Endorsers Repent!

Wayne_Grudem_Photo_2014

Wayne Grudem, By Wayne Grudem, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35265675

On August 5, I wrote a post called “The Endorsement Game.” I opened the post with this paragraph:

“My Facebook feed has been filled with both defenses of and outrage toward the various evangelical leaders, including Wayne Grudem, who have endorsed the Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency. Maybe the reason for this is that I have friends across the spectrum (yes there is one!) of evangelical belief who have lots of different takes on these endorsements, and on the fitness for office of the one being endorsed.”

I return to this post because over the weekend Dr. Grudem withdrew his endorsement of the Republican candidate for president and called upon him to resign. I was heartened to see this and a willingness to acknowledge his own error, according to a Washington Post article, of not taking time to investigate earlier allegations about the candidate’s character before making his endorsement.

I credit Dr. Grudem’s integrity of publicly acknowledging an error instead of doubling down as others have done, even justifying the candidate’s language as “locker room banter,” which seems to me appalling, particularly among supposed evangelicals.

What distresses me however is that Dr. Grudem never even begins (to my knowledge) to question the basic practice of endorsing candidates as an “evangelical leader” and the entanglement of the gospel with partisan politics. He only is saying that he made a bad decision this time. I would argue that this is always a bad decision for evangelical leaders for one fundamental reason (evangelicals like fundamentals!):

Endorsing one party’s candidate carries with it the implication that you can only be a Christian if you vote a certain way.

I know most leaders wouldn’t say that (although it wouldn’t surprise me that some would). But I have friends who have been repulsed from Christian faith for precisely this reason. The warning of Matthew 18:6 is one I think every evangelical endorser ought to consider seriously:

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (NIV)

Furthermore, I would argue that the leaders who endorse, whether conservative or progressive, have led the flocks who follow them into political captivity, fostering deep estrangements within the Christian community in our land across racial and economic lines. The prophets of the Old Testament denounce the shepherds of Israel for scattering the sheep. I will be blunt–leaders who engage in this kind of political activity as leaders of the evangelical community are misleading their flocks and are under the judgement of God (cf Jeremiah 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34; Zechariah 10:2-12).

Unless evangelical leadership repents of this kind of behavior (repent means to turn, in thought and action, because of the awareness that one has transgressed), that leadership will find that they aren’t leading anything. Their cry will be “Ichabod!” which means “the glory has departed.” Repentance isn’t simply withdrawing embarrassing endorsements, it is to cease from this endorsement game, which idolizes political power, to the denial of the greater power of the kingdom, whose heralds they are called to be.

Those who read me regularly probably find this writing uncharacteristic of me. You are right. But I am deeply angry and grieved, not with the presidential candidates, but with the harm I’ve watched these “evangelical leaders” commit over a generation to the gospel I love and how they’ve besmirched the glory of the Christ I love and how their activity is turning away a generation of spiritual seekers. Given how far we’ve sunken in this current election, I’ve wondered if we’ve come to our last chance to turn from this political and spiritual folly. Lord, have mercy!

6 thoughts on “Endorsers Repent!

  1. Well written. Thank you. It needed to be said, believed, and acted on. As a friend, and fellow pastor reminded me the other day, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirits departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalm 146:3-5) I added, “Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.” (2 Kings 18:21) Also: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” (Isaiah 31:1) When Christians are engaging in politically driven carnal divisiveness their priorities are misplaced, and their perspective is skewed. This is not the first time in the history of this nation when this has been seen. The sad thing is that so few have learned from the errors of the past. So many are still placing their hopes within the Beltway where problems go to breed, and solutions go to die.

    • Thanks for your comments and for including these passages of scripture that underscore the peril of over-reliance and entanglement with earthly powers. And it is indeed sad that we cannot learn from past errors in this regard.

  2. I am appalled and embarrassed by the words and actions of both major candidates. Has this country lost its collective mind? I can’t imagine any Christian endorsing the behavior we’ve witnessed.

    • Agreed. But I also believe this is also is a principle that applies always. When you wed Christianity and politics you just get politics. The church is always the long run loser.

  3. Very well said, Bob! Thank you!! This is so important. I’ve been somewhat heartened recently to see some actual conversation going on (in my Facebook feed, at least) among Christians about how our shared faith and Christian principles lead us to different political conclusions… and how that’s okay. Some name-calling, sure, as you expect in social media, but also some actual listening and interacting. My hope is that our faith will lead to reconciliation and unity in what really matters… the Gospel.

  4. Pingback: Top Ten “General” Posts of 2016 | Bob on Books

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