December 23, 2017

Why Tim Keller's Summary of Trump and Evangelicals is Misleading





The following introduction outlines important considerations that we all should be taking into account before we make any assumptions about politics and politicians:

COMPARE TWO LEADERS

One leader warns about documented fake news and news bias and urges fact-checking truth claims while another leader uses popular opinion and polls in such a way as to imply that truth is based on consensus. 

Which approach displays more wisdom? 

Which approach warrants more trust? 


The Bible encourages us to "test all things" as true or false, good or evil, and that includes not just opinions but the basis of opinions and where information is obtained (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Unfortunately, many Christians and even evangelical leaders are not doing this these days and are succumbing to media manipulation and false ideas.

I have respect for Rev. Timothy Keller in many ways. I am acquainted with him because I used to be involved at Redeemer Church and led a Redeemer Bible study in Brooklyn after I graduated from the Cooper Union. I appreciated Dr. Timothy Keller's sermons, and I agree with the premise of his new book, The Freedom of Forgetfulness. I also went on my first mission trip to Uganda through Redeemer Church that was a powerful and life-changing one led by Katherine Leary Alsdorf. I was disappointed, however, when I read Timothy Keller's article in The New Yorker, "Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore?" that explores the label "evangelical" as its use is changing in society. While warning of Christian identity politics, Rev. Keller offers an extremely biased approach that vilifies one group and through this, he actually engages in the practice of supporting a heavy-handed type of Christian identity politics. The subject of evangelicalism is basically a platform that Keller uses for passing along his surreptitious judgments.

Dr. Keller apparently feels tainted by evangelical Trump supporters and he presents some loaded phrases to imply that Christian evangelicals that support President Trump are basically hypocrites. His article appears to take public opinion and polls as extremely valuable while neglecting the greater value of God's word, research, and the use of critical thinking as necessary for Christians in forming a sound basis of opinion on evangelicalism and politics.

I believe that three main apparent errors should be addressed. First, it seems disingenuous for Keller to imply that certain evangelicals are hypocrites simply because public secular opinion might suggest this or because he as an evangelical holds to a different approach for evaluating politics. Second, decorum is not the main deciding point in supporting a political leader both in terms of specific scriptures and regarding valid points raised by highly-respected evangelical leaders, though Keller implies that this is the most important factor. And, third, passing along unqualified selective outrage against Trump and his evangelical conservative supporters is divisive and counterproductive. Towards the conclusion, I'll examine more closely why we should be extremely wary of popular opinion and polls in an age of fake news and how Trump is actually a better example in this regard than Keller.

Rev. Keller distills public opinion into loaded phrases without qualification and offers effective tacit support for such opinions per the maxim, "Silence equals consent." The subtle suggestion that truth is based on a consensus of opinion is a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum. Note the following quote:

'“Evangelical” used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with “hypocrite.”'

Dr. Keller does not question whether the label of “hypocrite” often applied to conservative evangelicals that support Trump could be misapplied or false, but in his article simply implies that the label is valuable and true based on a high regard of public opinion. Left-leaning Politico actually treats evangelical Trump supporters with more fairness than Keller and nowhere is the word "hypocrite" used in their summary article when describing that evangelicals tend to support Trump based mainly on abortion and Supreme Court issues.

“People who once called themselves the “Moral Majority” are now seemingly willing to vote for anyone, however immoral, who supports their political positions.”

This loaded phrase by Rev. Keller offers assumptions that were not appropriately fleshed out. The broad brush that Keller is using to label conservative politicians as “however immoral” does not refer to lawbreaking, but to accusations regarding moral indiscretions. This evaluation is in keeping with Max Lucado's rejection of Trump based on “tone and decorum” in his article "Decency for President" that I quoted in a previous article.

Tim Keller implies that supporting a polished politician such as Hillary Clinton (one his Gospel Coalition prefers) and abortion, Marxism, radical Islam, transgenderism, the destruction of religious rights, is preferable to supporting Trump. Though Donald Trump is neither a polished speaker nor a candidate for the priesthood, he actually works to protect traditional freedoms and values. While Keller and Lucado are entitled to their opinion, many highly-respected evangelical leaders raise referenced scriptural arguments that are in my opinion more cogent. Added to the previous problems, it's further disturbing that Keller heaps on the leftist tact of selective moral outrage:

“The fury and incredulity of many in the larger population at this constituency has mounted.”

While ignoring egregious lawlessness by leftist politicians, Dr. Keller recycles selective outrage against Trump and his conservative supporters without question or qualification. The use of repeated and unsupported personal attacks is a logical fallacy known as 'the repeated assertion' or 'argumentum ad nauseam' and it has many forms today in the news. The oft-repeated news story of Trump's alleged collusion with Russia to win his election, based on no actual evidence, is one such example used to undermine the legitimacy of the president's authority. The actual evidence suggests that Obama, Clinton, and Mueller were in collusion to cover up the sale of 20% of U.S. uranium to Russia coincidental with $145 million in donations from Uranium One investors to the Clinton Foundation. These representatives, not Donald Trump, are the ones that should presently be under investigation.

The use of demeaning propaganda by the leftist mainstream news is straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. Radical leftists intent on revolution have won a great victory when the clergy is unwittingly doing their work for them. This is what Alinsky meant when he wrote: "If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside."



There is little research by popular evangelical leaders today into the many deeper aspects of entrenched political corruption and Marxist indoctrination that have been gradually transforming the United States. Communist Antonio Gramsci developed the theory of cultural hegemony to further the establishment of a working-class worldview and the Frankfurt School helped form the basic strategy of using Marxist influences through "the long march through the institutions" to slowly mold public opinion into the Marxist-communist framework. The Washington Times points out, young minds in the US have been "deconstructed" and reshaped: "As author William J. Federer explains, animus toward their own country and free market capitalism among many younger Americans — even Christians — is no accident but the result of a conditioning process that begins in the elementary and secondary schools and goes into overdrive in universities." Tim Keller's biased article is an affirmation of how effective Marxist cultural hegemony has become.

In an article titled, "The Morality of Voting for Trump" Laura Ingraham outlined the virtue of opposing the corrupt and leftist politics of the Clintons, among many other points: "Voting for Trump means that when you finally had the chance to end the corrupt and decadent Clinton machine, you took it." To better understand intentional leftist value shifting and indoctrination in the U.S., one good resource is Charlotte Iserbyte's book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. To get an idea of how absurd things have become, leftist college students today try to justify physical violence against a conservative speaker by labeling words as "verbal violence" that must be stopped at all costs.

I actually encourage Christian activism and social change in another article titled "Jesus' Activism Example is Quite Relevant Today" that is based on sound theology with examples such as William Wilberforce. However, when Paul advocated that we should try to be all things to all people in order to save some, I don't believe that he was calling us to support socialism, Marxism or Antifa (and the pro-abortion platform) as a means of making a stronger connection with non-believers and uninformed Christians. This, however, is what many of the Christian social justice warriors that Keller lauds in his article are unwittingly supporting. In today's climate, and after receiving a U.S. public education, someone close to me was absolutely certain that supporting the type of Democratic socialism represented by Sanders, Obama and Clinton is a must for anyone that calls themselves a Christian. The Bible simply does not support this view. Care for the poor in scripture is voluntary and community-based, not government enforced, and other misconceptions abound.

When I presented African American evangelicals that support Colin Kaepernick some research showing that his NGO supports Islam, Marxism, and LGBT rights, there was an acknowledgement that he was off, but no willingness to expose the misinformation and say, “Okay, maybe instead of supporting this we as African American Christians should expose this as a poor NGO that promotes moral confusion in the minds of young people.” There is incredible pressure in society for Christians to support even anti-Christian agendas for the sake of public approval. Vladimir Lenin coined the phrase “useful idiots” for people that unwittingly promote Marxism. I lived in Ukraine as a missionary for 10 years and can personally attest to the reality that society was worse for the fact of the atheist-Marxist society that controlled the Soviet Union for about 70 years and had basically quashed all possibility of publicly presenting the gospel.

Before passing judgment against evangelical Trump supporters, consider these points:

1. The scriptural admonition to "test all things" is critical. 
This scripture is generally followed more closely by Trump supporters than never-Trumpers (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
2. In scripture, decorum is not the top consideration in political leaders - God chose David as king of Israel foreknowing that David would have very bad “decorum” in committing adultery and murder. Despite these serious character flaws and actions, God through scripture declares David as a man of action "who will do all My will" -even as Trump is a man of serious action. (Acts 13:22). The legalistic tendency to evaluate mainly based on appearances or past mistakes rather than accomplishments and intentions does not reflect God's grace.
3. Paul emphasized the value of protective leaders – Paul encouraged us to pray for those in authority “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life" and it would be illogical to promote leaders and parties that have the appearance of decorum but actually work against religious liberty. Wall Builders outlines a stunning list of how Barack Obama was the most anti-biblical president in the history of the U.S. titled "America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President". When we pray for and support a candidate that does not have the best decorum but will, in fact, protect religious liberty in peace, this makes sense: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2 NKJV).
4. Brute facts of abortion and religious freedom are top considerations. The euphemistic phrase "political positions" belies the fact that the U.S. as a country performs about 1 million abortions per year. Highly-respected evangelical leaders do not agree with Keller's apparent opinion, that personal decorum should be the top consideration in deciding the ultimate moral and political worth of a politician. William Lane Craig, Wayne Grudem, and James Dobson do not hold to Keller's view. To be clear, they are not Christian hypocrites simply because they do not share Keller's particular political value system. 
5. Many of the popular social justice causes today are actually immoral – In Keller's defense of Christian social justice, the implication is that many evangelical Christians do not appear to be loving because we are not on the bandwagon with open borders for illegal aliens, Black Lives Matter type organizations and unfettered Muslim immigration from terrorist countries. Addressing the first point: Since when was breaking immigration law considered “moral high ground” for Christians? As to the second, Black Lives Matter may sound like a good idea, but the actual practices of the organization are reprehensible and not at all in keeping with the altruism of someone like Martin Luther King. As far as unfettered immigration from Muslim terrorist countries, this issue is not so much about being loving or unloving as it is about surviving and not surviving. Tim Keller and other never-Trump leaders seem to be oblivious to the fact that Europe is becoming an anti-Christian pro-Sharia-law type of hell. By percentage, Sweden has taken in the most Muslims and the epidemic of gang rapes in public by Muslims has become so severe that the Swedish government is now advising women not to leave their homes after dark as the only plausible solution. As recorded by Gatestone, there are 751 'no go zones' in France presently.
6. So far, Trump is fulfilling God's apparent will to bring back a semblance of religious freedom – In keeping with the mainly leftist MSM news, Keller did not have one positive word to say about Trump's many achievements to date as president. If God's will is for people to hear the gospel, then it is not illogical to claim that God's will is probably being fulfilled by Donald Trump in allowing more legal protection for religious freedom in the United States and as an example to the world that is increasingly hostile to Christianity.
7. Most leftist accusations are simply false - When the issue of the moral fitness of Donald Trump is raised by opponents, there are usually accusations of racism, fascism, and misogyny. There are no referenced laws that were broken, but there is behavior that people consider offensive that is usually not even based on actual quotes in context. The fact is, building a wall to prevent illegal immigration is not actually racist, and neither is the vetting of potential terrorists. In terms of fascism, Dinesh D'souza has written a good article documenting why Trump is not a fascist: "Debunking the Lie That Trump Is a Fascist". In terms of misogyny, it's ironic that those in Hollywood often promoting objectification and promiscuous are the ones most loudly objecting to this. And if we take a broad view of J.F. Kennedy, L.B.J and the case of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Trump is nowhere near the level of actual physical sexual depravity exhibited by other presidents, which have received much less flack.
8. The hackneyed selective outrage that is exemplified by Keller is neither logical nor compelling. There is outright lawbreaking from Trump's political opponents, as noted here, and here, but this is blatantly ignored by the MSM news in favor of Saul Alinsky type tactics such as character assassination and repeating hasty off-hand quotes over and over again as if they represent the core of a person's moral value. Todd Akin pointed out, “In God’s word it says, ‘Don’t bear false witness,’ but we’re doing that all over the place, and that’s all considered fair nowadays.” We Trump supporters are tired of being labeled as hypocrites when there is a more subtle hypocrisy that overlooks actual serious documented lawbreaking in favor of clamoring over gossip or a dislike for someone's personality and lack of public decorum.
9. Keller's article wrongly implies that evangelical black community unanimously opposes Trump - An article titled, "17 Black Celebrities And Influencers Who Still Support Donald Trump" offers some African American evangelicals that passionately support Trump, such as Diamond and Silk. Allen West, an outspoken black Trump supporter, offered: “You can sit back and you can throw stones or you can say hey, let me get inside this building and let’s talk about how we make the building stronger. And I believe that’s— the latter should be the course of action we’re taking.”
10. Encouraging unsupported selective outrage against certain Christians is not in keeping with scripture. We are called to try to promote peace with all people, not level divisive attacks: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18 NIV). We are actually called to treat believers even better than the secular world, not worse: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10 NIV)

Logical fallacies that were used against Roy Moore.

Keller's reference to Roy Moore implies that he agrees with the media that he should be considered as morally reprehensible based on comments by accusers. The concept of "innocent until proven guilty" has fallen by the wayside in more ways than one this year. Where there is no actual evidence there should be no judgment. But now things are reversed. Accusations are made and the person is considered guilty while people search for some type of evidence to justify the media circus and character assassinations.

The burden of proof is on the accuser in a healthy society. If we run with the logic: "A lot of people say he broke the law, therefore, he broke the law." -then there are a number of problems. In the case of Moore, there was the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. The danger of this approach is that it is very difficult to prove a negative. In other words, how can a person prove he didn't do something if he is innocent and the only evidence is based on the testimony? This is why the approach is not only unfair but can be considered slanderous and criminal in and of itself. If there is evidence related to the specific allegation, as there was in the case of Monica Lewinsky's stained blue dress that proved Bill Clinton lied, then the case is more than simply accusatory. The insinuation that Moore should be considered as guilty because people feel the case is settled by mere opinion is the fallacy of alleged certainty.

The danger of catering to fake news and biased public opinion can be better understood through the following argument:

1. If news bias and fake news are a problem and public opinion is highly influenced by news, then public opinion and polls are not very trustworthy sources of truth and information.
2. News bias and fake news are a problem and public opinion is highly influenced by news.
3. Therefore, public opinion and polls are not very trustworthy sources of truth and information.

Leading up to the 2016 election, the fake news was so bad that The New York Times executive editor felt the need to rededicate the paper to honest journalism: "...we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly," And CNN has been repeatedly busted to this day for fake news, as noted here, and here. CNN's website lists peaceful organizations such as the Family Research Council as "hate group" points on a map simply for supporting traditional family values and this engenders hatred against conservative Christians. Attacks against journalist whistleblowers opposed to corruption were increased heavily under President Obama.

Ironically, Rev. Keller's tacit support of fake news and anti-conservative hatred actually underscores how effective fake news is and why a shrewd president such as Trump should be supported along with evangelicals interested in addressing entrenched establishment corruption and biased laws. If Donald Trump displays more wisdom about checking basic information and central ideas than top evangelical leaders these days, then the church probably has more problems than we realize. Well, let's be thankful that God is in control and not evangelical leaders.

I would strongly recommend that evangelicals avoid news sources that repeatedly post fake news, such as CNN. And though miles ahead of CNN in terms of overall integrity, to be fair, FOX News also had their own fake news scandal when they opposed the truthful reporting of Monsanto's bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and fired two journalists that wanted to report the truth. I have a list of many links that includes news sources that report important news often ignored by establishment MSM news. I'd recommend especially Drudge Report for a comprehensive overview of world news and WND for news with a Christian conservative perspective. 

While Dr. Keller may attempt to identify with the masses for the sake of gospel acceptance and perhaps has no interest in deeper political issues and entrenched establishment corruption, as a Trump supporter interested in both presenting the gospel and preserving a society in which the gospel can be legally presented, I disagree with Keller's approach of getting your feet wet in politics enough to show apparent signs of virtue signaling to leftists but not enough to identify the deeper faults of leftism and problems down the road that will effectively block the free movement of the gospel.

Many of us evangelicals have believed that it was not God's will to sit back and watch the country go to hell both literally and figuratively while increasingly anti-Christian laws were passed by the previous administration. And we are not content today to sit back and pretend that the type of social justice most prominently on display by the left is always wonderful and altruistic. Truth is not based on feelings or consensus and we should not be quick to judge others that do not share our views without showing a willingness to learn and dialogue. There was no implication by Dr. Keller of any desire to engage with Trump supporters for the sake of better understanding our views.

An article by Keller titled "Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs: Leading the Secular to Christ" describes his emphasis on positive first impressions in his 'gospel sandwich' and this helps to inform why he is perhaps prone to judge Trump supporters and why he personally would wish to disassociate himself from Donald Trump. 

Dr. Keller's apparent underlying gospel logic seems to be as follows:

1. All sincere Christians should try first and foremost to appear loving and moral based on the public opinion of what is loving and moral so as to better present the gospel.
2. Any association with Donald Trump does not appear loving and moral in terms of public opinion.
3. Therefore, no sincere Christian should support Donald Trump.

My argument against Dr. Keller's surreptitious judgments against Donald Trump and his evangelical support.

First, we as Christians are called to more than the mere appearance of love. We should live consistently, both internally and externally, even though our beliefs and values on controversial issues might offend people. To do the opposite is actually a poor witness. Second, if we help to destroy the legal basis of presenting the gospel because of our “high moral standards” in attacking a more conservative politician, this is illogical in the long run. Third, because many evangelicals appear ignorant "for the sake of the gospel" and cannot rationally discuss the basis of ethics and controversial issues, this actually harms the gospel.  In reality, Christianity offers a much more logical worldview and stronger basis of ethics and this is shown by atheists running scared from debate challenges by Christians on the world stage. Dr. Keller is entitled to his views, but he should not hastily pass along surreptitious judgment against Christians that disagree with him.

The second premise may at first appear true, but it is only true for people that are not aware of deeper issues at stake. A deeper and more holistic approach to both spirituality and politics that is based on accurate research and knowledge is in the long run preferred to a superficial approach that is more based on people pleasing. Regarding controversial truths, it can be considered more loving to share truth directly with humility rather than to simply wait for a person to discover uncomfortable truths on their own. The second premise is partially true and so the conclusion is false based on a false first premise and partially true second premise. Dr. Keller does not seem interested in discussing the actual relationship between a true Christian witness and important political issues that the "Trump effect" has raised for evangelicals, as noted in my argument. Rather, Keller offers an overly simplistic dismissal of Trump evangelicals that comes across as mere pandering and virtue signaling to leftists.



Rev. Keller's approach to gospel acceptance appears to some degree as a compromise.

The Bible does not teach us to hide our values or cave into secular pressure for the sake of public acceptance. Jesus implied the opposite, that true and sincere identification with Christ and his teachings in an increasingly decadent society will bring scorn: "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22 NIV)

Another irony of Rev. Keller's criticism of Trump supporters is that we conservative evangelicals actually tend to display a more closely-followed biblical representation of doctrine. And we are more willing to take a public stand for values described in scripture despite secular pressure to cave into political correctness. In a review of Keller's view of homosexuality, he says that homosexuality is no more serious than human greed and the main problem with homosexuality is that it does not promote "human flourishing." To euphemistically summarize such behavior and eternal damnation as a lack of human flourishing simply does not correspond at all to the specific language of Christ and of scripture for anyone even doing the simplest review of biblical exegesis. Again, Keller might personally wish to take the 'gospel sandwich' approach and publicly hide or downplay his biblical values in order to appear likable but to imply that all other evangelicals that do not follow this view are hypocrites is not helpful, to say the least. Robert A. J. Gagnon offered New York City as a caveat to Keller's questionable opinions:

“Maybe too some allowance should be made for the “Stockholm Syndrome”: he has imbibed the culture of New York City for too long.”

I agree with Gagnon that the totalitarian nature of the Democrat Party and the push for an anti-Christian totalitarian globalist government is more in keeping with a terrorist abduction in the long run than a benevolent Christian activist group. While it's true that a seeker-friendly approach can be helpful to a point, there's a danger that Christians will become more like thermometers that mainly reflect the anti-Christian aspects of the environment rather than thermostats that truly help to change the environment for the better, as in keeping with the salt and light of our true spiritual nature (Matthew 5:13-16).

Final points

Nowhere in Rev. Keller's article does he offer any biblical reference or argument as to why Christians should vote our political support based mainly on decorum and decency. He just runs with an assumption as supposedly true and valid at face value, and the same goes for the hypocrite label and the selective moral outrage. Donald Trump supports the testing of ideas, opposition to media manipulation, a strong defense of religious rights, and a sense of unity. Matthew Henry's commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:21 implies that discernment is not only important for doctrine but all manner of information and experiences:

"Every Christian has and ought to have, the judgment of discretion, and should have his senses exercised in discerning between good and evil, truth and falsehood,"

There are at least three articles at Rev. Tim Keller's Gospel Coalition Website that explicitly encourage support for Hillary Clinton among all of their pastors, as noted herehere, and here. An editor of the Gospel Coalition website, Joe Carter, promoted Hillary Clinton based on a narrow and false dichotomy between promoting justice in society and the "gospel witness" of Christians. Aside from incongruity being a very poor gospel witness, there is more to the picture, as I noted in my points. This GC background would explain why Keller has a 'hands-off' approach to Hillary Clinton and why Keller's New Yorker article is not only about labeling but also supports certain political views with extreme bias. If you've read this article and believe that I've presented any false or misleading information, I welcome constructive dialogue and comments.

An alternative to Rev. Keller's article title could be this:

Can evangelicalism survive leaders such as Tim Keller that are willing to basically support abortion, Marxism, radical Islam, transgenderism, the destruction of religious freedoms, and egregious corruption, all for the sake of their supposed good Christian witness?




While there is a certain creative allowance for a Christian presenting an article in the liberal publication The New Yorker, Keller's use of unqualified accusatory language against Trump supporters was unnecessary. Rev. Keller's recycling of false accusations against Trump-supporting conservative Christians is more in keeping with the kingdom of darkness rather than the kingdom of light (Revelation 12:10). And the internal inconsistency of supporting a litany of ungodly positions for the sake of a supposed better gospel witness does not jibe with Jesus' statement that a house divided cannot stand:  "But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." (Matthew 12:25 NKJV). The promotion of desolation does not actually demonstrate a good witness or help the cause of Christ.

It would be more helpful to promote a sense of Christian brotherhood and openness to dialogue with those of us that do in fact support the president. Perhaps Rev. Tim Keller would consider supporting the president and conservative evangelicals working to protect rights and oppose corruption, as opposed to acting mainly as a negative echo chamber for the biased and liberal MSM establishment news. And I pray for all of us as evangelicals that we will seek to be humble and more passionate to see and understand our own faults as opposed to mainly seeing the faults in others.

The main ideas for the article came to me in the middle of the night and I give God all glory and thanks for this.

Update: Someone argued that Keller was mainly focusing on the issue of labeling and the changing meaning of the word "evangelicalism" and that criticism of bias is unfounded. However, the glaring omission of anything negative about Hillary Clinton and the incongruity of evangelicals voting for a woman calling on all of us Christians to change our views on abortion reveals extreme political bias by Keller. In a  quote explained in a LifeNews article titled "Hillary Clinton: Make Christians Change Their Religious Views to Support Abortion" -regarding abortion, Hillary Clinton said:

"And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."

(Edited 1-2-2018)

by Rick Warden

Related:

Gallup Poll Shows Christians Desire Political and Ethical Teaching

Jesus' Activism Example is Quite Relevant Today

Three Important Ways to Honor “National Religious Freedom Day”



Tags: Why Keller is wrong about Trump support, Tim Keller New Yorker article on evangelicals, Tim Keller feels tainted by Trump, Gospel Coalition supports Clinton, Robert Gagnon support of Trump, Laura Ingraham support of Trump, James Dobson, why public opinion and polls are unreliable today,  Keller's attacks against Trump and Moore are logically flawed and not well supported biblically

26 comments:

  1. Good job. I just wrote this: https://warhornmedia.com/2018/01/03/makes-tim-keller-uncomfortable/

    I think strong words are necessary to get through to Pastor Keller. And humor, too. He needs the help of embarassment, since he's very conscious of what people think of him.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Eric.

      I agree with your linked post that cowardice and snobbery can be a problem within evangelical leadership and I especially admire your courage to critique within your own ranks a prominent leader among Reformed Calvinists.

      I think that one of the reasons snobbery and cowardice have increased is because of the more prevalent anti-evangelical distinction between pastors and regular church-folk. In general, we believers simply aren't studying scripture and using critical thinking as seriously as we should. And there is also a stigma attached to anyone that would dare question a teaching from their leadership. Scripture, however, encourages us all to ask questions and even the Apostle Paul's teachings were appropriately tested by the church:

      "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)

      It's truly astounding to see articles by pastors at the Gospel Coalition website with titles such as this one that encourage their congregation not to think but to follow whatever their pastor tells them:

      Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Clinton
      JUNE 2, 2016 | Thabiti Anyabwile

      https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/evangelical-leaders-tell-us-to-vote-for-clinton/

      Delete
  2. Somewhere back in the mists of time, somebody managed to do an incredible hardwiring in the minds of many American right-wingers - God's purpose=GOP/Satan's purpose=Democrats (regardless of behaviour/policy).

    In reality being a follower of Christ means that ALL human political institutions are at times going to fail to live up to God's standards. If we are true believers there will be times when our beliefs stand in opposition to the Republican party, Democrat party, British Labour or Conservative party, Christian Democrat party, Roman empire, monarch, or whoever.

    Non-republicans don't have a problem with this - I don't know any Bible believing Christians who would try to justify Clinton's affair with Lewinsky as being somehow biblically acceptable. Many Republicans on the other hand have this hardwired association between God, and their political organisation, and will regularly defend their party’s actions even when those actions are contrary to Christian principals. That many Christians have a problem with Trump's support of neo-nazism, foul-mouth, grabbing women by the ****, affairs with porn stars, racist comments about other nations, rampant corporate greed, disdain for God's created environment, opposition to the Bible's description of how to care for the alien; does not, as the writer of this piece implies, mean that those particular individuals are hardwired to the opposite side of the American political divide (perhaps they find abortion/Clinton's affair equally offensive). The writer, on the other hand, seems to think there is nothing wrong with, for example, Trump's sexual misconduct, because “Trump is nowhere near the level…of others”.

    I’m ok with the writer of this piece disagreeing with some faults laid at Trumps feet, however if they don't find ANYTHING about Trump as being in direct opposition to Jesus model of a leader, then I would respectfully suggest that they've not really grasped who Jesus is.

    Kellers goal in his piece, is not to paint the picture of a holy Democrat party. He is simply acknowledging what many of us around the world are struggling with - that many in the Republican party DO seem to see American politics as the battle between God and Satan played out in politics, with Trump cast as God's chief foot soldier fighting the evangelical fight. If Trump is God's chief foot soldier, I too am dismayed. That is neither an endorsement of abortion, nor support of Hilary. Neither political party represents Christ, they represent their own political interests. Keller correctly snips at that soldered neural connection that many right-wingers have between republicanism and evangelicism. Keller gives me reason to believe I can be a small-e evangelical without necessarily having to believe in the sanctification of Trump or the Theological imperative of Republicanism. Keller is NOT attempting to rewire the connection as a necessary connection between evangelism and Democratism. There is NO need to even mention Hillary in this process as he is not trying to make that connection. The writer of this piece seems very confused in this respect - do they really think Keller is trying to replace Trump as the chief foot soldier for evangelicism with the Clintons? Unless Keller is trying to make that case, then what Hillary has said or done is irrelevant. I'm quite sure if there was a widely held association that evangelicism necessitated being a Democrat, including accepting Bills affairs and a pro-abortion stance, that Keller would knock that on the head.

    Overall I find the Keller piece has as its goal - defending the singularity of following Christ in Evangelicism, whereas this article seems to have defending Trump and right wing politics, and keeping them at the centre of “evangelicism”, as its main goal.

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    1. Reply part one to Stephen:

      "Overall I find the Keller piece has as its goal - defending the singularity of following Christ in Evangelicalism"

      >I'm sorry, but the title and content of Keller's article do not support your opinion at all, Stephen.

      If the true goal of Keller in his article was to urge a focus upon the gospel and following Christ, then there would have been an even-handed approach to politics and positions and how different approaches help and harm. But this obviously was not at all the case, from the title to the conclusion. There was no hint of criticism against Hillary Clinton and the many extreme problems with the Democrat Party.

      There are many evangelicals that heavily Clinton, including the heavy promotion of her by at least five separate authors at the Gospel Coalition website. Many evangelicals in locations such as NY State and California are afraid to voice support for Trump because the state is heavily democratic and the pressures of political correctness are fierce.

      “Many Republicans on the other hand have this hardwired association between God, and their political organization, and will regularly defend their party’s actions even when those actions are contrary to Christian principals.”

      >The irony of this comment is astounding considering that Keller advocates ignoring “political positions” in favor of a focus on decorum.

      I will ask you plainly, Stephen:

      I terms of Christian ethics, which is morally more offensive to God?:

      The promotion of the abortion of one million infants, or someone making a comment about touching a woman? This is not a rhetorical question. Please answer it.

      I terms of Christian ethics, which is morally more offensive to God?:

      Promoting LGBT lifestyles to children and forcing transgenders in girls bathrooms, or building a wall in order to keep illegal aliens from entering the country when others that have a conscience follow the rules and apply for citizenship legally?

      Again, this is not a rhetorical question. Please answer it.

      Delete
    2. Reply part two to Stephen:

      Stephen, you bring up “rampant corporate greed...care for the alien...support of neo-nazism”

      >The fact is, “rampant corporate greed” (and extreme lobbying) has been a part of the very establishment of the swamp of corruption that Trump is opposing. The Biblical admonition to “care for the alien”does not imply that radical Islamic terrorists should be welcomed without questions and in unlimited amounts. Supporting true and actual free speech does not mean the “support of neo-nazism” if those are the ones that are having speech blocked when according to the constitution no free speech should be blocked. I would highly recommend that you be more selective in where you find your news and politician commentary, because it appears that you have been simply imbibing leftist propaganda.

      It seems that you and other evangelicals have taken in so much of the propaganda of the MSM news that you have lost track of some of the most essential qualities and values of Christian ethics. While you have a right to your opinion, to try to pass off evangelicals as “hypocrites” that have an approach to politics that differs from the Gospel Coalition is not actually supportive of the gospel or Christianity.

      “Many Republicans on the other hand have this hardwired association between God, and their political organization.”

      >This problem is true as well for many democrats that believe Christianity equals Socialism and a 'more-Christian view' of civil rights, as I pointed out in my article. Again., there is no balance in Keller's article at all. The fact is, I am not a registered Republican or one by ideology and like many that support the president we are more concerned with serious issues than names and decorum. Neither you nor Keller have shown why abstaining from voting or supporting Clinton would have advanced the gospel more so than simply supporting the current president.

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    3. Reply part three to Stephen:

      “..if they don't find ANYTHING about Trump as being in direct opposition to Jesus model of a leader, then I would respectfully suggest that they've not really grasped who Jesus is.”

      >I follow Jesus as the leader of my life, not a politician. The more important question is not: “Is there anything in this politician's character that is not like Jesus?” More cogent questions are: “Which politician will allow for the most free movement of the gospel and support basic Christian ethics in society?" Clinton is an utter failure on these more important questions while Trump is clearly a better choice.

      I offer in my post is that the ultimate promotion of the gospel is not helped by approaches such as Keller's and I listed three errors at the beginning of my article that you've ignored.

      “I'm quite sure if there was a widely held association that evangelicalism necessitated being a Democrat, including accepting Bills affairs and a pro-abortion stance, that Keller would knock that on the head.”

      >The fact is, there is a widely held belief by many African Americans especially that the Democratic Party is the 'Christian' party due to ML Ling and civil rights.

      In one article, one of the GC leaders, Nick Rodriguez basically described himself as “person of color” and a life-long democrat. Apparently, he found himself unprepared to leave the Democratic Party slave plantation due to all the propaganda that he's been drinking in:

      “ I’m a member of Thabiti’s church and a person of color. I’m also a lifelong Democrat. I became a believer just over 10 years ago, and while my views on life and marriage changed, most of the rest of my political beliefs – which align with those of the Democratic party – did not. So my voting behavior stayed the same, even after my conversion.”

      Nick then offers a lot of poor arguments which ignore the basic Christian principles that would tend to lead a logical Christian towards supporting Trump:

      “So here are 6 reasons why you should encourage all of us to vote for Hillary this Fall.”

      https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/evangelical-leaders-tell-us-to-vote-for-clinton/

      The Gospel Coalition website was not at all neutral in the election but heavily promoted Hillary Clinton as the best “Christian” choice with many articles, and so Keller not only has failed to knock down false assumptions, overall his organization supports them.

      Delete
  3. Firstly Rick, thanks for not blocking my reply. I have given what I consider to be thoughtful, reasoned responses on a couple of other right wing Christian blogs before that have been blocked, I assume, because the author can't handle a view other than their own!

    In answer to your sincere questions, I would refer to James 1:15. Trumps comments about women are sinful. They ultimately hammer the nail into Jesus body on the cross. To that extent the game of "which sin is worse" is a futile one - both the sins you list cause separation of man from God and must either lead to man's eternal death, or payment with the blood of Christ. In terms of building national border walls - I don't think any particular sin is caused by that, so I would agree with your feelings on that one, though if you asked about the way Trump has described entire racial and ethnic groups in his wall rhetoric (and in various other dealings including today's outburst about Africa and various other nations, I would say yes, his talk is sinful).

    That's just me giving am honest answer to the questions you posed, not claiming to be without sin myself, or saying any other politician is perfect. Just answering your question.

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    1. Hi again Stephen,

      I would only block someone if he or she continued to use profanity or was clearly just wasting time without communicating coherently. I'd like to respond to your answer to the following question:

      “I terms of Christian ethics, which is morally more offensive to God?:

      The promotion of the abortion of one million infants, or someone making a comment about touching a woman?”

      Your answer was based on James 1:15:

      “I would refer to James 1:15. Trumps comments about women are sinful. They ultimately hammer the nail into Jesus body on the cross.”

      I believe it's more accurate to simply point out that all people are born with 'original sin' and the cross is required, with hammer and nails, for anyone that is born spiritually condemned as a sinner. And so it's not true to state that, “both the sins you list cause separation of man from God” - because we are all born with this spiritual separation.

      What James is referring to is simply that the practice of sin produces a slow death:

      “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:15)

      For these reasons, Stephen, your comment does not logically follow: “To that extent the game of "which sin is worse" is a futile one”

      In reality, the question of whether or not we as Christians should personally help to promote the murder of one million innocent humans is not a “game” at all.

      One of the most intelligent and logical thinkers of our time places abortion as the number one issue in terms of politics and voting. His argument does not even have to appeal to Christian ethics, but simple natural law in order to support his point.

      I believe that you, Tim Keller, and all evangelicals that oppose the president should probably read the following linked article and reconsider the notion that politics for Christians should be decided mainly based on issues of public opinion and decorum. Or in the least should not offhand imply that Christians that have different values are hypocrites.

      “Given our answers to the two questions above, it follows that abortion on demand is the transcendent moral issue of our time. Since the legalization of abortion on demand in 1973, we have witnessed an American Holocaust which has claimed the lives of tens of millions of innocent human beings. Other issues pale in comparison to this one. While we should care about a candidate's stand on other important domestic and foreign policies, still, where there are pro-life candidates in the field, the sine qua non for our voting for any candidate must be his championing the reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand.”

      https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/abortion-and-presidential-politics

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    2. "Or in the least should not offhand imply that Christians that have different values are hypocrites."

      And that is probably your best contribution to the debate. It cuts both ways though - I'm not a hypocrite for believing in biblical principals and also believing in centrist, moderate politics, yet the discourse of the American right would seem to suggest that this ground is ONLY inhabited by those who are anti-Christians. In fact, that's largely why Keller's article is so helpful. He is saying those of us who don't buy into Republicanism can be evangelicals without being made to feel like hypocrites. Yes, a large number of Democrat politicians are pro abortion, but there are many, many political issues that lead to people living/dying, having a good quality of life/living in slavery, and the death rates from abortion seem to be pretty consistent regardless of Republican or Democrat president, so it is perfectly reasonable to also consider other issues when weighing up a politician. I believe in more moderate, caring, less self-centred/greedy, pro-environmental, pro-health care for all, pro-safety net for those who've hit on hard times, centrist politics than the Republican party offers and I believe that many of these objectives are not only consistent, but actually stem from biblical moral teaching. I believe that evangelicism is about placing Christ at the centre of my life. I see the term having been hijacked by the American right to also include Republicanism. I would be grateful if the right (your piece included) would just stop trying to make me feel like a hypocrite for being evangelical and holding centrist political values.

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  4. I'm thinking maybe I should blog on something to the effect that the Democrats are an anti-Christian party and a Christian voting for them is like a Jew voting for the Nazi Party in 1930. The Republicans are not a Christian Party, but they at least are neutral. I think, also, a blog post on different issues and whether there is a Christian position would be good, distinguishing, e.g. tax and immigration and health care laws from discrimination against religious schools and promotion of homosexuality. I think the real problem may be that many people who call themselves Christian aren't Christian--- they just like the label, but it doesn't affect their political beliefs at all. See Haidt's The Righteous Mind, on how moral intuitions precede rational justifications.

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    1. Hi Eric,

      I think that your idea is a great one:

      "I'm thinking maybe I should blog on something to the effect that the Democrats are an anti-Christian party and a Christian voting for them is like a Jew voting for the Nazi Party in 1930."

      You truly have a gift for writing engaging content that offers both hard-hitting truth and a flowing sense humor.

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    2. Thank you. And I'm glad you and Stephen are engaging each other honestly.

      Delete
  5. As to your broader points, your line of argument very much falls into the mould that I suggested in my initial response - you present Trump and the Republican party as the vehicle for Evangelicism, and anyone opposed to Trump as being aligned with Hilary/pro-abortion/anti-evanglism. A dualism that is a fantasy (I know many people who thankfully do not fit neatly into either mould).

    Furthermore, your line of argument draws widely on irrelevant secondary sources that Keller neither mentions nor even references, and have very little to do with what Evangelicalism means today. Why should an article exploring what it means to be an evangelical even reference Hilary? Almost nobody holds her up as a shining example of evangelicism, she lost the election, won't stand again, is not even a current representative, let alone leader, and even if she were, there is no claim by the Democrat party to be the voice of evangelicism, in the way the republican party do. If it's so important for Keller to write about Hillary, shouldn't he also have an obligation to write about Obama and Bush and the Queen and just about anyone else? You seem overly interested in Hillary’s views, on those of a few African Americans and a tiny minority of GC people - who in the words of the article you choose to quote are “But a very small minority [who] have decided (at least for now) to vote for Hillary”. Surely if you want to know what evangelicalism means today there is no case for writing extensively on Hilary? Certainly, I personally, as a non-American with no affiliation to either party can't think why anyone would write about Hilary in an article on evangelicism. It is however totally pertinent to put Trump and the Republican establishment under the microscope in an exploration of what it means to be an evangelical today - the 2 are now so closely linked in American culture, and Trump is after all president with the power to make the decisions.

    Returning to Kellers subject - if Evangelicism=Trump=Evangelicism, and Trump does not live up to God's standards, then either the equation is wrong and we must reject the current link, or I need to find a different word to describe my faith. Keller finds a solution for people like me without having to turn my back on evangelicism - evangelicism rather than Evangelicism (belief in evangelical doctrine minus belief in Trump/Republicanism). Whether or not Trump lives up to God's standards is (according to your analysis) not easily discerned in this era of fake news. Whilst to me the answer seems pretty clear I'm prepared to accept that it is open to other conclusions based on conscience. If you can genuinely look at the various information out there and come to the conclusion that he does live up to God's standards (rather than start from the political position that you want him to appear so, and then pick the stories that fit that reading) then fine, but equally I would hope you would be able to respect my weighing up of the “facts” as I have seen and judged them - I am a Bible believing Christian who probably believes most fundamental doctrine in a similar way to yourself, but who believes the current Republican party and Trump in particular are not intrinsically Christian.

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    1. --“you present Trump and the Republican party as the vehicle for Evangelicism, and anyone opposed to Trump as being aligned with Hilary/pro-abortion/anti-evanglism. A dualism that is a fantasy”

      > In my personal opinion, I believe that Trump's platform and positions have, and still do, better represent evangelical values more so than Hillary Clinton. This does not mean that I believe the Republican party is “the vehicle for Evangelicism,” though as a party it is probably is more close;y aligned to evangelical values than the Democrat Party today.

      The fact is, the U.S. Has mainly become a two-party system which does imply a general dualism in terms of practical voting considerations. Both voting for a candidate with no hope of winning and abstaining from voting can ultimately help to promote evil if it helps a candidate with evil intentions to win. This is not a fantasy, but is reality. Here is an example of someone illogically wasting his vote at best and possibly contributing to greater evil in society at worst:

      “I am not saying we are bound not to vote. I am saying that the children of God are free to hear the voice of their Master about how to best witness to his supremacy. I will vote. But I have no intention of voting for either of these presidential candidates.”

      https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/sons-of-liberty-and-joy/excerpts/christian-you-are-free-not-to-vote

      The less obvious dualism in the article is Tim Keller's implied dichotomy between the appearances of moral character and the support of political positions. Keller's language suggests that the appearance of moral character offers a better representation of true evangelical values in politics that adhering to specific moral positions in voting:

      “People who once called themselves the “Moral Majority” are now seemingly willing to vote for anyone, however immoral, who supports their political positions.”

      – “Furthermore, your line of argument draws widely on irrelevant secondary sources that Keller neither mentions nor even references, and have very little to do with what Evangelicalism means today.”

      That was intentional, Stephen. My point was precisely that Keller passes judgment without mentioning subjects that are critical to the subject of politics and evangelism. Here you are committing the same error as Keller in assuming that all evangelicals should view politics on the same terms that you do. To many of us, taking a stand on such things as abortion, justice, and religious freedom, is not a “game” as you believe. I offered you a quote as to why I believed abortion, for example, is highly relevant. Instead of addressing the claim that is the most relevant issue for evangelicals in politics, you just ignore the point. So I will ask you:

      1. Is there any suggestion in Tim Keller's article that voting for Trump because of his anti-abortion platform could possibly be in keeping with the biblical values of evangelicalism, let alone a reason why he could have been considered a preferred candidate for evangelicals?

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    2. – “Returning to Keller's subject - if Evangelicism=Trump=Evangelicism, and Trump does not live up to God's standards, then either the equation is wrong and we must reject the current link, or I need to find a different word to describe my faith.”

      >Your oversimplification of the relationship between evangelicalism and the voting decision process in the U.S. is helpful in underscoring serious problems with the reasoning in Tim Keller's article.

      First, the fact that Trump's platform better represents biblical and evangelical values does not logically equate the person of Donald Trump with Evangelicalism.

      Second, the fact that Trump personally “does not live of to God's standards” does not negate the fact that Trump's political platform is more in keeping with evangelical values and because of this should not be rejected.

      Both you, Keller and many others seem to be under the impression that the personal character and demeanor of a certain type of politician necessitates your personal opposition. But none of you have yet outlined why this reasoning suffices when weighed in the balance against the indirect support for the murder of one million infants, the destruction of religious liberty, the advancement of a secular-atheist totalitarian state, the advancement of radical Islam, and so on.

      I will give you another chance. I offered you a link to an article by William Lane Craig outlining reasons why he considers abortion the top issue in question when voting. Instead of addressing this subject, you simply continue to imply that political issues are not important and the main question should be whether a politician will personally “live up to God's standards” and you continue to fall back onto your self-imposed dilemma. Please explain your values:

      2. Is there any logical argument you can offer as an evangelical, Stephen, as to why opposing a politician's poor sense of decorum and poor sense of decency is more critical than opposing the indirect support of the murder of one million infants, the destruction of religious liberty, the advancement of a secular-atheist totalitarian state, the advancement of radical Islam, and so on.

      Please explain.

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  6. Stephe, you might find my article makes you think a different way on this: htps://warhornmedia.com/2018/01/03/makes-tim-keller-uncomfortable/

    Trump himself is uncouth and quite likely is similar to Hillary in his political views. He has chosen to align himself with Christian principles, though, which makes supporting him prudent.

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  7. So essentially you’re saying a general election boils down to a referendum on the noises somebody makes about abortion (and not any other issues, and regardless of the end result of how many babies actually die).

    I already posted this which answers your question: “Yes, a large number of Democrat politicians are pro abortion, but there are many, many political issues that lead to people living/dying, having a good quality of life/living in slavery, and the death rates from abortion seem to be pretty consistent regardless of Republican or Democrat president, so it is perfectly reasonable to also consider other issues when weighing up a politician. I believe in more moderate, caring, less self-centred/greedy, pro-environmental, pro-health care for all, pro-safety net for those who've hit on hard times, centrist politics than the Republican party offers and I believe that many of these objectives are not only consistent, but actually stem from biblical moral teaching.” Yet you continue to accuse me of being interested only in Trumps personal character and not on policy. Let me flesh out my policy objections for you just a little:

    I believe that Trumps foreign policy and the way he deals with other countries is way more likely to lead us to a major global conflict (potentially killing millions). I believe that he (and the right in general) would like to feed our children poisons, without the need for food regulation and labelling, if it makes corporations richer by cutting costs and increasing profit margins (potentially killing millions), I believe this approach is followed across many policy areas -profit first, citizens second (potentially killing millions). I believe that Trump would like a return to super wealthy dynasties and serfdom for the rest of the population, similar to previous eras when the rich lived well and the poor lived miserably (shortening the lives of millions) - this is already evident in modern America vs modern Europe (which tends much more to the centre ground than America). I believe that he is actively destroying important ecosystems on a macro and micro level which are causing localised flooding/erosion/etc and global climate change (potentially killing millions). I believe that he does favour white Americans over other ethnic groups evident by both his comments about various racial groups, and support of neo-nazism (can you not see the inconsistency in your own argument - ban Muslims/ freedom of speech for neo-nazis, a consistent position is either to allow all hate speech - including radical Islam, or accept that hate speech is at the extremes of what is acceptable and ban public speaking at both ends of the spectrum). I believe his closed door immigration policy also closes the door to amazing evangelicism opportunities. I believe that cutting off health care and other emergency state support to the most needy in society serves to make the wealthy wealthier at the expense of the health and lives of the meek and vulnerable that Jesus was the greatest supporter of. I could go on policy area by policy area, how self-serving policies can lead to misery, death and destruction. I don't believe in statist communism, I'm a centrist and believe in Meritocracy (rather than dynasticism at the extreme right wing end of the scale and communism at the extreme left), but I do believe in a form of meritocracy with a need to legislate to stop businesses from over exploiting the earth's resources and people for personal profit. The 2007/8 crash taught us that markets are not moral, they tend towards finding the most cash no matter how immoral the means, and left unregulated they reward those who take the most exploitative path.

    Continued...

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  8. Post continued...


    I don't expect you to agree with me on this view of how the world works and I don't have time to get into a blow by blow debate over each issue - I give the above (and they barely touch the surface of most of the issues) simply as examples that my reasons for not supporting Trump extend well beyond simply his character. Whilst I don't expect you to agree with my analysis, I do as a minimum expect you to respect my sincere belief that this is how the world works, and to respect my opinion that Centrist politics is more in line with Christian ethics. Although I disagree with your world view, I'm prepared to accept that you probably hold it sincerely, and not call you out as a hypocrite, which is what you seem to want to do with anyone who does not support Trump.

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  9. Regarding voting for candidates beyond the 2 main parties - as long as the lie is continually pedalled that only they can win, then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. In a democracy anyone with their name on the ballot paper can win. Of course it is important to weigh up tactical voting, but in the case of Trump vs Clinton, if your honest conviction was that neither candidate was suitable, then there was never a better moment to vote for a third or fourth party, and just like I refute your claim that not supporting Trump, is anti-evangelical, I would say that ignoring one’s conscience and falling in line to a 2-party system is also a matter of conscience and not one of obligation for evangelicals. Across the world right now establishment parties ARE losing elections.

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  10. Stephen,

    __ "So essentially you’re saying a general election boils down to a referendum on the noises somebody makes about abortion (and not any other issues, and regardless of the end result of how many babies actually die)."

    No, not at all. Because Trump is not a career politician, he is not conditioned towards that approach to politics of promising before the election and breaking promises after. I would say this this problem was more exemplified by Obama, who promised to protect whistle-blowers and mostly did the opposite, had an administration full of lobbyists, after promising he wouldn’t, and so on. It's mind boggling to read through the list of documented lies and corruption of Obama: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/201297/252-examples-obamas-lies-lawbreaking-corruption-tim-brown

    Trump, on the other hand, has not varied significantly from the election promises he's made and here are some examples of Trump keeping his promise to act on the subject abortion:


    April 4, 2017—'The Trump Administration halted U.S. funding of the United Nations Population Fund, which has links to inhumane abortion programs such as China's one-child policy. Instead, the $32.5 million was shifted to the U.S. Agency for International Development.'

    'President Trump appointed several pro-life advocates to Department of Health and Human Services positions. On April 28, 2017, in an apparent victory for the pro-life movement,'

    The Department of Health and Human Services has published a revised strategic plan that states in its introduction that life begins at conception.

    https://templestream.blogspot.com/2017/12/list-of-trumps-key-positive.html

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  11. Stephen,

    "I believe that Trumps foreign policy and the way he deals with other countries is way more likely to lead us to a major global conflict (potentially killing millions)."

    Stephen, Hillary Clinton's rhetoric and policy direction against Russia was much more inflammatory than Trump's, to the extent the even the left-leaning NY Times called her out on this:

    "The Hawk on Russia Policy? Hillary Clinton, Not Donald Trump"

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/us/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-putin-russia.html

    Specific proposals by Hillary Clinton were estimated by seasoned military experts to be a likely cause of WW III:

    "Retired senior US military pilots are increasingly alarmed that Hillary Clinton’s proposal for “no-fly zones” in Syria could lead to a military confrontation with Russia that could escalate to levels that were previously unthinkable in the post-cold war world."

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/25/hillary-clinton-syria-no-fly-zones-russia-us-war

    Putin likely took Hillary's threats personally as aggressive war rhetoric:

    "If Hillary Clinton is elected president, the world will remember Aug. 25 as the day she began the Second Cold War.

    "In a speech last month nominally about Donald Trump, Clinton called Russian President Vladimir Putin the godfather of right-wing, extreme nationalism. To Kremlin-watchers, those were not random epithets. Two years earlier, in the most famous address of his career, Putin accused the West of backing an armed seizure of power in Ukraine by “extremists, nationalists, and right-wingers.” Clinton had not merely insulted Russia’s president: She had done so in his own words."

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/07/the-kremlin-really-believes-that-hillary-clinton-will-start-a-war-with-russia-donald-trump-vladimir-putin/

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  12. Stephen,

    -- "Although I disagree with your world view, I'm prepared to accept that you probably hold it sincerely, and not call you out as a hypocrite, which is what you seem to want to do with anyone who does not support Trump."

    >Stephen, labeling a Christian as a hypocrite because they do not agree with your view seems short-sighted, at best. My article addressing Keller's insinuation of this against Trump supporters was a defensive article and not an attack. I find it odd that you would assume that I would describe Clinton supporters as hypocrites after writing an entire article based on a theme that labeling someone as a hypocrite because they have different views is not helpful but tends to cause division. The fact that you are subtly accusing me of this attitude without basis that I "seem to want to" label Clinton supporters as hypocrites is disingenuous and I'd rather not continue dialogue with you for this reason. I made it clear in my article my belief that people such as Keller (and you) have been so taken in by propaganda that you simply do not understand the deeper issues at play and tend to pass judgment too quickly without justification. I would highly recommend that you seek out news sources other than CNN to try to balance your views on politics. WND is a good choice and Drudge Report tends to offer a balance of sources that are not based entirely on anti-Trump rhetoric. Have a great day.

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  13. As I said before, "I don't have time to get into a blow by blow debate over each issue - I give the above (and they barely touch the surface of most of the issues) simply as examples that my reasons for not supporting Trump extend well beyond simply his character. Whilst I don't expect you to agree with my analysis, I do as a minimum expect you to respect my sincere belief that this is how the world works, and to respect my opinion that Centrist politics is more in line with Christian ethics." I could also link to article and we could go on ad nauseum explaining why this policy or that policy is better served in a Godly way by right wing, left wing or centrist policy, but I don't have time for that, neither of us are likely to convince the other (and we've probably already spent more time than is healthy debating this)!

    Thank you for a civil discussion on this (not everyone is prepared to discuss these things with a cool head). I think our discussion has shown that both of us are sincere and God-seeking in our Christian beliefs, and dialogue like this should happen more often to give lie to the sadly growing idea on both sides of the political divide that "the opposition" is entirely evil and ungodly.

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  14. Stephen,

    I agree with you that these types of dialogue should be more common. The three main issues that I see are 1) What hierarchy of values and priorities do I as a Christian hold personally and why? 2) What is God doing in history in the big picture that we may be misinterpreting? 3) How is God guiding me as a Christian to act in this time?

    It seems that evangelical leaders are not being cautious enough in assuming that their particular view of values and priorities is the correct one, while passing judgment on others. To a degree, I believe that God is using "the foolish things" in allowing Trump to be president and using him to protect Christian rights for now. And I believe that many Christian leaders underestimate the fact that God can guide Christians in unique ways that may not necessarily align with their own priorities and agenda. Perhaps evangelical leaders should consider personally adhering to the Hippocratic Oath before voicing opinions:

    "Do No Harm."

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  15. First, thank you for this article; I’ve never been someone who could articulate complex ideas in writing, so I appreciate that you’ve put in the time and effort to do so in such a constructive manner.
    Before I provide my 2 cent (perhaps not even a cent), I’d like to provide a brief background on where I’m coming from. I don’t consider myself politically affiliated in any sense of the word. I’m not a smart man, and I just do my best to read and pray about what God teaches me in the Bible, and that I would do His will. I’m in my late 30s, and having grown up in mainline churches, and having experienced both the grace and love of God through my church members/leaders as well as their shortcomings, I lean towards the younger evangelical churches that Pastor Keller refers to in his article (in that I share a combination of what are considered liberal and conservative views that people on either side of the aisle may find odd). I personally don’t get involved into politics, because I feel getting into such an environment immediately puts people at odds (and even make enemies of one another), which I think is counter to what God teaches us to do.
    So to my point, you start your article out by comparing two leaders: one “warns about documented fake news and news bias and urges fact-checking truth claims,” and another who “uses popular opinion and polls in such a way as to imply that truth is based on consensus.” If your point is that President Trump falls within the first category, I must admit that I am skeptical of your argument. The argument works if the said leader is someone with a track record of being truthful, and someone who can make sound counter arguments and/or provide evidence. But this is a man who was widely known for his unethical and dishonest business practices even before he was voted into the office. If one supports Mr. Trump, I’d say go ahead, but do so because you support his politics and his persona. I find it quite alarming to justify and further corroborate his presidency through God’s words. His conduct as a person before and after he took office have not exemplified that of a moral man; I don’t see unity, humility, grace, empathy, love….I see combativeness, divisiveness, untruthfulness (at minimum, many different versions of truth), and bullying. And if you ask me to compare the two types of leaders, I’d say, “can’t I just have a leader who can be truthful in the first place, and can defend false claims against him with facts and evidence?” And I’m sure being a lot smarter than me, you could put many holes through my argument. The point I guess I’m trying to make is, I’m just very sad to see Evangelical/Christian leaders going on TV and defending, condoning, and promoting a person and behavior that (if we’re being honest with ourselves) is not exemplary of a Christian (the funny thing is, I’m not even sure whether Mr. Trump ever even publicly disclosed that he’s a follower of Christ). As a father of young children, my only wish as a parent is that I’d raise my kids as people who love and follow God, and that they love their neighbors and even their enemies. And I’ll say that Mr. Trump won’t be a role model for that.

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  16. Hi Josh,

    Thank you for your comments and I'd like to address some of your main points in a new article:

    Should Christians Discuss Politics on Facebook and on Social Media in General?

    https://templestream.blogspot.com/2018/02/should-christians-discuss-politics-on.html

    I believe that a number of your other points are addressed in the following article:

    Jesus' Activism Example is Quite Relevant Today

    https://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/08/jesus-activism-example-is-relevant-today.html

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