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Just before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed that the love and unity of his one body would be so clear that it would convince the world that he had come from the Father (John 17:11, 20-23). But today in the United States, the body of Christ (especially the white evangelical part) is viciously attacking other parts of Christ’s one body.
One prominent evangelical has said publicly that “the only evangelicals who are going to vote for Joe Biden are those who have sold their souls to the devil.” Other prominent evangelicals have said that the way some people oppose President Trump is because of demonic activity. And still another prominent evangelical has said “Christians could not vote Democratic.”
As you know from my recent blog, on October 2 some prominent evangelical leaders launched the statement “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden” (www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com) The signers include Richard Mouw, former president of Fuller Seminary; Richard Foster, best-selling author of CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE; John Huffman, former chair of the board of CHRISTIANITY TODAY; long-time IVCF leader Brenda Salter McNeil; John Perkins, founder of CCDA; and other former presidents of well-known evangelical universities and seminaries.
I wonder how our Lord feels when one prominent evangelical says that Richard Mouw, Richard Foster, Brenda Salter McNeil, John Huffman and more have sold their souls to the devil. He must weep.
Repeatedly, Saint Paul tells Christians that they are all parts of one body. In Ephesians 4, Paul urges Christians to speak truthfully and lovingly to each other because “we are all members of one body “(v. 25). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you” (vv 31-32). As Paul says in the great love chapter in first Corinthians 13, love must supersede everything else. And when we believe we must correct other members of Christ’s one body, we must do it “gently”(Galatians 6:1).
Does that mean that evangelicals (and Christians generally) should have no political disagreements about how to vote on November 3? Does that mean we should not be critiquing the political decisions of other Christians?
Not at all!
We are all finite and limited. We all see through a glass darkly. Contrary to some claims, our Lord has not sent anyone an email telling biblical Christians how to vote this year. We have to do our best to study biblical norms and contemporary data and then prayerfully decide how to vote. And precisely because we are so painfully finite and limited in our understanding, good Christians will come to different political conclusions. That is OK – – and it does not make our Lord weep.
What grieves our Lord is when we slander and attack each other rather than respectfully listen carefully to each other. (Nor do I mean to say that all the harsh rhetoric has come from just one side.) If we were living out the biblical teaching about Christ’s one body, evangelicals (and all Christians) would be listening respectfully to each other, seeking to understand where the other person has valid points, and then working hard together to develop a more biblically balanced agenda. If just Christians would do that because of our commitment to Christ’s one body and his prayer for our visible loving unity, we would make a huge contribution to increasing respectful dialogue in our democracy (something desperately needed if this democracy is to thrive or indeed even survive).
So where does this leave us just one week before the most important election since 1860? I still believe strongly that Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden are right that on balance, a biblically balanced political agenda points Christians to vote for Joe Biden.
But I don’t believe or say that evangelicals who vote for Donald Trump have sold their souls to the devil. I pray for them regularly. I continue to believe that our togetherness in Christ’s one body is far more important than our political differences. And I beg God to help me act in a way that truly reflects that.
And after the election, I hope and pray that pro-Trump and not-Trump evangelicals will sit down together and beg God to show us how to listen so carefully to God and each other that never again will we harshly attack each other. Please Lord, help us to stop making you weep.
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