Court Evangelicals David Barton and Robert Jeffress Talk Christian America

Court evangelical James Robison recently had two fellow court evangelicals on his television show.  Here is the interview with Jeffress and Barton:

A few comments:

2:00ff:  Jeffress says: “You hear Nancy Pelosi and others saying that walls are un-Christian and immoral.  Well, if that’s true, God’s immoral because he told Nehemiah to build a wall around Jerusalem.  There’s gonna be a wall in heaven Revelation 21 says.”

If we were to take the Bible literally when it talks about walls, and apply Bible verses to contemporary policy discussions about immigration, then I wonder what Jeffress would say about these passages:

Deuteronomy 28:52: “It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you.”

Lamentations 2:8: The LORD has purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he has stretched out a line, he has not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.

Proverbs 18:11: A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, And like a high wall in his own imagination. (Ironically, Jeffress is on Robison’s show promoting a book on Proverbs).

These verses show the absurdity of using the Bible to justify a 21st-century border wall. Like many evangelicals who have gone before him (back to the time of the American Revolution), Jeffress cherry-picks from scripture, allowing political considerations (specifically his court evangelical approach to Trump) influence his interpretation of the Bible.

3:00ff: Barton is talking about the durability of the United States Constitution.  He is certain that the Constitution has endured because the country is founded on Christian principles.  He provides no evidence for this assertion. One could also say that the Constitution has endured because of its grounding in Enlightenment principles.  Barton likes to think he is making a historical argument here, but he is really making a theological argument.

Barton goes on to lament the major decline in the number of people who claim to be “born again” Christians.   He does not reference his source, but he claims that the number of  “born again Christians” dropped from 45% of Americans in 2006 to 31% of Americans in 2018.  He is worried about the rise of atheists, agnostics, and “nones.”  As might be expected, Barton believes that the “trends are going in the wrong direction.”

I recently spent half of a morning with 34 high school teachers from around the country talking about the Puritans and the so-called narrative of declension.  Puritans believed that they had a covenant with God not unlike the covenant that God made with Israel in the Old Testament.  When people in 17th-century Massachusetts Bay failed to commit their lives to Christ through conversion, the clerical leaders worried that the colony was not holding-up its end of the covenant.  God, as a result, was not pleased.  This is why God brought Indian invasions, earthquakes, and witches to New England.  Ministers preached sermons known as “jeremiads” calling the people back to God or urging them to work harder to save more souls.

Barton believes in American exceptionalism–that God has uniquely blessed the United States of America.  His lament over the declining number of born-again Christians sounds quite similar to a 17th-century jeremiad.

9:00ff:  Jeffress is flying high here.  He rails against abortion, “moral sewage” in our culture, and threats to religious liberty as he understands it.  He says that “it is not God’s will” that these things are happening.  But is it “God’s will” that immigrants and refugees fleeing poverty and persecution are stopped at our borders?  Is it God’s will that children and parents are separated at the border?  Is it God’s will that our country is led by a man who is a liar, racist, xenophobe, nativist, and adulterer?  Please get off your high horse pastor Jeffress.

14:40:  Jeffress says that “God doesn’t get goosebumps when he hears the Star Spangled Banner” and he doesn’t “stand-up and wave when the American flag passes by.”  Yet Jeffress hosts events like this in his church.

9 thoughts on “Court Evangelicals David Barton and Robert Jeffress Talk Christian America

  1. RM Green,

    I am guessing but I think he would answer similar to the following.

    The Matthew 25 passage is clearly eschatological and deals with pagan gentile treatment of Jewish believers during the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

    The Leviticus 19 passage was applicable to Israel before the era of the nation state. There are scores of those laws, statutes, and judgements which were appropriate for the Kingdom of Israel but do not apply to the Church, which is under a wholly different administration. After all, do we still stone adulterers?

    Jeffress would say that the whole Bible is inspired but must be consistently interpreted.

    James

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  2. I wonder what Jefferss would say about these passages:

    Matthew 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    Leviticus 19:34 The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

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  3. Seems to me that claiming God told Nehemiah to build the wall is making scripture say something more than it actually does.

    A “something” to My Personal Advantage. Because “GAWD SAITH!”
    In Jewish tradition, this is the original meaning/application of the Commandment “Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain” — doing evil and claiming God’s Sanction/Command for justification. Convenient how it has been redefined to mean cussing and only cussing, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

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  4. Simple.
    Take the profit and credit when it’s to YOUR personal advantage, shift the blame onto others when it’s not.
    Welcome to Christian America.

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  5. And again, I want to contrast the attitude of ‘it’s not God’s will that these things are happening’ when evangelicals talk about the culture, but they’ll just say ‘God’s sovereign’ when confronted with the consequences of pollution on our neighbors, our families, and God’s creation.

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  6. I just know there’s a joke here about the wall of separation between church and state… I just can’t quite put my finger on it…

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  7. Your question about linking the direct express will of God to a narrative statement in the Bible is good. There are hundreds of factual statements in the scriptures which are not necessarily prescriptive——especially for Christians living in 2019.

    Mr. Barton would be on firmer ice here if he simply pointed to common sense without resorting to carefully selected Bible verses. After all, doesn’t Nancy Pelosi, a multimillionaire, have a security wall of some sort around her exclusive residence in the income-stratified city she represents? In other words, we don’t need to cite the Bible in order to justify the construction of walls or other projects which are based on simple reason.

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  8. I’ve heard (seen) the “God told Nehemiah to build a wall” argument, and I went back and reread Ezra and Nehemiah, and there is no direct command from God to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah said God put it on his heart but never said God commanded him. Seems to me that claiming God told Nehemiah to build the wall is making scripture say something more than it actually does.

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