Sunday, October 07, 2012

Happy Pulpit Freedom Sunday!

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified and of course all of the reasons that a Christians should vote for a member of a polytheistic pagan religion instead of Barack Obama so that we can keep more of our tax money and build more warships (1 Corinthians 2:2, Pulpit Freedom Sunday Standard Version)

In case you missed it, today is "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" here in God's most favorite country, the United States of 'Merica! Many of you will be blessed to get up early this morning, find the most culturally appropriate outfit to wear for you and the kiddies and dutifully head to a local church where the pastor will let you know who God wants you to vote for in this election. They will do so in the hopes of offending Caesar and provoking a court battle to preserve the permanent right to tell the laity who to vote for year after year. Because that is the most pressing need for the church this morning. Not feeding the poor. Not equipping the saints for the work of ministry. Not preaching Christ and Him crucified. Oh no, today for 1000+ pastors is all about sticking it to The Man, missing entirely the irony of demanding tax breaks simultaneously from the aforementioned Man .

Like Alan Knox I was at first excited by this idea, hoping it was a freedom from pulpits day where the entire brotherhood of the saints was encouraged to participate in the gathered church. I am all in favor of freeing the church from the pulpit culture! Alas that was not what this meant. No, what "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" is all about is the God given right of clergy to tell the laity who they should vote for and especially in this case to do so in the hopes of stirring up the IRS. What utter foolishness.

If you "go to church" this morning and the pastor endorses a candidate from the pulpit, may I suggest you politely ask him afterward how exactly that helped equip you for the work of ministry for the upcoming week? I am all for people being informed but since most of the church only gathers for an hour a week, isn't that time far too precious and limited to spend on a sermon about American politics and picking fights over tax breaks? If we really want to change America as the church it won't happen at the ballot box. It will happen in the soup kitchen and the crisis pregnancy center, in the orphanage and the widows home. It will happen when we equip all Christians to take the Gospel to the streets and the homes of this most religious country so they can tell others that religion means nothing and Christ means everything. It will happen when we all are about the task of the Kingdom. It will never happen when one among us tells the rest of us who to vote for. Long after all of those pulpits are dust God will ask us for an accounting of our days. Let's not be in a position of telling Him how informed we were about political issues and how faithfully we exercised our civic duty to vote. I don't think He will be impressed.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, the pastors to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. inform the church that they should vote for Candidate A rather than Candidate B in the upcoming American elections (Ephesians 4:11-14, Pulpit Freedom Sunday Standard Version)


Unknown said...

So what does an average Sunday- or other worship day if you make such a distinction, look like for you and your family Arthur? On what basis do you share the Lord's Supper with people?

Arthur Sido said...

We tend to spend Sunday at home as a family. As far as the Lord's Supper, we make an effort to share meals with other Christians as often as we can. Now if you mean how often do we sit in a pew and eat a little nibble of bread or an oyster cracker that has prayed over by a clergyman? Never. Nor do I have an interest in that.

Mr. VonDoloski said...

So you make no distinction between the Lord's Supper and any meal with another Christian family? When Does your wife wear a head covering? how would you go about baptizing a friend from work if he were converted?

Mr. VonDoloski said...

So there is no distinction in your mind between the Lord's Supper and dinner with other Christians? Before Dinner do you examine yourself for 'worthiness' considering the body and blood of Christ? What would you do if your child came to you and wanted to be baptized?

Arthur Sido said...


My wife wears a head covering at all times when she is awake. As far as baptizing a friend from work or my own child, I would be happy to baptize them in the nearest body of water. There is no Biblical precedence for someone having to wait for an interview, or be baptized by an "ordained" clergyman or to be required to become a member of a "local church".

As far as the Lord's Supper, I think a meal in fellowship with other believers is far more in keeping with the example and spirit of the Lord's Supper as we see in Scripture than a ritualized passing of bits of bread and plastic cups of grape juice.

Arthur Sido said...

On a broader note, you seem to come at these questions from the standpoint of traditions being the default until proven otherwise. If we examine the traditional church rituals and forms from an even standing, rather than assuming them to be correct because we are familiar with them, we see them for what they are: Protestantized Roman Catholic traditions. The traditions we associate with church have their foundation in the Roman Catholic Mass and "priesthood" rather than Scripture. This makes sense when you look at church history, the Reformers recovered the Gospel but they merely modified the forms that Rome already had in place (i.e. infant baptism, a professional and distinct clergy, ritualization of the gathering).

Unknown said...

If you read my remarks again, they are only questions. You are imposing supposed tradition bias on my part.
"you seem to come at these questions from the standpoint of traditions being the default until proven otherwise"

However, I do think when the issues are not crystal clear that we should hold to tradition developed over hundreds/thousands of years and examine them in light of what the Scriptures teach. When something is unbiblical we should reject it. I am trying to understand your challenges to tradition in light of Scripture.

Arthur Sido said...

Joe, when you reference thousands of years of tradition, you are right on the money. For most of the time between the cross and today, church traditions were formed by Rome and those are the same traditions we have modified but still practice. I don't think that the issues I am raising are unclear at all from Scripture but even in some places where they might be I don't think that using modified Roman traditions as our source is helpful or wise, and hundreds of years of divided Protestantism is proof positive that we missed a lot when the Reformers recovered the Gospel.

Unknown said...

So when you have a large meal with one or more families and view that as the Lord's Supper - At what point are the unbaptized, unregenerate children or people excluded from the Supper? I totally understand your rejection of the shot and cracker but wondering how your "overcorrection" works. Is there anything said at the dinner to indicate we are now examining ourselves? Or is it more implied with heads of households expected to prepare each of their family members beforehand? How is there, (if any) a distinction in this meal to any other meal? Thanks,

Richard said...

Arthur? Joseph is asking valid questions. Is there any distinction in these meals? Thanks.
P.S. Your blog is very good reading.

Arthur Sido said...

hey Joe (and Richard)

Sorry, got caught up in election stuff and left some questions unanswered.

There certainly is a sense in which the church gathered for meals specifically for the purpose of remembering the Lord ("...when you come together"). Yet we also see the church breaking bread, i.e. sharing meals, on a daily basis. There is not a good solution in the present church structure. I guess the best solution would be to drop the "sit in the pew and pass the plate" model entirely and plan meals among the church that are designated as Lord's Supper meetings. I am not sure to what extent most Christians are willing to do this.