A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Should Hugo Chavez Be Given a Pulpit?

Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, addressed a crowd of people at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem today, as he announced his country would give discounted home heating oil to qualified low-income families.

Here is my question? Should the President of Venezuela, or any politician for that matter, be allowed to speak from the pulpit of a church?

My answer to that is absolutely not! Under no circumstances would I turn over the pulpit of the church I serve to a politician: foreign or domestic, socialist or capitalist, Democrat or Republican; and I would not care one wit if he or she were giving away heating oil or Cracker Jacks!

Why would I not do this? It has nothing to do with the notion of the separation of the church and state, which is an idea that ultimately domesticates the church making it irrelevant for society. It is also not because the church should stay away from politics. I want the church in politics; it is difficult to read the New Testament without seeing the intrincially political nature of the gospel.

The reason politicians should not be given a pulpit from which to speak is that the politics of God's Kingdom transcends and is more profound than the earthly politics of the nation-state. Pastors who allow their pulpits to be used for the stump speeches of people hoping to be elected and/or to push their own narrow political agendas, allow their pulpits to be demeaned because such "sermons" cheapen the politics of the Kingdom.

Any politician is welcome on any given Sunday to visit our church and worship with us; but under no circumstances will she or he be permitted to step into the pulpit, which is only reserved for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that puts all nations and all leaders on notice that they are on borrowed time. Jesus is Lord because he has been raised from the dead. It is God and not the nations who rules the world.

As the Psalmist says, "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save. When their spirits depart, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (146:3-5).

The Emperor Constantine died many centuries ago; unfortunately his ghost is still with us.

Am I wrong? Please weigh in.


Ted M. Gossard said...


I agree. And very well stated.

Only if such a person would do so as a member of the body of Christ, ministering their gift in the Lord- should they have any platform in a church. Just like any other Christian of the fellowship.

And never as a platform to talk of what they're doing politically. My problem with that is whatever is done as church must be in keeping with the identity and calling/mission of the church. And as you say, though it is to impact this world in a down to earth way, it is of a kingdom which transcends it, and puts this world's kingdoms on notice, that they are on borrowed time.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Well said. My big problem with this kind of thing is that the church ends up taking its cues from the nations of the world, when we ought to be setting the agenda by our witness.

Anonymous said...

Hugo shouldn't even be allowed in the country much less in anyone's pulpit. And the oil-for-poor is designed more to aggravate our government than to help people who are in need.

Allan R. Bevere said...


I have no problem with him being in the country since the UN is in New York. What I have a problem with is what I truly believe is the demeaning of the pulpit and the subsuming of the politics of the Kingdom under the politics of nation-state.

I also do not think that churches should host people who are simply going to go on a tirade against someone else. I do not care if his name calling was leveled at George Bush or Bill Clinton; they were quite inappropriate words to come from a church pulpit, and I do not think a pastor should allow that.

Anonymous said...

"..the pulpit, which is only reserved for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...puts all nations and all leaders on notice that they are on borrowed time. Jesus is Lord because he has been raised from the dead. It is God and not the nations who rules the world."

Excellent phraseology!!

Mr. Gossard makes a nice point, that if a politician was a Christian and part of a church, of course he/she should be allowed to particpate in the Life of the Body. but I do think you were simply speaking of a politician using the pulpit for political purposes.

(Question though, how do you draw that line between politics and bibilcal morality? For example, the issue of abortion is a hot political one these days, but is also of great moral and religous concern. I think churches don't speak enough about such matters, because they are afraid of been perceived as "political." Wondering what you think?)

I agree with Wes that Hugo Chavez should not be allowed in our country...as for the UN being in New York, maybe the UN shouldn't be allowed in our country either :) (I am being facetious, with just a hint of true opinion!!)

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your comments.

As to your question: I think the Gospel is inherently political, so I do not think it is a matter of whether or not the church is political, it is what kind of politics Christians are going to embody as a church.

You mention abortion which is a perfect case in point. I agree that abortion is wrong and the church should say so, but I think that Christians in America have been somewhat "duped" (perhaps too strong of a word?)into playing the political game in the same way as everyone else. The church has become just one more special interest group. I actually blogged about this in May and specifically mentioned the abortion issue. Check out the post and tell me what you think.


As far as the UN goes, I have some issues with that body as well. The idea of a United Nations sounds great, but I am beginning to wonder about its significance. I also had some things to say about that as well. Here is the link:


Thanks so much for your thoughts!