As a guardian and a friend of the faith, I am concerned to the point of suffering, discomfort and struggle with the direction a substantial number of our white evangelical family appears to be directed.
As a friend, I must tell you the danger that lies ahead if there is no change in direction.
My compassion for you
I express these thoughts with great care and concern for the body of Christ, including a large caucus of the white evangelical church. I write as a brother and from a biblical perspective, not as someone who wants to be partisan nor political.
I have had and still possess a deep reservoir of love for all of God’s creation. There can be no significant hurt without immense love first. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will be the superintendent between us. I am praying he will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus to decipher what is good and mature for his glory.
The Bible tells us: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).
Without hesitation and without apology, I applaud your many efforts to spread the good news of our Savior to all corners of the world. Your efforts in church planting, missions and discipleship undoubtedly will be rewarded when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
However, my consternation, my deep feeling of dismay compels me to speak. It pains me profoundly to write these thoughts. I find the strength to do so in 2 Timothy 4, where the Apostle Paul commanded Timothy to proclaim the truth with urgency and to correct, rebuke and to encourage with care and sober thoughts.
My concern for you
Observing and experiencing the reality of a significant number of white evangelicals amalgamating the flag and the faith is the foundation for my angst.
When there is no light between evangelicalism and nationalism, danger is on the horizon. Indeed, that danger was on full display Jan. 6 at our Capitol and continues to threaten violence. White evangelical silence about it is mystifying.
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In one sense, one can understand the allure of cuddling up to nationalism to bring about the change white evangelicals feel God demands. But this allure must be rejected and resisted.
One need only look to Judas to see the folly of marrying the faith with the flag. Judas wanted to use Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and then establish Judas and his interests in power. Judas never wanted Jesus; he wanted power.
A desire for power appears to be at the heart of the white evangelical movement. Why else would truth be twisted, maligned and abused for the sake of gaining goodwill with political power? When political power is courted, the true power of Christ never can be seen.
For more than 40 years, this combination of power politics and evangelical piety has been a toxic cocktail making the mission of the faith a blurry journey headed to destruction.
My counsel to you
The danger in wanting to see God’s promises come to pass here and now is that we often can get ahead of God. It tempts us to establish God’s rule and reign ourselves.
I believe God’s rule and reign is preferable to any form of human government. However, the kingdom Christ will rule will not be established through fickle worldly and political means.
It appears many in the white evangelical church are trying to do just that, establish God’s rule and reign on the backs of a worldly political system. Danger lies there.
The danger for white evangelicals if they don’t reconsider their methods is multifaceted. For one, the white evangelical church’s being tied so close to the white nationalist movement limits the effectiveness of the church’s primary mission—proclaiming Christ.
Nationalism builds a platform for poisonous inclinations, such as racial superiority. It is designed to marginalize and dehumanize others for political gain. One strategy is to position itself as the victim, which gives nationalists justification to defend themselves by any means.
Nationalism is a self-deputized power. Followers of Christ know, however, that any power not coming from Christ is pseudo power and is destined to fail. Only what is done for Christ shall last.
What does it profit the church to gain political power while losing your salt and light authority given by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords?
I urge you, white evangelical church, to come back to your first love—Christ, who saves for his purposes and sustains for the journey.
Rev. Joseph Fields is the founder and senior pastor of New Beginnings Church in Lewisville and serves on the Baptist Standard board. The views expressed are those solely of the author.