When did we who are Christians decide that we could not support a politician who was not holy enough? When did we arrive at the point where we would not support an apparent unrepentant sinner — perhaps, say, a non-Christian — even if his policies are overtly and measurably returning us at least in small part to our Judeo-Christian heritage and improving the state of the nation?
The answer? Apparently at the election of Donald Trump. This is not a hard case to make.
There are two bookends to the case.
First, evangelicals who voted for Trump in November and support Trump now are charged with being idolaters, heretics and unfaithful by prominent never-Trump evangelicals. Because we support him and his policies as president, that means we are OK with the morals in his life, including sex outside marriage with a prostitute, or his incautious language at times, including on Twitter.
But this is a fallacious position, as shown when it is flipped. If they did not vote for Trump, then by their conflation they are OK with tacitly supporting abortion and funding Planned Parenthood. If evangelical Trump voters are not allowed to separate the man from his policies, then why should they be allowed to separate not voting for Trump with the concomitant immoral policies that follow.
Second, is the standard which they hold evangelicals to with Trump the same as they hold themselves to with all of the rest of elected officials? Is this requirement of Biblical purity being applied at every level of office? Are the people they support at the city, county, state and Congressional level meeting this standard? If they are not, do these people similarly disdain and attack supporters of those people?
The answer is self-evident. Too many of my evangelical Christian brethren, who are conservatives as I am, have moved the goal posts — or flat out changed the rules of the game — to accommodate their personal dislike of and opposition to Trump, and to ground their attacks on those of us who do support him because of his solidly conservative policies and appointments.
Those two applications of their philosophy bookend the middle problem, which is the use of straw men in their attacks. So let’s take a match to the most absurd straw man that is constantly used and undergird both bookends: By supporting Trump’s policies, Christians are turning a blind eye to his moral failures, or worse, accepting them as not a big deal.
This is false to the point of being injurious libel. Yet this is the ground that has been staked out by some prominent and angry-sounding evangelicals.
New York Times columnist and anti-Trumper Ross Douthat sums up two of these straw men approaches:
“…on the influential Gospel Coalition site, Jared Wilson described younger evangelicals as ‘basically a bunch of theological orphans,’ betrayed by older pastors who insisted on the importance of moral character and then abandoned these preachments for the sake of partisanship — revealing their own commitments as essentially idolatrous, and leaving the next generation no choice but to invent evangelicalism anew.
Wilson like the rest seems to conflate any support of Trump due to Trump policies and appointments as “abandoning” our beliefs. But would he apply the same straw man logic to himself?
If Wilson did not vote for Trump, then that means he has abandoned his morals with regard to abortion and maybe 72 genders. Because if Wilson, Douthat and the others philosophically do not allow me to separate Trump policies from Trump, then I why should I let them separate not supporting Trump from non-Trump policies — that is, Hillary Clinton?
I’ll tell you why: Because I don’t believe that of them. I don’t think they have abandoned their social morals because they did not vote for Trump. They weighed and chose one way and I have always granted conservatives that space. But they will not grant me that space, because apparently, they know I have abandoned my faith and principles — which of course, they cannot know.
Further, what they propose in their pronounced judgement of fellow Christians is a terrible and divisive philosophy that digs the foundations of purity tests as requirements for candidate support — and Wilson and Team Anti-Trump will clearly be the arbiters of what those requirements are and when they are met.
Here’s another example from Douthat’s column:
“In a somewhat different vein, the Baylor professor Alan Jacobs responded to a question (from me) about where younger evangelical intellectual life is going by saying that “as far as I can tell, where young evangelicals are headed is simply out of evangelicalism.” Meaning that they will either go along with the drift of their elders and become church-of-American-greatness heretics, or else they will return to “older liturgical traditions,” Catholic and Orthodox and Anglican, and cease to identify with evangelicalism entirely.”
Wilson knew I had abandoned my principles because I disagree with him politically on this president. But Jacobs knows even more; that I am now a heretic. But see above why he would have to be also, if judged by the same test.
David French, one of the most prominent and loudest evangelical never-Trumpers, recently castigated in the harshest terms evangelical support for Trump:
“It’s sin, and it’s sin that is collapsing the Evangelical moral witness…all too many fellow believers have torched their credibility and exposed immense hypocrisy through fear, faithlessness, and ambition. Soon enough, the “need” to defend Trump will pass. He’ll be gone from the American scene. Then, you’ll stand in the wreckage of your own reputation and ask yourself, “Was it worth it?” The answer will be as clear then as it should be clear now. It’s not, and it never was.”
Or maybe a major threat to evangelical Christianity will be seeing prominents such as French, Douthat, Wilson, Jacobs and others viciously attack the very being of the faith of evangelicals who disagree with them politically. That is a uniquely ugly presentation of Christian unity and charity.
I will not attack these people on the logic of their horrible straw men depictions of Christian Trump supporters. Nor will I attack them on the grounds of knowing their hearts — as they clearly do with me. Dozens of Bible verses compel me otherwise. Let’s take one:
“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2
The Lord weighs our hearts. Not anti-Trumpers. Not pro-Trumpers. They take that upon themselves at great peril.
It is soundly unChristian to denounce the hearts of other believers over political choices. Did they do that over the Christians who supported Obama and Clinton, despite the deeply anti-Christian policies of those two? I sure don’t remember it. I did not and will not. Vigorous disagreement on the substance of issues is warranted. Condemnation is well outside the Christian pale.
These are passionate times and we all make mistakes. We are all fallen. We all sin. Pundits to presidents.
And here’s something I think they err on greatly. The emphasis on morals is right. It’s right for us before God and to teach our children. But it’s not the first thing because it is a distinctly Christian doctrine that we cannot be saved by our own works, but only through the grace offered by God. So before being moral is the need for salvation through Christ for the evangelical Christian, particularly. While my fellow Christians surely believe this, they do not sound it. They want to judge Trump — and Trump policy supporters — on morals in a way they would not allow to be turned back on them.
But what if Trump is not a Christian? Then all of their protestations are out of order, and their libel against brothers and sisters is more than unwarranted, its unloving.
I understand the dislike. But the opposition is wrong in my opinion, although I accept we can disagree without me condemning their hearts. Their attacks on evangelicals such as myself are unbecoming — and create this internecine battle among people who agree on virtually all the major political issues, and presumably on the core of the most important issue: the centrality of Christ.
I will always have an olive branch out for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are so determined to tell me I am a disgraceful idolator ruining the witness of Christ. I am also open to debating and discussing this in any civil environment. It seems as though civility should not be a prerequisite, but the anger and bitterness in some of these words suggest it needs to be.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.
Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.
Get more stuff like this
Don’t miss a single act of Revolutionary Truth... delivered to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.