Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We should pray for other's salvation, not for their damnation

I came across a news article online yesterday that really bugged me. It concerns a Pastor by the name of Steven Anderson. He pastors the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ.

Recently, he preached a message titled "Why I Hate Barack Obama." He told the congregation that he prays for the death of the President, and he encourages the congregants to do likewise. He would like for the President to be stricken with brain cancer and die in a fashion similar to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Anderson does say, however, that he does not condone killing. I am not sure how he can say that, though, as he prays for the President to die and go to hell.

This is wrong on so many levels. First, in the interest of full disclosure, it must be said that I do not approve of the way the President is leading our country, nor do I approve of his policies. However, to disagree with another person, including the President, is fine. This is one of the hallmarks of democracy - that we have the freedom to disagree with the President without fear of reprisal or retribution. I do not wish ill-will, pain, injury, or death on the President. I would like to see someone different in that office, but this change should come through the electoral process and not through imprecatory prayers.

First, a pastor has no business preaching messages such as this. The pulpit is a place to preach the Bible, not a place to make political statements. The pulpit is place where the Bible is preached to show us how to live. The pulpit is a place to preach messages based on Biblical principles, not messages based on one's personal, earthly feelings.

Second, messages preached in churches should be based on the Bible. How many Biblical principles is this man breaching by preaching in this manner? I am sure that there are many more, but here is a small list that I came up with.
  1. Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will. This passage tells us that God is in control. He knows what He is doing.
  2. II Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God is telling us here that He wants all to be saved from eternity in hell to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Not everyone will get saved, but that is the goal that we are to strive for. So to pray for someone to die and go to hell is in direct violation of Scripture.
  3. Romans 13:1-2 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Again, God is in control and He has set the earthly government in place. As long as they are not asking us to do anything against God, we are to be subject to them.
  4. I John 2:10-11 - He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes. I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.
  5. I John 3:15 - Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Can it get any more clear than this?

Unfortunately, this preacher does more to harm the cause of Christ than he does to help it out. It is people like this that hurt the witnessing opportunities of Christians. How is preaching this sort of message any different than preaching that sexual promiscuity is OK? How is it any different than preaching that stealing is permitted? or murder? or any other sin?

This man claims to be a Pastor. He is a leader, a shepherd. He should know these Bible passages. He should know that we are to pray for our leaders, that God would give them wisdom on how to lead this country, how to make wise decisions. He should know that anyone can be saved, regardless of the life they currently live.

While I was in college at Bob Jones University, Dr. Bob Jones III has a recurring statement in chapel to remind us of the plight of mankind should they choose not to accept Christ - "The most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to hell today." Someone dying and going to an eternity in hell is not something that should be cheered. This is something that we must address with others, regardless of who they are, so that they do not face a God-less eternity.

We should approach our elections seriously. We should avail ourselves of the opportunity to vote. Regardless of the outcome, we are to pray for those who are elected, whether or not we voted for them or agree with them. We are commanded to do this. They need our prayers. And while you are praying for them, remember to pray for their salvation. You never know what events may transpire that can lead to someone getting saved.

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