Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pulpit Freedom
The Necessity of a Pastor's Freedom to Preach

The adoption of the Johnson Amendment in 1954 was the moment the Internal Revenue Service was given the power to dictate what could and could not be preached from American pulpits. With the threat of fines, or even losing tax exempt status for their parish, the Johnson Amendment threatened the very freedom of pastors to address biblical issues that stand at the core of what it means to be Christian. Many biblical issues revolving around marriage, the family, the poor, and sexuality, were politicized, and America's pastors were informed that preaching on certain subjects could be interpreted by the IRS as infringements by religion into the area of the political.

The fear of being labeled "political" has sidelined many a pastor from injecting the Church's biblical teachings into the life of the American scene. Sermons that were one day seen as simply preaching Gospel morality, are now seen as the injection of the Church into politics. A sermon preached on the issues of abortion or same-sex marriage, are now seen as an infringement into the realm of politics, and the unfair entrance of the Church into the affairs of the State. Pastors are now expected to remain on the sideline, keeping silent about basic moral issues that were, in the past, seen as their duty to address as religious leaders of this nation.

The truth is, it is not the Church that has become "political", but rather the invasion of the State into the realm of the Church. The free exercise of religion requires freedom for the clergy to preach on moral issues that confront our modern society. The pastor must be free to address the care of the poor, national health, abortion, the position of the institution of marriage in our society, and issues that touch on the education of our youth.

The free exercise of religion, guaranteed by the First Amendment, prohibits the government from dictating what can, or can not, be preached from the pulpit, and is one of the core activities of the free exercise of religion. The Johnson Amendment violates the free exercise of religion, for it directly interferes in the role of religious leaders to speak prophetical on issues that are specifically addressed in scripture.

Freedom of religion based only on the freedom to worship is not freedom of religion. The free exercise of religion can not be allowed to be reduced to freedom of worship, for our Christian faith is not about worship only, but entails the whole of biblical living. Pastors must preach the whole message of the scriptures, even if they affront the sensitivities of some. The Church can not be silenced in her prophetic duty to preach the Gospel, for a forced silence will turn biblical Christianity into nothing more than an homogenized State religion.

This Sunday has been designated as Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a day when we must examine the government's infringement into the free expression of religion in this nation. The Church must reclaim her constitutional right to speak out without fear of reprisal, and boldly stand for her own First Amendment right to engage in the political life of this great nation, freely preaching the Gospel of Christ.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday October 6, 2012 / September 23, 2012
18th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.

The Conception of the Honorable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.
Canonization (1977) of St. Innocent Metropolitan of Moscow.
New Hieromartyr John priest (1937).
New Hieromartyr Arsenius archbishop (1937).
Venerables Xanthippa and Polyxena (109), disciples of the Apostles, who died in Spain.
Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria (308).
Martyrs Andrew, John, Peter, and Antoninus of Syracuse, martyred in Africa (886).
"Slovensk" Icon of the Mother of God (1635).
"Hawaiian" Myrrh-streaming Iveron Ikon of the Theotokos (2007).
New Martyr Nicholas Pantopolis at Constantinople (1672) (Greek).
New Martyr John of Epirus (1814).
Venerable Adamnan, abbot of Iona, biographer of St. Columba (704) (Celtic & British).

You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.

THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,  
Abbot Tryphon

Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

1 Corinthians 15:39-45

39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Luke 4:31-36

Jesus Casts Out an Unclean Spirit

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. 33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

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