“The Moral Force of the Pulpit”

Knilram / Foter

John Wingate Thornton wrote, “To the Pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our independence (Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, edited by Ellis Sandoz [Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Second Edition], x). Can the same be said today? Or has theological timidity or a distorted view of the role relationship of the Church and the Magistrate muted the prophetic voice of the Reformed and evangelical Church today? Apparently, it has not muted the Catholics.

I want to share a video produced by a Catholic advocacy group that pinpoints the nonnegotiable, central values which support all the other issues that are being raised in this season. This video is one of the most compelling presentations of the basic Biblical teachings that form the foundation of a sane civilization: the sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty. It puts economy and jobs in the right perspective. May we who are Reformed preachers and Christian ministries have the same courage as Roman Catholic Cardinal Dolan and his increasingly vocal parishes and ministries to speak up for the essentials. Even a cursory reading of the sermons of our spiritual forefathers in the 1700s shows a similar prophetic voice from the pulpits to the people in the pew and those serving the Magistrate. Oh that we might raise up a holy army of those who preach—John the Baptist-like—into the cultural confusion of our day. Yes, we preach that souls may be saved first and always. But we give that message with the warnings to all that to deny Christ and to disregard Biblical truth is to head towards destruction (ala Romans 1).

Watch this very well done, brief and poignant video by a Roman Catholic group:


Our Biblical-theological-ecclessiastical differences not withstanding, I believe that if the Puritan preachers first promoted religious liberty (and thus the other liberties that naturally flow from that one primal fountainhead), then the Catholics may now be the ones putting themselves on the front lines to preserve it. Good for them. And may the Reformed churches rise to preach the Gospel of Christ to this nation, with “all that He commanded” for life and godliness.

“And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32 ESV). That Word is needed to be preached now more than ever. That is the force which wins and preserves souls unto abundant life and eternal life.