Robert Meyer
Message to Mark Galli: Thanks, but no thanks
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By Robert Meyer
December 26, 2019

Ordinarily I'm not too concerned with responding to people who arrive at different conclusions than myself, which are based on personal principle. I've had numerous people over the past three years say that they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump, though they now largely agree with the platform Trump is pursuing. It is when a personal opinion extends to the level of recommendation that I find motivation to challenge it. Mark Galli's editorial in Christianity Today falls into that category.

If I was willing to agree that Galli had made an otherwise thoughtful analysis, it would have been discredited by his stated premise as follows.

"But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."

Really? Did Mr. Galli peruse the same information and testimony that many of the rest of us have seen and observed? If anything, the case against Trump has been inconclusive and one sided, one reason why the impeachment process is not resonating well with the public. He sees a contrast between the conclusions of the Mueller investigation and the Ukraine call. But they have all the earmarks of being two spokes in the same wheel of deception.

Given that, I have to wonder if Galli's beef is really that he defaults to Trump's immoral past practices.

A useful principle applicable to this situation is Proverbs 18:17 (NAS) "The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him."

Galli concedes Trump's side of the story has gone largely unrevealed to the public, and that the impeachment hearing didn't accord Trump ample due process, but strangely enough it doesn't mitigate his opinion. One wonders if this is a case where facts are refracted through the lens of the outcome that one already prefers? Were Trump opponents not mentioning impeachment intentions from the day of his election?

Mr.Galli illustrates his consistency by pointing out that he also was an advocate for Bill Clinton's impeachment. The difference is that you probably don't remember the media publicity or all the praise that his recommendation garnered outside the evangelical community. Neither do I.

Because Evangelical Christians genuinely struggle with personal principle, they are ripe for a gambit used by detractors I call, "Here is a pistol, please shoot yourself in the foot." The election of Donald Trump appeared to turn the tables on this state of affairs.

Often secularists and others who reject ideas specifically because they are biblical, are happy to use truncated biblical concepts to shame Christians by creating a crisis of conscience for their own cultural advantage. They have played this tune like a Stradivarius. The number of such people applauding Galli's diatribe indicate this tactic is again in play. This hand is played so predictably often that the cards are have become marked.

Over the past three years, I can't count the number of people who have questioned how Christians can support a figure as personally deplorable as Donald Trump. I have found this proposition, to be in reality, less than challenging, and have devoted considerable editorial capital to helping those who have struggled with it. Saul Alinski's Rules For Radicals brazenly proffers the bromide that you must hold your opponent to his own standards, while claiming none that you can be held accountable for yourself.

In Jesus' time he sent his disciples out with the warning "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." I've seen many Christians who are as innocent as doves, but the shrewd as serpents edict has been more elusive to master and in dangerously short supply.

Christians often feel the need to act based on personal principle, without considering whether such actions result in a greater evil over the long run. Consider the 2012 presidential elections. Many Christians decided they couldn't vote for Mitt Romney for no other reason than because he was a Mormon. Instead they wrote in Jesus Christ on their ballot, despite the fact that Jesus never announced his availability for the position. I pointed out that all this act of "principle" accomplished, was giving an advantage to a political party, that at it's own national convention, showed delegates cheering the motion to remove mention of God from their written platform. Was that the more astute and principled choice? It worked wonders for the people who despise evangelical Christians.

Are Christians magically prohibited from choosing the lesser of evils as a justification for their actions? If President Donald Trump is removed from office or forsaken by Christian voters in the next election because of his past moral failing, is that a better choice than empowering a political party that espouses an objectionable platform on several counts, regardless of the personal affability of their chosen candidate?

Further imagine if Mike Pence were president due to impeachment. Would Trump detractors suddenly praise Pence for his moral uprightness, or would they mock him for his puritanical practices, conjure up innuendo about him trying to implement a theocracy, and call him a bigot for signing a RFRA into law as Indiana's Governor? Who would step up and be the conservative candidate in the next presidential election?

Mr. Galli's recommendation is notably silent on these important ramifications. I therefore say to Mr. Galli, thanks, but no thanks.

© Robert Meyer

 

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Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the Cheesehead country of the upper midwest... (more)

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