Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it:
A far left magazine, or very “progressive,” as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019
….have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President. No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019
Has Trump EVER read CT? (Or it it ET?). I am guessing he has never heard of it until today.
Trump’s tweet reminds me of the fundamentalist opponents of the so-called “neo-evangelicalism.” During the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s fundamentalists like Carl McIntire, Bob Jones Jr., and John R. Rice thought Christianity Today and Billy Graham were liberals who were compromising the Gospel.
Here is Rice, the editor of the Baptist fundamentalist newspaper The Sword of the Lord, describing Christianity Today at the time of its founding in 1956:
[It is] a mistake for Christian people to put money into a Christian magazine that is not ‘anti-anything’…We do not see any good that can come from a magazine which is not against sin, not against modernism, not against neo-orthodoxy, not against wordliness…We are sorry to see good men waste their time and good people waste their money on the middle of the road, good Lord, good devil, half-in and half out magazine that tries to please everybody and does not oppose evil. (The Sword of the Lord, July 134, 1956).
If Rice were living in today’s political culture, a time when conservative evangelicals rally behind Donald Trump and the GOP, he might say that the good folks at Christianity Today are bad Christians because they don’t support the president.
It seems like we are seeing similar divisions in evangelical Christianity today. These divisions have been there for a long time, but Donald Trump has exacerbated them. Christianity Today finally drew a line.
To call Christianity Today “a far left” or “progressive” magazine is ludicrous. Read what the magazine has said about abortion. Read what the magazine has said about marriage. Read what the magazine has said about homosexuality. Granted, Christianity Today has taken more moderate stands on immigration and the environment, but it has done so based on thoughtful reflection on the teaching of the Bible, not on the talking points they get everyday on Fox News.
And speaking of Fox News, I am continually struck by how certain parts of the evangelical community are formed more by what they hear on this cable channel than what they hear from their churches. Here is what I wrote in The Washington Post back in April 2019:
Many white evangelical churchgoers now see the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade as equivalent to their call to share the Gospel with unbelievers. They subscribe to the message that the only way to live out evangelical faith in public is to vote for the candidates who will most effectively execute the 40-year-old Christian right playbook.
The movement’s message is so strong that even when pastors oppose the politicization of their religion, the message is not likely to persuade congregants. Indeed, many white evangelical pastors do not preach politics from their pulpit. Some speak boldly against the idolatrous propensity of their congregations to seek political saviors.
But these pastors cannot control the messaging their flocks imbibe after they leave church on Sunday. And a massive Christian right messaging machine targets these Americans with precision. Ministries and nonprofit organizations, driven by conservative political agendas, bombard the mailboxes, inboxes and social media feeds of ordinary evangelicals. Many of these organizations appeal to long-standing evangelical fears about cultural decline or provide selective historical evidence that the United States was founded as, and continues to be, a “Christian nation,” even though this never was true.
Evangelicals filter what they hear during weekly sermons through Fox News and conservative talk radio, producing an approach to political engagement that looks more like the Republican Party than the Kingdom of God.
None of this is new. People in the pews (or in the case of evangelical megachurches, the chairs), have always been selective in how they apply their pastor’s sermons in everyday life. Evangelical Christians, from the Puritans to the present, have always mixed traditional Christian teachings with more non-Christian sources as they cultivate their religious lives. Today, however, cable television and social media expose white evangelicals to ideas that come from outside the church but that claim to be driven by Christianity at an unprecedented rate.
This strange but long-standing mix of biblical Christianity and conservative talking points empowers an incompetent and immoral president. It will likely have disastrous consequences for the future mission of born-again Christianity in the United States, as the redemptive message of the Gospel becomes little more than a political agenda that turns off those who otherwise might be longing for the spiritual solace it provides.
As long as the Christian right continues to hold sway in white evangelical churches, and as long as parachurch organizations encourage its agenda, the support for Donald Trump among these Christians who attend church regularly will remain steady.
Read the entire piece here.
We are living in a time when truth does not matter. If Donald Trump says something, even if it is wrong or misleading, his evangelical followers believe it. Trump continues to manipulate the facts to serve himself. In the process, he manipulates his evangelical followers.