Reasoning with Pastors - Introduction
From SaveTheWorld - a project of The Partnership Machine, Inc. (Sponsor: Family Music Center)
"How can I expect ANYONE to search and think logically", a question asked of me recently, is what I have been troubling God over for decades. I never imagined so simple a change in human habits could be such a "mountain".
How naive I was. I actually thought all that was necessary to get churches to follow the Bible's recommendations for how Christians should interact in their meetings, was to show pastors the Scriptures about that. I actually thought, back when I was young, that any Christian who believes the Bible would WANT to investigate any claim about what the Bible urges us to do, and upon confirmation of the claim, would hurry to obey!
Not! I've talked to hundreds of pastors - lengthy, detailed conversations about Scripture. No interest, and the startling thing is that very few of them even attempted to justify their rejection with Scripture. Rather, I hear "YOU want me to share MY pulpit?" (Fort Des Moines Open Bible pastor) "I'm not going to do THAT." (Carrie, ordained Open Bible pastor, divorced her husband shortly after.) "That's the way I operate my seminary in China on the border of North Korea for refugees from North Korea who want to go back. But the people here won't let me." (Young Kim, hotel owner so he can support his seminary, Korean pastor, left preaching shortly after but also stopped answering my emails) "I'm 60 years old. I've been doing church this way for decades. I can't change now [just because of a few dozen measly Scriptures]." (Terry Amann, Church of the Way, the pastor who I think most frequently spends time praying with lawmakers at the capitol.)
30 years ago, 1990, when I was a candidate for the Iowa legislature, I had hour-long interviews with the 30 pastors in my district about their theological reasons for not allowing information about any candidate or any government-entangled Biblical issue (called "politics") to be shared in any forum of their church.
Understanding the Noninvolvement Theologies. My two goals were to thoroughly understand their theological objections which had confused me in years prior, and second, to see if there were any accommodation they would consider of the need I see in Scripture to shine the "light" of what God says about national abominations out in the "darkness" outside the church walls - out in those forums where voters decide whether to pattern our laws after the principles of Heaven or of Hell.
No progress. There was to be no accommodation. No pulpit announcements, no bulletin boards, no permission for those handful of members so inclined to meet on church property to organize to take action on issues identified in their pastor's sermons with which government had become entangled.
I never asked 'political involvement'. My goal was not to "involve" the pastor or the church politically, in any way that would jeopardize their nonprofit status. In fact, I had created The Partnership Machine, Inc with one of its official purposes, which was then approved at both the state and IRS level, of demonstrating how much political involvement a church and nonprofit can engage in within the confines of nonprofit law. Any church or nonprofit can spend up to 10% of its resources - time and money - endorsing and contributing to a candidate. Up to 20%, depending on the organizations gross receipts. But I never wanted any pastor or church to endorse or support anyone. I wanted members to be free to compile nonpartisan information, which reports accurately on all views. Nonprofit law has always allowed unlimited nonpartisan information.
Huh?!! Ironic and incomprehensible to me, that no pastor would allow nonpartisan information, since most pastors give occasional sermons that identify some of these government-entangled abominations, and pastors in some churches even direct their followers in token political action. Yet even when such a sermon moves a member to action to right the wrong identified in the sermon, and the member asks the pastor for permission to announce to others an opportunity to act together, he is ordinarily told he may not communicate in church about it, but it would be fine for him to meet elsewhere with others to take action. The problem being that others aren't inspired by the same sermons, they do not share the same Biblical understanding, and there are no forums where they can reason with each other to get on the same page Biblically, because "Christian Activists", as they call themselves, are afraid of losing "credibility" if they publicly quote the Bible in support of their political positions. It becomes nearly a game, to think of every other reason to tell the public why you support a position, than the reason that actually persuaded you: because it is the Bible's position. `
My book. I tape recorded most of those interviews, for my own study. At that time there was no internet to post them. No access to radio or TV that I had. There were books, and I had started publishing the Prayer & Action Weekly News, and my studies of pastors' answers resulted in my first self-published book, "The Gift of Governments". Subtitle: "An assault on the noninvolvement theologies crippling the Armies of God."
I didn't name names. But I didn't name any pastors or churches in the book; although no pastor had told me his conversation was "off the record", and the pastors knew I published the Prayer & Action News, I hadn't specifically told anyone I intended to report our conversations; indeed I had not foreseen any reason to. (I have not posted the book online yet. Here is a 9 page summary.)
In the years since, I have had similarly in-depth conversations with hundreds more pastors, many while spending months or years as members of their churches. Never before now have I published my records of those dialogs. By now I have lost track of most of that information. I thought often of publishing those conversations, but I refrained myself. Although they were never officially confidential, they seemed confidential, and I felt certain that publishing them would irritate the pastors. Besides, what was the point? If I could not persuade a pastor to conform his routines to those the Word of God urges, even after in many cases agreeing with me and in no case seriously refuting me, who else would care? And indeed today I have no idea if anyone will want to read any of this writing which consumes so much of my labor in these final years of my life.
Now I'm REALLY in trouble. Especially since what I ask of pastors and all Christians has grown: not only are "Noninvolvement Theologies" censoring political action like that of every "example of faith" in Hebrews 11, but it is displaced by a meeting format with zero Biblical support, in which the messages of only one person fill the weekly meeting considered most essential, and the subjects of secondary meetings are similarly chosen by a single person, from which digressions are discouraged from going on much longer than about a minute - especially if they stray too near "politics".
Tradition doesn't cripple just 'politics'. In other words, my original concern was to allow members to discuss, strategize, and act together against Darkness - a thing prohibited by Noninvolvement Theologies though that was the activity of every Example of Faith in Hebrews 13, which helps us understand the meaning of "governments" which 1 Corinthians 12:28 lists as a Holy Spirit Gift. Now I am even more concerned that no subject of concern to members may be deliberately, seriously addressed by a Christian group meeting in the name of Jesus, that is not pre-selected by a "leader", even though several passages, especially 1 Corinthians 14, call upon "all" members to verbally interact, with the freedom to share whatever is "revealed" to them.
In other words, a tradition of men has thoroughly displaced the Commandment of God in virtually all the churches of modern America.
Time to publish. Now, on the eve of Memorial Day, 2020, after another hour of prayer, I sense it is time to begin posting those records which I still have.
Beginning with Pastor Terry Amann, whose response to me has been the most incomprehensible of any pastor I have ever talked with. Because he thoroughly agrees with me that churches are wrong to suppress political action; he has personally prayed outside Planned Barrenhood for years, and he shows up at the Iowa state capitol more than any other pastor, and is called upon regularly to pray at political meetings. AND he even complains that other pastors don't show up at political events!
He permitted me to announce a separate meeting according to my vision. I was allowed to speak for at least a minute about it, and hand out a 2-page flier with Scriptural basis, which I am not sure anyone read. This is more as much as any previous pastor has ever allowed me! (Only one other pastor, Young Kim, whose personal ministry included a seminary he supported on the North Korean border inside China, allowed me to have open-ended Bible discussions But after only three people showed up for only one meeting, he had little further interest in discussing whether the Bible indeed calls for it. Which leaves his meetings like those of every other "church": in which there is virtually no opportunity for the kinds of discussion and strategizing necessary for corporate action during scheduled meetings; there is zero discussion during his primary "worship service", and he unilaterally chooses the approved topic of his secondary meeting, without asking what anyone wants or needs to know.
This will not embarrass any pastor... I mean seriously, who is going to read this, well I could stop there because who will, but who will read it AND conclude that I am the one who is right and the pastor is the one who is wrong? I have been waiting many years to meet such a person! (Well actually I mean who will agree to the extent of wanting to act in accordance? I have met several who say they agree but will not so act. People who say they agree I am right about the Scriptures but wrong in caring so much about them.) I am not posting these reports with any expectation of embarrassing any of these pastors, because I have not met anyone with my concern for the Scriptures that give me a vision of America's healing. My expectation is that if anyone will be humiliated by these reports, it will be me. But my hope - and experience has not supported this hope either - is that some patient soul somewhere on this planet may find this article against their will, and take the time to explain to me what I am missing.
...but myself only. I find myself utterly alone in the urgency of my concern and my restlessness to find others ready to meet together in a way that accepts the rest of the blessings God is waiting for His People "who are called by My Name" to accept.
Which raises another question: if no one else will stand with me, doesn't that prove I am wrong? But if I am wrong, won't someone, anyone, show me where I am wrong? That hasn't happened yet, unless you count objections I have heard, and have answered, at which point the conversation ended without identifying error in my answers.
Another question this raises, which I need to put together an article about: If no one will act on what I see in Scripture, does that prove I am wrong?