5 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
By now, gentle readers, I’m sure you’re aware of the Christianity Today editorial that rather than affirming the Gospel, adopted a rather more secular gospel, that of Trump hatred. Of course any such gospel also encompasses every and anyone that supports Mr. Trump. In that hatred, such people are somewhat diverse and inclusive; race, religion and national origin don’t matter. Appreciate Donald Trump and/or what he stands for and has accomplished, and you’re a heretic.
The editorial was written by Editor Mark Galli, who is soon leaving the publication. Perhaps this was merely a nasty parting shot, but it seems clear Christianity Today has, for a long time, angled progressively more toward a secular political dogma and farther away from evangelical Christianity, which was its reason for being when founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham. Here’s a taste of the screed:
In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.
The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.
That’s apparently scant pride:
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
Disagreement with Galli is sin:
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?
One wonders how Billy Graham would have reacted to this piece. Fortunately, we have the next best thing:
Christianity Today released an editorial stating that President Trump should be removed from office—and they invoked my father’s name (I suppose to try to bring legitimacy to their statements), so I feel it is important for me to respond,’ [Franklin] Graham began.
‘Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece. In fact, he would be very disappointed. I have not previously shared who my father voted for in the past election, but because of this article, I feel it is necessary to share it now. My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation,’ he continued before accusing CT of wanting their readers to believe “the Democratic leadership’ rather than Trump.
Take the link to read the rest of Graham’s comments. Consider this in judging Galli’s motivations and ethics:
Last year, Galli wrote a piece criticizing the 76% of white self-identified evangelical voters who voted for President Trump in 2016, saying:
… most evangelical Christians like me exclaimed, ‘who are these people? I know hardly anyone, let alone any evangelical Christian who voted for Trump. I describe evangelicals like me as ‘elite’ evangelicals … and this class of evangelicals has discovered that we have family members so different they seem like aliens in our midst. These other evangelicals often haven’t finished college, and if they have jobs (and apparently a lot of them don’t), they are blue-collar jobs or entry level work. They don’t write books or give speeches; they don’t attend conferences of evangelicals for social justice or evangelicals for immigration reform. They are deeply suspicious of mainstream media. A lot of them voted for Donald Trump.’
Sound familiar? Galli is among the self-identified elite, those intellectually and and morally superior to people who “haven’t finished college,” and work in “blue-collar jobs.” Since the people he scorns “don’t attend conferences of evangelicals for social justice or evangelicals for immigration reform,” they–dim-witted moral reprobates all–don’t trust the media and worst of all, voted for Trump. The horror. Additional information on Galli’s true faith may be found at Breitbart.com.
What then is the problem? Let us first consider this brief bit of information about the Moral Majority, via Britannica.com:
Moral Majority, American political organization that was founded in 1979 by Jerry Falwell, a religious leader and televangelist, to advance conservative social values. Although it disbanded in 1989, the Moral Majority helped to establish the religious right as a force in American politics.
The organization, which once served as a potent political force, ended, primarily because people, including its members and officers, came to understand the Gospel of Matthew: politics and faith are separate realms, and in our representative republic, must ever be separated. Souls are not won in the political arena, which may well be the worst place to seek salvation.
Circa 2019, we see the bizarre spectacle of D/SC politicians lecturing Christians, who they plainly despise as obviously as does Galli, on true Christianity. Coincidentally, one cannot be a true Christian without embracing D/S/C political preferences such as trans this, homosexual that, open borders, Medicare for all, the whole panoply of D/S/C destruction. Pete Buttigieg, an avowedly militant gay, tells us salvation is reserved only for those that embrace homosexuality and its related political flirtations. And Nancy Pelosi, wrapping herself in Catholicism despite little or no evidence of its practice, has suddenly joined Galli in “praying” for President Trump. One can only wonder, considering their rhetoric and actions, about the intent of such prayer.
Former Moral Majority Vice President Cal Thomas explains the problem:
The movement also had its downside, because it tended to detract from a Christian’s primary responsibility of telling people the ‘good news’ that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ. At times, this central message seemed to be replaced by one suggesting that a shortcut to moral renewal might come through Washington and the Republican Party.[skip]
The flaw in the movement was the perception that the church had become an appendage to the Republican Party and one more special interest group to be pampered. If one examines the results of the Moral Majority’s agenda, little was accomplished in the political arena and much was lost in the spiritual realm, as many came to believe that to be a Christian meant you also must be ‘converted’ to the Republican Party and adopt the GOP agenda and its tactics.
One had only to look at the history of the religious left to see the danger in a shotgun marriage between church and state. Most liberal theologians long ago gave up preaching about another king and another kingdom in favor of baptizing the earthly agenda of the Democratic Party. That too many conservative Christians followed their liberal opposites into the same error was to their shame and demonstrated they had missed an important lesson.
Contemporary D/S/Cs portray honest Christians as evil totalitarians plotting to force their faith on everyone by force of law. In this, and much else, they engage in projection. This as they seek to destroy the First Amendment, revoke tax exempt status for churches for the sin of opposing same-sex marriage and other horrors, support violence in the streets, harassing Republicans in restaurants, beating innocents for wearing the wrong kind of hat, seek to destroy the jobs and careers of those that don’t adopt their political gospel, perpetrate hate crime hoaxes and not only falsely accuse young men of rape, but fully support denying them due process.
It is true that practicing Christians tend to vote Republican, but not because they think all virtue reposes in republican politicians, or any politician. They vote primarily for those that uphold the Constitution, and seek smaller government. They want, like all honest, normal Americans, to be left alone to worship and live as they choose.
And what of Donald Trump? He is far from morally perfect, yet this is not how Christians judge political leaders. They know we are all sinners, and they learned from the Moral Majority that belief must, as the Gospel teaches, always be voluntary, freely embraced. They are rightly suspicious of any that claim God’s approval because of their political stances, for his kingdom is not of this Earth.
Christians, and many others, appreciate Mr. Trump because he, unlike most politicians, keeps his promises, and those promises preserve and enhance liberty, while those opposing him seek to do just the opposite. In putting America first, Mr. Trump does what they would do: preserve and strengthen the most free, tolerant and generous nation in history. D/S/C secular faith inevitably results in less liberty, less wealth, and always, much less freedom to believe and practice one’s faith.
Christians do their best to live as God would have them live, but all fall short of His Glory and example. So they do not behold Donald Trump, and hearing D/S/C claims–this includes their propaganda arm, the media–of his faults, automatically believe them. This is one of the consequences of hating so broadly and cruelly: the people you hate tend not to put much trust in what you have to say. Christians have no doubt Mr. Trump is a sinner, but they see a sinner whenever they look in the mirror. The difference, the deciding factor for them is not an absence of sin; there is no such thing, no such person. The deciding factor is who will preserve the Constitution and the rule of law, and in so doing, preserve the unalienable right to believe and worship as one will.
Judgment of politicians and politics must remain separate from the free exercise of faith. Christianity Today has abandoned that hard won lesson, to the detriment of their publication, the nation, and the body of believers. One cannot serve two masters, and the lesser–by far–of them, will always be political. Christians know who wants to regulate every aspect of life; it’s not them.
Most importantly, Christians appreciate God, who keeps his promise to forgive sins. Like God, Christians try–they do their fallen best–to be forgiving. They do not forget those that hate them and wish them ill, but they forgive them their sins as best they can. This is the fundamental difference between Christians–non-college educated, blue-collar, God and gun clingers who don’t attend social justice and immigration reform conferences all–and Galli and the other self-imagined elite: they forgive. D/S/Cs, because their secular gospel is infallible and non-falsifiable, never do.
That–forgiveness and the willingness to leave others be–is true Christianity today, and every day.