Who is Wayne Grudem? Does his Trump endorsement matter?

Who is Wayne Grudem? Does his Trump endorsement matter? October 19, 2016

Wayne Grudem is an evangelical theologian and professor at Phoenix Seminary. He hails from the Reformed wing of conservative evangelicalism, and is perhaps best known for his teaching on gender roles.

In 2010, Grudem published a handbook about Christianity and political issues called Politics according to the Bible. So if you only know a few things about Grudem, you know that he has a tendency to think that his views and what the Bible teaches are one in the same. I imagine that goes to your head and finds expression in some pretty ugly ways. Grudem:

I have read the Republican platform and the Democratic platform for this year. In my opinion, the Republican platform is more consistent with biblical moral principles than any platform I have ever read. And the Democratic platform is more antithetical to Christian principles than any platform I have read.

If you were a well-respected conservative evangelical theology and Bible professor with no training in normative or empirical political science, you could still get a conservative evangelical publishing house to pay you for a book about politics. You could get conservative websites to publish your opinions.

I think it’s fair and important to point out that evangelicals do not have any special insight about politics. Sure, political journalists regularly ask evangelical elites for comment on political matters because we are told that evangelicals are an interesting and consequential slice of the American electorate.

Image credit: Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

After four decades of partisan political engagement, we now have a lot of evangelical organizations and figureheads around the country that specialize in politics. Many of them have no reasonable claim to special knowledge, insight, or wisdom about Christianity and politics. Some lead with faith, some lead with politics. But not many of them are experts in any meaningful way.

Still, political journalists are primed to suppose that evangelicals know and care what evangelical leaders think about politics. They don’t.

Last week, I suggested (here and here) reasons why Trump-voting evangelicals disproportionately hail from non-denominational institutions. Grudem is a serious Calvinist with rigorous theological commitments. But I note that he teaches at an unaffiliated institution. Maybe that’s not a relevant point. I just wonder if he might be counseled by theologically like-minded colleagues at a Southern Baptist or Presbyterian institution to not write meandering op-eds about whether he thinks Christians should vote for Trump.

No one is looking to Professor Wayne Grudem, Bible scholar and theologian, for guidance about whether to vote for Trump. His meandering, inconsistent, public waffling in real-time about Trump is truly not very interesting. It is typical of white conservative evangelicals who have been socialized into thinking that Democrats are particularly evil and that Republican voting is essentially a Christian duty, but who would balk at supporting an obnoxious, unchristian GOP nominee like Donald Trump.

Dr. Grudem’s latest op-ed is here. It is terrible. The only lesson here is that some leading evangelicals are objectively bad at thinking about politics, even if they, like Grudem, went to Harvard and have a good professional reputation.

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