Monday, February 29, 2016

The Jeffress cloud

Though many people suffer under a misconception to the contrary, there really is nothing prohibiting a pastor from taking a stand on political issues, or endorsing candidates. There is nothing legally or spiritually prohibiting it. That isn't to say that there aren't delicacies involved when a preacher ventures into the political arena. A pastor's responsibility is to be first an ambassador of Christ. In that regard it is vital that a pastor be able to point to Christian principles and doctrine as the foundation for his actions when involved in worldly affairs.

I was raised in the Southern Baptist church, and have spent most of my life as a member of Southern Baptist churches. Nothing in my fifty plus years of experience in Baptist churches has prepared me to explain the endorsement of Donald Trump by the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Robert Jeffress. He plays coy over not being in a position to make endorsements as a pastor, but let's be frank, it's an endorsement. Over the weekend I watched in amazement as Pastor Jeffress made the media rounds cheerfully rationalizing and encouraging evangelical support for Trump.

A statistic cited repeatedly by Jeffress is that South Carolina exit polling revealed that extremely few evangelical voters thought that Trump shared their values, but 72% thought he was the best choice to lead our nation back from the brink. This statistic, that Jeffress recites with a plucky smile, should break his heart. It represents an enormous spiritual tragedy. There is no way to put a positive spin on the fact that a significant majority of evangelical voters do not believe that Christian values are necessary, desireable, or even important in the task of setting America back on course. The fact that these Christians believe worldly values are superior to Christian values for the task at hand should cause Robert Jeffress to weep for the church. Instead he rejoices for Trump.

On Fox's Judge Pirro show, Jeffress provided his strangest contortions of reasoning. To explain the voting behavior of evangelicals he compared their behavior in the current race to what happened in the race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. His narrative equated Ted Cruz with Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan with Donald Trump. There are too many things wrong with this perversion of history and logic to bother going into. I wish that I could believe in my heart that Jeffress simply doesn't know better, but I cannot. Interestingly enough, Jimmy Carter currently agrees with Jeffress on Trump being preferable to Cruz.

Donald Trump has been a scoundrel in every aspect of his life. He has indicated no regrets or intentions to change a thing. If elected, he will almost certainly become the Bill Clinton of the Republican Party. Robert Jeffress has tied the credibility of his witness to that. Rather than cite statistics and provide irrational anecdotes equating Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan, it would be interesting to hear Pastor Jeffress explain the Christian principles behind him being spiritually led to this endorsement.

The world is watching - the world of the believers and the world of the lost. How is the support of a man who, without regret, sings the praises of Planned Parenthood, is corrupt in his business life, has no fidelity in his private life, demonstrates the basest tendencies of human nature in his personal interactions, and eschews the very thought of servant leadership, not an encumbrance in the race for Christ that is set before Pastor Jeffress? How can a pastor illustrate that God's way is best while endorsing the ways of the world? The world that is watching.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing  our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2

No comments:

Post a Comment