What Some Non-Court Evangelicals are Saying About the Court Evangelicals

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Should Christians be advising Donald Trump?  Over at Christianity Today, Kate Shellnut has collected responses to this question from court evangelicals and evangelicals who do not have access to the court.

Here are some of the non-court evangelical responses:

Gary Burge, visiting professor at Calvin Theological Seminary:

Pastors need to weigh the difference between beneficial access to a troublesome leader and endorsement by association. On the one hand, such access—if it is making a difference—may be important and valuable. This is when a prophetic voice could be heard or where truth-to-power is present. But such associations are also seductive. Our motive for them may not be clear even to us.

In addition, troubling leaders can cross a line where rejecting any association is itself a prophetic act. And pastors need to ready for that as well. Some pastors might revisit the context of the Barmen Declaration in 1930s Germany. Not because 2017 is paralleled by 1934, but because those pastors’ discernment and courage is parallel. In that case the pastoral voice needed to be heard in public outside the halls of power.

Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center:

There’s no off-the-shelf answer when it comes to knowing exactly what counsel Christians should give wayward political leaders. It depends on facts and circumstances, so they have to rely on wisdom, good judgment, and spiritual maturity. It’s helpful to keep in mind the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who said the church should be the conscience of the state and never its tool. That’s especially the case when it comes to associating with a political leader who acts in ways that are fundamentally incompatible with a Christian ethic.

The perennial danger facing Christians is seduction and self-delusion. That’s what’s happening in the Trump era. The president is using evangelical leaders to shield himself from criticism; and they, in turn, are dressing up their manipulation in spiritual garb. Evangelicals with moral wisdom and spiritual discernment should disassociate themselves from a man who is using them in ways that discredits the public witness of Christianity.

Ben Witherington, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary:

The sinners and tax collectors were not political officials so there is no analogy there. Besides, Jesus was not giving the sinners and tax collectors political advice—he was telling them to repent! If that’s what evangelical leaders are doing with our President, and telling him when his policies are un-Christian, and explaining to him that racism is an enormous sin and there is no moral equivalency between the two sides in Charlottesville, then well and good. Otherwise, they are complicit with the sins of our leaders.

Dwight McKissic, Southern Baptist leader and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, specifically on what advisers should say regarding Charlottesville:

Mr. President, we respect and support your commitment to place conservative judges on the Supreme Court; but we disagree with your Charlottesville commentary regarding there being “fine people” among the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” march. We disagree with your position that those protesting people are just as evil as the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. … Please repudiate your Charlottesville comments or we will be forced to repudiate you. We respect you and the Office of the President, but we do not respect your Charlottesville comments.

Read Shellnut’s entire piece here.