Philip Yancey wrote a hard hitting blog post a couple of months back about evangelical Christians supporting Donald Trump. In his blog post he said that civility, religion and truth took a hit when many evangelicals wrapped themselves around a man who boasted of sexual assault. This is a write up of Phil Yancey’s article and his video as well. Yancey quotes Shane Claiborne who said that mixing politics and religion is like mixing ice cream and horse manure. Donald Trump is what happens when evangelical Christians decided to sit down, put on a bib and feast on shit. Many Trump supporters also are not going to be able to say they made a mistake and will be like many Sovereign Gracers in the end.
“Society’s tainted perception of evangelicals especially grieves me. As a writer, for four decades I have lived within that world. They are my tribe, my community of faith. I wrote a column for Christianity Today magazine, a mainstream evangelical publication, for thirty-six years. Now the word has such a negative connotation that Fuller Seminary has publicly repented for whatever they’ve contributed to shame and abuse by using the word evangelical.”
“I got a taste of the strong feelings about this election when I gave an interview to a journalist in Spain last September. We discussed the paradox of American evangelicals’ support for a billionaire who makes his money from casinos, offends women and minorities, and boasts about his extramarital conquests. I admitted that I, too, was baffled. I could understand why an evangelical Christian would vote for Trump on the basis of key issues, like abortion. But to make him a hero, a standard-bearer for Christians? I had no explanation.”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 NLT
“Soul Survivor” opens up with Philip Yancey recalling his youth. He talks about a Georgia church he attended when he was younger in life. He writes about how his church had a corner on truth, and in the process had mixed lies with truth. For example the pastor had preached a blatant form of racism in saying that dark races are cursed by God. It was a church that had deep consequences on Philip’s family. One of the tragedies is that the church had turned Philip Yancey’s brother away from faith and religion. Philip wrote about how this church was one of the reasons why his brother had rejected God entirely.
I deeply identify with what Philip wrote. I had my own burn job and then after spending half my thirties in the secular world for some reason I came back. I have no idea why I resolved some of these issues while others in atheism could not. From time to time I get an occasional email asking me the following question. “Why did you come back to the Christian faith?” Its a good question and I still struggle with it. Since my baptism I have felt stuck by a false accusation from a former Care Group Leader from a former Sovereign Grace church. But what also left a bitter taste in my mouth is watching this past year and seeing how many Christians embraced and loved Donald Trump. This is especially vexing because I learned why rape and sexual are a problem in the United States military. I am deeply baffled that so many people boast of loving someone who brags about sexual assault. In addition I have known a couple of people who have pushed back from Christianity over this issue and I honestly can say that I don’t blame them. Today I have asked myself….what am I associated with? What am I part of? And the biggest question of all…why am a part of it?
In my faith crisis I accidentally discovered Philip Yancey’s “Disappointment with God.” Originally I thought it to be an atheist work, and that is why I decided to read it. In a difficult time in my life Philip Yancey grabbed my ear and he was a lifeline. At the time I did not realize nor know this at all. In the course of time there would be another lifeline in an unexpected way. Sometime back I watched the above video by Philip Yancey on Donald Trump and evangelicals. I found it profoundly refreshing. And recently I was made aware of a post on Philip Yancey’s blog. Philip has an active and robust blog. It has been churning out posts since September 4, 2010. As fate would have it in the 7 year life of his blog the most contentious and controversial article that Philip Yancey wrote was called “Election Reflections: Bridging the Gap.” If you are reading this now I doubt you have probably read or heard of it. In addition to watching Philip Yancey’s video up above I am going to comment on part of his blog entry. I would encourage you to read the entire blog post. It is a gem. The sad part is when some people say no to a discussion on a topic such as politics, then that means that one cannot discuss what Philip Yancey has said. So let me comment below in red. I used the section of the post in which Philip Yancey explains the three big losses when Christians warmly embraced Donald Trump.
Three Big Losers
I begin with a warning to fellow-evangelicals. We dare not gloss over the damage inflicted by last year’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump likes the word loser: a Twitter archivist has counted 170 times in which Trump called someone a loser in a Tweet. I see three big losers as a sour legacy of the 2016 election.
First, civility lost. I must fault Trump especially for debasing the presidential campaign. He had a pejorative nickname for almost everyone: Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Low-Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco. In the three presidential debates, Trump interrupted Clinton almost one hundred times. He bullied people offstage and on, mocking a disabled reporter, disparaging women for their looks or their weight, playing to racist fears and ethnic prejudice. Bullying, racism, sexism, and xenophobia have always been present in American society, but never before has a candidate for the presidency modeled them so blatantly. Trump let the bats out of the cave, in effect legitimizing the darkest side of a free society. When he won, a devout Christian friend sent out an email with a headline referring to Hillary Clinton, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!”—I cannot imagine her saying that before the Trump campaign.
This contains a lot of truth. One of the issues with Donald Trump is that he brought out the worst in people. He appeals to the worst and darkest instincts of a person and plays to those fears. He lies about everyone, and had a name for everyone. He is a bully, a thug and a man who should not be trusted. Trust is earned and he is a massive failure in many ways. I find it amazing that he can’t even get second Corinthians correct. Two Corinthians as in two Corinthians go into a bar. Often times many atheists know the Bible better than many evangelical Christians, and that holds true in this case as well.
I am going to share something sensitive with you. At 35 I was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia that I did not know that I had. Part of the reason why I write is to practice and to improve my writing skills. So I was horrified when I saw Trump mock a disabled person. Jesus stood for the least of these, the broken and the downtrodden. In contrast Trump just wants to grab your pussy. The least of these have been threatened in many ways and there is deep concern about protecting those who have disabilities and more. I am baffled because I have received emails from humanists and atheists and then I look at my Facebook feed and I see how many Christians act. I find myself identifying with many atheists on this issue and think that they represent the Gospel much more than the Christian church today.
As I wrote in my Russell Moore post Trump has helped make racism fashionable for some evangelicals. In some ways he has tapped into the deep and darkest aspects of society and organizations. By playing on people’s fears he has taught people that its okay to bully. It’s fine to commit an alleged sexual assault. Its okay to engage in gas lighting. For Donald Trump everything that is decent is to be trashed and thrown away.
Second, religion lost. Robert Putnam’s book American Grace ties the rise of the non-religious, or “nones,” to a reaction against the entanglement of religion and politics. They view Christians as a Moral Majority trying to impose their values on everyone else, and in the process they miss the core gospel message of God’s extravagant love for sinners. The word evangelical means “good news,” and I think of the many disciplined, selfless people around the world who care for the needy and the suffering and who gather together to worship a God who wants us to thrive in this world. When the media use the word, however, they have in mind an uptight political lobbying group, mostly white, mostly male, and overwhelmingly Republican. The good-news tone gets lost in partisan acrimony. Shane Claiborne said it well: “Mixing Christianity with a political party is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. It might not harm the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream.”
Philip Yancey is right here. Religion and the Christian faith took a major hit. As a Christian I am looking forward to the day when Christianity as a “religion” is dead in the United States. Christianity as espoused by many Christians is nothing more than a state-faith movement. There is nothing Christian about much of what comes from the church today. The sad part is that for those who claim to love the Lord by embracing Trump have helped push a lot of people away from the Christian faith. Do they not see what they are doing? When you get a chance read some of the comments that were left at Philip Yancey’s post. For many people being Christian means being white, upper middle class, and living in suburbia. The good news of the Gospel is non-existent in this movement. Meanwhile the “good news” is coming from organizations and ministries who embrace Trump while they cover up child sexual assault. While I am not a person who follows Shane Claiborne very much the analogy he uses is spot on. Mixing Christianity with a political party is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. Its going to taste like shit every single time. At this stage of life I don’t want to hear Christians talking about loving the broken when they themselves can’t or refuse to. I don’t want to hear Christians talk about taking the Gospel to the lost when they themselves are often lost. I don’t want to hear about family values and morality when child sex abuse rages in the Southern Baptist Convention. I just can not stomach to hear much of it at all.
Perhaps most importantly, truth took a hit. As if in acknowledgment, the Oxford Dictionaries named post-truth as their Word of the Year 2016; facts took a back seat to appeals to emotion. When I ask friends why they support Donald Trump, I hear the common response, “He tells it like it is.” If only. I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning; I never mocked a disabled reporter; the NFL sent a letter asking me to reschedule the debate; thousands of Muslims celebrated in the streets of New York after 9/11; nobody has more respect for women than I do; millions fraudulently voted for Hillary—all these claims by Trump were provably false, yet not one hurt him in the polls. Truth didn’t matter.
At the same time, Clinton opponents pounced on her dissembling about email servers, her cover-up of speeches to Wall Street, and the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation. Add in the fog caused by fake news stories—many of them concocted in Macedonia, it turns out—and truth emerges as the biggest loser of all.
Sebastian Mallaby, a British reporter from the Economist, described how post-truth distorts reality. Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns played on fears of the future. Where is the country’s infectious optimism that won me over as a young journalist? asked Mallaby. From campaign rhetoric, you’d never guess the facts: during the past decade, abortion, crime, immigration, and unemployment have all declined. Mallaby urged, “Do not talk the United States into a self-feeding depression.…If Americans can’t fix all their problems, can they at least rediscover their old talent for living cheerfully with them?”
President-elect Trump has backed away from many of his most controversial campaign promises. He has softened his pronouncements on such matters as jailing Hillary Clinton, mass deportations, military use of torture, climate change, nuclear proliferation, banning all Muslims, abortion, and Obamacare mandates. What message does this give future politicians? That truth doesn’t matter? That you can promise anything to get elected and then immediately pivot, even before you take office?
That kind of Newspeak makes me leery of trusting what Donald Trump says. After dismissing The New York Times as the scum of the earth during the campaign, President-elect Trump met with reporters and declared the paper “a great, great American jewel.” He once referred to Ronald Reagan as a “con man”; now he’s the president Trump most admires. After dismissing Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades as “totally unimportant,” he flipped, labeling him as “the worst abuser of women in the history of politics.”
Many evangelicals and Catholics named abortion as the deciding issue in their vote. But what is Trump’s position on abortion? The one in which he said women should be punished for having an abortion, or the one in which he supported Planned Parenthood and said his liberal sister, a pro-choice judge who ruled against restrictions on partial-birth abortions, would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice?
According to exit polls, voters mistrusted Hillary Clinton as well, and she too flipped positions during the campaign. Making political decisions in a post-truth world gets tricky.
Again Philip Yancey nails it. Jesus once said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And yet Donald Trump is opposed to truth, as he has no concept of it. Consider what has been said in the news over the last few months. At first NATO is obsolete, then its key to foreign policy. At one point China was a foreign currency manipulator and then he praises China. Previously he said not to get involved in Syria which he said the United States had no interest in, then he bombs it. Then there is the Export – Import bank and criticism during the campaign and then a change of heart apparently. You can read more about some of this in this Atlantic magazine article. I could go on but I have made my point.
Jesus values truth and I have become convinced that the Christians who support Trump are indifferent to truth. Truth is not a value in their life at all. Since truth doesn’t matter I came to the conclusion that many blogs that write about spiritual issues will probably be a waste of time. For in the end truth doesn’t matter. Why care about a rape of a child in a Sovereign Grace church if you don’t care about Trump boasting of sexual assault? After all I was under the impression that rape is rape in all circumstance. Is is not? For many evangelicals it really doesn’t matter because in the end when all you care about is a Supreme Court seat then the end justifies the means, and you can overlook the fact that your man is an alleged predator. So I am left asking when I see many evangelicals support and love Trump in the wake of Access Hollywood tape why care about rape or the molestation of a child? Why protest a church like Mars Hill in its final days when former members who are upset with Mark Driscoll turn around and embrace Donald Trump? Is Donald Trump any different than Mark Driscoll? Mark Driscoll is crass, he has called women penis homes, and said that a repentant women gets down on her knees and performs oral sex on her husband. But to his credit Mark Driscoll hasn’t boasted of an alleged sexual assault. Perhaps when I see the penchant of many evangelicals maybe Mars Hill wasn’t so bad after all? One of the things that attracted me back to Christianity is that people cared about issues like this. At least I thought they did. All I had to do is look at my Facebook feed during the election cycle and see that many are indifferent to truth. Do you see why Donald Trump has been so bad for Christianity? Shane Claiborne is right you can’t mix manure and ice cream as its going to taste like shit every time. And apparently what happened is that many evangelicals put on a bib and sat down to feast on shit.
The embrace by many evangelicals of Donald Trump has caused me to look at evangelicalism in a much darker light. I learned why people follow Mark Driscoll and the likes of C.J. Mahaney. In the end people sell their soul for something that they want to buy into. They make a trade, one that I believe is quite evil. I also learned that some people will never learn, and that many evangelicals lack the ability to perform intellectual or independent thought. There are many people who once followed C.J. Mahaney who now follow Donald Trump. In the course of time they will follow another person. Many Christians are going to go from cult to cult to cult and not learn a damn thing. Likewise many people are going to go from celebrity, to celebrity to celebrity and not learn a damn thing. The sad part is that many Christians are going to keep many from the Christian faith by their choices. There are indeed stark and dark choices by embracing Donald Trump. I am left wondering how long will it be before we stumble into a war in North Korea or another place? After all as a guy trained academically in history I think of how World War I was triggered and things which were set in motion that then couldn’t be stopped. And the sad part is that if we get into a conflict we will have a Commander in Chief who many people do not respect and struggle to follow. That is why truth is so important. What is difficult is that many people think this, as it plays in their heart but because of their military service they can not say otherwise. For example think of those 28,500 brave soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors deployed on the Korean peninsula, did many evangelicals who embrace Donald Trump honestly care about them? I would say no, not when they sold their soul and drank the Kool Aid.
Now here is the other disturbing part. Will the 81% of evangelicals who voted and support Donald Trump be able to admit that they made a mistake? That they screwed up? Will they act any different than Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney or The Gospel Coalition? My prediction is that they will duplicate the same mistakes and that they will run from their error or dig in their heals and refuse to admit their error. Watch for the creation of mini little versions of Joe Carters, Mark Driscolls and C.J. Mahaneys who can’t admit that they screwed up. Donald Trump voters are going to be like Sovereign Gracers…unable and incapable of owning an error. That is my prediction to you.
I deeply appreciated this article by Philip Yancey. He is a gem. Philip has already spoken of how evangelical Trump supporters have attacked him. If only there were more Philip Yanceys how different would things be in the end? Part of the reason why I decided to write this article is that in the news I saw that Donald Trump is going to sign an executive order on “religious freedom.” Did you not know…its not the Christian in North Korea, Syria, Russia, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, etc.. who is being persecuted at all. No…its the fundamentalist baker in a bakery in Oregon who refuses to sell a cake to a secular gay couple who is really being persecuted. Philip Yancey in the video up above talks about how Christians outside the United States look at Christians here in the United States. They are baffled and bewildered. I am here and I am baffled and bewildered. But I did learn something new….now I know why C.J. Mahaney is back preaching again. Mahaney counts on people to be fools and they buy into it and like the act.
I know many of you are going to disagree with this. That is fine. I am not out to create uniformity or an echo chamber. I am out to create a website that is diverse and broad in readership. Diversity is a strength and its necessary for growth. For those who disagree feel free to speak your mind. In the Saturday Night Live skit Melissa McCarthy joked about taking a shot at her nuts. I have been through a lot in life and like that SNL skit you are free to take a shot at me as well. That is okay and only fair. I still love you guys and I know some may think that trite; but the reality of the situation is that you will never be turned away, censored and silenced here. I take a lot here and that is to be expected. So feel free to speak your mind.