Election Civility Is Not Enough
Love keeps no record of wrongs, but it does stand up against them.
It is too banal to say that the 2020 election is dividing American evangelicals. We’ve always been politically divided, which some of us see as a strength of a renewal movement transcending electoral politics. No, the 2020 election has beaten and broken American evangelicals, not so much divided as dismembered. We’re tired of the election but even more tired of each other. And it’s going to get worse in the coming weeks.
In 2016, longstanding animus toward Hillary Clinton explained much of the exit poll data about white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump. This year, a significant uptick of self-described white evangelicals is voting enthusiastically for Trump and not merely against the alternative. For many, the vote is a referendum not simply on convictions on abortion or racial injustice but on whether you really are a Christian. As pastor John MacArthur says he told Trump, “Any real, true believer is going to be on your side in this election.” Conversely, many Christian opponents of Trump see the pastors and ministry leaders who support him as idolaters at best, and more likely frauds.
Now is not the time to revisit exit polls or debate the designation evangelical, but we do expect a fresh round of believers to see the data and say, “If that’s what evangelical means, I’m not it.” Today’s American Christian flips Amos 3:3’s question, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” and asks: “Why would I want to walk together with them?”
It is not cowardly “bothsidesism” to call us, of myriad political convictions, to repent of bitterness. True, the Bible’s warnings against anger have been wrongly used by the powerful …
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May 18, 2021