An Open Letter to Evangelical Christians regarding the Presidential election of 2016:
For the purposes of this letter I define a evangelical Christian as one who believes faith in the sacrificial work of Jesus, the son of God, followed by obedience to his commands as given to us in the Bible, is the only means of reconciliation with God. I also define evangelical Christian as one who accepts the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself to humanity and applies it as normative instruction for living a righteous and loving life. According to this definition, I am an evangelical Christian, and I am writing to those who share my commitment to Christianity.
Fellow American evangelicals, do not be afraid by the changes occurring in the United States.
Fellow evangelical Christians around the world, pray for your brothers and sisters in the United States who are entering a period of isolation, turmoil and uncertainty.
The promises of the Bible hold true as much today as they did 2000 years ago. Jesus is the ONLY promise of life, abundance and freedom given to us in the Bible. There is no other way except through him. Nevertheless, he clearly tells us that his way is narrow and contains much suffering. Why should we then be surprised when people repel against us for our “narrow”-minded viewpoints? Our beliefs are both idiocy and a stumbling block to the majority of people living in the world.
We Christians in the United States have been privileged since 1791 to experience freedom of religious conscience and worship and have been protected from government intrusion into those beliefs and practices. Never before in the history of humanity has so much religious protection been given to a group of people like has been given Christians living in the United States.
Yet because our belief in Christ is exclusionary by definition, the only ways to protect our beliefs is through force (think Medieval Europe) or through offering the same religious protections to people of all(no) religions.
What American Christians have historically mistaken as political power is simply religious freedom. Our government institutions have always been republican and have always allowed people to choose their governing officials and laws. To the extent that these political officers (or candidates) and laws (as passed or interpreted by courts) no longer represent Christian values, is a reflection of our American society. Our society, meaning the majority of Americans, no longer holds that the Bible is true, homosexual behavior is sin, sex outside of marriage is wrong, God hates divorce, human life is more precious than animal life or the environment, human freedom does not include individual decisions about death, including the death of the fetus inside you, to name just a few hot button issues.
Thus, evangelical Christians have few choices when it comes to the political processes of our American society:
- We can participate in politics knowing that no major political party will reflect in total our evangelical beliefs, nor can they when evangelical Christians comprise a minority of the American population. Neither do either of the two main political parties perfectly capture the beliefs of any American.
2. We can choose not to participate in the political process because we do not think we can compromise those beliefs.
Evangelicals also have few choices when it comes to cultural involvement in American society:
1. We can continue to gerrymander our support for current political candidates and ideologies by convincing ourselves, congregations, and fellow believers that our support is only rooted in our desire to follow Christ and not our desire for political power.
2. We can look for and support political candidates who understand the ramifications of religious freedom in a republican society and are still willing to embrace the political process while maintaining their commitment to evangelical Christianity.
3. We can pray for the Church in America that we might be strong, sacrificial and loving towards a society that increasingly defines our beliefs as irrelevant, and, more seriously, evil.
4. We can walk forward in humility and love and offer our neighbors real Christianity, the Christianity that embraces suffering because Jesus embraced suffering on our behalf, a Christianity that in compassion recognizes the suffering of others, including those suffering from poverty, racism, discrimination, addiction, mental illness, broken homes, debt and disease.
No one wants to be considered a laughing stock. But, my fellow evangelical Christians in America, as our society has moved away from Christianity, that is what we have increasingly become. Accept it and even embrace it, but don’t deny it.
Political leaders will continue to jockey for the votes of evangelical Christians, but our influence upon those leaders will continue to be marginal.
Evangelical Christians around the world may experience times of great freedom and influence, as well as times of persecution and marginalization. American Christians are not the only “story” in the history of God’s involvement with His church.
It is not my place to tell you how to vote or if to vote in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. (In previous posts, I have said I cannot vote for either Clinton or Trump.) But, I would like to highlight that these times present serious issues of conscience for American Christians and, as such, deserve more thought and prayer than gut reactions to traditional party roles, ideologies and animosities.
It is unlikely that the progression of our society toward hyper-independence and compulsive tolerance will stop or even be slowed. The precedents in law and jurisdiction have been set. If God is calling you to serve in politics, serve willingly and with humility. If God is calling you to pray for our country, pray. But, know that as evangelical Christians you are called to live lives of salt and light in no matter what generation, culture, or nation God has placed you. Be strong and courageous, but be wise and thoughtful. These are our times.