• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Top 10 Reasons Pastors Should Avoid Politics

National Public Radio, among many other sources, features news of hundreds of American pastors attending workshops to learn how better to rally the faithful to a new round of culture wars.

Not that I want to rain on anyone’s parade, or crusade, but after giving the matter a little thought (and after setting out my views at rather too much length here), let me offer a few points for reflective hesitation among my clerical brothers and sisters.

TOP 10 REASONS PASTORS SHOULD AVOID POLITICS

10. Because no one trained you properly to get involved with politics—and a little seminar, however exciting, won’t make up for that yawning deficit. (Do you think politicians can be trained to be pastors by attending a seminar?)

9. Because no one hired you to get involved with politics. (And if they did, they shouldn’t have: See #10.)

8. Because pastors are supposed to call us toward the ideal and the ultimate, while politicians have to compromise over the real and the immediate.

7. Because the Scriptures (your main area of intellectual expertise—right?) are, at best, only suggestive and regulative over the field of politics (a quite different area of intellectual expertise—right? See #10 again).

6. Because you’ll alienate a considerable part of your constituency who see political matters differently, and will hold that difference against you, thus losing the benefits of your pastoral care and authority.

5. Because you need to consider the troubling fact that you’re not alienating a considerable part of your constituency, so why is your church so uniform in its politics?

4. Because governments come and go, and you need to reserve the sacred right to prophesy to whoever is in power.

3. Because politicians come and go, and you need to reserve the sacred right to comfort whoever is not, or no longer, in power.

2. Because politics brings out the worst in people, and you’re supposed to bring out the best in people.

1. Because politics brings out the worst in people, and unless you’re an exception (like Tommy Douglas), politics will bring out the worst in you.

Pastors, by all means think about politics and study about politics so that you can preach and call people to politics according to Biblically grounded principles and insight into the major trends of our time.

But leave the actual politics to actual politicians and political scientists.

(Remember that “foot” and “hand” thing, as someone, somewhere said?)