Donald Trump favored by Evangelicals
Like so many in this US election cycle, I assumed that if a moral, principled constitutionalist were to run for president, evangelical Christians would flock to him or her. With 17 candidates in the Republican field—including two with Latin backgrounds, one brilliant black surgeon, one female executive, and several professed Christians—I was optimistic we would end up with a candidate to support who was close to my criteria.
I watched in dismay as many fine candidates, including several I could support, dropped out of the race. Then came the week of the “southern primaries,” in the heart of the Bible belt. Voters had a clear choice between an evangelical who was a moral, principled constitutionalist and Donald Trump who is none of the above. The Bible-belt voters chose a man who had publicly admitted that he had never found a need to confess anything to God. Donald Trump won going away, and in the process received a majority of the evangelical vote.
What happened? How could the evangelical community support a man whose life and lifestyle, whose values and priorities were so contrary to the Bible-believing community?
The Indiana primary took place May 3rd. Evangelicals represented 60% of the Republican electorate. With the nomination in the balance, the moral, principled, constitutionalist evangelical candidate would be expected to win handily. But when the votes were counted, 50% of Evangelicals had voted for Trump. Once again, he won. Shortly later Senator Ted Cruz suspended his campaign.
The rise of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee leaves me in palpable dismay. How could the American people back such a man?
But that’s not the worst of it. Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee because of the support of evangelical Christians! How could that be?
Scott Waller, associate professor of political science at Biola University, has written a perceptive article that goes a long way to answering my question.
Herein, perhaps, lies the reason why so many Evangelicals have tossed their electoral hats in with Trump: as an evangelical community, few of its leaders speak about the public importance of faith and the implications of that faith in the public square. Perhaps even fewer demonstrate through their teaching what it would look like for an evangelical to live an integrated, holistic life in which theology speaks to the matters of public import beyond the private sphere of an individual’s life.
If, as Aristotle argued, politics is an inherently moral venture, then those within the evangelical community certainly have a voice in offering insights into what a just and moral state should look like and what kinds of policies a just political order must pursue. We have to ask ourselves when was the last time we were offered such teaching from our pulpits. If the answer to that question is never or rarely, then what believers are not-so-implicitly being fed is that the Christian faith cannot speak to areas of public import. As a result, evangelical voting behavior in these electoral contests may well reflect this privatization of faith. ….
If from our pulpits people rarely, if ever, hear a sermon demonstrating that the Christian faith has pertinence beyond the confines of the church walls and the private spheres of our individual lives, are we not sowing into our congregants the idea of a public-private dichotomy? Believers have mistakenly been told that while faith has much to say about an individual’s relationship with God, it does not have anything to say about the public sphere. ….
Perhaps this support for Trump is not so surprising after all. The results we have seen this primary season may be precisely because of and not in spite of what is going on in our churches each week. We are most likely observing the product of bifurcated lives driven by an erroneous secular-sacred dichotomy that Evangelicals have imbibed for years.
For Waller’s entire article go here.
With the rise of Darwinism, the larger culture abandoned this worldview for the modern, atheistic-materialistic worldview.
Then about 120 years ago, in reaction to the modern, secular worldview, the leadership of the church abandoned the biblical worldview for the sacred/secular dichotomy of the ancient Greeks. We are now witnessing the consequences of the church’s abandonment of the biblical worldview.
It’s time to repent!
- Darrow Miller