Rev. Wright, Politics, and the Pulpit

I feel compelled to post about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Recently, I was in Chicago and heard him give two lectures in a seminary chapel. Both of these lectures were about racism and reconciliation. They were fantastic lectures and Rev. Wright was thoroughly generous and gracious. He even referenced the clips going around the news and YouTube-- this was before it became such huge media frenzy by the way. He was very clear that he regretted some of his comments in those sermons. However, he was very clear that we obviously have a gospel-sized problem here in this country and especially in the church. We are divided. Some of us are more privileged than others due to decades of unfair social and political policies. And the majority of Christians, especially those with the power, have often sat idly by and ignored these problems. Does not the gospel compel us to change our world? Does not the gospel compel us to affect the social and political landscape around us? Wright focused much of his first lecture on what is wrong in the church and the need for the prophetic function of the pastor to challenge this reality (using prophet the way it is most often used in scripture as one who calls out the people and exposes their sin-- not in the future-teller sense). and the second lecture was about the pastor as priest who must help bind up the wounds of those in pain and hurt (on all sides) in this political reality.

My friend Travis has posted his own ideas about Rev. Wright and politics in the pulpit. I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing. I hate it when pastors get on some political rant in the pulpit. Nevertheless, I find the gospel deeply political-- we declare Jesus as Lord rather than Caesar as Lord. Our citizenship is in heaven not in this earth. We are called to be transformed and to transform-- ourselves and our world. I definitely see my friend's point and agree in a lot of ways. But I also fear that many Christians think faith is a private matter that does not or should not have political and public ramifications.

What are your thoughts? Do politics and gospel go hand-in-hand? Or should politics be banned from the pulpit?


  1. As always, it depends on your definition of "politics" - Politics is part of the "real world" realm that the gospel is supposed to affect and transform, so at some point one must, I think, draw lines from the implications of the gospel to the hard realities of world politics and institutional realities.

    I think it's extremely important to figure out how to get it right, though, because I don't think the way of the Religious Right is the way to do that (or the Religious Left, for that matter - neither takes enough count of the church as the agent of the kingdom, in my opinion).

    It's an issue I'm hoping to wrestle through, so I just bought several books by Hauerwas - he seems to have a way forward that is neither traditionally "conservative" or "liberal". It's a good sign when liberals blast him for being so conservative and conservatives blast him for being too liberal. Anyone that misunderstood must be saying something good (well, probably).

  2. I love Hauerwas's book The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics and his Hauerwas Reader. Both explore the idea of politics very well. Hauerwas is what I call a true conservative-- that is why many in Christian right can't stand him. He believes in the church as polis and as such means that we can't see our allegiance to the United States, thus angering many Christians.