Yesterday, CNN posted a Facebook story on evangelicals’ approval rate of President Trump. At the end of the story, CNN made the claim “a lot of people are starting to ask whether this is the end of evangelicalism as we know it.” They may be right about American Evangelicalism, but for all the wrong reasons.
Let me start with the point: there is no political climate that can snuff out the church. When CNN says people are wondering whether this is the end of evangelicalism as we know it, they are suggesting certain political affiliations cannot hold water for a set of people who hold a certain moral standing. Is that evangelicalism? Have we muddled the term evangelical so much that we’ve confused the world, or at least the western hemisphere, on what Christianity is? I think so.
We’ve lost the definition of the word evangelical. Sure enough, a quick google search will lead to you defining it as a belief in the gospel and holding strongly to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. That’s a good definition. But if we can pull that up so quickly, why are we talking about evangelicalism ending with differing degrees of Trump approval ratings?
Here’s what’s happened. The world defines evangelical as a set of people who hold certain moral stances, those moral stances leading them to follow blindly into one political platform.
Now, I’m not here to say that your religion should not influence your morals or your politics. It should be pervasive in both. But I fear we’ve let our American political system have more influence on our lives than our belief in the gospel, which has lended to this confusion. In essence, we’ve answered the American “what” but left the world blind to the theological “why.”
The world should be able to define evangelicalism as a people who believes in a holy God who sent his Son to save sinful man, not people who lean right because they have some fuzzy belief about good works pleasing God.
Again, your belief in Jesus Christ and your faith in him causes your mind to be renewed, and part of your renewed mind has to do with your theological positions influencing your moral reasoning. We should maintain that. But we cannot tote morals as the end all be all, lest we fall on the dysfunction of either political party.
And, on another hand, we should not give the world grounds to think we are the kind of people to follow a political system blindly. For example, if your theological understanding of the value of life is truly biblical, it will probably lead you to different sides of the political spectrum on multiple issues. Ergo, the sanctity of the life of a baby and an immigrant are equal.
As I said, the political system in America cannot end evangelicalism because God will preserve and persevere his church. He already does it in global political climates far worse than America. The issue is not solely with CNN thinking that’s possible. The issue is with evangelicals being unclear on what our primary focus is.
Show the world you trust in Jesus, not a party platform.