"Can you imagine if (Abolitionist William) Wilberforce said, 'I don't want to teach about the slave trade. I don't want to be political. I might turn off someone who needs to hear the gospel'?" So challenged New York Tmes best-selling author Eric Metaxes at an event about a week ago at Moody Church. Both he and Moody Senior Pastor Dr. Erwin Lutzer were comparing the church in Nazi Germany to the American Church today.
You see, just like the church in Nazi Germany refused to speak out against evil and injustice some 70 years ago, so the American Church is shirking its responsibility today. How often have you heard a pastor justify his silence on issues of abortion, gay marriage or state infringement of religious freedom by saying he doesn’t want to get political? What that pastor is really communicating is that he’s compartmentalizing his Christian faith. He’s fine with preaching a gospel that offers souls forgiveness and eternity in heaven. But, he refuses to preach a gospel that confronts sexual perversion – or resists a government that requires Christians to violate their consciences.
“(W)hat kind of gospel do you want to lead them to?” Metaxes asked. “Some kind of spineless, toothless gospel?’”
But increasingly, that is the American gospel. We’re afraid of offending liberal Christians. We’re afraid of offending seekers. And, we’re really afraid of losing our tax-exempt status. But, as Metaxes stated, “If every pastor were near the edge where he’s afraid he’ll have his 501c3 revoked . . . there’d be radical cultural change.”
The American church is losing battle after cultural battle. But, instead of becoming more bold, we’re becoming more timid. Just this week, I learned that the IRS is plowing ahead with plans to clamp down on conservative and religious non-profit groups. Yet, will pastors urge their congregations to resist? Will Christians bombard the administration with demands that the IRS cease its unlawful discrimination? I doubt it. But, as Pastor and Prophet Dietrich Bonhoeffer astutely observed, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” For once, the church should learn from its history, not repeat it.