Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A campaign of resistance?

The pastor of my church has written “A Creed of Resistance,” which we’ve been reciting at the beginning of services. He has never mentioned President Donald Trump in his messages and the creed is itself theologically correct, but I can’t help but think that he’s making a statement. (He does nothing without approval of the board of elders, so he’s not acting as a lone wolf or an autocrat.)

We’re also engaged in an “expanded influence” campaign in which we’re trying to reach primarily other urban neighborhoods for Jesus.

The two may have more connections than is obvious.

Many evangelical churches often try to blend in, be “relevant” or make communicating “values” in the public square their focus. In doing so, however, they make the mistake of forgetting that Christians are a “peculiar people” who live by Kingdom values and should never pay homage to the status quo.

What brings people to faith in the first place is just that difference — I mean, what’s the point in adopting something if you’re not looking to make a change? It’s why the maintenance of “traditional Christian values” often ends up calcifying the true spiritual life.

And that’s the real reason much of evangelicalism’s embrace of Trump is not only problematic but also compromises its stated goals. In other words, rather than bringing people to Jesus it actually drives them away from Him because Trump has simply refused to adhere to any consistent moral standards, let alone Christian ones. That’s one part of the “resistance” in which we may be engaging in.

Some more liberal Christians have suggested that the church needs to act as a latter-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who engaged in active resistance against Adolf Hitler and paid with his life. As things stand now, however, doing so would be a little premature because the situations are quite different, especially since we have nowhere near the consistent nationalism that took place in Nazi Germany.

Besides, the focus of the church should be on maintaining its distinctiveness, never on “resistance” for its own sake. If resistance is part of that, all well and good, but the spiritual goals must be paramount. Always.

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