The Rolling Stone Jesus Cannot Stop or, Are Evangelicals From Nazareth?

Shane Blackshear said it well,

Monday, in the much anticipated Iowa Caucus, The Donald and Ted Cruz’d to capture 56 percent of the Evangelical vote. Never mind that Iowa has not selected a candidate that went on to be President since 2000, the spectacle that has been the series of Republican debates needed an event to mark their end. Why not a caucus?

Yes, You Clicked

“What, there is something Jesus cannot do?” It appears so. Think of that puzzling little text in Mark 6. Jesus returns to his fatherland only to be told people from the area cannot go on to become Messiah, even Messiah-like. Mark reports that Jesus was baffled by their lack of belief. It should be more startling that Mark notes Jesus could not do many miracles because of their unbelief. Today, Jesus cannot get a serious hearing among those who claim to follow him. Jimmy Kimmel illustrates. Pay careful attention.

Yesterday Rolling Stone published Sarah Posner’s follow-up exploring Evangelicals and Trump. The editor applied the title suggesting Evangelicals hate Trump. My friend Marty Duren would likely contend the headline is click-bait. Before you dismiss the headline consider how many perceive Christians and it may be our own fault anyone thinks Christians hate. For the record I don’t hate Trump. In fact, I think . . .

Trump Won

The numbers don’t lie. The Donald won Iowa. Well, sort of. Here is how I described it to Sarah,

About Iowa, Littleton says, “in an odd sort of way, I think Trump still won,” because of the way Trump set the terms of the discourse, and Cruz adapted to it rather than criticized it.

Cruz simply baptized it. He is Trump shrouded in a better grasp of political rhetoric, the need for Jesus-y lingo, and the rich capital of fear. Until Cruz moved up in the polls and needed to target the front-running Trump, one could have gotten the feeling that we would be looking at a Trump-Cruz ticket. Or a Cruz-Trump ticket. Just last month the Daily Caller chronicled the Trump-Cruz Bromance.

Many early loves fade. And while the two now exchange barbs, they still remain connected at the point of their ideas, read ideology. We may hear more specifics from Cruz. But, the general position of the two remains all to close. Maybe you chalk it up to them both being Republican. If that is the case, then the point is stronger. Fear drives the election. Both Left and Right traffic in fear. But, several Republican candidates wear Jesus on their sleeve, if not in their heart. As they make their appeals for votes when the issue comes to America’s enemies, the solution is more bombs. One wonders which Jesus is on their sleeves, even in their hearts. Life matters beyond the womb.

Stop with the Pro-Life

Critics of Trump, Evangelicals to be sure, raise question as to Trump’s commitment to issues of life, particularly abortion. Read Posner’s piece. But, abortion is but one issue on a spectrum of issues where human beings and the matter of life are concerned. For example, where was the outrage when Cruz aimed to find out if sand glows? He sounds no different than Trump than Rubio than Christie than . . .. Paul and Katich may be the only two that suggested a non-interventionist strategy that would take the life of innocents into consideration, much more the future of an entire geopolitical area. Only fools believe our military precision avoids civilian casualties.

Immigration is another matter where life hangs in the balance. Cruz and Trump care little about the conditions from which immigrants come. Just don’t let them in here!

 

Next time someone wonders why refugees are risking everything to come to Europe, show them this

Posted by The Independent on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trump set the discourse on immigration and ramped up the rhetoric with his anti-Muslim remarks. Life matters. Unborn and born matter. One cannot choose the one without considering the other. This goes for the Left too. And here is where both parties traffic in fear. What is surprising to me is that Christians, Evangelicals in this context, seem more than ready to follow that worn out road.

Evangelicals Must Stop with the Unbelief

This is the rolling stone Jesus cannot stop, or so it seems. Too much time has been spent battling for the identity of a movement, or group, while ignoring the words of Jesus and the sacred text over which most battles take place. The cultural conversations are less about the technicalities around which inerrancy may or may not work/function, and more about how it is that the words in red they are familiar with seem so foreign to those self-identifying with them.

It is here that I suggested to Sarah that formed the close of her piece.

But, as highlighted by the evangelical attraction to Trump, and the similarities of much of Cruz’s stances and rhetoric, evangelicalism is undergoing its own crisis — if not of faith, of politics. In a way, although Trump has failed at an overtly religious pander, he seems to have grasped what Littleton describes as “the fears inherent in a particular group who tend to have an apocalyptic vision about everything.”

“I’ve all along thought that Cruz is a more palatable Trump to those who are angry,” says Littleton, noting that both tap into that fear.

But “it’s an ironic move for a Christian person to be motivated by fear,” Littleton laments, “when the very sacred text they say they believe actually says love casts out fear.”

Our world is locked in fear. The Christian Scriptures assert, not suggest, that love casts out fear. When Christians take aim at supporting a candidate that commerces in fear it appears the ethical hierarchy gets confused.

Maybe one day Jesus will be able to more work among those who ought be most familiar with him.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.