By Darrel Cox
Writing in National Review, David French launched another attack on evangelical Christians who support President Trump, calling them out as sinful compromisers denying the supreme purpose of God in their lives.
I wholeheartedly reject French’s rebuke as valid. It is wrong biblically, philosophically and, by extension, politically.
By way of context, I became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1982 when I was 17. Due to my submission to the authority of Scripture, I likewise fall into the category of what is commonly called “evangelical” — a term that is as frequently misunderstood as it is misused. I mention these points upfront since it is people like me who sit in the audience to which French was aiming his rebuke.
It landed hollow, however, because it is fraught with nonsense arguments, non-sequiturs and self-incriminating irony that French appears to miss. Below is just a brief glance at some of the main problems with his accusation.
⟹ French began the piece by asking what the ultimate goal of a Christian’s life should be. The lead was obvious: Evangelical Christians who support Trump have strayed from God’s purpose for their lives. French was in essence invoking God’s supreme purpose in Christ as the basis for why an Evangelical should not support Trump. However, the entire argument is nonsense. Everything that follows his opening question is non sequitur to that initial question. Just because pursuing the “common good” (i.e., civil righteousness) of one’s culture is not a Christian’s ultimate goal in this age, it does not follow that it is not an incredibly important responsibility. It is silly to negate numerous areas of God-ordained responsibilities on the premise of God’s ultimate purpose. French would undoubtedly argue that support for President Trump is antithetical to what is good for a nation; but that is an altogether different issue than his main and opening premise.
⟹ Voting for Trump and continuing to support the vast majority of his subsequent policies is without question a pursuit of the “common good” of our nation and culture. The choice to vote for Hillary Clinton, or even abstain from voting because Trump is a flawed man, is arguably a choice to pursue (or passively permit) overt and vile wickedness to prevail in the life of a nation. Present space does not permit me to itemize the progressive agenda and examine it in the light of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True — virtues that are revealed supremely in the character and nature of God. Suffice it to say that God expects (and will hold accountable) all post-Fall humans to live according to how we were created. Scripture describes it as God’s “image and likeness.” Even those people groups who deny His existence have long recognized fixed, uniform, and universal moral principles that are a part of our very moral fabric.
⟹ French has no authority to state that Evangelical Christians who voted for and support Trump are guilty of “sin.” He made no case from Scripture; it was merely a fiat judgment of his own making. Ironically, making such a judgment based solely on the basis of one’s opinion is a very serious charge. I don’t think French perceived the irony.
⟹ On the other hand, a positive case can be made, contra French, that one of the God-ordained responsibilities of a Christian is to actively oppose evil in one’s culture and promote that which is good. Again, Clinton and nearly every position she actively pursues is contrary, not only to the common good (viz., natural law), but to the very moral fabric of humans made in God’s image and likeness. While it is true that such responsibilities do not fall under the Christian’s relationship to God as Redeemer (in Christ); it is without question the duty of all human beings who relate to God as their Creator (whether they admit it or not). It is called loving your neighbor.
⟹ As already noted, French’s article made no sense. I am not stating this because I disagree with his assertions (which I do), but he demonstrates absolutely no correlation between his opinions and everything that goes before and after them. While he is certainly entitled to his own opinions, he is not entitled to determine his own facts — particularly ones that when disagreed with makes one guilty of “sin” in God’s sight.
Interestingly, if I were to take French’s own actions as my lead, I would have to conclude that the obligation of a Christian is to scold Evangelicals who voted for Trump and publicly shame them for this “sin” — and that this would be my supreme purpose.
Darrel Cox is Professor of Biblical Studies at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va. He teaches core and upper level courses in Biblical Studies and writes curriculum for online classes. Dr. Cox lives near Winchester, Virginia, with his wife and seven children.
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