I have been a pastor in the same community as Pastor Ronnie Spriggs for about seven years, but I have never met him. Nevertheless I know what I need to know about him. I know him truly, for Jesus says, "You shall know them by their fruit."
I know what Spriggs has done for this community. I know that Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church actively supports Johnson County area schools through prayer and by hosting various school activities.
I know that Spriggs was faithful in the face of disaster this February when a tornado ripped through his own community. I know that his church was at the head of the efforts to meet the needs of our community when they were most needed.
I know Spriggs through his congregation, many of whom have been the best neighbors to me and my family that a man could ask for.
In short, Spriggs evidently preaches a gospel that has true-life application. The gospel that Spriggs preaches is applied when it comes to how we are to act as Christians in our community. The gospel he preaches is to be applied when homes are ripped off of their foundations and families lose everything. The gospel he preaches is to be applied when you are called upon to love your neighbors.
Yet, when it comes to the issue of marriage and politics, some people apparently expect the gospel that Spriggs preaches to quit having application.
Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State evidently believes that the boundary line of the gospel stops at politics. Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. This is the same denomination to which the Rev. Jeremiah Wright belongs — the same minister who reacted to the Sept. 11 tragedy with "Not God bless America, but God d---- America!"
One would expect Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to have something to say about such openly aggressive political sentiments from a church pulpit, but, alas, nothing. It appears that organization is concerned only about small-town, conservative churches that the organization thinks it can bully into silence, thereby teaching us simple folks a good lesson.
Unfortunately, what Lynn and others have put forward is a critical misrepresentation of the U.S. doctrine of the separation of church and state. Since the doctrine's inception, the separation has been there to protect churches from being bullied into saying or not saying whatever the government thinks is appropriate. How ironic it is, then, that what Lynn proposes for Spriggs is what our founding fathers considered reprehensible: bullying clergymen into silence.
Lynn must come to understand what theologian Cornelius Van Til once wrote: "The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything."
That's right, everything. Yes, even on presidents and politics, as uncomfortable as that might make us feel.
Therefore, as a preacher of the gospel, I stand with Spriggs. I know he loves the gospel. I know he loves Jesus. I know he loves our community. I know all that because Jesus has saved Spriggs, and he loves our president, too.
Because of these things I am obligated to stand with Spriggs and his church and for the truth that he preaches to his people.
The Rev. Jason R. Hutchinson is pastor and teaching elder at Mountain Community Fellowship in Paintsville.