A Challenge to Pastors - Part 1 (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk a listener supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: Welcome to Family Talk. The radio broadcasting division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh. Family Talk force is a completely listener supported effort. To learn how you can support Family Talk and the JDFI, visit drjamesdobson.org. Now, the presentation you're about to hear was recorded about a decade ago at a small gathering of some of Family Talks close ministry friends held in Southern California. There were many well-known speakers in attendance, including former Congressman Bob McEwen, and the person we'll be hearing from today Pastor Jim Garlow. Pastor Garlow is the former senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California. He's the author of 15 books, including the best seller Cracking the Da Vinci's Code. Pastor Garlow earned a Ph.D. in historical theology from Drew University, as well as a master of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary and a master of divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.

Jim was married to his wife, Carol for 42 years before her passing. In 2014, Jim married, Rosemary Schindler, and together they have eight children and nine grandchildren. Now, since this recording, Pastor Garlow has retired from his position as senior pastor of Skyline Church and has co-founded Well Verses Ministries with his wife, Rosemary. Their mission to bring biblical principles of governance to government leaders and to the people who elect them. Let's listen now as Dr. Dobson introduces Pastor Jim Garlow.

Dr. James Dobson: I don't know if you've heard of proposition eight in California, where a major effort was made to put the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman exclusively, and to put that in the constitution of the State of California, and it was a battle royal. I can tell you if you ever dare wander into conflict with that agenda, you're going to pay a price for it. And Jim paid a price for it. And he had death threats. And really the point at which I became better acquainted with him was in a stadium in San Diego, where they had 20,000 mostly young people there rallying for marriage, and it's under attack everywhere. And Jim and his colleagues throughout the State of California, decided to do something about it. And they did it and they were victorious and it was a major victory, but you know, what's happened, a homosexual judge, one man overturned the will of the majority in California.

And then it went to, I guess the ninth circuit, there are things that are happening that could make us very discouraged, but we know who's in charge and who's in control and we're going to stay on our knees. And we're going to ask the Lord to bring a revival that will sweep across this country. Jim Garlow and Carol, it's a delight to have you here. Wasn't sure you going to be able to come, but you're here. And Jim come on up and greet these people. Everybody greet Pastor Jim Garlow.

Jim Garlow: If I were an insecure pastor who cared about attendance at all, I would work early into my comments, the fact that there were not 20,000 in that stadium, there were actually 33,000, but since I'm a secure pastor and has no need psychologically to count the numbers, I won't even reference the fact that there were 33,000, not 20,000 in that stadium that day. We gathered and we huddled around TV sets on a Tuesday night I believe it was, to hear the State of the union address. And we never heard the speech that should have been given. The speech should have begun with the words, my fellow Americans, the State of the union is tragic, it is very bad, we were in deep trouble. And I, as your president who professed to be a born again, Christian, come before you in repentance this day, knowing that the scripture teaches that a baby in the womb should be safe and not ripped to shreds, knowing that marriage is the number one institution that preserves a nation, knowing that the current debt is stealing theft from our future generations.

Therefore I, as your president, repent of sin, and I ask us to work together to do what is right and try to preserve this wonderful experience called America. That's the speech we should have had, but we did not have it. Psalm 11:3, is a jolting passage. It says, "When the foundations are destroyed, what are the righteous to do?" When the foundations are being destroyed, what are the righteous to do? Another passage, 2 Kings 6:13-17 well-known passage. The servant of the great prophet goes out because he's deeply concerned when he sees that the hills are surrounded with the enemy and he runs to the prophet and he says that classic phrase that perhaps some of us are thinking here tonight, as we gather. And he says in verse 15, "Oh my Lord, what shall we do?" And that resonates through our hearts right now. Oh my Lord, in the situation in which we find ourselves, what shall we do? There's an understanding on the part of God-fearing people and people with decency, moral decency, in our country, that something has gone badly wrong and we're driven to our knees.

And we're driven to 1 Chronicles 12:32, which said, "the sons of Issachar, the descendants of Issachar decerned the times and they knew what Israel ought to do." And we have to have an Issachar anointing upon us for this season, that we decern the times, we get it, we understand what's going on and we know what we need to do in this construct we find ourselves in. If I can give you a crash lesson in terms of the seven stages of American history, as it relates to the relationship of Bible, believing Christians to the broader culture. Now, what I'm working through here is just simply the demarcaters in American culture, seven steps of the relationship between Bible-believing, God-fearing people and their relationship to the broader culture. And if we were to establish one word, that our relationship with the broader culture from 1607 to 1833, it would have been establishment culture for a number of reasons we can't go into right now.

And then from 1833, going on to 1918, we would have been regarded as the predominant force in culture. Predominance would have been the word. And then from 1918 to 1968, now we're getting to more modern times, we would use a word subdominant. We were the subdominant force in the culture. All these are the demarcaters along the way. And then we find ourselves at 1968, some of us are old enough in this room to remember 1968 and 1968 we became officially a subculture and remained that way until 1988 about a 20 year span. Various things occurring along the way, 1968 was the most turbulent year in American history, outside the Civil War period itself. There's values who are vying for ascendancy, somebody's values are going to win. Somebody's values are going to lose. It became very obvious. We were a subculture. By 1988, we became bonafide counter-culture, by 1998, these numbers happened to end at eight, that wasn't intentional, by 1998, we're officially antithetical culture. And then finally in 2008, we wore a badge of honor we never wanted to wear in America.

We can for the first time call ourselves a part of the persecuted church globally. Hosea 5:20, they call bad good, and they call good bad, Isaiah 5:20. And then Hosea is that classic text, where it speaks of the fact because your sins are so many and I'm going to insert right there, America, because your sins are so many America and your hostility is so great, the prophet, the prophet of God is considered a fool. And the inspired a man, inspired means one who is filled with the spirit of the living God, the inspired man is a maniac. Much had changed very quickly and in 2008, for the first time that I'm aware of, we begin to chronicle all kinds of acts of violence against houses of worship, threats against pastors, everything had begun to change in America. I don't know if you're on Facebook and Twitter, like so many are, I do Facebook quite a bit. I do Twitter, not much, but during the State of the union address and during speeches and during debates and such, I tune in there and I jump in and start tweeting along with the rest of them.

I don't know how many tweets I did. I don't do tweeting very often, but I've tweeted probably 30 or 40 times I tweeted a lot during that, comments. Now, I didn't know enough about tweeting, to know how to even see how people are responding to what I'm saying. That wasn't my thought. My thought was to get my ideas out, not to pay attention to what anybody else was saying back, but I suddenly found where you push one thing and you get a chance to see the feedback to you. And though I was pushing out ideas that were conceptual in their nature, having to do with pro-life, pro-marriage, being fiscally sane, since I was pushing out ideas like that you would expect those that push back against me to respond with some form of logic. But you read down through the responses, to me and there were many, and they're all ad hominem attacks. I thought about actually reading some of them here tonight, but decided not to because of how vile and foul and the language is not such that I even have any option to read them back.

So, we find ourselves in an environment that is hostile. Now, if our songs of bravado mean anything, all the way from classics like "Onward Christian Soldiers" to our present "Songs of Victory," they mean anything, they mean something to us now. How do we respond to the culture in which we find ourselves? There's a man wrote a book by the name of H. Richard Niebuhr, brilliant scholar, 1951 it came out, it's a classic by a classic, anything that's over 50 years old and still being read a lot. His book is called Christ and Culture. How do we, as Bible-believing Christians, how do Christians respond to the broader culture? And he lays out five ways in which we interact with a broader culture. And the first four, we're not going to like scum, I'm going to skip them because we only care about the fifth one. And the fifth one is our view of culture is that we view the culture from a transformational standpoint, from a conversionistic standpoint.

We actually believe, we have the audacity to believe as followers of Jesus, that the Gospel is so winsome, so powerful, so phenomenal, so capturing of the human spirit, the human heart, we actually believe that our culture could and can be transformed by the power of the Gospel that resonates within us. Well, if that's the case, how did we get in the situation we're in? How did we get here? And I'd like to contextualize it even tighter. Why are we in this room, this night with Dr. and Mrs. Dobson? What's the story that gets us here. If I can intrude on this evening with a little historical walk, I take you back July 3rd, 1954. Lyndon Baines Johnson had just been reelected to the Senate in Texas. He returns to the U.S. Senate. He's angry at H.L Hunt, the oil tycoon and Frank Enet, the media mogul, two business men who used 501(c)(3). Those are the delineation by the IRS for a nonprofit corporation, their respective nonprofit corporations to oppose him in the election, he came back very angry.

And so, as there was an overhaul of the tax code, going through the Senate, he stepped up and he inserted what's called the Johnson Amendment. Not very long, fuse words, something is saying, somebody who's part of a 501(c)(3) cannot endorse or oppose a candidate. His chief of staff, his legislative aid openly admits they did not have churches in mind at all. He was trying to shut down these two guys. He didn't want to face them again in an election, but the impact was enormous immediately because it happened to include, he says, we didn't even think of churches. Churches happened to be, 501 (c)(3). There's 29 different categories of 501(c) in the IRS, the lineation, 29 categories. But only one of all of those has a speech restriction put up on it. And it happened to be the category that includes churches. And 166 years of American heritage and history on the First Amendment was lost that day.

And for all those years, since from '54 to the present, there have been many attempts to get that before the Supreme Court, to get that back into the courts to challenge what many believe is a non-constitutional law, anti-constitutional law against the First Amendment, no intrusion of the government into the pulpit of America. But instead of that occurring, what is occurring is a massive silencing of the pulpit to speak on the issues that are closest to our heart that draw us into this room, this night. There are some who are so naive of history who actually think that we as pastors, all collectively got together with the IRS and we cut a deal. You'll give us a tax exemption if we don't speak on political issues, no such agreement was ever made. In fact, the reason, the entire reason that our founding fathers said that there should be no taxation of churches was not having to do with the freedom of speech from the pulpit, it had everything to do with that. In fact, the whole rationale went like this, that what you can tax, you can kill and destroy.

And therefore, we do not want the government to have any control in any way over churches. And we could silence them, kill them or destroy them if we allow taxation, therefore, our government has no right under any condition to ever tax the church. That was the rationale for it. And then all these years passed, 166 years later, and that right is gone. And how did the church respond? Beginning to silence one pulpit after another to make application to national life from biblical issues. Let me illustrate, 50 years ago, any pastor standing before a pulpit or congregation would have said "abortion is wrong" and the congregation would say, "of course, it is." Say that today, "pastor, how dare you be political?" Say 30 years ago, "the practice of homosexuality is unacceptable biblically," a congregation would have said, "well, of course, it is." Say that today, "pastor you're too political." Say 10 years ago, that marriage is one man, one woman, people would have gone, "well, of course, it is." Say that in church today, "pastor you're being too political."

And so naive are most Americans, including most Christian Americans, that they're unaware of the fact that every place, whether it's in Europe or now in the States here, where same-sex marriage is allowed, or the government protects that, there's three immediate casualties, personal freedoms, parental rights and religious liberties are sacrificed. How is it possible? Let me pose a question to you. How is it possible? How is it possible that our nation could be past 16 trillion in debt moving towards 20, 120 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and we're unable to have any evidence of putting the brakes on this economic disaster that's already on us. How is that possible that the majority of 535 people in the US Congress, most of whom are sane, otherwise sane human beings, have for all these years, including even right now, are choosing, the majority. Let's arbitrarily pick a number of 300, 300 out of 535 people that we have sent to Washington, DC that have sent us on a pathway that is obvious to even a third grader, the economic destruction is a right around the corner. How is that possible?

I would contend to you, it's because the lack of biblical truth, how many of those in Congress attend a Bible believing church? I asked that question one time of you, Congressman McEwen, you arbitrarily pulled a number out, you told me that time in Tampa, you thought maybe 20%, that seems like a high number to me, but I trust your judgment way over mine because you have been in Congress and I have not. So let's take Congressman McEwen's number of 20% that have actually, are attending a Bible believing church. Let me pose a question. How many of those in a Bible believing, Bible teaching church have ever had a pastor speak one time on the, in appropriateness of the economic aspects of what is happening in Washington, D.C. Thou shalt not steal from future generations, would be a good place to start. But you see here's the cultural myth, you can preach from the pulpit about personal things, that's okay. You can preach from the pulpit about family issues, essentially, that's okay. How to get along in your family.

You can preach ecclesiastical or how church government, how the church is supposed to function, that's okay. But once you start making biblical application to community and national life, not only does the left come up against you strongly, but immediately pastors back away. I have a theory, I cannot prove it. The theory goes like this. Pastors are lovers of people and all the pastors I run with love people, they care for people, but there's a problem built into that. There's a landmine built into that loving of people is the assumption that I'm going to be loved back by everybody I preach to. So consequently, many of the people moving into pastoral ministry today are people who not only love, but they need to be loved by everybody in the congregation. And if you're going to preach the truth, you cannot be loved or liked by everybody in your congregation. Because we have discovered that pastors do not fear the IRS, they're not even close to that line.

What pastors fear is a Monday morning email from someone who is saying, if you're going to keep talking about this from the pulpit and be "political" then my family and my implied tithe checks, will have to go to some other church. The Alliance Defending Freedom, clear back in 2008, started raising up pastors to try to defy the Johnson Amendment and tried to provoke a court case by getting pastors to agree to intentionally violate it from the pulpit, record their sermons and mail it to the IRS. 33 pastors did the first year, 2009 84 pastors did, the next year 100 pastors did. I became involved heavily with them the last two years, 539 pastors and then 1,621 pastors. 1,621 pastors intentionally on a Sunday morning together, all on the same Sunday violated the Johnson Amendment, recorded our sermons, mailed them to the IRS and said, "Sue us." Because there's 2,200 Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys out there prepared to defend us.

Now, to my attorney friends, the issue with them is legal. And I understand that and we've got to fight it there, at one point. To my issue, my heart as a fellow pastor is I am concerned for the spiritual dimension. We will never have the spiritual renewal in this nation we all long for, until pastors are unfettered in the pulpit to speak with complete freedom and boldness and not be controlled in any way by Ceaser, that is what it will take. On May 8th, there was a meeting in Statutory Hall in the US Capitol. I'm told Congressman you're the historian here, but I'm told by the guy who convened it, it was the only second time in a hundred years a religious service was held in there. I was one of a number of people who spoke briefly in that location. And as I prepared my comments for that evening and only the invited people were congressional staffers and Congressmen themselves. I found myself wanting to confront those in Congress until the Holy Spirit did a number on my heart about two weeks prior.

In which He challenged me to, instead of condemning those in the halls of Congress, to, on behalf of the Christians or the pastors in America, repent for the failure to stand firm. Let me ask you a question. What do you suppose the result was across America when 1,621 passengers stood, violated the Johnson Amendment, endorsed our supported candidates as all pastors had done up until 1954 and they mailed their sermons to the IRS? What do you suppose the response was in the pew? Pastors in conference calls with hundreds of pastors coming on together, the report was 100% positive, congregations standing and applauding and cheering on their pastor for being the kind of pastor they wanted to be. One pastor reported, I lost so much time because of ovations during my sermon, people were clapping so long and so hard I lost a lot of preaching time that particular Sunday. That's a problem you want to have every week. Isn't it? What does it tell us? It tells us that the laity are ahead of our pastors. It tells us that the pew is significantly ahead of the pulpit in many places.

There was one pastor who has fought against us for 40 years on speaking out on issues. He changed this last year. He changed and finally realized he needed to speak out on the issues after 40 years, a very visible pastor in America, with 55 million babies who have died during that time. Sir, you're very late to the party. Another pastor very prominent in America said I'm going to speak out for the first time politically from my pulpit, I've never done it before and I'll never do it again. Wrong, sir, you should have been doing it before because you're not being political in the pulpit, you're being biblical.

Roger Marsh: You just heard the first part of a presentation given by Pastor Jim Garlow at a small gathering that took place about a decade ago. Pastor Garlow shared some powerful words, urging America's clergy to stand up against evil in our culture. He pointed out that sometimes that means addressing "political issues" from the pulpit, especially when it comes to the sanctity of human life and defending God's design for the family. Now, you can learn more about Pastor Jim Garlow and his current ministry by visiting our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org. That's drjamesdobson.org/broadcast. And of course, don't hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions about Family Talk or the JDFI, or if you just need someone to pray with you, we're available 24/7 to take your call. And our number is (877) 732 - 6825.

Finally, remember you can also write to us. We love hearing from you in this way. Our ministry mailing address is The Dr. James Dobson Family Institute PO box 39000 Colorado Springs, Colorado. The zip code 80949. Keep in mind that the U.S. mail is still a great way to send a tax-deductible donation in support of the JDFI as well. Well, thanks so much for listening today and every day for that matter, we'll be back again tomorrow with another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

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