No one expected Jerry Falwell, Jr., or Franklin Graham to do anything other than support Trump; it’s fully in line with their right-wing politics. More discouraging and greatly damaging is that evangelicals like Eric Metaxas, Ralph Reed, Albert Mohler, and Robert Jeffress stepped so eagerly in line behind a man who, before he realized that he could manipulate evangelicals to his advantage, had no interest in the Christian faith. Mohler, Metaxas, and Reed have mounted some creative (but unbiblical) justifications for Trump’s serial adultery, lying, malfeasance, racism, and fear-mongering. Trump can commit no sin for which his evangelical supporters cannot find some sympathy and justification. Too few evangelical leaders have had the courage of Russell Moore, Michael Gerson and Max Lucado to speak up and speak out.
Fortunately, there are some evangelical leaders who are so courageous, and so biblically well-formed, that they are attempting to correct the damage done by less-faithful evangelicals. Public Intellectuals and the Common Good: Christian Thinking for Human Flourishing will appear this fall from IVP Academic. Edited by Christian scholars Todd C. Ream, Jerry A. Pattengale, and Christopher J. Devers, with a foreword by George M. Marsden, the book (as I read it) is a call for Christian intellectuals to speak up and speak out for the common good (rather than merely follow the dictates of the Republican Party). Now, more than ever, Christians ought to show the world that we have a witness that has nothing to do with the incompetence and multiple deceits of Donald Trump.
In a more pointed way, Ron Sider has worked with some of this nation’s most thoughtful and faithful evangelical pastors to produce a fast-paced, tell-it-like-it-is book that exposes the apostasy of Trumpism among, of all people, Evangelical Christians: The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice and Truth and Moral Integrity. (For a 50% discount, use the coupon DANGER50.) Sider writes, “Both by his words and his policies, Donald Trump contradicts and violates many of the biblical principles and concrete applications” of evangelicalism. “In spite of that, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump and the vast majority still support him. And with a few notable exceptions, the white evangelical leaders of the evangelical center still remain largely silent.”
I’m sure that Trumpism will bring well-deserved damage to the Republican Party. More importantly, the pastors and theologians of The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump are concerned that Trump and his Christian allies could be the end of the road for American evangelicalism as a movement. Now that members of Trump’s own party are falling away from him, for the sake of the future of Evangelicalism, and perhaps even the Christian witness in America, shouldn’t evangelicals prayerfully consider how their uncritical, unbiblical support for this man should come to an end?
After Trump and his sycophants are gone, the American church will be pondering how those who bore the name “evangelical” succumbed to the demagogic, racist rhetoric of the most pagan president in modern history. Fortunately, the honest, courageous reflection has begun and, by the grace of God, the spiritual damage of Trumpism shall be healed.
4 thoughts on “Evangelical Reckoning?”
Ok. But what are the options? What politician since Carter has been truly Christian? Is that even a criteria? Biden has a long history of lying, about his academic success early on, to cut and paste plagiarism, spoken and written. He has made horrific racist comments that are available via recorded video. However, he gets a pass.
I think you are also greatly misinformed about the right wing and Trump. At the moment, free speech, expression, and religion are right wing issues. Evangelicals, as a group, give more money to charities and nonprofits than any other. Hence, they logically don’t want higher taxes given to lesser causes and with typical bureaucratic inefficiency. Finally, they understand that a strong economy is needed to afford everything leftists want to pay for, as well as provide jobs and opportunity for all.
Of course, the mainstream media ignores all this and pretends that there is some vast right wing conspiracy. Go figure. But that other Christians would so easily discard these things in favor of politically correct acceptance is hard to square.
On the other side, is there no concern that lost jobs and greater violence results from illegal immigration? That the very idea that law doesn’t really matter is culturally damaging? That we are truly coming to accept partial birth abortion? That public discourse no longer has any desire to discuss basic moral issues or feels compelled to present any actual evidence in support of scandalous criticisms, that it can’t debate a single issue without self-righteously judging others as Jesus warned against, that it has no problem ignoring the unjust carnage and senseless deaths having just occurred on our streets in the name of justice? In other words, where is any real evidence for any kind of genuine moral compass on the Left?
We are in postmodernity, and we are in the throes of its eternal and emotive oppressed vs oppressor paradigm. And, if Christians can’t see beyond that and see it as the irrational and deconstructive narrative that it is, who can? Certainly, we’ll receive no help from the Left. And that’s what many thoughtful evangelicals realize. That there is the bigger picture, a meta narrative, whether or not prim and proper and politically correct postmodern Christians want to see it.
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Thank you, Will! Just bought the Sider edited book the other day. I am encouraged but refuse to be complacent with this guy in the WH. And I try to remember Romans 12:21 and Ephesians 6:12 among other texts :).
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Would you seriously have people vote for an individual who condones abortions even if it means to full term pregnancy?? That is the same as condoning a murderer! It’s not hard to separate the sheep from the wolves in ministers either. The stand you take shows which side you truly will follow end days! BEWARE Christians of following false prophets. I’m not saying Trump is 100% good but he is the only President that I know of who has stood up for the RIGHT TO LIFE rather than the RIGHT TO MURDER. You can know where my vote will be.
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Very interesting reading these responses so many years later. Trump has been impeached twice, lost the 2020 election, is being deserted by many evangelical leaders, and he still denies the election results. Friday, Jan 6, is the 2nd anniversary of the insurrection at the capital of the election deniers. Yes, the Republicans have the majority in the House (2022), but their dysfunction is being seen by everyone as they cannot decide on a Speaker. Guess who won’t vote for a new Speaker? Yup, the election deniers, the so-called MAGA folk. Are you surprised at the confusion, dysfunction, and meanness of all this? If you are, you have not been paying attention. It is true, nobody is perfect. But it is also true–the proof is in the pudding. They will finally have a Speaker. But what else will it cost them and the American people? What has it already cost the American evangelical church?