Politics and Preaching

Bush-preaching-4

The relationship between the church and the state has been a topic of discussion and contention for centuries. Many books and treatises written by knowledgeable men have exhaustively touched on this issue, delineating the specifics of where the duties and limitations for each institution begins and ends. When one theologian will be concerned about the civil government’s level of imposition upon the free church, another will be worried that his reaction will cause the church to overreach her bounds into the civil government and so he will spout another reaction to keep her in check. It is a constant tug of war.

One of the fronts of this struggle concerns the actions of the minister upon the pulpit regarding the preaching upon political matters. There are those who believe that such a place is entirely appropriate to advocate for a political platform or tout for a certain party since there are many ears listening and a change for good may be enacted through this means. Others say that this is an abuse of the pulpit and of the church since its function is to propagate the gospel, and it would be best, even most Biblical, to avoid political matters altogether. They argue that since the church is to be subject to the authorities and to live peaceable, quiet lives, then speaking into political matters with an aim to change, especially from the pulpit, is a violation of her gospel duty, a defiance of her submission to authority, and is overstepping her bounds because it would be running “counter to Paul’s command to [the] church to ‘live quietly and mind your own affairs’ (1 Thessalonians 4:11).”[1]

Certainly, being peaceable is the winsome life that the church is to have within society, but this and the submission to the government does not necessarily stop the minister of God’s Word from publicly vocalizing on political problems. Since many of these political matters deal with the great ethical questions of life, then, as a man called to dedicate his life to the study and heralding of God’s Word and His gospel, the minister has the ethical duty to weigh in on these matters because he is most qualified to do so. In doing this, there is no violation of submitting to the government or upsetting the peace, nor is there an overreach of the church’s function. He is wholly within his bounds to do so. At times, it is possible that the minister is most honoring to authority and to the church by speaking into political issues, so he would be obligated to do so in order to be in keeping with the Fifth Commandment. Therefore, the obligation for men to honor authority and for the minister’s duty to preach to men in an applicatory way necessitates that the preacher is to speak into political issues from the pulpit insofar as they pertain to issues of morality. This claim will be proven by, first, investigating the proper duties of and relationship between subjects and rulers and by, second, connecting that relationship to the duty of the minister to preach experientially.

knighting ceremony 2

First, the minister of God’s Word is a faithful subject of his ruling government by vocalizing the knowledge that his station requires him to know.

The Westminster Larger Catechism answers 129 and 130 give a list of the requirements for rulers that is conducive to the honorable fulfilment of their office. It shows that those in authority are to conduct themselves in a way that demands honor and respect since they represent God’s authority as His deputies[2]. Since these requirements pertain to both inside and outside of his office, the office and the person are essentially one in the same thing, making the magistrate morally accountable to his post, and therefore his office is morally accountable, too. God distributes authority widely in human society: parents, police, judges, magistrates, teachers, elders, etc., to reflect God’s majesty and supremacy in those offices within their capacities[3], and authority is given so that the leaders may serve in whatever position they are in, and not to self-serve. This means that those who are within a position of authority are to see to it that the sorts of things that are commanded by them are for the good of those who are under their care. If it is for their good, then it can be determined that whatever is commanded is lawful and worthy to be honored and submitted unto. But in order to determine what would be good for their subjects, it needs to be guided by, and ultimately conform to, the moral law of God for mankind[4], because His law is given for our good and reflects what it means to be, by original nature, an image-bearer. So, in order for a command to be a good command worthy of being followed, it needs to, at the very least not run contrary to, and at the very best promote, the moral precepts of God because they are good for mankind.

It would be like a parent setting a rule in the house that the children are not to play past the sidewalk out of a desire for them to not wander into the street and be hit by car. Out of a love for God, the parent desires to obey His command to not murder in both the positive and negative force, and both in the strict and expanded scope. This love to God fuels the parent’s love for his children and the desire to preserve their lives. Therefore, a moral precept of God guides the rule that is made which makes the command for their children’s good and is worthy of respect. This, in turn, makes the parent faithful in fulfilling his duty of representing God’s authority on earth, gives God glory, and is pleasing to Him.

But what if the parent saw of no such danger when one of the children did? Or what if the parent commanded the children to play in the street during rush hour when a child knew that it was dangerous and foolish? What would the child’s responsibility be?

Take notice that, when looking to the moral precepts of God, we are commanded to “honor,” and not strictly “obey” as it often says in other places. There is a difference here, and the word “honor” carries a more significant weight and responsibility in contrast to mere obedience[5]. One can obey a command without it being very honorable, like if he were to begrudgingly follow through with something. The Westminster Larger Catechism examines this command in answer 127, and one of the duties that it says inferiors are to have to their superiors is a “willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels” [emphasis mine]. The Catechism assumes that subjects will heartily obey because what is being commanded by the authorities, even by a good and necessary consequence deduced by one’s logic and wisdom, is lawful, meaning that the commands are ultimately good for them. Subjects are to obey and submit to authority so long as their commands are lawful and do not cause them to do any forward action that is, by divine standards, unlawful[6], like murder, stealing, or performing a ceremony that runs contrary to something that has great, institutional significance.

Thus, this obedience to authority is not to be a blind, unquestioning obedience as if subjects no longer have any moral culpability when performing something commanded, or have lost all manner of conscience, or as if obedience is the only action that falls under the umbrella of submission to authority. People can show submission in many ways, like through their frame of attitude toward authority, by listening, or by giving a reverential exhortation to a superior toward an honorable thing[7]. So, honoring ordinarily looks like obeying, but when subjects are required to obey, it is qualified to be in the Lord. We are to obey only insofar as it glorifies God[8]. Honoring, though, is never qualified- it is absolute. Because of this, on some occasions, the way one can best honor authority is by taking careful and legitimate measures so that they remain honorable leaders that make honorable and lawful decisions.[9] (See my post on the 5th Commandment.)

So, for the child who sees danger in the road where the parent does not, what is the child’s duty to his superior when something unlawful is being commanded, like playing in the middle of the road? Sadly, there are many, even within Christianity, who conclude upon conflicting ends as to how to take these measures. If this scenario of the child with the parent is translated into general society between subjects and rulers, it can be seen that some will fall on one end of the spectrum where they are too quick to conclude that a governmental institution has become an illegitimate authority because of this, so disrespect and violent rebellion is unfortunately encouraged. Others err in believing that any slip up deserves a tirade of beratement and shame. Some wrongly believe that it is the institutional church’s duty to overreach her bounds and usurp the responsibilities that are given for the civil government to perform[10]. Yet, others, who fall on the other side of the spectrum, will sink into passivity or a retreat[11] and think that submission means that the institutional church ought to keep silent when it comes to political matters.[12]

The Westminster Larger Catechism calls for subjects to seek the defense and maintenance of their superior’s persons and authority (Q&A 127). And this means that careful measures are to be taken to defend and maintain the right exercise of their authority out of a respect for them and their office. A child may have the knowledge of something significant that the parents do not, like the rule commanding them to play outside in the street during rush hour is harmful and unsafe. And so, the child is to dutifully inform the parent of this danger so that they remain faithful in their office of giving lawful and good commands, and are therefore honorable parents in this significant matter. It is similar for the church, who has the special duty and attendance to gather the knowledge and insights regarding the same moral law of God that the government is to ultimately uphold and enforce within society. In other words, the church is given provision to speak into real, governmental and political matters because these matters are often significant, moral issues that the church is most qualified to address. Because of this, it can be said that the best way the church can honor authority is by exhorting it to remain true to its duty in giving lawful commands. But, any submissive exhortation that one would endeavor upon must have a good reason, be appropriate, grounded in Scripture and truth, and it must be prayed upon with the utmost humility, reverence, and fear out of respect for the God-given institution. Yet, it needs to be addressed sternly, reverentially, and publicly as an effort to ensure the honorability of their God-given authority because her purpose is to confront and be bold[13]. This is where the minister of God’s Word comes into play.

On the surface, it may not seem like the minister’s duty is to get involved with political topics from the pulpit. His function, after all, is to herald the gospel of Christ[14], to labor in the word and doctrine, to feed and oversee the flock, to communicate the message of the Head to the rest of the body, to labor with, nourish, and to steward the household of faith[15]. So what business is it of his to get involved with affairs that appear to be outside of his household? It is his business because the minister is also likened to be a watchman of the city of God, to warn the citizens of the city of their peril[16], both in regards to the eternal peril and to the present dangers closing in upon the city walls which have eternal consequences, confront the wicked, and to call to attention the things that do affect the household. He is also likened to an “ambassador, entrusted with the ‘Ministry of reconciliation’”[17] to declare salvation and call men to repentance unto the obedience of the nations[18]. It is his duty, then, to labor for the wellbeing of the church in his capacity whereby this ministry of reconciliation may prosper and flourish, both in quality and quantity[19], because it glorifies God. “[T]he prosperity of the church renders God glory upon earth. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Hallowed by thy name,’ He immediately pointed to the means whereby this is attained: ‘Thy kingdom come!’”[20] So, out of a desire for the free prosperity and to see his joy fulfilled in the flourishing of God’s church by its spread and reformation, the minister is to labor for this through the key action of his station, even directed at all those that may oppose: preaching.

The preparation for a minister’s preaching is filled with the diligent study of God’s Word. The Bible gives God’s view of humanity and the true standards of morality that each man is responsible to keep. It also gives the true status of mankind in the present, stating the failure to keep the standards of morality, the need for redemption, and the means to be reconciled. The Bible is a moral book that speaks to moral creatures that comes from a moral Creator who is perfect and true and is therefore to be the primary and final authority of all humanity’s faith and life, and the preacher is to pour his life into the study of this book (see Charles Bridges’ “Habits of General Study,” “Special Study of The Scriptures,” and “Habits of Special Prayer” in his book The Christian Ministry). Because of the minister’s diligent study of this perfect book that gives the true picture of mankind and is authoritative concerning man’s status, and because he ought to apply it to his own life, it makes him all the more qualified to speak into the moral behaviors of men compared to those who do not do so. It would be like the child being qualified to speak of the dangers to his parent because he is out in the street and sees all of the cars speeding at him.

So, the child’s duty to his parents would be to inform them and plead with them within the proper bounds of his child-to-parent relationship to change the rule- for the sake of the other children, for the sake of himself, and for the sake of the parents. He is not to passively sit by and let his brothers and sisters be run over by cars, but he is neither to gather the siblings around and start an insurrection. Likewise, when the minister sees a law go against the eternal and universally binding law of God for mankind that does ultimate harm, he is not to keep silent about it if he is to be a faithful child of his government, but he is to submissively and respectfully call to attention the missteps of the administration of moral laws.

Arrow to the heart

Second, the minister, limited to the text before him, is to preach experientially and will no doubt be forced to speak on political matters because of the experiential application of his text.

A part of the proper duty and work of the minister is to give a report of his devotion and studies of the Word in the form of preaching. It is not only to be a general exhortation to the members of his congregation, but he is also to direct it at individuals in their stations. He is to bring in the application of Biblical principles into daily life from the pulpit, encouraging the godly unto good works, and forcefully exposing the ungodly of their works and of their fate unto repentance[21]. “In all his preaching his objective ought to be to touch hearts, and thus while aiming for the heart, to apply this [the matter being preached], to comfort, and to stir up”[22]. No doubt, “to stir up” has the connotation of prodding and stimulating one another unto good works in whatever station they are in, including those in a lawmaking position[23]. This is the application of Biblical principles, a desire to see the fruit of a transformed heart within one’s daily life.

Charles Bridges in his master work, The Christian Ministry, emphasizes that the work of the minister is to direct his preached words unto the penetration of the soul and mind of all his hearers, like an arrow “fastened in his heart, considering himself to be the person addressed”[24], and this is best done by its specific application. He says:

“Preaching, in order to be effective, must be reduced from vague generalities, to a tangible, individual character- coming home to every man’s business, and even to his bosom. He goes on in a slumbering routine of customary attendance. Nothing but the preacher’s blow- the hand not lifted towards him, but actually reaching him [sic]- will rouse him to consideration. There is no need to mention names. The truth brought into contact with the conscience speaks for itself. Even the ungodly can bear forcible sermons, without any well-directed aim. The general sermons, that are preached to every body, in fact are preached to no body. They will therefore suit the congregations of the last century, or in a foreign land, as well as the people before our eyes… We must therefore preach to our people, as well as before them.”[25]

 

We see here that his application is to certainly be at those within his own congregation, but it is also to be to those who are not. The only way to properly do this is from a “prudent and diligent consideration of the state of the flock”[26] over which he is set. He needs to know his own people and people in general. This includes the things that his congregation would care about, the temptations that may easily beset them, all that they encounter in society, and the culture in which they reside, both as a general view of society, of his congregation, and unto specific members. Out of a zeal for the cure and rescue of lost souls, his pastoral and pulpit work is also to be directed at those who are unbelievers with the same directedness of application[27], understanding their manner of walking, pointing out the folly of their unbelief, inconsistency of their life, the immorality that they may regularly be engaged in, and their accountability to God, all with gospel ends[28]. The minister is to function as a prophet, the mouthpiece of God, that is to preach to all people that come before him indiscriminately, but applying it discriminately. “The property of a good portrait well describes a good sermon- that it looks directly at all, though placed in different situations, as if it were ready to speak to each- ‘I have a message from God unto thee.’”[29]

This is where preaching about politics comes into play. Since the minister is to give the report of his study truthfully, to all people, as if all were listening, and with discriminate application, then this includes the government and the people within it. Just as it is a child’s servile duty to inform his parents of the danger in the road that would significantly impact their faithful responsibility to their governing office, so it is also for the preacher’s submissive duty unto his own government to confront them of any gross mishandling of the practical application of God’s universal truths, laws, and order for mankind.

The minister’s public outcry may appear to some as political dissent or as a dishonorable protest aimed at shaming the government which he is under, but he is to avoid this and the appearance of this. Rather, it is to be clear that he fears no man and his task is to boldly proclaim to all, even before kings. Just as the minister’s love for the healing and rescue of souls and his desire for their true wellbeing will cause him to preach out against individual’s sins (without naming), making applicatory statements to cause unrepentant sinners to see their folly, to stir up lazy believers to a renewed vigor of godliness, speaking to all people in all levels of business, so it is the same for his speaking into political or national sins. His preaching, then, is to be political when his text deals with the political matters are moral. He is to address the magistrates as individual, moral people, and remind them of their duty as ministers of an institution meant to reflect God’s authority here on earth, all unto gospel ends. Out of a love for God’s order of the world, out of a love for His institution of authority and its tasks, and out of a love for his own government, he will seek the wellbeing of the institution by appealing to individuals within it to fulfil their proper duties. It is no dishonor, he is not inciting violence or illegitimate upheaval, but is honoring authority by a submissive exhortation, displaying that he is ultimately still on their side[30]. Doing this shows more honor to the government than by keeping silent.

Also, this is not detracting from the minister’s task to shepherd the church. Speaking into political matters from the pulpit serves his people because it is within the church’s interest to promote the true welfare of the government. This is because it is the government’s duty to promote the welfare of the church:

“It must protect the church from all oppression from without and within, so that no one will disturb or prevent either the exercise of religion or the meetings of consistories, Classes, and Synods. It must preserve the freedoms and the spiritual privileges which Christ has given to the church, so that she may use and exercise them without impediment. It must remove all external obstacles which either could be detrimental to religion or impede the growth and well-being of the church. It must do everything possible to promote religion so that the church may flourish under its protection and ‘may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty’ (1 Tim. 2:2).”[31]

These external hedges placed by the civil government that seek the prosperity and increase of true religion are the kinds of policies that are to give joy to the people of God because the church’s flourishing gives glory to God on earth.

It is also within the government’s best interest to promote and to protect the church because “True Religion is the root of all true virtues and the stay of all well ordered commonwealths”[32]. Not just theory, but history, too, has shown that the greater the increase of the church and her influence within a nation, the more regimented and governable her citizens will be. Out of a mutual interest to see them upheld, but for different ends, the state is to condemn for the same moral crimes that the church condemns, but the punishment is different. The state has the sword, but the church has the keys[33]. Richard Hooker said:

            “So natural is the union of Religion with Justice, that we may boldly deny there is either, where both are not. For how should they be unfeignedly just, whom religion does not cause to be such; or they religious, which are not found such by the proof of their just actions?… They which commend so much the felicity of that innocent world, wherein it is said, that men of their own accord did embrace fidelity and honesty, nor for fear of the magistrate, or because revenge was before their eyes, if at any time they should do otherwise, but that which held the people in awe was the shame of ill doing, the love of equity and right itself a bar against all oppressions which greatness of power causes, they which describe to us any such estate of happiness among men, though they speak not of religion, do notwithstanding declare that, which is truth her only working. For if religion did possess sincerely and sufficiently the hearts of all men, there would need no other restraint from evil.”[34]

 

A great example of seeing the mutual desire for both the church and the civil government to prosper and to properly fulfil their separate tasks was in the early to mid-1600’s with the Church of Scotland’s Covenanters and the English Puritans convening at Westminster. The Monarch was tightening his grip upon the rule and function of the church, exerting greater control and implementing more Catholic ideals, implementing policies that were choking the advance of the Protestant Reformation on the British Isle and was supporting a system of doctrine that was poisonous to the purity of the gospel.

Unhappy with this increasing state control over the church and with tensions rising, the National Covenant was formed and signed in 1638 as not “a rebellion but an appeal to the law of the land against the tyranny of the king. To sign it was to say that Jesus Christ was the only head of the church, and so it should be free from any control by the king or the government”[35], Out of a defense for this purity, which the ministers knew would ultimately have an impact upon the wellbeing of the future souls that were within and around the church, the Church of Scotland and the Puritans of England took measures to support a system that would be more agreeable to the church’s flourishing and to the purity of doctrine. And one of the manners in which these ministers showed their support and guidance of the governing procedures was by preaching directly to Parliament. “They understood that the minister’s chief responsibility is not so much to look for new techniques, methods, or tools to expand the kingdom of Christ, and not so much to win political alliances or friendships, but to declare faithfully the Word of God, which is the primary tool that He has given us for ‘faith and life’”[36]. The motive behind this was to stop the government’s choking of the Reformation and to allow the gospel to continue its advance and flourish.

Richard Sibbes, in reference to this political and ecclesiastical struggle, noted that the Devil will wittily employ all means available to him, like corrupt churches and kings, in order to “rebuild the walls of Jericho” and stifle the advance of the gospel. He says:

“So we see then, that as high as they built, and as much as they fortified, though they be not wholly cast down, yet they are shaken, and that by weak means. Now the way to effect this, that these walls may fall down more and more, it must be by the spiritual means that God will use. We must use the means that God hath appointed us, poor contemptible means, trumpets of rams’ horns, the preaching of the word, the discovery of the truth; and by this means we shall more and more gain upon them. And undoubtedly, let them but give free liberty to the preaching of the word in other countries, and we shall see them shortly as heretical, as they term it, even as London and England is. Such a power there is in God’s ordinance, the Spirit of God accompanying it, that it carries all before it, it lays all flat, it beats all strongholds down before it.”[37]

So, the minister not only serves the government, but he also serves the church by preaching on political matters because they frequently intrude into the lives of people, including the lives of his congregation, and have a bearing upon the society in which they live. What are these political matters other than a morally accountable institution made up of morally accountable people implementing directives into society that often have moral implications upon moral beings? John A. Broadus states, “We live not only in a world of persons but of powerful social organizations and institutions, which exert constant and relentless pressure upon the moral and spiritual life of individuals. The preacher cannot be indifferent to these wider and more complex areas. He must pass unflinching judgment upon the wrongs of society; he must voice the Christian principles of righteousness and justice and good will; he must stir the consciences of men to meet the conditions and practices of the social order with unselfish devotion to truth and honor and common humanity”[38]. Therefore, the zeal the minister ought to have for the truth of God’s word proclaimed to all, the desire to see sinners saved, the desire for growth in holiness, and for the church to grow and flourish cannot leave him apathetic or silent on such political matters.

It is the function of the minister to appeal to the gospel’s experiential application of doctrine, instruction, and reproof into the lives of people. There are those who say that it is not the business of the church to tell those outside of the church how to behave[39], but Acts 17:30 most certainly shows that the duty of the minister is to tell others how to behave; to declare to them the manner of their conversation in the world and to call them unto repentance is telling them how to behave. So, just like a minister is well within his qualification to make a discernment concerning another, broader church’s doctrine and teaching even though they are not his flock, and just like a minister is well within his qualification to apply God’s word to business practices even though he is not a man of business, so it is the same for matters of politics. The herald of God is to call to attention, in a practical, personal, and applicatory way, the failures and admonish unto repentance that can be evidenced by their lives and decisions- that includes those in governmental positions. The civil government operates within the ethical realm and makes ethical decisions that have ethical impacts upon the society in which he lives, even upon his own congregation. The experiential preaching into these ethical matters is especially brought to bear when the minister has a member of his own congregation that is in the magistracy. The minister should still press upon this civil officer to carry his beliefs into his station, seeing that he is a citizen first of the kingdom of God, and that the fundamental laws of Christ’s kingdom are ultimate, good, and beneficial for this one as well. “That truly pious men shall carry their religion into politics, shall keep religious principle uppermost in all political questions which have a moral character, is an unquestionable and solemn duty. Of course, it is right that the preacher should urge them to do so.”[40]

Since “nearly all Bible texts do address such existential issues directly or indirectly”[41], the faithful exhortation of the Bible will force the minister to speak into political matters when the nature of political issues deal with the ethical matter that is at hand in his text. If the minister is to fulfil his qualifications of studying the Word of God, to proclaim it faithfully to a people that he is to know, to make applicatory remarks that will cause his people to see its practical bearings, and to appeal to an unsaved people around him, then he will have to at some point engage in political matters from the pulpit. He is the spiritual leader and guider on earth of a people that are engaged in these things, and for the minister to not put in his due diligence into the understanding of the world that his congregation is in and to help guide them through these politically ethical dilemmas from the pulpit with gospel application is disastrously negligent of his task and his competency of the calling to be an undershepherd should be brought into question.

John A. Broadus continues:

“But what shall he propose in a practical way? Devise strategies and programs for labor or for capital? Write platforms for the political parties? Propose and advocate particular statutes for legislative bodies? Agitate for particular solutions of the race problems? Turn expert in international procedures? Obviously such things are beyond his ability and outside his function. He is not an expert social planner. He is a prophet, a seer, and critic, and voice of high conscience in the name of God. He should not be complacent in the belief that society is [an] impersonal organization and [a] natural process. Society is composed of men, women, and children. The forms of society are created and managed by persons. The human factor is determinative of many things, including principles and goods. Human responsibility for the social order is therefore real, and the preacher must not permit complacency in himself or in those who hear him. He must ask burning questions of persons: ‘Where is thy brother? What meaneth this bleating of sheep?’ But he must ask in knowledge, not ignorance, speaking out of an understanding of conditions and problems won by diligent study. With such understanding he will be able to affix blame where blame lies and to propose with boldness the ways and means that brotherhood, honesty, high motive, and reverence for God will suggest. Such is the preacher’s function. It is within his province and responsibility to bring every kind of evil, individually and corporately upheld, to the light and judgment of Christ’s moral principles, and then to insist that men put these principles to the test where they are, making adventure along paths which an enlightened conscience can choose.”[42]

 

As we can see, weighing in on political matters from the pulpit is well within the minister’s duties if the matters are moral, which they often are. At times, it is especially his duty to do so if he sees that a particular ethical, political subject is plaguing his people. The minister is not seeking the overthrow of the government by doing this, but is contending for and pining after the proper administration of justice for both the sake of the government and the church. Therefore, his preaching is to be political when political matters are moral, but things such as severity and the temporal execution of these moral principles is obviously left to the magistrate, but the guiding principles are to be heralded by the minister. By doing this, he is honoring authority and submitting to the government by seeking their wellbeing and proper function in an appropriate manner, and he is faithful in his task as a minister and proclaimer of God’s ultimate and eternal Word to the nations.

 

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[1] Brian Lee, “The Church Should Not Weigh In On Ballot Issues,” November 3, 2014, http//www.patheos.com/Topics/Politics-in-the-Pulpit/The-Church-Should-Not-Weigh-In-On-Ballot-Issues-Brian-Lee-110314.html (accessed July 24, 2017).

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans by. Robert White (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2014), 758–759.

[3] Wilhelmus a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, trans by. Bartel Elshout, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1993), 169.

[4] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:179; Calvin, Institutes, 764–765, 769–770. Cf. Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 17:18-20; Proverbs 16:12; 17:15; Jeremiah 22:3.

[5] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 483; Calvin, Institutes, 145, 775.

[6] Calvin, Institutes, 783–784.

[7] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), 580.

[8] Calvin, Institutes, 783–784.

[9] Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 618–619.

[10] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:170–171.

[11] Rod Dreher, “Benedict Option FAQ,” The American Conservative, October 6, 2015, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/benedict-option-faq/ (accessed July 28, 2017).

[12] Lee, “The Church Should Not Weigh In On Ballot Issues.”

[13] Timothy Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Viking, 2015), 96; Quoting P.T. Forsyth, “He argues that when in the history of the church was at its most effective, ‘she did not lead the world, nor echo it; she confronted it.’” Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry: With an Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 296–299.

[14] Lee, “The Church Should Not Weigh In On Ballot Issues.”

[15] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 9.

[16] Ezekiel 33:1-9

[17] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 9–10.

[18] Genesis 49:10; Romans 1:5; 16:26

[19] Luke 15:8-10

[20] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:154.

[21] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:142.

[22] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:139.

[23] Hebrews 10:24

[24] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 270.

[25] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 271–272.

[26] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed by. William H. Goold, vol. 16 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), 76.

[27] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 66.

[28] By “gospel ends” I mean unto the conversion of souls and the sanctification of converted souls.

[29] Bridges, The Christian Ministry, 273.

[30] Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 580.

[31] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:178.

[32] Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, ed by. Arthur Stephen McGrade, vol. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 9.

[33] a’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 2:172.

[34] Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, 2:10–11.

[35] Chris Coldwell, Sermons Preached Before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines 1643-1645 (Dallas, TX: Naphtali Press, 2011), xiv.

[36] Coldwell, Sermons Preached Before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines 1643-1645, xliii–xliv.

[37] Richard Sibbes, Works of Richard Sibbes, ed by. Alexander B. Grosart, vol. 7 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 468–469. I highly recommend reading the context of this. It is a very passionate treatment of the advance of the Protestant Reformation, trusting the meager and foolish means of preaching that God has provided. Compare Sibbes with Carl R. Trueman’s dispirited attitude of God’s means through hearing in this article: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/07/our-cultural-waterloo

Also, if you so decide to read, please note that Richard Sibbes uses the word “Popery” in his discourse. This is a reference to the Roman Catholic Church that was, especially in his eyes being in the midst of the Reformation, the epitome or pinnacle of the advance of the kingdom of Satan, having employed all manner of “hellish arts” to advance its cause, including the government. So the reference to “popery” should be read as especially the Roman Catholic Church, and anything that is pagan and/or a falsification of all that is true religion and morality, distorting the purity of the gospel. Anything that is like unto popery doesn’t necessarily have to be Catholic in itself- it can be merely pagan. “Popery” is just the epitome.

[38] John A Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (Louisville, KY: Harper & Brothers, 1944), 214.

[39] Lee, “The Church Should Not Weigh In On Ballot Issues.”

[40] Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, 68.

[41] Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, 97.

[42] Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, 214.

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