Using Hatred of the IRS to Build Numbers for Sunday?

I have seen and heard lots of ways to pump up the numbers for Sunday, but apparently this weekend some are trying to do it by taunting the Internal Revenue Service. Dr. Gina Loudon gives us the scoop here about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Apparently, some folks intend to endorse candidates from the pulpit this Sunday, and then send videotape of that action to the IRS in order to dare that agency to do something about it.

Just to clear some things out of the way before I express my disagreement with trying this, let me stipulate that: (1) I believe in the freedom of the pulpit bounded only by God’s Word; (2) I believe that tax policy should not be used to enforce public policy; and (3) I believe that the freedoms of religion and speech do face serious challenges in our day.

Having said those things, I think this is a dumb idea because it looks more like a stunt than a statement. If you believe that local assemblies should be free to endorse candidates from the pulpit, then just do that. But, to play off of biblical words, don’t practice your rights to be seen by men.

Dr. Loudon, after lauding the boldness of those who plan to do this, writes, “While other pastors concern themselves with losing membership for saying something that might offend a potential tithing member, or risk their tax exempt status, some are getting in the face of those who would subvert our Constitutional rights and daring them to sue.” Conservatives go nuts when liberals set up false options, but too often commit the same error. She leaves us with two choices: boldness or cowardice. Perhaps there is a third option, one that sees no biblical warrant for wasting time in God’s worship endorsing political candidates. I don’t care if the Constitution gives me freedom to do so or not. The real issue is what belongs in worship and what does not. I hope more of us are concerned about offending God than we are church members.

Dr. Loudon thinks our churches bear some responsibility for the decline in our country, and I agree. She thinks the answer is to get political. I think that the problem is that we have been political. Pulpits have exchanged the Word of God for what itching ears want to hear, and that has too often included political speeches. The great moral changes of the past didn’t come from political movements, they came from revivals. And the pulpits during those revivals weren’t endorsing candidates, they were extolling Christ and His saving power.

If you want to build a crowd, then stir up a controversy. If you want to shepherd God’s people faithfully, then point them to Christ through the careful exposition of the Word!

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