Henry Beecher Ward

The Black Robed Regiment

It’s easy to opine about being apolitical when the overwhelming scourge of its consequences are far away; it seems convenient even to shape religion into a beta-dog acquiescence of the pillars of piety – autonomy, liberty, freedom of conscience, respect, and brotherhood.

Barna Poll
Barna Poll

The Great Awakening of Jon Edwards and George Whitefield, however, led to a strong and healthy sort of worldview – one which was not merely brainy, but which was evidenced by resolve and purpose.

It was against such an awakened populace that one King George chose to fight. With a jackboot attitude, acts of terror were committed against Americans on the seas; their livelihoods were sapped by ever-increasing taxes; and their desire to be independent was disallowed by force.

When soldiers are about to kill you and your family out of petty greed, suddenly nose-bleed “spirituality” loses its appeal. Or was such stuff ever spiritual in the first place? Who isn’t for peace? The early Americans wanted peace as much as anyone; but when they “spoke,” the British crown was for war.

It seems nice to go along to get along, but eventually such an attitude results in atrocities like the Holocaust. When the church in Germany stayed silent about truth for too long, they couldn’t stop the worst nightmare reign known to man!

Charles G Finney
Charles G Finney

The church is to be the conscience of the nation, not an optional caboose. Charles Finney, for example, spoke extensively on how the church should get in politics and speak up for the enslaved Negro’s liberation.

In early America, most of the preachers spoke of standing up to tyranny. Tyranny unchecked is a cancer to the world. These pastors’ preachments on liberty and respect may have been what led the Americans to victory. Known as the “black robed regiment,” these ministers heroically stood side by side with parishioners in defending their fellow man from unjust violence. Today though, it’s considered “unacceptable” to “preach on politics.” What a contrast!

Henry Beecher Ward
Henry Beecher Ward

It is not Christians’ involvement in politics that is dirty; it is reclusion from it that makes it so.

John Wingate Thornton
John Wingate Thornton

Wherever injustice is found; wherever human dignity and autonomy are mocked and disregarded; pastors have an obligation to speak to it.

I appreciate Dan Fisher’s presentation on this subject, entitled “Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment.” If you would like to watch one version, it is linked below. Hope you enjoy!

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