Sunday, March 7, 2021

Speaking truth to power. . .

I cannot tell you how often I hear or read the expression A Church that will not speak truth to power is not a Church that proclaims Jesus Christ.  It is constantly invoked by those who advocate for social change.  But when that change is the darling of the media and the political cause of the day, it is hard to say that such a church is being prophetic or faithful.  Speaking truth to power has become the byword of those who wish to address everything from injustices of the past to social change.  I have to admit I am tired of this expression.

Jesus did little to challenge the authority of or the state of the government in Israel.  Though He was accused of insurrection and rebellion, He was hardly a radical.  His concern was not the reform of a nation but the rescue of the sinner captive to sin and death.  The truth He spoke to power was not a call for radical redirection but the recovery of what had been lost by the faithless stewardship of those who were charged with maintaining the voice of the law and the prophets before Him who came to fulfill them.  I am leery of churches that presume to inform the government and our leaders at every turn and of groups that presume to inform the Church of the pulse of the people.  Neither is really being prophetic at all and this is not what speaking truth to power ought to mean.

Our calling, the exclusive calling of the Church, is to confess Jesus Christ faithfully before the world.  Indeed, no one else has this charge and no one else will do what the Church is given to do.  It is not that we should forget the poor or the victims of oppression.  We should not.  But this mission flows from the primary calling of the Church to confess Jesus Christ faithfully before the world and does not replace or substitute for this proclamation of the Gospel.  When we speak truth to power, we are addressing Satan and his minions -- the powers that rule this world.  We are confronting those whom Christ confronted with His own suffering and death and we are confessing the redemptive power of His sacrifice for any and all who believe.  

I get a little uneasy when churches establish government offices to speak truth to power.  More often than not, the truth that is spoken is not Jesus Christ but the progressive social agenda adopted by those churches -- and one that bears little resemblance to the cause of Christ and the witness of Scripture.  There are some church leaders who have an opinion on everything but whose voice ends up standing for nothing.  It becomes merely an echo chamber of their own hubris.  This is not the concern of Christ whose kingdom is in but not of the world or reflective of St. Paul who counseled the slave not to leave his master but to relate to that master differently because of their common faith.  Again, I am not at all suggesting that we should ignore or abandon the plight of the poor and the oppressed but I am saying that advocacy is not what Jesus commends in Matthew 25 but actual works of mercy and love.  We are and should be doing what Christ did and not presuming to think for Christ or speak for Him where He has not spoken.

In our age speaking truth to power is calling out a nation entranced by gender shaped by feelings instead biology, challenging the redefinition of marriage that weakens the family and does not add anything to God's design, and an antagonism to personal liberty which threatens to shut down the voice of the Church except behind the closed doors of Sunday morning.  Speaking truth to power in our age means challenging social media platforms, the media, and big business -- all of whom have conspired against the morality of Scripture when it comes to marriage, family, sex, gender, and the protection of life.  This is the speaking truth to power that our age needs.  Instead, we have found church leaders and even a pope who presumes to meddle in politics while remaining silent in the face of such affront to God's revealed will and purpose.  In our age, our church leaders across the denominations have succumbed to the power and influence of political leaders in suggesting that the Church is not essential and that government can decide who can worship, when they can worship, and what goes on in worship.  Speaking truth to power means telling the government that they have no such authority.  But you will not hear much of this from those who claim to speak on behalf of Christ.  Instead, the more vocal voices of the churches have toed the party line with respect to sex, morality, life, abortion, and gender and they have deluded themselves into thinking that this is what Jesus called us to do in proclaiming Him to be the Way, the Truth, and the Light (John 14:6).

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