Friday, April 27, 2018

Mark Labberton to Fellow White Evangelicals on Collusion with Trump: "Such Collusion Has Been Our Historic Habit"

The following is from a statement that Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton gave to the "evangelical consultation" at Wheaton College on 16 April 2018. This event was a highly publicized invitation-only gathering of evangelical leaders to share concerns about what (white) evangelical Christians in the U.S. have done to themselves and the evangelical brand by hitching their star to one Donald Trump: Mark Labberton told those gathered for this meeting, 

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.* The core of the crisis is not specifically about Trump, or Hillary, or Obama, or the electoral college, or Comey, or Mueller, or abortion, or LGBTQIA+ debates, or Supreme Court appointees. Instead the crisis is caused by the way a toxic evangelicalism has engaged with these issues in such a way as to turn the gospel into Good News that is fake. Now on public display is an indisputable collusion between prominent evangelicalism and many forms of insidious racist, misogynistic, materialistic, and political power. The wind and the rain and the floods have come, and, as Jesus said, they will reveal our foundation. In this moment for evangelicalism, what the storms have exposed is a foundation not of solid rock but of sand. . . . 
This is not a recent crisis but a historic one.* We face a haunting specter with a shadow that reaches back further than the 2016 election—a history that helps define the depth of the sorrow, fear, anger, anxiety, and injustice around us. Today's egregious collusion between evangelicals and worldly power is problematic enough: more painful and revealing is that such collusion has been our historic habit. Today's collusion bears astonishing—and tragic—continuity with the past. 
Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the 'other' as ourselves. We are not naïve in our doctrine of sin that prefers self over all, but we have failed to recognize our own guilt in it. 
Our professed trust in Jesus has not led evangelicals to die to ourselves, but often to justify our own self-assertion—even when that means complicity in the suffering and death of others. The scandal associated today with the evangelical gospel is not the scandal of the Cross of Christ, crucified for the salvation of the world. Rather it is the scandal of our own arrogance, unconfessed before the Cross, revealing a hypocritical superiority that we dare to associate with the God who died to save the weak and the lost.

Today's egregious collusion between evangelicals and worldly power is problematic enough: more painful and revealing is that such collusion has been our historic habit. Today’s collusion bears astonishing—and tragic—continuity with the past:

Yes. Absolutely. Those of us who grew up in white evangelical churches in the American South during the Civil Rights period know this in our bones — if our eyes were open during those years. We know on whose side our churches stood in that historic battle for civil rights for a much-abused minority community.

We know how the stance of our churches in that very same period reflected exactly how our churches had behaved a hundred years before that when the nation was split and went to war over the issue of slavery. We know how our churches met the women's rights movement in the late 19th and early 20th century and dealt with that movement. 

We are seeing how our churches are now dealing with the movement for rights for LGBTQ human beings. Give us a wrong side of history to choose, and choose it we will.

This is why we have chosen Donald J. Trump and will stand by him through thick and thin, no matter how many porn stars he has paid off after he had affairs with them while married, no matter how many times he has been married, no matter how starkly he has reversed himself on abortion to win our votes, no matter how many p—s he boasts of grabbing.

This is the kind of people we are. It's the kind of people we have been historically. How we are behaving today is not new.

The graphic is from Taube Cyrus's site "Things that wake the mind" on Pinterest.

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