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January 14, 2018

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Evangelical Heavyweights Decry Trump’s Comments

Image result for robert jeffress

Robert Jeffress

Predictably, reporters scoured quotes from evangelical leaders in the wake of President Trump’s s——- comments – and, of course, his supporters grabbed the publicity. The Washington Post January 12 article begins: “A few members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory council — including its spokesman — on Friday defended the president after he made comments about immigrants from places including Africa and Central America.”

Tweets lambasting all evangelicals sprouted, usually ignoring the key qualifier: the ingratiating evangelical advisory council backed Trump. Many others stood aghast, showing little sympathy for council spokesman Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas’s First Baptist Church, when he proclaimed:

“Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment. As individual Christians, we have a biblical responsibility to place the needs of others above our own, but as Commander-in-Chief, President Trump has the constitutional responsibility to place the interests of our nation above the needs of other countries. I’m grateful we have a President like Donald Trump who clearly understands that distinction and has the courage to protect the well-being of our nation.”

Obvious theological and logical flaws strangle Jeffress’ thinking. Theologically, the Religious Right was supposedly founded to foster Christian values in policy-making. One such value, admits Jeffress, places “the needs of others above our own.” But, evidentially, this president gets a pass because, somewhere, the Constitution compels him “to place the interests of our nation above the needs of other countries.”

So much for those other-person-first Christian values.

Logically, Jeffress assumes national interests invariably collide: Haiti must lose for America to win. History shows otherwise. The US, Japan, and Germany are now at peace as each nation thrives.

Many evangelicals saw those flaws and declared their opposition. Sample some quotes.

Image result for mark labbertonMark Labberton, president of American Evangelical Christianity’s intellectual Mecca, Fuller Theological Seminary, delivered a statement via Twitter:

As a fellow human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a seminary president, and specially as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am horrified by and ashamed of Trump’s comments about Haiti and African countries, and their peoples. It is shocking, though not surprising, that Trump holds such views since his track record has been long and clear. Our history and our system has brought us to this horrific point, leaving us stunned and humiliated by the vile statements and actions of our elective leader. May this moment awaken a profound national lament, true repentance of racist hearts, and a fresh commitment to personal and systemic change that honors all human beings as creatures made in the image of God.

Image result for kent annanKent Annan, a senior fellow at Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute, wrote in Christianity Today of the alleged s——-s:

I’d hope that Americans, including those in power, would recognize the beauty of these countries and the contributions their immigrants make to our country. Our neighbors, who are especially vulnerable right now, deserve our continued welcome without disparagement and without hesitation.

Image result for ed stetzerEd Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, wrote a Washington Post op-ed headlined: “Evangelicals, please let Trump’s ‘tough’ language shock you.” His final paragraph:

This is not up for debate: Describing Haiti and African countries as s‑‑‑holes, or some variant of that pejorative, is not worthy of our nation or its president. All people are made in the image of God, and when we speak of them or their living conditions, we should do so with dignity and respect.

The Evangelical Environmental Network was strong:

The words spoken yesterday by the President of the United States are an affront to the Gospel, Christians, the people of the United States and our Constitution.  They are an insult to the Office of The Presidency and a violation of Mr. Trump’s Oath of Office.

If Mr. Trump doesn’t immediately apologize to the people of the United States and the world, commit himself and his administration to anti-racist policies and rhetoric, and amend his ways, his ability to remain in office is in question.

Related imageBeth Moore tweeted:

If we will not rise up to the dignity of our task, we must at least know when to shut up lest we parade our sinful hearts naked down Main Street with a megaphone, blushing everybody’s face but our own. “No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush,” (Jeremiah 6:15).

Image result for Thabiti AnyabwileThabiti Anyabwile, pastor at Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, D.C, and a council member of The Gospel Coalition, wrote on the organization’s web site:

As a shepherd, I cannot abide the comments our President makes regarding immigrant peoples and their countries of origin. I cannot leave them alone to hear racist barbs and blasphemous slander against the image and likeness of God in which they are made.

Image result for karen swallow priorKaren Swollow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, wrote on her Facebook page:

I’ve been privileged to travel to Africa four times, and fell in love more each time with the land and the people. I have never been treated more hospitably than when I was in that beautiful continent. What an example you set for America, dear #Africa!

Image result for russell mooreAnd it’s no surprise that Russell Moore chimed in. The president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission tweeted:

The church of Jesus Christ is led by, among others, our brothers and sisters from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They are us.

None of these statements comes as a surprise. These leaders displayed Trump wariness in 2016 and they know Christianity’s vibrant center now lies in the Global South. They’ve helped resettle refugees, sent their money overseas, and experienced African warmth as they’ve traveled the continent.

And they know God makes no s——-s

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January 8, 2018

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Should We Un-stick The Evangelical Tag?

Mika Edmondson

The Gospel Coalition hosted a thoughtful conversation in December about how Bible-centered Christians should identify themselves. Is the “evangelical” label still appropriate?

All participants were wary. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says he wears the tag if conversants understand its historic definition, which has nothing to do with partisan politics. Mika Edmondson, pastor of Southeast Grand Rapids’ Orthodox Presbyterian New City Fellowship, remains true to his African American heritage. It’s not his default term. Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and assistant professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, played it down the middle as moderator. But he spoke for all when summing it up: Our labels should make clear we’re “Gospel people.”

File this video in the we-live-in-interesting-times folder. Each of these church leaders is a classic evangelical in the historic sense. They’re even conservative Calvinists, veritable poster children for Harold Ockenga and Carl Henry, the two key intellectual leaders of America’s mid-century evangelical resurgence. Questioning the utility of the evangelical label is no longer the exclusive province of Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, and others who’ve stretched the margins left-ward. Even the movement’s standard bearers frown.

The video:

 

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January 6, 2018

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The life Of Fear v. The Life Of Adventure

The Story of the Magi, celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany, illuminates the contrast between two kinds of lives. There’s the life of curiosity, which leads to adventure, discovery, and growth; and the life of fear, which sees nothing but threats and leads to crisis after crisis.

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January 5, 2018

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Wisdom In An Age of Nuclear Bluster

Hear the sound of stomachs falling at a thunderous rate. Perhaps Donald Trump was bored with peace overtures between the two Koreas on January 2nd, so he fired off yet another infamous tweet: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from […]

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December 29, 2017

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2017 and the Non-evangelical Evangelical

The non-evangelical evangelicals are actually more evangelical than self-identified white evangelicals –and they’re more synced with their kin outside the US, who never wed themselves to manipulative politicians and never waged wars over biblical “inerrancy” verses “infallibility.”

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December 24, 2017

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The Human God At Christmas

We do not worship a God who is merely all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving.  Our God is all those things and more:  The Almighty has experienced human joy, human pain, human suffering, and human victory.  Baffling as it seems, God not only possesses divinity; God possesses humanity.

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December 20, 2017

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Scenes Of Hope

Martin Luther once wrote: “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” The Great Reformer echoed a stream of thinking found in the Scriptures themselves: Walk outside. Look up. View the work of Creation’s Great Artist. As we look, we’ll find hope in […]

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December 19, 2017

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Will Rupert Murdoch Go To Seminary?

Some vaguely-associated vignettes as Congress prepares to vote on the revised tax reform package, supported by only a sliver of the American populace. Vignette Number One A Facebook friend doesn’t muffle his sarcasm: Congratulations to my friends who are among the wealthiest 1% in the country: You get 83% of all the benefits of our huge […]

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December 15, 2017

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Moderation’s Subtle Allure

Historical evangelicalism in America has been mugged. It lays on the street, bruised and beaten, its pale skin clammy and its blood dripping into the pavement’s cracks. Like it or not, today’s mugger lives with the Alt-Right. That doesn’t mean the Left is nice or even good. It merely means we’ve located the culprit’s lodgings at this juncture.

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December 11, 2017

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Evangelicals Flee The “E” Word

Peter Wehner is scraping off both the evangelical and Republican labels as he marches with the somber, disillusioned throng. Like many, he says he hasn’t changed; but, like many, he’s discovered that evangelicals and Republicans have mutated into zombies of their former selves. The senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who served […]

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