The NPR headline reads – Survey: White Evangelicals See Trump As ‘Honest’ And ‘Morally Upstanding’. Some of the comments on social media include the following: “Nothing new to me as they are all my racist, homophobic relatives”; and “Scary”.
I am reading through the Old Testament in chronological order this year, and I am currently slogging through Kings and Chronicles. It’s a tough go, and especially tougher as I think about the current political and religious landscape in the United States. It’s hard to know where religion ends and politics begins.
The depressing thing about Kings and Chronicles is how far the people of God go off the ranch. Starting with King David, the man after God’s heart, it’s a steady downward spiral with a few brief interludes of an effort to rid the kingdoms of idols and immorality.
I say kingdoms (plural) because the people began to split under King Solomon and formed two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, immediately after he died. They spent much of their time before the Babylonian captivity fighting and killing each other!
Let me just say this: the United States is NOT a nation of God’s people like Israel was. Yes, we have been blessed by God. Our “founding fathers” (more or less) honored God and used some biblical principals (among other things) on which to form the Constitution and laws by which we are governed. BUT, The USA is not God’s chosen people like Israel was.
We shouldn’t flatter ourselves that way. The Roman Empire became a Christian nation too after Constantine. England, and France, and most of the European countries were Christian nations even more than the US is today. Church and State were married together in governance through the Dark Ages (though it didn’t stop them from warring with each other either).
There is only one people to whom God chose to reveal Himself and to enter into covenant relationship for the purpose of blessing all nations by setting the stage for His own humble entry into history and eventual sacrifice for our sins. Those chosen people aren’t us. God already accomplished His purpose for those chosen people, and now He is on to redemption of the world for all who would follow Him.
We can say with biblical confidence that God ordained Donald Trump as President (Romans 13:1), but for what purpose? God gave Israel King Saul when they demanded a king, but their demand for a king was a rejection of God. Is Trump the king we wanted?
Not that God is thrown off by those things. He works His purpose regardless of the vagaries and ambivalence of His people. I am not concerned about God accomplishing His purposes. He will! But what about the church in America? Where do we stand?
It’s hard to read much in the New Testament without seeing how at odds the highly religious people were against God in those days when he walked the earth as a man. Would it be any different today?
In Kings and Chronicles, we see that God spoke through prophets who mostly were saying things the kings and religious people didn’t want to hear. It gets worse as we get into the books of the Prophets.
Of course, there were many so-called prophets who did say what the people wanted to hear, but they weren’t the real prophets of God. They were impostors. Who are the prophets? And who are the impostors today?
The NPR poll provides results of self-identifying white evangelical Christians. It doesn’t include African American Christians who also identify as born-again (or other minorities). Anyone who has looked at other polls knows that African American Christians don’t see the political or social landscape the same way as white evangelicals.
Both groups read their Scriptures. Both groups believe in being born-again. Both groups are highly religious. The major differences are race and socioeconomic status (as groups). Thus, they have different perspectives, and those different perspectives lead to different ways of interpreting Scripture.
Might white evangelical Christianity be going off the rails? As our faith becomes more political, might we have taken on some idols along with it?
The history of God’s people suggests that this is a very likely possibility. If you know your Scripture, God’s people (as a whole) have always wandered. God is continually calling us back.
To be clear, I am not progressive. I don’t believe in social justice, but I do believe in Gospel justice. (Just because social justice warriors believe in feeding the hungry and standing up for the oppressed doesn’t mean that Gospel justice warriors shouldn’t do that.)
Does God care about the fate of our country?
Does a country have a soul? Can a country be granted salvation? Did Jesus die for the United States of America?
I am asking these questions of the American church. This is an internal affair. I am not asking the world these questions, though the world is looking on.