DID WHITE EVANGELICALS DAMAGE THE CHURCH DURING TRUMP’S ERA?

Author: Michal W. Dewar, Sr.
01/24/2021 (michaeldewar.com)

Introduction

As we reflect on the debacle of the four years of the Trump’s Administration, many are asking the question, did white evangelicals damaged the Church by enabling Donald Trump? This is the question explored in this article. It is self-evident that white evangelicals did not only become one with the Republican party, they threw their collective weight in support of  Trump, and continued that support even when he lost the election.

 They were willing to follow Trump to hell and back, even if it meant leading an armed insurrection to destroy property and murder who they could get their hands on, overturn the will of the American people, install a despot of their choice, and destroy democracy as we know it.

Where did they learn their theology? Certainly not from Jesus or the Bible!  What do these Trump supporters now say to the nation? What do these pastors and TV evangelist now say to their congregations and followers that were so badly deceived? Before we answer the main question, let’s first clarify the term evangelical.

The Term Evangelical

The term “evangelical” is used to identify a wide cross-section of Christianity in the United States and around the world. So, the first thing to bear in mind is the fact that evangelicals are not a monolithic group. They represent diverse groups, races, faith communities, beliefs and practices. What they all have in common is the belief that salvation from sin comes through Jesus Christ and His gospel (the evangel). That’s the unbroken scarlet thread that runs from group to group giving them commonality amidst diversity.

The word “gospel” is the good news concerning Jesus Christ: His life and death, burial and resurrection, ascension and exaltation, and His coming again to judge the living and the dead and to reign. “Gospel” comes from the Greek word, “euaggelion” (pronounced, u-ange-li-on). The gospel is the evangel, the good news about Jesus Christ. This is how the words evangelist and evangelical came to be; they are people who announce the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel.

Use of term “evangelical” came into prominence during the Protestant Reformation to distinguish them from Roman Catholics.1  Bluntly stated, the Protestant Reformation leaders called themselves evangelicals because they firmly believed in Sola fide and sola Scriptura (i.e. salvation is by faith alone and Scripture alone is the final authority).In our time, even Catholics call themselves evangelicals, that shows how diverse the use of the term has become.

So, the term “White Evangelicals” is not representative of all white people, but it identifies the majority of church folks that have become one with the Republican Party and ending up fanatically supporting Donald Trump. They cast to the wind the theology of Jesus including love for neighbor, and trampled upon the rest of the New Testament to embrace a political agenda.

The White Evangelical Cause

This segment of evangelicals has an agenda that is neither Christological nor Scriptural; its inspiration is rooted somewhere else.  They have been searching for a national, political leader for some time to give a unified voice to their agenda. Organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family, the Colson Center, and the now defunct Moral Majority have been grooming pastors and churches for decades to give a gospel response to the morally decadent culture. The general feeling was that the Church is losing the culture and has to do something radical in its witness; otherwise, the whole country is going to hell in handbasket. The subtext—and with that goes our European, white power way of life.

To change the decadent culture, influential church leaders sought for a credible national leader with the political savvy, the intellectual gravitas, and a well-crafted strategy to unite behind. They found all that and more in Chuck Colson, the former legal counsel to President Richard Nixon.

Colson was involved in the Watergate debacle that brought down Nixon. Colson went to prison for his role in Watergate, but quickly found Jesus and his life made a dramatic turn around. He became the sought-after speaker in evangelicals’ circles and the right man to lead the way for evangelicals to turn the culture around. Colson who worked all his life for money, power and fame and ended up in prison was  sincere and happy for this new God-assignment with purpose. He moved with born-again zeal.

 Colson was already a Republican with powerful credentials and contacts. He was tutored in theology by R.C. Sproul but later broke camp with Sproul to sign some ecumenical document that compromised the Reformed doctrine that Sproul embraced. For Sproul, this was earthshaking betrayal. Both men were good men; they are both gone now.

Church folks like a good redemption story and Colson’s Damascus Road-like conversion was the right fit. He not only fell from the pinnacle of executive power with Nixon, went to prison, found Jesus and dramatically turned his life around, but he found Prison Fellowship, an organization that turns around the lives of many prisoners. Colson became the evangelicals’ posterchild to lead the evangelical cultural transformation of politics, government and finally the whole the country for Jesus.

Colson’s strategy rest on four pillars: 1) Christians must be good citizens, 2) Christians must practice their civic duties in all walks of life, 3) Christians must be directly involved in the political process, and 4) “the church must act as the conscience of society, as a restraint against the misuse of government authority.”2   This not only sounds attractive, but it also wittingly or unwittingly reflects the Roman Catholics’ theological position. The devil is in the details, but it became the common evangelical view.

The Unchristian Agenda

The implementation of the Colson’s approach got some good things done, but according to James Davison Hunter, the Colson’s culture change evangelism approach was fatally flawed.3  Rather than the church changing the culture, the very opposite took place; the church largely became one with the culture. The homosexual lifestyle became legal as well as abortion, the prosperity gospel took center stage , and young people left the church in droves. Worldliness took over the church, Sunday morning worship began to look and sound like a Saturday night rock concert.

Hunter was right, the Colson’s approach to culture change was fatally flawed.  Jesus intended the Church to reflect the culture of the kingdom of God and stand as the alternative culture to the decadent cultures of this world. Again, the Colson’s evangelical approach did some good, but it failed to achieve the transformational outcomes the architects envisioned.

Inasmuch as the evangelical worshippers had danced around this new cart, it was unchristian and unbiblical. The gospel was reduced to a few human preferences. Colson died but evangelical did not turn the culture around; the culture turned the church around to accept its way of life. This arm of white evangelicals has lost its way and greatly damaged the Church and its mission in the world. Some view it as the emergent apostate church.

The Trump Era

 With the Colson’s framework not achieving the sweeping desired outcome, White evangelicals regrouped but not with anything new. They double down on certain core issues that they already lost. But with bright hopes for tomorrow, they resolved to reverse these losses at the ballot box and through the courts. They reduced their gospel to three core campaign issues: anti-abortion, anti-homosexual rights, and the preservation of religious liberty. They intended to wage war and die on these three hills.

 They closed their eyes to just about every other sin including racial injustice, police brutality, economic disparity, and the stranger at the gate, to name a few. They hijacked the Republican party and became one with it. And here comes Donald Trump riding a milk white stallion and he became their savior. They hailed him, the messiah! But those who really knew Trump saw him as a false messianic con man.

Some white evangelicals prophesied that Trump is biblical Cyrus; he is God’s man for the cause (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Isa.45:1-7). So, they held their nostrils and elected the amoral Trump to the presidency. They did not care about his lack of moral scruples or his inability to speak  truth nor his lack of compassion or whether he is a Russian asset or not. They did not care whether he was sent by God or Satan, he was their man.

Some so naïvely thought that because one of Trump’s daughters married to a Jewish man, that makes Trump pro-Israel. Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem was just another con move to make him more attractive to a wider Jewish audience. Anybody with a first grade understanding of Hebrew history knows that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel from the time of King David, but it is unlikely to happen before the return of Yeshua, the true Messiah. Antichrist dictators will arise pretending to be pro-Israel to get Jews sign on the dotted line, but they are no friends of Israel (Daniel 9:27).

The American insurrectionists brought our democracy to a near disastrous end and white evangelicals are not innocent in this matter. Some of Trump’s followers, sympathizers and enablers are still in the Senate and the Congress, trying to keep the gate opened for him to make a comeback. But the nation cannot go through this again. The new administration should ensure that this man is not given access ever again to political office or to national secrets. If we do, we may as well kiss good-bye to liberty as we know it.

The True Church

Pastors and other church leaders who with eyes wide-opened deceived their congregations and the nation, greatly damaged the mission of the Church in the world and the cause of Christ; they are behaving more like the apostate church than the true church. They need to break their silence, come out of hiding, and repent publicly for the damage they have done to their local congregations, the worldwide Church, and the nation.

White evangelicals need to abandon this childish, myopic vision that persons are satanic and going to hell because they vote in a political party that is pro-abortion, pro-gay and lesbians rights, and do not shout for religious liberty with a megaphone on main street. This narrow, hypocritical thinking that make demon out of citizens who are different. It is thinking like that that brought Hitler to power in German and the church failed to see his diabolical, amoral and hellish scheme until it was too late.

A word to church people, those in the pews. When your pastor begins to tell you who to vote for or turn the pulpit into a platform for any political party, it is time to find a different church. Stop feeding this beast with your hard-earned money and get out!

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 1 Sproul, R. C. What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the Basics. Grand Rapids, MI: Bakers,1997, p.35.

2 Hunter, James Davison. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010,p.8.

3 Ibid, 18.

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The Evil of Suicide – Part 2

(This is Part 2 of the previous article, The Evil of Suffering).

Author: Michael W. Dewar, Sr.
May 10th, 2020

This article addresses the question, “Will a believer in Jesus Christ go to hell for committing suicide?” Perhaps you are asking, who is a believer? By believer I mean a person who has repented of his or her sins and received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, baptized, or not yet baptized in water. Bear in mind that this definition excludes a wide cross-section of religious people who are members of churches but are not truly registered in the Book of Life in heaven. Book of life registration is reserved for truly born again people (John 3: 1-8; Rev.20:11-15). This article, therefore, must be read in the context of this narrow definition of a believer.

A Mental Health Issue

Most suicides are committed by reason of mental health breakdown. I know something about mental health because I did two years internship at two different psychiatric centers working toward the Licensed Master Social Work (LMSW) degree. I also served many mental health patients during my 28 years in healthcare. So, I am looking at suicide not only from a biblical, theological point of view but also from a mental health frame of reference. Mental health is a serious health challenge for the church. *

There is what is called temporary insanity; courts recognize it as a legitimate defense for a person who commits a crime totally contrary to his or her character, providing two psychiatrists sign off on it. Sanity is like the pendulum of a clock; it swings from sanity to insanity and back. We are considered sane because the pendulum does not stay on the insanity side too long; it swings back.

 But let us say, you got angry, out of control, throwing things and you remain that way for three or four days. You are likely to end up in the psych ward of a hospital on meds and perhaps in a straitjacket. What happen? Your pendulum did not swing back. If you hurt yourself or someone else during this time of breakdown, temporary insanity could be used as a defense. Our judicial system is built upon the Judea-Christian system of justice which is often restrained by mercy.

With that said, let us look at God’s judicial system. The God of the Bible presents Himself as the God of Justice and mercy (Exod.34:5-7). God’s justice is restrained by mercy and He wants human justice to be restrained by mercy (Micah 6:8). The Good Samaritan story teaches the priority of showing mercy to others (Luke 10: 25-37). Now, take the sin or crime of suicide; it is self-murder or a type of manslaughter of the self. Murder in the Bible is based upon premeditation. For this reason, Cities of Refuge were established as a safe space for the accidental manslayer to flee until the matter was investigated to see if it was truly accidental (Num. 35:10-28). The same is true with our system of justice today; if you kill someone by accident or without premeditation, it is considered manslaughter. The punishment, if any, is not severe as murder.

A Question of Motives

Now, if a child of God takes his or her own life—the first question to consider is, what drives the person to commit that sin against God and crime against self? Was it done to cover up another sin or crime? (e.g. in the movies, the crooked executive goes to his office and blows his brains out as the FBI closes in on him). If it is a cover up, chances are the person was not saved in the first place. A true believer would seek to repent rather than using sin to cover up sin. That is the Judas Problem. Was he really saved in the first place, or Just using suicide as a shamefaced cover up for the act of betrayal that did not achieve his purpose?  Judas killed himself as a cover up for his sin of betrayal. His demise was well planned and executed with premeditation. He is lost; Jesus confirms it (John 17:12; Acts 1:16-20).

Had Judas stayed around like Peter who denied Jesus, Jesus would have forgiven Judas as he forgave Peter and restore him to ministry as He restored Peter (John 21:1-19).  Why do I say this?  That is the way Jesus is, He does not keep grudges! He forgave those who crucified Him, so there is no reason to believe He would not have forgiven Judas (Luke 23:33-34).

But if the stress of life drives the person over the edge; that must be a mental health condition. In this case, the believer is not lost; he or she has an advocate (an attorney) who represents and argues his or her case in the courts of heaven at the mercy seat (I John 2:1-3). Jesus Christ is also the believer’s High Priest and the atoning sacrifice for his sin (Heb.4:14-16). The believer is not lost in this case; he is covered. Jesus said of His people, “I give them eternal life and they will never perish…” (John 10:27-28). If you insist that the person is lost, then you make human courts more just than God’s mercy seat.

A Word of Caution

Do not try this at home or anywhere else chances are you could end up in a hot place. If you are a believer or unbeliever and feel overwhelmed with stress or a sense of hopelessness, call somebody: a friend, a family member a pastor or priest.  If you are in the continental United States, call this number anytime of the day or night for help: 1-800-273-8255.

If you belong to a church, be sensitive to those who are under stress or have mental health problems. Be a good listener, no preaching, no lecturing, no telling them to get over it. Make yourself available, you may just save a life. Be particularly tender with children and the elderly who live alone.

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*Mental health is a serious health challenge that most churches and pastors are not equipped to handle. I speak on this in two publications: Dwelling Place Spiritual Cleansing and Church and Family Conflict. To purchase your copy, click here.

The Evil of Suffering-Part 1

This is a two-part article, Part 2 addresses suicide

May 9th, 2020
Author: Michael Dewar

Perhaps, you heard of the New York doctor who committed suicide after working heroically treating COVID-19 patients. As one who spent 28 years providing services to patients in a healthcare, hospital setting, I know firsthand the stress and pressure these excellent professionals go through. COVID-19 multiplies that stress 100 times over. I did not know this doctor personally but help me celebrate her heroic life and send condolence to her family. May the good Lord comfort them!

I now turn to discuss the subject of suffering but let me remind you again, I am not discussing the doctor; I cannot because I did not know her personally or the details surrounding her death. This could have happened to just about anyone. I only want to use this as a springboard to ask the lead question for this article. What could lead an accomplished healthcare professional or anyone else to take his or her life after rendering heroic service to save the lives of fellow human beings?

A thousand things could have converged in a person’s life to push him or her off a self-destructive cliff. There are also many things that could flash in a person’s mind at the last moment to pull him or her back from taking that fatal leap. Perhaps, the memory of a loving spouse, a young child, an elderly parent, religious faith. I want to focus on that last one, religious faith, but in the context of the evil of suffering. I will change “religious” to “Christian” because it is the faith of which I have more academic and experiential knowledge.

Suffering as Evil

In a previous article (on Face Book) I addressed the difference between sin and evil; you may want to look at that. Suffering is a subcategory of theodicy (the problem of evil). Suffering is irrational; the Christian faith has no reasonable explanation for it. In fact, it is our Achilles heel, our point of vulnerability. When a critic raises the question, why an all-powerful God who is good and benevolent allows suffering, especially of young children? Then asserts, it is either your God is not good and powerful as you say He is! At this point we begin to stutter because we have no rational explanation. Yet, deep within we know God is indeed all-powerful and good.

The book of Job in the Old Testament is the classical book on human suffering. Job was righteous man, a family man, a rich man that loved God (Job 1:1-3). Unbeknownst to Job, there was a discussion taking place in the heavens about him between God and Satan. At the end of that discussion, Satan is given permission to inflict suffering on Job, short of taking his life. As a result, Job lost his wealth, his family and his health. His suffering was long, excruciating and repulsive. At the end God shows up, talks with Job but gives him no explanation for his suffering. God gives him back a family, twice as much wealth and his prestigious standing in the community but no logical explanation for his suffering.

The Apparent Absence of God

Like Job, most people feel as if they have been left in the dark without an explanation for their suffering or why a good God should allow it. What are the lessons to learn here? I will reference three:

1) In our suffering it will appear as if God is absent, but He is not. He is right there. He may be silent, but He is surely not absent. This is where a strong well-informed faith is needed to pull you back from jumping off the cliff. The story of Job tells us that God was always present with Job in his suffering, but Job had no evidence of it. Yet Job did not abandon his faith in God. Job confidently declares, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him…” (Job 13:15). That is faith at work in suffering. Lesson? Do not cast away your faith when life gets dark and tough.

2) The cross of Jesus Christ is another example that God is neither oblivious nor absent in our suffering. We Christians say that Jesus is God in the flesh or in human form. If that be so, what is God doing on a cross? He is there dying at the hands of his enemies for his enemies. Lesson? Through Christ, God has entered the human experience; He can be “touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Heb.4:14-16).

3) Jesus in His suffering felt abandoned by His Father; He felt the absence of His Father. That is why He cried out: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27:46). It is natural to feel a sense of abandonment when God is silent in our suffering. But God is right there; He will break His silence at the right time. Lesson? We need strong faith to carry us through the dark days of life, less we fall off the cliff.

Summary
To us human suffering is evil and irrational; we have no logical or satisfactory explanation for it. We are finite and cannot comprehend why a good and omnipotent God allows it in His creation. But we can be confident of this one thing: God through the death of His Son on the cross entered the experience of suffering with us, and we can trust Him to bring us out of it. If we live or die, we win! Because neither life nor death can separate us from God’s love (Rom.8:31-39).  

The final three chapters of the Bible demonstrate that good triumphs over evil and there will be no more suffering, dying or death (Rev.21:1-4). So, feed you faith in the good times, so when the evil times come your way there is no need to jump off the cliff (Ecc.12:1-7). My work, The Book of Life & The Books of Wrath, is a good read on these end-time matters now unfolding on earth.