Evangelicals & Honoring Authority

If you have followed me or paid any attention whatsoever over the last couple of years you know two things about me politically.

            1) You know the Democratic Party is persona non grata as presently constituted. In fact, I am completing a book advocating why I believe it is a theological travesty over 88% of African American Evangelicals have voted Democratic in presidential races the last three national elections.  I see no reason we will NOT see the same level of African American Evangelical support in the 2020 election.

            2) If you have paid equal attention you would also know I did not support the candidacy of Donald J. Trump in the 2016 Presidential race. I did not vote for him in 2016 and I will not be voting for him in 2020. I am equally befuddled that 88% of Caucasian Evangelicals voted for President Trump and will most likely come out in the same level of support in 2020. I believe it to be the same type of travesty some many Caucasian Evangelicals supported the candidacy of Donald Trump even when you take into account how hideous the candidacy of Hilary Rodman Clinton presented as an option for Evangelicals.

            Believe me, I understand the issues are murky and vexing but I could not and cannot still in good conscience vote for someone of the moral character and temperance that now President Donald J.Trump displays on a consistent basis. As difficult as these choices are and will continue to be I believe it is wholly anti-biblical to embrace a “lesser of the two evil” model most Evangelicals seem to embrace. I refuse to align myself politically with a candidate I find morally reprehensible.  I found both Barak Obama and Donald J. Trump to rise to that level.

            This is not a case of postulating “if we wait for someone to be perfect we could never vote for anyone” or “we are all ex-something, attempting to excuse someone’s immorality.” I even vehemently disagree with highly respected Bible teacher, Dr. John MacArthur, when he implied it was biblically proper to vote for Donald J. Trump because “we are not voting for a pastor.”

            Make no mistake, God’s design was for mankind to be led by morally sound individuals. Granted, we are no longer living in a theocracy, but it is still without dispute it is God’s intent for nations to be led by men who will lead the nation in worship to God. Even a cursory understanding of the Old Testament would reveal that was one of the chief missions of the Nation of Israel.

            God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:29) so since Israel failed miserably in the O.T. God is not through with the Nation of Israel and His mission will be completed as part of the major focus of the Seven-Year Tribulation Period that awaits fulfillment as part of God’s redemptive plan. Israel will finally fulfill the plan of God and lead the world in worshipping Jesus Christ as God (see a passage like Zechariah 14).

            Yet, all of that is not the main point I want to present today. I provided this background to set the stage for today’s topic. Evangelicals are failing miserably in honoring those in authority over us, both from African American and Caucasian Evangelical perspectives. Caucasian Evangelicals did it when President Obama was in office as well as President Clinton and African American Evangelicals are currently doing it for President Trump just as they did for President Bush. (That is not to say every African American Evangelicals is guilty and no Caucasian Evangelical is not guilty. It is just to say most of the time the issue falls along racial lines.)

            I lost all respect for R.C. Sproul Jr. when he spoke at a Renewing Your Mind conference in Baltimore, MD a few years ago. R.C. Sproul Jr is the son of famed theologian, Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr., founder of Renewing Your Mind ministries. While speaking as part of the panel speakers Sproul Jr. actually made a a very public disparaging comment, questioning the alleged birthplace of President Obama. There was plenty of fake news about President Obama during his presidency. During his run for office he was accused of being a Muslim, he was accused of being controlled by the Jews and the major trumped up allegation was he was not a US citizen. Even those allegations could be easily verified or falsified people continued to circulate this fake news.

            While we should expect sinners to act in a manner consistent with being sinners, such is not to be the case for professing Evangelicals. The Holy Scripture is clear on our requirement to honor those in authority over us. (Please not the us = believers). That is not to be determined upon whether we voted for the person or not. That does not matter. In fact, citizens in places in North Korea or Russia do not really have any meaningful say in who their leaders are but they are still biblically obligated to submit just as Americans are living in democratic America.

Consider the following Biblical passages:

Obey all people who have authority in this world. Obey them, because that will make the Lord happy. Obey the king, who rules everyone. Also obey those officers of the government that the king has chosen to rule you. They punish people who do wrong things. And they say good words about people who do right things. God wants you to do what is right. Then you will stop silly people, who do not know anything, from saying bad things about you. You are people who are free. But do not think, because of that, that you have the chance to do bad things. Do not think that God will excuse you for bad things. Instead, do those things that God’s servants should do. Always do what is right and proper to all people. Love all those people who are like brothers and sisters to you. They are like your brothers and sisters because, like you, they believe Christ. Always remember how great and powerful God is. Always remember to obey the king (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1-2).

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work (Titus 3:1).

Additionally, an event that happened with the Apostle Paul is very revealing. Paul was engaging in some back and forth with some public officials.  Paul is ordered to be struck by the high priest and Paul responds, almost in a reflex fashion, with a strongly word rebuke.  Yet, once Paul understood he was addressing the sitting High Priest he immediately becomes submissive and says, “I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shall not speak evil of the ruler of thy people” (Acts 23:5).

Paul went from saying, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law” (Act 22:28) to immediately submitting in deference to Ananias.

Why? Because he realized he was addressing God’s anointed leader at the time. Romans 13:1 makes clear, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” It is unmistakable President Trump is President of these United States because ordained by God it to be such. In fact, whether we realize it or not there is only one vote that matters in any elections or in any manner a sovereign nation leader is chosen or comes to be in office and, no surprise, that vote is God Himself.

The Apostle Paul is quoting from Exodus 22:28, “You must not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.” Given this Biblical prohibition what does one see on a regular basis in social media? You see people who would be the first to claim they are a Christian just speaking in the most abusive and vulgar manner about the sitting president. Again, I did not and will not be voting for President Trump (I always correct my student when they have the nerve to just refer to the POTUS as Trump. I was raised you always put a “handle” on those who are to be respected) but you will never see me demeaning or blaspheming the President’s name in public or private but certainly NEVER in public.

I did not do when President Obama was in office, but I saw Caucasians Evangelicals do it without shame or fear of reprisal. I see African American Evangelicals do it now, equally with no shame. In fact, I was at a formal function not more than a month ago and the topic of President Trump came up and there were people who actually joked about President Trump getting the COVID-19 virus. They thought it was made more acceptable because “they weren’t wishing he died, just got rid sick.”

            Frankly, just as I lost respect for Sproul Jr. when he disparaged President Obama I lost respect for these individuals who I know would quickly claim to be Christians in good standing with their church and with God. I guess Scriptures be damned!

            It was much like this when I was a junior Captain in the U.S. Army and President Clinton was in office. President Clinton was going through the Monica Lewinsky fiasco and we can all remember the debacle that became. Yet, remember I was a Captain in the Army and many know the Commander-in-Chief of the entire Armed Forces is none other than the President of the United States.

            A solider can actually be court-martialed for making disrespectful comments about any superior officer, let alone the highest-ranking person in the chain of command.  I was against the actions of the president, like most Americans, but being against someone and not voting for them is one thing and consistent with Biblical ethics and morality but demeaning the name of the President is wholly another matter altogether.

            As a result, I continue to say pox on both of the heads of many African American Evangelicals as well as many Caucasian Evangelicals. All it shows is those who are guilty are not serious about their faith or worse, they do not possess genuine faith.

            Let me refer back to 1 Peter 2.  I was speaking with a Christian brother, he was in fact, an Elder at a church I was attending. He was on Facebook just going to town on President Clinton.  I attempted to correct him by pointing out the clear teaching from the Apostle Peter. Please note again what Peter says under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

v13 Obey all people who have authority in this world. Obey them, because that will make the Lord happy. Obey the king, who rules everyone. 

v17 Always remember to obey the king

            This Elder had the audacity to actually tell me he did not have to obey this passage because we do not have “kings.” That is one of the most ignorant things I have actually heard someone who is supposed to be our spiritual head ever state publicly. Even a high schooler, taking an entry level biblical interpretation would know in this case we substitute the word “king” with “president” in our culture.

            I lost respect for him. I lose respect for anyone who claims to know better but does not do so. I would never hold a new babe in Christ to such a high standard, but I will most certainly hold someone who rises to the level of Elder to the highest standard of accountability. I will most certainly do so for someone who has been a professing Evangelicals for more than a minute.

            It is tragic when I go to social media and people are having a field day ripping the president a new one without any fear. In fact, that is the major source of the problem.  There is no fear of God.  Good back and read Exodus 22:28 again. “Thy shall not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.”

            I am a single country boy from Mississippi and maybe I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but even I can make out what this passage is communicating. You are not free to curse rulers. Today, in America that means Donald J. Trump. If I live in Russia that means Vladimir Putin, if I live in North Korea that means I submit to Kim Jong-un.

            Lest we forget, the Apostle Paul wrote these commands while he was under the authority of one of the most vile and corrupt governments in human history. Caesar would go on to demand Christians greet him as Caesar Kyrgios (Caesar is Lord). Faithful Christian would give up their lives before they were willing to do that, but they would have no problem obeying Caesar and God’s anointed agent.

            Again, I did not vote for President Trump and will not vote for him in November’s election but if he or Joseph Biden or someone else (though highly unlikely) wins I will do the two things the Bible demands of every faithful Evangelical

1) Submit to their authority, which by the way is the same command we have for our mothers and fathers (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20. Who is going to go on Facebook and mock your mom or dad? Hopefully, you get the import of that.  We are to always obey our parents.  It is first and only command with a promise.

2) Pray for those in authority over us. (See 1 Timothy 2).  It is getting late, so I need to park it here but let me quickly say this. I know for an indisputable fact that if you are posting negative, mocking comments about the President then is no way in the world you are praying for him.  It is basically impossible to pray for the same person you are mocking.

            Even if we are forced to disobey those in authority over us we must do so in a very humble way, never high-handed. If we believed we are forced by the clear teaching to disobey, it must be done with a sense of heaviness. The only times the Bible allows to disobey those in authority over us is when they command us to do something the Bible forbids or forbids us to do something the Bible commands.

            President Trump may be guilty of a lot of things, but he has not done anything that will justify Evangelicals ever saying something disrespectful about him or to mock him in any way. I often tell my now grown children my father never heard me use profanity. I probably could have, especially later on in life but I would have NEVER done so. Why? Not so much due to my father and any fear of him.

            Yet, I fear God and one way I could show it was by honoring my father. The same for my mother while she was living.

            Let me know what you think and until then keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

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