Is This the End of Evangelicalism in America?

Gregg Jackson

11/2/2007 11:12:56 AM - Gregg Jackson

  A disturbing sign of the state of American evangelicalism has appeared in the seventh year of the 21 st century in a Townhall.com article dated October 18,2007 entitled, "Why Evangelicals Should Support Mitt Romney" by Wayne Grudem. One of America's most popular evangelical theologians, Grudem is trying to persuade evangelicals to vote a Mormon for president. Wayne Grudem's "Systematic Theology" is the gold standard of evangelical doctrine and a sacred fixture in evangelical seminaries, pastor libraries and Bible studies.  

In it, he defines Mormonism as "clearly a false church." He shows why Mormonism has never been included in the Christian Church: It contradicts major Christian doctrine regarding the person of God, Christ and His work and salvation plan. A cornerstone of the Mormon Church, Grudem writes, is the classic heresy of Saint Paul's day – angel worship. In his book, Grudem insists that an orthodox Christian must practice the theology he reads. So why would he step forward to become part of the Mitt Romney propaganda blitz trying to mislead evangelicals into doing what would shock most evangelicals in American history: elect a Mormon for president?  

It goes from strange to bizarre, considering Romney opened his campaign posing as the uber-evangelical Ronald Reagan while suggesting Reagan's evangelical base are bigots. Romney's evangelists, conservative talk show hosts Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt, among others, were much more outspoken. They angrily and repeatedly characterized evangelicals' lack of support for Romney as ugly bigotry.  

Why would a major evangelical leader jump aboard a political campaign that views evangelicals as bigots? Here are 10 important things for evangelicals to consider about Grudem's letter.  

1. Grudem's epistle shows how mesmerizing liberal propaganda has become to the American Right. He buys a lot of liberal myths, including Hannity's bigotry charge. Sounding like Hillary Clinton, Grudem writes: "Have we come to the point where evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not..." The evangelical bigotry charge comes right out of the 50 year Democrat playbook – "Evangelicals are bigots, racists and anti-Semites!" Why do we need the fairness doctrine when conservatives are making Democrat talking points? The evangelical bigotry indictment is a phony mountain-out-of-a-molehill argument. The immense sacrifice of white lives for black freedom and the fact that no nation has treated Jews and immigrants better than America is evidence that must be balanced against the phony liberal charge of bigotry. The Mormon Church could not have thrived as it has anywhere else in the world.  

2. Grudem would be a heretic in the history of American evangelicalism. The vast majority of Christians for most of American history would have been outraged at an evangelical Christian wearing a sandwich board for a Mormon candidate. As they saw it, America was a Christian nation to be led by a Christian president, who would be led by the God of the Bible. Grudem is out of step with the founding fathers. Voicing the majority opinion of the day, the first Supreme Court justice, John Jay said, "Americans should prefer Christian presidents." Washington wanted to be sworn in on the Bible, which he then kissed and said, "so help me, God." Even the "deists" Grudem cites, Jefferson and Franklin, agreed with Justice Jay. They thought Jesus was the ideal president. Grudem's reasoning is right out of the historically apostate Southern Baptist logic today: we're electing a president not a pope.  

3. Grudem is clueless to the fact that in the 230 year history of American elections, Americans have overwhelmingly chosen conservative Christian presidents. Apparently he's unaware that even in America's most liberal era, the last 40 years, voters elected conservative Christian presidents – or people posing as one. It was Democrats, not Republicans who began the religious right phenomenon with Jimmy Carter who they portrayed as a "born again evangelical Bible teacher." The only way Democrats won the presidency over the last 40 years was with phony evangelicals. We now know Carter and Bill Clinton are as evangelical as Hillary.  

4. Grudem's letter is as shocking and clueless as his book is brilliant and well reasoned. The foundation of his argument for Romney is almost identical to the left wing Newsweek's March announcement of Romney's candidacy: (1) Romney's a brilliant Harvard grad (like Grudem), (2) a successful investment banker and manager, (3) a great governor, and (4) he was savior of the 2002 Olympic games. Grudem says he "disagrees" with Mormon teaching, except that much of their ethical and value teaching is similar to the Bible's. The same could be said for the Koran and the Communist Manifesto.  

5. His epistle contradicts a lot of his theology book. On the one hand, Grudem emphasizes how Christians need to employ theology in their lives and not just read it. Yet even though he deems Mormonism a false church and its angel worship is heretical to the American evangelical tradition that built America, Grudem calls for evangelicals to forget all that and Vote for Mitt. Grudem's epistle is based largely on worldly and liberal reasoning and the biblical reasons he does use are out of context. Let's look at that...  

6. Grudem commits the evangelical sin of "eisegesis" –   reading into the Bible what he wants to see. He cites Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus as pagan leaders who did God's will. The problem is: God's children never "elected" these people. God did. When the Hebrews cried out for a king other than their God, the king turned out to be demon-possessed. The big Bible picture Grudem misses is the one the founders understood well, and went into their construction of a Christian America. God wants people to elect his son their king. They envisioned America as God's chosen nation with Christians doing God's will by electing godly presidents. The American majority opinion has been: this is a Christian nation and God's tool for good in the modern world.  

7. Grudem's endorsement of Romney is based on arguments that are gullible, naive and plainly wrong. Romney was not a good governor as Grudem insists. He pretends to be against abortion, yet he would never have been elected governor if he were anti-abortion. He has long been pro-choice. His turnaround on abortion smells like a cynical political move that could be abandoned at any time. The bottom line on his term as governor is: If he leaves America in the same state he left the Cradle of LIberty, America will be in a nose dive by the end of his first term. He was secretly instrumental in the gay marriage campaign. He tossed Massachusetts a government health care plan – which includes abortion – as he walked out the door. He helped elect a Hillary disciple as governor and happily presented him to Bay Staters in a public ceremony. The new governor supports gay marriage and gambling casinos.  

8. His reasoning that Mitt's private beliefs and behavior are his personal business and don't influence his political actions is a liberal idea now rejected by voters. It is like the discredited liberal defense of Bill Clinton. His private beliefs have no bearing on his decisions as president. Voters no longer accept this liberal reasoning and they now factor in personal candidate decisions in choosing a president. The idea that Romney's Mormon beliefs would hot have a profound effect on America is irrational and unbiblical.  

9. Grudem's "common sense" arguments for Romney are illogical. Romney has a good shot at winning. He does? His approval rating is roughly equivalent to that of the Pelosi congress, despite the king's ransom he spent. Grudem says McCain and Thompson are "not reliably conservative" as if Romney is. Hello? He was governor of arguably the most liberal state in America. He enabled gay marriage and gave Massachusetts Hillarycare. He helped Massachusetts return to an all Democrat totalitarian state and enabled a Hillary disciple to become governor. Reliably conservative?! What in the Sam Hill is Grudem talking about?!

  10. Grudem's epistle to evangelicals is an attempt to mislead American Christians and is a sad diagnostic of the state of conservative church leadership today. His eagerness to become part of a cynical political Crusade to mislead evangelical pastors and their flocks is a diagnostic of the Laodicean state of conservative Christian leadership. No matter how you slice the Romney baloney, whether it's his religious beliefs that evangelical voters don't accept, or his record as governor of America's Cradle of Liberty, Romney is not a strong conservative candidate and his presidency could spell the end of America.

Co-author Paul Dinger is 30 year veteran Boston journalist writing a book entitled "The Secret Meaning of America."