only Gives Homilies (now)

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.

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7 thoughts on “He’s Only a Priest and Only Gives Homilies (now)

  1. Watching the first hour of the GOP debate last night (I had only caught bits and pieces of previous ones) made me think that Jesus might give us a parable that re-enforced Luther’s interpretation of the 8th commandment. From the Small Catechism:

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

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  2. Watching the first hour of the GOP debate last night made me think Jesus would not watch it or comment on it.

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  3. “Now the preachin’ is over and the lesson’s begun”.

    Willie Nelson, ” Red Headed Stranger”

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  4. DGHart: But what happened to Paul’s preaching which distinguished between contemporary and ephemeral things and those truths and realities that endure?

    venn-diagram—ish (constructed just for Zrim):
    I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to /nothing to take from it Eccl3:14 -> …
    His … dominion (Dan 7:14) -> kingdom (Dan 7:14) -> words (Matt 24:35) -> light (1 John 2:8) -> truth (2 John 1:2) -> fruit (John 15:16) > faith, hope, love ->the greatest: love (1 Cor 13:13)

    Transient: The fruit you long for has gone from you and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away Rev 18:14

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  5. Why doesn’t Christianity become a weapon when a pastor brings politics into the pulpit?

    I believe people of faith belong in the public square. I believe they must bring their faith with them if they’re going to be people of integrity. And I believe religion—not just spirituality, but good old-fashioned religion—has a lot to offer in the way of public goods. Sanders said as much when he attributed Christianity’s neighbor love ethic to all religions. Forgetting for a moment that the ethic is really only found in a pronounced way in Christianity, Sanders was laying claim to a public good—a religious public good.

    But when a candidate is asked about their faith or the “relevance of God,” they’re being asked a political question. At that point, Christianity (or any religion) becomes a weapon, a tribal spear designed to pierce the body politic. The very asking tears asunder. Candidates either speak the shibboleth and enter the tribe (so it seems; remember the hypocrisy), or they fail the test and are denied entry. And what have we done to our religion? We’ve sullied it with the smut of “political tricks” and “sound bites.” We’ve reduced what’s big, glorious, weighty and transcendent to the small, petty and sometimes ridiculous. Christianity shouldn’t be politicized even though it teaches principles necessary to godly political behavior.

    If you want candidates to shush, maybe pastors should also.

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