AMERICA'S BASIC PROBLEM IS A PASTOR PROBLEM
By Pastor Chuck Baldwin
May 11, 2005
This column is especially difficult for me to write. Being a pastor for thirty years, I have come to know, love, and appreciate hundreds of fellow ministers. In fact, some of the dearest friends I have on earth are pastors.
Beyond that, since I am a veteran pastor, I know firsthand the trials and afflictions that beset every pastor. I doubt that there is a tougher, more demanding profession than that of local church pastor.
A pastor is never "off duty." He is literally on the job "twenty-four seven." For example, I cannot remember the last time my wife and I took a real vacation. It is even hard for me to remember the last time that I had a single day away from work, much less an entire week.
In addition, a pastor's work is, for the most part, vastly under- estimated and under-appreciated. And on the whole, his pay is barely adequate. His wife and children live under microscopes and virtually everyone lays claim to his time.
Furthermore, pastors are some of the most criticized and denigrated people on the planet! They constantly find themselves at the butt end of jokes and sarcasm from unbelievers and are even castigated and harangued by people within the church.
Therefore, it is no wonder that pastors are leaving the ranks at record numbers and are wandering from church to church like gypsies. No wonder so many pastors' children turn out bad, and no wonder so many pastors are having stress-induced heart attacks.
With all of that said, however, it still behooves me to very frankly say that America's basic problem today is a pastor problem! Our nation is collapsing from within because pastors are sitting idly on the sidelines, refusing to be trumpets for truth!
With all of the duties and responsibilities associated with the pastor's job description, no duty or responsibility is any greater than that of being God's watchman! Unlike any other, the pastor stands as a voice for truth in the midst of a cacophony of lies and distortions.
The pastor's job description cannot be written by a church committee, denominational council, the Chamber of Commerce, or the U.S. Congress. His job description has already been written. It is contained within the pages of Holy Scripture.
Upon close examination, one can clearly see that one of the most important of all the preacher's duties is that duty which God gave to Isaiah: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression." (Isa. 58:1) Furthermore, Isaiah was not the only under-shepherd to receive such a charge.
God told Jeremiah, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant." (Jer. 1:10)
Remember, too, that John the Baptist went to prison and eventually lost his head, not for preaching the Gospel, but for boldly denouncing Herod's adulterous relationship with his brother's wife. Furthermore, the boldness of men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist has been the pattern of genuine preachers throughout history.
Men of God throughout the ages have possessed the same sort of grit and character as was found in Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Simon Peter, and the Apostle Paul. They were courageous, uncompromising men! They feared no man, be he politician or potentate! They attempted to please no man or group of men! They were untouchable, incorruptible, indefatigable proclaimers of truth!
When Germany and Switzerland needed reformation, there was Luther and Zwingli. When Scotland needed liberation, there was William Wallace, supported by numerous Scot preachers. When England needed someone to help rid it of slavery, there was Wilberforce and his band of committed clergymen.
America, especially, has enjoyed a plethora of firebrand preachers. In fact, the American revolution would never have taken place but for the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, John Witherspoon, John Leland, and hundreds like them.
So, what has happened to the current generation of preachers? How is it that there is such a dearth of leadership from America's pulpits? Where is the loud, clarion call for truth? Where are the preachers who are willing "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down"? Where are the courageous, fearless, undaunted men who would rather die than compromise?
Instead of championing truth, today's pastors champion political parties. They cater to wealthy contributors. They wiggle around controversy and grovel before government bureaucrats.
With an all-consuming passion to "succeed," they avoid preaching "negative" sermons. They take great pains to never be confrontational. Their current pastorate is merely a "stepping stone" to the next big opportunity. They read all the latest and greatest "how to" books. Their messages are more noted for what they do not say, and they don't mind talking about sin as long as they don't have to name it.
Of course, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that today's avant garde preachers are being cheered on by a host of friends and supporters. After all, look at the "big" churches in America today. What do you see? Do you see "big" pastors marching in pro-life rallies? Do you see them carrying placards outside of abortion clinics? Do you see them rushing to the side of Terri Schaivo? (In this regard, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was willing to do what not one "big-name" evangelical leader was willing to do. Amazing!) Do you hear them challenging President Bush when he refuses to assist Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore or when he increases federal spending for abortion providers or when he appoints numerous open homosexuals to high public office?
Make no mistake about it, the actions and inactions of "big-name" pastors are meticulously calculated. They have been well-schooled in the art of what is socially and politically acceptable and what is not. And they are rewarded, are they not, with bigger and bigger congregations and greater and greater notoriety? So, where is the incentive for the "little" preacher to speak out?
For example, I could not count the numbers of people who have privately told me how much they appreciate my public stand for this issue or that. They have slapped me on the back and said, "Go get 'em." But, where do they attend church? Where do they give their financial contributions? At the "big" church where the pastor won't say "boo" to the devil. Whether they attend my church or not is not the point, of course. I'm only attempting to point out that the American people have chosen with their feet and with their wallets what kind of pastors they want!
However, is not the man of God instructed to be faithful "in season and out of season"? I would further argue that when truth is unfashionable, the true prophet can be counted on to preach it with even more conviction and clarity!
As Martin Luther said, "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battle fields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."
In addition, has it ever been popular to be God's man? Did not the prophets and preachers in Bible days sometimes pay a horrific price to be faithful? In fact, try to name a Bible preacher that wasn't thrown in jail at least once! I submit that it has never been easy or popular to be a man of God, but what I want to know is, when did men of God decide that it should be?
I truly believe that if enough preachers would decide to be the courageous proponents of truth, as were our ancestors, and would determine to preach the truth without fear or favor regarding any person or political party, they could turn our ship of state around post-haste! I further believe that if they don't do it soon, it will be (if it's not already) too late.
Furthermore, if and when the funeral wreath is hung on the door of America, historians will correctly record that it was our pastors who let her die. Solve the pastor problem and America's basic problem is solved.
© 2005 Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved
[Editor's Note: There are only two forces in this world, 'Good and Evil', or one may say, 'Love and Hate'. Love (truth) saves, while evil destroys. Isn't it the job of pastors who profess to be 'Servants of the Lord' to confront evil, no matter where, or, in whom it may be? Thank you Pastor Baldwin for your courage and love of truth.]
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Chuck Baldwin is Founder-Pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. In 1985 the church was recognized by President Ronald Reagan for its unusual growth and influence.
Dr. Baldwin is the host of a lively, hard-hitting syndicated radio talk show on the Genesis Communications Network called, "Chuck Baldwin Live" This is a daily, one hour long call-in show in which Dr. Baldwin addresses current event topics from a conservative Christian point of view. Pastor Baldwin writes weekly articles on the internet http://www.ChuckBaldwinLive.com and newspapers.
I truly believe that if enough preachers would decide to be the courageous proponents of truth, as were our ancestors, and would determine to preach the truth without fear or favor regarding any person or political party, they could turn our ship of state around