Thursday, August 20, 2020

Corrupt on Power

Reading through the New York Times a week ago, I came upon an article that helped me come to grips with a conundrum: Why do Evangelical Christians support an immoral president? And I mean immoral by the broadest of standards. The article was in the New York Times and the link to it is below. 

Christianity Will Have Power (The New York Times, August 9, 2020)

I came to the realization that Evangelical Christians have traded truth for power. Imposing their will upon others does not bring people to salvation, in fact it may be one of the biggest deterrents driving them away from grace.  It is hard to motivate people through fear, intolerance and hypocrisy. 

Encouraging people to come to Christ on their own is the essence of being a Christ follower. 

Why is such a flawed leader revered by Evangelical  Christians? Trump's words from a rally held at a small Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa, during January 2016 provide an important clue. 

“Christianity will have power,” he said. “If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.” (Christianity Will Have Power, New York Times)

Because of the promise of power to impose their will upon America, a segment of Christians support a man who is not worthy of their respect and support. From his actions, it is clear that his beliefs are incongruent with those of Evangelical Christians. He supports salvation through works, advocates the use of force against Americans, uses lies and deception to advance his personal goals at the expense of his followers, and engages in self-adulation on a scale not seen before in the White House. Most importantly, he is ignorant of what Jesus taught. 

Jesus said,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spiritfor the kingdom of heaven belongs to them
4 Blessed are those who mournfor they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meekfor they will inherit the earth
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousnessfor they will be satisfied
7 Blessed are the mercifulfor they will be shown mercy
8 Blessed are the pure in heartfor they will see God
9 Blessed are the peacemakersfor they will be called the children of God
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessfor the kingdom of heaven belongs to them

11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heavenfor they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.
Matthew 5:3-12, NET Bible
Trump, the man, does not respect these attributes. He mocks those who mourn. He cannot tell or even recognize the truth. He incites unrest and division rather than compassion and peace. He is using Evangelical Christians as a tool in his personal pursuit of power, riches, fame, and fortune. It saddens me.

In a more recent January 2020 rally, as documented in The Guardian article, Evangelicals see Trump as a way to get what they want after decades of defeat, the assessment of Trump's allure was summed up as follows:

Not once was Trump’s own religious faith mentioned, though he was mentioned as a champion for the religious right through his policy victories. That was a phenomenon that seemed to sum up Trump’s strange relationship with evangelicals: he has returned their support with policy victories for them. In turn they often seem to turn a blind eye to his scandal-ridden presidency, accusations of rape, sexual assault and harassment, three marriages and paying off a pornography actor whom claims she had an affair with him.

The promise of power has blinded the believers. 

16 So because you are lukewarmand neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealthand need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretchedpitifulpoorblindand naked18 take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposedand buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! (Revelations 3:16-18, NET Bible)

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Action)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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