Politics is not the interest of this blog. Frankly, no one needs another I-can’t-believe-evangelicals-are-voting-for-Trump post. I don’t want to do that. The only reason why Trump secures a spot in the title of this article is because of recent comparisons attempting to explain the similarities between Driscoll and Trump, and how Driscoll could be seen as a type of influence that clears the trees for a foundation for Trump within the evangelical world. In other words, I’m mentioning Trump because of his current comparison to Driscoll. I’m interested (not supportive) in Driscoll not Trump. But this article really isn’t even about Driscoll or Trump. Without critiquing the article in the link above, I simply want to say that whatever is going on within the evangelical world is something that really shouldn’t catch us too off guard. Though I’m not in agreement with Driscoll, I think it’s unfair to point our fingers at him. Let me give you a couple of reasons why.
1) It is a mistake to preach connections between a political party and Christianity. The reason should be apparent by now. When this happens, you get all sorts of people who cannot tell the difference between conservative values and Christianity. You may think that one entails the other, but that is beside the point. This categorical confusion simply paves the way for those who are more conservative than they are Christian to represent Christianity within their specific context. The results are disastrous—as many evangelicals are learning. But why are we shocked by this? Christianity has a history of being taken up by political leaders who committed horrible acts in the name of Christ. And yet it appears that many so-called Christians supported these leaders. There is a lot that could be said here, but let is suffice to say that it isn’t Christ who is influencing this kind of behavior—it is misguided, sinful Christians. Sometimes it is difficult to see how they, themselves, were Christians. But regardless, misguided people will misguide misguided people. This has happened in different ways at different times in History. History does not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes.
2) When your concern is morality, instead of theology, you have no foundation for interpretation. The usual political agendas that evangelicals have supported or opposed should be rooted in theology. Let me cut my fellow evangelical brothers and sisters some slack here and say that many of them have done a great job equipping their fellow congregations and friends to use theological tools for guiding their ethical values. However, many people, if you ask them why (for example) homosexuality is wrong, they’ll give you some answer that really stems from an inward repulsion to people who identify as homosexuals. To put it bluntly, these people simply don’t like gays or lesbians for one reason or another that has nothing to do with theology. They may even use the Bible as justification—but you can typically tell if a person is really concerned with what is pleasing to God by the way in which they respond to something they disagree with. When there is a hatred of peoples, there is no love of God. Sadly, in the name of conservative values and Christianity, this behavior has found a home within the so-called evangelical world—whether true evangelicals approve of this or not.
3) We’ve reduced the gospel to a proposition about Christ’s death and resurrection, without exploring the resulting application for our lives. Don’t get me wrong: Christ’s death on the cross allows those who acknowledge his lordship and his redeeming work the possibility of being in a right relationship with the Triune God. That is essential to the message. The issue that we have is when we simply stop there. To accept the gospel is not to simply accept certain knowledge as truth. That is only the first step. The work of the gospel within the individual changes the way that the individual views other people, love, work, money, sex, security, priorities, raising children, death, hospitality, forgiveness, marriage, and just about every area of life that you might think is mundane. Why? Because of what Christ has done for you. It changes your outlook on everything. This is why when you lose sight of the gospel, you cannot function as a Christian anymore. The entire foundation on which you rest has been destroyed, and all you have are some half-cooked notions about morality, and going to church, and reading your Bible, and being a good person, and voting republican. It is meaningless.
When what it means to be a Christian is reduced to ideas about morality and politics, you cannot be surprised when so-called Christians cannot figure out how to live. The gospel is the foundation for the Christian life. The gospel is the love of God towards humanity demonstrated in the work on the cross through Christ. The implications upon accepting this gospel bleed into all areas of our outward actions and our inward thinking. When evangelicals forget to show the world that this is the foundation for our thinking, instead of conservative values, then we ourselves will forget this foundation. Because to preach the gospel is to remind yourself of the gospel. Sometimes I wonder if we forget that. And sometimes I wonder what in the world everyone else thinks we’re actually preaching. Don’t blame Mark Driscoll for Donald Trump. We have been part of the problem.
(Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to share in the comment section or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)