Monday, September 26, 2016

Support Not Unanimous

Back in the old days, nearly two months ago, Donald Trump was to Ted Cruz a "pathological liar," a "narcissist," and "serial philanderer."

Today he is a supporter of Trump for President   Even before considering the “careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience," Cruz had been selling his e-mail list to the Trump campaign.

That appears to have been primarily for financial benefit, which may or may not have resulted from prayer and asking guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Coupled with the extensive support that evangelicals have given Trump, it can (or at least should) discourage anyone who has believed that Christian conservatives have thrown their allegiance to the GOP only after prayerful consideration and divine inspiration.

We- to be interpreted loosely- have been fooled in the past, and may be again. Yet, at least one activist, a devout Prtoestant, committed conservative, and ardent forced-birth advocate, may actually be sincere.

Both a Never Trump and Never Hillary devotee, Erick Erickson, former editor of Red State, former member of the Macon, Ga. City Council, talk-show host and divinity student, participated on September 16 in a fascinating debate sponsored by National Religious Broadcasters pitting pro-Trump evangelicals against anti-Trump evangelicals.

Erickson believes Mrs. Clinton's candidacy "is fundamentally anathema to and in opposition to basic, historic American values," including "individual liberty as negative liberty" in which individuals woud benefit most "if government left them alone."  He fears a President Clinton's Supreme Court appointments would effect "a devastation of our social fabric."

He is wrong on all those counts, of course, but it seems that his religious values are equally important.   Having been begged by "so many pastors" and "so many others" to reconsider his decision not to endorse Trump, he responded in a column printed last Friday in The Washington Post. He perceives in the support of fellow Christian conservatives for Trump

a level of desperation causing them to place their trust in one strong man instead of God. And, in truth, I do not concede they are right, but have concluded we are already past the point of redemption when the best either party can do is offer up Clinton or Trump. The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape.

Christians looking for a strong man to protect the church instead of the strongest man who conquered death is a terrible thing to see. Many Christian leaders are engaging in a kind of syncretism, trying to blend patriotism with Christianity. They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling. The gates of hell shall not prevail.

"I am not sure I have" ever asked God for forgiveness, Trump once admitted, "and I don't bring God into that picture" of right and wrong. Criticizing an evangelical supporter of Trump who once attacked the libertine Giuliani, Erickson notes

Even Giuliani never wrote a book bragging about his affairs with married women or boasting of taking advantage of others through strategic bankruptcy filings and shorting laborers. One can hardly escape the conclusion that had Giuliani been the nominee, Grudem would be chastising Christians for not wanting to vote for the man.

Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.

Trump strangely views communion as a plea for forgiveness and while he refuses to vote for Clinton, Erickson writes of the GOP candidate

I cannot in good conscience support anyone who bears the name of brother when he is unrepentant of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler.

Here now is a man in Trump who sees no need to be saved and has no understanding of a faith he professes. And he sees Christians cheering him on in his rebellious state, defending him when they blasted others for the very same sins.

The whole purpose of shunning the unrepentant sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent. All Christendom should be ashamed we are putting our needs in this temporary place ahead of saving a soul bound for eternity.

Ever the reformed Christian, Erickson fears Trump's

victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness.

When Samantha Bee in July asked various evangelical voters at the Western Conservative Summit about their support of the GOP nominee, one stated "As long as he's not murdering people or killing babies, I'm sure he's fine." Notwithstanding pressure from like-minded colleagues, however, one prominent evangelical has set the bar higher.

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