The last few days, I’ve been focusing on the recent phenomenon where the lines between Trumpism and Evangelicalism have been blurred. There’s been a lot of frustration within the Christian camp as some key evangelical leaders have become staunchly pro-Trump while others remain adamantly anti-Trump.
Last Friday, I wrote what amounted to an honest question for radio show host and author Eric Metaxas about his support of Donald Trump. While directed specifically at Metaxas, the post could have been written to about any prominent evangelical leader who has endorsed Trump, openly or otherwise. Then on Saturday, I wrote about how I’m “never Trump” without being #NeverTrump. That’s intentionally paradoxical, and if you’re curious as to what I meant by that, then I encourage you to check it out.
Today, I want to allow the pendulum to make a complete circuit and survey those who are #NeverTrump. I’ve been watching all of this play out over the last several months both on the airwaves and the “interwebs.” While I take a hard lean away from supporting Donald Trump, there have been some extremely shocking sentiments coming from the anti-Trumpers crowd that have perplexed me almost as much as the attitude of some pro-Trump Christians.
For example, when I heard the news about a large group of evangelical leaders meeting with Trump last week, my first response was, “ho-hum–just another political meeting where a political candidate wants to pander to a substantial voting bloc.” Yet the #NeverTrump crowd absolutely lambasted the meeting and basically criticized any and every one of the reportedly 1,000 people there.
As someone who has, as I’ve said, taken a hard lean away from Trump, I was surprised by those #NeverTrump Christians who played the “guilty by association” card so quickly.
Though I understand the outrage, #NeverTrump Christians would do well to drop the self-righteous judgement. Provide criticism, even sharp criticism, but forsake the harsh rhetoric. Not all Trump supporters are created equal. There are a handful (perhaps more than a handful, sadly) who actually have sold out and even compromised the Gospel in order to push the presumptive Republican nominee.
We should not, however, begrudge any Christian merely for their physical proximity to any political leader. Numerous Old Testament prophets had the ears of kings: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Nathan, Daniel, Nehemiah, etc. Take care to be absolutely sure that some of these public, Christian leaders have actually forsaken the Gospel before you forsake them.
I understand the difficulty in bestowing such a level of grace. Many who are #NeverTrump are sensitive to the way that those without Christ are closely weighing the response of evangelicals to the Trump fiasco. Many secular/liberal types are finding confirmation that their stereotypes of Bible-believing Christians are true. Just being close to Donald Trump and conversing with him, however, does not one a sellout make. Otherwise, the presumptive Democratic nominee would have a lot of explaining to do.
When it comes to this election season, it appears as though each of these camps, pro-Trump and anti-Trump, are committing similar sins. Both tend to lash out at the other with rhetoric that’s unnecessarily vicious. Both tend to view one or the other outcome as a potential disaster from which there would be no recovery. In doing so, they both seem to fail to trust the outcome to Christ.
The cliche is true; no matter which candidate wins, Christ will still be on the throne. We need to remember that, but we also would do well to recall that we are the people of God. We have a mission to reach the world with the Gospel. The outcome of an election does not change that. Do major Christian leaders who compromise the Gospel make that mission more difficult? Yes they do. Would a Democratic presidency that would most likely impede religious liberty make that mission more difficult? Most certainly.
Whatever the outcome, I believe that God desires to use these dire circumstances to wake the American church up from her slumber. The warning signs have been there for a while now, but we’ve kept hitting “snooze” on the alarm clock. It’s time to wake up, proclaim and live the Gospel, or be carried away into irrelevance upon the tide of history.
What will we do, church?