My response to the piece by Mark Galli
My initial reaction as I read the article by Mark Galli was surprise. And in this I must admit that I was saddened. I was saddened, not because I agreed or disagreed with his piece, but because I knew the visceral reaction that it would create.
I just wish the Christian community were able to be more open-minded and to receive pieces like this for what they are: the honest opinions of a fairly well-informed person.
The problem is that we too often fail to ruminate on information. Instead, we are too quick to laud or castigate him (depending on what side of the political aisle we are on).
What is worse is that we do this publicly; harming our witness. (I will refrain, at this juncture, from a long diatribe regarding the responsibility of Christians to love one another and to be cautious of speaking poorly of the other in public, lest it harm our witness. But this is certainly the reason why I was initially saddened.)
The fear of the public outcry (I am speaking of those voices from within the church) also makes others reticent to speak out. This means that we are more likely to fail to hear the voices of well-informed leaders, such as Galli, in the public arena. Why speak out, when the response is lambasting and potentially damaging to the church’s witness?
Now, do I personally agree with Galli’s call to have Trump removed? I don’t think so, but I don’t know.
This may sound like a cop-out. But as an educated person, I understand that there are a lot of facts needed to make such a determination and I have other arenas that deserve my time and attention. I am simply lacking the knowledge of the facts that would be needed for me to make such a determination.
Now, in saying this, I must admit that I would not be surprised if Trump were guilty of the second charge: namely, the obstruction of justice. It seems to correspond to his behavior throughout his political life.
This is why we need to hear from voices such as Galli. We need to wrestle with the opinions of those who have more knowledge of the situation.
I do think that the Church (universal) needs to step back and get its own house in order. We have lost focus of our mission: namely, to make known the Lord God Almighty. The Church at times seems to be setting its hope in the state and the kings of this world. Our hope is in Christ.
I do not intend to suggest that we cannot step into the political and social arenas. I am simply noting that when we do so we must consider how it will affect our witness. There are places for Christfollowers to be engaged in the political arena. We must do so, however, with an awareness of our larger mission.
With this in mind, I wish to call attention to one paragraph in Galli’s piece with which I wholeheartedly agree. Galli noted,
“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”
Of course, there are times in which our silence adversely affects our witness. With this being said, it is important to see the comments of Christianity Today’s president. He noted that after Galli’s article CT received numerous letters from people expressing appreciation for Galli’s piece:
“We have received countless notes of encouragement from readers who were profoundly moved. They no longer feel alone. They have hope again. Many have told us of reading the editorial with tears in their eyes, sharing it with children who have wandered from the faith, rejoicing that at last someone was articulating what they felt in their hearts. They felt this was a watershed moment in the history of the American church—or they hoped it would prove to be.”
The witness of the Church is certainly at stake. This is why it is important to hear the many, and varied, Christian voices. To those within the evangelical Christian community who affirm Trump’s presidency, and to those who denounce it, I make these appeals:
With that being said, we need to hear voices like Galli’s. We need bold Christian leaders to stand up and speak first to the Church! Only then might we consider speaking it to the nation.
NB: one criticism I heard regarding Galli’s article was: “well do you prefer that we inaugurate one of the liberal democrats?” This assertion misses the whole point. For one, if Trump were impeached, Pence, who appears to be even more conservative than Trump, would become President. Secondly, The question is not whether or not Trump is better than other options, the question is whether or not Trump deserves to be impeached.