His name is a lightning rod. ⚡️
Whether you support his 2016 U.S. presidential candidacy or not, you probably have more visceral reaction to the mention of his name than to any other candidate. And now, his name and his campaign trail success is having another, albeit unintended, effect:
It’s making Americans wonder what it means to be a Christian.
Why is this?—Because so many people who self-identify as Evangelical are supporting him.
There was a time when the term Evangelical was nearly synonymous with the word Christian to millions of Americans. But now, as both political pundits and Evangelical leaders scratch their heads, Evangelical is a word in danger of taking on a new meaning: Sell Out. That is, it may be losing it’s meaning altogether.
Check out NPR’s fascinating March 3rd report on this issue: Evangelical Leaders Question Movement’s Support Of Trump (3:53 audio)
To me, a self-identifying Christian*, it’s no wonder. For, Evangelicalism has been a movement declining into theological chaos for well over a generation now. Where there was once a primary concern for creating an Evangelical identity and discipleship rooted in biblical and theological study, there is now a greater concern for relevance, marketing, and success measured in numbers. In short, the Evangelical church in America has sold its identity birth-right for a pot of beans. So now, Evangelical may simply mean that your daddy sent you VBS, or that you had a particular spiritual experience, or that you used to go to church more when your kids weren’t so busy with sports leagues on Sunday.
We must ask, if Evangelical Joe or Jane haven’t studied the Bible, haven’t been rightly taught the foundations and implications of the biblical faith, and aren’t committed to regular congregational discipleship and worship, (that is to say, if they are simply examples of Ameri-christianity), then is it any wonder that they are more products of the American consumeristic instinct for self-rule and self-faith and self-defined world view? And what’s more, is it any wonder they would cast their vote for someone who is cast from the same mold?
I’m not surprised.
*Full disclosure: My personal and theological commitments are to Jesus Christ as my Lord, and to the Father who sent Him for my rescue, and to the Spirit who unites me to the Holy Trinity, and to the tradition of Reformation Christianity that brought attention back to the gospel Jesus preached. My thoughts on what defines Christian Faith and Christians can be found here:
- What Does it Mean to Believe in Jesus?
- What Makes Faith “Christian?”
- The Hip Church
- Selling the Gospel—The Christian Hype That Stifles Christian Hope
- So You Call Yourself a Christian?—10 Things Jesus Said That Make Me Reconsider
- How to Know That You Are a Christian