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‘At Least He Likes Us’: Trump and the Evangelical Delirium

Fri, Jul. 08, 2016 Posted: 02:32 PM


A delirium is a symptom of an underlying illness.

Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporter is the oft-times controversial Pastor Robert Jeffress who famously suggested that Christians not voting for Trump are foolish and prideful.[1] Christian Post reporter Ethan Cole reported that Jeffress encourages ‘namby-pamby’ Christians to vote for Trump because “At least he likes us.”

In the CP report, Cole writes that Jeffress says "This isn't about partisan politics," he insisted. "This is about good and evil." "This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats," Jeffress said last week during a radio interview with host Rick Wiles. "It's a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness."[2]

To be sure, Jeffress is not implying that Trump is the evil person in this dichotomy. Nor is he implying that Trump is the unrighteous one, or the darkness opposing the light. He is saying that Trump is the good, righteous and the child of light.

Let’s get this straight: the implication is that Trump is the lesser of two evils – acknowledging that he is evil, and at the same time he is good, righteous and a guiding light. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it IS confusing. And as a moral and spiritual basis for supporting him it is an intellectual and spiritual debility.

One definition of delirium from Wikipedia is “an acute confused state… an organically caused decline from a previously attained baseline level of cognitive function.” Applied to Evangelicalism, delirium is a spiritually confused state caused by the progressive decline from foundational biblical principles.

Apart from the feeble attempt to say that Trump is now a true believer, offered by James Dobson and Paula White, there is nothing to justify a Christian endorsement of Trump as a righteous defender of the Faith. If nothing else, his recidivist actions and speech that confirmed his morally debased and ungodly nature, that was on display immediately after meeting with the 1000 evangelicals, and the establishment of that infamous Evangelical Advisory Board, puts the lie to his conversion of convenience.

Intellectual Somnolence

In the exercising of their spiritual gifts, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to worship God in the spirit and with their understanding (1 Cor. 14:15). Framing the election in binary terms obscures the damage being done to the understanding and application of biblical standards. Too many Christians fail to see that. They are guilty of intellectual somnolence. Intellectually they are asleep at the wheel. This election is no different from any other in our lifetime as far as what is at stake.

Why are there evangelicals who staunchly decline to support Trump, and so on a biblically principled foundation? Why have they resisted the pressure to support the “lesser of two evils?” What we are seeing among evangelicals is the breaking down of the wall erected by the “Moral Majority,” and the reawakening of faithful evangelicals who are determined to hold their ground.

Note carefully, that the evangelical supporters of Trump have never articulated a convincing biblical rationale for so doing. Instead, they appeal to Christian fears of persecution and cite his support for religious freedom and other hot button issues. This sentiment has been around for a while and has gained momentum during the Obama presidency. It is not quite true that Christians in America are being persecuted; it may be coming, but there is no real persecution. Yet, Christians uncritically accept it as gospel.

Eric Metaxas is reported in a July 8, 2016 CP report by Samuel Smith to say that the “American Church lacks faith that only comes from being persecuted.” That is a significant point for thinking Christians to ponder in light of the current narrative on the relationship between the Church and the Government.

The persecuted Church is not an intellectual construct; it is a matter of life and death and is distinguished by a certain kind of faith. Smith quotes Metaxas: "Well, the church in the bush, the church in the jungle, the persecuted church, they know this stuff," Metaxas added. "They know this stuff but the American church doesn't know it… It is a bit of a catch 22 — [i]f you get persecuted, you kind of find this kind of faith."

Caught that? The American Church does not have the faith that comes from being persecuted, because it is not really being persecuted. That does not mean it is not going to happen, but Christians ought to be more discriminating in how they make political decisions.

Spiritual Somnolence

Paul told the Ephesians that our warfare is spiritual and that we are not fighting against mortals but spiritual foes (Ephesians 6:12).

In past few years, polls done by the Barna and Pew research groups have shown that the majority of evangelicals do not consult the bible for their day-to-day decision making, and that a majority also do not consider the Holy Spirit to be a person, but simply a force. This means, then, that they do not have a spiritual approach to the issues facing the Church, and, most importantly, they lack the wisdom that comes from God, and their endeavors are pursued in their own strength. In effect, they are like the carnal Christians in the Corinthians church.

It is no wonder they seek deliverance from the institutions of men, even while they make a show of piety and prayer. Their passions are real and sincere, but they are working from a position of spiritual weakness and ignorance. They are unable to distinguish between genuine faith and carnal disbelief. They assume that the Grace of God is fungible and weak when the scripture says “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” Titus 2:11-12, NIV.

The Challenge for Evangelicalism (and for Christians everywhere)

A generation of political activism has codified right wing conservatism as the evangelical political ideology and imprinted its principles into the consciousness of evangelicals. Indeed, there are those with influence within the Church who say that Trump would be God’s choice because he calls himself Republican. God, however, does not recognize political distinctions, only those who belong to Christ.

Christ taught that there are things that are the purview of the state and things that are the purview of the Church (Matthew 22:21); He taught the separation of Church and State. Peter teaches us how to live in a secular society (1 Peter 2:11-25, NIV), and therein warned us, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil…” (16).

The challenge, then, is for those true Evangelicals and Christians who refuse to bow to Trumpism, to stand for biblical principles without giving any quarter, as true soldiers of the cross. Because we were called to this. Evangelicals can either agree with God, or else cease to claim that they are on his side. After all, two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement.

The cause of Christ is not furthered by an alliance with evil, or by making ungodly means a utilitarian cause.

Footnote

[1] March 5, 2016 Christian Post report by Leonard Blair

[2] July 5, 2016 Christian Post report by Ethan Cole

Marvin Thompson