Evangelical and Unashamed

Nov 28, 2021 by

by Os Guinness, Virtueonline:

Voltaire’s famous quip that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” might apply to many of the bogeys in America today, and especially to Donald Trump. The truth is that when a deeper and calmer perspective prevails, the former president will be viewed as a symptom of the current crisis and not the cause. That is not to excuse his often indefensible behaviour and speech, or that of the lies and skullduggery of those who oppose him by any and all means, ethical and constitutional or not. The disputed question of Trump’s agency certainly applies to the latest crime he is charged with — the “Trumpification” and ruin of the Evangelicals. Evangelical bashing is the sport du jour, and headlines such as “Trump is tearing apart the evangelical church” are now run of the mill by Evangelicals themselves.

The Evangelical crisis is real, but it long predates Donald Trump. First came the doubters, then the defectors, then the self-professed deconstructionists, and now the so-called “ditchers” — those who ditch the term because it is irremediably tarnished. But the Evangelical crisis in America is part and parcel of the American crisis. The fact is that American Evangelicalism is breaking apart, not because of Trump, but because America is breaking apart. Both crises are a tragedy, and both need analysing separately before their relationship can be addressed.

The American crisis

America should ponder Max Dupree’s famous maxim that the first duty of a leader is to “define reality,” and aim for what W.B. Yeats called a “hawk’s eye view” of affairs. That is what Abraham Lincoln set out in his speeches before the Civil War, and there is no national leader doing the same at that level today. American politics has degenerated into trench warfare, and become as relentless, costly, miserable, and ineffectual as the muddy battles of the Great War. As in Lincoln’s day, the United States of America are quite simply not united. America is a “House divided” again, but over different lines. This time the turbulence is created by two deep divides and an accompanying cultural crisis.

First, there is the profound division between the heirs of the American revolution and the heirs of the French revolution. (Movements such as postmodernism, identity politics, tribal politics, the sexual revolution, Critical Theory, and “wokeness” owe nothing to 1776 and everything to 1789.) At stake is the survival of the American republic. If the forces of the radical left prevail, the republic of the American founding will be finished. They have seceded from the founding ideals of the American republic as decisively as the South seceded from the Union in the Civil War.

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