Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Made Rev. Wright's Comments Wrong

Was not mainly his anti-American, anti-white, conspiratorial rhetoric. Yes, that hate speech was vile and ignorant; just as vile and ignorant as any redneck spouting off about blacks and other minorities, but it's not what was so wrong about Reverend Wright's comments.

Here was the problem; the man used the pulpit for political oratory instead of it's intended purpose: the clear, consistent, and compassionate proclamation of the Gospel. Christ has commissioned His church to go and make disciples. Not political disciples; conservative or liberal, but disciples of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To make disciples is to proclaim the Gospel. Here is the Gospel: Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, according to the scriptures. He was buried, and He rose again from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures. Those people who repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus are to be baptized and taught to observe all things that Christ has commanded through His word. This is the mission of every church from the time of Christ until the time of His return. Any church that fails to declare the gospel in all facets of church life and ministry - which means the church members living out the gospel reality through the week - has failed to follow the Lord's directive.

I highly recommend that you listen to a discussion led by Russell Moore and involving Mark Dever.
Politics in the Pulpit, a presentation of "The Albert Mohler Radio program" with Russell Moore as the guest host and Mark Dever as the show's guest, intelligently and cogently explores the place of politics in the life of a church; specifically from the pulpit.

By far, the most appalling aspect of Reverend Wright's wrongheaded sermons was his replacing the clear declaration of the gospel with political rhetoric. Politics do not belong in the pulpit. The pulpit is to be used for the clear and faithful proclamation of God's Word. That is the case for every true church regardless of cultural context. The Gospel transcends every and all ethnic and cultural barriers.

10 comments:

Fresh Dirt said...

Although I would agree that the pulpit is not to be a place for modern politics as you speak of it, we must also remember that the gospel is deeply political and has many political implications. We declare Jesus as Lord rather than Caesar as Lord-- this is as much a political reality as it is a spiritual one. The three hebrew children in Daniel come to mind as a great example of this.

Also, I do have to jump in and defend Rev. Wright. I listened to him preach twice when I was in Chicago last month-- his sermons were particularly about race, racism, and reconciliation in the church today. He passionately proclaimed the gospel and held a very balanced and correct view that did not echo what is being played all over the internet. In many ways I feel for Rev. Wright for all of us preachers have gotten out of line in the pulpit and allowed our sinful humanity to show through and take over the pulpit. Indeed, he even admitted and repented of this when I was in Chicago last month. His sermons were some of the best that I've ever heard. Very powerful and stirring.

Travis said...

You may have missed my point, Justin. I'm not suggesting that Christians and politcs do not mix. I have stated in several posts (specifically here and here) that exemplary citizenship is part of faithful Christian stewardship. And if a pastor preaches expositorily through the Bible one will come across references where citizenship will be one aspect of the sermon.

However, comments like Rev. Wright made should never proceed forth from any pulpit. Here is another link to the Albert Mohler radio show that is very helpful on this subject. Mohler's guest in yesterday's broadcast was Eric Redmond, a black man who pastors the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Temple Hills, MD.

I do agree that it is unfortunate for any man to be completely colored by one or two statements. Personally, I have made many comments of which I am ashamed. I would not want to be strictly judged only on those comments. Just like I do not think that Jerry Falwell should have been judged solely on some of the inflammatory comments that he made; I do not think it is responsible to paint Rev. Wright based only on the YouTube sound bites.

Let me reiterate: the Gospel must not be compromised. Our commission is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, and while that has social implications, it is primarily related to the change brought about by the sinner's conversion.

Fresh Dirt said...

Thanks for the clarification. The bible does have a much to say citizenship-- that I agree. However, I think the gospel message itself is very political. A sinner's conversion isn't just about the soul's eternal destination, it also involves a transformed mind and heart. That mind and heart have been heavily shaped by a sinful culture in need of conversion. The transformation of my mind and my habits involve the racism and prejudice that exists within me and in my culture. It involves the financial policies of my nation towards other nations and ethnic groups and my own attitude towards those policies. My dad often complains at the barbaric comments that a few men at church make about Hispanic people, immigration, etc. This is not just a sinful attitude problem or just a political situation... it is a theological problem. Many Christians have not yet imagined that the gospel affects structures, processes, policies, etc. in the government, in corporations, and in our communities. It definitely seeks to convert the individual, but it also wants to disciple whole nations, whole ethnic groups-- Matthew 28:19.
I do not want to imply that you don't realize this... you've said much of this in other posts recently. But I am always afraid when people say that the pulpit is not a place for politics. I do think it must be as long as it is a gospel-formed politic. Each time we find ourselves in the Book of Revelations, we find ourselves in a deeply political book with steep political implications. When the 1st century churches received this letter, they knew that this book was imploring them to not serve the Roman empire, to not bow down to Caesar-- and the social policies that come from serving the emperor. It was far, far more than just bowing down to the emperor as if he was god. This gospel impacted the social fabric of the Roman Empire- the status and rights of women, the treatment and freeing of slaves, the rescuing of babies thrown into rivers, the sharing of goods and resources, the refusal to join in the olympic games, the unwillingness to fight in Rome's military forces. Not bowing down had social implications far beyond not calling Caesar god. The empire could overlook this-- in fact it often did overlook this with Christians and many other groups. The problem was that Christians were messing up the social, political, and economic fabric of society by their social practices.

Now, I must apologize for such a long rant. By the way, thanks for the congratulations... I am very excited to be coming back to the Midwest.

Fresh Dirt said...

I also referenced your post at my blog. The last sentence is probably where my rant comes from... I fear a privatized faith.

Travis said...

This sentence - Our commission is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, and while that has social implications, it is primarily related to the change brought about by the sinner's conversion." Is not about a privatized faith, but about real change that is (and only) brought about by conversion to Christ as opposed to political (re)action. Just as Prohibition could not legislate away drunkenness, left-leaning legislation cannot create social and racial harmony.

Neither the DEMS nor the GOP can bring about real HOPE or CHANGE. Only Christ is able to do that, and that is why Rev. Wright, Pastor Travis, and every other pastor should major on the Gospel.

Fresh Dirt said...

Good! I feel like we are getting on the same page. Prohibition is a really great example because pastors would preach and preach about outlawing alcohol instead of preaching the gospel. The gospel obviously has something to say to the issue of drunkeness and as such has social ramificiations but the fleshing out of the prohibition laws was not the way the gospel works.
I definitely agree that legislation cannot create social and racial harmony, but it can create an environment and space for such harmony to begin taking place. It was really important for emancipation legislation to take place in the late 1800s and for civil rights legislation to be passed in the 1960s. These were not just political, but ideas that were fleshed out of morals and ethics at work. Things such as legislation and budgets are moral documents. The gospel stands ready to change people and to change institutions.
I'm guessing you would agree. I do not want to imply that what you are saying means a privatized faith. The reality that I am around daily is hearing Christians saying that we should stay out of politics or that we should keep theology and politics seperate-- when theology and faith demand to speak to every area of life. These "Christians" seem to believe that faith is private and should remain so. Thus, my great fear.

Travis said...

Today Russell Moore has penned (I guess typed would be more appropriate) a brilliant post about this very subject. You can find it here.

In the post he says: "Where there is no Gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right, anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Isa 8:12-20). As long as the Serpent's voice is heard, "You shall not surely die," then the powers are comfortable."

He also writes, "Where anything other than Christ is preached, there is no truth, and there is no freedom. There may be shouts of affirmation or silently nodding heads in response, there may be left-wing politics or right-wing politics, there may be culturally liberal psychotherapy or culturally conservative psychotherapy, but there's nothing but judgment in the air. You might even say that it's like chickens, coming home to roost."

Great stuff, as usual, from Dr. Moore. Give it a read.

Anonymous said...

I guess the real problem I have with Reverend Wright's preaching is his agenda. The agenda of any preacher or Christian should be to spread the gospel. Regardless of what one says about politics in the pulpit, this type of preaching is not what this world needs. This world needs a savior.

-Steve

Travis said...

Steve, I completely agree.

Travis said...

This article by Jennifer Riley of the Christian Post augments my critique of Rev. Wright's ministry. It appears that Senator Obama does not understand the Gospel. That is sad; considering he spent twenty years under Rev. Wright's ministry at Trinity United Church of Christ.

I'll write a post about this, because I cannot give it justice in a com-box.