And now, Network Christianity

Lots of Christians supported Donald Trump, for many different reasons.  Some didn’t approve of him, but thought that he would be better than Hillary Clinton.  Some thought Trump would be more favorable to the pro-life cause.  Some thought he would be better on religious liberty.  Some thought Trump would bring more jobs, shake up the status quo, and make America great again.  Most Christians who supported him probably did so for various of these reasons.  But some apparently supported him for theological reasons.

Did you notice how a number of Pentecostal groups, particularly those influenced by TV preachers, were with Trump from the beginning and expressed no qualms about some of his questionable behavior?

According to a recent book on the subject by Brad Christerson and Richard Flory (published by Oxford University Press), there is  a new movement within Pentecostal and charismatic circles.  The authors call it “Independent Network Charismatic”–or “INC”–Christianity.  It doesn’t focus on evangelism or building congregations, nor speaking in tongues or performing miracles.  Though of course Pentecostalists and charismatics continue to care about and to practice such things, this particular strain is solely about acquiring influence.  And it is based not at all on a church, but on independent networks of leaders known as “Apostles.”

INC Christianity teaches that there are “seven mountains of culture”:  business, government, media, arts & entertainment, education, family, and religion.  The idea is that if Christians “capture” each of these mountains–that is, assume leadership in these fields–the nation’s problems will be solved and they will “bring heaven to earth.”

These Network Christians still believe in signs and wonders:  They are convinced that one of them was the election of Donald Trump, whom they consider to be God’s chosen agent to bring in the kingdom of Heaven on earth.

These are not to be confused with Dominionists or Theonomists, who are Calvinists.  Nor do they seem to be millennialists, either pre- or post-, though I could be wrong about that.  (Please enlighten me if you know.)  They are charismatics, seeing leadership in all of these areas as a sort of spiritual gift. UPDATE:  They also strike me as applying the “prosperity gospel”–which these groups also hold to–on the national level.  These leaders are part of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, which more fully accounts for their theology.

I suspect all Christians who support Trump or who are active in politics or who seek cultural impact will get tarred with this brush.  You can ascend those seven mountains–if that is your vocation–without buying into the theology behind these “networks.”  But you should be aware that this new social gospel is in the air. [Read more…]

Are evangelicals responsible for Milo?

1806225034_50df5b8ba4_oHow did the gay, profane, iconoclastic Milo Yiannopoulos get to be a poster child for conservative Republicans?  Was this due to a surge of pro-gay tolerance?  Or have conservative Republicans lost their moral compass?Ben Howe, writing in the Atlantic, blames evangelicals, especially evangelical leaders who taught that Donald Trump’s moral failings should not prevent him from getting their followers’ support.  These evangelicals used to hold politicians to high moral standards.  But in their zeal to support Trump, they have become moral relativists, at least when it comes to politics.  If morality and politics have nothing to with each other, Milo presents no problem.Now the question is, will evangelicals and this new breed of Republicans take the next step of separating morality from government?  Have they already?

Consider Howe’s argument after the jump.  He is writing from an openly anti-Trump position.  I doubt that he would criticize Milo’s gayness.  I would think that he would laud the evangelical leaders who have been giving him a pass.  But does Howe have a point anyway?  Do you see an error in his reasoning?  Didn’t Milo get taken down by a moral reaction? [Read more…]

Wayne Grudem takes back his endorsement of Trump

Wayne Grudem is a prominent and influential evangelical theologian.  As we blogged about, he surprised quite a few people when he endorsed Donald Trump.  But now, in light of that tape of Trump’s sex talk and of the things he said as a regular guest on the Howard Stern show (including sexual talk about his own daughter), Grudem has taken back his endorsement.

But read Grudem’s entire statement after the jump.  He said that Hillary Clinton is “no better” and says that he will definitely not vote for her.  He argues that Christians should not simply refuse to vote.  He says that he does not know what he will do come election day.

One issue he raises is the “witness” of Christians, if they support someone so blatantly lecherous.  That makes it look as if Christians care only for power.  He fears that Christians won’t be taken seriously if they gloss over gross moral failings in the candidates they support.

What do you think of what he says? [Read more…]

The Christian case for Trump?

Wayne Grudem is a conservative evangelical theologian who has written an article entitled Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.  I excerpt it after the jump, along with some attempts to answer the article.

Read both sides.  What do you think about the arguments?  Can you provide further “answers” to either position? [Read more…]

Did Donald Trump “accept Christ”?

Many evangelicals believe that a person becomes a Christian by making a “decision for Christ,” an act of the will, usually involving saying some version of “the sinner’s prayer,” in which the person “accepts Christ.”  We Lutherans certainly believe in conversion, though not construing that as an act of the will, as such, but rather as the Holy Spirit’s creation of faith by means of Baptism and the Word of God.  But some evangelicals treat the “decision for Christ” like Catholics treat Baptism, as being effective ex opere operatoapart from actual faith.

Anyway, lots of conservative Christians of every stripe have problems with Donald Trump.  But James Dobson, who once opposed Trump but now serves on his evangelical advisory board, said that he was told that Trump was “led to Christ” by the controversial prosperity gospel TV preacher Paula White.  That means that the presumptive Republican presidential candidate is a “baby Christian,” who doesn’t understand the language and practices of mature Christians, but who is a Christian nonetheless.  The implication is that Evangelicals should cut him some slack while still being able to vote for him in good conscience.

Read about this after the jump.  What do you think about it?   [Read more…]

Trump’s evangelical advisory board

Donald Trump has appointed an evangelical advisory board.  See who’s on it after the jump.

[Read more…]