In light of Donald Trump’s stated intention to run again for president of the United States in 2024, we at KTF wanted to revisit the record of resistance that launched our efforts as the forces of white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and fascism that he normalized continue to loom large on our political landscape. For four weeks, we will release full essays from our anthology that are as relevant today as they were two years ago. To purchase the entire anthology, click here.
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For many, the subject of “theology” evokes the image of old white men with impressive beards and antiquated ideas sitting alone in ivory seminary towers writing really big books that nobody reads. Yet, within everything we think, say, or do can be found a variety of implicit theologies. For theology— alongside its secularized twin, ideology— encompasses our core beliefs as to how the universe functions and how we function within it. It gives shape to our identity and drives our sense of purpose, providing us with the interpretive lenses through which we make sense of and find meaning in our daily lives.And, to put it bluntly, some theologies are good. Others are bad.
In an era of “deconstructed absolutes” and “Orwellian doublespeak,” when it seems the very concept of truth itself is on trial and public speech has been emptied of substantive content,how is it possible for one to distinguish good theology from bad? Amidst a cacophonous tumult of competing claims to truth and ethical demands, how do we determine what is true from what is false? For the follower of Jesus, the answer is surprisingly simple: fruit. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautions,
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 thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears 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 (Matt. 7:15-20, NIV).
To distinguish between the true and false prophet, or anyone claiming to represent the will of God, Jesus does not implement a doctrinal litmus test, as important as sound doctrine is. Instead, he tells us this: “By their fruit you will recognize them.”
Likewise, to distinguish between a true and false theo-ethical, ideological or political-economic system, one must examine the fruit of that system and ask:
Does the fruit of this system, as expressed within the “laboratory of history,”lead us to love God, neighbor and enemy as ourselves (Matt. 22:35-40)? Or, does it result in self-aggrandizement, or separationist and supremacist attitudes?
Does it seek to make God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10)? Or, does it seek to promote the dominion of some other lord, pharaoh, führer, flag, or financial system?
Does it stand with the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the refugee (Zech. 7:10)? Or, does it harm them?
Ultimately, are we led as best as possible “to do for others as we would have others do for us” (Matt. 7:12), empathically imagining ourselves in the place and circumstances of another and responding in kind?
Too often we find walking the halls of power those false prophets who provide ideological cover for authority and its abuses, violent and destructive wars, and the neglect, exploitation, and sacrifice of our world’s most vulnerable upon the altars of profit and politics.Unfortunately, we also too often find ourselves marching along in dutiful compliance, captive to the false allure of destructive ideological systems and their apologists. But, as a popular saying goes, “If your theology doesn't lead you to love people more, you should question your theology.” Because distinguishing good theology from bad theology comes down to this: Good theology brings life. Bad theology kills.
Rotten Fruit and Killing Arabs
I wish therefore to highlight three interrelated theologies which have been particularly destructive in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA)context:
First, Colonialist Paternalism
The tragic history of western imperial intervention in the Middle East is rife with examples of theological and ideological systems which have sought to promote, justify, downplay, and excuse that which in reality has been little more than violent conquest, theft and exploitation, or cold geo-strategic calculus. From the “white man’s burden” and mission civilisatrice of the 19th centurythrough the patronizing post-WWI Mandate System of the early 20th, which under the guise of enlightened mentorship saw the victors merely carve up the spoils of war between themselves, to the modern American desire to export freedom by force of arms in the early 21st century, such justifications have a deep history. Often with absolute sincerity, yet degrading paternalism, we colonialists (and America is very much a colonial power) have justified our aggression by convincing ourselves that we have been acting for the betterment of the colonized peoples, often on behalf of God. To be defined as “colonial,” explains Brian McLaren, a particular theological system would have the following characteristics:
It would explain— historically or theologically— why the colonizers deserve to be in power— sustained in the position of hegemony [or dominance]. It would similarly explain why the colonized deserve to be dominated— maintained in the subaltern or subservient position. It would provide ethical justification for the phases and functions of colonization [...] It would bolster the sense of entitlement and motivation among the colonizers. It would embed the sense of submission and docility among the colonized. It would facilitate alliances with political and economic systems that were supportive of or inherent to colonialism. [And] it would camouflage or cosmetically enhance its ugly aspects and preempt attempts to expose them.
It must also be said that well-meaning missionaries, development practitioners, human rights activists and non-native feminist movementsalike have too often been incapable of disentangling themselves from their own cultural presumptions or the imperial interests of their countries of origin. While many have undertaken great work, others have been responsible for great violence. Likewise, western governments have long leveraged economic and military aid under the guise of national development, economic growth, or global security for their own geo-strategic ends, with little to no concern for the often devastating impact on local communities. Not only does bad theology kill, but it has justified the deaths of countless Arabs.
Second, “Henotheistic” Crusaderism
Henotheism, in its most basic form, declares: “My God can beat up your God!” It is the “warrior tribe” theology which pits one’s own god against those of its neighbors. Of this, Joseph Cumming asks:
If the Christian faith is primarily a tribal identity, where does that take us? It takes us to the belief that, “We must fight to defend the survival of Christian civilization. If necessary, we must kill the enemies of our civilization before they kill us. We must pray that our God gives us victory over their Allah-God” [...] If when thinking of Muslims, we think of Christian faith as a tribal identity we might ask: How do we avoid being killed by them? How do we prevent terrorist attacks on our homeland? How do we stop their encroachment in our countries?”
This mentality can be found throughout the history of human warfare, even among monotheists who ostensibly believe God “sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matt. 5:45, NLT). In this way of thinking, one’s own tribe, clan, or nation becomes the chosen of God fighting an epic struggle against “the forces of darkness and their sub-human minions.”We see this in the crusades. We see this throughout the Cold War, which would profoundly impact the MENA region, wherein American political leaders “crafted a new kind of civil religion that was nothing less than a ‘diplomatic theology of containment.’” We see this in the religiously tinged language of the War on Terror, about which Cumming reports:
Recently, a U.S. army general was speaking to a large evangelical Christian church, describing a battle with a [Muslim] warlord from northern Africa, and he said “I knew that I need not fear, because my God was the true God, and his God was a demon!” That is henotheism!
This is the theology of “God and country” whereby the God of the universe is reduced to a territorial idol, transforming the refugee into an infiltrator and the immigrant into an invader, and it represents a wholesale rejection of our call to costly discipleship and self-sacrificial love of others.
We evangelicals see this way of thinking given expression within the popular apocalyptic fantasies of the end-times preachers.Like a bad movie played out on the international stage, Arabs get swooped up into this apocalyptic drama to become--in the imaginations of others— the foot soldiers of evil committed to the destruction of God’s elect, however defined. It is a form of bigotry that literally demonizes our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters. Once demonized, death comes easily.
Third, "Manifest Destiny”
Referencing the origins of the term manifest destiny, evangelical activist Jim Wallis writes, “[t]he United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the near genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another.”As historian John Fea explains:
Manifest Destiny was deeply informed by the long-standing evangelical idea that white Protestant “civilization” must advance Westward. God gave the continent to Christians and it was their “destiny” to conquer and tame it. This entire project was drenched in the unholy mix of evangelical Protestantism and white supremacy.
It is a mistake, however, to limit theologies of manifest destiny to the North American context, for such ideas held sway in settler-colonial societies from Australia to Argentina.Likewise, the Afrikaner Calvinists of South Africa understood their settler-colonial project as a direct calling from God, “not unlike the people of Israel in the Bible.” In its most basic form, manifest destiny seeks— in the name of God and progress— to conquer, cleanse and colonize.
In the MENA context, French colonization of Algeria was overwhelmingly destructive for the native Algerians. From conquest to independence, Algeria was subject to a level of violence that would permanently alter the region’s social make-up,making it next to impossible to speak of either immigration or terrorism in France without reference to the bloody Algerian Revolution. Finally, the colonial Zionist project has been absolutely catastrophic to the lives, property, and psyche of the native Palestinians, sending shock waves throughout the entire MENA region which reverberate to this day. “Christian Zionism,” a default position within western evangelicalism until recently, has provided theological justification, financial capital, and political cover for decades of land confiscation, ethnic cleansing, settlement activity, and apartheid-equivalent practices. As Colin Chapman asserts, “Our very understanding of God, our witness to the gospel, and the credibility of the Christian church” are at stake when it comes to our theology of Israel-Palestine. Speaking as a western evangelical, there is far too much blood on our hands— precisely because bad theology kills.
Idolatry, Power and the Crucified King
That which ultimately undergirds and allows for the lethal emergence of the above theological distortions is no less than the sin of idolatry, offering to another the trust and allegiance rightfully belonging to God alone.In the run up to the 2016 Presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump delivered a speech in the chapel of a small Christian college in Iowa. Following his now infamous declaration that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters, Trump made the following statement: “Christianity will have power. If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power; you don’t need anybody else.” To me, the idolatrous nature of such a Faustian bargain is flagrant; however, millions of American Christians took notice and have since become his most ardent supporters. So, it should come as no surprise when four years later Vice President Mike Pence, altering Hebrews 12 during his address at the 2020 Republican National Convention, implored us to “run the race marked out for us and fix our eyes on ‘Old Glory’ [and] this land of heroes,” blatantly replacing the Lord Jesus with symbols of American imperial power and thereby inverting the authentic message of the passage. With the help of his ethical, philosophical, and partisan political enablers and in his unabashed glorification of violence and cruel self-interest, Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to both the spiritual health of the church in America and international peace. The idolatrous fruit is rotten.
In no uncertain terms, the Trump administration must be rejected come November. It would be a mistake, however, to then become cheerleaders for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, chaplains to a rejuvenated neo-liberal status quo.Though I support their general willingness to work within the international system and respect for international law, we must not repeat the relative prophetic silence of the Obama era. Because if our task is to examine fruit and avoid falling prey to seductive rhetoric, it is crucial to note that from the vantage point of the Middle East, Republican drones don’t look or act much differently than Democrat drones. Biden’s record on the Iraq War or Israel-Palestine, while not as appalling or destructive as that of the Republicans, is nevertheless quite bad. He is the only viable choice put before us on election day; yet we must remain vigilant in holding a potential Biden administration to account in the weeks, months and years that follow.
Ultimately, the historic difficulty of the visible Church to divest itself from imperial power--left, right and center--has resulted in a situation whereby the mission and message of Christ has become distorted beyond all recognition. For such unholy alliances represent a betrayal of the crucified messiah, who models for us the narrow path of self-sacrificial love in his rejection of imperial compromise. As Joseph Cumming reflects:
I believe that Satan’s greatest masterpiece was the crusades. Why? Is it because the Crusades were the worst atrocity that ever happened in history? I think Hitler was worse. Pol Pot was worse. What is horrible about the crusades is that it was done under the symbol of the cross, that Satan succeeded in distorting the very heart of the Christian faith.
The cross is at the heart of the entire Christian faith, and for the Muslims and Jews of the world, what does the symbol of the cross now signify? The cross now signifies, “Christians hate you enough to kill you.” What is the cross supposed to signify? It is supposed to signify, “God loves you enough to lay down his life for you, and I would love you enough that I would lay down my life for you.” Satan succeeded in taking the very heart of the Christian faith and turning it around to mean not just something different, but to mean the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to mean.
But, the reality is that with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, an instrument of imperial domination becomes, in biblical imagination, the ultimate symbol of divine love and the power-reversing means by which God reigns. To follow Jesus, to take the narrow path, is to therefore surrender any claim to political, territorial, financial or “religious” domination. Instead, let us each carry our cross in everlasting service to a broken world in desperate need of God’s love, justice, and deliverance. Like our true king, let us spend ourselves in self-sacrificial love as we trust in the resurrection and the ultimate Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesse Steven Wheeler serves as Executive Administrator/Development Director for Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA). He holds an MDiv with special emphasis in Islamic Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary; a BA in History specializing in international and Middle Eastern history with a minor in Political Economics from the University of California, Berkeley; and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Baptistic Histories and Theologies from the University of Manchester, UK. Before returning to the US, Jesse served as Projects Manager and Support Instructor for the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) at the Arab Baptist Theology Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut, Lebanon. You can purchase a copy of his recently published devotional, Serving a Crucified King, here.
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For an expanded discussion on the nature and task of theology, see: Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 1-25.
See: Vinoth Ramachandra, Gods that Fail: Modern Idolatry and Christian Mission Revised Edition (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2016), 1-25. Also: Nancey Murphy, A Philosophy of the Christian Religion (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 107-124.
H. Richard Niebuhr tells us, “History is the laboratory in which our faith is tested,” as quoted in Glen Stassen, Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), Kindle Location 2158.
The late Glen Stassen--to whom I am greatly indebted--writes: “All these teachings [of Jesus] mean that we should beware of those who claim to be Christian spokespersons but whose words tell us to give our loyalty to the ruling powers. They deceive us. We are trying to beware of those who claim to speak truth but whose words try to persuade us to serve greed, war, and ethnic division. Beware of those who put before us a corporate brand, or a national flag, or a racial loyalty, or the almighty dollar, or an image of our nation that stands for goodness against another nation that stands for evil and inflames us to make war and arouses passions to serve that image rather than serve God who is revealed in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.” Stassen, Living the Sermon, Kindle Location 2125.
As I write, the tragic cases of notorious court prophets Jerry Falwell Jr. and Eric Metaxes are both currently in the headlines. For instance: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/08/25/fallwell-resigns-confirmed/; and: https://thewayofimprovement.com/2020/08/28/eric-metaxas-is-caught-on-camera-throwing-a-punch-at-an-anti-trump-protester/?fbclid=IwAR2LP0x82u9g3-IhNUdgNM4-2bToDQn_GWP3WbvGrVgkm8_-bmPtKz15yEw
Accepted nomenclature with regard to the region under discussion is undergoing a transition. In light of the colonial origins of the term “Middle East,” clearly referencing a British and American vantage point, the term “West Asian” has grown in popularity. “Middle East,” however, is still in regular usage even within the region. The following is an interesting reflection on this topic: https://egyptianstreets.com/2020/08/20/middle-east-of-what-on-identity-politics-and-eurocentric-definitions/?fbclid=IwAR166BnE2JX0d_eVZXvC-JjRSRLKYccUQzMQ-qr5JPk0rsFre2KeZ_ykfac.
Paraphrasing Matthew Burrows the Wikipedia entry for mission civilisatrice, of which Rudyard Kipling’s poem “White Man’s Burden” is an example, reads: “The mission civilisatrice (civilising mission) is a political rationale for military intervention and for colonization purporting to facilitate the modernization and the Westernization of indigenous peoples, especially in the period from the 15th to the 20th centuries.” Burrows, Mathew "'Mission civilisatrice': French Cultural Policy in the Middle East, 1860-1914". The Historical Journal 29, no. 1 (1986): 109–135. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilizing_mission.
Michael Safi, “Conflicts since Start of US 'War on Terror' Have Displaced 37m People–Report, The Guardian, September 9, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/09/conflicts-us-war-on-terror-displaced-37-million-people-report?fbclid=IwAR2Yf404yF8zAaDZopD7va9Uq_FgpeBHM84hsHkf09BYLcXIBYnpC05W9_A.
One of the absolute best resources for newcomers to the history of the modern MENA is Eugene Rogan’s The Arabs: A History Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: Basic Books, 2017).
In reference to a previous era, but in many ways still applicable, historian A.G. Hopkins states, “[Many] believed that the United States had a civilising mission. The US was driven to encompass the world to fulfil a benign duty, that of liberating other peoples.” However, of the tendency for Americans to dismiss or downplay the extent to which their country constitutes an empire, he adds, “An ex-colonial state that advertised anti-imperial values found it difficult to accept that it had become a colonial power itself. Consequently, the US was ‘in denial’ when it came to its own empire, while criticising other powers that feely admitted that they ruled over colonial subjects.” A.G. Hopkins, “The Best Books on American Imperialism: Recommended by A.G. Hopkins,” interview by Cal Flyn, Five Books, 2018, https://fivebooks.com/best-books/american-imperialism-ag-hopkins/.
Brain Mclaren, “Post-Colonial Theology,” Sojourners, September 15, 2010, https://sojo.net/articles/post-colonial-theology. The consultation anticipated in the above article would produce the following book: Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha and L. Daniel Hawk, eds. Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014).
See: Jayachitra Lalitha, “Postcolonial Feminism, the Bible and Native Indian Women,” in Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha and L. Daniel Hawk, eds. Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014), Kindle Location 1144-1359.
For an important counter narrative, see: Robert D. Woodberry, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” American Political Science Review 106, No. 2 (May 2012): 244-274.
Vinoth Ramachandra tells us: “‘Development’ has become a neo-colonial project through which an aggressive, expanding Corporation Culture sought to establish a bridgehead among the political and commercial elites of the Majority World. The attraction of ‘development’ is that it has brought substantial improvements in health care, education and general well-being to scores of people in many countries. But it has, more often than not, given legitimacy to the acquisition and control of other people’s resources, inevitably increasing poverty and distress under the guise of eliminating them. In the name of ‘national development’ (usually identified with ‘the national interest’) whole generations have been induced to accept enormous sacrifices in personal freedoms, the mutilation of their cultural endowments and the destruction of their physical and moral environments.” Vinoth Ramachandra, Gods that Fail: Modern Idolatry and Christian Mission Revised Edition (Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2016), 113.
Joseph Cumming, “Toward Respectful Witness,” in From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices and Emerging Issues among Muslims, J. Dudley Woodberry, ed. (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2008), 320.
See: Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God Fourth Edition: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), 182-203.
See: Rashid Khalidi, Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009).
Joseph Kip Kosek, “Review: Faith in the Cold War,” review of Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960: The Soul of Containment, by William Inboden, Diplomatic History 35, No. 1 (January 2011): 125-128.
Cumming, “Witness,” 322.
Bill Musk, The Certainty Trap: Can Christians and Muslims Afford the Luxury of Fundamentalism? (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2008), 29-32.
As an experiment, I suggest re-watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies with this thought in mind.
Jim Wallis, “The Most Controversial Sentence I Ever Wrote,” Sojourners, October 24, 2013, https://sojo.net/articles/12-years-slave/most-controversial-sentence-i-ever-wrote.
As quoted in Emily McFarlan Miller and Jack Jenkins, “How Trump's Republican National Convention Speech Wove Faith into the 'Great American Story,'” Religion News Service, August 28, 2020, https://religionnews.com/2020/08/28/how-trumps-republican-national-convention-speech-wove-faith-into-the-great-american-story/.
Nicholas Ferns, “Manifest Destiny Crosses the Pacific: The Utility of American Expansion in Australia, 1850-1901,” Australian Journal of American Studies 34, no. 2 ((December 2015), pp. 28-43. Also: Rory Carroll, “Argentinian Founding Father Recast as Genocidal Murderer,” The Guardian, January 13, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/13/argentinian-founding-father-genocide-row.
André Du Toit, "Puritans in Africa? Afrikaner "Calvinism" and Kuyperian Neo-Calvinism in Late Nineteenth-Century South Africa," Comparative Studies in Society and History 27, no. 2 (1985): 209–240.
Algerian sociologist Fanny Colonna writes, “[After 1871] a coherent colonial policy, officially assimilationist, and in fact profoundly destructive, was implemented under the influence of the settlers [...] It was then that one saw the application of a whole series of measures with converging effects: the land tenure laws [...] aimed at the breakup of ‘native’ property and at the collapse of the tribal structures, extension of civilian administration [subjecting natives] to the power of the settlers, increase of native taxation, abolition of traditional justice, persecution of the holy lodges, and the establishment of an ‘official’ clergy controlled by the state [and] the Gallicisation of place names [...] Thus one can place between 1870 and 1880 the destruction of the economic and social base of traditional society [and] the elimination of its own culture.” Fanny Colonna, “Cultural Resistance and Religious Legitimacy in Colonial Algeria, Economy and Society 3, no. 3, (1974): 240-241.
Robert Fisk, “Charlie Hebdo: Paris Attack Brothers' Campaign of Terror Can Be Traced Back to Algeria in 1954,” The Independent, January 9, 2015, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/charlie-hebdo-paris-attack-brothers-campaign-of-terror-can-be-traced-back-to-algeria-in-1954-9969184.html.
Although many great and not-so-great histories exist, one of the best introductions from an evangelical perspective to the myriad historical and theological dimensions of the Palestine-Israel conflict is: Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Conflict over Israel and Palestine (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2015).
See: Steven Sizer, Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006).
Colin Chapman, “A Biblical Perspective on Israel/Palestine” in The Land Cries Out: Theology of the Land in the Israeli/Palestinian Context, eds. Salim J. Munayer and Lisa Loden (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), 238. For a constructive approach to thinking theologically about the conflict, written from the perspective of both a Palestinian Evangelical Christian and a Messianic Israeli Jew, see: Salim J. Munayer and Lisa Loden, Through My Enemy's Eyes: Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2014).
In what were perhaps the most eye-opening and personally transformative paragraphs of my seminary career (in the mid-aughts), Glen Stassen and David Gushee wrote, “Here is the problem. Christian churches across the theological and confessional spectrum [...] are often guilty of evading Jesus, the cornerstone and center of the Christian faith [...] This evasion of the concrete ethical teachings of Jesus has seriously malformed Christian moral practices, moral beliefs, and moral witness. Jesus taught that the test of our discipleship is whether we act on his teachings, whether we “put into practice” his words [...] And so it is no overstatement to claim that the evasion of the teachings of Jesus constitutes a crisis of Christian identity and raises the question of who exactly is functioning as the Lord of the church. When Jesus’s way of discipleship is thinned down, marginalized, or avoided, then churches and Christians lose their antibodies against infection by secular ideologies that manipulate Christians into serving the purposes of some other lord. We fear precisely that kind of idolatry now.” Glen Stassen and David Gushee, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (Downers Grove: Eerdmans, 2016), xi.
Elizabeth Dias, “‘Christianity Will Have Power,’” The New York Times, August 8, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/09/us/evangelicals-trump-christianity.html?auth=linked-google&fbclid=IwAR3SjpTR5CbTkEaNYWirj7YdV89dS3WgeoGFeRNXU4IoL5ymdqCrICpKazE.
Relevant Staff, “Mike Pence Swapped out ‘Jesus’ for ‘Old Glory’ in his RNC Address,” Relevant, August 27, 2020, https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/vice-president-mike-pence-swapped-out-jesus-for-old-glory-in-his-rnc-address/.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up” (Heb. 12:1-3, NLT).
The phrase “chaplains to the status quo” is not original. For instance: Rev. William Alberts, “Prophets of the People or Chaplains of the Status Quo?” Counterpunch, June 19, 2015, https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/19/prophets-of-the-people-or-chaplains-of-the-status-quo/.
As Cornel West writes, “We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world. The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.” Cornel West, “Pity the Sad Legacy of Barack Obama,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency.
Cumming, “Witness,” 322-3.