By Marsha West
In part one I examined the term “evangelical” and laid out what true evangelicals believe and why they believe it. Admittedly the movement has evolved largely because of pragmatism – whatever works. Pragmatism has resulted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that’s set forth in the scriptures being watered down and a false gospel with its Christless Christianity being spread far and wide. In our postmodern world it is rapidly becoming something other than what Jesus himself declared in Matthew 28:16-20.
What the true Gospel has been replaced with is the social gospel, i.e. theological liberalism. Why did it change? Because the liberal agenda cannot be accomplished without change.
Liberals are all about feeling good about themselves. As such they’ve got an unquenchable desire to do “good works” to make themselves feel good. To the liberal, or post-evangelical aka emergent, it matters not what the Bible says; what matters most is how they feel about things. I mean, it’s all about self-esteem, right? So it’s not surprising that feelings trump even the God-breathed words in Scripture. It matters not that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible because what He said in the old days has become irrelevant.
Liberals believe they’ve come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t reveal so it’s incumbent upon them to bring that dusty ol’ book out of the stone age and see to it that it blends nicely with our enlightened culture. To that end, post-evangelical/emergents have taken it upon themselves to apply a new meaning to anything in the scriptures that might offend someone’s sensibilities. After all, the post-evangelical/emergent’s political and social agenda takes priority over everything else, even if it means they have to modify the writings of men who actually observed and reported on events that took place several thousand years ago – the eye witness accounts!
The thinking goes that if the Bible says something that doesn’t make me feel good about myself or hurts my feelings, then I am entitled to completely ignore it. Or… I can twist the intended meaning until it says what I want it to say.
People who do this have a very low view of Scripture. Moreover, they have no understanding of sin and the holiness of God.
Too Many Cooks Spoil The Stew
Also responsible for what theologian Michael Horton called “theological ambiguity” in evangelicalism is a witch’s brew of syncretism stew. As I stated in the first installment, one of the main ingredients in this concoction is discernment disintegration. A good way to ruin any recipe is to allow a lot of cooks to add their own ingredients to the pot because the stew becomes unpalatable! In the case of the Bible, the recipe is already perfect!
Before I move on, it’s important for readers to understand that the truth of the Gospel is inherently offensive to the unsaved. To try to make it palatable to those who are dead in their sins requires completely changing the message. But wait! That is exactly what post-evangelical/emergents are bent on doing. I repeat. They have no understanding of sin and the holiness of God. “Sin is desperately wicked,” says Todd Pruitt. “It is mutiny against God. It is a rejection of his Lordship and love. Therefore sin and its consequences must never be trivialized (Gen 3; Rom 1:18ff, 6:23).”
2016 Presidential Campaign
In our current presidential election cycle we hear the term evangelical used daily. An example of this use comes when pundits talk about the self-proclaimed evangelical, deal maker and billionaire, Donald Trump. It’s said that he’s garnering significant support from “evangelicals.” I’m not going to spend a lot of time on all the distasteful things Donald Trump has said and done during the campaign. But I do need to point out a few for the purpose of showing that his moral values aren’t in sync with the values of conservative evangelicals.
It’s no secret that Trump has had serial marriages, that he betrayed his first wife (the mother of three of his children) and then dumped her and married his mistress, a marriage that lasted six years. He’s also been frank about bedding other men’s wives. There’s talk of questionable business dealings and his comment that Planned Parenthood, which has profited off the murder and dismemberment of innocent womb babies, does “good work,” which is odd for a man who declares himself to be pro-life. In regards to the “marriage” of Elton John and David Furnish he chirped, “If two people dig each other, they dig each other. I’m very happy for them.” He admits that he’s “always been greedy” and we all know he has a foul mouth. During debates he verbally assaults his opponents, saying such childish things as “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny,” and “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Well, those weren’t his exact words – but close enough.
Now, if Donald Trump is a born again (regenerate) Christian, he’ll understand that his past behavior is sinful and that the sins he committed were against God — ultimately every sin is against God. (Psalm 51:4) Therefore, he must humble himself and plead for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9,10) This is the mark of a truly regenerate person.
When he was asked if he had ever repented of his sins his response was, “I’m not sure I have, I just go and try and do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think I if I do something wrong I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” This is Donald Trump’s worldview, straight from the horse’s mouth. His view is works based, I don’t need God, I can do it myself. “I Am.”
Sin And Repentance…Not So Much
Trump’s not alone. A whole host of professing evangelicals share his worldview. As for sin, they either don’t grasp the meaning of sin and why it’s necessary to repent…or they figure they’ll repeat a certain sin so why bother? I suggest that not having a genuine desire to eliminate sin from one’s life and a strong need to repent when one does sin, shows a blatant disregard for how God looks at sin.
I know, I know, he who is without sin cast the first stone. Relax. I’m not condemning Donald Trump or anyone else to hell. Only God can make that determination. I get that. So why do I bring up Trump’s past? As a reminder to my brethren that he has done many things that offend God. Everyone has. But Donald Trump is a professing Christian who has sin in his life and there’s been no repentance. What’s keeping him from doing that?
Well, he says he hasn’t done anything that requires repentance, even though the Bible says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) During an interview he admitted that he can’t remember ever asking God for forgiveness or needing to. Is this the mindset of an evangelical Christian? According to the definition of a true evangelical, it’s not.
Donald Trump is what I would call a good deed doer. People who do good deeds think they’re all in with God (high five!) and they don’t feel the need to repent. Why should they when a loving God—and He’s that—overlooks their sins because of all the good they do. Good deed doers believe their generosity will cover any past, present, or future sins they commit. They view God as a big smiley face in the sky.
But I digress.
Following are just a few reasons evangelicals ignore Donald Trump’s peccadilloes:
- He’s the only candidate that can beat Hillary Clinton.
- The Religious Right aka Christian Right lost battle after battle in the fight to reclaim America for Christ and now they want a tough guy to fight for them.
- They want to punish a traitorous GOP establishment by electing an outsider.
- They’re not electing a pastor in chief, they’re electing a commander in chief. (Securing the border and having a strong military is more important than a man’s character?)
- He’s seen as a modern day Cyrus, the pagan king who freed the Jews from 70 years of captivity and allowed them to return to Israel – and they prospered.
Let’s face facts. Any so-called evangelical who’s not concerned with a person’s moral character is at best a nominal Christian and at worst a false convert. This should come as no surprise as liberals, wolves, and wingnuts have managed to grab the reins of the evangelical movement and corrupt it from within. Thus, syncretism stew. The result of the cultural shift in this country is that true evangelicals can no longer take comfort in knowing that there are millions of people that share their values. Why? Because chances are it is no longer the case and even if it was it would be impossible to know.
On a more positive note, we can take comfort in the fact that God is on the throne. The Bible tells us that our omnipotent sovereign God removes kings and sets up kings. (Daniel 2:21, Rom 13:1) There has never been a ruler on Planet Earth that God did not establish. No Bible believing Christian would entertain the idea that the Lord gasped and said, “No way!” when Nero became Emperor.
The Bible clearly teaches the criteria for choosing a leader:
Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads. (emphasis added) (Deuteronomy 1:13)
Keep in mind that it is wiser to vote for a candidate who’s committed to ridding America of some of the evils we face than to stay home because the person falls short in some areas. One evil we face is the murder of the unborn. We know that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who at this juncture have the best chance of winning the nomination, are pro-life. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, who will probably become the Democratic nominee, will never protect the life of the unborn. Both Trump and Cruz have promised to protect the unborn. Most assuredly many more babies will die if there is another Democrat in the White House. Okay, take a deep breath…it is my opinion that voting for the lesser of the two evils is not a compromise. Listen to what apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason says on this weighty subject in “When Compromising Is Not a Compromise”:
The possible question we’re faced with is this: If we were forced to choose between feeling or looking virtuous but having no actual effect, or appearing ignoble but accomplishing some good, which path should we take? When we must choose one or the other, are we obliged by God to make a moral statement or to have a moral impact?
Goodness requires more than making a moral statement. Rather, it requires having a moral impact. Jesus condemned Jews who abused the practice of Corban (Mark 7:11), a pledge to God that appeared righteousness, but helped no one. Let me be clear: The motives of pro-lifers voting “consistently pro-life” are different from those who used the practice of Corban as a religious cloak for avarice. However, the result is the same: moral statements with no moral impact….
In other words, it’s better to choose someone who is committed to eliminating some of the evil, than contributing to the victory of one who is not committed to eliminating any of the evil but, on the contrary, will promote it. This is not a compromise. This is good moral thinking. (H/T Bill Muehlenberg)
Choose wisely, brethren.
Extra Biblical Methods By Cameron Buettel and Jeremiah Johnson
An Evangelical Leader Makes Trump His Golden Calf By Steve Deace
Resolution On Moral Character On Public Officials—Southern Baptist Convention
God’s Will in the 2016 US Election By Kathleen Peck
Copyright 2016 Marsha West.