Friday, January 05, 2018

"Trump Didn't Cause Evangelical Divide, He Exposed It"

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In a radio interview this week, a prominent evangelical pastor claimed, "Trump didn't cause the evangelical divide, he exposed it."

It's well known that there is a significant divide in the evangelical community, between Jim Wallis and other self-professed "Religious Left" people, and those identified as "Religious Right" who steadfastly hold to biblical truth regarding marriage, the sanctity of life, Israel and national sovereignty.

With 81% of evangelicals voting for President Trump, that divide has become more visible...and more divisive.

A closer look.

Since Donald Trump defied all the political pundits' predictions and emerged as the Republican candidate for the presidency---and then won the national election to become President Trump last year, politics as usual has gone up in smoke.

The usual political games our "public servants" (a.k.a. politicians) normally play in Congress has intensified with Democrats claiming their expressed goal is to derail Trump---regardless of the merit of his policies. And some Republicans are trying to pretend nothing has changed.

However, a divide within the Christian, or "evangelical" community, has also been exposed.

Seeking to exploit the issue and undermine conservative Christians, the media immediately jumped on the issue.

November 2016---just days after the election, the very Left but widely read Atlantic published a story titled, "The Evangelical Reckoning Over Donald Trump."

The piece wistfully said, "For months, the stories came in waves. The death of the religious right. The new moral minority...everyone wanted to know what conservative evangelicals, who have long been considered a unified voting bloc would do. Now we know."

And they said, "But vote counts conceal deep, painful fractures among...evangelical Christians."

From then on, The Atlantic, Huff Post, ThinkProgress and a herd of other Left-leaning publications began a new drumbeat for what they call "progress"

By this past August, The Atlantic and their news brethren on the Left had found their stride.

The Atlantic ran a story with this revealing title: "Evangelicals Are Bitterly Split Over Advising Trump."

The essence of this story, I believe, was to heighten the "bitter split" within evangelicalism---and in particular other more specific differences. They quoted a New York City evangelical pastor: "It became obvious that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration."

This week Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 20,000 member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, was asked by Janet Mefferd on her American Family radio show, about the "much discussed evangelical divide."

Jefferess, who serves on Trump's executive evangelical advisory board, said, "This is hypocritical of the evangelicals who say their personal piety won't allow them to support President self-righteous is that?"

He said, "President Trump didn't cause the divide---he has exposed it." And continued to tell Mefferd that many of those same evangelicals had no problem backing Reagan who was a twice-married former Democrat, who ran against the monogamous, Baptist Sunday School teacher Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Carter, most concede, was among one of the worst presidents in American history. Reagan, one of the best.

Pastor Jeffress said, "What we're seeing is the divide between these evangelical elites who continue to resist President Trump's policies and the vast majority of evangelicals in the pews who swept him into office and continue to support him."

"In fact," he says, "it's the never-Trump evangelicals who have left their core theology behind."

He says, "It's been a growing divide between those who take the Bible seriously and those who don't. I call them the 'evangelical elite', the Christianity Today crowd."

In fact, Christianity Today has written a series of articles that are in support of those who hold the very views Jeffress is referring to.

In their article titled, "Why Tim Keller, Max Lucado and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump's Refugee Plan," CT reported, "More than 500 conservative evangelical pastors and leaders representing all 50 states are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his temporary ban on refugee resettlement and his 'dramatic reduction' of the total refugees America will accept this fiscal year."

They then make the case for open borders, etc. on behalf of World Relief and the other 9 agencies that resettle refugees in America.

They may truly hold their beliefs as "gospel," however, resettlement is also very profitable for these groups. I have written about it in the past.

Perhaps the most revealing illustration is found in the words of Jim Wallis' latest commentary, which was published yesterday afternoon to his thousands of followers on the religious Left---and a few like me who follow what he says.

Dr. Jeffress is right. Trump didn't create this fracture, but he is certainly exposing it.

Wallis begins with this: "I feel politically homeless as we enter 2018---and I know I am not alone. Many Christians are feeling the same...especially white evangelicals have undertaken completely uncritical support of a president who is the antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ---endangering the reputation of Christianity, especially among a new generation."

Then he says how he really feels: "Republican leadership has sold its party's soul to a bad, amoral, childish, and dangerous man. Most of my Republican friends agree... He has been revealed as an intellectually shallow and mentally incompetent leader, a person who lacks any moral conscience, an unapologetic promoter of racial bigotry..."

"And," Wallis says, "The GOP has disregarded the best values of principled conservatism, fiscal integrity and responsibility, an allegiance to truth and honesty...and genuine pro-family values..."

There's much more of the same about Trump and those who voted for him.

It becomes clear that those who stand with Wallis would find it impossible to support any policy that the Trump administration would put forward---regardless of its merit.

While Jim Wallis is critical of the Democratic Party, it is a more "hopeful" critique, calling for the Democrats to reach out more to those like himself who feel politically homeless.

He notes that an "outreach" would include his commitment to government expansion of welfare, reducing the number of abortions, but not "criminalizing" abortion, gender equality, same-sex marriage, and a pro-Palestinian position toward Israel. His worldview also calls for social justice and a commitment to join the global warming movement---all couched in biblical terms.

Wallis once again affirms that Pastor Jeffress is right.

The "never Trump" evangelicals---the religious Left, "have left their core theology behind" if indeed they ever held it.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Bold. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.