Media Politics the Church USA

Biden, Trump and the Great Evangelical Disaster – CT

This weeks article in Christian Today – I hope to write a couple of further responses to those who sent me the Evangelicals for Biden statement – and those who sent me the Evangelicals for Trump page.  But before that I want to reflect on the common dangers of both approaches….

Biden, Trump and the Great Evangelical Disaster

 

(Photo: CNBC)

Recently I was sent a copy of a statement from an organisation calling itself Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden. This appears to be connected with a larger group called Evangelicals for Biden. I was surprised not only to receive it, but also to see who some of the signatories were. As far as I could see, it was not paid for by the Biden campaign, and so in this way differs from the Evangelicals for Trump group, which is funded by the president.

The common understanding is that the vast majority of white evangelicals (80%) voted for Donald Trump, although that all depends on who you consider to be evangelical. There is no doubt that President Trump and his team consider evangelicals to be vital to his campaign – and therefore they have become a target for both campaigns. If there is now a significant group of evangelicals, never mind Catholics, who are considering changing their vote, this would indeed be a game changer.

That is why the Guardian, amongst other media, are so thrilled to make this a major issue – bear in mind that when media become as partisan as the Guardian and CNN on one hand, and Fox on the other, headlines are often wish projections rather than news!

But I wish to make no comment on the politics involved here – I would say a plague on both your houses but that might be misunderstood!

In the great Kingdom of God scheme of things, the politics are relatively unimportant. What really matters is the state of the Church. In 1984, just before he died, Francis A Schaeffer published a book called The Great Evangelical Disaster which argued that Christians had so deserted the Bible that they were heading for a disaster. The abandonment of Scripture was the disaster, but that would lead to further disasters as the Church was set on a downhill slide – especially in the USA.

Schaeffer was a prophet. Not only was his analysis of the culture correct, his predictions about the future have largely turned out to be right as well.

I thought of that title when I read the various competing propaganda from the Evangelicals for Trump/Biden groups. If these groups are representative of American Christianity, then the Church has already been defeated. Why is that the case? Is it wrong for individual Christian leaders to support a political party or candidate? Of course not. We too are citizens. But we are also citizens of another kingdom and when we start confusing the two – claiming, or creating the perception, that the good news of Jesus means he is endorsing one or other of the candidates – then a line has been crossed.

The trouble with much of the Church in the US is that it now sees itself no differently from how the Guardian and other mainstream secular commentators see it – a political bloc. About the same time as Schaeffer was writing his book, yours truly was deeply involved in student politics at the University of Edinburgh. I recall one particular student association meeting where over 150 members of the Christian Union turned up – a normal meeting usually only had a couple of hundred attendees.

I was asked by a political colleague afterwards about the size of the CU. When I told him it was 300, he thought I was about to become one of the most powerful (and disruptive!) figures on the student political scene. Imagine having a bloc vote of 300 people! I told him that that would never happen because, first of all, Christians did not all think the same politically and we did not vote as a bloc, and secondly I would never ask Christians to do that – because it would confuse the kingdom of God with the kingdoms of this world and I wanted Christians to follow Christ, not me in my (short-lived) political career!

I was aware that there were ‘progressives’ in the churches who didn’t believe the Gospel and who had no qualms about associating their politics with Jesus, but my first inkling that my separation of church and politics was not shared by all the evangelical world was when I visited the US. I came from a country which had an official church state, and yet where there was little identification between church and politics, to one where there was official separation, but great identification (and confusion!). Since then I have come to realise that for some evangelicals, the equation of Christianity with one political view or party, is an obvious one. The perception is that there is an evangelical bloc vote, and even more disturbingly that evangelical leaders can, and should, tell their people how to vote. This is a disaster. Why?

Firstly, it gives church leaders political power. And where there is that kind of power, there is also money. When you combine the two, you inevitably end up with corruption. Although there are many fine American churches and church leaders, there have been far too many who have given into the temptation and see themselves as some kind of political power broker.

Secondly, it makes the proclamation of the Gospel more difficult because the Gospel inevitably gets associated with one party or another. At the time of the Iraq war, I was in a meeting of American mission leaders who were working in Europe. One of them, working in a central European city, came up with an idea to reach out to the people of that city by holding a series of talks on ‘just war theory’. He thought it would show the Church was contemporary and had something to say to the modern world. I suggested such an approach would be a disaster. Why? Because America had just invaded Iraq. An American missionary holding a talk about just war would be perceived as a justification for that action. Sure, perhaps 50 per cent of the population might agree, but the other 50 per cent would be alienated and thus his potential audience for the good news of Jesus would already be reduced by half.

The trouble with both ‘evangelical’ groups is that they do not add to the evangel or its relevance. They take away from it. Let individual leaders make their own case as private citizens, but please let’s not have Jesus endorsing anyone. When I see a particular evangelical leader endorsing a political party or candidate on behalf of the evangel, it immediately means that I am extremely wary of supporting their ministry or organisation. That is not our calling.

Thirdly, these kind of ‘evangelical’ political groups divide and polarise the Church. They set up a dividing wall of partition.  After all, if Jesus is endorsing your candidate and you are proclaiming that as part of the good news, then those who don’t support your candidate can’t be following Jesus all that well!

One argument that is made is that ‘Jesus would endorse our guy, because the other one is so bad’. I heard one evangelical for Biden argue that evangelicals only voted for Trump because they were scared of what liberal progressives would do. He correctly challenged them to trust Jesus but then blew it by saying that Trump was so bad that evangelicals should vote for Biden! He was an intelligent man, but clearly was unaware of the illogicality of what he was saying. Indeed far too many evangelical leaders, drunk on the intoxication of perceived power, seem to have fallen into that trap.

If I was an ordinary, intelligent, non-Christian citizen, I would be tempted to regard any church leader’s endorsement of a particular candidate as a reason to not vote for that candidate. Likewise, ordinary intelligent Christians should tell any church leader who seeks to influence their vote that they can think for themselves and don’t need someone whose calling is to proclaim the Gospel, telling them how they should vote. Sure they can tell us what they would do – just don’t tell us that Jesus would do the same as them.

The identification of Jesus with party politics is the great evangelical disaster. It has compromised and crippled the evangelical witness and the name of God is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles because of you! This has an impact on the wider worldwide Church, not just in the perception of evangelical Christianity it creates, but because American Christian media (sometimes funded by those who have strong political interests), is incredibly wealthy and thus able to spread its message and ethos throughout the world. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Evangelicals for Biden and Evangelicals for Trump should remember that evangelicals are for Christ.  They should repent and instead call all evangelicals to think for themselves and to pray.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Views and opinions published in Christian Today are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

The Kitchen Table 20 – Made in the Image of God – President Trump

Letter from Australia 63 – I am Trump

Hidden Hand 3 –  The CCP’s Influence on Bush, Biden, Bloomberg and other American Political Elites.

 

21 comments

  1. “This appears to be connected with a larger group called Evangelicals for Biden.”
    Can you give a reference for this please David?

      1. David, I was referring to your statement about an apparent connection between evangelicalsforbiden and prolifeevangelicalsforbiden. If there is no connection why mention the latter?

      2. Bruce – you are always rushing to condemn – you seem to think that your every post is a ‘gotcha’ post. I’m a wee bit tired of your constant carping. If you had bothered to read the evangelicals for Biden website you would see that there is a direct link they make between them and prolife evangelicals for Biden. I would suggest you find somewhere else for your nit-pcking and fault finding….sorry.

  2. If there was a verse in the Bible that said that Joe Biden was a good person I still would not vote for him because his policies are bad for all people.

    1. Perhaps it’s back to where we were four years ago then? Voting for the lesser of two evils. Such is the case when you have a political system that’s based on personalities rather than policies!

  3. Quite surprised that your article did not delve into the nature of the Democratic and Republican platform of policies on a range of massively important issues like The Supreme Court, LGBT issues, abortion, law and order, freedom of speech and religious liberty, climate change, the need to reform and repeal poor and/or badly framed prior legislation as well as foreign policy regarding Israel etc etc. As far as I can see if we are serious about putting the Bible before partisan political allegiance then there is only one person and party to vote for in America. I don’t think it’s necessary to say who!

      1. I can’t agree with you about the issue being more complex – it’s only complex if you’re not committed to a Biblical approach to morality and liberty. The link you provided to the ‘Evangelicals for Biden’ is appalling because it is a blatant play for Christian votes and says literally nothing about the Democratic platform of policies that will be implemented should he win. The fact that Biden believes in God is completely irrelevant if the Democrats will continue the barbaric practise of abortion under the guise of ‘women’s rights’ and force states that voted not to have gay marriage to have it imposed upon them.

        You ignored my main point, which was the important thing in this and any other election is the platform of stated policies that the Republican and Democrats are saying they will implement because that is what you are voting for in the end, not just Trump or Biden.

        Once again, if you look at the detail of what is being proposed there is actually very little choice for a committed Christian.

      2. I am committed to a biblical approach to morality and liberty – that’s why it’s complex. In a presidential election you are voting for a President – that’s kind of the point. The Republicans will also continue the practice of abortion and gay marriage – they haven’t stopped them so far. I do look at the detail…and there is a choice. And I am a committed Christian

  4. David, I have read many of your articles and have no doubt whatsoever of your commitment to Christ or of your love for God. As you didn’t address the point I made I am giving you a link to a good side by side comparison of the Democratic and Republican positions on a number of issues – your readers may well find them enlightening. You have said you do look at the detail and I accept your word, but there’s not much evidence of it in your article. Here is some of the detail:

    https://docs.ivoterguide.com/Brochures/CoBranded%20Party_Platform_Compare_2020.pdf?_gl=1*1aci59y*_ga*YW1wLWlubVFQQklwVDRJb1c3TU13cUlJZkE.

    You are not right about Republicans and gay marriage – Trump and the Republican party want to respect the rights of the states who voted not to allow gay marriage but the Supreme Court forced them to to have it anyway in a landmark ruling. If he wins I expect Trump to go for it with reform and repeal of immoral legislation.

    Trump promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court and he kept his word. This in and of itself, unless the Democrats win and change the rules, will affect America for years to come. Trump is quite possibly the most openly pro-life president in recent history and two of the supreme court judges have said they are sympathetic to looking again at Roe vs Wade, Another conservative judge on the supreme Court is all that is needed to repeal the gross legislation that has led us to this point. This is why the Democrats are so enraged by the latest nominee. I realise this makes me sound a bit like a dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporter but I am not – righteous judges are enormously influential.

    It is to be regretted that the Democratic Party has aligned itself so openly with an anti-Christian platform of policies and they fully realise that in 2016 millions of Christians voted for Trump, hence the wholly spurious attempt to fool Christians to vote for them.

    Read the link and let me know what you think.

  5. I concur about Francis Schaeffer being a prophet. His 1976 book “How then should we live – The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture” could have been written last week. Please consider reading this whether you live in America the UK or Australia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: