Category Archives: Faith

My Critique of an Atlantic Magazine Article Passed on by a Facebook Friend

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The Last Temptation

www.theatlantic.com A link to the original article.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-faith-of-donald-j-trump-david-brody/1126557545#/ A book I reference in this critique.

This article was passed to me by a Facebook Friend, and my critique is embedded within. My motivations for the critique are as follows:

· Self-defense. The author minces few words in this strongly written screed. In it he attacks the faith of many, including many Christian leaders who support Donald Trump – and though not by name — he doesn’t know me — he attacks me and millions like me. The author digresses into the muck of broad brush name calling and vilification. Racism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia and more, are in the lexicon of this author. Thus, my response, likewise will be strongly worded.
My first brush with such broad-brush name calling and vilification came back in 2009 when a friend of 40+ years called the Tea Party a “terrorist” organization. This came about when I shared that I had attended a couple of Tea Party events in the previous year. Roger refused to apologize, and in fact told me he wrote to the Department of Homeland Security recommending that the Tea Party be placed on the terrorist watch list. I don’t know of any Tea Party people that drove airliners into large office buildings, nor do I know of any that behead innocent people such as what happened to Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl. Nor do I know of any Tea Party people who blow themselves up in the midst of crowds of innocent bystanders.
Shortly after hearing this accusation from my friend, I began to notice others voicing such slander. I recall that Vice President Joe Biden insinuated such, as well as other high-profile members of the left. The broad-brush slanders continued over the years with accusations of homophobia against those opposing the homosexual agenda. This is especially disturbing given the health, medical and cultural costs imposed on those partaking in such lifestyles. Do a search on “CDC and sexually transmitted diseases” and see what you find there. Do a search on “suicide rates among transgenders” and see if you come across the following statement —
41 percent suicide rate among transgender people is more than 25 times the rate of the general population, which is 1.6 percent. And among trans people ages 18-44, the suicide attempt rate was 45 percent.”
If your loved one is part of this statistic, would you consider yourself homophobic for being just a bit concerned?
Then there is the charge of racism against those who opposed Barack Obama based on his policies and world view (“we are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”) And then he proceeded to accomplish that very thing, including a demand that transgender students be allowed use of the locker/restroom of their choosing based on their own gender self-identification – science denial anyone?
There’s more such as misogyny, but I’ll close out this introduction and continue with my critique of the article.
Also notice in reading the article that it is written in a vacuum which excludes the 2016 election and the choices presented to the voting public. The alternative to Donald Trump was a corrupt and dirty politician who during the election was under investigation (it wasn’t really just “a matter”) by the FBI for serious compromise of classified State Department email traffic. Unfortunately, the investigation was short circuited and she was acquitted by an incomplete investigation which should have included a grand jury.
Voters were also faced with a continuation of the “fundamental transformation” begun by Barak Obama and his administration. So, the choices appeared to many of us as very bleak.

The article begins here.

How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory.

[dlj: I would have to say that Barak Obama fits that description better than Donald Trump. It was never clear to many of us what Obama’s faith was. Many of his policies and actions attacked Judeo/Christian values – such as gay marriage, and his promotion of the homosexual agenda. His Justice Department’s rulings on permitting so called transsexuals to use locker rooms and restrooms based on what an individual self identifies as on that particular day. His constant taking up the cause of Islam, such as the refusal to identify Islamic terrorism with Islam.

On the other hand, read “The Faith of Donald J. Trump” to get a broad understanding of Trumps faith background and his somewhat recent(?) very vocal defense of Judea/Christian values.]

One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.

Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair. Yet religious conservatives who once blanched at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. We are a long way from The Book of Virtues.

Trump supporters tend to dismiss moral scruples about his behavior as squeamishness over the president’s “style.” But the problem is the distinctly non-Christian substance of his values. Trump’s unapologetic materialism—his equation of financial and social success with human achievement and worth—is a negation of Christian teaching. His tribalism and hatred for “the other” stand in direct opposition to Jesus’s radical ethic of neighbor love. Trump’s strength-worship and contempt for “losers” smack more of Nietzsche than of Christ. Blessed are the proud. Blessed are the ruthless. Blessed are the shameless. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after fame.

According to Jerry Falwell Jr., evangelicals have “found their dream president,” which says something about the current quality of evangelical dreams.

[dlj: A fair enough critique, and this sort of behavior caused me to say and write, not that many weeks prior to the election, that “we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with these two candidates” and “for the first time I feel that I am indeed forced to pick from the least evil of the candidates.”

I also remember thinking and saying that Trump reminded me too much of Barak Obama – arrogant, a narcissist, and most likely just a rich liberal from New York that would continue and accelerate the “transformation” begun by President Obama.

I knew I could not vote for Clinton, but would I now just simply not vote? It was then that I took Trump off my mental ballot and asked, “can I, by not voting, indirectly vote Hillary Clinton for President?” No, I could not, and thus I voted, reluctantly for Donald Trump.]

And yet, a credible case can be made that evangelical votes were a decisive factor in Trump’s improbable victory. Trump himself certainly acts as if he believes they were. Many individuals, causes, and groups that Trump pledged to champion have been swiftly sidelined or sacrificed during Trump’s brief presidency. The administration’s outreach to white evangelicals, however, has been utterly consistent.

Trump-allied religious leaders have found an open door at the White House—what Richard Land, the president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, calls “unprecedented access.” In return, they have rallied behind the administration in its times of need. “Clearly, this Russian story is nonsense,” explains the mega-church pastor Paula White-Cain, who is not generally known as a legal or cybersecurity expert. Pastor David Jeremiah has compared Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to Joseph and Mary: “It’s just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians.” According to Jerry Falwell Jr., evangelicals have “found their dream president,” which says something about the current quality of evangelical dreams.

Loyalty to Trump has involved progressively more difficult, self-abasing demands. And there appears to be no limit to what some evangelical leaders will endure. Figures such as Falwell and Franklin Graham followed Trump’s lead in supporting Judge Roy Moore in the December Senate election in Alabama. These are religious leaders who have spent their entire adult lives bemoaning cultural and moral decay. Yet they publicly backed a candidate who was repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, including with a 14-year-old girl.

In January, following reports that Trump had referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries,” Pastor Robert Jeffress came quickly to his defense. “Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him,” Jeffress wrote, “President Trump is right on target in his sentiment.” After reports emerged that Trump’s lawyer paid hush money to the porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up their alleged sexual encounter, Graham vouched for Trump’s “concern for Christian values.” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, argued that Trump should be given a “mulligan” for his past infidelity. One can only imagine the explosion of outrage if President Barack Obama had been credibly accused of similar offenses.

The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness.

As the prominent evangelical pastor Tim Keller—who is not a Trump loyalist—recently wrote in The New Yorker, “ ‘Evangelical’ used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with ‘hypocrite.’ ” So it is little wonder that last year the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, an 87-year-old ministry, dropped the “E word” from its name, becoming the Princeton Christian Fellowship: Too many students had identified the term with conservative political ideology. Indeed, a number of serious evangelicals are distancing themselves from the word for similar reasons.

I find this desire understandable but not compelling. Some words, like strategic castles, are worth defending, and evangelical is among them. While the term is notoriously difficult to define, it certainly encompasses a “born-again” religious experience, a commitment to the authority of the Bible, and an emphasis on the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

I was raised in an evangelical home, went to an evangelical church and high school, and began following Christ as a teen. After attending Georgetown University for a year, I transferred to Wheaton College in Illinois—sometimes called “the Harvard of evangelical Protestantism”—where I studied theology. I worked at an evangelical nonprofit, Prison Fellowship, before becoming a staffer for Senator Dan Coats of Indiana (a fellow Wheaton alum). On Capitol Hill, I found many evangelical partners in trying to define a “compassionate conservatism.” And as a policy adviser and the chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, I saw how evangelical leaders such as Rick and Kay Warren could be principled, tireless advocates in the global fight against aids.

Those experiences make me hesitant to abandon the word evangelical. They also make seeing the defilement of that word all the more painful. The corruption of a political party is regrettable. The corruption of a religious tradition by politics is tragic, shaming those who participate in it.

How did something so important and admirable become so disgraced? For many people, including myself, this question involves both intellectual analysis and personal angst. The answer extends back some 150 years, and involves cultural and political shifts that long pre-date Donald Trump. It is the story of how an influential and culturally confident religious movement became a marginalized and anxious minority seeking political protection under the wing of a man such as Trump, the least traditionally Christian figure—in temperament, behavior, and evident belief—to assume the presidency in living memory.

Understanding that evolution requires understanding the values that once animated American evangelicalism. It is a movement that was damaged in the fall from a great height.

[dlj: Perhaps it is here that I should insert a snippet from the book “The Faith of Donald J. Trump (emphasis added).

“… Donald and Marla separated four years after they wed—ten years after they first met. And even before their divorce was finalized two years later, Trump began to be associated with a constant stream of supermodels. The Hugh Hefner playboy ethos—that a man should aspire to wealth, celebrity, and women—became a reality for Trump during these years. In this, he was living out the ideals of puberty, learned at NYMA (New York Military Academy) in camaraderie with his fellow cadets. “Our biggest advice in our lives came from Playboy magazine,” Trump classmate Sandy McIntosh said. “That’s how we learned about women.” McIntosh recalled how Fred and Mary Anne visited Donald on the weekends and brought along a different, gorgeous young woman each time. This probably explains how he earned the label “Ladies’ Man” in the school yearbook—despite there being no females at the school. Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien wrote that if there are “three stereotypes” that are “tap dancing in Donald’s mind and in his imagination of himself, it’s Clint Eastwood, James Bond, and Hugh Hefner.” In 1995, Eastwood’s film adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, about a four-day affair between an Iowa farmer’s wife and a traveling photographer, became one of the top-earning movies of the decade. To say the least, Bridges leaves the viewer wishing there could have been some way the farmwife might have been able to keep both her good husband and kids while also having the steamy romance with Eastwood’s character. Trump, in a 1994 interview with ABC, talked about the years when he had both Ivana and Marla: “My life was so great in so many ways. The business was so great … a beautiful girlfriend, a beautiful wife, a beautiful everything. Life was just a bowl of cherries.” Also in 1995, Pierce Brosnan made his first portrayal of James Bond—the first “007” movie to release since 1989—and the British MI6 agent promptly jumped into bed with beautiful women. The fictional James Bond character was not known for showing sexual restraint—you could even say that the dalliances were part of his job description. And Americans—including evangelicals—fund these culture-shaping products with their book purchases and ticket sales. What is interesting is that the “playboy Trump” years began in earnest at the same time that Fred Trump was diagnosed and fought a six-year battle with Alzheimer’s. Two of the most formative real-world father figures in Donald’s life—Fred and Peale—had over one hundred twenty years of married life between them. Peale died in 1993, the same year as Fred’s diagnosis. It almost seems as though when Trump lost the older generation, he responded by returning to a “sow some wild oats” mindset of adolescence. But this was not to be the final chapter written about Trump’s marital relationships. In September 1998, Trump met Melania while on a date with another woman, also a model. They began dating, with a couple of break-ups mixed in and reported on in the papers. At some point in 2001, Melania moved into Trump Tower. In 2002, Donald flew to Slovenia to meet her parents. … “

[dlj: I was not surprised to find this Playboy reference in the book. Trump along with a large segment of the young male population at that time (yours truly included) bought full into that Hefner world view and lifestyle – we were indoctrinated with the idea that just like Hefner, we were entitled to a new playmate on a regular basis. In our young and growing married life, my wife and I saw many friends divorcing. Only many years later did I realize the destructive nature and widespread influence that man Hugh Hefner (think Harvey Weinstein and others) had on so many young men and their families. See https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/a-fond-farewell-to-good-old-hugh/ for more of my thoughts on good old Hugh.

I bring this Hefner stuff in here, not to criticize the author of this article, but rather to shine a bright light on the hypocrisy of those many liberal/progressive critics of Trump who seem to have a new found morality, and yet most likely they themselves have fallen into the Hefner Playboy Philosophy lie. But if this shoe fits you, then wear it just as Donald Trump must wear it today.]

My alma mater, Wheaton College, was founded by abolitionist evangelicals in 1860 under the leadership of Jonathan Blanchard, an emblematic figure in mid-19th-century Northern evangelicalism. Blanchard was part of a generation of radical malcontents produced by the Second Great Awakening, a religious revival that had touched millions of American lives in the first half of the 19th century. He was a Presbyterian minister, a founder of several radical newspapers, and an antislavery agitator.

In the years before the Civil War, a connection between moralism and a concern for social justice was generally assumed among Northern evangelicals. They variously militated for temperance, humane treatment of the mentally disabled, and prison reform. But mainly they militated for the end of slavery. Indeed, Wheaton welcomed both African American and female students, and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. In a history of the 39th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the infantryman Ezra Cook recalled that “runaway slaves were perfectly safe in the College building, even when no attempt was made to conceal their presence.”

Blanchard had explained his beliefs in an 1839 commencement address given at Oberlin College, titled “A Perfect State of Society.” He preached that “every true minister of Christ is a universal reformer, whose business it is, so far as possible, to reform all the evils which press on human concerns.” Elsewhere he argued that “slave-holding is not a solitary, but a social sin.” He added: “I rest my opposition to slavery upon the one-bloodism of the New Testament. All men are equal, because they are of one equal blood.”

During this period, evangelicalism was largely identical to mainstream Protestantism. Evangelicals varied widely in their denominational beliefs, but they uniformly agreed about the need for a personal decision to accept God’s grace through faith in Christ. The evangelist Charles G. Finney, who was the president of Oberlin College from 1851 to 1866, described his conversion experience thusly: “I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love.”

Early evangelicals were an optimistic lot who thought that human effort could help hasten the arrival of the Second Coming.

In politics, evangelicals tended to identify New England, and then the whole country, with biblical Israel. Many a sermon described America as a place set apart for divine purposes. “Some nation,” the evangelical minister Lyman Beecher said, “itself free, was needed, to blow the trumpet and hold up the light.” (Beecher’s daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe was among the founders of this magazine.) The burden of this calling was a collective responsibility to remain virtuous, in matters from ending slavery to ending Sabbath-breaking.

This was not advocacy for theocracy, and evangelical leaders were not blind to the risks of too close a relationship with worldly power. “The injudicious association of religion with politics, in the time of Cromwell,” Beecher argued, “brought upon evangelical doctrine and piety, in England, an odium which has not ceased to this day.” Yet few evangelicals would have denied that God’s covenantal relationship with America required a higher standard of private and public morality, lest that divine blessing be forfeited.

Perhaps most important, prior to the Civil War, evangelicals were by and large postmillennialists—that is, they believed that the final millennium of human history would be a time of peace for the world and of expansion for the Christian Church, culminating in the Second Coming of Christ. As such, they were an optimistic lot who thought that human effort could help hasten the arrival of this promised era—a belief that encouraged both social activism and global missionary activity. “Evangelicals generally regarded almost any sort of progress as evidence of the advance of the kingdom,” the historian George Marsden observes in Fundamentalism and American Culture.

In the mid-19th century, evangelicalism was the predominant religious tradition in Americaa faith assured of its social position, confident in its divine calling, welcoming of progress, and hopeful about the future. Fifty years later, it was losing intellectual and social ground on every front. Twenty-five years beyond that, it had become a national joke.

The horrors of the Civil War took a severe toll on the social optimism at the heart of postmillennialism. It was harder to believe in the existence of a religious golden age that included Antietam. At the same time, industrialization and urbanization loosened traditional social bonds and created an impression of moral chaos. The mass immigration of Catholics and Jews changed the face and spiritual self-conception of the country. (In 1850, Catholics made up about 5 percent of the population. By 1906, they represented 17 percent.) Evangelicals struggled to envision a diverse, and some believed degenerate, America as the chosen, godly republic of their imagination.

[dlj: Again, I make reference to the “Spiritual Biograph of Donald Trump.” The authors describe in much detail the influence of Presbyterian thought and theology played in Trump’s early life. Some of the most influential Christian thought in early America came from churches in and around New York City, and churches that the Trump family attended on a regular basis. So, Donald Trump most certainly grew up in a Christian setting, and under the teaching and influence of people like Norman Vincent Peale. It’s unfortunate that Trump later abandoned (for a time?) such teaching for the hedonistic Hefner church.

I would also like to point out here that the evangelical abolitionist movement talked about above was entirely a Republican movement. The Democrat party was entirely the political party of slavery, the cause of the Civil War, and later the party of segregation, the KKK and Jim Crow. Enough said – do your own research, it’ll be more meaningful. ]

But it was a series of momentous intellectual developments that most effectively drove a wedge between evangelicalism and elite culture. Higher criticism of the Bible—a scholarly movement out of Germany that picked apart the human sources and development of ancient texts—called into question the roots, accuracy, and historicity of the book that constituted the ultimate source of evangelical authority. At the same time, the theory of evolution advanced a new account of human origin. Advocates of evolution, as well as those who denied it most vigorously, took the theory as an alternative to religious accounts—and in many cases to Christian belief itself.

Religious progressives sought common ground between the Christian faith and the new science and higher criticism. Many combined their faith with the Social Gospel—a postmillennialism drained of the miraculous, with social reform taking the place of the Second Coming.

Religious conservatives, by contrast, rebelled against this strategy of accommodation in a series of firings and heresy trials designed to maintain control of seminaries. (Woodrow Wilson’s uncle James lost his job at Columbia Theological Seminary for accepting evolution as compatible with the Bible.) But these tactics generally backfired, and seminary after seminary, college after college, fell under the influence of modern scientific and cultural assumptions. To contest progressive ideas, the religiously orthodox published a series of books called The Fundamentals. Hence the term fundamentalism, conceived in a spirit of desperate reaction.

Fundamentalism embraced traditional religious views, but it did not propose a return to an older evangelicalism. Instead it responded to modernity in ways that cut it off from its own past. In reacting against higher criticism, it became simplistic and overliteral in its reading of scripture. In reacting against evolution, it became anti-scientific in its general orientation. In reacting against the Social Gospel, it came to regard the whole concept of social justice as a dangerous liberal idea. This last point constituted what some scholars have called the “Great Reversal,” which took place from about 1900 to 1930. “All progressive social concern,” Marsden writes, “whether political or private, became suspect among revivalist evangelicals and was relegated to a very minor role.”

This general pessimism about the direction of society was reflected in a shift away from postmillennialism and toward premillennialism. In this view, the current age is tending not toward progress, but rather toward decadence and chaos under the influence of Satan. A new and better age will not be inaugurated until the Second Coming of Christ, who is the only one capable of cleaning up the mess. No amount of human effort can hasten that day, or ultimately save a doomed world. For this reason, social activism was deemed irrelevant to the most essential task: the work of preparing oneself, and helping others prepare, for final judgment.

The banishment of fundamentalism from the cultural mainstream culminated dramatically in a Tennessee courthouse in 1925. William Jennings Bryan, the most prominent Christian politician of his time, was set against Clarence Darrow and the theory of evolution at the Scopes “monkey trial,” in which a Tennessee educator was tried for teaching the theory in high school. Bryan won the case but not the country. The journalist and critic H. L. Mencken provided the account accepted by history, dismissing Bryan as “a tin pot pope in the Coca-Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards.” Fundamentalists became comic figures, subject to world-class condescension.

It has largely slipped the mind of history that Bryan was a peace activist as secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson and that his politics foreshadowed the New Deal. And Mencken was eventually revealed as a racist, an anti-Semite, and a eugenics advocate. In the fundamentalist–modernist controversy, there was only one winner. “In the course of roughly thirty-five years,” the sociologist James Davison Hunter observes in American Evangelicalism, “Protestantism had moved from a position of cultural dominance to a position of cognitive marginality and political impotence.” Activism and optimism were replaced by the festering resentment of status lost.

The fundamentalists were not passive in their exile. They created a web of institutions—radio stations, religious schools, outreach ministries—that eventually constituted a healthy subculture. The country, meanwhile, was becoming less secular and more welcoming of religious influence. (In 1920, church membership in the United States was 43 percent. By 1960, it was 63 percent.) A number of leaders, including the theologian Carl Henry and the evangelist Billy Graham (the father of Franklin Graham), bridled at fundamentalist irrelevance. Henry’s book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism was influential in urging greater cultural and intellectual engagement. This reemergence found its fullest expression in Graham, who left the fundamentalist ghetto, hobnobbed with presidents, and presented to the public a more appealing version of evangelicalism—a term that was deliberately employed as a contrast to the older, narrower fundamentalism.

Fox News and conservative talk radio are vastly greater influences on evangelicals’ political identity than formal statements by religious denominations.

Not everyone was impressed. When Graham planned mass evangelistic meetings in New York City in 1957, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr editorialized against his “petty moralizing.” But Niebuhr’s attack on Graham provoked significant backlash, even in liberal theological circles. During a 16-week “crusade” that played to packed houses, Graham was joined one night at Madison Square Garden by none other than Martin Luther King Jr.

Over time, evangelicalism got a revenge of sorts in its historical rivalry with liberal Christianity. Adherents of the latter gradually found better things to do with their Sundays than attend progressive services. In 1972, nearly 28 percent of the population belonged to mainline-Protestant churches. That figure is now well below 15 percent. Over those four decades, however, evangelicals held steady at roughly 25 percent of the public (though this share has recently declined). As its old theological rival faded—or, more accurately, collapsed—evangelical endurance felt a lot like momentum.

With the return of this greater institutional self-confidence, evangelicals might have expected to play a larger role in determining cultural norms and standards. But their hopes ran smack into the sexual revolution, along with other rapid social changes. The Moral Majority appeared at about the same time that the actual majority was more and more comfortable with divorce and couples living together out of wedlock. Evangelicals experienced the power of growing numbers and healthy subcultural institutions even as elite institutions—from universities to courts to Hollywood—were decisively rejecting traditional ideals.

[dlj: Reference my comments above about Hugh Hefner.]

As a result, the primary evangelical political narrative is adversarial, an angry tale about the aggression of evangelicalism’s cultural rivals. In a remarkably free country, many evangelicals view their rights as fragile, their institutions as threatened, and their dignity as assailed. The single largest religious demographic in the United States—representing about half the Republican political coalition—sees itself as a besieged and disrespected minority. In this way, evangelicals have become simultaneously more engaged and more alienated.

The overall political disposition of evangelical politics has remained decidedly conservative, and also decidedly reactive. After shamefully sitting out (or even opposing) the civil-rights movement, white evangelicals became activated on a limited range of issues.

[dlj: While slamming white evangelicals here for “sitting out” the civil-rights movement, the author conveniently leaves out the record of the national Democratic Party in “actively opposing” the civil-rights movement. The Democratic Party opposed every civil-rights legislation proposed to Congress from the Civil War to the Civil Rights bill of 1964. The record is there in the form of votes cast for and against in the US Congress and Senate. And which party was proposing these civil-rights bills? The Republican party. Another case where it is recommended to do a bit of personal research.]

They defended Christian schools against regulation during Jimmy Carter’s administration. They fought against Supreme Court decisions that put tight restrictions on school prayer and removed many state limits on abortion. The sociologist Nathan Glazer describes such efforts as a “defensive offensive”—a kind of morally indignant pushback against a modern world that, in evangelicals’ view, had grown hostile and oppressive.

This attitude was happily exploited by the modern GOP. Evangelicals who were alienated by the pro-choice secularism of Democratic presidential nominees were effectively courted to join the Reagan coalition. “I know that you can’t endorse me,” Reagan told an evangelical conference in 1980, “but I only brought that up because I want you to know that I endorse you.” In contrast, during his presidential run four years later, Walter Mondale warned of “radical preachers,” and his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, denounced the “extremists who control the Republican Party.” By attacking evangelicals, the Democratic Party left them with a relatively easy partisan choice.

Billy Graham (right) left the fundamentalist ghetto, hobnobbed with presidents, and presented to the public a more appealing version of evangelicalism.

The leaders who had emerged within evangelicalism varied significantly in tone and approach. Billy Graham was the uncritical priest to the powerful. (His inclination to please was memorialized on one of the Nixon tapes, in comments enabling the president’s anti-Semitism.) James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was the prickly prophet, constantly threatening to bolt from the Republican coalition unless social-conservative purity was maintained. Jerry Falwell Sr. and Pat Robertson (the latter of whom ran for president himself in 1988) tried to be political kingmakers. And, following his dramatic conversion, Chuck Colson, of Watergate infamy, founded Prison Fellowship in an attempt to revive some of the old abolitionist spirit as an advocate of prison reform. Yet much of this variety was blurred in the public mind, with religious right used as a catchall epithet.

Where did this history leave evangelicals’ political involvement?

For a start, modern evangelicalism has an important intellectual piece missing. It lacks a model or ideal of political engagement—an organizing theory of social action. Over the same century from Blanchard to Falwell, Catholics developed a coherent, comprehensive tradition of social and political reflection. Catholic social thought includes a commitment to solidarity, whereby justice in a society is measured by the treatment of its weakest and most vulnerable members. And it incorporates the principle of subsidiarity—the idea that human needs are best met by small and local institutions (though higher-order institutions have a moral responsibility to intervene when local ones fail).

In practice, this acts as an “if, then” requirement for Catholics, splendidly complicating their politics: If you want to call yourself pro-life on abortion, then you have to oppose the dehumanization of migrants. If you criticize the devaluation of life by euthanasia, then you must criticize the devaluation of life by racism. If you want to be regarded as pro-family, then you have to support access to health care. And vice versa. The doctrinal whole requires a broad, consistent view of justice, which—when it is faithfully applied—cuts across the categories and clichés of American politics. Of course, American Catholics routinely ignore Catholic social thought. But at least they have it. Evangelicals lack a similar tradition of their own to disregard.

So where do evangelicals get their theory of social engagement? It is cheating to say (as most evangelicals probably would) “the Bible.” The Christian Bible, after all, can be a vexing document: At various points, it offers approving accounts of genocide and recommends the stoning of insubordinate children. Some interpretive theory must elevate the Golden Rule above Iron Age ethics and apply that higher ideal to the tragic compromises of public life. Lacking an equivalent to Catholic social thought, many evangelicals seem to find their theory merely by following the contours of the political movement that is currently defending, and exploiting, them. The voter guides of religious conservatives have often been suspiciously similar to the political priorities of movement conservatism. Fox News and talk radio are vastly greater influences on evangelicals’ political identity than formal statements by religious denominations or from the National Association of Evangelicals. In this Christian political movement, Christian theology is emphatically not the primary motivating factor.

The evangelical political agenda, moreover, has been narrowed by its supremely reactive nature. Rather than choosing their own agendas, evangelicals have been pulled into a series of social and political debates started by others. Why the asinine issue of spiritually barren prayer in public schools? Because of Justice Hugo Black’s 1962 opinion rendering it unconstitutional. Why such an effort-wasting emphasis on a constitutional amendment to end abortion, which will never pass? Because in 1973 Justice Harry Blackmun located the right to abortion in the constitutional penumbra. Why the current emphasis on religious liberty? Because the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex marriage has raised fears of coercion.

It is not that secularization, abortion, and religious liberty are trivial issues; they are extremely important. But the timing and emphasis of evangelical responses have contributed to a broad sense that evangelical political engagement is negative, censorious, and oppositional. This funneled focus has also created the damaging impression that Christians are obsessed with sex. Much of the secular public hears from Christians only on issues of sexuality—from contraceptive mandates to gay rights to transgender bathroom usage. And while religious people do believe that sexual ethics are important, the nature of contemporary religious engagement creates a misimpression about just how important they are relative to other crucial issues.

The upside potential of evangelical social engagement was illustrated by an important, but largely overlooked, initiative that I witnessed while working at the White House. The President’s Emergency Plan for aids Relief (pepfar)—the largest initiative by a nation in history to fight a single disease—emerged in part from a sense of moral obligation informed by George W. Bush’s evangelical faith. In explaining and defending the program, Bush made constant reference to Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much is required.” pepfar also owes its existence to a strange-bedfellows political alliance of liberal global-health advocates and evangelical leaders, who had particular standing and sway with Republican members of Congress. Rather than being a response to secular aggression, this form of evangelical social engagement was the reaction to a massive humanitarian need and displayed a this-worldly emphasis on social justice that helped save millions of lives.

This achievement is now given little attention by secular liberals or religious conservatives. In the Trump era, evangelical leaders have seldom brought this type of issue to the policy front burner—though some have tried with criminal-justice reform and the fight against modern slavery. Individual Christians and evangelical ministries fight preventable disease, resettle refugees, treat addiction, run homeless shelters, and care for foster children. But such concerns find limited collective political expression.

Part of the reason such matters are not higher on the evangelical agenda is surely the relative ethnic and racial insularity of many white evangelicals. Plenty of African Americans hold evangelical theological views, of course, along with a growing number of Latinos. Yet evangelical churches, like other churches and houses of worship, tend to be segregated on Sunday. Nearly all denominations with large numbers of evangelicals are less racially diverse than the country overall.

[dlj: Note here the playing of the race card and blaming whites. Personally, I (a white) prefer the philosophy of the Apostle Paul when he says “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. And the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King who said, “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.” ]

Compare this with the Catholic Church, which is more than one-third Hispanic. This has naturally stretched the priorities of Catholicism to include the needs and rights of recent immigrants. In many evangelical communities, those needs remain distant and theoretical (though successful evangelical churches in urban areas are now experiencing the same diversity and broadening of social concern). Or consider the contrasting voting behaviors of white and African American evangelicals in last year’s Senate race in Alabama. According to exit polls, 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Roy Moore, while 95 percent of black evangelicals supported his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. The two groups inhabit two entirely different political worlds.

Evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham followed Trump’s lead in supporting Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy in Alabama, despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him. According to exit polls, 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Moore. (Joe Raedle / Getty)

Evangelicals also have a consistent problem with their public voice, which can be off-puttingly apocalyptic. “We are on the verge of losing” America, proclaims the evangelical writer and radio host Eric Metaxas, “as we could have lost it in the Civil War.” Franklin Graham declares, a little too vividly, that the country “has taken a nosedive off of the moral diving board into the cesspool of humanity.” Such hyperbole may be only a rhetorical strategy, employing the apocalypse for emphasis. But the attribution of depravity and decline to America also reflects a consistent and (so far) disappointed belief that the Second Coming may be just around history’s corner.

The difficulty with this approach to public life—other than its insanely pessimistic depiction of our flawed but wonderful country—is that it trivializes and undercuts the entire political enterprise. Politics in a democracy is essentially anti-apocalyptic, premised on the idea that an active citizenry is capable of improving the nation. But if we’re already mere minutes from the midnight hour, then what is the point? The normal avenues of political reform are useless. No amount of negotiation or compromise is going to matter much compared with the Second Coming.

Moreover, in making their case on cultural decay and decline, evangelicals have, in some highly visible cases, chosen the wrong nightmares. Most notable, they made a crucial error in picking evolution as a main point of contention with modernity. “The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel to the death,” William Jennings Bryan argued. “If evolution wins … Christianity goesnot suddenly, of course, but gradually, for the two cannot stand together.” Many people of his background believed this. But their resistance was futile, for one incontrovertible reason: Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence (emphasis mine). By denying this, evangelicals made their entire view of reality suspect. They were insisting, in effect, that the Christian faith requires a flight from reason.

This was foolish and unnecessary. There is no meaningful theological difference between creation by divine intervention and creation by natural selection; both are consistent with belief in a purposeful universe, and with serious interpretation of biblical texts. Evangelicals have placed an entirely superfluous stumbling block before their neighbors and children, encouraging every young person who loves science to reject Christianity.

Evangelicals remain the most loyal element of the Trump coalition. They are broadly eager to act as his shield and sword. They are his army of enablers.

What if Bryan and others of his generation had chosen to object to eugenics rather than evolution, to social Darwinism rather than Darwinism? The textbook at issue in the Scopes case, after all, was titled A Civic Biology, and it urged sterilization for the mentally impaired. “Epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness,” the text read, “are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity.” What if this had been the focus of Bryan’s objection? Mencken doubtless would still have mocked. But the moral and theological priorities of evangelical Christianity would have turned out differently. And evangelical fears would have been eventually justified by America’s shameful history of eugenics, and by the more rigorous application of the practice abroad. Instead, Bryan chose evolution—and in the end, the cause of human dignity was not served by the obscuring of human origins.

The consequences, especially for younger generations, are considerable. According to a recent survey by Barna, a Christian research firm, more than half of churchgoing Christian teens believe that “the church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world.” This may be one reason that, in America, the youngest age cohorts are the least religiously affiliated, which will change the nation’s baseline of religiosity over time. More than a third of Millennials say they are unaffiliated with any faith, up 10 points since 2007. Count this as an ironic achievement of religious conservatives: an overall decline in identification with religion itself.

[dlj: “Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence.” This quote from just above is false and shows clearly how strong the bias and stranglehold remain against alternative views such as Intelligent Design (ID) and Creation Science. Heresy against the dogma of Darwinian evolution is a dangerous course to take if one desires a career in academia or the life sciences. Careers are destroyed, and tenure withheld or withdrawn if ideas such as ID or Creation Science is brought into the discussion of life sciences and how life originated and propagated on the earth, and we see from this very article that such bias is also strongly held in segments of the Christian church. Take a look at https://freescience.today/stories/ to see for yourself the career ending and career threatening agenda of the Darwinist lobby. The truth is that there is much controversy concerning evolution, and overwhelming evidence pointing to intelligent design in nature as opposed to evolution. Spend some time in such web sites as the Discovery Institutes https://evolutionnews.org/, https://uncommondescent.com/ and http://www.icr.org/homepage/ to see much good reporting of the evidence pointing towards design. In particular look at the 81-part Evolution News series “The Designed Body,” at https://evolutionnews.org/2016/09/in_conclusion_a/ to see the many purposeful and functional machines that make up the human body, and then reflect on your own position.

My observations lead me to believe that much of the cause of the decline in American church attendance among young people is because many have been relentlessly exposed to the dogma of Darwinian Evolution with seldom any counter views allowed into these young minds. Ideas such as Theistic evolution as an attempt to put God into the process of essentially atheistic evolution fall flat, and so many young people simply reject the Bible and the Christian church as being anti-science, anti-reason and irrelevant. When the very first verse in the Bible “In the beginning God created …” is rendered false, whether by atheistic evolution or theistic evolution, young people have no reason to read and study further. Walla … church attendance declines. When a young mind finds that so called “experts” have invalidated the very first verse in the Bible, many will then press on with a very evangelical fervor in studying the various works of prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins. Searchers continue to seek answers to life’s existential questions in philosophies akin to the Playboy Philosophy, and/or the current cultural fads such as ‘gender identity.’]

By the turn of the millennium, many, including myself, were convinced that religious conservatism was fading as a political force. Its outsize leaders were aging and passing. Its institutions seemed to be declining in profile and influence. Bush’s 2000 campaign attempted to appeal to religious voters on a new basis. “Compassionate conservatism” was designed to be a policy application of Catholic social thought—an attempt to serve the poor, homeless, and addicted by catalyzing the work of private and religious nonprofits. The effort was sincere but eventually undermined by congressional-Republican resistance and eclipsed by global crisis. Still, I believed that the old evangelical model of social engagement was exhausted, and that something more positive and principled was in the offing.

I was wrong. In fact, evangelicals would prove highly vulnerable to a message of resentful, declinist populism. Donald Trump could almost have been echoing the apocalyptic warnings of Metaxas and Graham when he declared, “Our country’s going to hell.” Or: “We haven’t seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world.” Given Trump’s general level of religious knowledge, he likely had no idea that he was adapting premillennialism to populism. But when the candidate talked of an America in decline and headed toward destruction, which could be returned to greatness only by recovering the certainties of the past, he was strumming resonant chords of evangelical conviction.

Trump consistently depicts evangelicals as they depict themselves: a mistreated minority, in need of a defender who plays by worldly rules. Christianity is “under siege,” Trump told a Liberty University audience. “Relish the opportunity to be an outsider,” he added at a later date: “Embrace the label.” Protecting Christianity, Trump essentially argues, is a job for a bully.

Trump consistently depicts evangelicals as they depict themselves: a mistreated minority, in need of a defender who plays by worldly rules. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty)

It is true that insofar as Christian hospitals or colleges have their religious liberty threatened by hostile litigation or government agencies, they have every right to defend their institutional identities—to advocate for a principled pluralism. But this is different from evangelicals regarding themselves, hysterically and with self-pity, as an oppressed minority that requires a strongman to rescue it. This is how Trump has invited evangelicals to view themselves. He has treated evangelicalism as an interest group in need of protection and preferences.

A prominent company of evangelical leaders—including Dobson, Falwell, Graham, Jeffress, Metaxas, Perkins, and Ralph Reed—has embraced this self-conception. Their justification is often bluntly utilitarian: All of Trump’s flaws are worth his conservative judicial appointments and more-favorable treatment of Christians by the government. But they have gone much further than grudging, prudential calculation. They have basked in access to power and provided character references in the midst of scandal. Graham castigated the critics of Trump’s response to the violence during a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (“Shame on the politicians who are trying to push blame on @POTUS”). Dobson has pronounced Trump a “baby Christian”—a political use of grace that borders on blasphemy. “Complaining about the temperament of the @POTUS or saying his behavior is not presidential is no longer relevant,” Falwell tweeted. “[Donald Trump] has single-handedly changed the definition of what behavior is ‘presidential’ from phony, failed & rehearsed to authentic, successful & down to earth.”

It is remarkable to hear religious leaders defend profanity, ridicule, and cruelty as hallmarks of authenticity and dismiss decency as a dead language. Whatever Trump’s policy legacy ends up being, his presidency has been a disaster in the realm of norms. It has coarsened our culture, given permission for bullying, complicated the moral formation of children, undermined standards of public integrity, and encouraged cynicism about the political enterprise.

Falwell, Graham, and others are providing religious cover for moral squalor—winking at trashy behavior and encouraging the unraveling of social restraints. Instead of defending their convictions, they are providing preemptive absolution for their political favorites. And this, even by purely political standards, undermines the causes they embrace. Turning a blind eye to the exploitation of women certainly doesn’t help in making pro-life arguments. It materially undermines the movement, which must ultimately change not only the composition of the courts but the views of the public. Having given politics pride of place, these evangelical leaders have ceased to be moral leaders in any meaningful sense.

[dlj: emphasis mine] Every strong Trump supporter has decided that racism is not a moral disqualification in the president of the United States.]

[dlj: Wow … this trumps (pun intended) Hillary Clintons ‘deplorable’ comment, and clearly shows the bigotry of this author]

But setting matters of decency aside, evangelicals are risking their faith’s reputation on matters of race. Trump has, after all, attributed Kenyan citizenship to Obama

[dlj: a legitimate question at the time considering; the Constitutional requirements, Obama’s background, his sealing of school records and his lateness in producing his birth certificate. A study of the influence of a Frank Marshall Davis on young Barack Obama sheds some light on questions of Obama’s background, as does the influence of William Aires and others. To attribute race as Trumps motivation seems well off the mark, but is often used to call someone a racist.]

stereotyped Mexican migrants as murderers and rapists, claimed unfair treatment in federal court based on a judge’s Mexican heritage, attempted an unconstitutional Muslim ban

[dlj: A ban on immigrants from a select few Muslim war racked nations, and a ban which excluded the vast majority of Muslims around the world],

equivocated on the Charlottesville protests, claimed (according to The New York Times) that Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” after seeing America

[dlj: a poor choice of words, but similar to what Mohammed Ali said on returning from his fight in Africa]

, and dismissed Haitian and African immigrants as undesirable compared with Norwegians.

For some of Trump’s political allies, racist language and arguments are part of his appeal. For evangelical leaders, they should be sources of anguish. Given America’s history of slavery and segregation, racial prejudice is a special category of moral wrong

[dlj: reference my comments above about the horrid record of the Democrat Party re. race.].

Fighting racism galvanized the religious conscience of 19th-century evangelicals and 20th-century African American civil-rights activists [ Republicans]. Perpetuating racism indicted many white Christians in the South and elsewhere as hypocrites. Americans who are wrong on this issue do not understand the nature of their country. Christians who are wrong on this issue do not understand the most-basic requirements of their faith.

Here is the uncomfortable reality: I do not believe that most evangelicals are racist. But every strong Trump supporter has decided that racism is not a moral disqualification in the president of the United States. And that is something more than a political compromise. It is a revelation of moral priorities.

If utilitarian calculations are to be applied, they need to be fully applied. For a package of political benefits, these evangelical leaders have associated the Christian faith with racism and nativism. They have associated the Christian faith with misogyny and the mocking of the disabled. They have associated the Christian faith with lawlessness, corruption, and routine deception. They have associated the Christian faith with moral confusion about the surpassing evils of white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The world is full of tragic choices and compromises. But for this man? For this cause?

Some evangelical leaders, it is worth affirming, are providing alternative models of social engagement. Consider Tim Keller, who is perhaps the most influential advocate of a more politically and demographically diverse evangelicalism. Or Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who demonstrates how moral conservatism can be both principled and inclusive. Or Gary Haugen, the founder of the International Justice Mission, who is one of the world’s leading activists against modern slavery. Or Bishop Claude Alexander of the Park Church in North Carolina, who has been a strong voice for reconciliation and mercy. Or Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, who shows the deep compatibility of authentic faith and authentic science. Or the influential Bible teacher Beth Moore, who has warned of the damage done “when we sell our souls to buy our wins.” Or the writer Peter Wehner, who has ceased to describe himself as an evangelical even as he exemplifies the very best of the word.

Evangelicalism is hardly a monolithic movement. All of the above leaders would attest that a significant generational shift is occurring: Younger evangelicals are less prone to political divisiveness and bitterness and more concerned with social justice. (In a poll last summer, nearly half of white evangelicals born since 1964 expressed support for gay marriage.) Evangelicals remain essential to political coalitions advocating prison reform and supporting American global-health initiatives, particularly on aids and malaria. They do good work in the world through relief organizations such as World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse (an admirable relief organization of which Franklin Graham is the president and CEO). They perform countless acts of love and compassion that make local communities more just and generous.

All of this is arguably a strong foundation for evangelical recovery. But it would be a mistake to regard the problem as limited to a few irresponsible leaders. Those leaders represent a clear majority of the movement, which remains the most loyal element of the Trump coalition. Evangelicals are broadly eager to act as Trump’s shield and sword. They are his army of enablers.

[dlj: I guess I fail to see that the author of this article has convincingly made his point about the spiritual advisors to President Trump. I’ll grant that he has made a case, but it seems that case is the one that we would expect from the political/spiritual left that has had the overriding goal since the inauguration to depose the duly elected President of the United States. And where is this author ‘s commitment to pray for this president? It seems to me that him being so close to President Bush, and a Bible believing, Christ honoring man himself, he would eagerly seek to add to the council and spiritual support of this President – President Donald J. Trump. Again, here is a quote from the book “The Faith of Donald J. Trump” and again I strongly recommend reading this book.

“The Faith Advisory Committee continues to give counsel to Trump, meeting at the White House for daylong discussions that result in recommendations to the President about policy and messaging. All the members of the group are evangelical, though they come from different theological streams. The board’s leadership is informal, though Paula White and Johnnie Moore are often seen or heard from in news stories about their gatherings. White has a special role since she has a very close spiritual bond with the President. “My purpose is to bring men and women of God to the President,” White said. ‘To be a doorkeeper and to serve the President and his family and those that the Lord chooses in private counsel.” Samuel Rodriguez said the board offers “very straight talk” to the President. “I’ve never been in a conversation where the faith advisory board is silent. This is not a rubber-stamp board. It’s a board that’s committed to the centrality of Jesus and biblical truth.” “]

It is the strangest story: how so many evangelicals lost their interest in decency, and how a religious tradition called by grace became defined by resentment. This is bad for America, because religion, properly viewed and applied, is essential to the country’s public life. The old “one-bloodism” of Christian anthropology—the belief in the intrinsic and equal value of all human lives—has driven centuries of compassionate service and social reform. Religion can be the carrier of conscience. It can motivate sacrifice for the common good. It can reinforce the nobility of the political enterprise. It can combat dehumanization and elevate the goals and ideals of public life.


Related Stories

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· The Evolution of Teaching Creationism in Public Schools

· Evangelicals Are Bitterly Split Over Advising Trump

· The Opening of the Evangelical Mind


Democracy is not merely a set of procedures. It has a moral structure. The values we celebrate or stigmatize eventually influence the character of our people and polity. Democracy does not insist on perfect virtue from its leaders. But there is a set of values that lends authority to power: empathy, honesty, integrity, and self-restraint. And the legitimation of cruelty, prejudice, falsehood, and corruption is the kind of thing, one would think, that religious people were born to oppose, not bless. This disfigurement of evangelical faith squanders the reputation of something valuable: not just the vision of human dignity that captured Blanchard, but also Finney’s electric waves of grace. At its best, faith is the overflow of gratitude, the attempt to live as if we are loved, the fragile hope for something better on the other side of pain and death. And this feather of grace weighs more in the balance than any political gain.

It is difficult to see something you so deeply value discredited so comprehensively. Evangelical faith has shaped my life, as it has the lives of millions. Evangelical history has provided me with models of conscience. Evangelical institutions have given me gifts of learning and purpose. Evangelical friends have shared my joys and sorrows. And now the very word is brought into needless disrepute.

This is the result when Christians become one interest group among many, scrambling for benefits at the expense of others rather than seeking the welfare of the whole. Christianity is love of neighbor, or it has lost its way. And this sets an urgent task for evangelicals: to rescue their faith from its worst leaders.

_________________

[dlj: A few closing thoughts …

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God’s grace is truly amazing. The picture that crystallizes that in my mind is that of the three men hanging on Roman crosses centuries ago. The one in the middle was claimed to be the “Son of God” and ridiculed and condemned for such blasphemy. Whether or not he was Son of God is a personal choice each of us can make.

But, the two men on either side, hanging condemned on their own cross were also able to make such a decision even up to the end of their life. Each man had been convicted of crimes punishable by crucifixion under Roman law. They apparently knew of their guilt but were in a position of being totally helpless to escape the consequences of their guilt.

The one man mocked the one in the center as one incapable of saving himself, let alone saving anyone else including the two others condemned on the cross that day.

The other man apparently made the decision to believe the man in the middle was truly the Son of God, and in his last breaths of life pleaded with the man in the middle to remember him when he returned to his kingdom. The gospel of Luke tells it thus:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’

But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’

Jesus answered him, ’Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Bringing this picture forward to the life of Donald Trump, and the virulent hatred of the man by many, I see not a man hanging on a cross, helpless and close to a cruel death, but a man, like many of us, deserving just punishment, for what our deeds deserve, certainly not rewarded by being chosen to be President.’

Undoubtedly the most visible and dramatic outpouring of public disgust and resistance against this man Trump happened the very day following his inauguration to be the 45th President of the United States. We saw the spectacle of millions of ”pussy hatted” demonstrators across the country demonstrating against the man whose immorality has been enshrined in a vulgar remark caught on tape a decade earlier. Further cementing this picture of the vulgar Donald Trump were accusations of marital infidelity and consorting with prostitutes and Playboy models, again roughly a decade earlier.

I am not here defending these actions of our now President. And let me stipulate as to the validity of such actions and words attributed to him.

But getting back to the picture of the men on the crosses, we see that God’s grace is sufficient to cover the sins of the vilest amongst us – if we come to repentance and confess our sins to the Father in heaven and turn away from those sins. Donald Trump is like one of the two thieves on the cross.

Knowing more of Trump’s background in the Christian church (thanks to the book I reference above) and his departure to the hedonism of the Playboy Philosophy, and the time span between the 2005 vulgar remarks and his Presidential candidacy, there is plenty of cause to wonder about the possibility of a repentance and confession of sins on the part of Donald Trump. The book, though sympathetic to Trump, does not provide a definitive answer to such speculation, but provides evidence of a man seeking Biblical council and prayer from a variety of Christian counselors, most notably those mentioned in the article.

My own belief, based on his strong actions as President on behalf of American Judea/Christian values and traditions, coupled with what I have learned from the book, leads me to believe that such a transformation has probably happened in the man. I see him as the man on the cross who pleaded with the man on the center cross to remember him., rather than the other man who mocked.

So, are the accusations in this article true, both against Donald Trump and his “enablers”?

“ … it would be a mistake to regard the problem as limited to a few irresponsible leaders [David Jeremiah, Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham, John Hagee … and others.] . Those leaders represent a clear majority of the movement, which remains the most loyal element of the Trump coalition. Evangelicals are broadly eager to act as Trump’s shield and sword. They are his army of enablers.”

“It is difficult to see something you so deeply value discredited so comprehensively. … And now the very word is brought into needless disrepute.”

That could very well be true, and perhaps I am the one off the mark here.

Or

Are we in the midst of a work of God’s grace in the life of our President and this nation? And is the model of King David and his murderous/adulterous affair with Bathsheba a reasonable model here?

I don’t know the answer — what I do know is that this is still unfolding and perhaps we, and I, will not know the answer anytime soon.

Don Johnson – April 2018

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Commentary by Dennis Prager

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https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2018/01/09/im-back-heres-where-ive-been-n2431790

Read and weep?

An excerpt …

“ … In America, there is an epidemic of children who no longer talk [to] one or both of their parents. In a few cases, this is warranted. But in most cases, adult children are inflicting terrible, unfair pain upon their parent. This is one of a myriad of examples where believing in a God-based text is transformative. Secular callers tell me that they hardly need the Ten Commandments to desist from murdering anyone. That may well be true. But apparently, a lot of people could use the Ten Commandments to avoid inflicting terrible pain on (admittedly, flawed) parents. … “

Don Johnson – January 2018

 

My Racist Past

Racism is very much a topic today, and I found myself in a very contentious conversation just the other day. I don’t need to discuss it in detail here, but it did leave me with a few thoughts on a few episodes from my past that I would like to share.

Background: My home town, a mining town in Montana, was a melting pot of people from all over the world. In the old days there were NO SMOKING signs in the mines written in 14 different languages. The town had its enclaves of folks from various ethnic  backgrounds: Fin Town, German Gulch, Meaderville (Italian), Dublin Gulch — and more.

For the most part it seemed these groups got along with one another. Miners often had to work day-by-day alongside others with the language of mining the only common language. Oh, each group had their own pet and derogatory names for others not like them, but I don’t recall it went much further than that. My grandmother would often sit at our kitchen table cussing out the “Cousin Jacks” and “Cousin Jennies”. The real no kidding fights were between the union miners and the “Company” and between the fans and students of the rival public high and the Catholic high school football and basketball teams. Over time, the ethnic barriers were sometimes worn away, often by marriage.

But there weren’t many blacks in our town. One fellow, a tall lanky guy, was quite a good swimmer and a team mate of mine – we were friends, and he was one of us.

My dad was a soft spoken sort, and well liked around town, and I don’t recall him expressing racist or anti-Semitic sentiments. Not so with some other adults in my life who often broke out in strong racist, ethnic or anti-Semitic tirades. I think I escaped this sort of racism for the most part, and in later years fully bought into King’s “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” philosophy of life.

But there was that one episode.

It was in my first year of college at the local school, and three or four of us were cruising around town, mid-day one Saturday,  drinking a few too many beers. We came across one of the few blacks in town, on old man as I recall, slowly crossing the street with a bit of a physical walking effort. The four of us decided this old man would be a good target for some fun. So we started harassing this guy for no other reason than that he was black. The names and insults came out and it was great fun. Then it was over and I went on about living the rest of my life without giving this vile episode further thought.

Years later – about 20 – Jesus Christ came into my life. Shortly thereafter, thoughts of that episode, that had been dead and buried in the back of my mind and soul, came very suddenly and vividly to the front of my remembrance and I could see it replayed right before me.

But what was I to do? I had no idea who he was — he was old at the time and by now, some twenty years later, he undoubtedly had passed on. I was trapped — there was no way I could replay that tape and seek out that old man and beg his forgiveness.

What was I to do?

Psalm 32:5
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Colossians 2:13
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. …

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Through verses such as these, I discovered in a very real and personal way, why Jesus Christ came into this world. He came to become sin in my stead and provide a forgiveness of sin — even one as vile as the one I recalled from that Saturday many years past.

I have this thought about that old man. One day I will meet him in Heaven, and will go to him seeking his forgiveness. He then reaches out with a big smile on his face and gives me a big hug saying “I have no idea what you are talking about — lets go sit awhile and talk.” 

_______________________________

The next episode is not one of an act, but one rather of thought and reflection.

It was years after the episode above, perhaps 10 years ago or so.

I was sitting on an airplane, in the very last row. In the seats right in front of me was a Jewish family, and right in front of them a black family.

In a mood of reflection I was grateful for who I was, where I was, and when I was — let me explain.

The “who I was … ” — a white man living in a free United States of America early in the 21st century.

In years past, in my own nation, I could have “owned” that black family and could have done whatever I pleased with them as a family and as individuals. That’s no longer possible, because of great sacrifice by many who preceded me.

In years past in a different nation, I could have rounded up that Jewish family, locked them in a cattle car and sent them off to gruesome slavery and death in a Nazi death camp. That’s no longer possible. Again,  because of great sacrifice by many who preceded me. 

So on that airplane — and now, I am grateful.

_______________________________

Continuing in this reflective mood, I am reminded that all of us — all of us, me included and especially me — of whatever the color of our skin, are susceptible to the vilest of thoughts and actions.

But as I discovered of my sin in Butte Montana, there is a better way —

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
             (Christ Jesus being the creator spoken of in Genesis 1)

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
(He created one race, the Human Race. Not white, black, brown or yellow)

Don Johnson — October 2017

Solzhenitsyn ::: Godlessness, The First Step to the Gulag

 

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It has been many years since I have heard the name ‘Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.’ A Russian man imprisoned in the Soviet Gulags who subsequently was able to speak out against the evils of Godless Communism in attempts to warn free peoples in the West of the dangers of “forgetting God.”

What Solzhenitsyn describes of Russia under Communism applies equally when trying to explain the evils of the Nazi Holocaust.  Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened – and a literal, very real, Satanic evil fills in the gap.

Nations, cultures and civilizations often forget God, and Solzhenitsyn here documents  the dire consequences of such forgetfulness.  As individuals we have very limited power against this forgetfulness, but as individuals we have the power to remember God – this is my plea. Discover God — Remember God in your own life. As much as it is in your power, live your own life such that your influence may engender a remembrance of God in your family, your culture and  your nation.   

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Solzhenitsyn ::: Godlessness, The First Step to the Gulag

  “Men Have Forgotten God”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — 1983

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it. It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever. The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.
The same kind of defect, the flaw of a consciousness lacking all divine dimension, was manifested after World War II when the West yielded to the satanic temptation of the “nuclear umbrella.” It was equivalent to saying: Let’s cast off worries, let’s free the younger generation from their duties and obligations, let’s make no effort to defend ourselves, to say nothing of defending others-let’s stop our ears to the groans emanating from the East, and let us live instead in the pursuit of happiness. If danger should threaten us, we shall be protected by the nuclear bomb; if not, then let the world burn in Hell for all we care. The pitifully helpless state to which the contemporary West has sunk is in large measure due to this fatal error: the belief that the defense of peace depends not on stout hearts and steadfast men, but solely on the nuclear bomb…
Today’ s world has reached a stage which, if it had been described to preceding centuries, would have called forth the cry: “This is the Apocalypse!”
Yet we have grown used to this kind of world; we even feel at home in it.
Dostoevsky warned that “great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared.” This is precisely what has happened. And he predicted that “the world will be saved only after it has been possessed by the demon of evil.” Whether it really will be saved we shall have to wait and see: this will depend on our conscience, on our spiritual lucidity, on our individual and combined efforts in the face of catastrophic circumstances. But it has already come to pass that the demon of evil, like a whirlwind, triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…
In its past, Russia did know a time when the social ideal was not fame, or riches, or material success, but a pious way of life. Russia was then steeped in an Orthodox Christianity which remained true to the Church of the first centuries. The Orthodoxy of that time knew how tosafeguard its people under the yoke of a foreign occupation that lasted more than two centuries, while at the same time fending off iniquitous blows from the swords of Western crusaders. During those centuries the Orthodox faith in our country became part of the very pattern of thought and the personality of our people, the forms of daily life, the work calendar, the priorities in every undertaking, the organization of the week and of the year. Faith was the shaping and unifying force of the nation.
But in the 17th century Russian Orthodoxy was gravely weakened by an internal schism. In the 18th, the country was shaken by Peter’s forcibly imposed transformations, which favored the economy, the state, and the military at the expense of the religious spirit and national life. And along with this lopsided Petrine enlightenment, Russia felt the first whiff of secularism; its subtle poisons permeated the educated classes in the course of the 19th century and opened the path to Marxism. By the time of the Revolution, faith had virtually disappeared in Russian educated circles; and amongst the uneducated, its health was threatened.
It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.
The 1920’s in the USSR witnessed an uninterrupted procession of victims and martyrs amongst the Orthodox clergy. Two metropolitans were shot, one of whom, Veniamin of Petrograd, had been elected by the popular vote of his diocese. Patriarch Tikhon himself passed through the hands of the Cheka-GPU and then died under suspicious circumstances. Scores of archbishops and bishops perished. Tens of thousands of priests, monks, and nuns, pressured by the Chekists to renounce the Word of God, were tortured, shot in cellars, sent to camps, exiled to the desolate tundra of the far North, or turned out into the streets in their old age without food or shelter. All these Christian martyrs went unswervingly to their deaths for the faith; instances of apostasy were few and far between. For tens of millions of laymen access to the Church was blocked, and they were forbidden to bring up their children in the Faith: religious parents were wrenched from their children and thrown into prison, while the children were turned from the faith by threats and lies…
For a short period of time, when he needed to gather strength for the struggle against Hitler, Stalin cynically adopted a friendly posture toward the Church. This deceptive game, continued in later years by Brezhnev with the help of showcase publications and other window dressing, has unfortunately tended to be taken at its face value in the West. Yet the tenacity with which hatred of religion is rooted in Communism may be judged by the example of their most liberal leader, Krushchev: for though he undertook a number of significant steps to extend freedom, Krushchev simultaneously rekindled the frenzied Leninist obsession with destroying religion.
But there is something they did not expect: that in a land where churches have been leveled, where a triumphant atheism has rampaged uncontrolled for two-thirds of a century, where the clergy is utterly humiliated and deprived of all independence, where what remains of the Church as an institution is tolerated only for the sake of propaganda directed at the West, where even today people are sent to the labor camps for their faith, and where, within the camps themselves, those who gather to pray at Easter are clapped in punishment cells–they could not suppose that beneath this Communist steamroller the Christian tradition would survive in Russia. It is true that millions of our countrymen have been corrupted and spiritually devastated by an officially imposed atheism, yet there remain many millions of believers: it is only external pressures that keep them from speaking out, but, as is always the ca se in times of persecution and suffering, the awareness of God in my country has attained great acuteness and profundity.
It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably Communism bristles with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in seizing the planet, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.
The West has yet to experience a Communist invasion; religion here remains free. But the West’s own historical evolution has been such that today it too is experiencing a drying up of religious consciousness. It too has witnessed racking schisms, bloody religious wars, and rancor, to say nothing of the tide of secularism that, from the late Middle Ages onward, has progressively inundated the West. This gradual sapping of strength from within is a threat to faith that is perhaps even more dangerous than any attempt to assault religion violently from without.
Imperceptibly, through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West has ceased to be seen as anything more lofty than the “pursuit of happiness, “a goal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions. The concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from common use, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of short lived value. It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss. Western societies are losing more and more of their religious essence as they thoughtlessly yield up their younger generation to atheism. If a blasphemous film about Jesus is shown throughout the United States, reputedly one of the most religious countries in the world, or a major newspaper publishes a shameless caricature of the Virgin Mary, what further evidence of godlessness does one need? When external rights are completely unrestricted, why should one make an inner effort to restrain oneself from ignoble acts?
Or why should one refrain from burning hatred, whatever its basis–race, class, or ideology? Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today. Atheist teachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society. Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (and Communism is breathing down the neck of all moderate forms of socialism, which are unstable) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degree of authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain “equality”–the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, the broader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or even of abundance–the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become. The contemporary developed West thus demonstrates by its own example that human salvation can be found neither in the profusion of material goods nor in merely making money.
This deliberately nurtured hatred then spreads to all that is alive, to life itself, to the world with its colors, sounds, and shapes, to the human body. The embittered art of the twentieth century is perishing as a result of this ugly hate, for art is fruitless without love. In the East art has collapsed because it has been knocked down and trampled upon, but in the West the fall has been voluntary, a decline into a contrived and pretentious quest where the artist, instead of attempting to reveal the divine plan, tries to put himsef in the place of God.
Here again we witness the single outcome of a worldwide process, with East and West yielding the same results, and once again for the same reason: Men have forgotten God.
With such global events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges, it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to our being or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and it is, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset · by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside for ourselves are too impoverished for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own free will. We ourselves, in our daily unthinking selfishness, are pulling tight that noose…
Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.
To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.
Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone.
(World copyright ©1983 by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn; translator: A. Klimoff; reprinted by kind permission of the author.)

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Should I Be Worried?

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Announcing My New Book

 

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Take a look at my new book where I take on the Atheist-Darwin crowd.

It’s a quick read with lots of punch  — drop a comment back to let me know what you think.

 

Excerpt:

I remember those nights as a kid laying out in the backyard on a clear Montana night. Laying out in that mummy bag gazing in wonder at the night sky and … just thinking …

How many stars are out there? How big is the universe? Does it have an end? If it has an end … then what’s beyond? How did it get there? How did I get here? How can there be something that has no end? Are there answers?

I think most of us have had such nights, and for many of us such wonder continues …

I’m one of those whose mind seems never to stop with the wondering … I just can’t shut it off — not that I want too.

So this is a collection of thoughts, conversations and writings that I’ve collected over the years. Thoughts and study that go back many, many years. The pages to follow come from my thinking and study on these issues, from my blog and from internet dialogs I’ve had with various people, mainly commenters like myself who seem to be passionate about the same questions and issues. Many have quite the opposite views as me, but that’s OK.

Don Johnson – January 2017

Books Every ‘Seeker’ Should Read

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(Click above to read the article)

A friend posted this article originally titled “26 Books Every ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Seeker Should Read.” I didn’t catch why she excluded “religious” seekers from her list. Nevertheless, a worthy topic, and one I would like to expand on to include this “seeker” – me – and a list of my own that have influenced me in my 73 years of life.

I will begin in my late teens when I was dating my wife of now 53 years. She was a Roman Catholic, and I thought if this young romance is to go anywhere, perhaps I should learn a little of her religion. I had little or no religious beliefs, let alone knowledge, but I did understand that Catholicism was the oldest religion, and therefore if there was a “true” religion, this was most likely it. I don’t recall thinking of the many other religions – Islam, Buddhism, Judaism … I wanted to know about the “real” one — I was a “seeker.”

So at the age of about 18 I frequented the local library and started to read about Catholicism. I have no recollection of the books I looked into, but suffice it to say that this brief experience began my life as a “seeker.”

A few years later I would fall under the influence of my girlfriend’s older brother – an Atheist. Gordon had a persuasive gift of gab, and me being a “seeker” he had a ready student and introduced me to Atheism and Existentialism, hence the first books on my list.

    • Why I Am Not A Christian  — Bertrand Russell.
    • No Exit  — Jean Paul Sartre
    • Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
    • The Playboy Philosophy – Hugh Hefner

Skipping ahead a few years, married and back in college after a time working and a Navy tour, I read books like this one:

    • The Passover Plot  — Hugh J. Schonfield
      A book “debunking” the Jesus myth.

So during those years I guess I considered my “seeking” finished and I settled into a world view of evangelical Atheism – yes I was outspoken and mocking of all things religious.  I’m sure there were other books from that era, but I don’t recall. The ones listed above were certainly the most influential in my life.

So at a ripe old age of early twenties, I settled into my “know it all” world view of Atheism.  This lasted to age 36.

I’ll list the books that transformed my life (and that of my family as well) from that point on, beginning with the earliest:

    • The Late Great Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey.
    • There’s A New World Coming – Hal Lindsey
    • The Rapture  — Hal Lindsey
    • Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey
    • Others by Hal Lindsey

Lindsey’s books unexpectedly caught my attention when I innocently picked up his Late Great Planet Earth  book back in 1980. I thought I was going to read a fanciful yarn akin to Erich von Däniken‘s “Chariots of the Gods.” What I got instead was Lindsey laying out a case claiming that today’s current events line up with the prophetic Biblical writings of thousands of years ago describing the “last days” of planet earth. This was like getting hit upside the head with a 2×4 and got my attention and interest. 

Lindsey wrote his book in the 1970s in the midst of the Cold War  when the Soviet Union was a strong and prominent player on the world stage and Communism was on the march in many parts of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it appeared that Lindsey might be off the mark in highlighting Russia as one of the key players in the “end times” scenario. However, Russia is once more prominent as a world power, and in fact is now positioned in the Middle east (Syria) whereas it was not in the 1970s – something to pay attention too.   

There are many other thinkers and writers on Biblical Prophesy and I have read a number of them  — some good and others not so good (an exercise for the student?). But let me move on …

Lindsey’s books, along with my study of the actual Biblical passages he highlighted, launched me out of atheism and into Christianity. But I was a total rookie and had many questions and internal conflicts. The following are some of the books and ministries that helped this “seeker” through those oft-times confusing times.  

I could go on and on, but let me conclude …

During this period of seeking and growth back in the early 1980s, I actually did read the Bible through from cover to cover.  One of the surprises I found, as one of the worlds foremost experts in that book that I had not previously opened,  were the many  practical lessons useful for living a full life … how to be a better husband, father, friend, employee, boss, brother, son, citizen …

So I would encourage you as a fellow “seeker”, don’t stop at being just a “spiritual seeker”, but press on to seek the whole banquet that will fill that hunger within you.

 

Don Johnson – January 2017