A frank letter to my Caucasian Evangelical Brethren: What Happened?
As promised I will attempt to gently but frankly speak about an issue that has truly vexed me to no end. I seek only to bring light and not heat but I will not shy away from asking the tough question. I know those who are mature in the faith will appreciate the genuine questions as I always appreciate being challenged to ponder more soberly my philosophy. It keeps me grounded and exercising my mental faculties, much like any muscle in the human body.
I would like to first thank men like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Albert Mohler and Dr. Wayne Grudem for helping me to better codify my position and reason through the matter with sober reflection and contemplation. There are countless other prominent Evangelicals who I could add to the list but most of the readers would not recognize their names. What these Evangelicals have in common are two things 1) They are Caucasian Evangelicals and 2) they did not support the candidacy of now President Donald Trump.
Let me quickly give some context. As I indicated in last week’s post I believe African-Americans (A-As) have capitulated whole-cloth by aligning themselves politically with the Democratic Party, evidenced by 88% of A-As voting for Hilary Rodman Clinton. Though I am grieved as such a clear abandonment of orthodoxy being properly aligned with orthopraxis I assumed the majority of Caucasian Evangelicals would fare much better.
My thesis is this: If Donald Trump was the Democratic nominee and brought the baggage he brought as the Republican nominee the vast majority of Evangelicals would have eviscerated him as a candidate and he would never gained any traction whatsoever. I can think of the candidacy of men like Gary Hart who almost overnight went from being the front-runner to a withdrawing from the race because of his moral failures. Evangelicals had a field day condemning the moral failing of William Jefferson Clinton when he ran for the highest office of the land.
I liken Caucasian Evangelicals as the big brother to A-A Evangelicals. You know the little brother (representing the A-A Evangelicals) who might have been a little wayward or immature but he never strays too far off the beaten path because his big brother (represented by Caucasian Evangelicals) was always close by to keep his little brother on the straight and narrow.
As I matriculated at Moody Bible Institute and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I never had one A-A professor. The vast majority of Evangelicals who write the books and host the seminars or Bible conference are Caucasian. I do not write that as a criticism. It is just the reality of the day. I hope more A-A can rise up to meet the challenge. Heck, I want to be one of those A-A who contributes to the overall edification of the body of Christ. Eternity will time as to how effective I have been in this pursuit.
I have been influenced by the theological ideology the Moral Majority or the Religious Right espoused when the Democrats were winning the Presidency. They convinced me traits like good morals, virtue, honesty and integrity were sine qua non “absolute essentials.” If this belief is true (and I am still convinced it is true) what in the world happened? How is it possible that 88% of Conservative Evangelicals who convinced me that character DOES matter somehow suspended that philosophy to vote Donald Trump as the President of these United States of America?
I repeatedly heard two lines of argument offered as justification for voting for now President Trump. 1) he was the “lesser of two evils” and 2) it is possible there will be two, maybe three Supreme Court Justices who will be placed on the bench in the next eight years.
I will attempt to demonstrate how ill-advised those two lines of thinking are. First and foremost they are developed because those who are proponents embrace what is coined as “pragmatism.” Pragmatism is the worldview where one takes the action one believes will yield the best results. For the 1st two millennia (of at least most of the first two millennia) the Church has properly rejected pragmatism as a proper strategy. The church understood if a matter was true it would be successful (as defined by God, of course). Pragmatism is just the opposite. Pragmatism is only concerned if the approach works, the end result. We see this with the “seeker-sensitive” movement. As long as the church membership rolls grows that is all that matters. In fact, it must be true because the desired result (numerical growth) is being achieved. The Church formerly understood “doing the right thing or doing it the right way” did not necessarily translate into achieving some external measure of success. Yet, they would be satisfied because they knew the truth would honor God and honoring God was all that matters. Even though sometimes “honoring” God would mean adverse results. But the church did not care, primarily, about the results. It only concern was was it true.
Concerning a political candidate the deciding factor would NOT be tied to a “desired outcome.” It would be tied to his perceived character and his perceived ability to lead. Evangelicals knew the results were always left to a sovereign God who would be glorified and His people edified because they were faithful to being “light and salt.” Churches did not compromise the integrity of the Gospel so more seats could be filled in the pews. They stood for what was true, not for what would “work.” Yes, many “seeker-seeking” churches are flourishing but at what cost. What will it profit a church to gain the whole world but to lose its soul? What can that church give in exchange for its soul?
I believe in some real sense the collective Evangelical community (Caucasian Evangelicals having the major role) has compromised their ability to “speak” with integrity in future elections because it has demonstrated when the church comes to the “fork in the road” it will choice the road “most frequently traveled” as opposed to choosing the road “less traveled.”
Here is the kicker. History has shown since Roe v. Wade the majority of the Supreme Court Justice Judges have been appointed by Republican Presidents. Yet, Roe v. Wade still stands as the law of the land. There is NO guarantee having a Republican in the White House will translate into the judicial ideology of the Highest Court of the Land changing. History will painfully recount how disappointed President Reagan was and would be (if he was still alive) at his nomination of Anthony Kennedy.
This fact only demonstrates the lunacy in believing if we can get the right person in the White House then things will get better. Many churches have embraced the “seeker-sensitive” model only to tragically find out things have not gotten better. Yes, the pews are being filled but when one looks at the objective data the church continues to be alarmed. Just this week I realized the result of the survey commissioned by Ligonier Ministries, an Evangelical ministry led by Dr. R.C. Sproul. Three of the findings are as follows:
38% of American evangelicals agree that they earn heaven by their good work.
63% of American evangelicals agree that our Savior is the first and greatest creature created by God.
52% of American evangelicals agree that while everyone sins a little, most people are good by nature.
Pragmatism will never work. It can never work because it never has God as its source. Believing that Donald Trump was preferable to Hilary Clinton because it would “work out” better is a sure recipe for disaster. When confronted with two choices that can genuinely be viewed as “evil” the only correct position an Evangelical should take is to avoid both alternatives.
Yes, not voting for either Clinton or Trump would have been one wild ran but at least Evangelicals could have keep their consistent testimony intact. Now, I feel a little disconnected to those who so passionately proclaimed they held the moral high ground when they opposed the moral decay of the Democratic Party.
Again, I write as insider, as a fellow cohort, a fellow co-laborer in the Gospel. A different hue, no doubt, but one who believes if we espouse a principle that principle is non-negotiable. It must be lived out consistently and even when living it out consistently we refuse to yield that principle for expediency.
I proudly stand with the Al Mohlers, the Russell Moores and the Wayne Grudems of the Evangelical Community. My question is what happened to the rest of the Caucasian Evangelical Community. I thought Caucasian Evangelicals meant it when they said, “Doctrine Matters” that “Theology Matters.” Your action communicate, “Doctrine Matters most of the time” that “Theology Matters except when it does not suit us.”
I welcome your input, critique and comments, especially from my Caucasian brethren. I am not so concerned with “being right” as I am about “getting it right.” If I have gotten it wrong I stand ready to be corrected.
With much fear and trembling
Ricky Kyles Sr.