April 25, 2019

THE WORLD'S OLDEST TRANSACTION:

Franklin Graham and the High Cost of the Lost Evangelical Witness (DAVID FRENCH, April 25, 2019, National Review)

 In 1998, at the height of Bill Clinton's sex scandals, the younger Graham wrote a powerful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal combating Clinton's assertion that his affair was a "private" matter. Clinton argued that his misdeeds were "between me, the two people I love the most -- my wife and our daughter -- and our God." Graham noted that even the most private of sins can have very public, devastating consequences, and he asked a simple question: "If [Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?"

Graham was right: Clinton, it turned out, wouldn't just lie to mislead his family. He'd lie to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.

Fast-forward 20 years. By 2018, Donald Trump was president -- and helping to win important policy victories for religious conservatives -- and Graham's tune had changed dramatically. He actively repudiated his condemnations of Clinton, calling the Republican pursuit of the then-president "a great mistake that should never have happened," and argued that "this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody's business."

Graham was wrong: Trump, it turns out, doesn't just lie to mislead his family. He lies all the time to influence courts, Congress, and the American people. [...]

The proper Evangelical position toward any president is not hard to articulate, though it is exceedingly difficult to hold to, especially in polarized times when one party seems set on limiting religious liberty and zealously defending abortion: We should pray for presidents, critique them when they're wrong, praise them when they're right, and never, ever impose partisan double standards. We can't ever forget the importance of character, the necessity of our own integrity, and the power of the prophetic witness.

In other words, Evangelicals can never take a purely transactional approach to politics. We are never divorced from our transcendent purpose, which always trumps political expediency. In scripture, prophets confronted leaders about their sin. They understood a core truth, one clearly articulated in the Southern Baptist Convention's 1998 Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials: "Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God's judgment."

All too many of our nation's Evangelical leaders haven't just "tolerated" serious wrongdoing by Trump, they've rationalized and minimized it.

Posted by at April 25, 2019 6:57 PM

  

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