In his arrival at what he called “the first principle of the Philosophy for which I was seeking,” Descartes famous “I think, therefore I am,” demonstrates the validity of th…
Source: Descartes and Design |
Source: Descartes and Design |
What it is . . . Let me first give a simple working definition of philosophical theology. If philosophy is an attempt at a rational interpretation of reality, and if theology is the study of God, t…
It’s time that a few things were said about Donald Trump and the next President of the United States.
First, let me clarify a few things:
I am writing to Evangelicals—that’s the group I belong to and understand the most.
Second, I am aware of all of the things that are distasteful to Christians about Donald Trump. I get it: he’s rude, arrogant, his language is bad, and he’s not Christian by our definition. Some would say he is racist, but these days everyone gets labeled racist, and I am not willing to allow a wall and protection against Muslim terrorists to be equated with racism. But, hey, I get it.
With these qualifications in mind, let’s get on with what needs to be said.
My Biggest Concern
My biggest concern is that Donald Trump is going to split the party. I don’t think that means what it used to in a party that is already divided in at least three ways. Nevertheless, there is the real threat that he will form his own party, siphon off conservatives from the herd, and a la Ross Perot, the democrats get their man (or woman in this case). But, even if Trump does not go independent and intentionally split the party, at the rate we are going, because of the sensibilities of various groups who simply cannot imagine themselves pulling the lever for Trump, the party is likely to split itself on principle.
Now, as I said above: I get it. Trump is not a holy man. Here’s my thing though, as it stands right now, I am not prepared to label “holy” anyone in the current race for the White House. That’s not as judgmental as it sounds. I don’t think American Evangelical Christians do a very good job of discerning the “holy” candidates from the unholy ones. Sure, we are good at recognizing adultery and abortion and same-sex support, and believe, I care about those things. But after that, we get upset at language, etc. Goodness, in our own churches we quibble over the most trivial things and divide ourselves over personality issues! Let me say this: If we think we are going to elect a candidate who is somehow going to legislate Christianity from the Oval Office, or that America’s spiritual problems could even be solved in this way, we have proven we have learned nothing. Between two equally qualified candidates for president, would I choose a Christian over an atheist? Yes, because I believe spirituality and morality matters. Is it possible, hypothetically speaking, that there could be an atheist qualified to be a good president or a Christian completely unqualified to be president, or vise versa? Absolutely!
But let’s get down to what we are after and what we can reasonably expect in 21st century American politics. Personally, I think that, in the past, when we Christians thought we had “found our man,” we were kidding ourselves (with the exception of Ronald Reagan, although even he was more in line with the morality of Christianity like a Lincoln more than he was any kind of overtly genuine evangelical, which I do not believe he was). Going forward, I think we are naive to think that anyone in the field of candidates is a “shoe in” to become our evangelical hero in the White House, and those who we may be convinced have a genuine faith will not likely be able to be effective. Like it or not, America is not open to an overtly evangelical Christian in the White House. But now, on the brink of a split party because of our Christian principles, we may help America to elect a socialist or, more likely, the heir to the Clinton dynasty.
Here’s another of my big concerns. We live in a country that was foolish enough to elect Barak Obama not to one but two terms in office! That reality comes with its own reprisals! But, from a conservative standpoint, Mr. Obama has all but destroyed America (some may not like that language but that is how Christian conservatives, particularly evangelicals, feel). He has taken the country in the wrong direction and drastically so. Is Donald Trump drastic in his own right? Yes! But it may take someone conservatively drastic just to offset the damage done over the last eight years! I personally think that anyone less drastic than Trump will likely not make a dent in Washington or have a hope of pointing America back in the right direction.
For those afraid or embarrassed to support Donald Trump, be careful that you are not intimidated or influenced by a sophisticated media that knows how to throw its voice and sound like it cares about morality. For those who have disagreements with Trump on principle, let me ask you a question: would you rather have Trump or Clinton? Because I believe that’s what it will come down to. In that scenario, I would choose Trump, but I don’t trust America to do so. Welcome to the White House, Madame President!
Many today are looking for ways to discount the Bible and all it has to say about how we should live. I have noticed a particular, observable progression in “reasoning” that reveals where many land when it comes to the Bible. I call it the Scripture Bypass Defense. Here it is:
In this article Dr. Castaldo ponders whether Pope Francis’s silence about Jesus during his American visit was in keeping with the phrase (mistakenly) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which says, ““Preach the gospel at all times, and use words if necessary.”
I admit that I reject the premise of this axiom for one simple reason: it is always, always, ALWAYS necessary to use words when preaching the gospel.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14-15, NIV/1984)
Dr. Castaldo writes from deep knowledge of Catholicism. You can also check out Dr. Castaldo’s blog and learn more about him www.chriscastaldo.com
I believe several things dynamics are at work in the Huffington Post interview with T. D. Jakes. The interview was first posted on the Huff Post website on August 4. The topic of discussion was Jakes’ new book, then turned to the LGBT community and the black church.
After personally transcribing the interview myself, I tend to think that several dynamics were at play in the interview. First of all, I think two conversations were going on. The interviewer, Marc Lamont-Hill, academic, journalist, author, activist, and television personality and Distinguished Professor of African-American Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, was looking for Jakes to endorse the LGBT community and to admit to an acceptance of homosexuality. Jakes, it seems to me, was trying to be benevolent with his “Jump the Broom” theology (if you don’t know what that means check out this post). The interview spurred what Jakes referred to as “a virulent diatribe in cyber-Christian-land” which demanded a reiteration of his stance on that old diversion, same-sex marriage.
Jakes may think the criticism unfair, but the proof is in the pudding: the Huff Post article accompanying the video. In sum, the article claims that Jakes thinks it is absolutely possible for the black church and the LGBT community to co-exist, that Jakes’ own views on homosexuality have evolved and are still evolving, and that LGBT people should find a church that aligns with their own views on faith.
While Jakes was waxing eloquent on the separation of church and state, the republic, and pluralism, Hill heard him endorsing homosexuality.
Jakes can be irritated at the outcry from cyber-Christian-land, but in reality the force of his interview was simply to placate the LGBT community and give quarter to the concept of gay Christianity.
Michael Brown called Jakes out asking him to clarify his stance on homosexuality. This elicited a “reiteration” of Jakes’ stance on same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, Jakes didn’t answer the question and Brown let him off the hook.
In his article, “Oprah, Osteen, Jakes, and Homophobia,” Brown is somehow encouraged that Oprah still welcomes Osteen and Jakes after they openly claimed homosexuality to be a sin. First of all, there is little to be worried about with inviting Osteen on your show. He is not going to be polarizing. Second of all, T. D. Jakes is a powerful, popular black man with a feel good theology. Oprah would never reject him. Neither of these men have ever stood up to Oprah and called her out for her new age religiosity or her pro-gay stance. Why wouldn’t she welcome them? Brown ends his article with a pointer on how not to be labeled a homophobe. Anyone who unequivocally takes a stand against homosexuality as a lifestyle (which Jakes did not do in his interview) is going to be labelled a homophobe and a hater.
While I have no problem with Jakes “reiteration,” and I do not think he supports homosexuality, he absolutely encouraged gay Christianity. Here is a quote from the interview:
“If you don’t like those convictions and values and you totally disagree with it, don’t try to change my house, move into your own. And establish that sort of thing and find someone that gets what you get about faith.”
The answer for the American culture that rejects truth from the Word of God is not “find a place to go where people agree with you”! My goodness, this only feeds America’s twisted definition of tolerance. The answer is, “Go to a Bible believing church and sit there until God changes you! Immerse yourself in the Presence, the Power, the Word, and the worship of the True God!” Yes the church must be accepting and loving. But sending the LGBT community into inclusive churches where they can be surrounded with people who agree with them (which as a community they are wont to do anyway) is an unfortunate message!
Post Script: Once again the issue has gotten side-tracked by the diversion of same-sex marriage. The issue is gay Christianity!
This article was written in response to an article by Jonathan Rauch in The Daily News. I submitted it to The Daily News as a rebuttal but, alas, they did not need it. Here it is anyway! You can read Rauch’s article here. (Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.)
Jonathan Rauch’s Op-Ed in the Daily News, “The Last Gay-Marriage Holdouts,” demonstrates many of the misunderstandings, assumptions, and wrong opinions that float to the top when people discuss evangelicals and homosexuality.
First of all, Rauch misses the nuance involved when he refers to those “young people who disagree with their elders who disproportionately [prioritize] anti-gay rhetoric and doctrine.” The “disproportion” he refers to has to do with those in the church who ask, “Why do you focus only on the sin of homosexuality and not the sin of lying, etc.?” The issue here is that, when addressing those who support homosexuality—either inside or outside of the church—we are not dealing with people who admit that homosexuality is a sin. We are, instead, dealing with those who say it is normal. So when people try to make this distinction they are invariably comparing apples to oranges. The church does speak out against lying and adultery and hatred and all manner of sins. But the Supreme Court did not meet recently in order to say that lying is a basic human right or that murder is protected by the fourteenth amendment. To those who agree that homosexuality is sin, we can talk about where it ranks among sin. But to those who want to compromise the Bible and normalize homosexuality, the traditional evangelicals cannot help but speak out.
Second, these days a distinction must be made between what is passing for evangelicalism in the media and traditional evangelicalism. Traditional evangelicals are not worried or concerned about becoming “cultural strangers in their own land.” Genuine, Bible-believing Christians have never made cultural acceptance their number one goal. Going forward, anyone wanting to be intellectually honest will need to observe the distinction between the new liberal evangelicals, and those genuine, traditional evangelicals who still hold to the authority of Scripture.
Third, Rauch claims that all evangelical congregations include openly gay members. This is simply not true. For one thing, I assume that this is simply a sloppy use of the word “member.” Show me the evangelical church that has openly gay members—people accepted into membership with full knowledge that they were practicing homosexuals—and I will show you a church that is not evangelical.
Next, to compare Jesus’ interaction and approach to the woman at the well who was living in adultery (John 4) and the current debate over the acceptance of homosexuality and, further, to connect it with the concept of inclusiveness, is simply bad hermeneutics. Jesus did not offer inclusion to the woman at the well! He confronted her sin and invited her to come clean. When the church takes this approach to homosexuality it is referred to as homophobic!
The next subtle assumption comes with the question, “Why would God create gay people for a life without sexual intimacy and loving companionship?” The traditional evangelical answer? He didn’t. He didn’t create people gay. They were not born that way. Nevertheless, in order for those with same-sex attraction to be in right standing before God they will have to renounce homosexuality conceptually and in practice, daily crucify same-sex desire, and may very well have to live their lives as ones chosen by God to be single. People throughout history have been able to live without sexual intimacy for reasons not as lofty as a right standing before God. And to assume that sex must be a part of a fulfilled life is to sell humanity short.
What is happening in evangelicalism is a purification process. Those young “evangelical” pastors who are suffering from the pains of “cognitive dissonance” and the agonizing conflict between “head and heart” on this issue are simply not evangelicals. Not because traditional evangelicals don’t care about those who are struggling with same-sex attraction. Many of us do; all of us should. But allowing sympathy to trump truth is to take a fools path. Americans need to learn again that just because someone disagrees with you does not mean that he or she hates you. That type of thinking represents an arrested emotional development.
Finally, Rauch is right about one thing: American evangelicalism is on a collision course with itself. When it is over, true evangelicals will continue to stand behind the Bible. The rest can join those American Catholics, mainline Protestants, Mormons, and the Pope whom Rauch indicates all support homosexuality.