For years pastors have been reluctant to preach on the subject of politics even though the Bible is full of politics and preaching about politics. There are two books titled “Kings.”
A helpful historical study of the subject is Alice Baldwin’s The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution: When American Pastors Preached Politics, Resisted Tyranny, and Founded a Nation on the Bible.
How many of these excuses have you heard Christians give for not getting involved politically, which I deal with in my book Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths?
- Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics
- Our citizenship is in heaven.
- You can’t legislate morality.
- Jesus said not to judge.
- There’s a separation between church and state.
- We are to render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s.
- It’s never right to resist authority.
- Just preach the gospel.
- Politics is dirty.
- Religion and politics don’t mix.
- Jesus was not a social reformer.
- We’re living in the last days.
If our earliest founding fathers – those who settled America in the 17th century – believed any of the above, we would not be here. Yes, politics is dirty, but what isn’t? Every law is an imposition of somebody’s view of morality. We don’t live under Caesar. We live under the Constitution of the United States and it states that we can “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Our citizenship is in heaven and in the here and now. The apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was about to be beaten by a Roman soldier.
There is a long history of pastors in the United States and abroad who saw it as their duty to preach “whole counsel of God” (Acts 17), and that included politics.
That’s why Dr. Alice Baldwin’s long out-of-print book The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution: When American Pastors Preached Politics, Resisted Tyranny, and Founded a Nation on the Bible is so important. It puts history in perspective.
If your pastor refuses to read it, it may be time to find a different church.
The diminishing light of civil liberty in this land is linked directly to the lack of preaching on it in today’s pulpits. Dr. Alice Baldwin’s wonderful book is a welcome antidote to this problem, should we be willing to take it.
Dr. Baldwin illustrates in The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution how the preachers of the early American era thought and practiced just the opposite as today. Mountains of research in colonial sermons, tracts, pamphlets, and other publications, reveals how the pulpits of colonial America rang constantly on all aspects of the public square: good rulers, good laws, good forms of government, and the blessings of liberty. We especially hear of those choice values of biblical order that became the battle cries of American independence.
Commenting on the classic paraphrase of “life, liberty, and property,” Baldwin proclaims,
No one can fully understand the American Revolution and the American constitutional system without a realization of the long history and religious associations which lie behind these words; without realizing that for a hundred years before the Revolution men were taught that these rights were protected by divine, inviolable law.
Covering the entire revolutionary era, she concludes that the central force behind it all was the pulpit’s application of the Word of God to politics and government. She says, “It must not be forgotten, in the multiplicity of authors mentioned, that the source of greatest authority and the one most commonly used was the Bible.” And she proves that “from the law of God they derived their political theories.”
It is long past time to recover the great and powerful preaching of our founding era — a time when pastors did not fear to preach politics, resist tyranny, and found their governments on the Bible. Dr. Baldwin’s nearly-forgotten book is a powerful resource toward that end. We recommend it to every pastor and every Christian in hope that they follow the example of its subject matter even more.
Order your copy at American Vision. It’s available in the following formats:
- eBook in iBook
To read an extended review of The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution by Dr. Joel McDurmon, go here.