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.