The All Our Minds project | On God, Adonai and Allah

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The All Our Minds project | On God, Adonai and Allah

I received today’s question before I even launched the All Our Minds Project in May of last year. This one demanded an understanding of religions outside of my own—and in order to do it justice, I needed to do some digging. Six months later, I think I’ve got something pretty special to share with you all. Here’s the question:

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are known as the three Abrahamic religions because of their shared founder. If they all worship the same god, why do these groups historically not get along?

Quick history lesson: the three Abrahamic religions are named as such because they all find their origin in Abraham the prophet. While all three groups count Abraham as a significant pillar in their history and beliefs, each of them holds to a different account of his life’s narrative.

For instance, Jews and Christians believe that the descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac are God’s chosen people, while Muslims believe that Abraham’s son Ishmael was the child of promise. This may seem like a minor detail, but since Muhammad descended from Ishmael and is hailed as the formal founder of Islam, Ishmael’s status as the child of promise is critical to that tradition (Origin of Islam, pars. 3-5).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I had a lot of ground to cover for this question. Instead of falling down the deep dark rabbit hole of Internet research, I decided to go straight to the source—or should I say sources.

For the sake of responding to today’s question, I’ve spoken with a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian Pastor and a Muslim Imam. These three religious leaders—Rabbi Benjamin Brackman, Reverend Hendrik Shanazarian and Imam Jamal Rahman—each talked with me about their individual views of God, their Abrahamic roots and their thoughts on the historic tensions between these three groups. Here are some of the insights they shared during those three conversations.

Do you believe that Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God?

REVEREND SHANAZARIAN: In any religion, there are many, many different thoughts and approaches. Even inside a single religion or faith, there is no harmony. Sometimes inside that one faith, they have fought each other. They have killed each other. Both had the same name, but on special doctrine, they couldn't agree.

Some would argue that no, the God of Christianity is not the God of Islam. They say that, for example, if a religion doesn't believe in Trinity, then the God he believes in is not the God I believe in, so therefore it's not the same God. We can't worship together, because we are not calling or praying to the same God.

My thought is that we can talk about the same thing, but at the same time see from different angles. We can disagree and describe that same thing in completely opposite or different ways. The fact that we do not have the same belief about God does not mean we are each believing in a different God. We may all be trying to know God, but our approaches are from different angles, different experiences, different starting points. That's why each one of us has a different understanding.

IMAM RAHMAN: There’s a verse in the Quran that says, "If all the trees in the universe became pens and all the seven oceans became ink and began to describe who God is, describe his great mystery, you wouldn't come close to describing a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of God's mysteries.”

So basically, our definition of God is a human concept. None of us can really understand what God is. So we as humans struggle to describe God in our own way. Christians go through trinity. Muslims talk about the 99 names of God. The struggle is for the human intelligence or knowledge to really describe this indescribable mystery and it always falls short.

The Quran also says several times in direct revelation for the Muslims to tell Jews and Christians that your God and our God is the same. It says that very clearly. Not only do we worship the same God, but we are cousins of the same Abrahamic family… and that family is a very, very, very dysfunctional family.

But there's a wonderful saying in Islamic spirituality that if my relationship with my religion comes in the way with my relationship with you, it will definitely come in the way of my relationship with God, whatever my understanding of God is.

You believe Jesus is God as a Christian. I believe Jesus is a prophet. That doesn't mean that something has to come in between us. If we do the work of becoming more Christian, more Islamic, more Jewish by actually doing the work of what is called transforming the ego, these differences remain, but they don't pose a threat. The threats remain when we haven't done this work and we have this feeling of separation.

RABBI BRACKMAN: The word “god” would be the best way to describe what we have in common. But really what we share is strong belief. Let’s go back to what it means to be an Abrahamic religion. In the Bible, Abraham identified himself as a Hebrew and, because he was, he chose a very different path in believing in a God and a deity. His generation believed that God had manifested himself in to multiple gods. Each god had the ability to bring about change in the areas of one's life. So if you were looking for love, then you would go to the love god. If you needed rain, you'd go to the rain god. The idea was that God was all too powerful to be involved and engaged in my love life or the rain needed for my field.

Now Abraham realized that God could be all knowing and at the same time still take notice of the minor details of life. He didn't see it as a contradiction. And in fact his belief in God forced him to come to that conclusion because he said, "If you believe that God needs to delegate, then you are basically limiting God.” And since God is not limited by anything, he can do both. So that's where Judaism picked up.

Why do you think that there is such tension between these three groups?

RABBI BRACKMAN: In many cases, Jews, Muslims and Christians do get along. It's not fair to say that we always haven't got along. History has shown many times when the Muslims were very welcoming and hospitable to Jews. There were times when Christians were as well. It goes both ways.

But even in the best of times, it’s probably true to say about all three religions that as much as we get along, we each believe that we’ve got it all right. Each religion believes that they are the superior religion.

Muslims have verses in their texts about commandments to kill Jews and some Muslims have used those verses to justify hurting Jews. The idea that Jesus is a God and Jews killed their God has also been a source of anti-Semitism over the ages.

I do know that in England for example, there are a lot of interfaith relations between Jews and Muslims, primarily because they find themselves both being persecuted in similar ways. This has actually brought Jews and Muslims together to fight and bring a unified voice against these elements.

REVEREND SHANAZARIAN: On some issues, we may come together. For example, if it comes to believing in God and not believing God, all three are in agreement. Monotheism. Belief in creation. Belief in a higher authority. Belief in some kind of reward and punishment. Belief in some form of end days and some form of ethical values.

But of course we all have very different beliefs about and around these things. When I talk with some of my Muslim friends, they say, "We believe in Christ. Why don't you believe in Muhammad?" But then I ask, "Okay, what do you believe about Christ?" For them, Christ is a prophet, and they love him, and they revere him—but ask any devout Christian, Christ is not a prophet only. He's the Son of God. He's a person in the trinity. Do we have the same belief? No.

In Christianity, we believe that we can know God only because God has revealed Himself. Our knowledge of God is limited to God's revelation. In Islam, they say that we know God only through Quran. Quran is God's revelation. Then, in Christianity, we say that the Bible is the revelation.

If these two revelations are contradictory in some areas—one revelation says it's Ishmael, and the other one says it's Isaac—then how can you bring both together? Each one is ultimately believed by each side to be God's revelation. From there, you see differences. If we sincerely talk about coming together, our books do not let us do that. That is, if the starting point is our books.

And it's not only belief and theology that make it difficult for us to come together. Over history, the major encounters between Christians and Muslims were to prove that the other is wrong. Because of those encounters, the relationship has gone wrong. They have killed each other. Who is the right follower of God? Now, it's not only the doctrine. It's the history. It's the politics.

IMAM RAHMAN: We are so focused on the theology, but the main problem is the untamed human ego. It's a lack of work of becoming more Christ-like, more Allah-like, more Elohim-like. So when we haven't done that spiritual work, we want to be superior to the others. We have tension with the other. We have a holier than thou attitude. We engage in exclusivity.

I would say the main reason for conflict is that religious institutions by their nature are inclined to want to become exclusive. The Quran says it accepts the divine revelations sent to Jews and Christians, but that some of them corrupted the revelations. In other words, it says we finally found the correct answer or the better way.

So there tends to be a focus in each of the traditions on exclusivity and being better than the other. That really is not a reflection of religion. It's a reflection of the human ego. That’s actually what makes one feel that their god is different or superior to the other.

The other level is, of course, politics. Historically, the Christians were upset when Mohammad came into the picture. People were converting to Islam. That was a threat. Then later in modern times when Israel was established, politics came in the way of that relationship. So that’s not so much religion. It's really politics and not doing the work of becoming a more complete and developed human being.

Do you think, are there opportunities for unity between these three faith traditions without compromising our own core beliefs?

IMAM RAHMAN: This is the main work I do. I work with a pastor and a rabbi and this is the main question we are asked all over the country. Even when we go overseas, we're asked the same question and as a Muslim, I can tell you there are several verses in the Quran that have become like a mantra for us.

The verses say, "If Allah wanted, Allah could have made all of us one single community. But Allah chose to create diversity in languages, in colors, men and women, religions for one primary reason that you might come to know the other." The best way to overcome polarization no matter what the difference is by coming to know the other on a human level. That's very important. It becomes difficult to dehumanize or demonize the other when we have a human connection.

RABBI BRACKMAN: I think there's a lot of unity already. There are many denominations amongst Christians who work hand-in-hand with Jews, and the same thing is to be said about Muslims.

I'll say two things here. As in all cases, the more understanding, more teaching of tolerance across the board will bring these religions closer together. That needs to be done on every level and all three religions need to promote that. I’m part of a group of faith leaders here in Colorado and they get together to achieve a level of understanding and unity. So that's going on all over the place.

The other thing is that ultimately, these religions are different. That's why they are what they are. That's why they're not one religion. That's why there isn't such a thing as one Abraham religion. And when there are differences amongst people, there will be disagreements. There will be arguments. There will be clashes. And that is the bottom line.

We are different. We just are. Judaism is very different than Christianity. It's very different than Islam and vice versa. And each one feels, "Why should we dilute our faith and our core beliefs?” We're not going to. I think that would be dishonest to each of those religions respectively. So I think it's important to just all be different because that’s what we are.

REVEREND SHANAZARIAN: It depends what you mean by unity. I think it is possible to hold firmly to our beliefs while also being respectful of each other. But there is a difference between unity and love, respect, care. I would actually say that unity is not the best goal. For me, the hope is that we all try to see each other as people created in God's image. As a Christian pastor, I can definitely say that that is Biblical. It is true to the Bible. It is true to the teachings of Jesus Christ. This is the way I teach my people. Toward that goal. We are in God's image, and we are called to love our enemies, to care for them. If there is opportunity, I share my belief and at the same time, I must be able to change myself. It's not one-sided. To me, a God-fearing Christian is someone who is always willing to learn and adjust his beliefs based on his new understanding of Jesus and the Bible.

So now what?

As I consider the perspectives of these three religious leaders, I notice a few common threads. They all mention the role that history and politics play in the tensions between us. Generations of violence seem to have poisoned the water for better relationships. Sadly, that violence continues to this day.

Beyond history and politics, I find it valuable that they each emphasize respecting and loving one another without compromising our unique faith doctrines. At the end of the day, these three religions have vastly different beliefs about who God is, how we relate to Him and what He requires of us. As Rabbi Brackman said, diluting those differences in the name of unity would be dishonest and—I would add—pointless.

Love and respect, on the other hand, should be the common denominator of any human relationship—even within what Imam Rahman called our “very, very, very dysfunctional” Abrahamic family.

When I first received this question, my knee jerk reaction was to say, “There’s no way we all worship the same God.” Six months, three interviews, many prayers and hours of research later, I will at least say that the answer is far from black and white. For proof, see the 2,000+ words above.

Resources

Brackman, Benjamin (2018, December 7). Phone interview.

Rahman, Jamal (2018, November 27). Phone interview.

Shanazarian, Hendrik (2018, November 25). Phone interview.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/20019388?read-now=1&seq=9#page_scan_tab_contents

https://www.islamreligion.com/articles/293/viewall/story-of-abraham/

http://interfaithexplorers.com/for-teachers/teaching-information-and-guidance/the-three-abrahamic-faiths

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The All Our Minds project | On Tradition and Scripture

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The All Our Minds project | On Tradition and Scripture

After years of creating very detailed Toys R Us Wish Lists, I can count on one hand the number of Christmas gifts that I remember getting as a child. I remember being really excited about opening and playing with them. I remember praying to God for patience when I couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve—true story. But what I remember most about my childhood Christmases are the traditions that formed within our family along the way.

Putting up the tree together.

Going to the midnight church service on Christmas Eve.

Waking up mom and dad at 5 am on Christmas morning.

Reading the story of Christ’s birth before opening presents.

Some of our traditions were passed along from previous generations. Others we just picked up over time. Regardless of how they were introduced, they shaped my experience and understanding of Christmas in a way that gifts never could.

Every family has their traditions, and church families are no exception.

Over centuries of Christendom, countless and varied traditions have arisen within the church. When it comes to theology, a tradition is any kind of teaching that has been handed down from generation to generation. Some of these teachings are recorded in the Bible. Some are found in other historical or religious texts. Still others have been passed down orally.

Each of the three major branches of the Christian church—Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism—have different traditions and different views regarding the role of tradition in a person’s faith. Needless to say, there’s a lot of discussion surrounding this topic, which leads me to today’s question.

What is the relationship between tradition and scripture? How does it play out practically?

I’ll be honest, I’ve been sitting on this question for a while. As somebody who has been surrounded by Protestant theology and influences for most of my Christian walk, I realize that my experience of church tradition has been much different from that of my Orthodox or Catholic counterparts. Aware of the limitations of my own experience, I’ve wondered how to address this question in a way that gives ear to those sitting on other sides of the table.

After doing some research and talking to people with more holistic knowledge on the subject, here are some of my thoughts on it.

All churches have traditions

Protestant church services come in many shapes and sizes, but generally speaking, they are thought of as less traditional than Orthodox or Catholic services. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism are marked by ritual, liturgy, tradition and the utmost reverence to God. They gather in ornate sanctuaries, kiss icons of Jesus and other saints, and sing beautiful hymns that have been passed down over generations.

When we think about tradition in our churches, our minds often go straight to these types of traditions. Candles. Incense. Recited prayers. Though these traditions don’t play as prominent of a role in Protestant churches, it’s important to note that tradition is not limited to Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

Gathering on a Sunday morning. Following an order of worship. Reading Scripture corporately. Celebrating Advent. Revering Christ as the risen Lord. Partaking in communion. Acknowledging the liturgical calendar.

These are all traditions that span across all of the three main branches of the Christian church. They are things that we do again and again to express our commitment to and affinity towards the one true God. Many of them are beautiful and sacred. They have a way of inviting us into a greater sense of reverence and awe towards our God.

Your view of tradition is shaped by your view of Scripture

Many of the church traditions that are absent in Protestant worship are ones that are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Often, they are historical stories that have been passed down for many centuries and have ultimately been incorporated into the life of the church. While those who have embraced these traditions believe that their historical nature gives them weight, many Protestants question their authority because they are not rooted in God’s Word.

Herein lies the tension of today’s question.

If I, like many Protestant Christians, hold firmly to the belief that the Holy Scriptures are God’s perfect and complete revelation of His Truth, then I’ll likely conclude that extra-biblical stories and traditions should not be put in a place of prominence in my faith. That doesn’t mean that I would reject tradition altogether, as I mentioned before that all churches have them. It simply means that when a certain tradition is in conflict with a truth that has been revealed in Scripture, I would hold Scripture in higher regard than the tradition in question. This is the view that I align with.

If I, like many Orthodox Christians, hold firmly to the belief that Holy Tradition is a means by which “to return to the true message of Scripture and to understand its divine meaning,” than I give tradition more authority in my personal theology (Zell par. 22). In other words, if I believe that Scripture needs the help of tradition in order to be rightly interpreted and experienced, then yielding to extra-biblical teachings and stories is not only permissible, but necessary within my theological framework. Catholics share this belief in the need for both Scripture and tradition in one’s experience of their faith.

The authority of tradition in your theology is largely contingent upon your beliefs regarding the authority of Scripture. If we’re not starting from the same view of Scripture, we can’t expect to land on the same view of tradition. There’s a clear link between the two.

We don't worship tradition. As important as it is, we don't worship Scripture. We worship Jesus.

Now that we’ve established what makes us different, let’s take a moment to remember what we have in common—namely, Jesus.

Whenever I’m wading through the many perspectives on deep theological questions like this, I have to step back and remind myself that Jesus is at the center of everything. He’s the reason why I even care enough to think about these questions. If I’m not careful, I might become so convinced of my own perspective that it becomes the cornerstone rather than a building block in my faith.

Doctrine is important, but it isn’t what binds us together. Jesus is.

Before He was arrested and ultimately crucified, Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). At the very end of His earthly ministry, Jesus simply prays for His disciples to know Him, His Gospel, and His Father. He doesn’t pray that they would think all the right things at all the right times, but rather that they would be in right relationship with Him. Out of that relationship, their understanding of Him would remain righteous.

When we flip this upside down and let our doctrine dictate our knowledge of Him instead of the other way around, we run the risk of worshipping that doctrine instead of Jesus. In doing so, we end up with a very small view of God. One that we have created in our own image and that we somehow expect others to bow down to.

So now what?

Earlier this week, I did an interview with a Protestant pastor—more on that in my next post—who gave me this definition:

“To me, a God-fearing Christian is someone who is always willing to learn and always willing to adjust his beliefs based on his new understanding of Jesus and the Bible. Not being too rigid to think ‘Now I have the whole truth in my hand.’ The worst thing I can do is claim that God is in my hand. When I do this, He’s not God. I am.”

Regardless of where you stand on the question of tradition and Scripture, my prayer today is that each of us would explore our theological views with a posture of humility that implores us to keep Jesus on His throne of our hearts and minds.

Despite our differing views, there are people across all three branches of the church who know Jesus and worship Him as Lord. Truly knowing Him is the most important part of our theology.

Resources

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/november/2.52.html

http://ww1.antiochian.org/content/scripture-and-tradition

https://www.goarch.org/-/the-saints-of-the-orthodox-church

http://ww1.antiochian.org/content/first-visit-orthodox-church-twelve-things-i-wish-id-known

http://www.truthontheweb.org/sola.htm

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The All Our Minds project | On Today's America

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The All Our Minds project | On Today's America

I’ve started to notice a pattern. Every time I see a new question come through for this project, the first two words that usually pop into my mind are “oh boy.” Oh boy, that’s a great question. Oh boy, where do I start? Oh boy, I’ve got some work to do.

Today’s question revolves around another “oh boy” moment. The one that many of us shared on the morning of November 8, 2016. Oh boy, how did we get here? Oh boy, how can I vote for either of them? Oh boy, we’ve got some work to do.

Here’s today’s question...

Many Christian leaders are embracing a president who is surrounded by scandal. How do you as a Christian reconcile your beliefs, the Christian church and the current state of American politics?

Oh boy.

So the implication of this question is that it simply doesn’t make sense for Christians—who worship a pure God and proclaim a desire to live like Jesus—to also endorse a scandalous leader. There’s a tension. A fundamental inconsistency that’s hard to deny.

Sarah Schwartz, a Master of Theology who was featured in an earlier post, said something during her interview that I believe also applies to this question. “In this political moment in our country,” she explained, “there's a lot of confusion about what is partisan and what is actually the Gospel.” And I couldn’t agree more.

Ever since Trump came into office, many Christian friends of mine have talked about having somewhat of a crisis of faith. People like Jerry Falwell Jr., who claim “evangelicals have found their dream president” have left us with some big fat question marks (Falwell Jr., 2017).

“American politics have always been volatile,” says Dr. Jamie Campbell, founder of Living & Leading. “So that part for me is not new or necessarily alarming. I think there's just an element of tension, particularly for those of us who are younger, in navigating the way that that platform has been utilized to articulate a version of Christianity that we’re finding ourselves less and less in alignment with.”

This misalignment has created somewhat of a refining fire—a crucible moment—for many young American Christians who are looking intently at both their deeply-rooted faith and their president’s Twitter feed and trying to make sense of it all.

The dilemma that got us here

I’ve heard many people say that Christians who voted for Trump are hypocrites. I’ve also heard many people say that that Christians who voted for Hilary are hypocrites. I’m not here to cast stones or to side with one group over the other. In fact, the whole point of my last post was that not all Christians make the same political decisions and that that’s okay. But let’s take a step back from the finger pointing and remember the dilemma that many of us were faced with this time two years ago—almost to the day.

The months leading up to the 2016 presidential election were marked by confusion, discord and tension within the Christian community. With a God-fearing, servant-hearted candidate nowhere in sight and a civic duty to exercise our right to vote, many felt as though they were caught in a catch-22—that there was really no winning. Even long-standing conservative Christian leaders like Wayne Grudem and John Macarthur struggled publicly with this decision.

But if we’re defining hypocrisy as claiming to have beliefs that don’t match your behavior, then this election really left Christians in a position to be accused of hypocrisy regardless of how they voted. Vote for Trump and you’re a hypocrite for backing a candidate whose behavior is in direct opposition to the faith you profess. Vote for Hillary and you’re a hypocrite for backing a candidate whose behavior is in direct opposition to the faith you profess. Vote for a third party candidate and you’re “throwing away your vote.” Don’t vote at all and you’re squandering a right that people before you died for.

So there it is. The decision that we were all faced with. The decision that we each made based on the influences, circumstances and information that surrounded us. I remember sitting in the frustration and anxiety of choosing how to act in light of such unappealing options. I remember praying for wisdom, doing my research, watching interviews and talking to friends. We could make light of the tension by joking about moving to Canada or saying our heads hurt from thinking about it too much. At the end of the day, we all made this impossible decision the best way we knew how.

If it’s rooted in hatred, it’s not from God

“Eight-in-ten self-identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians say they voted for Trump” (Pew Research Center, 2016). Ever since this stat first came out, the media has been using it in some interesting—and dare-I-say, sneaky—ways.

“You can always use data to say the thing that you're trying to emphasize,” explains Campbell. “I found myself being less worried about whether 80% of evangelicals actually voted for Trump, and more worried about what that label of evangelical means from a social perspective.”

This statistic could be used to tell many different stories about American Evangelicals, but the most popular one seems to be that we’re all just a bunch of hypocrites. That 80% figure is frequently leveraged in articles about extremists who identify themselves as Evangelicals or who worship Trump as “White Jesus.” When these two isolated pieces of data are communicated in the same context, they tell the deeply flawed story that all Christians in America are violent extremists who believe that Trump is God’s gift to our nation.

As I step back from that narrative—the one that seems to be gaining traction at every corner—I’m forced to return to what I know is true about the God I worship. “If we hold Christ as the center of our faith commitment,” says Campbell, “then becoming students of the Gospels again is actually really important. We have to go back to how we saw Christ operate within what's presented to us in the Gospel.”

And what’s presented to us in the Gospel is the God of love, sacrifice, Truth, compassion, mercy, humility, miracles and hope. 1 John 2:9 tells me that, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” Any act of hatred that’s committed in the name of God is inconsistent with the very character of God and therefore cannot be of Him.

When I see news articles about Christians beating up LGBTQ people or making racist comments, it doesn’t make me doubt my God. I know that those things are not from Him. It honestly just makes me sad that He is being so wildly misrepresented as the God of hate rather than of love.

At the end of 2 Timothy, Paul warns Timothy of this: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (4:3-4).

This passage comes to mind when I hear about hate rallies and violence against minorities committed under the guise of the Christian faith. They point to a fundamental misunderstanding of who God is and who He calls us to be. They point to itching ears that suit their own passions. In the verse that follows, Paul reminds Timothy to be “sober-minded” when faced with these myths. To keep his eyes fixed on who God is and on the work He has called him to. If we are doing that, our faith won’t be shaken.

A shifting generation of faith

I truly hope we can all agree that the current relationship between American politics and the Christian church isn’t a particularly healthy one. That neither side of the coin is looking particularly shiny these days. But alas, there is a way forward.

“We have been handed a version of Christianity,” says Campbell, “and we can either choose to accept it and accept the inconsistencies that we're seeing and pass that down, or we can generationally decide to turn to God and to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate us and to help us move forward well.”

As a faith community that’s dedicated to honoring God, it’s important for us to maintain a posture of humility that allows us to put our beliefs under the microscope and identify the dark spots. We need to open our eyes to see the ways that we, as people who are actively seeking to know and understand Him better, can realign ourselves with His Word. “We actually have the opportunity to become more unified as this generation of leaders really wrestles with understanding the core beliefs of Christianity and passing them down to the next generation,” says Campbell.

In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God that we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past” (Tozer 4). As we strip away the distractions that currently face the Christian church in America, we will see God’s Truth more clearly—and then we’ll pass it on to the generations to come.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever

This response took me a few months to formulate. I kept on stepping away from it and coming back to it. Discovering new information and hearing new perspectives. Ultimately, this is where I landed. This is why my faith does not feel threatened by the current state of American politics. Because the core beliefs that keep me rooted in my faith have not been touched by our political climate.

Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11). His sacrifice atones for the sins of anybody who believes in Him (John 3:16). We’re fully justified before God by faith, not works (Philippians 3:9). And His grace-filled forgiveness is the source of every truly good thing in life (Romans 8:28). These things are true no matter who is president.

So now what?

I came across the below passage in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. As I was thinking about this question and remembering the acts of cruelty that have been committed by both Christians and non-Christians in our country these past few years, I was humbled by this challenge to seek mercy for others like we would seek it for ourselves:

Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again (Lewis, pg. 117).

Perhaps we can embrace this challenge in our own lives. In doing so, we just might create the climate of humility that is so absent in our country right now.

Resources

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/554066/?utm_source=twb&__twitter_impression=true

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2018/03/why-christians-support-trump/

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/can-evangelicalism-survive-donald-trump-and-roy-moore

https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/07/28/why-voting-for-donald-trump-is-a-morally-good-choice-n2199564

https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/10/19/if-you-dont-like-either-candidate-then-vote-for-trumps-policies-n2234187

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/05/04/their-dream-president-trump-just-gave-white-evangelicals-a-big-boost/?utm_term=.86a6f941208c

https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/10/09/trumps-moral-character-and-the-election-n2229846

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/ft_16-11-09_relig_exitpoll_religrace/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/

https://www.thenation.com/article/why-evangelicals-still-support-trump/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN0IGHg0rms

Lewis, C. S. (1952). Mere Christianity

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