For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 NIV
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. Mark 13:22-23 NIV
True and False Prophets
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20 NIV
True and False Disciples
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26 NIV
American Christians have become spiritually deaf, blind, and dead.
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:13-14 NIV
Do we know what the fruit of the Spirit entails? Do we understand and mirror the life, character, integrity, and personality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do we read, meditate, and study the Word of God daily? Do we even know anything that His Word says? Do we pray? Do we really comprehend and clearly understand what embracing the title of Christian means? It's easy to be saved -- we just have to believe. It's difficult to be transformed into a true follower of Jesus and put self aside to become like Him.
Here is an article by Ed Stetzer that prompted me to speak out. It's a sad day. It's a day of deep contemplation. It's a day of reckoning for all America and especially for all Americans who call themselves Christian.
Evangelicals face a reckoning: Donald Trump and the future of our faith
By Ed Stetzer, Opinion contributor, USA Today, January 10, 2021
We must live up to our calling as evangelicals: to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world, rather than betray Him to sustain worldly power.
No one likes to admit they were fooled. It's tough to admit we were wrong. Now, many evangelicals are seeing President Donald Trump for who he is, but more need to see what he has done to us.
It’s time for an evangelical reckoning.
I’m an evangelical, like about a quarter of the United States population. Evangelicals believe in the good news of the Gospel — that Jesus died on the cross, for our sins, and in our place — and we need to tell the world about that.
But, that’s not what most people are talking about today. You see, white evangelicals embraced the president, some begrudgingly and some enthusiastically, because he addressed many of their concerns.
Many evangelicals and leaders invested money, time, and conviction towards the promise of MAGA. In turn, Donald Trump made good on these investments from an evangelical perspective. Most evangelicals (me included) are grateful for the Supreme Court justices he appointed and for some of the religious liberty concerns he addressed. His anti-abortion stances surprised many (again, me included), and for that I was thankful.
But, most of that is in jeopardy now because Trump is who many of us warned other evangelicals that he was.
We reap what Trump has sown
He’s burned down the Republican party, emboldened white supremacists, mainstreamed conspiracy theorists, and more.
Yet of greater concern for me is the trail of destruction he has left within the evangelical movement. Tempted by power and trapped within a culture war theology, too many evangelicals tied their fate to a man who embodied neither their faith nor their vision of political character.
Social media isn’t always true: Evangelicals need to address the QAnoners in our midst. [Internet Link]
And as a result, we are finally witnessing an evangelical reckoning.
For years we’ve been talking about a coming evangelical reckoning. A flood of books, articles, and conferences — many of which I wrote and participated in — have warned of the approaching storm clouds for the evangelical movement.
This reckoning is here.
Americans (and the world) have the right to ask us some hard questions.
Some of us were vocal, often and early, about the dangers of Trumpism. It was costly.
So as we sort through the coming months and years, we must be clear on three reasons why we have arrived at this point:
► First, far too many tolerated egregious behavior.
The past half decade has offered near daily examples of people co-opting the gospel for sinful ends. Racism, nationalism, sexism, and host of other sins have found purchase within the evangelical movement in both overt and subtle expressions. Many have been able to dismiss these examples as outliers that did not truly represent the evangelical movement. We have long since exhausted this excuse.
As evangelicals, we have to stop saying this isn't who we are. This is who we are; these are our besetting sins.
However, this isn't who we have to be.
► Second, far too few failed to live up to their promise of speaking truth to power.
During the 2016 election, and at many points since, many evangelicals justified their full-throated support by promising to be a check on Trump’s character. What has become apparent is that this promise was hollow.
Too few were willing to speak out regularly and often couched their criticism so much it lacked any weight. When evangelicals finally had access to the White House, they seemed unable or unwilling to use their prophetic voice to speak truth to power.
Watergate figure, and later evangelical leader, Chuck Colson once said:
“When I served under President Nixon, one of my jobs was to work with special-interest groups, including religious leaders. We would invite them to the White House, wine and dine them, take them on cruises aboard the presidential yacht … Ironically, few were more easily impressed than religious leaders. The very people who should have been immune to the worldly pomp seemed most vulnerable.”
That was us.
►Finally, all of us have failed to foster healthy political discipleship.
The foundation of our reckoning was laid far before Trump. Committed to reaching the world, the evangelical movement has emphasized the evangelistic and pietistic elements of the mission. However, it has failed to connect this mission to justice and politics. The result of this discipleship failure has led us to a place where not only our people, but many of our leaders, were easily fooled and co-opted by a movement that ended with the storming of the capitol building.
What comes next
At the root of these three causes lies our inability to live up to our calling as evangelicals: to righteously, prophetically, and compassionately proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Our reckoning is not because we have lost worldly power but because of what we betrayed to attain and sustain it in the first place.
Trump mob attack on the Capitol: 10 urgent security questions that need answers [Internet Link]
I have been working on a book on evangelicalism for three years and it has been one of the most frustrating projects in my life. At its core, the problem is not in diagnosing the illness but in prescribing the cure. Where do we go? What do we do? How can the evangelical movement navigate this reckoning?
In listening and praying, I’ve found myself coming back to Martin Luther’s words: “Toward those who have been misled, we are to show ourselves parentally affectionate, so that they may perceive that we seek not their destruction but their salvation.”
I don't believe that everyone who voted for Trump was fooled or foolish. And, Trump voters are not Trump. They are not responsible for all of his actions over the last four years. But they are responsible for the ways they responded and for their own hearts.
If the evangelical movement is to flourish in the coming generations, we must face (and even embrace) this reckoning. As leaders and members we must acknowledge our failings but also understand the habits and idols that drew us to Trump in the first place.
That we have failed and been fooled is disheartening but not surprising. The true test will be how we respond when our idols are revealed.
Will we look inside and repent when needed, or will we double down? Every political and cultural instinct will pull us to the latter but God calls us to the former. But into this temptation we hear the words of Jesus: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
We have reached a reckoning. What comes next will reveal where our trust truly lies.
Ed Stetzer is a dean and professor at Wheaton College, where he also leads the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. Follow him on Twitter: @edstetzer
Here is the link to read Ed Stetzer’s article directly online: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/01/10/after-donald-trump-evangelical-christians-face-reckoning-column/6601393002/