June 09, 2008

Proper Use of a Pulpit


On the Sunday before Memorial Day, I preached at my church in our three morning services. (Click here for some hilarious insights into church services on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day...spot on!) I'd post the video, but apparently "the man" is trying to keep from being heard, what with my controversial sermon on parenting, choices and values. (I am pro-all of them.) Anyways, somewhere in the middle of my sermon, I got a bit off track and started ranting and raving (and cussing) about how Hillary Clinton was crying because she was being beaten by Barak Obama, a black man, and about how she was entitled to win, because she was white.

Oh, wait...that wasn't me. That was Father Michael Pfleger at Trinity United Church of Christ!

Ok, so this is in the "that's so 2 weeks ago" category...but, I'm a busy man. Several years ago, I served at a church with a past-history like many churches in the South. Three blocks down and four blocks over was an African-American church that had been church for the slaves of my church's members before and during the Civil War. There were great strides made to create a strong relationship between our churches, including us gathering at each others' churches for worship on occasion and having pastors swap pulpits on occasion. It was a beautiful picture to watch as a young minister.

I got word that another reverend, Jesse Jackson was coming to town to protest the fact that the local university had hired a white football coach instead of a black football coach, and that he was going to use the pulpit of our sister church to do so. I relayed the information to my pastor, who remarked to me, "maybe I need to call my friend over there and remind him what a pulpit is for."

In that spirit, and since I am a reverend, here are my thoughts on the proper use of the pulpit:

1) No politics. None. Could we really see Jesus, Peter, or Paul standing up and deriding a member of Caesar's political party who was looking to be put into office? Would we see Peter doing an impression of that person wailing on like Pfleger did? Guys like Pfleger and Chan Chandler (a.k.a., Pastor "Vote for Bush or just like Rayon Shirts and M.C. Hammer Pants, You Are Out!") have no business bringing politics into the pulpit. I seems like Paul said something about "preaching Christ crucified..." It's one thing to get up and say, "hey we've got some brothers and sisters who are being treated badly, and it's time for us to stand up and take care of them." It's another thing to act like Jesus established his church so that we could have guys using it to spread lies about your government or attack political opponents.

2) No pandering to the crowd. Making fun of Hillary Clinton at Barak Obama's church? Tough crowd, Father. Tough crowd. That's like standing up at any church in the South and going on about the merits of sweet tea and Krispy Kreme donuts. Anyone's going to "Amen" that. Jesus always seemed to challenge the crowd. Usually, they tried to kill him for it.

3) No cussing. I know that it's become cool in Christian circles to cuss and show how much liberty we have, but not from the pulpit. Not from the pulpit. Once again, Paul and his whole "let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth" and no "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking" thing. Darn you Paul, you ol' Melon Farmer. OK, so Peter did cuss once...but that was right before he denied Christ.

4) Preach the Bible. If you want to talk about issues, then talk about them in light of Scripture. Isn't Father Pfleger's inherent message that if you love Jesus (whichever Jesus that might be...) you'll vote for Obama? Standing in the pulpit saying what he said...isn't that the logical leap? How about showing people what Jesus cares about, which is what we should care about, and then challenging people to vote their conscience?

5) Don't be intentionally divisive. The gospel is divisive enough as it is. Call out sin (I wouldn't name names), point out what is right and what is wrong. But, intentionally setting people up against each other (especially for personal gain) is just twisted...whether it's over politics or carpet colors.

I'd also like to point out that there are some godly African American preachers out there, whom I have tremendous respect for. Voddie Bachum (who I swear once intimidated an entire diner staff in Bee Cave, Texas to sing happy birthday to me...which they did...halfheartedly), Tony Evans, and Fred Luter just to name a few. It's a shame that stereotypes are set by those on the fringe.

P.S. My pastor that I referred to earlier once told a group of men, "I don't know how you can be a Christian and not watch Fox News." I like Fox News, but that probably shouldn't be said from the pulpit either...

1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

Right on, right on. See, the government needs to be swifter in doling out punishment for these things ... endorse political candidates? BOOM, say bye bye to your 501c3 license!

I don't know how you can be a Christian and not watch UFC.