Yesterday we discussed the hypocrisy occurring throughout the GOP regarding both decency and substance in politics, not to mention past corruption, etc. Included in that discussion was a lynchpin that deserves much greater focus: the role of evangelical leaders and pulpits.
Last year, I republished Alice Baldwin’s great work, The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution. I did this for the main reason that it shows how the American Revolution probably would not have happened were it not for the brave men in the pulpits preaching biblical law. They pointed out the tyrannies they were suffering, called out the tyrants by name, and used biblical law to show the better way.
Those preachers understood the issues, understood the times, and took risks that make modern pulpits shudder. Baldwin’s book is a renewed clarion call to the vapid, uninformed, dualistic, pietistic, and spineless pulpits of today.
A section from yesterday deserves its own place for the same emphasis:
The final façade of decency has now fallen, and Evangelical titans are startled. Leaders like Max Lucado have now taken the unheard-of step of writing about political candidates in the public square. And after all these decades of silence on politics, government, and politicians, what was the final straw that moved Lucado? His title tells all: “Trump doesn’t pass the decency test.”
Decency. That is all. Any candidate can hold any position on any issue and Lucado stays silent. But let a candidate call someone a “bimbo,” and the Lucados of the world speak out.
That’s sad enough, but the ultimate commentary on Lucado’s article is one of utter shame. He literally says that the policies are of secondary concern, if at all: “Could concerns be raised about other Christian candidates? Absolutely. But the concern of this article is not policy but tone and decorum.”
Folks, this is the confession of the great evangelical capitulation in this nation. The most murderous and thieving policies will pass silently under the radar as long as the candidate smiles and shows some restraint of tongue. And this is no hypothetical. This is what has happened. This is what the American pulpit has produced in the American public square.
When Evangelical leaders criticize Trump’s moral failures, they are doing nothing but confessing their own worse failure. They’ve had the chance to build decorum and tone on substance for a hundred years now, and have refused. Now the crumbling foundations are bringing down the edifice of decorum along with them, and the Evangelicals are exposed to the elements.
Not only Lucado, but the Senior Editors of the Christian Post published a similar anti-Trump article, stating that they have never before taken a position on a candidate. Trump is just too bad to let pass. Again, we can agree. But where have these leaders been in the many decades which led up to this point?
Likewise, a well-known Baptist leader published a long Facebook post decrying Trump and how he just cannot believe people would vote for him, points to signs of God’s judgment, and refuses to vote for him. Fine. But never mind that every nominee since (and before) Goldwater has been a socialist to a large degree, not to mention often vulgar when the mic’s off, and much more. And yet where have these pundits been all this time? Where has their preaching on God’s law and its application in life and public life been all this time?
I heard one Baptist tell us he’s the closest thing to us theonomists there is without actually being one. Then I listened to his all sermons on the Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It took about 25 sermons before he even mentioned the state, and then it lasted for about twelve seconds. Throughout the whole time, I hear a lot of bemoaning what a terrible condition we’re in as a culture and a nation today, but hear very little if any practical application to family, church, state, business, banks, economics, war, etc., even though all of those topics are covered throughout those passages. Where’s the beef?
Yes, we’re facing a degraded culture. Recent surveys reveal that increasing numbers—up to half—of young people view Socialism favorably. There is one main reason for this: public schooling. There is another: refusal of pulpits to make the applications of private property and ownership clear to young Christians and their parents. This current situation was foretold by those who started calling for homeschooling and Christian private schooling over 50 years ago (Rushdoony published The Messianic Character of American Education in 1963). And yet where, from any of these other evangelical leaders, have the sermons and articles been on the dire need to get Christian children out of public schools? They have been silent, hesitant, or “wait and see if this sticks” throughout the decades.
Taking a stand was too controversial, too risky. When Rushdoony was traveling the country as an expert witness for homeschool families in court case after court case all throughout that time, many a Christian leader was dismissing him as crazy, too controversial, and keeping their distance. Heck, it took Al Mohler until 2013 to suggest pulling kids out—and even then left room not to. For this half-century of hesitant caution we have reaped more Socialism and now Trumpism. And now these leaders suddenly come out and cry about it—now suddenly taking a brave stand.
Christians, #NeverTrump means absolutely nothing until you grasp #NeverPublicSchool, and that’s just one seminal issue. What about welfare, social security, taxation, police reform, legal immunity reform, free markets, private property, court reforms, and a hundred other issues?
Until we return to the type of public theology, ringing from pulpits, found in The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution, there will only be more sad episodes like the 2016 elections. And the worst part of it is that Christians will continue to be deceived, because they follow compromised, hesitant leaders. The leaders refuse to preach the law and its applications for Christian behavior in society because of the controversy and the risk. As a result, they don’t speak out until it’s too late. Masses of Christians will still look to them as leaders, but this is not leadership; it is a half-century-long, or more, failure of it.
A frank discussion needs to be had regarding Christian influence and resolve going forward. More on that to come. . . .