There was a time when pastors provided intellectual and spiritual leadership for the entire community they served. Recognizing the need for people to be able to face the challenges of faith in a world of creeping secularism, they taught a Bible-based, Christian worldview.
They hoped church members would go into the world, stand for truth, combat sin, and confront evil. It is interesting how even President Obama co-opted the phrase once heard in churches -- "fired up and ready to go" -- in his campaign speeches.
Now it's time for pastors to take back the position of chief teacher of apologetics and biblical values in their communities. That's why the American Pastors Network has launched the national "We Will Stand" campaign.
This new campaign is based on a simple but powerful idea: Invite America's pastors to band together and stand for biblical truth in the public square. That means preaching passionately the whole counsel of God, from a biblical worldview that communicates the priority of the Gospel to a fallen, broken humanity.
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But that's just one part of what "We Will Stand" means.
Ministers pledge not only to introduce biblical truth, but also through apologetical teaching -- the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of Bible information -- and will instruct congregations to defend that truth against the major objections members will encounter in a secular society.
As author Nancy Pearcey puts it, "A religion that avoids the intellectual task and retreats to the therapeutic realm of personal relationships and feelings will not survive in today's spiritual battlefield."
Pastors who take the pledge agree to do the following:
1.) Preach passionately ...
... and exhort church members to apply biblical principles to their own lives, the lives of their family, and the culture of their neighborhood, state, and country.
2.) Pray fervently ...
... and with faith, obedience, discipline, and fasting.
3.) Encourage congregations ...
... to be savory salt and brilliant light by engaging the culture with truth, practicing good citizenship, and voting informed and effectively by supporting candidates who uphold biblical principles.
4.) Engage as ministers together ...
... with civic leaders through prayer, encouragement and education on critical issues.
In reality, apologetics is an answer to the "why" question after you've already answered the "what" question. The "what" question is, "What is the Gospel?" But when you call people to believe in the Gospel and they ask, "Why should I believe that?" -- then you need apologetics, as Tim Keller explained in his article, "In Defense of Apologetics."
A few weeks ago, a large group of concerned citizens, many of whom were Christians, heard Thomas Shaheen of the Pennsylvania Family Institute talk about the difference between "freedom of worship" versus "freedom of religion" -- a distinction lost on many people.
You see, when President Obama and progressives speak of "freedom of worship," they mean that pastors and congregants should be free to speak freely inside the four walls of their church but not outside the church.
As long as you keep your faith compartmentalized and personal, you can say what you want within the church walls. If you worship or speak outside the church -- at work, at school, at civic assemblies, in the military -- the president says it is not religious worship, so the federal government can regulate how and what you do. The First Amendment contains no such restrictions.
The "We Will Stand" campaign focuses on rebutting, refuting, and standing against such indefensible attacks on religious freedom.
"ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have ... do this with gentleness and with respect." (1 Peter 3:15b)
The Hon. Sam Rohrer, who is working on a new book, "Making Sense of Nonsense," is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today's pressing issues. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for 18 years and a candidate for governor in 2010, and is co-host of the daily "Stand in the Gap Today" radio program.