Costly Change in Politics
Perhaps you have heard the news of the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of the evangelical megasized The Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He preached a sermon series to make clear his views on the intersection of faith and politics and in the process lost 1,000 members. An AOL news article reports,
The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?In the accompanying unscientific poll at the site with 417,241 votes in, 55% of those reading the article agreed with Boyd's views. Boyd has recently written a book, The Myth of a Christian Nation.
After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul—packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals—was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.
But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.
I think no matter how one feels about his views there was integrity in preaching them knowing that clarity would come with a cost. What do you think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church