The Hermit Consultant

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Once there was a church which decided that the church was not called to political involvement. Rather, they were called to preach the Word, and administer the sacraments. This pleased the whole congregation greatly and they gave themselves over to worship, and to the reformation of worship according to Scripture.

But then a curious thing happened. The more they devoted themselves to Word and sacrament, the more they found themselves embroiled in what some called political questions and controversies. They were confused about this, and so they asked a very wise man, a friend of their church in another city, about it. In another day and time, this man might have been called a prophet, or a monk, or a hermit, but the people of this church just thought he was a consultant.

“What do you mean by politics?” he asked them. They all looked at one another. “We don’t know,” they said. After discussing it for a short time, they said, “We used to be very active in supporting candidates, gathering petitions, getting out the vote, that sort of thing. We don’t do that any more, but since we quit, the non-believers around us have become increasingly agitated, and we find ourselves speaking to them on all sorts of issues that are not directly related to Word and sacrament.”

The hermit — I mean the consultant — shook his head slowly. “You did not give up politics, nor should you. You gave up coercive politics. Our weapons are not carnal. But the true worship of God is always necessarily public. You are city on a hill. You are the light of the world.”

“What does this mean?” they asked.

“Your authority is built upon Word and sacrament. Not upon the ballot box, or the petition, or the sword. But it is true authority, and it is public authority.”

“As the church, you cannot abandon the political without abandoning the Scriptures. But you can, and should, abandon politics — a vain idol, if ever there was one.”

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