A Word to Pastors on Politics

Many of us are dismayed by Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Donald Trump, especially his remark that Trump’s life reflects the teachings of Christ. As far as I can tell, the main thing that Jesus and Donald have in common is neither thinks he needs forgiveness. Their main difference? Jesus doesn’t think he’s Donald.

White House
Photo Credit: Diego Cambiaso, Creative Commons

I realize that Jerry Falwell Jr. is a president of a school rather than the pastor of a church, though for the culture that is a distinction without much of a difference. As a pastor friend—and Liberty alum—lamented yesterday, Falwell’s endorsement will make it more difficult to lead his agnostic friends to Christ. They already suspect evangelical Christians are bigoted mouth-breathers who build walls between people, and now they know they’re right.

So my message does somewhat apply to Falwell, but especially to pastors. You are the shepherd of the body of Christ. Do not stoop to endorse any political candidate.

I’m sure it’s gratifying when the world’s most powerful people seek your endorsement. You want to be a player, to leverage this opportunity to advance your institution and brand. I get it. But stop and ask which Jesus loves more, America or his Bride?

You may be the pastor of a small church, but in one sense your job matters more to Jesus than the president’s. You are personally responsible for the people Jesus loves. Don’t make it more difficult for them to follow Jesus—don’t make it more difficult for others to come to Jesus—by confusing Jesus with even the most righteous of political candidates.

Jesus wants Democrats and Republicans to come to him. Socialists and capitalists, the one percent and the 99, black, white, and brown, and he would like them all to feel welcome in your church. Of all the obstacles we can put in people’s way, a political endorsement is the dumbest, and most easily avoidable, of them all.

Pastors must teach people what God’s Word says he cares about. And we must do so even handedly, willing to offend both the left and the right. But we must not tell people whom we think they should vote for. Our office is too important for that.

Acts 2:11 note: How might Muslims in your community feel after learning you endorsed Trump, who was endorsed by Falwell, who encouraged Christians to carry guns and ‘shoot those Muslims’? Closer to considering the claims of Jesus or further away? Solid advice from a pastor of pastors to steer away from politics.

This article first appeared Jan 28, 2016 on Dr. Michael Wittmer’s blog “Don’t Stop Believing”

About Dr. Michael Wittmer