Love and the White Evangelical

60% of Americans disapprove of Trump, but 71% of White Evangelicals approve of Trump.  In fact their support of Trump remains largely unchanged since the 2016 election. — from PRRI

If read carefully, the New Testament teaches that Jesus was crucified not because he claimed to be God, but because he was turning Jewish culture on its ear, challenging ancient Jewish law and customs, and putting Jewish nationalism on edge. Likewise, 1C Jewish-Christians were not rejected by the Jewish faith because they believed Jesus was God and had risen from the dead. Jews had lots of “denominations” that worshipped together and believed different things. For a while there was even room for Jewish-Christians under that umbrella. But eventually Jewish-Christians were cast out of the Jewish gathering places (and even persecuted) because, like Jesus, they too were challenging the old laws and customs – chief of which was inviting “unclean” Gentiles into the synagogues and temple to worship with them.

Now jump ahead 2000 years… turns out nationalism is not a Jewish problem. Duh! It is a human problem.

White-evangelicals are just the latest bunch to embrace it in fear of their old laws and customs changing. Trump is their leader, which ought to be a red flag to them since he keeps none of their laws and customs personally. Yet most of them are oblivious to the fact that in following this man, they are rejecting Christianity’s main tenant to love — especially those not like one’s self. Love your immigrant, gay, old, young, black, etc. neighbor is lost. Furthermore, instead of loving others, they are protecting a set of laws and customs they believe God wants them to keep. They believe if they break these laws and customs (or let others break them), then God will no longer bless them. This ends up looking a lot like a nationalism (Make America Great Again)  in which they are trying to earn God’s blessings by rejecting those who aren’t like themselves – who don’t follow the same rules and customs. Of course God doesn’t work that way.

This is how I believe God works. The whole point of Jesus was to make possible the Holy Spirit, who would dwell within and guide humanity. This Spirit would make keeping the religious laws and customs far inferior to a life guided by the Spirit. Life was (and is) to be lived as faith expressed in love, which is how the Spirit guides those it indwells. Remarkably, the Holy Spirit wants to indwell everyone – it rejects no one, but transforms all those who allow it to crack open that door. This Spirit life isn’t about following a set of rules so God would bless us, but about letting the Spirit guide and empower us to bless others.

White Evangelicals have a rule-keeping problem that keeps them from living out the love God has placed in their hearts.

Postscript: I have been speaking of White Evangelicals as if they all believe the same thing. Let’s remember that Jimmy Carter identifies as evangelical and he is white. The difference is that he isn’t protecting/pushing a set of religious rules and customs. And that is also precisely why other White Evangelicals rejected him. He expresses his faith in love (not nationalistic religious rules) and that is never safe. 

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