<< BreakPoint Daily Commentary

Men in Black Robes: Revolutionary Preaching

The secular powers that be are putting pressure on pastors to limit their practice of the Christian faith to just the four walls of the local church.

That’s why the current administration has emphasized a restricted “freedom of worship” rather than the First Amendment’s robust guarantee of freedom of religion; it’s why believers concerned about the redefinition of marriage are being told to shut up and go along, and why organizations such as Catholic Charities face crushing fines if they don’t provide contraceptives to their employees.

Now of course, we all know that some churches and ministers have been accused of becoming too involved in partisan politics. Even when we’ve been right to enter the political arena for good causes, too often we have been self-righteous, a tad arrogant, and sometimes beholden to this party or that.

But just because sometimes we get it wrong doesn’t mean we should stop altogether. As G.K. Chesterton observed, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

Fortunately, we have plenty of good examples of how pastors can be effectively and biblically engaged in the issues of the day — pastors who stood tall as our Republic was being founded.

The Colson Center’s T.M. Moore points to certain men in black. “The British,” T.M. says, “referred to colonial pastors as the ‘Black Brigade,’ men in robes who fought against them by the words of their mouths as effectively as the colonial militia did with their weapons. To show their disdain of the American clergy, the British quartered their horses in the churches when they could.”

That harassment did not deter the clergy, however. “Many sermons urging the revolutionary cause,” T.M. says, “were printed as broadsides and circulated up and down the eastern seaboard, where they were read and discussed in what were called Committees of Correspondence. These ‘small groups’ were highly effective in preparing the ground for the Revolution.”

Now T.M. isn’t advocating a revolution — except, perhaps, in our thinking about the role of ministers in the American experiment. “Ministers helped to lead the way to a new country,” he says. “Their preaching was bold, visionary, and soundly biblical, and many of their sermons worked to rally their people to the patriotic cause, but within the framework of a Kingdom vision.”

That kind of preaching — and thinking — is rare in our churches today. And that’s why as we approach the Fourth of July, T.M.’s “Pastor to Pastor” e-newsletter is focusing on classic sermons from the revolutionary era: to encourage today’s pastors to rethink their own callings as preachers, especially in the light of our nation’s great need for revival, renewal, and awakening.

You — and your pastor — can get “Pastor to Pastor” in your inbox each day.  Please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and sign up.

Just to whet your appetite, here are the words of John Witherspoon, from his sermon "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men": “There is not a greater evidence either of the reality or the power of religion than a firm belief of God’s universal presence, and a constant attention to the influence and operation of his providence. It is by this means that Christians may be said, in the emphatic scripture language, ‘to walk with God, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible.’”

T M. says, “What our nation needs today is ‘greater evidence of the reality and the power of religion.’ Why is there so little evidence of these among the members of the Christian community today?”

For the answer, and for inspiration, please come to BreakPoint.org and sign up for “Pastor to Pastor” today!

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: June 10, 2013

More BreakPoint Daily Commentary Articles