The Washington Post recently ran an article titled, “Trump threatens to change the course of American Christianity.” Having won the Presidency with 81% of the white evangelical vote, it is commonly accepted that it was the religious right that led the way to Trump becoming the leader of the free world.
It was men like Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, that helped catapult Trump to the White House. Evangelicals who supported Trump, like Jeffress, are thought to have Trump’s ear and are seen as having possible significant influence as Trump’s advisers.
Writing for the Post, John Fea says Trump’s faith, questioned while he was campaigning, has not changed since being elected. He goes on to suggest that American Christianity will not change Trump as much as Trump will change American Christianity.
Only time will tell if Fea is a journalist or a prophet, but believers might want to keep their eye on the man who co-authored the book titled The Art of the Deal. Trump has already got what he wanted and it remains to be seen what evangelicals will reap, although the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a good down payment.
It is in the political arena where we observe the greatest animosity today. The first election I voted in was when Jimmy Carter ran for President, and I do not think I have ever seen the sheer bitterness I have witnessed in this last campaign and seems to persist.
While politics can be a dirty business, I believe Christian citizenship requires believers to thoughtfully consider the competing platforms of each party, and then to prayerfully vote our convictions. But in doing so, we should guard our hearts that we do not allow ourselves to become puppets of any political party.
Billy Graham said several years ago, “The central issues of our time aren’t economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature.” Times haven’t changed.
Christianity’s primary mandate is not a political one, Jesus Christ commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” Matthew 28:19, 20.
I do not remember the date; it was the seventies. The Florida Baptist State Convention met that year in the Veteran’s Memorial Civic Auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida. Two men I admired were to speak, Vance Havner and Dr. W.A. Criswell.
Dr. Criswell was at that time the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, as Jeffress is today. He delivered a sermon to the pastors present encouraging them in the importance of the Gospel ministry.
While my memory is vague on the date, his words still ring clear, “If I were offered the Presidency of the United States, and left my pulpit to accept, I believe I would be taking a step down.” I hope Jeffress is listening to his predecessor, and pray we do not take a step down.