Where is the Evangelical Council to the President? We used to hear from them, or about them, quite frequently. But they have suddenly gone strangely silent. I’ve googled for wisdom and support of Trump from luminaries like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, and Robert Jeffress and cannot find even a peep from them. What’s up?
I strongly suspect they realize they have dug themselves into a deep pit, a veritable black hole, and cannot escape without humbly admitting, “We made a mistake.” But they have bitten of the same poison pill that Trump swallowed early in his life and cannot humbly admit, “I was wrong.” For they have a tremendous ego investment in their persona as a “Purveyor of the Truth of Jesus,” but are not able to realize they can be that and simultaneously be egregiously full of an ego that demands aggrandizement just as much as does Trump. AND, I speak from experience, as I started out on a path of seeking a similarly specious identity but was miraculously rescued by the Grace of God which leaves me now but a mere “small clod of cholesterol in the mainstream of life.” And, I’m humbly “proud” of this lowly station. It takes all the pressure off.
I must emphasize that these men…and women…do as I do, echo the words of the Psalmist, “My soul followeth hard after Thee, O Lord.” And I do not doubt their sincerity, nor do I doubt the efficacy of their faith in Jesus Christ. But I do challenge them on something I’ve had to wrestle with, this “passion” for “Thee, O Lord” can easily be an ego endeavor as it will afford one an opportunity to ensconce himself in a position of power in Christian culture. But this immediately flies in the face of a fundamental teaching of Jesus—that power is found in powerlessness and the appeal to the power of ego-gratification is intoxicating as, ahem, “hell.”
Trump has put one of his disciples in the limelight again, asking Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas to speak at the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem. But Jeffress is catching some flack for having assured everyone that Muslims and Jews are definitely going to hell. I certainly believe all religious traditions are flawed, especially those who feel they aren’t and assume they can make pronouncements from on high about other religious traditions. But I think it would behoove Mr. Jeffress and his ilk…and this “ilk” is present in all religious traditions…to pay an equal amount of attention to the “beam” that is in their own eye as opposed to the “mote” in the other person’s.
But this is a gut-level issue with spirituality. Those of us with that neurological “god-spot” in a constant state of, “over-heated” tend to take ourselves too seriously and become intoxicated with the sweet nectar of certainty. And, speaking from experience, it is so utterly delightful to be able to stand in the pulpit and make pronouncements from “on high” knowing that God is speaking through you. How do you know that? Well. Well…well, you just know! But what you do not know is that this certainty that empowers you at that moment is merely a false bravado based on profound insecurity, reflecting a kind of “whistling in the dark,” ersatz spirituality that will have to be addressed by decades of ministration by, “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”
Ego is an inherent dimension of all human enterprises, including that deemed so noble as to merit the label, “Divine.” But when ego has succeeded in accomplishing its goal in the spiritual realm, it will produce someone like Mr. Jeffress who will be brazenly arrogant and obtuse without even the slightest awareness of it. No wonder he is a disciple of Trump with the role in the administration of helping to “christianize” the president, making him more viable with the base of the Republican Party.