42 Comments

My husband and I have been stymied by the draw of Christians to a man who defies Christianity. Yes, you want to pray for him and not condemn him because we are not his judge. But you cannot accept such a flawed, amoral man as a leader.

Our country is now at a crossroads and opposing voices cannot speak. I have tried by a simple “can we talk” and because I am known as opposing a man who is twice impeached and a former President, I am person a non grata.

Ron, I greatly appreciate your concerns but I have no answers or even ideas. As with alcoholics, drug addicts and others with mind altering disease, this society may need to reach the absolute bottom before it can rise again. The difference is that in real pathology, a professional can intervene. In government, as happened after the civil war, healing is a crap shoot that is led by imperfect people and evil.

God only can help us. Pray fervently. Let God lead us in solution and healing.

Expand full comment

I am a Canadian living in Ontario, and my wife is American originally from Michigan. We have a lot of family in Michigan, some of whom are Trump supporters. They are also very devout conservative Christians. I also have several friends who are Trump supporters. My wife and I are liberal when it comes to social policy issues, but theologically conservative.

We are not Trump supporters. Our friends and family who are supporting Trump, do so largely because of the abortion issue. They do not like Trump as a person, and are bothered by his personal morals and character, but in their minds the abortion issue is important enough that they will still back the Republican party. From their perspective, abortion is such a horrendous practice that they cannot support the Democratic party, no matter what.

I cannot blame them for that, because they are not entirely wrong when it comes to abortion.

It seems to me that the Democrats are making a very crucial error in not appreciating just how seriously the abortion issue is to those who are supporting Trump.

Expand full comment

This reality reminds me of a comment from a jazz musician friend of mine about the reaction to the George Floyd murder. "Racism isn't getting worse, it's just getting better photographed". The state of America today has been developing all along--the only change is the impact on the age of information--or shall I say, disinformation. Trump held up a big mirror so we could see our reflection. Yup! He tore the "mask" off of the Statue of Liberty. Bless her--she wasn't the one who put the mask on.

Expand full comment

Ron,

Yes. That's my answer. I really liked what you said in your blog message today about having meaningful conversations with siblings in Christ who have very different political (and sometimes theological views) in order to begin healing divisions. Yes, it is possible. Yes, I have no doubt that Jesus called us to do just that, and to take steps to replace contempt and personal animosity with love and desire to dialogue with all of our neighbors, including, of course fellow Christians.

Since 2019 I’ve often tried to hold thoughtful, thought-provoking and politically or theologically cross-cultural conversations on Facebook by posting articles and/or asking questions of my FB friends about the issues du jour. I consider myself to be politically conservative and was registered as a Republican for most of the 43 years I’ve been a voter, but the last 2 years I’ve been registered Democratic. I don’t really consider myself a Democrat, but registered that way in order to be able to vote for certain D primary candidates in my state since I thought my vote might have more influence in those primaries the past couple years. I’m a conservative Independent at this point, who, for the first time ever voted D for President as I could not abide supporting DJT for a variety of reasons. I was not a big fan of JRB, and have the opposing view on quite a few policy issues with him, but supported him as the better of two choices. (In 2016, I voted write-in as I did not want to affirmatively act to inflict either DJT or HRC on the nation in my view.)

I post regularly on FB about different current events, controversies, and political issues. I have many friends who are on the right and many on the left and a bunch in the center. Some friends supported DJT with gusto, others supported him reluctantly, and others fell into similar patterns in supporting JRB. My FB friends are a diverse lot. I invite them to react to my post (and sometimes an article I’ve posted), and I often get a good conversation going with some strongly held opinions. Though often robust, the dialogue usually stays civil and devoid of personal attacks. A few times it has boiled over and I’ve intervened—directly but gently—and often that has resulted in an apology or two from one or both responders, which is accepted, and the conversation moves on.

I learn best from hearing people argue different sides of an issue, and make that clear to FB friends—Christians and non--who read my post. It has worked pretty well from my personal experience—resulting in thoughtful comments from right and left. Putting Proverbs 15:1 into continual practice in such forum, and occasionally encouraging everyone to pray for officials tenderly and sincerely (regardless of which party), and thanking people for posting their comments (agree or disagree) seems to go a long way in reducing the temperature in the conversation and to keep it issue-oriented and not personal and ugly. That tends to shed more light than heat, and that is a goal--to talk about these difficult issues without shrinking away from strongly held opinion, but to remain friends (and/or make new friends) with others with whom we disagree, but who are our neighbors and all made in the image of God.

Ron, thanks again for asking this question. I can't claim that my approach is a formula guaranteed to succeed for everyone, but with God's help, it has been working for me.

All the best—

Tom

Thomas M. Schneider

Jacksonville, FL

Expand full comment
author

Congratulations my friend. Not very many people are doing this. Keep working at it.

Expand full comment

The Catholic Church designates this week in January as the week of Prayer for Christian Unity, so a well-timed post!

Expand full comment

Ron, are you aware of Braver Angels? It's an organization that does this very thing - helps people on opposing sides of the political spectrum to respectively talk to one another. They actively seek out those who disagree and teach strategies to listen to those with whom we have differences. I took one of their trainings and found it helpful. I'm not sure if they are a Christian organization though, but their strategies are sound. Braverangels.org

Expand full comment

I think you are right on target as usual, Ron. I appreciate your insight. A good pastor friend of mine really stresses keeping our mission simple, "Love God and Love People!" That is a great place to start and a point on which we should find agreement with those who are really followers of Jesus. From that point I have found that conversations trend toward the sentiment that while these folks deplore the behavior, attitudes, and speech of the former president, they really liked the policies he put in place and the way he spoke up for Christians and America.

I have expressed that the character of a leader is the priority for me and that no policy is attractive enough to me to counter-balance the dishonesty and character deficiencies that continue to evident. Even though there is disagreement, there is at least civility and respect and a shared concern for the future of our democracy. As we continue to listen to each other my hope is that we will be led to common ground.

I have reminded myself and others that Jesus said His followers would be known by their love for one another, (John 13:34-35) As we show that love for one another and the world hearts can be touched. Is it easy? No. Is it essential? Absolutely.

Expand full comment

I don't know you personally, but well-said, Milt!

Expand full comment

Greetings, this may have some relevance to your queri?

7 signs the leaven of Herod has taken root in your life

Since Herod was a political leader, I believe it is likely that the leaven Jesus was warning against was political entanglements. I believe that such entanglements often pollute a person’s pure devotion to the Kingdom of God.page:https://www.christianpost.com/voice/7-signs-the-leaven-of-herod-has-taken-root-in-your-life.html

Expand full comment

So I followed up this morning and as I read Mark 8:15 referenced in your article it sounded very familiar. So turning back to Matt 16:12 which I studied last week! I reread this… “Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Which links to Jesus saying in verse 6 “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Thank you, because I feel your post has confirmed that by returning to Jesus’ word in the Gossips we will find the answers to how to get back on track as Christians.

Expand full comment

Have been reading the comments on Ron Siders Blòg.

Seems like the source of the political persecution is the same as believers persecution except there are more casualties! (See blog comments)

Paul speaks truth: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians6:12&version=ESV

The accuser of the brethren (satan) is mixing it up in both contexts

Over the past year, 360 million Christians lived in places where they experienced high levels of persecution and discrimination. Of that number, 6,175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned, 3,829 were abducted, and 5,898 were killed for their faith.

The World Watch List is always sobering to read, just because the problem is so big,” says David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “But it’s not new; Satan has targeted God’s people since the beginning. It’s just gotten worse, and more sophisticated.”

Our problem in western Canada is that the people of the separatist movement are being motivated and manipulated by the sophistications of Satan to destroy Canaďa as a unified cohesive country!

Expand full comment

Thank you for this link. It made many interesting points. Tomorrow I will study the scriptures that were referenced.

Expand full comment

It was January of 2020 when I attended my moms memorial service in Boulder, Colorado. At the time, I considered myself a Republican, and a believer in Jesus Christ.

I spoke at the service, and so many of her friends were so loving and empathetic. Some said, we can never consider your faith because we’re democrats, and our beliefs just do not line up with the church.

I was quick to encourage them, that following Jesus had nothing to do with one’s political affiliation, and that their views may have virtue.

About a month later, this whole Covid thing got going, and we’ve seen nothing but division, especially in evangelicalism. We not only have lay people overly involved in politics, but pastors. They just don’t know any better! They of course pick their party based on the abortion issue. When I tell them that that passed in the watch of a Republican president, four years into his term, it falls on deaf ears. The other issue seems to be with government spending, which both sides do in excess, in different areas.

Back in the day, we had Pharisees and Sadducees. These were respectively the republicans and democrats of the day. Jesus had issues with all of the extremes.

I have challenged many of my fellow churchmen that it’s worthy a listen in the other side. They of course have decided that I have converted my political affiliation, so everything falls on deaf ears. In actuality, I have empathized with the other side, a group of people who have possibly disqualified themselves from Jesus Christ over politics, or possibly believe but do not hold the same political beliefs.

I challenge the right, do you even care about these people. Even if they are wrong, and I’m. It saying they are, do you even care enough to pray for them. Apparently not!! Ridiculous…

I conclude, perhaps many of these extreme right political faction members are not really following Jesus Christ, but only what they can physically see in the politics. Perhaps this has been their belief all along, well masked before the recent confrontation of the worlds problems. Perhaps America is lost! We’ve been lost before…

I do believe wholeheartedly that Jesus would side with the left because He has not left it up to us to size up, label and judge people, especially so quickly. He has also been clear, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” and would not be happy with anyone creating a kingdom of idols here on the earth.

I have also seen right leaning government officials lead the cause this way. They want a restoration of a Christian nation. But Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” These people ridicule the sheep, and clearly do not see themselves as sheep!!

Following Jesus is divergent! So much better than following governments. There are hundreds of great books on the differences between the political parties and following Jesus, so no one is without excuse.

To finalize, I’ve been terribly judged in the church to the point where I no longer go. For one, I‘ve been told I’m not a Christian. For another, I’ve been told getting the Moderna vaccinations was a sin. Why would I want to waste any more of my life with these people?

The tactics are often silent. Rather than discussing anything, we just pray for the people we disagree with, believing God will bring them around to their way of thinking. Seriously, what a joke is that?

Thanks to all who listen.

Expand full comment

Like you I left the church. The liberal one’s I tried did not nurture my strong faith. I pray, study, & listen to online bible study & teaching to fill the gap. But I miss services that speak the words of Jesus without encouraging me to judge my fellow man.

Expand full comment

Jesus didn’t give ‘soft’ love to the Pharisees, but I do not doubt he loved them. He called them out on their sin. But I cannot do that and be allowed to speak again. My pastor (who is in agreement with me that Christian nationalism is evil) says the one who would speak to this sin must be given grace from God to do so. The misery I’ve been wallowing in for the past 1.5 years is not grace. I must leave in order to survive, to find joy again. I’m sorry, Ron. Your words sound right, but I cannot go there. I want to make a whip of cords and overturn tables, and that action won’t give me a hearing. I don’t want to give them a hearing, for they are wallowing in sin.

Expand full comment

So often, rebuke of sin is a one way street, from the elders and pastors to the congregations. I’ve never seen it work the other way around. So much pride in our churches amongst leadership.

Expand full comment

I think many Christians have decided fighting the “culture war” is the most important role of the body. It isn’t. We’re to go and make disciples. We need to shift our focus from the culture war, getting the right judges on the bench and politicians in office, preserving our religious freedom and political power to serving the poor, the oppressed and the disenfranchised.

Expand full comment

I sincerely wish I could believe this, but I don't anymore. "I genuinely believe that many supporters of Donald Trump love Jesus as much as I do. They want Jesus, not politics, to be the decisive factor in what they believe and do."

Maybe some want this, but at this point I don't believe many want this.

I've read too many things and heard from too many of his supporters. I believe they have compromised with ungodly principles. They have given "mulligans" for things they know the Bible and God's Word condemns. To me it seems to be that if it the Bible does not support their worldview that they are right, then toss the Bible.

I have not abandoned or cut off my friends who support DJT. I reach out, push pass politics and try to be kind because I know that division among God's family is a device of the Enemy of our souls. Because of geography I do not have face to face encounters with these friends so perhaps that makes it doable.

Expand full comment

Ron,

Thanks for this. So important.

Napp Nazzworth and American Values is doing good on this topic. See: https://americanvalues.org/.

There was also a very good podcast on this by the Trinity Forum, featuring Peter Wehner (PCA, GOP) and Jonathan Haidt, (atheist, DNC) here:

https://www.ttf.org/portfolios/jonathan-haidt-and-peter-wehner/

Blessings!

Chris Hutchinson

Blacksburg, VA

Expand full comment

You are absolutely right and I admire you for taking the path you did. If I were to start a new Christian movement, I would call it “Listen.” I read your book Good new and good works which is brilliant. There is much work to do. Thank you so much for trailblazing. I am following your lead as a new scholar/actvist.

Expand full comment
author

Blessings, my friend. Ron

Expand full comment

Ron,

One month after your original post, I have another thought. All revival start from repentance. We need Republicans and Democrats willing to confess the sins committed by their side of the camp to God and to the other side. We don't need more finger pointing. We need to humble ourselves to God and start by examining the sins within us first. Confession is the only way back to God and confession start from within and not without. That is what I will do.

Expand full comment

“The Azusa revival began where every revival should rightly begin—in repentant tears. It began in tears, it lived in tears, and when the tears ended the Azusa revival ended.”—A.G. Osterberg

Expand full comment

There is only one thing that I can think of that would help, but I'm not sure how much you or I can do to enact it. Like you, I believe that those on the other side of the aisle truly believe what they are saying. They are fed different news.

Many years ago there was a law that said that all news media must present FACTUAL INFORMATION ONLY. Anything said in a news program HAD to be able to be backed up with factual evidence. Opinions were offered RARELY and when they were offered, they had to be labeled specifically as OPINION. We need this law back. When we have that, we will all be forming our opinions from the same information. IF WE DON'T DO THIS, WE WILL DESTROY OURSELVES!

Expand full comment