Politicians in the Pulpit

Front page news on the Sunday paper (Sunday Tribune – South Africa) this week was that a prominent South African politician was made a pastor by a group of independent Charismatic churches this past Saturday. Most of the readers would respond with “so what”. Well, this man was never trained for the ministry; in fact he is not even a christian! He views same-sex marriages and polygamy as acceptable and worse, has been accused a number of times of various sexual crimes as well as fraud and corruption on a grand scale. The fact that he has not been found guilty or that many of the accusations do not make it to trail is not a reflection of his innocence but rather his power to intimidate and manipulate the legal system. At the ceremony, a dog-collar (back-to-front collar) was placed around his neck and a “prayer was dedicated to him”. At the same time the “bishop” of this group of churches pledged the churches’ support for the politician during the upcoming presidential elections.

How can a notorious unbeliever with a highly tainted track record be appointed a shepherd of the church? And before you shake your head at what is happening in “Africa”. May I remind you that it was only last year that a world famous televangelist invited a strip-club owner and self-professed atheist to speak from his pulpit in Tampa, Florida in support of the strip club owner’s campaign for a County Commission seat. It has become common, all over the world, for churches to bestow all sorts of honor on politicians and to invite politicians to speak from the pulpits of churches. There may be many motives behind these “acts of diplomacy”. The motivations have little to do with the real questions: What is really behind this blurring of the lines between church and state and is it right?

In Jesus’ day there were two main groups of politicians. The Scribes and Pharisees were regarded as “rulers” amongst the Jews (Matthew 9:18) and over them were set the various levels of Roman governors (Luke 3:1). Yet, never once did Jesus invite these men to share the ministry with Him nor did He endorse them or approve of the way they did things. He simply required that men “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” (Matthew 22:21). He rebuked them for their deviousness (Luke 13:32) and reminded them that God was the higher authority. (John 19:11). When He was brought before Pilate, He was emphatic that His Kingdom was a heavenly one and that it had nothing to do with earthly Kingdoms. (John 18:36).

Paul, likewise, taught that we are to be subject and obedient to secular government (Romans 13:1-8), but he also did not endorse secular rulers. When Paul was brought into contact with secular rulers, his message was always the same – they needed to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus. (Acts 25, 26 & 28).

The only time that the New Testament speaks of cooperation between “church and state” is when it predicts events at the end of time. Revelation reveals the beast that comes out of the sea (Antichrist) and the beast that came out of the earth (False Prophet) (Revelation 13:1,11). This false prophet looked like a lamb (“christian”) but spoke like a dragon (demonic) and “causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast…” (Revelation 13:12-14).

When churches invite politicians to speak from their pulpits, bestow honor on them and endorse their campaigns they are not following the examples of Jesus or Paul. They are clearly operating in the spirit of the last days when the religious world will give authority to, endorse, and convince people to follow the Antichrist. Even in Daniel’s prophecies it is clear that the Kingdom of God does not co-exist with the kingdoms of this world, but rather, it will destroy and replace this world’s kingdoms.

Revelation 17 tells us about the Great Harlot – a religious system which some have compared with the Church of Rome. Not only does she represent the Roman Church but she indeed represents all forms of religion that is false and that does not form part of the other woman – the Bride of Christ. This false religious system commits fornication with the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:2), speaking of an illicit relationship between church and state. The true church has its relationship with her Bridegroom – the Lord Jesus Christ who is the King of Kings, while the false church has its relationship with the rulers of earthly kingdoms. Thus it becomes abundantly clear that any church which enters into a relationship with a politician is making an clear-cut statement – that it is indeed part of the false religious system and therefore part of the Great Harlot of Revelation. Not only does this false religious system seek to replace the true church, but it actually persecutes the true church and has become “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). Revelation 18 tells us that this system will be utterly destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

While we may be appalled by churches who flirt with, and court politicians, we should not be surprised at all. It has all been predicted and is additional proof of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you attend a church which hosts or endorses politicians, then you must flee from it. No good can come from it since the daughters of the Harlot will be destroyed with her. Do not think this kind of system can be reformed as it cannot – it is not neutral but fully in the camp of the Devil. All you can do is escape from there as soon as possible. If you are a Christian leader who is tempted to promote yourself and your church through such unholy alliances then you need to repent of your greed, pride and lust for power.

Don’t think that politicians will promote or protect your church. If you get into bed with the world’s systems, nothing will protect you against the wrath of the Lamb. But, if you remain faithful to Jesus, nothing, not even the gates of hell will prevail against the true church. There is no gray area on this issue. It is black and white – it is dark or light.

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-15)