In his book, In But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition, Hugh Hewitt has a chapter titled "Either A Player Or A Pastor Be- But You Can't Be Both". In it, Hewitt argues that the pastor today has "next to zero credibility on any issues of politics or public policy outside of his own congregation"; therefore, they ought to stay out of the political realm, and instead focus their energies on developing and applying the entirely different set of "skills and disciplines" necessary to fulfilling their calling. Mr. Hewitt says that we may deeply resent that this is the case, but we must accept it as the current reality and respond accordingly.
I'm not so sure. Hasn't this country come into its current state of affairs because the steady erosion of Christian influence in all the most influential arenas of life (politics, the law, the media, the arts, the university), and the concurrent, growing influence of a humanistic secularism, has been met with the progressive surrender of these areas over to these forces and retreat into our Christian sub-cultures?
Is Christian truth only Christian, or is it Truth with a capital "T"? Are we not commanded to be the "light" and "salt" that permeates our entire society with the truths of the gospel? So let people laugh and make derisive remarks when we quote the Bible, and we will respond with wisdom from the Spirit, the kind that only comes from deep meditation on the revelation of Scripture.
I understand Mr. Hewitt's advice is meant to be pragmatic and realistic, and it certainly seems to be, yet at the same time my ire is raised by the thought that the secularist can enter into whatever sphere he or she likes, and say whatever he or she wants, but I cannot? I have just as much right to engage the marketplace as the secularist. Like Jesus, we can appeal to reason, and debate with intelligence, we can be shrewd as we speak to people in language and concepts they can relate to. More than that, we must present ourselves as examples, holding ourselves accountable to live in such a way that our lives too will speak a good and powerful testimony for our Christian convictions.
I admit that I only read this one chapter as an excerpt from Mr. Hewitt's book. He might agree, in the remaining chapters of his work, with some of the sentiments I'm expressing here. Yet I guess I react to the separation of sacred and secular implied by his advice. I don't think I can divide myself up that way. I is what I is-- (though I don't happen to be a pastor). If other people can be who they are, unselfconsciously expressing their opinions in the marketplace, I will too. Let the chips fall where they may.
P.S. Joshua Davey has an excellent post on this subject: Christians Must Be Political at letters from babylon.
See also Jollyblogger's post Pastors and Worldly Influence
What do you think?