Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Evangelical Mind

2016 will definitely be one for the books. We are currently in what may be the craziest election cycle in the United States’ history. Campaign season can be fun or stressful for a lot of reasons, but I am always particularly interested in how the American evangelical community responds to candidate choices. Evangelicals traditionally have had conservative leanings in this country. There is, of course, no harm in this fact. Many churches in recent years have done a fairly decent job at emphasizing the arbitrariness of political leanings in evangelical orthodoxy. But this election cycle has caused my stomach to churn in unsettling ways.

 

I would like to believe that churches are becoming more neutral on political leanings, but this is not so. Due to the unfortunate nature of our divisive two-party system, we are left with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The evangelical response to Trump and his candidacy has been peculiar, to say the least. I could only hope and pray that Trump’s candidacy would be the knock-out hit to the unabashed evangelical devotion to the Republican Party, but this is not what has been observed. Multiple evangelical leaders across this country, many of them with big names and big churches, have, without question, endorsed Trump. And this is not an endorsement based off of the lesser of two evils, but rather these leaders genuinely think that Trump is a good moral agent who should be leading this country, with one pastor in particular calling Ch

 

ristians who do not vote for Trump “fools.” This only damages the evangelical mind by re-enforcing the false historical conception that America somehow used to be “great” and “Christian” and “blessed by God” and the Donald Trump, with his right-wing prowess, will successfully return America back to the good old days. We have officially uncovered a truth about many evangelical Christians that many others have suspected all along: To worship Jesus is to worship Western conservatism.

 

If these pastors and leaders cared to line up biblical morality with Trump morality, they would find that they go together, as Simon Cowell says, like vanilla ice cream and sausage: They don’t. But there is another side to this coin. There are many Christians, not just liberal, but conservative who have given a great deal of backlash to these leaders. Many evangelicals think Trump is a morally bankrupt agent and that Christians should not support him at all. There has been a strange mix of opinions amongst the evangelical community. Is this good? Well sure. It causes the church to wrestle with itself and its convictions. However, my ultimate concern for evangelical Christians has nothing to do with whether pastors are endorsing Trump or opposing him. My concern lies with the abrasive nature of their leanings. We bank on or against Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders, or whoever. We care so deeply about who our president will be. Americanism has a nasty way of pulling us back into its false religion of exceptionalism, a concept that is unfortunately praised by many Christians. Let’s face it; many Christians do a much better job of worshipping America rather than Jesus.

 

What I have discussed thus far is just a symptom of the bigger issue. The big issue is this: Christian hope has been staunchly misdirected. We all hope America will get better, and we hope for a good president. But this is just a cheap replacement for real hope. Christians can be unnecessarily pessimistic people. We often buy into doomsday theories and fear that anything going wrong in our country is a sign that we are “turning away from God” and hope we are nearing the end of days so Christ will return. I am convinced that for evangelicals, this negative sense of hope has bred in us a longing not for God and His control over His creation, but for America and its leadership. So many Christians are too fatalistic in thinking that things have to get much worse before they can get better that hope in God and His providence has become meaningless. We desire hope in things that we can see with the naked eye and things that we can control, and refuse to let God maintain control.

 

I am not at all indicating that taking pride in America and loving our country is a bad thing. But this is important: American exceptionalism and Biblical Christianity are antithetical to one another. Our hope lies in Jesus Christ and his ability not to save the world later, but to continue saving the world at present. Christ’s physical resurrection rendered the old order useless and gave us hope for our present age as well as our future.

 

Ryan Ellington Edit: Besides, this world is not our home.

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Abortion, Euthanasia, and the Sanctity of Human Life

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We all saw the horrible situation with the Philadelphia abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, and his arrest for post-birth abortions.  One thing that I am thankful for is that he was convicted, and now he is in prison.  However, I don’t hold him to a different standard than any other abortion doctor out there.  In fact, he hasn’t done anything worse by performing post-birth abortions.  I appreciate the way his situation was handled, but I worry that our culture is not going to give this same reaction in future instances.  The fact that we think abortion is perfectly okay is completely ridiculous.  It just goes to show that we have a major moral standard that is in drastic decline.

 

But to take this even further, euthanasia is becoming worse at who they think they can “kill off.”  This practice is legal in some countries, and it is becoming more popular.  There are areas in the world where teenagers who struggle with anxiety and depression are encouraged to commit suicide.  Euthanasia has gone from an organization who promotes assisted suicide for extremely ill or handicapped individuals to one that is perfectly fine with discarding a human life who has little to nothing wrong with them.  Again, this shows where our standard for human life is being held at.

 

The fact of the matter is that aborting babies, pre-birth or post-birth, and encouraging people to kill themselves is just plain stupid.  These organizations that promote abortion and assisted suicide are seeking two things.  Money and power.  Abortion has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry, where advertisements are being put out to encourage people to have sex so that they can get an abortion.  This act is selfish at best and sociopathic at worst.  Human life is viewed as trash, not treasure.  But why should human life be viewed as valuable?

 

If we were to live in a godless world, I would argue that there would be no moral standard at all for us to live by.  From a Marxist/Leninist point of view, abortion and suicide is perfectly fine.  In fact, murder of any kind is fine and it should happen if it makes other people happy.  However, I don’t think anyone can TRULY argue that it is okay from a Christian perspective.  If a good, moral God exists, then HE gets to set the standard for human life, not other people.  And I think this moral standard can be clearly seen, it is just currently being overlooked.  I fear for our future, as abortion can be taken further than post-birth.  Euthanasia can be taken further than killing off healthy, normal teenagers.  There is already an idea that is emerging of involuntary euthanasia, where they have the ability to control who gets to live and who gets to die, without the person’s say in the situation.  Though this isn’t legal anywhere, it has been talked about, and that is a scary thought.  If we are going to live in a society that does value human life, then we have to eliminate these practices from our culture.

 

 

“‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Deuteronomy 27:25