I haven’t been around Redstate too much lately. Frankly, I’m fed up with politics and I find that neither tribe – right or left – represents my ideology these days. I prefer to allow my faith to drive my philosophies rather than the dogmatic positions of the political spheres.
That said – I do peek at the RS front page occasionally to check out what my friends are writing. A couple of days ago, I read Kimberly’s piece about Trump’s speaking engagement at the Value Voters Summit. I found the presence of Trump, Bannon and Gorka to be one of the most offensive events to occur since the election. It exemplifies the descent of “Christian” leadership away from a mission of faith and evangelism into the worship of brute-force political power. And I found Kimberly’s take on the event to be spot on (and Susan’s, as well)
One of the Christian Twitter accounts I follow is that of the Christian Post, a web site that claims to be “…the most comprehensive source of news for Christians around the world, with coverage of events that are relevant to the body of Christ.”. OK, whatever. Interestingly, I almost never see any Twitter responses to their posts, despite having a follower count in excess of 159K accounts. Yesterday I saw them tweet a link to a story that looked interesting
Have Evangelicals Become Disciples of Donald Trump? https://t.co/drqmWTRmhX
— The Christian Post (@ChristianPost) October 16, 2017
(Interestingly, there are more responses to that tweet than the vast majority of items the CP account tweets on a daily basis)
So I clicked through and was surprised to find it to be a critique of Kimberly’s article. The author, whose stuff I’ve read in the past and found to be pretty decent, didn’t care much for Kimberly’s premise that “too many Evangelical Trump supporters have not only placed their political faith in the real estate magnate; they have become sold-out disciples for him.” In reading the article, I get the impression that perhaps Brown felt the sting because he himself voted for Trump. He doesn’t say that but he repeatedly uses the word “we” in subsequent paragraphs defending the logic of Christian voters.
What I found objectionable about Brown’s article was what he did NOT focus on, beyond a single sentence:
Worse still, we hurt our witness. People are less likely to hear our message about Jesus when we seem oblivious to the president’s clay feet.
That’s it? One sentence on that topic? That’s all he has to say about this, probably the most important aspect of the virtual worship of Donald Trump by so-called “evangelicals”? Is he simply trying to soft-pedal the issue, knowing the real impact Trump and his minions are having with their attraction of the religious Right?
That particular problem is the biggest problem with the evangelical community’s response to Trump. It has had a stunning, profound impact on the ability for the testimony of the true Christian to be heard. “Why should I listen to you? You guys voted for the pussy grabber.” “Christian? Why did millions of you vote for the guy who lies nonstop and won’t even ask for forgiveness?” This is the kind of response you get from non-Christians these days. I’ve heard it first-hand.
Politics isn’t the issue with Trump. Witness is.
The “Christian” lovefest with Trump and the almost total shift of attention to politics over faith has dramatically stunted the ability to get people to listen. Everyone (well, except for the 20-30% of the country who has joined #Cult45) knows how Trump is basically the antithesis of a Christian, despite the ballot-box support from the vast % of alleged Christians who voted for him. Hypocrisy such as this isn’t exactly a great way to get people to listen to you.
Scot McKnight, who I follow on Twitter and read occasionally (and whose theology specifics I don’t particularly agree with, but he’s still a great one to read), really hits a home run with this article. While he’s referring to just the word “evangelical”, he’s hitting the same concept: Trump is not only polluting conservatism, the support of Trump by Christians has decimated the word “evangelical” in the same way it has damaged the ability of the Christian to convey the message of Jesus.
The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have done it; they’re Democrats. Evangelicals have followed suit; they’re Republicans. Politicization is accomplished.
Let the rest of us call ourselves Christians.
Brown’s final comments regarding Gorsuch illustrate the thinking of the “BUT GORSUCH!!!” crowd – to them, an earthly Judge is more significant, in their view, than the eternal significance of the witness of Christians who are more interested in souls than politics.
The fact that Trump, Bannon and Gorka were invited to the VVS in the first place is evidence that those who are alleged leaders of “conservative Christians” have gone off the rails and has made that organization as big of a joke as the Court Evangelicals (Falwell Jr, Jeffress, White, Dobson, Reed, etc.), who I believe have done the most damage. These “leaders” have legitimized Trump in the eyes of many malleable Christians. They have sold their souls (literally?) in exchange for Supreme Court seats and some legislative wins that will inevitably be reversed by the next Democratic administration/Congress. And in the process they’ve made it enormously more difficult to reach those who need to hear the message of the Gospel.
I appreciate the efforts of some/many of the contributors here at Redstate to continue to expose the issues surrounding this dumpster fire of a presidency. While Trump occasionally stumbles upon something right, the bad has far outweighed the good. I realize there are Christians out there like Brown who think that Trump is doing wonderful things by propping up “religious liberty”. However, I think that’s debatable (to be charitable), and more importantly, I don’t think we need someone like Donald Trump to do that. There are countries where Christianity is growing far faster than the U.S. and have government leaders that are far, far more hostile to Christians than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could even attempt to be.
In the case of the damage to the Gospel witness, I suppose I can’t really blame Trump – I should blame the hypocritical, gullible “Christians” who have placed their priorities on politics over faith. They are the ones doing the most damage. Unfortunately, Brown appears to perhaps fall into that category by prioritizing the actions of a human “prince” over the message of the Prince of Peace.
Psalm 146:3-4: Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.