Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself!
Everywhere about us, Christians find reminders that the world system in which we live is essentially a corrupt one. Man is still basically sinful and we must be on our guard that the morality and ethics of the world will not become ours. The current Watergate trials are sufficient to warn us against complacency in this area.…Morality and ethics in government [are] absolutely essential if our nation will maintain any kind of stability and world leadership. Christians must be lights in this world. We must maintain strict Biblical standards of morality in order to be an example to the world.
—Dr. C. Mark Corts, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in the church’s weekly newsletter, April 25, 1973—
On February 20, the evening of the South Carolina Republican primary, after it was clear that Donald Trump had won, blogger Matt Walsh posted this entry on his Facebook page:
Trump won South Carolina, a supposedly conservative Christian state, by a wide margin tonight.
A few quick reactions:
- Don’t rationalize this. He didn’t win because of Democrats. The man won Evangelicals. The man who—JUST THIS WEEK—praised Planned Parenthood, and who fishes for applause lines by cussing out his competitors and mocking disabled people, and who can’t name a book in the Bible, and who said he doesn’t need forgiveness from God, and who brags about sleeping with married women, and who said he’d love to date his own daughter because she has a hot body, and who supported the murder of fully developed infant children, and who blatantly lies and then lies again about lying, and who has encapsulated literally the exact opposite of anything that could remotely be considered a “Christian value,” won with the indispensable assistance of Christians. The anger I feel towards those Christians in this moment cannot be put into words. They should be ashamed. I will pray for them.
- Speaking of winning conservatives, Trump—JUST THIS WEEK—said he likes the Obamacare mandate. This was, according to conservatives, the most important thing to defeat not but two years ago. Now some of those same conservatives are voting for a big government liberal who says he supports the very thing these very people were sure would undo the Republic just a few months ago.
- If Trump wins the nomination, conservatism in this country is officially dead, and the country itself will be close behind it.
- Speaking of the country’s demise, Trump fans are gleefully ushering in tyranny. I am tired of hearing about their “anger.” They claim they are angry at the very thing they now embrace. They aren’t angry. They’re bored. They’re immature. They’re infatuated with celebrity and fame and money. They aren’t angry. I’m angry about what they are doing to my nation. The rest of us can be angry, but these people have lost the right to have their anger taken seriously.
- I don’t want to hear about second place consolation prizes. If Cruz or Rubio can’t win South Carolina, it may be time to panic. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Deal with the reality, folks.
- According to exit polls, Trump fans don’t necessarily think he’s electable and they don’t believe he shares their values, but “they want change.” Dear God, we are really doing 2008 all over again. People voting for ambiguous, non-specific change in spite of the avalanche of red flags. We are really doing this again. I am so disgusted at the stupidity in this country.
- Bush should be commended for dropping out. He’s an honorable and decent man, although I didn’t support him. The others in the bottom tier, should they stay in, will be doing potentially irreparable harm to this country and my children’s future. And that is something I will struggle to forgive.
- Get on your knees and pray for this country tonight. Right now. I feel we are on the cusp of something terrible. Pray we avoid it.
Mr. Walsh isn’t alone.
- Franklin Graham has been critical of Trump over remarks he made relating to religious liberty. Others also have warned about Trump, including
- conservative leader Ben Shapiro (see also this article),
- former US diplomat Alan Keyes,
- the Center for Urban Renewal and Education’s Star Parker,
- the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Russell Moore,
- the American Family Association’s Bryan Fisher (see also this article),
- culture warrior Rebecca Hagelin,
- conservative journalist Don Feder,
- pastor and best-selling Christian author Max Lucado,
- Christian spokesman and radio host Michael Brown, and
- National Organization for Marriage (NOM) president Brian Brown.
Here is the ad NOM ran before the South Carolina primary.
Trump has tremendous appeal on multiple levels, but why have so many Evangelicals thrown their support behind him? Dr. Richard Land, president Southern Evangelical Seminary, is “mystified,” given the alternative candidates that should attract Bible-believing Christians. Land observes that it is inconsistent to say for years that character is essential in a national leader and to refuse to support Newt Gingrich because of his multiple marriages—and then to ignore Trump’s multiple marriages as well as his boasting about having been intimate with other women.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, believes Evangelicals’ expectations of national leaders have changed. While many Christians once looked to leaders in government to contend for biblical or traditional values, they now look for leaders who will effectively fix the country’s problems. The Supreme Court ruling that mandated same-sex marriage in all 50 states was a factor lowering these expectations. While Jeffress said he would not endorse Trump, his praise of Trump has been equated with an endorsement.
In his End of Day email report for February 22, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families, gave his take. [A slightly edited version of the the email is available here.]
Seventy-two percent of Republican voters Saturday [in South Carolina] identified as born-again evangelical Christians. They split 33% for Trump, 27% for Cruz and 22% for Rubio.
There is a lot of angst about how an electorate that was so overwhelmingly evangelical could give a plurality of its votes to Donald Trump when his views on values issues are at best murky. I have a theory.
For years many pro-family leaders have been warning the Republican Party that there are a lot of voters out there who vote for Republican candidates solely on issues like the sanctity of life, the meaning of marriage and the general sense that Republicans stand for social conservatism.
We have warned party elites that if those issues are off the table, a lot of these folks will vote based on other issues, such as their perception of their own economic interests. That could lead them to vote for Democrats or populist candidates.
Just consider two main issues for values voters—abortion and the meaning of marriage—and where we stand today. After 40 years of voting for pro-life candidates, we are beginning to make some progress. But we have yet to fully restore rights to the unborn, and we are fighting over whether taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortions.
On marriage, social conservatives did everything they were asked to do. We were told that a federal marriage amendment was a bridge too far, and that marriage was a state issue. So, more than 30 states voted to protect the definition of traditional marriage. But then the federal courts invalidated their votes.
When the Supreme Court ruled that marriage only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, there was little pushback from Republican leaders in Washington. Some quarters of the party actually seemed relieved that the court had “settled” the issue, even though it was settled in a manner contrary to the values of most Republican voters.
So what does this have to do with South Carolina? Well, if you are an evangelical blue collar worker and you conclude that no major political force is going to fight for your social values, you start voting based on other issues, if you vote at all.
Did Donald Trump win a plurality of evangelical votes? Yes he did. They were overwhelmingly blue collar evangelicals who chose him for his opposition to illegal immigration, his opposition to trade deals, which they perceive as trading away their jobs, his economic populism and his full-throated “America First” nationalism.
Several conservative media outlets this morning, including the increasingly influential Breitbart.com, are suggesting that what is happening now may be a blue collar takeover of the Republican Party. [The Breitbart article is available here.]
Bauer’s analysis echoes an observation another prominent conservative made months ago. In an interview conducted by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, writer Erick Erickson (formerly of Red State and now of The Resurgent) said, “The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.” At the time of the interview—August of 2015—Erickson had disinvited Donald Trump to the Red State Gathering in Atlanta after Trump said on CNN that Megyn Kelly, a Fox News host, had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Erickson felt compelled to draw the line, especially after Trump offered no apology for his remark.
The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.
For the moment, my primary concern is neither being anti-Trump, nor even campaigning for an alternative candidate. Rather, it is to point out a serious, multi-faceted problem in the evangelical church. Christians are failing to “connect the dots,” failing to understand the relationship between integrity and effective leadership.
- While frustration and anger are understandable, supporting a candidate who can “fix problems” as opposed to one who will defend American ideals and values is to wave a white flag on issues we say we care deeply about. The Author of life and the Architect of marriage cannot be pleased with this. Believers need to realize that upholding values is an important step to finding solutions to national problems (see Prov. 29:2.).
- Character is important. As this article contends, “You cannot be one kind of man and another kind of president.” See Matthew 7:15-20.
- Pastors have shirked their duty to teach their people the full meaning of the Great Commission. Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus’ command to teach “them to observe all things that I have commanded you” is broad and encompasses stewardship, citizenship, and one’s supreme duty to God.
- Elaborating on point 3, pastors have failed specifically to teach their people their responsibilities as dual citizens—citizens of heaven and of an earthly country. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus instructed, “Render…to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” God ordained government and delegated authority to it. Since this is true, government does not have absolute authority. A believer’s allegiance must be to God first. Today we honor men and women like Corrie ten Boom, who broke laws to save many lives. Yet if a parallel situation were to befall us, would we be willing to obey God rather than men? (See Acts 5:29.) In the coming days, I believe the church will need to develop a sound theology of civil disobedience, a theology that helps believers grapple with the implications of their supreme duty to God.
- Church leaders have failed to train their people to resist being swayed by false, yet attractive, teaching. Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5, “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Christians need to understand the lure of an emotional appeal as well as the potential dangers. It is no accident that we are instructed to love the Lord God with our minds as well as our hearts, souls, and strength (see Mark 12:30).
- Pastors and churches have shirked their duty to be on the front lines of spiritual warfare. The following insightful statement is attributed to Martin Luther: “If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
- The Bible has a great deal to say about effective leadership. Leadership, according to Scripture, involves much more than producing impressive results. Why haven’t Christians been taught these principles? Could it be that we don’t see upholding integrity as something that will attract the unchurched? Would we be stepping on too many toes? We certainly need to encourage unchurched people to attend our services, but we must not avoid “the whole counsel of God” in doing so (see Acts 20:26-30). Making Christian disciples and teaching people to observe Christ’s commands includes upholding and modeling the highest of ethical standards and leadership practices.
These seven items do not constitute an exhaustive list, but they do represent critical needs that must be addressed in the church and in Christian circles. Regardless who gets the Republican nomination and who becomes president, the church has challenging days ahead. However, as God’s people with the Holy Spirit residing in us, we also have God’s wisdom, if we will ask for it (see James 1:5-8).
May the Lord help us address these needs. May He also give us discernment, strength, and a resolve to remain faithful to Him and His truth in the weeks, months, and years ahead—regardless of cost.
Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For further viewing:
Watch Ben Shapiro review some of the many inconsistencies and outright lies of Donald Trump.