July 6, 2016

Hey Dr Dobson, It’s Time to Focus on Jesus

I have been critical in the past over celebrity evangelical figures who have  blinked first and allowed the sexual ethics of progressivism to blind them to the reality of the biblical framework on sexuality and Christ’s gospel call to purity. The desire for cultural and social power, and a seat at the table in the coming secular kingdom has proven, and continues to prove to be, too much for many.

But lest I hear “rah-rah’s” and “harrumphs” from conservative Christians, a brilliant, but sobering, article in the New York Times yesterday nails evangelicals from the Right for exactly the same thing.

Left and Right think they have opposing agendas, but Peter Wehner’s scorching assessment, The Theology of Donald Trump, should have conservative evangelicals gnashing their teeth, because clearly they want the same spoils of war as their progressive foe. The only difference being that they want them from the other side.

Wehner’s article excoriates evangelicals on the Right for not simply supporting Donald Trump in his Presidential push, but for their craven, slavering syrupy endorsement of a man as far away from understanding the guts of the cross of Christ as one can be in politics.

And all of this at a time when secular Republicans are making excuses not to attend the party’s wedding feast/national conference this year, in protest at Trump’s nomination.

Wehner damns this cohort not so much with his punchy, powerful words, but with their own flaccid, faithless efforts.

Here’s Focus on The Family’s  Dr James Dobson after meeting Trump:

“Trump appears to be tender to the things of the Spirit.”

To which Wehner retorts:

Of all the descriptions of Mr. Trump we’ve heard this election season, this may be the most farcical. As described by St. Paul, the “fruit of the Spirit” includes forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, hardly qualities one associates with Mr. Trump. It shows you the lengths Mr. Trump’s supporters will go to in order to rationalize their enthusiastic support of him.

And how about this from the perennial Jerry Falwell:

“Donald Trump is God’s man to lead our nation.”

Now I can pretty much excuse Falwell. Over the  decades he has demonstrated that he doesn’t quite get how the Church is the nation of God, rather than the nation being the nation of God.

But when celebrity Christian author Eric Metaxas says that Christians…

“…must vote for Trump because he is the last best hope of keeping America sliding into oblivion.”.

then I wonder whether the best biographer of Bonhoeffer so far has actually read Bonhoeffer, much less understood him. I hope Tim Keller of New York Redeemer Presbyterian Church distances himself publicly from his friend’s comments.  He needs to.

And all of this sprang from the parody of a Love Feast that Trump held with hundreds of evangelical leaders recently at which he said:

“And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.”

Woah, There’s your problem right there! The same pesky problem that Judas Iscariot had with Jesus. All that power at your finger tips Jesus, and you simply refusing to use it to further yourself – and us!

Where was the Jeremiah, the Micaiah, in that room who would stand up, push back his seat and shout “You lie!” before being booed and then dragged out by security. I guess when your mouth is full of lobster it’s hard to raise your voice in protest against the host isn’t it?

Wehner concludes with this damning observation:

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

Yes, power is the name of the game.  It’s just not the game that Jesus was playing.  And that’s something both the Left and the Right in the US – and here in Australia, which increasingly lives its Christianity in the rain shadow of the US – need to humbly acknowledge.

As traction within the cultural framework slides further away from conservative Christians in Australia, let’s remember that for every Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to defile themselves with the king’s food, there were dozens of their countrymen slurping wine and wolfing down cutlets who had conveniently forgotten that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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