While a growing number of pastors appear to be pushing the envelope more than ever when it comes to mixing the Gospel with political opinions and in some cases endorsements, one well-known Christian leader said it's time to quit obsessing on candidates and party platforms.
"It's sad," Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in South Carolina wrote in his blog published Wednesday. "…[B]ut I believe that there would be way more celebration in many mainline churches if Mitt Romney won the election than there would be if one sinner repented of their sins the following Sunday! I have a question for Republicans and Democrats alike…how is putting your hope in a political savior going for you?"
Noble, whose church averages 16,000 people in attendance during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state, believes it's "never pretty when the church crawls in bed with politics."
He said he wrote the post, "The Church & Politics = A Mess!" because there has seemingly been an outpouring of pastors "declaring to the people in their church who they should vote for."
Noble goes on to describe the failings of the current administration and the previous one under George W. Bush in order to illustrate that he was not picking on a particular party. Rather, he wanted to point out that pastors may be leading their congregations to a "false messiah."
Some pastors have been spurred on to talk about politics from the pulpit by groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based legal team that sponsored Pulpit Freedom Sunday held on Oct. 7.
Registration for the event increased from 100 pastors two years ago to nearly 1,500 pastors this year. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is meant to challenge the Internal Revenue Service's regulations that restrict religious leaders from endorsing candidates and discussing policies with their congregations.
However, many pastors such as Noble restrain themselves from making political endorsements in order to keep preaching the Gospel the top priority.
"All too often churches are seemingly becoming obsessed with our government passing legislation regarding abortion, homosexual marriage and other hot button topics, believing that the passing of a particular law will somehow stop the downward spiral our country is obviously on," Noble wrote.
"PLEASE understand me when I say that while we should pay attention to what our government is doing…the REAL issue the church has been called to deal with is the condition of the human heart," he continued. "Yes, our country is in desperate need of change…but the kind brought about when God's grace collides with our sinfulness."
Addressing pastors he writes, "As a person meets Jesus and then walks closer with Him they are WAY LESS LIKELY to plunge into the destructive behaviors that hurt them and others…which is why we MUST be obsessed pointing people to Jesus rather than our political preferences!"
Noble, whose latest book is Unleashed! Breaking Free From Normalcy, believes that politics are more suited for changing laws and not for changing the condition of the human heart.
He concludes that the "church should NEVER sell itself out to a lesser vision of temporary change rather than eternal impact that is brought about through the preaching of the Gospel!"