Pastors Don’t Need To Enter Politics-They’re Already In It

From David Lane at

My friend, theologian and scholar Peter Leithart, responded to my previous post, “Does a Pastor Running for Office Strike You as Bizzare?” with his own column in First Things, titled, Pastors Don’t Need To Enter Politics-They’re Already In It. 

I commend Leithart’s entire piece to you for your profit in reflecting on these important issues. That said, I’d like to continue this public conversation through a response.

Leithart wrote: “However effective his campaign is, it’s a strategic error and perhaps reflects a theological mistake. The premise seems to be that pastors must become politicians to influence the nation’s direction, and that in turn suggests that the power of civil institutions is the greater than all others.”

I don’t see my position necessarily as “pastors must become politicians”, per se, but that spiritual men and women must become the transmission agents to bring wisdom and righteousness-His Word-to the public square. Virtue is a key component of freedom.

Consider the words of Reverend John Wise (17th century), a man who never served in elective office, but was nevertheless a prominent political leader in Massachusetts. Living up to his last name, Wise stated that taxation without representation is tyranny” and that the “consent of the governed” was the foundation of government. Rising from the depths of his biblical and theological mind and heart, Wise preached (in both pulpit and public square) the all men are created equal.

On the other hand, many pastors did serve in political office. The Muhlenberg brothers, Abiel Foster, Benjamin Contee, Abraham Baldwin, and Paine Wingate-all in the first Congress. Others pastor-statesmen throughout those formative years included Revs. Joseph Montgomery, Hugh Williamson, James Manning, and John Zubly. America’s Christian heritage has been stolen. Even among pastors and political leaders, we have lost the moral objective of the Founder’s mission. Will the parishioner in the pew learn and act upon knowledge that the pastor is unaware of-or uninterested in?

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