Paige Patterson and Richard Land Will Co-Teach an Ethics Course

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Yes, you read the headline correctly.

Paige Patterson, who was ousted at Southwestern Theological Seminary for dismissing women’s concerns about domestic abuse and rape  (see our coverage here), is teaching an ethics course at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But it gets better.  Patterson is co-teaching the class with Southern Evangelical Seminary president and court evangelical Richard Land.  In 2013, Land retired early from his post at the Southern Baptist Church’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission because he made racially insensitive remarks in the context of the death of Trayvon Martin.  (Russell Moore replaced him in the post).

Here is Adelle Banks’s piece at Religion News Service:

Patterson plans to co-teach a mid-October weeklong class on “Christian Ethics: The Bible and Moral Issues” with Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, a school that is not affiliated with the SBC.

“Dr. Patterson’s one of the most significant figures in evangelicalism in the last 20 years, at least, of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century,” Land told Religion News Service, “and we believe that there are a lot of people who would like to hear from him about living the Christian life in America. I believe he’s an asset to evangelicalism and we’re looking forward to it.”

Read the entire piece here.

Some Court Evangelicals Break Ranks on Trump’s Immigration Policy

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The Trump administration is separating children from parents at the Mexican border.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that Romans 13 justifies the policy, but court evangelical Franklin Graham calls the policy “disgraceful.”  Another court evangelical, Samuel Rodriguez, also opposes the policy.  Learn more from this piece at CBN news.

I am now waiting for the following evangelical leaders to stand-up to Donald Trump’s immigration policy:

Robert Jeffress has said nothing.  Yet he has wished Trump a Happy Birthday and thanked him for being such a great POTUS:

Jerry Falwell Jr. has said nothing.  If he tweeted something today I can’t see it.  He blocked me a long time ago.

Paula White has said nothing.  But she is tweeting:

Eric Metaxas:  I don’t know what he is saying on this issue.  I am blocked.

Johnnie Moore:  He seems more focused on Trump’s meeting with North Korea”

Mark Burns is being a good court evangelical:

James Dobson, the champion of “family values” has an interesting tweet today:

Ronnie Floyd seems to be running a prayer sweepstakes:

Richard Land: Silent

Greg Laurie is focused on a big rally in Dallas and Trump’s meeting with the North Koreans:

Tony Perkins, another champion of family values, has said nothing about the fact that Trump is ripping families apart at the border. Do “family values” only apply to white families? Middle-class families?

But he does love Trump:

 

Court Evangelicals: How Dare These Other Evangelical Leaders “Steal the Microphone” From Us!

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Wheaton College

CBN News is reporting that some of the court evangelicals are not particularly happy that evangelicals leaders who do not frequent the court of Donald Trump met at Wheaton College this week.

Here is a taste of Jenna Browder’s piece:

Those at the meeting held at Wheaton College indicated they wanted to make sure political allegiances to Trump don’t get in the way of the gospel message but it didn’t sit well with some evangelicals who support Trump’s policy initiatives.

Johnnie Moore, an unofficial spokesman for the Faith Advisory Council, was among the many pro-Trump evangelicals not invited.

“We don’t take it personally; we just pray for them,” Moore said in a statement to CBN News. “I’ve said it many, many times, but I’ll say it again: we have been honored to fight to protect religious liberty that even extends to protecting the rights of those who disagree with us on religious grounds, even when they are unkind.”

Robert Jeffress is another advisor not included.  

Richard Land also questioned the weight of the meeting given the absence of some well-known names. 

“Any definition of ‘thought leaders’ and any definition of evangelicalism that excludes the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Franklin Graham is a pale imitation – anemic and incomplete,” said Land. 

Other members of Trump’s Faith Advisory Council spoke to CBN News off the record, one voicing his concern over what he sees as this group of evangelicals trying to steal the microphone from those who support Trump. He pointed to the fact that many invited to participate are part of the anti-Trump movement and hold more progressive views on public policy than traditional evangelical Christian voters who supported Trump in 2016.

“It’s a meeting that will have very little impact on evangelicalism as a whole,” Jeffress told CBN News. “Many of them are sincere but they are having a hard time understanding that they have little impact on evangelicalism.”

Read the entire piece here.  The response of the court evangelicals speaks volumes.  They seem legitimately bothered that this other meeting has taken place.

As I wrote in The Washington Post on July 17, 2017: “The court evangelicals are changing the religious landscape in the United States. The Trump presidency is only six months old, but it is already beginning to alter long-standing spiritual alignments.”

Court Evangelical Richard Land Stays With Trump

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Richard Land, the controversial Southern Baptist leader who recently boasted that the court evangelicals have “unprecedented access” to the White House, told Bruce Henderson of the Charlotte Observer that he has no intention of resigning from his position as an evangelical adviser to Donald Trump.

Here is a taste of Henderson’s piece:

A Charlotte-area evangelical leader said he won’t resign from a Trump administration advisory council despite discomfort with President Donald Trump’s comments on the Aug. 12 violence in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead.

Trump came under fire for blaming “many sides” for the clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters. Two days later, the president explicitly condemned racism and the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, said in a statement Thursday that Trump’s initial comments were “inartful and begged to be misconstrued and misunderstood in ways that are very hurtful to people.”

But Land said he’ll continue to serve on the president’s Evangelical Faith Advisory Council, saying “Jesus did not turn away from those who may have seemed brash with their words or behavior.”

“A leader presented with the challenges that President Trump is facing needs counsel and prayer from Bible-believing servants now more than ever,” the statement said. “Now is not the time to quit or retreat, but just the opposite – to lean in closer.”

Read the entire article here.

“Lean in closer.”  I understand the logic and I might even agree with Land if I thought that the court evangelicals were there to rebuke Trump in the way that the Old Testament court prophet Nathan rebuked King David.  But so far, apart from a Supreme Court order and a useless executive order on religious liberty, the court evangelicals have had little influence on this reckless POTUS.  In fact, after his recent Arizona speech this week one could argue that he is getting worse.

Court Evangelical: We Have “Unprecedented Access” to the Trump White House

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Richard Land

Southern Baptist Richard Land, the president of a conservative evangelical seminary and the guy who held Russell Moore‘s position at the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Liberty Commission until he made racist remarks on his radio program, is the latest court evangelical to praise King Donald.

In an interview with fellow Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd, Land calls Trump a “pleasant surprise.”  He says that Trump has given him and the other court evangelicals “unprecedented access” to his administration.  Land adds that Trump is “fascinated by evangelicals.” He even discusses what it is like to walk around the White House and schmooze with the other evangelicals who make up Trump’s court.

Listen:

I have always been skeptical of the critics who believe that all conservative evangelicals want to create a theocracy.  I am still skeptical, but getting less so.  Trump and the court evangelicals are pushing me in this direction.

For example, what does Land mean when he says that the court evangelicals have “unprecedented access” to the POTUS?  What do they want to do with this “unprecedented access?”  Are they using such access to speak truth to power?  Are they using this access to call out Donald Trump for his sins?

Are they modeling themselves after the Old Testament court prophet Nathan? Remember Nathan? He was the one who called out King David for adultery and murder using a parable that ended with the phrase “thou art the man!”  Somehow I doubt that this is how the court evangelicals are using their “unprecedented access.”  And if they are using their access this way, it does not appear to be going well.  The “baby Christian” does not appear to be growing.

I think it’s pretty obvious what Land and the other court evangelicals want to do with their access to the White House.  They want to make sure everyone who does not agree with them will either be thrown out of the country or subordinated to the status of second-class citizen. Their approach to public life is driven by the erroneous view that the founding fathers wanted to establish a Christian nation. It is not motivated by the Judeo-Christian idea that all human beings are created in God’s image and thus deserve dignity, worth, and a place in democratic life regardless of their religious beliefs, sexual identity, or views on marriage.

Trump’s Evangelicals

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Paula White is on Donald Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board”

Earlier this evening I wrote a post on James Dobson‘s claim that Donald Trump has become a born-again Christian. Dobson’s news comes in the wake of Trump’s meeting on Tuesday with evangelicals.  Shortly after that meeting the Trump campaign announced that it has established an Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.  Apparently this board will eventually lead a larger, yet-to-be-established, “Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee.”

Here are the members of the committee:

  • Michele Bachmann – Former Congresswoman
  • A.R. Bernard – Senior Pastor and CEO, Christian Cultural Center
  • Mark Burns – Pastor, Harvest Praise and Worship Center
  • Tim Clinton – President, American Association of Christian Counselors
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland – Founders, Kenneth Copeland Ministries
  • James Dobson – Author, Psychologist and Host, My Family Talk
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr. – President, Liberty University
  • Ronnie Floyd – Senior Pastor, Cross Church
  • Jentezen Franklin – Senior Pastor, Free Chapel
  • Jack Graham – Senior Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
  • Harry Jackson – Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
  • Robert Jeffress – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Dallas
  • David Jeremiah – Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church
  • Richard Land – President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
  • James MacDonald – Founder and Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
  • Johnnie Moore – Author, President of The KAIROS Company
  • Robert Morris – Senior Pastor, Gateway Church
  • Tom Mullins – Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship­
  • Ralph Reed – Founder, Faith and Freedom Coalition
  • James Robison – Founder, Life OUTREACH International
  • Tony Suarez – Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
  • Jay Strack – President, Student Leadership University
  • Paula White – Senior Pastor, New Destiny Christian Center
  • Tom Winters – Attorney, Winters and King, Inc.
  • Sealy Yates – Attorney, Yates and Yates

The best analysis of this group can be found at Christianity Today.  I encourage you to read its post. It is excellent.  (I am also encouraged to see that one of my former students, Morgan Lee, contributed to the piece).

I am not familiar with all of the people on Trump’s committee, but I do think it is fair to say that it is dominated by two types of evangelicals.

Some of the members of the committee are operating with the 1980s and 1990s playbook of the Christian Right.  As I wrote earlier today, this is “an approach that assumes that the United States was once a ‘Christian nation‘ (although that phrase now seems to be replaced with the mantra of “religious liberty”) and the only way to save it from falling into the abyss is to cozy up to national politicians.”  These are veterans of the culture war who long for the glory days of the Reagan era.  Most of them remember the 1990s and thus really do not like Hillary Clinton

The evangelicals on Trump’s committee who represent this group include: Michelle Bachman, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, Robert Jeffress, David Jeremiah, Richard Land, and Ralph Reed.  (Christianity Today notes that there is a Southern Baptist subset in this group that includes Floyd, Jeffress, Land, and others). These folks are mostly white males.  According to my rough estimate, they average just over 64 years of age.

I will call the other major group the charismatic/faith-healing/prosperity/entrepreneurial wing of American evangelicalism.  The evangelicals on Trump’s committee who represent this group include John Mark Burns, Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Robert Morris, James Robison, Jay Strack, and Paula White.  This group is only slightly younger and slightly more diverse in terms of race and gender.  This groups is eclectic, but many of them are probably attracted to Trump’s business acumen and wealth.

If you read this blog you know what I think about the practice of evangelical leaders cozying up to political power.

Let’s also remember that these evangelicals only represent a some American evangelicals.

Southern Baptists Are Not Happy About the New Starbucks’ Holiday Cups

A lot of Christians on my social media sites are asking if anyone out there is actually opposed to the new Starbucks cups.  I initially thought that the Starbucks critique came from one guy–an evangelist named Josh Feuerstein

But I was wrong.  
Richard Land, the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and the former president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has joined the cause.
I am curious to see what Russell Moore, Land’s successor as the president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has to say about this.  How many Southern Baptists does Land represent?  If what I have read about Moore is any indication, I would think he would rise above this petty issue and keep the Southern Baptist Convention focused on more important things related to its mission. But will he speak out against his predecessor?  (I haven’t seen any commentary by Moore on this.  If he has spoken or written on this topic please let me know).
It is worth noting that in 2012 Moore spoke out against a Christian boycott of Starbucks after the coffee company announced that it would support same-sex marriage.
Al Mohler, another Southern Baptist leader, is not too happy about it either.

Evangelicals at BYU

Richard Land at BYU

The warm feelings between evangelicals and Mormons are growing stronger.  According to Adelle Banks’s article at Religion News Service, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (Richard Land and Albert Mohler) and the Assembly of God Church (George O. Wood) have recently delivered lectures at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  Evangelical apologist Ravi Zacharias is also scheduled to speak at BYU.

This developing relationship is historically significant.  For most of the twentieth century evangelicals thought the Church of the Latter Day Saints was a cult. Many evangelicals still think this way, as we witnessed during the Romney presidential runs.  If you type the words “Mormonism is” into Google, the top hits are “a cult,” “not Christianity,” “fake,” “false,” and “stupid.” Most of these hits will take you to evangelical websites by organizations such as Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry and the Christian Broadcasting Network.  In the early 1990s, when I was a student at the decidedly evangelical Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, “anti-cult” groups would come to campus and stand at their tables in the lobby of the Chatlos Memorial Chapel to warn us against the threat of Mormonism and seek our support in the cause of exposing its false teachings.

It does not seem that the evangelicals mentioned above are willing to use the label “Christian” to describe Mormons, but they are definitely willing to work with them to advance certain moral issues. In the 2012 election cycle Land made it clear that Mitt Romney (a Mormon) was not a Christian, but a member of a fourth Abrahamic faith.  In 2007 Mohler said that the Latter Day Saints taught a “sincerely false gospel,” but still make good neighbors.  Zacharias is not new to the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.  He spoke there in 2004 along with then Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw and evangelical recording artist Michael Card.  Wood has been taking some heat for his visit. Of course evangelical-Mormon cooperation on moral issues is not unique to the present moment. Mormonism was part of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority coalition in the late 1970s and the LDS leaders continued to stand alongside conservative Protestants as the so-called culture wars heated up in the 1980s and 1990s.

Meanwhile, Mormons have been making efforts to be a greater part of the American religious mainstream.  It should be noted that it was BYU who initiated the meetings with Land, Mohler, Wood, and Zacharias.  The meetings have been centered around faith, family, and religious freedom. 

I am curious what some of the Mormon readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home think about these developments.  Here is a taste of Banks’s piece:

The outreach has gone both ways. In September, Taylor joined two members of the LDS church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Washington installation of Russell Moore, who succeeded Land as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“It’s clear where we disagree, but we’re standing together in the public square for religious liberty,” said Moore, who has recently spoken with Mormon officials about military chaplains’ religious rights.
As Mormons continue to work toward greater acceptance and visibility — from Mitt Romney’s White House bid to a category of questions on “Jeopardy” — they are more likely to have tangible benefits from this engagement, said Stephen Webb, author of the new book “Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints.”
Bob Millet, a BYU religion professor who suggested the evangelical visitors to LDS officials, said the rapprochement helps Mormons, “a sample of the population that’s not well-understood and highly misunderstood.”

Addendum:  Since I wrote and scheduled this post Thomas Kidd has posted something similar at The Anxious Bench.  Check it out here.