The Curse of Political Pastors & Preacher-Politicians

II Timothy 2:4; I Corinthians 9:16
       No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
       Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.

HENRY FOSTER (1760-1844): What effect should the present posture of public affairs have on us as Christians and ministers?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): It is pathetic, not to say ludicrous, to notice the way in which certain modern Evangelicals, who seem to have started reading some ten or twelve years ago, after having spent their time exclusively in evangelistic activities, are now rushing their ill-digested reading into print, and seem to think that they are innovators in saying that we should all be taking an interest in politics and social matters. They do not seem to have heard of the “social gospel” craze of the earlier part of [the 20th] century. All this has been tried with great thoroughness. I well remember certain men who were concerned about social and political matters, and who constantly preached on such themes, and packed their chapels for a while, but only as long as they preached politics. The moment they began to preach the gospel truly the crowds left them…Politically-minded people are always ready to make use of the church, but they always abandon and shun her when she ceases to be of any value to them.

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): Carnal, politic men [use] religion as it serves their own interest.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is not insignificant, surely, that certain well-known evangelists are supported by numbers of millionaires, and that some of them in a recent Presidential election even went so far as to propose that a certain evangelist might be put up as Presidential candidate! They did this because of their political and economic interests.

OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658): When ministers pretend to a glorious Reformation, and lay the foundations thereof in getting to themselves worldly power, they may know that the Zion promised will not be built with such untempered mortar.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): God will not have His kingdom, either in the heart or in the world, maintained by carnal policy.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a minister should think it worth his while to appear in the line of a political writer, or expect to amend our constitution or situation by proposals of political reform.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Richard Cecil used to say that the devil did not care how ministers are employed, so that it was not their proper work. Whether it was politics [or anything else], each might please his own taste.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): A sad account can ministers give of their lives, if it shall turn out that their energies have been expended on things having no connection with their appropriate work.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our Lord kept to his proper business, which was the preaching of the gospel…We find, in these days, that the minister of gospel is asked to do almost everything. He must be a politician; he must be a social reformer; he must be I know not what. For my part, I often feel as if I could answer, “Who made me to do anything of the kind?” If I can preach the gospel, I shall have done well if I do that to the glory of God, and to the salvation of men. Surely there are enough people to be judges and dividers, there are quite sufficient politicians to attend to politics, and plenty of men who feel themselves qualified to direct social reforms. Some of us may be spared to attend to spiritual affairs.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: We may not preach politics. We have no command for doing so. We have no inspired example authorizing us to do so. If all men were right on such matters, they might still perish. All men might err in their views on these matters, yet, if they believed in Jesus, they would be saved. It seldom happens that a minister can give his views on such subjects without alienating someone from his ministry, impairing his usefulness, or giving needless offence. It is also a fact that in every land where preachers have turned politicians, they have commonly espoused the wrong side, and done more harm than good.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Christians are soldiers under the King of kings; their object should be to conquer all ranks and degrees of men to the obedience of faith. But, to do this, it is necessary that they avoid all those entanglements and disputes which retard their main design…There is enmity enough for us to encounter without unnecessarily adding to it.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): The offence of the cross has not ceased.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Of late, the rights of man are pleaded as a protection from the offence of the cross…In some pulpits, a description of the ‘rights of man’ occupies much of the time which used to be employed in proclaiming the glory and grace of the Saviour, and the rights of God to the love and obedience of His creatures.

C. H. SPURGEON: Anybody who calls off the thoughts of the church from soul-saving is a mischief maker. I have heard it said of a minister, “He greatly influences the politics of the town.” Well, it is a very doubtful good in my mind, a very doubtful good indeed. If the man, keeping to his own calling of preaching the gospel, happens to influence these meaner things, it is well, but any Christian minister who thinks that he can do two things well, is mistaken. Let him mind soul-winning, and not turn a Christian church into a political club…Is it more pleasant to talk politics than to preach Christ?

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: We have something far better to preach than even sound theories of human government.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): A minister may well be absolved from preaching, or even forming opinions on politics. He has the common right of all citizens to do so; but his proper work is enough for all his time and powers. The great themes of religious truth are enough to occupy more than he can get. Statesmanship is a science by itself. If a preacher excels in it, he must do so by sacrificing some of his sacred hours.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): To preach God’s Word is too much for half a man: and to minister a temporal kingdom is too much for half a man also. Either requireth a whole man. One therefore cannot well do both.

C. H. SPURGEON: Am I a minister? Let me be a minister wholly, and not spend my energies upon secondary concerns. What have I to do with party politics?

JOHN NEWTON: For my part, I have no temptation to turn politician, much less to inflame a party in these times…I may be removed—and perhaps suddenly—into the unseen world, where all that causes so much bustle upon earth at present, will be no more to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians. How much then does it import me, to be found watching, with my lions girded up, and my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set nations to right, but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavour to win souls. Happy is that servant, whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing!

JOSEPH BELCHER (1794-1859): When George Whitefield was in the zenith of his popularity, Lord Clare, who knew that his influence was considerable, [asked him to use] his influence at Bristol [during] the ensuing general election. Whitefield replied, that in general elections he never interfered; but he would earnestly exhort his lordship to use great diligence to make his own particular calling and election sure!

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: Oh, that [this] example had been followed by American clergymen of later times!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: One is sometimes tempted to say that the whole trouble in the world today is because preachers are talking politics and that politicians are preaching, and it’s because both parties don’t understand the Gospel.


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