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Patriot Pastors – 2

Marion and I had the privilege of speaking at the Family Research Council’s “Faith & Family Summit” in April of this year. Our topic was “Empowering Pastors to Be Salt & Light.” We encouraged pastors to be a prophetic voice and to engage their people in Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations.”

The response from the people was both enthusiastic and alarming. “My pastor will not discuss controversial topics from the pulpit,” lamented one of the attendees. Another shook his head in disbelief as he shared of the total lack of involvementby his California, mega-church pastor in the “Prop. 8″ battle for the sanctity of marriage. The common thread we heard from all the people was a cry for their pastors to provide courageous leadership outside the four walls of the Church. I could hear them say, “Please lead us and we will follow.”

This is why we must look to the first American Revolution to find pastoral leadership models to guide us in our present conflicts. In 1898, Bishop Charles Galloway reviewed the role of preachers in the American Revolution. Here is his summary:

 “Mighty men they were. Men of iron nerve and strong hand and unblanched cheek and a heart aflame…God needed not reeds shaken by the wind or men clothed in soft raiment (Matthew 11) but he needed heroes of hearty hood and lofty courage and such were the sons of the mighty who responded to the divine call…”

One of these “heroes”  was Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, the pastor of two churches and a member of the state legislature. On Jan 21, 1776, he preached a sermon from Ecclesiastes  3:1-8 which includes the verse, “A time of war and a time of peace.” The  night before, the British attacked the town of Williamsburg, Virginia. Rev. Muhlenberg rode 197 miles from Williamsburg to join his congregation in Woodstock, VA. At the conclusion of his sermon, Muhlenberg  removes his clerical gown right in front of the congregation and stands before them in full military dress. He walks down the center aisle, preaching as he walks, and 300 of his men respond to his call to arms. These valiant men became the 8th Virginia military brigade. Rev. Muhlenberg  goes on to become one of our highest ranking military generals.

Muhlenberg embodies what we mean by the expression, “Patriot Pastor.” We must faithfully stand in our pulpits declaring the whole counsel of God, but after we romove our ecclesiastical gowns, we must boldly lead the army of God in the task of cultural transformation. Preach the Word and engage the culture. The two must always be kept in balance.

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