An Open Letter to American Evangelicals

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Pro-Trump protesters storming the US Capitol building, Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo: screenshot)

I am sitting here writing this the morning after the riot at the US Capital which briefly delayed the certification of Electoral College votes for Joe Biden.

There is so much to say.

I could devote this blog to talking about all the lies and deceit and hypocrisy and double standards that have long plagued the political, social and cultural discourse in the Western world and the toxic environment all that created and how these ugly events in Washington DC are a predictable, if not inevitable, result of all that. I could, on a related note, talk about all the highly irresponsible rhetoric which has come from so many influencers over the last few years which has fueled this phenomenon and poured vast amounts of gasoline on a fire that was already burning long before Donald Trump showed up.

I could talk about how absurd it is that politicians and cultural figures who, just a few months ago, were cheering on violent demonstrations in cities across the US are now decrying the violent demonstration which just occurred in the US Capital building.

I could talk (oh, how long I could talk!) about how the US educational system has been failing for generations to teach children how to be good citizens of their country because it was too busy teaching them subjects like Algebra and Geology that only a tiny fraction of them would ever use again after leaving school.

In short, I could talk about all the blame that can be placed at a great many sets of feet and how it is profoundly unfair to blame just one person and his supporters and how that unfairness will breed more problems, as unfairness always does.

That was what I was planning to write this blog about, but as I prepared to start, these words of Jesus came to mind  from Luke 6:42 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

That brought me to a hard stop, and I think it ought to stop all of us.

Brothers and sisters, especially the Evangelical Church in the US to whom this open letter is specifically addressed, I have a suggestion to make. 

We need to stop investing so much time arguing about political, cultural, social and economic issues and instead start being salt and light in this world, as Jesus very specifically directed us to be in Matthew 5:13-16.

Every single agent of influence in the US (and indeed, the entire Western world of which the US is a part) needs to stop pointing out the bad behavior of others and confess their own sins, their own hypocrisy, their own mistakes, poor judgement, bad decisions and overheated rhetoric which all-too-often demonized (sometimes literally) opponents. That’s the only way to get out of the pit we’re all in.

But this process of confession won’t start with anyone else, so it needs to start with the Church. That’s how we can be salt and light in this situation.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking as you read this.

You’re thinking that if the Church confesses it’s sin, than the forces opposed to the Church will not confess their own sins but just use our confessions as another weapon against us.

That’s probably exactly how things will play out. But that doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility.

Also, I beg to point out that in this generation which has been deeply traumatized by the tidal wave of hypocrisy, corruption and deceit which has hit them is desperately searching for someone with humility and integrity. This is an opportunity to reach out to them.

This also needs to be done as soon as possible because the Evangelical Church in the US which so unreservedly embraced Donald Trump is now going to be attacked for that support like never before. Every aspect of what the Church does and stands for will be in the crosshairs, including support for Israel. Trying to defend ourselves by pointing out how unfair and/or hypocritical the criticism is for whatever reason won’t help. The only way to disarm these attacks is to pre-empt them by confessing the mistakes that were made which can’t be unmade and challenging others to do the same. 

People will be willing to forgive and they will also be attracted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if the Church of Jesus Christ acts with humility and integrity. Anything else will just turn people off to the Gospel even more and lead to more and more vicious attacks on Believers and everything we’re involved with, including Israel.

If that doesn’t motivate us to do what we must, then I don’t think there’s anything else I can say which would.