Shouldn’t the Church be more concerned with making America good again, rather than making her great again?
Pastor and teacher Samuel Whitefield penned an article this summer that is, perhaps, one of the best treatises written directly to members of the Christian faith that I have seen this election cycle. I encourage you to read his lengthy article here, and here are some excerpts that I found particularly enlightening.
Whitefield writes from out of a deep concern for what effect supporting Donald Trump can have on the witness of the Church in America. What does it mean for us, as Christians, to adopt Donald Trump as one of our own?
Have we truly considered what an awful thing it is that we are saying to Trump and the nation that his behavior is within the bounds of a follower of Jesus? Some will say that Clinton is no better, but again that misses the point. Trump is not the main point. The point is the church’s witness in society and how endorsing certain kinds of candidates affects that.
He points out that there is something more horrific than a Clinton presidency:
I do not believe a Clinton presidency is not the biggest thing at stake in this election. The biggest thing at stake in this election is the church’s prophetic voice to the culture. The church’s role in the national discourse is at stake and that is far more important than who the next president is. Trading our voice in culture in an attempt to prevent a Clinton presidency should be a horrific thought to us.
And he addresses the added complexity of the issue, given Trump’s claims to be a Christian despite any evidence of a transformed life:
Because Trump has claimed to be a Christian the gospel is at stake in whether we implicitly affirm that statement by promoting him. Had he not claimed to be a Christian, it would simply be a matter of issues and character (and on that basis alone Christians leaders should not promote such a man), but it is more than that. It is an issue of the gospel and whether we are willing to be obedient to Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 5 for the sake of Trump’s own soul and the sake of the gospel witness in our society . . .
There is no perfect candidate, but there has to be a point at which we refuse to endorse wickedness – especially when it is presented in a Christian package. Some will argue Hillary is no better, but that is not the point. At some point we must refuse to endorse and publicly support candidates who promote wickedness regardless of party. Most evangelicals recognize the issues with Clinton’s platform and character and are now being asked to endorse Trump in spite of his character. However, the gospel compels us to be a witness for Jesus, not oppose a certain political party at any cost. Valid questions about Hillary’s character can certainly be raised, but that does not mean we, as a church, promote a different candidate who also refuses to embrace the gospel.
Referencing 1 Corinthians 5, he writes that,
We have a weighty responsibility before God. We are called, because we care about all men, to not affirm them in their wickedness. Have we considered that we put Trump’s own soul at risk when we befriend him and promote him? Can we weep when Christian leaders mention the role of Jesus or Christianity in Trump’s life? Have we considered how serious a matter it is to affirm a lost man in his sin? How can we pretend that he is one of us? Christians deep down know that Trump is not a true believer and yet we fail to follow Paul’s clear instruction on what to do with such a man . . .
The problem, Whitefield surmises, is a hunger for power. This hunger for power exists both in the Democratic and Republican parties, and is a dangerous thing to allow to creep into the Church.
We have to be honest and ask if we sometimes are so enamored with powerful men that we want some proof that they are Christians even when their behavior is the exact opposite so that we can enjoy access to their power . . . Because Trump has claimed to be a Christian the gospel is at stake in whether we implicitly affirm that statement by promoting him. Had he not claimed to be a Christian, it would simply be a matter of issues and character (and on that basis alone Christians leaders should not promote such a man), but it is more than that. It is an issue of the gospel and whether we are willing to be obedient to Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 5 for the sake of Trump’s own soul and the sake of the gospel witness in our society . . .
Now is not the time for the church to become embroiled in political fervor. It is a time for thoughtful examination of what we truly love. It is the time for repentance and not campaigning. Perhaps the Lord wants to use Trump to break our obsession with worldly power. If we are willing to embark on that painful journey than the disaster of this election cycle could produce great fruit in the church regardless of who becomes president.