Thursday, January 14, 2021

Donald Trump-- and Evangelical Reckoning?

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Ed Stetzer, a dean and professor at Wheaton College, wrote in USA Today last weekend: "No one likes to admit they were fooled. It's tough to admit we were wrong. Now many evangelicals are seeing President Trump for who he is, but more need to see what he has done to us."

"It's time for an evangelical reckoning," he says.

In that he also leads the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, his article has gotten wide coverage from both the so-called Christian Left---and the mainstream media.

Were we evangelicals wrong to support Trump? 

And what would an "evangelical reckoning" look like?

Be informed.

The grievance and the call for a reckoning.

Stetzer says he, too, "is an evangelical and believes that Jesus died on the cross, for our sins, and in our place---and we need to tell the world about that."

Amen. Agreed.

"But," he says, "that's not what most people are talking about today."

He's wrong. Many of us evangelicals are still sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to our sphere of influence every time we have the opportunity. And we work to create those opportunities.

Stetzer says, "Many evangelicals and leaders invested money, time, and conviction toward making America great again."

He says, he too is grateful for the Supreme Court Justices and Trump's anti-abortion stand---although he has been surprised by it.

He then pivots and declares, "Nevertheless, most of that is in jeopardy now because Trump is who many of us warned other evangelicals that he was."

The professor says, "He has burned down the Republican Party, emboldened white supremacists, mainstreamed conspiracy theorists, and more."

But Stetzer says, "of greater concern for me is the trail of destruction he has left within the evangelical movement."

Destruction? No. Disagreement? Yes.

Then he says this: "Tempted by power and trapped within a culture war theology, too many evangelicals tied their fate to a man who embodied neither their faith nor their vision of political character."

Stetzer then goes left at the intersection.

Perhaps the evangelicals Stetzer knows were "tempted by power," but the ones I know merely saw Trump as a better choice than Hillary. And most recently, a better choice than Biden.

Not voting is a non-option for biblical Christians.

And I would raise my hand to speak to the professor regarding evangelicals who voted for Trump as people who "tied their fate" to a man who embodied neither their faith nor their vision of political character.

I don't know a single evangelical who "tied their fate" to Trump. They chose him over Hillary. And over Biden.

Does the professor know for sure that Trump does not share our faith in Christ? And has not asked Jesus Christ to forgive his sins and acknowledged Him as his Lord and risen Savior?

James Dobson, Franklin Graham, and a number of respected, trusted evangelicals who know Trump personally, say otherwise.

Stetzer, claiming that he and his circle of "evangelical" friends have seen this "reckoning" coming for months and years and how they have tried to help the evangelical movement steer away from Trump, must now face the reckoning with three reasons why we are at this point.

1. Far too many have tolerated egregious behavior. 

He says, "Racism, nationalism, sexism, and a host of other sins have found purchase within the evangelical movement in both overt and subtle expressions," claiming that is in great part what the evangelical movement has become.

2. Far too many have failed to live up to their promise of speaking truth to power.

He is suggesting that Franklin Graham, Pastor Jack Graham, Tony Perkins, Jim Dobson, Mike Pence, Pastor Robert Jeffress, and hundreds of others like them that have been in constant contact with Trump have been intimidated and their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ silenced in his presence.

I don't believe that and neither should you. These are men of character and spiritual strength.

3. "All of us have failed to foster healthy political discipleship."

He says, "The evangelical movement has emphasized the evangelistic and pietistic elements of the mission. However, it has failed to connect this mission to justice and politics.

The primary focus of the so-called religious left who rejected Trump for Hillary in 2016, is "social justice."

Social justice touches a number of critical issues in our culture including open borders, the LGBTQ movement and agenda, and abortion.

Jim Wallis and his "Sojourners" organization is the leader of the religious left or "social justice" movement.

Last week Vanessa Williams with the Washington Post wrote an article addressing the issue of Trump and Christians, which included an interview with Jim Wallis.

The article is lengthy and focuses on a recent book by Wallis titled, "Christ in Crises: Why We Need To Reclaim Jesus" which is a manifesto on the far-left social justice movement.

These people are advocating "reclaiming Jesus" because they are preaching "another gospel" under the guise of biblical Christianity.

In the interview Wallis says, "I believe in life at the border, as well as life in the womb," yet while advocating open borders, he cannot bring himself to outright oppose abortion.

He has consistently moved to the left regarding the LGBTQ agenda. His colleagues Tony Compolo, Rob Bell, and others are advocating for so-called "same-sex marriage."

Yet Wallis says evangelical leaders Franklin Graham and others have "made a transactional bargain, a Faustian bargain with this administration."

A biblical conservative response.

Eric Metaxes, best-selling author of, "If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty" and other best-selling books says, "It's myopic to focus on [Trump's] personal behavior when important moral issues like abortion are at stake."

In response to a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal regarding an editorial in Christianity Today, which mirrors the USA Today article,  Metaxes says:

"The magazine Christianity Today---which once bore the imprimatur of its founder Billy Graham---once arguably represented the broad middle of  American evangelicalism. But a recent editorial calling for President Trump's removal through impeachment confirmed the magazine's creep toward that Slough of Despond populated by liberal elites and Joe Biden,"

Christianity Today and Wheaton College are locked at the hip in their beliefs.

Metaxes says:

"The pejorative du jour is to call evangelicals 'trasactional' as though buying a loaf of bread and not simply praying for one were somehow faithless. But what is sneeringly called 'trasactional' is representative government, in which patriotic citizens vote, deputizing others to act on their behalf for the good of the country. Isn't it conceivable that faithful Christians think Mr. Trump is the best choice?"

Metaxes says the religious left pretend to opt-out of the culture wars and only preach the gospel,  yet "supporting Mr. Obama, the good family man, giving him a mulligan or two, winking at his repudiation  of traditional marriage and his dehumanizing unborn children."

Mr. Metaxes makes an honest, accurate, and biblical case for choosing for president, the person who will stand for biblical principles in the culture because that matters to biblical Christians. I strongly recommend you read the entire article.

He concludes with this: 

"The editors of Christianity Today have made the mistake of 'straining at a gnat but swallowing a camel.' Since most evangelicals concur with Abraham Lincoln in seeing America as 'the last best hope of earth' it should hardly be discomforting or shocking that they would rally behind a president with the fortitude that vision of America."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful.