The President vs the Paper; What we can learn from Christianity Today vs. Trump

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime
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According to most studies, and the conventional wisdom of the day, most evangelical Christians support the presidency of Donald Trump.  Some have even gone so far as to claim evangelical leaders have sold their souls and lost their spiritual vision in blind support of the administration.  However, those of us who would be labeled as “evangelical” have long known that it is not so easy to paint us all with a broad brush of undying devotion to the president.

dissenting opinions (among evangelicals) are rarely mentioned by the media.  Thus, they seem to be non-existent.

Within evangelical circles there are many who are “never-Trumpers,” having never supported Trump.  Others did not vote for him in the primaries, but felt he was their only choice in the general election.  Some even sat out the general election, because, while most evangelicals find the Democrat party’s positions on marriage, abortion, and religious liberty to be incompatible with a biblical worldview, they still could not bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump.  Yet, these dissenting opinions are rarely mentioned by the media.  Thus, they seem to be non-existent.

This appearance of unanimous support from the evangelical community was shattered when Mark Galli, editor-in-chief, of Christianity Today, released an opinion piece calling for Donald Trump’s removal. In his editorial, Galli called upon the church to remember its position from 20 years ago, when President Bill Clinton’s character was “revealed” during his impeachment proceedings.  The article includes several quotes from the publication’s own articles regarding Clinton.  In essence, Galli believes that Trump’s character has been shown to be untrustworthy, his impeachment is just, he should be removed from office, and Christians should agree with, and call for, the removal.

Another day.  Shots fired.  Shots returned.  Politics as usual in 2019.  

It did not take long for President Trump to respond via Twitter.  He blasted Christianity Today, saying…

“A far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President,” Trump tweeted. “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!” -President Trump via Twitter

The tweeted response, along with the article being shared and called out by various Christian commentators, sent so much traffic to the Christianity today site that it apparently shut down briefly.

There you have it.  Another day.  Shots fired.  Shots returned.  Politics as usual in 2019.

Or was there more?  Was there something we can learn from this exchange, and the media melee that has followed?  I think so.

1. Not all evangelicals support Donald Trump

This one is fairly simple and has already been addressed.  Can we please stop with the narrative that all evangelicals somehow worship at the Trump altar?  There are evangelical Christians of a wide variety of beliefs and many nuanced positions.  We are not blind sheep following after a political pied piper.

2.  Many who do support the president have not given him “carte-blanche”

Despite what many media outlets and “progressive” Christians would have you believe, even those who support Trump’s presidency can see that the man has flaws.  Franklin Graham, who has been a vocal ally of the administration even pointed out that yes, the president is not perfect.  Many of my evangelical colleagues and friends have been quite vocal in calling out the president when they feel he has said or done the wrong thing.  This is not an exception.

3.  Much of the world sees Christians as inconsistent and perhaps hypocritical regarding Trump

This one stings.  No one likes to be called out when we are inconsistent.  However, to many, it appears the evangelical community is giving Donald Trump a pass on the very issues that many railed about regarding Bill Clinton.  Perhaps, this is true.  Perhaps, it is not.  Either way, we need to think about our messaging and measure all things by the scripture, not by our political allegiance.

4.  There is a scary amount of “progressive” Christianity in the evangelical community

In a controversial 2016 op-ed, the very same Mark Galli writes that participating in homosexual wedding activities is not only acceptable, but is actually what Jesus would want.  While this article does not permit me to dive into the depths of how incorrect and unbiblical this is, others have responded in thorough fashion.

Galli’s positions are simply the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Evangelical Christianity, once stalwart in adhering to a Biblical Worldview has increasingly slid with the social tides of the day.

5. The president sees himself as an ally of evangelicals

As his tweet was quick to point out, Donald Trump has been as connected to the Church as any president in modern history.  Nearly every month, another group of Christian leaders, primarily evangelical, are meeting with the president, or his advisors.  Since before the election, the Trump administration has made it clear they want to hear from Church leaders, and much of what we are saying is showing up in policy decisions.

6.  There is an opportunity for another candidate

As these fissures in the Trump support foundation continue to show, there is room for someone else to step up and gain the support of Christian voters.  There are many who have many reservations about the morality and temperament of President Trump.  However, for most Christians they saw no other viable option for their support.

7. That candidate has yet to appear

Yes, there are a few independent and third-party candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring, but until one can actually garner enough support to have a real chance, they are not an option.  Yes, there were enough Democrat candidates to fill an MLB roster this year, and it will no doubt be one of them that is the challenger in 2020.  However, in order to be a real option for a Christian that seeks to vote according to a Biblical worldview, the candidate needs to be anti-abortion, pro traditional marriage, and support religious liberty.  As of yet, there is not one Democrat presidential candidate that fits those criteria.  Thus, if evangelicals are expected to be swayed from Trump, the candidate to do so is still unknown.

In the days ahead we will no doubt see more attacks, more retorts, and more division.  This will continue at least until November 2020, and likely beyond.  In the meantime, Let us remember to live righteously, love mercy, and interact in humility.

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