Tag: Donald Trump

The Scandal of Carl R. Trueman’s Mind

Critiques of Populist Christianity are needed and should be heeded, adopting a “Thou Shalt Not Question” attitude puts both Orthodox, Biblical and Historical Christianity at risk and damages the witness of Christ.  

Jonathan Faulkner

I want to start this piece by acknowledging the role that Carl R. Trueman has played in the development of my thought life as both a Historian and a Theologian. His book: “Histories and Fallacies” was essential in being able to identify Historical Fallacies such as Presentism. I also recently used his critique of Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” titled “The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” I have a lot of respect for his body of work and for his mind in general. However, since his article in First Things responding to Mark Galli’s CT Editorial both of which came out last December I have been sadly disappointed by both the lack of care in his response and the descent of First Things (which I still subscribe to, perhaps as a vain hope) as a serious enterprise into populism. In doing this, in my view, Trueman has not only made Noll’s point, that there is no Mind in Evangelicalism, but also his own, that there is no Evangel in Evangelicalism because we keep outsourcing it to groups outside Christianity.

I have always found both critiques entirely accurate 80% of the time and I had to chuckle at the irony of Trueman, in one line on a keyboard proving both correct. What little mind there is to Evangelicalism has sounded a lot like Mark Galli over the last four years and what little Evangel is there has been severely hindered and damaged by the cultural populism that claims to be Christian, yet neither has a mind or an evangel and has chosen to let the rich and power speak for them in the public square thinking that the government of man can save them before, over and against the kingdom of God because they have told that this is the only way to protect Christianity.

I have noted many times that this approach is not protecting Christianity but is in fact feeding it and the Christians who daily practice what the bible says, to the wolves. Trueman meanwhile, seems to imply that any critique of Christian Populism is the: “lambasting populist evangelicals as hypocrites or dimwits will simply perpetuate the divide.” By the way, Galli does not do what Trueman is accusing them of, instead he calls them to “Remember who they are” and to consider how supporting someone who is as Immoral as President Trump does to their Christian Witness. Trueman’s point is that Galli and other Evangelical Elites are “out of touch” with the evangelical populists. Trueman points out that he lives in Trump Country and that most of the people he knows who voted for him did so with noses plugged because the alternative is no better. He asks the serious question “was the alternative any better?” and of course, it is true that the answer was no. Neither option was good, both required us to give up our moral high ground and get dirty and both demanded complete and total loyalty to their platforms Something Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian noted actually means we as Christians cannot support either party because 100% buy-in is required. A point that Keller has doubled down on in his recent New York Times Editorial. For my part, I agree with Keller, the church should not be associated in totality with any one political party for theological reasons, most importantly being that Party-Spirit is expressly forbidden within the church by 1 Corinthians 1. That means to say that you follow anyone other than God in Christ first and foremost is to violate the spirit of unity. That means the identarian expectations of both the right and left are off limits to the Christian because they require us to identify ourselves wholly and completely with the party and the party leader. Taxes and to be paid to Caesar, but sole loyalty belongs to God (Matt 22:15-22). The Church then should not be aligned with the powers and principalities of this world but with the Kingdom of God which every Earthly Kingdom will one day bow to. Every time we have aligned with the kingdoms of this world (which in First Samuel God equates to rejection of Himself) it has never ended well for the Church going all the way back to Israel’s days as a Kingdom.

Trueman also commits the unfortunate mistake of reversing the order laid out in scripture for where every Christian should receive their instruction from. In Trueman’s world it seems the theologian should be takin their cues from the populace and so I as a preacher and thinker should just confirm the biases and opinions of my congregants on matters of politics. Yet, Acts 2:42 lays out for us the direction our instruction is to come from: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” If we are going to testify to the authority of scripture, it needs to inform our discourse and be the place from which our discourse begins. If we are to “Devote ourselves to the teachings of the apostles” then that means we should today be devoted to the teachings of the apostles and listen to those whose job it is to pass down those teachings to us, our pastors on the front lines, our seminary professors and our scholars, the mind of Christianity. Trueman, who would likely affirm the Apostolicity of the church, should understand this and direct the populace to listen to the mind of Christianity and weigh that against what the mouth is saying to see if it reflects the truth of scripture.

Now, that is not easy in our time when the mind is seriously divided over politics, but the mouth has given up listening to the warnings of either part of the mind altogether and the result is a Christianity that is schizophrenic and divided. Mark Galli expressed in writing what so many of us have been thinking over the last four years. Not just what Trueman calls the: “the sanctimonious subgenre of self-regarding anti-Trump noise created by hokey-wokey evangelicals—those who tweet endlessly about white privilege and misogyny in between writing checks for their children’s elite private schools and knocking back Martinis and Manhattans at the country club or the art gallery opening.” An insult to someone like me who has been a #NeverTrumper from the beginning, retained the name “Evangelical” because it is a global movement, not a strictly American phenomenon, who also does not tweet in this way, or cut checks to my children’s Elite Christian School. This insult serves to do exactly what Trueman is accusing Galli of, deepening the divide within Christianity as he takes a shot at more liberal or centrist Christians who have their own cultural Christianity to deal with. Galli expressed what a large swath of younger Christians have been asking for four years, if we had this standard for Clinton, why do we not have it for Trump? This is why I found Franklin Graham’s critique of Galli’s editorial amusing, those of us who have been unable to support Trump or right-wing politics (I cannot in good conscious right now support either party) have watched as over and over again Christianity Today has played it safe on the right, we have been waiting for someone on the right to express what many of us have been thinking and finally Galli has done that.

But what about Trueman’s assertion that Galli’s critique of “Populist Evangelicalism” is: “ symptomatic of the same underlying pathology” as the “Pharisees” who “standing in the Temple of Twitter, thanking God that he is not like other evangelicals—white supremacists, misogynists, or even this Trump supporter over here.” Does this mean there is no room to critique populism or populist evangelicalism? Is any critique or more accurately in the case of Galli’s Editorial, call to reformation based on Scripture and Christian Identity as well our historic demands that our leaders be moral. Would Trueman have attended the council of Nicea and told Athanasios or Nicholas to “leave Arius alone” over his heretical doctrine that was dividing and destroying the church in the ancient church? It makes sense if you follow the “Thou shalt not question” mentality of many within the upper echelon of the Ivory Tower that is certainly a cancer, and which has become Cult-like in its application. Instead of being like the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 11:17) we have become like the Galatians who have been “bewitched” by the circumcision group and proselytizers who stirred up trouble for Paul and the early Christians. We are more like the catholic hierarchy immediately before the reformation who made the people live off the bread of the pope rather than: “every word that comes from my Father who is in Heaven” (Mat 4:4). We would rather take the steady diet of fear of the world that is being fed to us by the leaders of evangelicalism than the very words of scripture which tells us that those who are in Christ are secure regardless of what the world may do against us or to us. We have been told not to question what we are being told and Trueman seems to perpetuate that fallacy in his response to Galli. If we cannot examine and question ideas and search the Word of God to see if they line up with what God has said, then we have given up our ability to think and reason for ourselves and together. Christians are not called to follow an earthly leader blindly, God made our minds and gave our us the ability to think and reason, we are to learn discernment then, even to discern the things of scripture and how they apply to life or if they apply to life. If we are not allowed to question something happening in the culture and examine it in light of scripture and critique in based on what scripture shows us, then we forfeit our ability to guard biblical and historical orthodoxy that has been handed down to us from the Apostles and the Early Christians. If we are just meant to live on the words of men without questioning them, swearing undying loyalty to them then we risk missing scripture altogether in favor of the gospel of man. I should not have to iterate the dangers of doing this, yet it seems that evangelical populism has opted to do just that.

Now, none of this means that Christians should not participate in politics, there is a long history going back all the way to the early Church of Christians doing just that. But how we participate is what matters. Do we mindlessly give ourselves to a political party? By no means! Nor should our participation be built on pushing an agenda, for the early Christians involved in politics this would have been a death sentence. Our involvement should be that as Stewards of the biblical justice. As Timothy Keller has said at other times it is the Christians responsibility to address injustice when it is seen and to work towards the correction of it. We should ask ourselves, if we are going to be involved in politics, am I contributing to justice or injustice by my actions here. Am I violating God’s mandate to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8)? Is our religion true and unstained by the world in that it is marked by “caring for widows and orphans” (James 1:27)? Or are we pursuing political power to push through an agenda and enforce a system onto a secular world, choosing conversion by Proselyte rather than by genuine belief that can then be discipled. The secular world does not want our morality, day-in and day-out they fight against it and imposing an unwanted morality on a secular society only makes Christians a stench for all the wrong reasons. If we are going to be offensive, let it be because of the cross, not because of our participation in politics or proselytization of a people that do not want it. Let’s make Christianity attractive for the reasons it was attractive in the ancient world, by being an alternative community that cares for the needs of its lowliest members for the sake of the Gospel, a Family on Mission, if you will.

I fear Trueman has proven both Noll and his own critique of Evangelicalism correct. He has shown that there is no mind and has sided with the populists who look less and less like the biblical Christians they claim to be every day. This moment should give us pause but also make us mourn, have we really gone so far that we think that just because our strong man is in office Christianity is going to be great again? Similarly, have we really abandoned and even shown to be a sham our claims that morality matters? We have abandoned our responsibility to think critically and discern what is going on in the world in favor of blind following of strong men who, when the pretense is removed, actually care nothing about you or I outside of keeping them in power. Trueman as a scholar, First Things as a scholarly work should know better. The only thing that can save Christianity is Christ and the only thing that is going to stop the decline of the Church is His people showing the world the blessings and benefits of a relationship with Christ in this life. No strong man, no promises of restored greatness from politicians who do not care about people. The soul of Christianity will only be recovered through Christ Jesus our Lord and living by the Word He has given us to live by out of gratitude to Him for the things He has done.

May God save us and have mercy on our souls.

 

\Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary holding Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel and daughter Erin in Buffalo Center Iowa and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. He is currently serving as the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Buffalo Center.

What is the “Old Guard” really Guarding?

By Jonathan David Faulkner,

I will be honest; it was hard to get on the internet last week, especially after Tuesday Morning when over 500 Evangelical Leaders met with Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. I read some of the more legitimate articles on the subject, Jerry Falwell Jr. and James Dobson’s comments on the meeting, notes from those outside of the group of “Evangelical Leaders.” I took it all in, saw the article about Trump’s Constantinian style Conversion to Christianity (wasn’t he already a Christian, something about a speech at Liberty?) It was hard to read all of it, it really was, I mean, both sides were just aghast and fighting with one another. It was, for lack of a better term, pathetic.

All of it leading to a deeper disillusionment with American Christianity. One that would have grown this week had I not read any of those articles and simply heard the promises Trump made to Evangelicals. Promises like allowing Religious leaders to endorse presidential candidates and creating a “Christian Advisory Panel” that includes Michele Bachman, Falwell, Dobson and others, members of that Old Guard Fundamentalism that at one point was a very good thing for the church in America (I mean, it gave us Jim Elliot, so it wasn’t always bad). Now claiming that Trump has “Accepted Jesus into his heart;” An ideology many Christians in the coming generation have abandoned because it is simply not biblical (See the book of Romans).

Of course, I am not questioning Trump’s conversion (though I am personally skeptical of it) the fruit of his life will determine if it is true or not. But I am wondering, what are Dobson and Falwell and others, the “Old Guard” actually “Guarding?”

I mean, if you are a guard you must be guarding something, either as a leader or a knight or a soldier or whatever, you are guarding something. My question is, what are they guarding, because it does not seem to be the Gospel.

What do I mean? The Gospel is by its very nature unifying to those who believe in Christ. In its truest, unadulterated form, will bring the believers together and through that unity and love draw in outsiders. This point is not in dispute, that’s why we do not only verbally speak the Gospel message we actually live it out. The idea is a two-fold evangelistic approach of living out and speaking, you must let your actions back up your words. It would not be enough for me to talk about encouraging my girlfriends walk with the Lord daily, I actually have to do it by 1.) making sure I am walking with the Lord daily so I can lead her by God’s grace and 2.) by asking her what the Lord has been teaching her and actively showing her what God has been showing me. If I talked about those things and my actions did not back them up I would simply be doing lip service to what I want to do. But if people see her grow closer to God and be encouraged in Christ then they will know that I am not merely talking about doing such a thing but actually doing it.

It is the same with the Gospel, we must live it out and proclaim it. But here’s the thing, part of proclaiming the Gospel is living it out. It also means that instead of throwing in our lot with a man or woman whose rhetoric and life have been openly lived in sin for the sake of having some government influence we should be focused on the building up of the Church and the Kingdom of God where our true and genuine future hope and citizenship lie. Since the church gained power under Constantine it has misused and abused that power in many ways. If the Gospel is in ruins because non-believers see Christians seeking worldly power and caused greater division instead of relying on the God who is all-powerful and Sovereign then the Gospel has not been guarded, it has been left in ruin.

They are not guarding the church, the simple act of doing something so divisive (there was another group of Evangelicals that support Hilary) that it would deepen the already surgically deep wounds in the American Church then you have not guarded the church. The church is meant to be one body, one people (read Galatians) and to not follow any other Gospel but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If your actions cause division in a body that is mean to be one and it becomes two factions (or in our case many factions) then you have not guarded the church by promoting unity and grace among all believers. The catholic (universal) church can be the most influential and greatest influence in the world, in fact, it actually is, but when it is divided, when the American Church looks more like Ephesus or Corinth, you have failed to defend it against Heresy and Division. If all people see of the church is a group of people divided and bitter because of your actions then you have denied them access to the true and pure gospel.

They are not guarding the individual people: A short study of history tells us that Christians who gain and use power often leave the commoner open to more persecution and hatred based on actions. Just look at those who act as though all Christians are like Westboro, the regular, bible-believing Christian becomes the target of outrage and hatred because to some the name “Christian” means hatred because of what one group in Topeka Kansas has done. The people always suffer, whether it was the oppressive authoritarianism of the Medieval Church in the High Middle Ages or Christians in Germany who persecuted the Confessing Church for not backing Hitler or whatever example you want to use. The Common people, those outside of the clergy or those outside of those 500 evangelicals who met with Trump in New York, the everyday Christian suffers. Granted, so do the Clergy who oppose such a group.

So what are they guarding? If it is not the Gospel, if it is not the Church, if it is not the individual people, then what are they guarding? It would seem the answer to that would be simple and sad…”Earthly Power.”

See, since the 1950’s the church has had a perceived Earthly power, I say perceived because while the church did have great influence and it did help define policy and while Christians still made up the majority of the population of the United States (they still do by the way). “Christian Power” was still a bit of a misnomer and the power Christians did have was often misused or not used at all (which was the case during the Civil Rights movement). But that’s what Dobson and Falwell Jr. and so many others are clinging too so viciously, they want that power, as if Christians can’t effect change without a role in government (because Jesus was an ally of the state, you know…that killed him). They want it so bad they will even meet with a presidential candidate who has made a living by living a life that is in almost all ways contrary to the Gospel. As if the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are dependent on Christians holding influence in the government. Or the Gospel needs a lobby to be spread effectively.

It has become for Dobson and Falwell and others an idol of clay and wood. It cannot see them, it cannot hear them and it cannot do anything for them. Earthly Power will not save the American Church from itself or from the direction our society is taking. In the end it will only make things worse for those who are genuinely trying to live out the Gospel. It will lead ot the ultimate destruction of the American Church and not its rise. Just like the Authoritarianism of the Catholic Church in the 14 and 1500’s the desire for power will become our downfall and only further divide and destroy us. These men are watching the church they helped build slide into perceived irrelevancy and they are quite literally grasping at any tidbit that can be dropped to them by almost anyone. Like the Prophets of Baal they want fire to fall down from heaven but they are relying on man-made means to get it.

Here’s the thing I wish I could say to these Evangelicals (who I do believe are sincere believers): We do not need some Earthly power for the Gospel message to spread like fire throughout the land. We do not need to have our voice heard in the government to have the most relevant message of all-time. We have that solely in one place and one place alone. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which has been passed down throughout the ages by men and women who knew, like I do, it to be true because it was confirmed over and over again by God the father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. The Godhead three-in-one, that is where our power lies, that is where our relevancy lies, that is where our hope lies, that is where our joy lies and that is where our love lies. That is truth and it has been the same since it was first given to us when God created. Because man changes, God and His truth do not.

Does that seem harsh to say to men who have gone before us? It is meant to be an exhortation, men who did a pretty good job at one point building the church in America. In the hopes of seeing them restored to seeking after the Kingdom of God by God’s means and not by mans. The only hope for the American Church is a total reliance in the sovereign God of the Universe. To rediscover the greatness of what God has given us and to turn from the idols of earthly power and trust wholly on God.

It’s time to stop waffling, either we follow God, or we follow Baal.

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

 

The False Promise of “Earthly Power”

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

The Teacher is about to leave; he stands on a hill with those who have followed him, watched him die and be brought back to life. He had performed miracles among them, taught them, walked with them, for three years, they had gone to Jerusalem with him. They had seen the resurrected body and the power that he had. So they stood on the mountain that he would soon ascend from and ask him one more question. “Teacher, at this time will you restore the Kingdom of Israel?”

Between 166-122 B.C. another group had tried, and for a time, succeeded to free the Kingdom of Israel, this revolt, known as the Maccabean Revolt had been asking the same question, and for a time, they succeeded. Freeing themselves from the Seleucids before Rome controlled the known world.

In the 4th and 5th century A.D Rome was losing power, co-rulers were fighting each other and there were constant invasions from the Gauls, the Huns and the Vandals. A series of Rulers and Co-Rulers tried with every means at their disposal to keep Rome in tact, striving to return to the greatness of Rome under their predecessors. “Making Rome great again” was the focus of such leaders as Valentinian and Constantinius. Their great empire was crumbling, and the people were panicking. Systematic Persecution of all who were not members of the church became the norm. The Sarasin, the Gaul, the Norman, the Saxxon, they would become the targets of the “Christian Empire.”

It does not matter how phrase it, whether you think this was good, or know that it actually turned out to go very badly for Christendom up through the time of the Reformation. History cannot be ignored, the Church abused its power, there was a negative reaction to that abuse, the church became fought to retain that power and so instead of greatness, the church suffered greatly.

In the 1920’s and 30’s a charismatic despot arose in Germany. His goal was to restore the glory of Germany. To, make it great again, and he enacted the most oppressive and deadliest government policies in history. His name was Adolf Hitler, and he had the backing (based on an agreement he reached with them) of much of the German Church. Something that grieved the Swiss Theologian Karl Barth and the great German Preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer who became a leader in the Confessing Church and eventually would be killed by the German Government for participating in a plot against Hitler.

In the 1950’s and 60’s the American Church was at its peak, 1-5 people were Christians and a majority of the population attended Church in one of the mainline denominations. The New-Wave Pentecostal Movement was beginning to sweep across the nation and American Fundamentalism was rich with answers that were helpful to the people. The Billy Graham Crusades and Navigators were working together to do Discipleship and the Church enjoyed political power.

Today, American Christianity is in decline. Fundamentalists have largely turned to fear-mongering and legalism and the church is scrambling for a man who can restore us to power. Meanwhile, those of us who are seeking to build up the church in the way of the Gospel are told not to speak, that we should fall in line and openly support the man that they have touted as the answer. Even if doing so violates both our conscious and scripture. As I have said before, we are being force-fed a culture of fear, and many in the church have been eating it up.

We have so easily abandoned hope, we have so easily abandoned grace, we have so easily abandoned Christ.

Honestly Church, if Christ were here would we ask him what those Disciples did? “Teacher, will you now restore the Church to power in America?” How would we react if Jesus told us? “The Days and hours are not for you to know.” Would we, like the Macabees seek to retake a nation by force, or like the Crusaders, murdering innocent women and children. Or like Hitler, carrying out a plan to systematically destroy entire people groups. Have we so forgotten where our power lies? Are we willing to follow a man before we follow Christ? Is this not contrary to everything the church is supposed to stand for?

I weep for our current condition, and as long as those who are encouraging this type of thought have 1.5 million followers on Facebook it will be perpetuated through Social Media and everywhere else. Christian, we need to stop this, we are above this, not because we hold office or because we once had political influence or even because we have something man made to be proud of, but because of who and what the Bible professes to be True.

And we can be proud of that, and we should revel in that, it should be so engrained in us that we cannot forget it. Regardless of who the president is or what war is being fought. Jesus, who serves as our mediator between us and God, whose death made it possible for us to gain entry into the most Holy Place and the Presence of GOD is still our hope. Get this, He does not serve as president, He reigns as King, His power is not based on Earthly Authority, but on an authority that is divine. He is the Son of God, the First Born of all Creation, before America existed, He was. Before the Church was established, before the first dawn of the world, He was present.

Christian, if there was ever a reason for Hope, it is that the God of the universe is still in control and present in the lives of the Saints. It is that He never breaks His promises to keep His people, to do Justice for them. That He sent His son to totally appease the wrath our sins earned us and defeat Sin and Death, to set u free from the penalty of our sins and to proclaim us Righteous in spite of our deplorable state.

We cannot fall into the plight of the Jews of Jesus day, searching for a military leader to free them from the oppression of Rome. We do not need someone to make our nation great again, especially when the idea of greatness is rooted in systematic racism and comes out of fear. We belong to the greatest nation in the Cosmos. Our citizenship and identity are so much greater than merely being American. We are sons and daughters of the Living God, citizens of the coming Kingdom.

Your hope is not in a man, not in a Macabean or Roman Ruler or Hitler type. Their attempts to cease power will only lead to destruction, and they will take you with them.

Believer, again I say, be bold, the hope that you have is greater than anything on this planet. The Joy that you know is not bound up in the events of Earth, but comes directly from the Father. Your power is not determined by the people in the media or our position in politics, but in the Spirit of God that is received at Salvation.

We must learn to use it, to speak the truth in love and to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds again, not in some political leader. It is time to abandon this perceived power and start to really do what we, as a body, are called to do. A task that can be accomplished without political power, because it is done by God, working in and through us, to advance His Coming Kingdom.

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica
The ESV translation of the Bible (Acts 1:6)

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

“THE ONE WHO SHOWS MERCY”

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

One day, someone asked the pastor of the local Church; “Who is my neighbor?” The pastor sat back in his chair and thought for a second. Then told the following story. A man was walking along the road in New York City when he was jumped, mugged and left to die on the street. Before long a high ranking politician walked by and saw the man. “I cannot stop and help him, I am an important politician, I have too many meetings to attend, and a country to run.” So he goes on his way. A few minutes later a certain Fundamentalist walks by, seeing the man he scoffs and says “God must have just repaid him for his sins, I should not help him, lest I interfere with God’s judgment.” Finally, a Syrian Refugee walks by, seeing the man he helps him to his feet and takes him to the Hospital. He stays with him throughout his recovery and even gives whatever he can to help pay for and restore the man. He never asked for anything in return, he merely prayed for him and watched out for him. Who do you think was more of a neighbor to the man? “The one who showed him mercy” the church member replied. “Good, now shouldn’t you do the same?”

For those of you who have studied you will recognize this as the Parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37 though it has been contextualized for our modern world. A Politician, a Super-Religious Leader and a Syrian Refugee. In the original context the story would have been quite offensive, a Samaritan helping a Jew, what scandal since the Samaritans were considered half-breeds and even sub-human because they reminded Israel of their adulterous history. In today’s context the story serves to remind us that our neighbor is anyone who we might encounter. It also serves as an example to us to get down in the mess of the life of another and lift them up out of it so that they might glorify God. Most importantly, however, is the reminder to show mercy, always show mercy.

Step into today’s current crisis, millions of refugees, the UN Refugee Center had the number at 13 million with another 5.1 million in camps waiting for relocation as of mid-2014 (The number has most certainly gone up). This is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis, as war continues to spread and those persecuted, whether it is for being Christian or some other religion, continue to be displaced from home and culture to escape the rise of ISIL and the growing threat of all-out war in those unstable countries. The numbers go up, the destruction gets worse, the situation goes from important to imperative meaning no one should ignore it, everyone should be willing to do their part.

Yet the response of the Conservative Evangelicals, a camp which contains GHFT, has been one of fear and crying out against such a thing. “We do not want refugees here” says one pastor, “They are going to just bring Jihad here.” Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas said in a statement “I have therefore directed all state agencies, departments, boards or commissions not to participate or assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas.” He goes onto say that is it “Unfortunate” that this has to be the case but the “Safety of Kansas” is the priority.

Meanwhile, Conservative Evangelicals flood to Donald Trump Rallies, with men like Jerry Falwell Jr and many other Conservative Evangelical leaders coming out in support of him, including former GOP Vice President Candidate and former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham even endorsed Trump’s plan to “Kick Muslims out.”

At GHFT we are baffled by this and deeply saddened. Why? Because, in looking out over the vast scope of history we have seen the damage that the kind of rhetoric being used in America today is similar to that used by others who have committed mass atrocities such as Hitler and Stalin. The demonization of a people, namely refuges, a lot of which are Muslim, is exactly what Hitler did to drive his genocide and final solution. The Jewish Journal, a publication here on the North Shore, recently released an article expressing concern for the reintroduction of Mien Kampf into Germany, with its 300 pages of commentary, asking questions concerning the possibility of something similar happening again, only this time at the hands of Syria. Americans should be concerned of something similar happening if the Hate-Speech and continue Fear-Mongering encouraged by Trump and his supporters is allowed to continue, only the target would be people of Syrian origin, and I do not see it stopping at Muslims, but Christians and any refugee who comes from the Middle East.

We have done it once, the Japanese Internment camps that were scattered all over the U.S, blaming all Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbor, most of whom had no ties to Japan or had cut ties with Japan. Christians then turned a blind eye to the morality of the situation, as they did with Slavery one-hundred years before (with the exception of the Quakers). Trading sound moral living and philosophy, along with the fair and merciful treatment of all for comfort and safety. We have traded true sanctity of human life, the sanctity of all life, for our own security. Are we so conceited that we think we have the ability to slander others for the sake of our own seared conscious? Have we become so fearful that we have forgotten what it means to be truly Evangelical? So afraid that we would openly hate both our brothers and sisters from Syria and those whom they are trying to reach out to? What is wrong with us?

GHFT does agree that we should care for those here in America, a country should take care of its citizen’s, but they should also take care of those who are displaced and do so in such a way that they are built up and encouraged. If there is any organization better equipped to do that it is the church, not the federal government, the Church. With all its members and with all of its parts and programs. If we are to be a righteous and a Just people, then we cannot ignore the refugees or demand that they be denied entrance because they might make us “Unsafe.” Is our safety and comfort so important to us that we would deny aid and even call for the extermination of an entire people group?

Hey, you might die, you might have to be uncomfortable, you might have to give money, you may have to get down in the life of someone you disagree with and help them out. It might be asked of you to do such a thing, but did Jesus not do the same for you? And if He did, then should you not seek to, out of gratitude, seek to serve and love all those who come into your sphere of influence regardless of what you may think of them? At GHFT we assert that it is our responsibility to build up all people with the hope of reaching them for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of race, creed or religion at the time we meet them. We reject fear-mongering and hate-speech in the interest of being part in the great work of the spreading of the Gospel done through us by God. We recognize that our neighbor is all men and all women within the scope of the human race and we have resolved to treat others with that vision in mind. We invite you to do the same, we hope you would do the same.

I close with this: Last year in my Christian Ethics class here in the Seminary I was afforded the chance to learn Dr. David Gill’s thoughts on Christian Ethics and the Ten Commandments. I was struck by his application of the commandments. For example, “Though shalt not covet” is not merely a command not to covet your neighbor’s possession but is “A command for us to protect and help care for our neighbor’s possessions.” That we are responsible to love GOD and one of the ways we do that is by loving people. As I have pondered this in relation to the current Refugee Crisis I am struck by the fact that it is our responsibility to commit ourselves to aiding those fleeing from this war. Whether that is through boots on the ground, in the field and camps work or through constant prayer and intercession. We have an ethical responsibility, and it is our Christian responsibility to commit in whatever way we can to aiding in, and working to resolve this humanitarian crisis and it starts by accepting, in love, those coming, in spite of fear and possibly at the expense of our comfort and safety.

This is the only Christian Response, anything else falls short and ceases to be so.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

God’s Heart for Those is responsible for the Content of this Article, sources not in print are linked in the article itself, The Jewish Journal is a Newspaper publication from the North Shore in Massachusetts. 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

 

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