Toxic Christianity

I was in rural South Georgia recently, the roots of which run deep in my life. My mother was born and raised on a farm in Camilla, Georgia. We used to visit my grandparents, collecting arrowheads and hunting rabbits. I spent some of my best days as a boy on that farm. Also, I can tell you that both then and now, the people in South Georgia are some of the finest, down-to-earth folks I’ve ever known. (And I know a lot of people from a lot of different places.)

I feel certain the farmer who placed this sign at the end of his driveway is one of those good people. I don’t know him personally, but my friend, Carl does. Carl tells me he is an upstanding man in the community and a faithful church-going Christian.

At the same time, this man is making the same mistake many good, evangelical Christians in America today are making. He is mixing the leaven of politics and nationalism with God’s kingdom.

I supported the growing relationship between evangelical Christians and the Republican party beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. In many ways, I understand it.

But here’s the thing — somewhere along the way (maybe from the very beginning) evangelical Christians (of which I am one) began to let their politics shape their Christian faith rather than allowing their Christian faith to shape their politics.

As we say down south, “the tail started wagging the dog.”

Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the support of Donald Trump by those who claim to hold the teachings of Jesus and the Bible (The Word of God) as the highest authority for our lives and world.

How did this happen? I don’t have all the answers, but the age-old lie of “the end justifies the means” is part of the reason.

“Look at all the things President Trump has done for us,” I hear fellow followers of Jesus saying. And I wonder if they understand what Trump is actually doing.

In the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Baily, played by James Stewart, is pleading with the townspeople of Bedford Falls not to cash out their savings with the wicked Mr. Potter. “Don’t you see,” he cries out, “Potter’s not selling, Potter’s buying.”

That is exactly what Trump is doing with the church in America

Trump has used his wealth to seduce many women over the years, but his greatest conquest is seen in the gushing words of praise and adulation, bordering on idolatry, by the bride of Christ.

Just check out the Facebook posts on the sites of many evangelical Christians.

I personally can’t understand how anyone could vote for a politician whose open displays of godlessness are so evident, but for crying out loud, why would any follower of Jesus so openly and publicly support him.

Jesus teaches that we cannot serve two masters. If we do, we will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. (See Matthew 6:24) Sadly, many evangelical’s faith is so shaped by their politics they don’t realize how their words and actions demonstrate a mockery of the very ideals they claim to hold dear.

Sadly, many evangelical’s faith is so shaped by their politics they don’t realize how their words and actions demonstrate a mockery of the very ideals they claim to hold dear.

I know these are harsh words, and I’m confident most evangelicals aren’t aware of what they are doing, but that’s what happens to those who have been deceived.

Let me share a few examples from scripture of how evangelicals with their passionate support of Donald Trump are rejecting the very scriptures they claim govern their lives and faith.

Romans 16:17 says, “I urge you brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (NIV)

Can any honest follower of Jesus deny that Trump is not an openly divisive man who promotes hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and so many of those things the Bible warns us against? (See Galatians 5:20)

What about his history of sexual promiscuity? Trump once told Howard Stern that venereal disease was his personal Vietnam. He has been known throughout his adult life as a playboy and adulterer, who brags about his affairs with married women and has a history of paid mistresses.

I’ve heard the words of Romans 1:24–25 used to condemn the sexually promiscuous, but I have not heard them used a single time to describe the champion of evangelical Christians in America today -

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.” (NIV)

I’ve also heard numerous Old Testament scriptures used by evangelicals to condemn sexual sin, but again, not once have I heard one applied to Trump -

“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10, NIV)

What about Trump’s incessant bragging and narcissism? These things are the exact opposite of the kind of people Christ calls us to be.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3–4, NIV)

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12, NIV)

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Proverbs 26:12, NIV)

And conspiracy theories. The Bible warns us about falling for those who weave outlandish conspiracies. Isaiah says, “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” (Isaiah 8:12, NIV)

The use of fear to garner support flies in the face of God’s Word in 2 Timothy 1:7 which tells us God has not given Christians a spirit of fear. Something is desperately wrong when followers of Jesus can be herded like sheep because they are afraid.

We are reaping what we’ve sown, us evangelical Christians in America today. We are sowing to the flesh by supporting a wicked man in the name of Jesus. Galatians 6:8 is clear: those who sow to the flesh reap corruption. The word means rottenness. And the rot reeks in much of evangelical Christianity today.

And the rot reeks in much of evangelical Christianity today.

We have abandoned the purity of the faith passed down to us by the apostles and prophets. We have exchanged it for a lie.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus asks this question: “If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” A few verses later, he tells us how this “trampling underfoot happens” when he warns us about casting our pearls to pigs who will turn and trample us underfoot. (Matthew 7:6)

Jesus referred to His kingdom as a “pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13:46)

We (and I cannot and will not deny who I am) evangelicals have given the pearl of God’s kingdom to a pig.

Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash

I hear a lot of talk about the Last Days and the Anti-Christ. May be. But let’s not forget what the apostle John tells us — “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.” (I John 2:18, NIV)

While many warn against lawlessness and moral decline with the inevitable rise of a world leader whose seduction is so great that even the “elect of God” risk being deceived, they lend their support to a man who clearly is the antithesis of everything Christ stands for.

For my part, I continue to pray daily the prayer Jesus taught his people to pray, saying —

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9–13, NIV)

And I long for the day when my people, who I love dearly and grieve for greatly, join together in praying for God’s kingdom to come, his will to be done.

But that day won’t come with the re-election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America.

In Christ,

Dan

Check out my podcasts on Church on the Edge and my books on Kindle.

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Dan is the former pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea.

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Dan Armistead

Dan Armistead

Dan is the former pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea.

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