Flogging White Evangelicals

Flogging White Evangelicals

Derryck Green on November 13, 2020

Christianity Today published a pre-election piece in which Timothy Dalrymple – president and CEO of the publication – explained the political divisions among white evangelicals concerning U.S. President Donald Trump.

The foundation of his analysis was the response to former editor Mark Galli’s December editorial in which Galli argued for the impeachment and removal of the president from office. 

According to Dalrymple, the reactions to Galli’s editorial divided themselves into two cohorts. The first he labeled the “Church Regnant” for what he suggests is its devoted pursuit of political power and influence – conflating these with the Kingdom of God. 

He says the decline of Christian influence in America and across the globe,

“…led them to support a politician who contradicts Christian values in his personal behavior but, they believed, advanced Christian values in the public square. They did not admire his personality or condone his rhetoric, but they believed he and [his party] would usher in the greatest good for society as a whole.”

The other collection of evangelicals he calls the “Church Remnant.” This group is, 

“…captivated by a fundamentally different vision of the kingdom of God. The kingdom… is too sacred to be confused with winning elections and passing laws. It is not a political dispensation or social order. It is not a kingdom of this world. Instead, the kingdom breaks into time and space when men and women sent by the king seek the lost and serve the least. The kingdom of heaven is among us when we speak the gospel in word and deed, serve the homeless and the refugee, and come alongside our suffering neighbors.”

To ensure there’s no confusion of where he stands, Dalrymple places himself firmly on the side of Church Remnant. Thinking through his observations, Dalrymple sounds like David French, post-2016 election. 

In treating what he sees as the fault line among white evangelicals, Dalrymple disparages the assumed motivations of the group with which he disagrees precisely because of whom the group supported. 

For example, he says, “…the Church Remnant places a higher priority on the purity of the church than the prosperity of the country. National prosperity matters, but nations flower and fall while the church endures into eternity. Its unity and integrity bear witness to the divine character of Christ… and cannot be compromised. This makes the Church Remnant more sanguine about the loss of cultural and political influence…”

Some evangelicals do fall into this category, however, the legitimacy of his broad application isn’t as concrete as Dalrymple suggests. Considering the rhetoric from the Church Remnant during the previous four years, the importance is less on protecting the integrity of the church and more about safeguarding the moral superiority of the Remnant’s congregation by rejecting the president and those that support him. That is, this pretentious declaration was meant to draw clear distinctions between the unrighteous and the self-righteous.

Supporting a dishonorable man whose policies have contributed to the expansion of human flourishing–– in our country and others–– has less to do with an unquenched thirst for power or influence and more to do with helping “our suffering neighbors.” 

Consequently, does supporting policies that lead to an improved quality of life precipitate a loss of religious/Christian integrity? Isn’t remaining silent and unmoved in this regard–– withholding support for preferential policies of a disliked president–– collaboration with the depreciation of human life? 

What about the alternative– supporting a disreputable man whose policies would compound the conditions that subvert human flourishing? Doesn’t this also make one an accomplice to sustained suffering while compromising Christian integrity? How is this more honorable? 

Naturally, Dalrymple doesn’t say.

He then says, “I say these things not to shame my brothers and sisters who feel otherwise but so that they can understand my heart. I believe the evangelical alignment with the Trump administration has advanced the kingdoms of men but not the kingdom of God.”

I think it’s so people know his heart and to distance himself from those who he shames.

However, this overly broad statement deliberately ignores some of the administration’s meaningful achievements. Do members of the Church Remnant think the following are only advancing ‘the kingdoms of men’?

  • Saving Lives Through Increased Support for Mental- and Behavioral-Health Needs;
  • Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children;
  • Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to the Conventional Arms Activities of Iran;
  • Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping;
  • Lowering Drug Prices;
  • Targeting Opportunity Zones and Other Distressed Communities;
  • Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access;
  • Increasing Drug Importation to Lower Prices for American Patients;
  • Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children;
  • Safe Policing for Safe Communities;
  • Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States;
  • The Prevention of International Human Trafficking;
  • The First Step Act.

One can make sound arguments about the moral and political legitimacy or longevity of Executive Orders. But those would truly be separate arguments altogether.

Are these policies simply relegated to the city of man rather than a measurable contribution to the transcendent causes of human development and flourishing? I’m not advancing the idea that government should be the primary vehicle for charity. But supporting these policies, in part, reflects a moral obligation that permits provisions for those in need. Would Christians have more integrity in the absence of these dispensations? How? Again, if Christians have the opportunity to influence action to improve or save lives, and don’t, how does it advance our moral and political witness? 

There’s also the possibility that the beneficiaries of these actions will not just thank the president; they will also thank his Christian supporters. They may thank God for answering prayers that alleviated substantial burdens that significantly complicated their lives. Some of the recipients might become fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because these policies have allowed– and are allowing– Christians on the ground in their immediate environments to be the ‘salt of the earth’. 

Can this conspicuous logic regarding Mr. Trump also be applied to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.? King’s public ministry in pursuit of civil rights was positively significant. But he repeatedly and perniciously violated Christian sexual ethics in his not-so-secret private life

How do Dalrymple and Church Remnant deal with King?

I don’t necessarily doubt Dalrymple’s charitability here, despite his sanctimony. His evaluation is a marginally more reasonable example of white evangelicals condemning fellow white evangelicals for supporting the president – a practice that’s exhausted itself.

  1. Comment by Gary Bebop on November 13, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Great work here. Thanks for the critical analysis, which cuts through the fog that has enveloped the mission of Christianity Today. The truth sets us free.

  2. Comment by Thomas F Neagle on November 13, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    I agree with your points and appreciate the.

    I do hope Mr. Dalrymple is happy with the inevitable full-bore murder of babies that will be encouraged by a Biden administration. Not to mention the open corruption of Hunter Biden that will now be magnified with his father as president. AND the encouragement of brutal regimes in Iran and China that viciously persecute Christians.

    As others have said also, has Mr. Dalrymple ever heard of King David? To which I would add the judge Samson, whose personal life was not exactly exemplary but who does make the OT hall of fame in Hebrews 11.

  3. Comment by Barbara on November 13, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    I would just like to say there are many actual fundamentalist churches in America and they would not support Joe Biden for anything, but would consider President Trump, and they tell their people to vote. The American Council of Christian Churches is one such group. They are against the World Council of Churches and everything it stands for- and that alone would mean no consideration for Joe Biden.

  4. Comment by Search4Truth on November 14, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Mr. Dalrymple suggests that “the church endures into eternity.” Has he no recollection of history in which many false religions appeared, flourished and then disappeared? His vision of religion is placing the will and desires of man above the Word of God. I fear the future our children will now be forced to face.

  5. Comment by David on November 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Trump appeals to American anti-intellectualism. What do experts know about anything? Science is rejected in favor of mythology. His followers rejoice in his attacking of reason.

    By the way, human conceptions are not automatically “babies.” The majority do not survive until term and are thus not even potential human life. Frequently they have the wrong number of chromosomes or other genetic defects. We may ask why this is the case if they are so precious. Clearly conceptions are considered disposable. What is often translated into English as “soul’ or “spirit” are derived from words for “breath” or “air/wind.” It might be argued that human conceptions lack souls until they have breathed air.

  6. Comment by Patrick98 on November 15, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Hi David,
    Can you scientifically explain to me how XX chromosome brains get into XY chromosome bodies, and how XY chromosome brains get into XX chromosome bodies?
    Thankyou for your consideration.
    Patrick98

  7. Comment by David on November 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    There is more that goes on than simply chromosomes. Hormonal conditions in the womb may play a role. Birth order can apparently increase the likelihood of gender discordant proclivities suggestive of maternal immune response. Genes work together with other genes and there is not necessarily a simple single gene controlling behavior. Do not forget the X chromosome inactivation in females. My late boss studied that early on.

  8. Comment by Loren J Golden on November 15, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13.34-35)
     
    “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Jn. 17.20-21)
     
    “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (Jas. 3.8-10)
     
    “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Gal. 5.15)
     
    “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Mt. 12.25)
     
    In recent months, I have taken to lengthy walks in the neighborhoods around my home to improve my health. In my various circuits, I have seen a great many yard signs and bumper stickers during this election season, touting this candidate or that. One bumper sticker in particular states, “VOTE! as if the fate of the world depends on it!” Now, the “O” in “VOTE” was replaced by the 1960s anti-war peace symbol, and the pickup truck on which it was placed was sitting in front of a home sporting a Biden/Harris yard sign. But I have observed the same unbelieving sentiment—placing all of one’s hopes for the future in the outcome of a political election—in the comments section of articles published on this website.
     
    This is particularly disturbing in some of the responses to the article published above, responses expressing animosity toward Timothy Dalrymple, and in responses to Gerald McDermott’s article “Arrogance, Abortion, and Death”, responses expressing animosity toward well-known Baptist preacher John Piper, both for having the temerity to suggest that a political candidate’s moral character (or lack thereof) ought to receive at least as much weight in the Christian voter’s decision of for whom to vote as whether the candidate’s political agenda aligns with Biblical teaching on relevant issues (e.g., abortion).
     
    Whether one agrees with Mr. Dalrymple and Rev. Piper, or with the criticisms leveled against them by Mr. Green and Dr. McDermott, all Christians need to be clear on one fundamental fact: The Bible does not provide Christians with guidelines on how to vote in democratic elections. It does not say that we must value a candidate’s stand on relevant moral issues more highly than the candidate’s moral character—or vice versa. It does not say that in a choice between two evils, we must first discern and then choose the lesser of the pair—nor does it say that we must or must not refrain from making such a choice. It does not say that we will be held accountable for exactly how we vote, as if voting for (or against) this candidate or that were somehow either mandated by God or condemned by Him.
     
    But it does say that we will be held accountable for how we treat one another. It might or might not be true, as Dalrymple and Piper suggest, that for Christians to support a political candidate whose immoral character is egregious even by the world’s low standards—let alone by the Bible’s impeccable criteria—represents a poor witness to the unbelieving world. Yet it is certainly true that for a Christian to malign or excoriate another Christian for the way he or she votes does, indeed, represent a poor witness to the unbelieving world, if “all people will know that (we) are (His) disciples, if (we) have love for one another” (Jn. 13.35), and yet we show forth vitriol toward our brother instead.
     
    It is perfectly acceptable to express disagreement with a brother or sister on matters not clearly stated in Scripture, such as the object of one’s vote. But let us not disagree disagreeably or be uncharitable toward a brother or sister, just because he or she comes to a different conclusion about a matter not addressed unequivocally in Scripture, lest we be found guilty of “sowing discord among brothers” (Prov. 6.19), failing to love one another as our Lord has commanded us, failing to rein in our tongues, and devouring one another like ravenous wolves, thus dividing the Church of Jesus Christ against itself.

  9. Comment by Douglas E Ehrhardt on November 16, 2020 at 5:22 am

    1 Corinthians 5 :12-13 Lately many big names in the body have fallen . I agree with not harshly attacking fellow believers.As a former Marxist and Democrat I know what we are up against. Too many in the church are not aware of the battle we are in . Politics is a world system that is corrupt.Too bad it is being used to attack the church. Leftists are relentless.

  10. Comment by John Smith on November 16, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Isn’t sanctimony a prerequisite for religion in America? (This would include those who attack religion.) SAB

  11. Comment by Patrick98 on November 17, 2020 at 8:59 am

    So David, does the change of hormones in the human body explain why some people go from one sex, then think they are the other, then later go back to their chromosomal sex? Birth order changes with the subsequent birth of other siblings (for example, the youngest child becomes a middle child). So if birth order changes, how does this affect the sex confused individual?

  12. Comment by Brother Thom on November 18, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    I can live with President Trump’s mouth, so long as he continues to praise God, work for the American people rather than against them, and more importantly to me than any other quality, he protects the lives of the unborn.

    For Christians, the dividing line in this election should have been abortion above anything else. Too many in ministry refuse to address this issue as what it is, murder. Supporting abortion rights is incompatible with Christianity. Those who refuse to address this, and refuse to stand up for the lives of unborn children of God stand squarely against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    There is no line, no script, nor jot or brush of the pen in our Holy Bible that lends its support to promoting abortion rights. Prove me wrong…

  13. Comment by David on November 19, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Patrick98 You can easily do your own research on the matter online. Human behavior is complicated and there are no conveniently simple explanations. Of course, those who reject science and reason will never be convinced of anything beyond their myths.

  14. Comment by Jim on November 20, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Something we might remember is that in both the 2016 and 2020 elections neither Democratic or Republican candidates for the President were exactly paragons of virtue. All had a history, all had behavior that was questionable. So what are we left with? In the end you just have to vote for the person that will advance your cause.

  15. Comment by Mick on November 23, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Just about nobody likes Trump’s juvenile tweet antics. Of course, the majority of his tweets are not like that. But still…

    Say what you will on where Trump is at regarding scripture and Christ. From my far away observation it doesn’t appear that he is a believer – in the biblical sense. And he has led an exemplary life of infidelity.

    But… And there’s always a big but.

    How can anyone lend support either by direct voting for, or abstaining from voting against, the other side? The other side is engaged in satanic behavior. Pure and simple as that. They are the party of untruth. They are the party who hates God, hates his immutable truths, hates his order and therefore wishes to supplant him with themselves either individually or collectively as the new God. It is the classic 1984 sin, so brilliantly fictionalized by George Orwell and personified in his character, O’Brien.

    From the global warming nonsense, the devaluation of the pre-born baby, the absurdity of a panoply of genders, the normalization of homosexual relationship in an obvious contravention to God’s order and prescient marriage metaphor of Christ and his bride, the denial of individual responsibility in contravention of God’s creation and moral call to the individual, and the love affair with State worship and collectivization and identity politics, etc. etc. etc.

    How can a Bible believing, born again in Christ evangelical lend any support to the clear, satanic affront to God that is the Democrat party?

    I really wonder what’s at play here. Is it pride? Is it just classic God hatred sin? (By the way, anyone who sins – and that’s all of us – hates God when he does it. It’s the only way you can sin.) Is it the desire to be accepted by the society at large, and especially those who are more “sensible” and, dare I say, worldly?

    Go intorespect. Pray for humility. The Spirit will show you if you dig deep enough and hard enough and longingly enough for truth. He showed me.

  16. Comment by Michael McInnis on November 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Anyone who prefers Hillary Clinton’s (or Joe Biden’s) character to Donald Trump’s character has not been paying attention.

    This seems to include the editorial staff at Christianity Today.

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