8/3/17

The 'Christian' Right and why neither they nor Trump can save American Christianity

Trump Can’t Save American Christianity


The author of the article also notes that CBN ran a puffy little piece of nonsense about 'the spiritual awakening underway in the White House,' and then rather snarkily but quite accurately observes, 'That ought to still any skepticism emerging among the true believers for a while.'

Here's a great quote from the article:

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

This is not only wrong, but tragically so. The most pressing problem Christianity faces is not in politics. It’s in parishes. It’s with the pastors. Most of all, it’s among an increasingly faithless people.

The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States. As a theologically conservative believer, it gives me no pleasure to say that. In fact, the waning of Christianity will be not only a catastrophe for the church but also a calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate.

Evangelicals - white evangelicals - are not giving a great many Americans, and especially a great many young people, any reason to think that their brand of 'Christianity' has anything at all to offer. Fawning over a lying sleazebag like Trump, and embracing the cold prickliness of the GOP as some sort of variation of 'Christianity' is not sitting well with a lot of people.

That ties in with another phenomenon that seems uniquely American, the rise of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This seems to me to be a counter to the nasty little mix of judgmentalism and the vestiges of the mean immorality of what we used to call 'Manifest Destiny.' Vestiges? Maybe not. Ol' Heel Spurs' 'Make America Great Again' seems to be a resurrection of some of the worst of Manifest Destiny.

Take a look at this article:

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism--the New American Religion

And this in particular:

This is an important missiological observation--a point of analysis that goes far beyond sociology. As Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton explained, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism "is about inculcating a moralistic approach to life. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, at work on self-improvement, taking care of one's health, and doing one's best to be successful." In a very real sense, that appears to be true of the faith commitment, insofar as this can be described as a faith commitment, held by a large percentage of Americans. These individuals, whatever their age, believe that religion should be centered in being "nice"--a posture that many believe is directly violated by assertions of strong theological conviction."

The last line is the most significant. The judgmental vitriol spewed by fundamentalists and some of the more unsavory evangelical types - Falwell, the Grahams - father, son, and sister (an unholy trinity if ever there was one), Hagee, pretty much all of the fawning Pastoral Pimps surrounding Trump, and a host of others - may resonate with a good many of those claiming to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb ... but what they preach and how they behave is so much of a contradiction with the message of the Gospel, you'd have to be morally blind not to see what theological bullshit it is.

The author's tone in the article is a huge turn-off, reeking of self-righteous judgmentalism. It's like taking a bath in a tub of theological emetic.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The key word there is 'therapeutic.' It's a therapy, albeit arguably not a very good one, for the toxic waste of the narrow shallowness of the gospel preached by the 'Christian' Right.

Naturally, those who hold to that vitriolic spewage, and who place their faith in political parties and political personages rather than seeking something deeper than shallow literalism, take offense to being told that. They are also very vicious in their responses to that with which they disagree. Perhaps if they concentrated more on faith in God's grace rather than emphasis on their interpretation of the letter of the law ... if they looked at the broader and inclusive concepts of the Bible, on the mysticism of the Spirit rather than legalism, on their relationships with God and other people, they might do better in building up the Gospel rather than destroying it. "Love" is a major component of one's relationship with God and others; it is arguably the most important component, as well as the most difficult; some people just seem to frustrate all attempts at being 'loved.' In the end, it's just better for the rest of us, temporally if not spiritually, to ignore them as much as possible. We see this emphasis on 'love' being brought out time and time again by such as our own favorite Nazarene heretic, Thomas Jay Oord, and many others like him. Even that Jesus fellow. You know. That guy. The one with the scars on his hands and feet, and that big nasty one on his side.