Well over a year ago, Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton gave a courageous, biblical, rebuke to those Christian leaders who continued to foolishly give Christian support and justification to Trumpism.
I’ve regretted that political leaders, like our two Senators from North Carolina, have continued to justify Trump’s lies, support of dictators, and sins against women, immigrants, and people of color. But our two Senators are politicians, which may explain their cowardly justifications. There may be political, economic, or military reasons for acquiescing to the immorality of Trump. However, there can be no Christianreason for doing so.
The specifically Christian, biblical response to the sad current state of affairs has already been articulated over a year ago in an address by the distinguished President of Fuller Seminary, Dr. Mark Labberton. You can read his solemn warning to evangelical Christians HERE.
Now my friend and student, Thomas Pietila, recently retired after a distinguished ministry in South Carolina, has written a letter to his local newspaper on the continuing disgrace of Christian leaders attempting to muster Christian support for Trump. Tom’s letter is below. Let all of us who presume to speak in the name of Christ take courage from Tom’s call to speak up and to speak out in this time.
Evangelicals and the President
The conservative, evangelical political figure, Peter Wehner, recently voiced his dismay that white evangelicals continue to support President Trump. A Pew Research poll found that 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants form the strength of his base.
Why, I wonder. Is it that he lies about things minor and major? Is it because of his womanizing, misogyny? Or his personal wealth that allows him to silence prostitutes with hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is it his unique ability to dehumanize friends and enemies and make fun of the handicapped? Is it his virulent strain of nationalism combined with a tinge of racism that we are nostalgic for? Is it that he declared he has no need to confess wrongdoing? Is it that he is untethered to any sense of right or wrong?
Wehner, an advisor in the Reagan and Bush administrations, understands why evangelicals voted for him. He is mystified why they continue to support him after it has become clear that very little about him embodies the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. I am an inheritor of a great evangelical tradition and I share his bewilderment and his fear that the values and power of the evangelical tradition will soon be crushed.
Jeff Manning, the conservative, evangelical pastor of Unity Free Will Baptist Church in Greenville, N.C. voted for President Trump. Now, after the anger stirred up in his home city, he reflects, “I have grave concerns about his spiritual condition,” Manning said of the president. “There’s too much evidence against it. . . . I pray he will become one.”
I merely want to protect my evangelical roots and, like Wehner and others, point out that white, evangelical followers of Jesus are his most ardent supporters, and I find no biblical basis for that. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Seminary —the largest evangelical seminary in America— writes, “The scandal associated today with the evangelical gospel is not the scandal of the Cross of Christ, crucified for the salvation of the world. Rather it is the scandal of our own arrogance, unconfessed before the Cross, revealing a hypocritical superiority that we dare to associate with the God who died to save the weak and the lost.”
Rev. Tom Pietila