This is an excerpt from the chapter "Come Back to Your First Love."
If being a Republican doesn’t mean standing for integrity and standing against racism, why shouldn’t I vote Democrat? If the Republican party stands for “family values,” I can honestly say that I don’t want to teach my family that a blatant disregard for integrity and the support of racism is what we value in our family.
Many American Republicans were tired of the hypocrisy, the lack of decency and character, and defected the party in droves. Never in my lifetime have I seen so many prominent members of a party not only defect but publicly denounce the candidate of their own party.
Instead of celebrating the 70 million voters who voted for Trump under the notion that America was on the right track, Republicans should go into soul-searching mode and finally admit that America will never be made great again by becoming divided again. It is time for the Republican party to reject the 1950ish vision of a Trumpian America where open racist sentiments against non-whites are just part of the culture and the American way of life.
Republicans should bury the Trump regime and its cronies now before thoughts of nominating him again in 2024 surface. Start moving back to candidates like the Bushs and McCain. Men of decency, character, proven political and military service. Men with a family life similar to the Republican family values you claim to espouse. Republicans need to come back to choosing men with a vision of America that is not exclusionary but represents the America we live in today.
And what of the millions of evangelicals that supported the president’s re-election in 2020? Get back to electing men and women of character and decency in 2024 and beyond. Recommit to selecting men and women that possess the same types of characteristics you’d use to choose leaders in your own church: “Faithful husband to his wife. Temperate, sober, vigilant. Sober-minded, prudent. Of good behavior, orderly, respectable. Given to hospitality. Uncontentious, not soon angry or quick-tempered. Not covetous, not a lover of money.” (Elder (Christianity), n.d.)
Earlier in the book, I referenced the transaction the Church made with the president: “This is politics at its most transactional. Trump was being hired by evangelicals to do a job — to defend their institutions, implement pro-life policies and appoint conservative judges. The character of the president was irrelevant so long as he kept his part of the bargain. Which Trump largely did.” (Gerson, 2020) It’s time to come back to believing that God can put a man or woman in office that genuinely shares and tries to live our values. It is an absolute lie to say that no other Republican candidate would support pro-life policies and appoint conservative judges.
It’s time to come to a reckoning within the evangelical community that there are still parts of our community that are still very much drawn to the president’s racist rhetoric. It’s time to declare that this type of rhetoric is not welcome within the body of Christ. It’s time to be the light and stand apart publicly and stop using conservatism as a shroud for racism.
I have repeatedly stated that I consider Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” message prophetic. It’s time for the Church to come to a conclusion, as a united body, on whether it believes the words in that message were inspired by God and worth striving towards. As the Church, we would quickly respond with what we already acknowledged back in the 1960s, that racism was wrong. To that, I would counter with a Hebrews 2:1 admonition that “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Can we as the Church continue to side with the president and say that racism doesn’t exist anymore? If Dr. King’s “Dream” is allowed to serve as the prophetic standard, can we still agree with the president as we stand before God “to give an account” (Heb 13:17)?
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and ‘nullification’ - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!”
Billy Graham may be the greatest American evangelist of recent generations. I make no apology for quoting him so often. He said, “Tragically, too often in the past evangelical Christians have turned a blind eye to racism or have been willing to stand aside while others take the lead in racial reconciliation, saying it was not our responsibility. (I admit I share in that blame.)” (Graham, 2018)
Reverend Graham is not alive for me to ask, but when he said “others” took the “lead in racial reconciliation” I believe in his lifetime he meant people like Dr. King. I have already stated that Pastor Seymour at Azusa should be considered as one who tried to lead racial reconciliation in America in 1906. Just to be clear, I’m not asserting that it takes a black man to lead racial reconciliation. In fact, I side with Reverend Graham to assert the opposite. It will take white evangelical leaders, who are currently “standing aside,” to step forward and model Graham’s example and “share in the blame” for considering racial reconciliation someone else’s “responsibility.”
I believe racial reconciliation in America is God’s agenda item; it’s a priority of His. I believe that the revival at Azusa was God’s initiative. The unity among races in the Spirit that was modeled there is something that He wants to continue to model but not just in church. We cannot have amazing multi-ethnic, spirit-filled worship in church and then go back into a society dominated by racism and inequality. That’s the next-level message of racial unity that Dr. King lost his life preaching about. Though he died, that message still rings out louder than the bullet that took his life.
We cannot allow our politics to have a greater priority than God’s desire to have racial unity in America. We cannot allow the word of a man, of a politician, or even a preacher to be greater than the principles of God, the Word of God. We must come back to our “first love.”
I repeat what Reverend Graham said about repentance as it pertains to the Church and racial reconciliation: “Our consciences should be stirred to repentance by how far we have fallen short of what God asks us to be as his agents of reconciliation.”
In MGA Vol I, I said, “I believe God has given America a mantle of leadership. I believe that God has created our melting pot to serve as an example to the world.” In addition, I said that “I believed that the Lord would raise up new national Christian leaders if the current leaders were unable to keep the body of Christ from failing the same tests on unity and race that previous generations have failed. I said that I believe that this failure would result in the mantle of our nation’s Christian leadership passing onto others. I believe we are on the very threshold of this now.” (Thompson, Vol I)
I saw an interesting quote in the Washington Post that shared similar sentiments:
“White evangelicals have become, in essence, an offshore island, one whose inhabitants are slowly but steadily distancing themselves from the American mainland. The fading Island of White Evangelica will, eventually, lose its influence over America.” (Milbank, 2020)
To lose the influence of “white evangelica” would be a tragedy and would not accomplish God’s vision for a new Babel, filled with multi-ethnic people, of every race and hue, who acknowledge God. It’s a tragedy we can avoid, but only if we come back to our first love.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish