Rev. Richard Lanford
The Minister's Desk
A lot is going in our country right now.Two days after I write this, the U.S. Senate will begin its role in the impeachment of the President. We hear a lot about how he is greatly supported by “the evangelicals.” Yet many Christians, including some evangelicals, are far from supporting this Chief Executive, on moral, spiritual, and non-partisan but political grounds. A question I’ve heard from some Christians, and sometimes asked myself, is “why are these evangelicals in his corner?”
First, let me state that the media which throw around this phrase aren’t the best source of church terminology. A lot of these believers are not evangelicals; they are Fundamentalists. Evangelicals as a whole are usually less judgmental, and more open to the things we can learn from science. They know that their scholars can have different approaches to Biblical interpretation among themselves. I’ve heard that many young evangelicals (the youth, at least) do not have problems welcoming and affirming persons who are LGBTQ. As I long have considered myself an evangelical -- going back to the root meaning of the word “evangel” as “the good news” and so evangelicals are “people of the good news” -- I do not think it is right to let the media continue to use the word “evangelicals” when much of the time it is more correct to say “fundamentalists.” Fundamentalists are more rigid on insisting on Biblical infallibility, more likely to emphasize God’s judgment over God’s love, literal interpretation of Scripture, and adhering to Biblical era patriarchy. Why are so many believers in this President’s corner? They agree with what he has been doing, through judicial appointments, to end rights to abortion. Believing that abortion is murder, ending it is paramount to them and has been for decades. It comes out of the Commandments!
Secondly his actions undermining protections and rights of persons who are LGBTQ are also viewed as Biblical from their literal interpretations of a handful of Biblical passages. What really raises the questions I noted above is that this President, I think it’s obvious to say, is a pretty unreligious leader. I’ll leave it at that. But these fundamentalists and “evangelicals” don’t worry about his issues with morality, judgment, egotism and so on, because they see him as a new Cyrus. You remember Cyrus, don’t you? He is in the Old Testament (Isaiah 45, 48).
In the 8th century BC, Cyrus of Persia, a non-Jew, defeated Babylonia and took over control of its captured peoples like the Israelites in exile. He allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and Judea, and to rebuild. In one Bible passage of prophecy he is outright called ‘the anointed one’ in Hebrew -- which is outrageous that any Gentile would ever be so called by God. But, as repulsive as a Gentile he would be to the Jews of that era, he did free the exiled Jews to return, and so he did God’s will. His “outsider” qualities would not be held against him. A lot of the Christians who firmly back the President do so because he is viewed as the new Cyrus. The new man chosen by God despite any personal spiritual unrighteousness, who did good for God’s chosen people (by following the policies above). There is a lot out there on the Internet if you care to look about how the President is seen by these particular Christians as the new Cyrus. Not “one of us” necessarily but who cares? Cyrus wasn’t a Jew, either.
So, fellow Christians, here is a lesser-known reason why the Church of Jesus Christ, so long seen as united in its protection of the poor, good stewardship of the environment, lover of all peoples and seeking salvation, humility and holiness, is now rather divided over this individual. As a pastor in the Church it seemed timely and important to me to lift up this knowledge some of you are unaware of, which affects the Church of Jesus and a unity in our message of good news in a whole lot of ways.
Keep the faith,
Pastor Richard Lanford