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Patriot Pastors – 3

There are some in the evangelical ranks who are calling upon Christians to raise the white flag of surrender in the current battle for cultural transformation. “We need to admit we have lost the culture war and return to preaching the gospel,” they say. Citing evidence such as the gains in the radical homosexual agenda and the deep entrenchment of abortion ideology and policy in America today after over three decades of pro-life activism, they tell is it’s time to throw in the towel. We are accused of selling our birthright to the Republican Party, and scolded for focusing on the “narrow” issues of abortion and homosexuality. Shame on us! How can we overlook global warming (Oops, I mean climate change) and other issues equally deserving of our full attention. We need to get back to serving our communities and being “nice” (tolerant) people. This way we can be both irrelevant, impotent and “nice” while our culture goes to hell.

Thank God these voices were not filling our pulpits at the founding of our nation. We’d still be chanting, “God save the king!” I’d like to suggest a more biblical model for pastors to embrace. Instead of adopting an “either/or” model of societal transformation – either preach the gospel or get involved in politics – why don’t we try a “both/and” approach.

Consider the work of one of our great patriot pastors, John Witherspoon. Here we find a pastor, theologian, college president and true Christian statesmen. Witherspoon was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and as a member of the Continental Congress, he served on 100 Congressional committees. At Princeton University, where he taught and served as presdient, he was directly responsible for training students in a biblical understanding of God and government. In other words, he preached the gospel and he taught men a Christ-centered, biblically informed view of civil government.

Consider his legacy. From among his 478 students in over 26 years at the college emerged 37 judges, three received nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, 56 state legislators, 77 members of the Congress, one vice president (Aaron Burr) and one president (James Madison). He is aptly called, “The man who shaped the men who shaped America.”

Why don’t we teach our people what God expects from civil government and from those who aspire to lead? Why don’t we actively seek out men and women from our congregations and encourage them to run for public office? Why don’t we shape the men and women in our congregation so they can be equipped to transform the marketplace with the gospel?

Witherspoon once wisely said, “God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable.” I think Witherspoon got it right.

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