(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)
Christians and church leaders should not be passive when it comes to politics or social issues, said author and pastor Robert Jeffress during an interview on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk on Monday.
Jeffress, who is the senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, said he disagrees with the old adage that says people should not mix politics with religion. He believes that God has called Christians to be an influence on society and that means engaging in political conversation about what is correct or wrong as taught in the Bible.
"I'm a teacher and a preacher of the Word of God, but I think when the Word of God touches and intersects with culture we shouldn't shrink away from it," Jeffress told Dobson and his co-hosts of the Christian radio show also available online.
"I believe God has called us to be influencers of our culture," he continued. "I am just so amazed at the number of Christians and even pastors who say well, 'you shouldn't mix politics with religion.' To which I say, 'what should you mix it with then?'"
Jeffress, whose latest book is Twilight's Last Gleaming: How America's Last Days Can Be Your Best Days, said that although the nation will eventually come to an end as the Bible says of the entire world, Christians are called to continue fulfilling God's commission.
"I don't believe that we are going to ultimately … save America because America is going to collapse one day because the Bible says the world is going to collapse," he explained. "But even if we can't prevent America's ultimate collapse we can delay it by being the salt and light God commanded us to be … to give our country the opportunity to hear the Gospel and know Christ as Savior."
Dobson, who said it's crucial for Christians to hear from a prominent pastor such as Jeffress about the importance of engaging politically, also said that Christians should "speak the truth in love."
"Since when did the church get skittish about talking about right and wrong?" Dobson asked on the show.
Jeffress said he finds it inconceivable for anyone to say that Christians should not try to influence the culture in which we live. "I believe that's our mandate as Christians and pastors," he said.
"The biggest danger I see among Christians today is political pacifism. It's this idea that the end is coming anyway, why should I try to affect public policy – it's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," he insisted.
"When anyone says that Christians shouldn't get involved in politics or policy I have to ask them the questions, 'Do you think that God cares about millions of babies being murdered every year in the world? Do you think that God cares about the rampant immorality that's engulfing our country? Do you think God cares that His name is being outlawed from mention in the public square?'
"The God I know hasn't changed. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. If you believe God cares about those things then you've just answered the question [as to] why Christians need to get involved in policy," the Texas pastor said.
Although Dobson said he believes in endorsing candidates from the pulpit, Jeffress disagreed.
"I don't believe we ought to endorse politicians from the pulpit, but we ought to talk about the issues," Jeffress stated. "We ought to do what the prophets of old did and that is to point a finger at the culture and say, 'Thus says the Lord.' That's the only hope for our nation.
"There are some issues that the Bible doesn't stutter about: the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, and I believe that the issues the Bible speaks clearly about, we need to speak about as Christians and pastors."
When asked about his thoughts on Christians who might feel uncomfortable about risking political engagement because of confrontation, Jeffress responded, "The cost of doing nothing is incalculable."
He pointed out that no church in the U.S. has ever lost their tax exempt status for a pastor talking about politics from the pulpit.
"To me it's not an either or thing as a pastor. If you ask, am I going to evangelize or am I going to involve in social issues? It's both that we are called to do," he explained.
Jeffress, who often appears on major news networks to provide a Christian perspective on various issues, said it is important to know which type of Supreme Court justices each presidential candidate would select if elected into office.
"We are praying for God's will not only in the church house but in every court house," he stressed. "I believe that the preservation of America for the proclamation of the Gospel depends on the local church fulfilling its calling. The local church is the hope for America. But the local church fulfilling the mission depends on local pastors fulfilling their calling."