I have tried my best to not talk about politics this week. As a pastor I have a responsibility to minister to those on all sides of the political spectrum. It is why I have attempted to refrain from public political statements in recent months.
But, now that the conversation has shifted to being about Christianity, I do not think that I can remain silent. Yesterday, Christianity Today published an OpEd stating that President Trump should be removed from office. As soon as I read the article I knew that it would be polarizing.
Yet, I found myself firmly agreeing with everything that was said. Let me start by saying that I did not vote for Trump or Hillary in 2016. I supported John Kasich in the GOP primary and voted for a third party in the general election. But, that’s ultimately not the point.
I think it is really easy to miss the focus of Christianity Today’s article because the focus, despite what you might think, is not on President Trump. The focus of the article is our missiological witness to the world. The article does not condemn anyone for holding to a conversative political ideology. Instead, it speaks a word of warning to those who refuse to admit that President Trump has acted in a way that is unethical, immoral, and unchristian.
Here’s a direct quote:
“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.”
As Christians, our primary calling is to make disciples. There is nothing more important. Sadly, it seems that many of us have seen our primary calling is to support “Christian values” through our unwavering support of a political party.
President Trump seems to think that freedom of religion, one of those “Christian values,” is the thing that matters most in Christianity. This is an affront to historic and modern Christianity. Those who love Christ have always thrived under persecution and the most hostile places tend to be were the most resilient disciples are made. Christ alone grows his church, not a President.
President Trump certainly supports the Republican agenda. And yes, sometimes that agenda lines up with what Christians should value. But, we must also be willing to admit that President Trump is someone who has shown himself to be unethical, immoral, and someone who engages in actions that are certainly unchristian.
It is my firm hope that we can move beyond political theatre and understand that the true problem is where our hope rests. Does our hope rest in the risen Christ or does our hope rest in a President? If our hope rests in Christ we will see that our biggest priority is to make disciples and that we must abandon our zeal for defending someone who has time and time again shown himself to be someone who does not produce fruit.
Please hear my heart, I am not trying to make a political statement. Rather, I am making a theological statement about where we place our hope and how that influences our missiological witness to the world. By all means, please continue supporting candidates that you believe best align with what Christians should value. Yet, when you do so, keep in mind that how you portray your support will ultimately influence your ability to make disciples.
Kevin Fontenot is the pastor of City Church Denton, a church plant in Denton, Texas.