In its Person of the Year cover story, Time magazine gave Donald Trump the title “President of the Divided States of America.”  With good reason.  A glance at the electoral map shows solid blue on the west and northeast coasts and, in between, a huge swath of red extending across all but five states.  Although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a healthy margin, Trump won 2,623 counties to Clinton’s 489.  The modern United States pits the coasts against the middle, urban areas against all the rest.

The division cuts across religious lines as well.  More people who claim no religious affiliation—the “nones”—voted this year than ever before, two-thirds of them opting for Clinton.  In contrast, 81 percent of white evangelicals supported Trump, more than voted for Bush, McCain, or Romney.  Yet almost the same percentage of African-American and Hispanic evangelicals voted against Trump.  Our “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” is showing fault lines.

Society’s tainted perception of evangelicals especially grieves me.  As a writer, for four decades I have lived within that world.  They are my tribe, my community of faith.  I wrote a column for Christianity Today magazine, a mainstream evangelical publication, for thirty-six years.  Now the word has such a negative connotation that Fuller Seminary has publicly repented for whatever they’ve contributed to shame and abuse by using the word evangelical.

Prominent evangelicals such as James Dobson, Anne Graham Lotz, Jerry Falwell Jr., and Eric Metaxas heartily endorsed Trump, some of them calling his unforeseen victory “a direct intervention by God.”  Others, including well-known author Max Lucado and the Southern Baptist executive Russell Moore, demurred.  The man whom Moore replaced, Richard Land, quipped that Trump was his eighteenth choice of seventeen Republican candidates; like a lot of voters, he held his nose and supported him anyway.

I got a taste of the strong feelings about this election when I gave an interview to a journalist in Spain last September.  We discussed the paradox of American evangelicals’ support for a billionaire who makes his money from casinos, offends women and minorities, and boasts about his extramarital conquests.  I admitted that I, too, was baffled.  I could understand why an evangelical Christian would vote for Trump on the basis of key issues, like abortion.  But to make him a hero, a standard-bearer for Christians?  I had no explanation.

Of all the words I’ve written and spoken over the years, only those have gone viral on the Internet.  Responses on my Facebook site increased by a thousand percent, which landed me on Facebook’s Top Ten Trending list for four consecutive days, just under Brad and Angelina’s divorce.  Over the next week I read through hundreds of comments, some of which labeled me a traitor, a pinko communist, a sodomy-loving, baby-killing Muslim who denies our Savior—all because I questioned Mr. Trump’s reputability.

And now, in a matter of days, he will take the oath of office.  Trump supporters are jubilant that a brash outsider has arrived to “drain the swamp” in Washington.  Meanwhile, his opposers actively fear his policies and world leaders are holding their collective breath.  Donald Trump is our President, and those of us who follow Jesus have some repair work to do in helping to heal our nation.


Three Big Losers

I begin with a warning to fellow-evangelicals.  We dare not gloss over the damage inflicted by last year’s presidential campaign.  Donald Trump likes the word loser: a Twitter archivist has counted 170 times in which Trump called someone a loser in a Tweet.  I see three big losers as a sour legacy of the 2016 election.

First, civility lost.  I must fault Trump especially for debasing the presidential campaign.  He had a pejorative nickname for almost everyone: Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Low-Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco.  In the three presidential debates, Trump interrupted Clinton almost one hundred times.  He bullied people offstage and on, mocking a disabled reporter, disparaging women for their looks or their weight, playing to racist fears and ethnic prejudice.  Bullying, racism, sexism, and xenophobia have always been present in American society, but never before has a candidate for the presidency modeled them so blatantly.  Trump let the bats out of the cave, in effect legitimizing the darkest side of a free society.  When he won, a devout Christian friend sent out an email with a headline referring to Hillary Clinton, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!”—I cannot imagine her saying that before the Trump campaign.

Second, religion lost.  Robert Putnam’s book American Grace ties the rise of the non-religious, or “nones,” to a reaction against the entanglement of religion and politics.  They view Christians as a Moral Majority trying to impose their values on everyone else, and in the process they miss the core gospel message of God’s extravagant love for sinners.  The word evangelical means “good news,” and I think of the many disciplined, selfless people around the world who care for the needy and the suffering and who gather together to worship a God who wants us to thrive in this world.  When the media use the word, however, they have in mind an uptight political lobbying group, mostly white, mostly male, and overwhelmingly Republican.  The good-news tone gets lost in partisan acrimony.  Shane Claiborne said it well: “Mixing Christianity with a political party is like mixing ice cream with horse manure.  It might not harm the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream.”

Perhaps most importantly, truth took a hit.  As if in acknowledgment, the Oxford Dictionaries named post-truth as their Word of the Year 2016; facts took a back seat to appeals to emotion.  When I ask friends why they support Donald Trump, I hear the common response, “He tells it like it is.”  If only.  I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning; I never mocked a disabled reporter; the NFL sent a letter asking me to reschedule the debate; thousands of Muslims celebrated in the streets of New York after 9/11; nobody has more respect for women than I do; millions fraudulently voted for Hillary—all these claims by Trump were provably false, yet not one hurt him in the polls.  Truth didn’t matter.

At the same time, Clinton opponents pounced on her dissembling about email servers, her cover-up of speeches to Wall Street, and the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation.  Add in the fog caused by fake news stories—many of them concocted in Macedonia, it turns out—and truth emerges as the biggest loser of all.

Sebastian Mallaby, a British reporter from the Economist, described how post-truth distorts reality.  Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns played on fears of the future.  Where is the country’s infectious optimism that won me over as a young journalist? asked Mallaby.  From campaign rhetoric, you’d never guess the facts: during the past decade, abortion, crime, immigration, and unemployment have all declined.  Mallaby urged, “Do not talk the United States into a self-feeding depression.…If Americans can’t fix all their problems, can they at least rediscover their old talent for living cheerfully with them?”

President-elect Trump has backed away from many of his most controversial campaign promises.  He has softened his pronouncements on such matters as jailing Hillary Clinton, mass deportations, military use of torture, climate change, nuclear proliferation, banning all Muslims, abortion, and Obamacare mandates.  What message does this give future politicians?  That truth doesn’t matter?  That you can promise anything to get elected and then immediately pivot, even before you take office?

That kind of Newspeak makes me leery of trusting what Donald Trump says.  After dismissing The New York Times as the scum of the earth during the campaign, President-elect Trump met with reporters and declared the paper “a great, great American jewel.”  He once referred to Ronald Reagan as a “con man”; now he’s the president Trump most admires.  After dismissing Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades as “totally unimportant,” he flipped, labeling him as “the worst abuser of women in the history of politics.”

Many evangelicals and Catholics named abortion as the deciding issue in their vote.  But what is Trump’s position on abortion?  The one in which he said women should be punished for having an abortion, or the one in which he supported Planned Parenthood and said his liberal sister, a pro-choice judge who ruled against restrictions on partial-birth abortions, would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice?

According to exit polls, voters mistrusted Hillary Clinton as well, and she too flipped positions during the campaign.  Making political decisions in a post-truth world gets tricky.

Resident Aliens

In the London subway system, as a train pulls up you hear the recorded announcement, “Mind the gap!”  In other words, pay attention to the gap between the platform and the train lest you fall.  I glance again at the electoral map, blue on the margins, predominantly red in the middle.  A nation so divided is not a healthy nation.  We need to mind the huge gap that risks making our nation divisible.

After their loss, Democrats are doing some soul-searching.  Caught completely off guard, they are studying books like J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy in an attempt to fathom where all those angry voters came from on election day, whereas their polls showed candidate Clinton with a comfortable lead.  Those who live on the coasts assumed that their “enlightened” ideas about tolerance, gender, political correctness, immigration, recreational drugs, abortion, and assisted suicide would gain acceptance in Middle America.  They were wrong.  Vance’s book shows how government policies in Appalachia did little to stop—and may even have abetted—poverty, unemployment, family breakdown, drug abuse, and a culture of violence.

Ross Douthat, a Catholic and a conservative voice on the New York Times op-ed page, has this advice, which he doubts will be taken:

Democrats could attempt to declare a culture-war truce, consolidating the gains of the Obama era while disavowing attempts to regulate institutions and communities that don’t follow the current social-liberal line.  That would mean no more fines for Catholic charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House to local schools, and restraint rather than ruthlessness in future debates over funding and accreditation for conservative religious schools.  Without backing away from their support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, leading Democratic politicians could talk more favorably about moral and religious pluralism, and offer reassurances to people who feel themselves to be dissenters from a very novel cultural regime.

I am old enough to remember when both political parties tolerated divergent views.  In 1972 Senator George McGovern selected a prominent anti-abortion spokesman, Senator Thomas Eagleton, as his running mate.  (Eagleton later resigned in the wake of revelations about his treatment for depression, and was replaced by Sargent Shriver.)  On the other side of the aisle, the Republican Mark Hatfield was one of few who consistently opposed the Vietnam War; he joined McGovern in sponsoring a bill calling for a complete withdrawal of troops.

Today, both parties push toward the extremes, in opposite directions.  And here is where Christians come in.  Oddly enough, we can mind the gap by withholding complete loyalty from either party.  “Politics is the church’s worst problem,” warned the French sociologist Jacques Ellul.  “It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.”  Christians have a divided loyalty, committed to helping our society thrive while giving ultimate loyalty to the kingdom of God.

We are resident aliens, taking guidance not from a party platform but from the life Jesus modeled for us.  Sometimes that means crossing the gap, rather than widening it.

In a sermon to New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Tim Keller set forth eight characteristics of early Christians, who lived under a Roman government far less congenial to Christianity than is the modern United States.  They followed the following principles:

  • Opposed bloodthirsty sports and violent entertainment, such as gladiator games
  • Opposed serving in the military
  • Opposed abortion and infanticide
  • Empowered women
  • Opposed sex outside of marriage 
  • Encouraged radical support for the poor
  • Encouraged the mixing of races and classes
  • Insisted that Jesus is the only way to salvation

Go back over that list and apply the label liberal or conservative.  Half of the principles reflect traditionally conservative values, and half traditionally liberal—precisely Keller’s point.  Though some of the cultural issues may change over time, always Christians have a dual allegiance, to an earthly society and also to what Hebrews 11 calls “a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  That chapter in Hebrews honors heroes and heroines who stepped out in faith against societal norms, and paid a severe price for doing so.  “And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth,” Hebrews adds.  “They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

The early church formed pioneer settlements that showed their society a different way to live.  When Roman citizens abandoned their unwanted babies to wild animals or the ravages of weather, Christians organized platoons of wet nurses and adoptive families.  When plague broke out and villagers fled, the Christians stayed behind to care not only for their relatives but also for their pagan neighbors.  They quietly demonstrated a better way to live, the way they believed Jesus had taught.  Today, a cross tops the very Roman Colosseum that once showcased violent games and saw the deaths of many Christians.  Against all odds, the Jesus way triumphed.

Many Americans shake their heads over the choice that confronted us in the election of 2016.  Remember, the earliest Christians had no choice, and lived out their faith under the likes of Nero and Caligula.  The trend continues: the greatest numerical revival in history has taken place in recent times under a regime harshly opposed to the Christian faith, Communist China.  Christians should take heart that no hostile government can squelch the faith, while also heeding Jacques Ellul’s warning that our hopes do not depend on our access to secular power.  Ellul wrote those words from Europe, a region that largely abandoned the faith because church and state had grown too cozy, too entangled.

Bridging the Gap

Because of our dual loyalty, Christians have an important role to play in bringing reconciliation and healing.  After the election I received an email from a pastor in Chicago who, like many urban pastors, was shocked by the results.

“Being a Christian is hard,” she began:

Throughout the last few days I have thought about how much easier it is for me to be a “left of center leaning progressive” than it is for me to be a Christian.  As a political party member I can vent and debate, mock and obfuscate other’s policies.  As a Christian I must lean in and listen; I must embrace and include.

While the political part of me seeks revenge, (“Let the markets crash!  Watch Putin’s advances with a weakened NATO!  See the dismantling of America’s leadership!”) the Christian in me must pray for the welfare of the city, our country and the world.  The claims of Christ demand that I seek the things that make for peace.

I can’t mock those who voted for Trump or suggest that the rise of the “know nothing” party is complete.  I don’t get to paint them with a wide brush of ugly words.   And perhaps most temptingly, I can’t try and write off the “other” Christians who supported President-elect Trump.  That’s not allowed.  Like me, they are beggars of grace.  And the One from whose hand we have equally received will not allow me to stand close while my heart is far away.

She concluded, “God is still redeeming the world and asking us to participate.  Please join us in praying for our country.  Pray for people of color first, along with undocumented workers and those particularly dependent on governmental services and assistance.  Pray for the losers and the winners.  Pray for people of good will to reach out to their neighbors and friends.  Pray that we may find a way forward for all of us together.  Pray that the character of Christ will also be the character of his people.”

If Hillary Clinton had won, I would hope that conservative Christians would have responded in like spirit.  We follow, after all, a leader who commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Politics is an adversary sport: it divides and labels, and demeans its opponents.  Bottom line, politics is about winning.  The Christian has a different bottom line: love.  For this reason, I hope that evangelicals will lead the way in standing up for marginalized groups and minorities who feel genuine fear, even as we pray for the new administration taking office.

At times, Christians must enter the political fray, especially in a democracy that guarantees our right to do so.  Some of the issues facing our nation are moral issues that require our activism.  In a post-truth era, we still believe Truth matters.  Yet, as Martin Luther King Jr. used to say, the Christian wields different weapons in political conflict, the weapons of grace.

King provides a sterling example.  David Chappell’s book, A Stone of Hope, shows that for decades liberal humanists made no progress in overturning segregation laws.  They assumed that education and their “enlightened” views would gradually change the minds and hearts of racist Southerners.  I grew up as a racist Southerner under segregation, and I know well that it took more than contagious enlightenment to change me and those around me.  It took direct action, led mostly by prophetic clergy like King, who fought with different weapons.

King understood his ultimate loyalty.  His real goal, he said, was not to defeat the whites but “to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority.…The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.”  That is what Martin Luther King Jr. set into motion, even in diehard racists like me.  The power of grace finally disarmed my own stubborn evil.

As I wrote in my book Soul Survivor, “In the end, it was not King’s humanitarianism that got through to me, nor his Gandhian example of nonviolent resistance, nor his personal sacrifices, inspiring as those may be.  It was his grounding in the Christian gospel that finally made me conscious of the beam in my eye and forced me to attend to the message he was proclaiming.  Because he kept quoting Jesus, eventually I had to listen.  The church may not always get it right—and it may take centuries or even millennia for its eyes to open—but when it does, God’s own love and forgiveness flow down like a stream of living water.”

Other scenes come to mind.  Devout Filipinos kneeling before fifty-ton tanks, which lurched to a halt as if they had collided with an invisible shield of prayer.  Nelson Mandela emerging from twenty-seven years in prison to plead against revenge, and entrusting the reconciliation process to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The prayer meetings in Leipzig, Germany, growing into candlelight processions by a few hundred, then a thousand, and finally 500,000 hymn-singing marchers; the marches spreading to East Berlin, where a million walked through the streets until the ugly Berlin Wall came tumbling down without a shot being fired.

Closer to home, I think of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, an evangelical who spoke out against sexual promiscuity—consistently he used the word “sodomy” when referring to homosexual acts—and yet became a hero to the gay community by forcing Republican administrations to devote massive resources to address the AIDS crisis.  Why?  As a physician, he spent time among the early AIDS sufferers.  “How can you not put your arm around that kind of person and offer support?” he said.  His Christian compassion trumped all else.

Some historians trace evangelicals’ involvement in politics back to Koop and his mentor Francis Schaeffer, who together toured the nation urging evangelicals to become active in abortion and end-of-life issues.  I once asked Schaeffer which of his dozens of books gave him most satisfaction.  He thought for a moment, no doubt mentally scanning the major works of theology and culture, and settled on a 35-page booklet often overlooked, The Mark of the  Christian.  Schaeffer considered it so important that he added the essay as an appendix to the last book he wrote, The Great Evangelical Disaster.

Toward the end of his life, as he saw the word evangelical become synonymous with political lobbying, Schaeffer sometimes wondered what he had helped set loose.  He based The Mark of the Christian on some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Schaeffer added, “Love—and the unity it attests to—is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world.  Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.…It is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark, but if we expect non-Christians to know that we are Christians, we must show the mark.”  I see that as the biggest challenge facing committed Christians in the new year.

As the dust settles from the storm of 2016, I pray that those of us who follow Jesus remember that mark above all.  The apostle Paul used these words to describe the characteristics of a true Christian: humility, charity, joy, peace, gentleness, forbearance, patience, goodness, self-control—words in short supply last election year.  Republicans will busy themselves with the difficult task of governing a factious nation in a perilous world.  Democrats will huddle to devise a new playbook.  May Christians of all persuasions remember that our ultimate allegiance and our ultimate hope belong to neither party.  As resident aliens in a divided nation, may we too form pioneer settlements to show the world the Jesus way.

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98 responses to “Election Reflections: Bridging the Gap”

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you so very much for this article. Roberta Flack’s, “Killing Me Softly,” cradled me along the way.


  2. rocco rubino says:

    i am amazed how passionate so-called “evangelicals” are over Republican party politics. Do you guys think we are going to live here forever? The great societies of old collapsed under the weight of their own depravity. How is the united states going to be any different?

    The nation is hopelessly in debt, involved in 5 wars, injustice reigns supreme, human trafficking is the most underreported story of our time, parts of Chicago and other large cities are in chaos- the civil authorities cannot restore order. And you guys are worried about overturning Roe v. Wade, Hillary Clinton’s progressive agenda, and the supremacy of Donald J. Trump?

    THe most merciful thing that could happen is for the Lord Jesus to return; to rapture His elect and wipe this earth clean with His holy fire.

    The one characteristic that Mr. Keller omitted was perhaps the most important- the Christians of yore, the TRUE Christians (not the nominal, antinomian lot we have today), were palpably “other-worldly.” They were in the world, but their lives proved they were not of the world.

    Why are you guys hanging onto this dying order?

  3. William L Anderson says:

    While I do agree with your post, I also would like to point out that with the Democrats taking off the gloves when dealing with church-state issues (You WILL submit and bow to our will!), many evangelicals felt they had little choice. When Hillary Clinton demanded that churches rewrite their theology to accommodate abortion on demand, she was making a statement that declared her government no longer would tolerate evangelicals and their pro-life views.

    With Gov. Andrew Cuomo already having declared that there “is no place in New York” for pro-life people, I think we know where the Democrats are headed. Some universities already are requiring statements of belief from faculty that go against Christian teachings, and the notion that the government should be able to put someone out of business because their viewpoints don’t coincide with the latest Democratic Party Platform is something that should alarm even you.

    No, Donald Trump is not a “good” president, and the trends of open hostility from the U.S., state, and local governments toward evangelicals will continue. Sojourners already has declared that “religious liberty” is “tyranny” in another form, so we know where they stand with all of this. Nonetheless, I hope you do understand that Trump did not declare open warfare against Christians, as did Hillary Clinton and her party, like it or not.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      And I understand that the Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez, has declared there is no place in their party for the pro-life position. I believe they’re making a serious mistake, and it dearly cost them in the last election. Thank you for pointing this out. –Philip

  4. DANA EVANS says:

    Mr Yancey
    First, thank you so much for speaking the truth with regards to Donald Trump and expressing your views on this subject. It is a breath of fresh air. I am concerned about 2 things. First, the people who do see the truth who are going to churches that believe Donald Trump is the ‘calling of God on America’ and to believe otherwise is unChristian. They are tormented, not going to church, losing friends, and family relationships are strained. Second, the voices of the Donald Trump supporting “Christians” are loud on social media and the backlash against them in the name of Christianity is growing daily. John Hagee went to the WH yesterday to show his support of Donald Trump who he believes is the “chosen one”. Donald Trump is NOT a Christian, and we all know it. He lied to get votes. It makes me a sad that so many American Christians aren’t able to spot a lie. I am an avid Christian political activist and I am on Twitter and Facebook daily and we the grace-filled anti-Trump Christian voices are the vast minority. No one wants a civil war among church leaders but the truth is SO IMPORTANT right now. We need LOUD voices. Will other Christian leaders stand up and be heard? Do you see a time when they say enough is enough and speak up against the deception? What are your thoughts? Many thanks for your words in this article. I’ve shared it often.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I share your concerns completely. Policies are important, but so is character. My hunch is that Mr. Trump is so volatile that he may well eventually alienate the Christians who now support him so wholeheartedly. I pray for him, and for those who have his ear, that they may have influence. No one is beyond redemption.

      • Dana says:

        I agree- the Christians who follow him will eventually see the “light” (hard to say that, because they should now!) and no one is above redemption. Thank you! I’ll keep praying too! Thank you for preaching grace!

  5. David Muhs says:

    Thank you for your writing and observations.
    My life has been markedly influenced by two books, “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard and “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancy.
    I stumbled upon this site while ‘surfing’ on a Saturday morning, and again am appreciative of your insight. I am glad to be able to subscribe for future posts.
    I don’t fear where we are or where we are going. I am not in despair.
    It seems to me the emphasis is on the day to day caring and compassion we can show to everyone around us. Politics and political leaders actually have very little impact on this choice of behaviors.
    I look forward to future posts.

  6. R Smith says:

    Dear Philip Yancy,
    Thank you for this article. I am so glad I am not alone in despairing of my church, my community that seems to have abandoned it’s purpose of being a loving community of repentance, healing and forgiveness, that is content to be unrepentant of it’s history of sins and its selective hypocrisy.
    As a Christ follower I find myself struggling. A 34 year long member of a conservative baptist church, I now sit in doubt of my allegiance. A pastor who, from the pulpit states, in essence, that he will throw his pearls in with the other Christian leaders, before the candidate who will give the best opportunity to promote a conservative political agenda in the Supreme Court. Gathering in small groups to pray, I hear others fervently praying for God to, “make America great again”. Opening the local paper and reading the shrill letter written by one of my congregation, jeering about tone and propriety of the women’s march, which as a husband and father I had attended with my spouse, children, and grandchildren. The legacy of “One Man, One Woman” anti-gay marriage lawn signs handed out in the church lobby. The hate toward gays, the centuries of tacit condoning of slavery, of oppression of women in the church, of choosing to funnel decades and millions of dollars toward saving a few fetuses, to stand at the curb and shame distressed pregnant women. All this time and money wasted on a political straw dog, an industry and career for many, that could have been given to the poor, given to clinics for well-child care, given to poor schools.
    With what validity do we now speak with in our community? How does any of this even remotely “love our neighbors into The Church? I find myself preemptively apologizing to non-believing friends and co-workers.
    My prayer is this: Jesus, I pray, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to see the opportunity here to trust you more. Help me to see this trial as a gift, to look to you in how to respond, how to follow you more closely, how to be a listener, a lover of my fellow fallen man. Give me wonder and courage. God, what are you doing in this?

    • Leslie says:

      Thank you for your letter. After reading Philip’s article and your letter, I am so glad I am not alone. I am so heartbroken over the evangelical community and no longer consider myself an “evangelical”, just a plain struggling Christian.
      Grace toward others and prayer for our leaders and country-the two most effective and meaningful things we can do.

  7. Aster Dibaba says:

    I enjoyed reading what everyone has been posting. I don’t have to agree with all of them because I believe its not who is the leader of a country that runs the world. God uses whoever He pleases. He told Elijah that He has seven thousand people that are faithful to Him. In the first place we are mandated to pray for our leaders weather we like them or not. The Bible says in Romans 13:1-7 in great detail that we should pray for our leaders. God is mightier, greater than any leader. Apostle Paul our elder brother lived under various emperors. I am sure he was beheaded by one of those emperors. If we believe what our Bible says we should obey what it tells us to do in times like these. Lets put our energies in spending time in prayer. I don’t judge those who marched and did not march. People have to do what God put on their hearts to do. If I remember during 9/11 the churches were packed to pray for our country. We need diligent prayer now than we ever did before. We should also remember the people God brings to our land need to hear the Gospel of Love. Right now I am in a country where freedom of speech is not granted. Praying to God has always been an open door for me. It is not the President or the Congress or any authority that rules us. It is God the almighty. He is the One that is running the whole world not just America. I am making myself not get upset with anybody because I want my little prayer to be answered. God in His time will answer all our prayers. Lets not be divided. Lets be united in prayer. America is still a country where a church is open to anybody. Lets not add to the horror stories of the world. Lets do what we can to show that we are Christians. We can’t solve the problems of the world. But we can love those who He brings our way. I stand with all of you who are praying for our government. Please read Romans 13.

    I also want to thank Mr. Yancey for providing this forum. I have read almost all the books that he wrote. And I pray for you that you be faithful to your God. As we all vent our thoughts about current events. I encourage people to read his books. I am a Polio survivor and I am in constant pain. Some of your books help me to focus not on my unanswered prayer, but to the Lord who enables me to get out of bed every day. I know someday I will have my new body. In the meantime I don’t want to waste my pain and suffering because it has brought me closer to the Lord. God Bless You!!

    Your sister in the Lord

  8. Linda Feher says:

    OMG, while reading your book Reaching for the Invisible God I got around to chapter 22, An Arranged Marriage. I am a white American, ex-Moonie, and I am in an Moon arranged marriage. I put this chapter off for a long time because I had a feeling it would not sit well with me. I was right. I think most westerners have a very romanticized idea of what it is to be living your life in an arranged marriage. But because I have been in this one for 34 years and have seen it all around me through the arranged marriages of all my old Moonie friends I can tell you it is hell. Most of what I see in mine and other arranged marriages has to do with “public face vs private face.” You have no idea how often I have had to sit with my Moonie friends while they cried about how miserable they were in their loveless marriages only to see them in public settings all smiles and adoration for their spouse. After 34 years I think I can safely say, :you can arrange a marriage but you can never arrange love. For my part in my arranged marriage it has been a love of loving the enemy. On both sides.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      You are absolutely right that arranged marriages are a kind of “gamble.” Most of my contacts have been with couples from India, whose marriages were arranged by wise parents. As one couple told me, “You can know someone enough to love them [as they learned to do in their marriage] but you can’t love someone enough to know them” [love blinds as much as it attracts].

      Thank you for presenting the other, darker side. (On the other hand, “love marriages” can be a gamble too, as Western divorce rates show.) –Philip

  9. Jeanne Wasil says:

    I understand the strong feelings people have over the recent election. As conservatives we have been mistreated by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even our minister has taken to politicizing from the pulpit. We have been asked to wear large safety pins as a sign so that others will feel safe around us in that we won’t harm them – this despite the fact that we have been and contine to be kind to others and never have outwardly displayed any hostile or offensive language of any kind to those who voted for Hilliary.
    People find Donald Trump repulsive because of his past history, yet the Bible is filled with stories of people who had serious flaws, who were called by God to do his will. The first that comes to my mind is the story of David. We believe that Donald Trump, despite all of his faults, is also called by God to serve and lead this nation much in the same way that David was. Saul/Paul was called by God to completely change his heart and in fact went on to to write much of the New Testament.
    President Trump is a billionaire and could have spent the remainder of his life on a golf course yet has dedicated his life towards protecting and preserving a great country. His inaugural speech was an example of his commitment to looking to God as his ultimate leader.
    Therefore we should tread carefully on criticizing him and watch what God does through him.

    • Hart Edmonds says:

      I find it remarkable that evangelicals believe God chose Trump as some modern day Cyrus to implement God’s purposes. Really? A self-confessed sexual predator and con artist who has cheated countless numbers of people in his business wheeler dealer shenanigans. By extension, any immoral person could claim God’s mandate for some larger end, without view to the costs of getting there. Means and ends do matter and when we separate them, what credibility do we retain. I don’t believe all Trump supporters are racist, sexist, xenophobic and cruel. But I do believe an underlying racism, fear, and meanness of spirit animates the man elected President. It was John the Baptist who proclaimed, “by their fruits you shall know them.’ So far there’s a rotted, tainted fruit littering the ground of this nation.

      • Nancy Cummings says:

        Investigation needs to be done by surface thinking people, or misinformed for most all of us by the liberal media. Life does begin at conception, Constitionally protected life. From womb to tomb this legally is the case, to fight against THAT is a strange waste of time.
        The abuse and misuse of people and money in the human trafficking of those same individuals, by the elite (another strange word for the most base Satanists) is a scandal so deep,and worldwide, ONLY a compliset(SP)media could cover it up. There are REAL issues that America can and MUST do to SAVE the world from these threats to humanity. Going home as “Democrats” and “not playing ball” isn’t fair. Dems views on abortion and sexual perversion, can be happily altered, as well as Reps views on bombing/building nations, walls and bank accounts that don’t help the poor and disenfranchised. Trump is right, we can make America great again,vwith ALL hands on deck😇

      • Tom Tamblyn says:

        He who is without sin can throw the first stone, you people better wake up. God sent Moses to a leader with a hardened heart, this time He sent a leader to a nation of half that have a hardened heart, watch God work through this man. Our God is so great. I am sick already of this third world war, the WAR of words, and you who more educated think you have the advantage.

  10. Sheryll James says:


  11. Kelly says:

    I can not tell you how much I appreciated this post. When I first truly became a christian ( I was raised in the church, then left, and by God’s grace came back) I read your book “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” and I continue to re-read it from time to time. Your posts throughout this election season have been wonderful to read, especially this post, I have received a lot of criticism from some of my christian brothers and sisters because I could not understand how people could proclaim this man as the christian representative when everything he exudes is so contradictory to our Christ. However, I have been able to have some great conversations with both christians and non-christians and honestly I felt the God continue to impress upon my heart to speak up. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 31:8 and I wrote a blog recently similar to this on how we can bridge the divide, we should be in the business of building bridges and unity and not in the business of walls or division. I just wanted to thank you so much for writing and for being an encouragement to me for so many years.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I found your blog, Kelly, and love your practical wisdom. Keep the faith. –Philip

    • John Bisco says:

      REALLY, I you think Clinton who support ……………… the killing of Babies in the womb even hours before being born is Christian. No one ever claimed Trump represented us as a Christian, It is just HE is more aligned with the Christian agenda.

      [edits by site manager]

  12. Doug says:


    Well said. As an atheist, I of course disagree with your conclusion. But, I’m in much agreement with your premise. Those three things did lose (and lose bigly) — though as others have commented, civility has been losing ground for some time.

    Philip, the tone of your blog indicates people are suffering. I know my heart breaks when I read this post or hear Kellyanne Conway speak yesterday of ‘alternative facts.’ I’ve commented before on your blog and I must ask again: How can you continue to believe that God allows this suffering, that God doesn’t answer the prayers of His faithful? What supports this apparent evidenceless belief?

    What is absolutely crystal clear is that prayer for the alleviation of suffering brought on by President Trump is useless (or consider the suffering under the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte or countless others). I see no evidence anything will change by prayer — no matter how many people bow their heads. I saw the film “Silence” yesterday and can appreciate Shūsaku Endō’s words, “Behind the depressing silence of the sea, the silence of God …. the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish God remains with folded arms, silent.”

    I wrote to you a few months ago: Why won’t He honor the promises He has made? In Mark 16:18, the Word of God says, “…they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. [NIV]” The King James Bible says, “…they shall recover” and the New Living Translation says, “…they will be healed.” This seems possible as earlier in Mark, Jesus has an encounter with Jarius’ daughter where he says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

    Let’s forget for a moment that this passage comes from the ‘longer ending of Mark’ and is not a part of the most trusted manuscripts of the Bible. Let’s instead focus on the fact that in this, The Great Commission, God promises He will heal the sick when “those who believe” place their hands on them. God administers neither caveats nor conditions, he just requires belief. Among many other records of God’s healing intervention, James 5 reads, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” Likewise, God just requires faith.

    Yet, believers pray without relief. There should be no debate: in no uncertain terms, God clearly promises that the sick will be healed [or suffering will end], but this does not occur. I know first-hand. My entire family and indeed my entire church family have prayed now for almost 15 years while my daughter’s Crohn’s Disease continues unabated.

    If only I Peter 5:10 were true: “After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. [TLB]”

    So Philip, how much longer must you perpetuate the idea that God answers prayer? I’m not asking you to step on the fumi-e, just explain on what grounds you continue to believe God hears our prayers. I only speak for me, but He’s not answering. Never has. He is painfully silent.


    • Philip Yancey says:

      You are always fair and eloquent both. I doubt I could come up with anything that you haven’t thought of already. I’ll just add two comments:
      1) Craig Keener, a most rational and balanced seminary professor, has written a two-volume book called Miracles which recounts severalthousand well-attested miracles of healing. A skeptical physician friend of mine (a Theist but not a Christian) found it very convincing. It certainly doesn’t explain the seemingly random distribution of miracles, or their scarcity, or their absence in any one case such as the sad case of your daughter–but if true, it does speak to some of the questions you raise.
      2) To be fair, Shusaku Endo never lost his faith. And he also objected to the title publishers gave his book, insisting that God did speak in the novel (and also in the movie, it turns out), when the priest stepped on the fumi-e. God’s apparent silence is not incompatible with faith, as Endo, John of the Cross, Mother Teresa, Jesus on the cross, and many others would attest. The image of Christ in the water, I take as Endo’s way of saying that God did not merely sit with folded arms, silent; God became one of us and fully suffered the human condition. At least that’s how I interpret it, as Endo explained elsewhere.

      • Doug says:


        I’m grateful for your willingness to engage in conversation with me. I thankful for your thoughts here. I will be back in the US next month and will order Keener’s “Miracles” for a read. To your second point, I can certainly appreciate your thinking.

        I can’t help but highlight your comment, “… but if true….” Well, there’s the rub, isn’t it? You’re asking me to trust information third hand (at best). Of course, I didn’t see these miracles he writes about. Neither did he see them. If I can’t trust the president of the United States to numerate onlookers at The Mall which I saw in photographs, how could you expect me to believe Mr. Keener’s reporting of a miracle that someone else reported to him? You don’t have to look past the two miracles that gave Mother Theresa her sainthood last year to see how easy they are to fabricate. This is hardly peer-reviewed, evidence based proof.

        It’s disappointing you refer me to yet another book. Perhaps an imam would point me to the Hadiths. Perhaps a Rabbi would point me to the halakhah. Perhaps a swami would point me to commentaries on the Vedas. But Philip, which one represents Truth? Which can I trust? Within which can I rest my eternal soul? I doubt you’d send me to Athens to study Greek Mythology, to Cairo to learn of Ra, to the Yucatan to investigate Quetzalcoatl, or to the Celebrity Center in LA for answers. You and I both know these are all absurd.

        Philip, I’ve traveled to over 100 countries and have spent considerable time with adherents of the world’s leading religions. I’ve also met with Zoroastrians in Mumbai, Bahá’í in New Delhi, Scientologists in Los Angeles, Shinto in Japan, Buddhists in Thailand, Mormons in Salt Lake City, Russian Orthodox in Kyrgyzstan, Eastern Orthodox in Bulgaria, among others. Most recently, I spent 3 days with a Shafi’i Sunni Muslim in Tanzania. Sadly, though not surprisingly, no one has satisfactorily responded to my inquiries on theodicy.

        I have found however, to the contrary, an amazing respite in Science. No one is killing over math. We’re all in agreement the Roman Catholic Inquisition was wrong to put Galileo on trial for his refutation of geocentrism. We can all reliably chuckle at Bill O’Reilly’s incredulity: “… tide goes in, tide goes out….You can’t explain that.” I can explain that. I can also explain in great detail, using mountains of peer reviewed evidence, how my daughter and I arose from a common ancestor. I can explain how my daughter’s Crohn’s Disease affects her and exactly why Humira works to reduce her suffering. I completely understand the science behind a pilot-less Space X Falcon 9 taking off from Vandenberg AFB, delivering 10 satellites, and landing on a drone ship in the Pacific. I can tell you, with uncanny accuracy, where the shadow will fall across the US during the eclipse on August 17, 2017. Similarly, I can predict the eclipse on June 25, 2522 will last exactly 7 minutes and 12 seconds. As for the Arts, watching the movie “Hidden Figures” was infinitely more interesting than a viewing of “The Passion of the Christ.” But now Elon Musk wants to send us to Mars? That’s something to believe in! Transubstantiation? Not so much.

        At the end of the day, reading Krauss, deGrasse Tyson, Chet Raymo, and Dawkins are immeasurably more valuable for my soul than the Bible, the Hadiths or anything from L. Ron Hubbard. I bet Neil is right: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe it or not.”

        As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve read a plethora of literature from your point of view. Philip, have you ever considered reading some from my primary school of thought? Say, “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris. I would love to hear your thoughts.


        • Philip Yancey says:

          Actually I’ve read quite a bit of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. Of the three, I appreciate Harris’s spirit the most. I’m glad you’re open enough to give Keener a try. Let me know what you think. As for science, yes indeed it’s predictable and dependable, but it still doesn’t solve the “humanodicy” question. Remember, Hitler’s doctors and scientists were among his most obedient servants. –Philip

          • Doug says:


            I’m glad to know you’ve read Harris and others. Sam really speaks to me. He’s well reasoned and caring.

            Thank you. I’ll seek out the Keener.

            A good point Philip. Sam speaks to this in a few of his works. Clearly, once embroiled in Third Reich nationalism, some men of science abandoned the scientific method. All doctors are bound to the maxim, primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The Hippocratic Oath defines the practice of Medicine, but as you point out, it is not inviolable.

            Similarly, the faithful have no right to forget the horrors committed in the name of religion. As you’re aware, this is a long list. It starts with Genesis 6:13, Exodus 12:29, Leviticus 20:13 and 24:44, Numbers 31 and continues with Matthew 2:16, Mark 16:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:34. Armed with the Scriptures, mankind continued the barbarity with hatred of the LGBT community, the suppression of science, the Crusades and Inquisition, the Holocaust, Catholic priest abuse, and the Westboro Baptist Church. Islam is culpable as well with its honor killings, FGM, misogyny, punishment of apostasy, jihad and more recently, ISIS. Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight.

            Perhaps I should just listen to Jesus when He says in Matt. 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. [KJV]” Or, in verse 25 He commands “…do not worry about your life…. [NKJV]” This sure would make my life easier.

            Again, thank you for the discussion Philip.


  13. Phil Coysh says:

    As an outsider to the US election – I’m from the UK – this is the best piece of writing I’ve seen on the role of the Christian community in the aftermath of the US election.

    I remember Clive Calver, former Director of the UK Evangelical Alliance, telling a story many years ago of a meeting he had with UK Government Minister, Ken Clarke, during the John Major government. Clarke said to Clive, “I can’t make out you evangelicals. Are you left wing or right wing?” To which Clive replied, “We’re both!”

    Of course the situation in the US is far different from the UK, but that quote has remained with me as I have personally journeyed across the political spectrum backwards and forwards over the past 25 years, unable to find a resting place.

    Whilst some Christians are called to full engagement in the party political arena, the majority of us indeed need to find peace in a place of much discomfort as we ‘mind the gap’ in our societies where we, as Christians, don’t quite fit. It’s a new kingdom we serve with a different type of King.

  14. Greg Denholm says:

    So well written, Philip! Such a wide-ranging article in which, despite your passion, you continue to exhort and exude grace. Sincerely, well done.

    I heartily agree, and feel sad with you, that Christianity is too often misrepresented as essentially political and as the exclusive bastion of one side or the other when it is actually about the Father’s love for a world spinning off its axis. Thanks for sharing your wisdom once again and for persisting over the years. Be encouraged – you are making a difference for good, even if you don’t see it (yet).

  15. Cathy Zalusky says:

    Spot on article and we would love to print and share this information with quite a few people. Is there a way to print it without all the other pictures etc., a more condensed version?

    We always feel we can get such good guidance from you Phil. Thank you for another well written piece!

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Uh, I’m afraid your question is above my pay grade. Is it possible to do a ctrl/C copy and then paste in just the text (no formatting) into a word processing program? Otherwise, I don’t know. –Philip

  16. Frank Raj says:

    Hi Philip

    Except for Shane Claiborne’s quote I saw no use of the word ‘Christianity’ in your thought provoking article!



  17. Roger Smith says:

    I could go in about five different ways responding to this post. Have several of your books and you are a talented writer. Problem with them (as with this post) is that as good a writer as you are, your attempts to make your point you almost, “thread the needle,” but don’t quite make it. This, to my eyes, is a pattern in your writing. Where, oh where, do you allow for the sovereignty of God through all this? We’re actors on a stage, but God’s the playwright. Has much as I personally loathed the leadership we’ve had in America the last eight years, it was obvious to me how sovereign God was through all of it. That is at least as true now with our newly elected president-to-be. The great global leaders over the last 150 years; Lincoln, Churchill, and even Reagan, were absolutely not what anyone at the time (or even now) would regard as “Christian.” To verify this, read any good biography of these men. It took the crucible of the office and their roll as leaders of nations to unveil the wisdom of their assentation into office. Have you left no room for this in your thinking?

  18. Daneen Akers says:

    Thanks, as usual, for your perspective. I agree with what’s been lost in this election, and I’m unsure how the reputation of evangelicals will get restored without some intentional repentance and steps to mend the breaks in the bridge on the part of evangelical leaders. As you said, it was one thing for people to grudgingly vote for the candidate they considered the least harmful, but the glee with which Trump and his harsh and mocking rhetoric has been embraced by those claiming to be Jesus followers has been astonishing. I’m one who is unlikely at this point to identify as evangelical again, and I’m actively searching for something for my children that feels much more in line with the values and life taught by Jesus. I don’t identify with the culture wars that most evangelical institutions seem to exclusively care about. I read Jesus as continually expanding what his followers thought about God’s radical love and inclusion for those traditionally excluded by their religious power structures. Thanks so much for your insights, cautions, and hope.

    • Lipkje says:

      I am so glad with your responses and the article itself. It gives me as a foreigner from Holland, something to hold on. I lost all confidence in American evangelical Christians choosing Trump for president. There still are thinking Christians in America. Thank you all so much! Lipkje Visser. The Netherlands

  19. William Lavender says:

    Read through your article. I am Monte Swan’s son-in-law. Travis liked your article and reposted it on FB. While I agree with some of your observations, I think you missed the bigger point of this election–Anger with the political Status Quo. The “Christian Right” has been dead for awhile, as predicted by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson in Blinded by Right. For me, it was about the U.S. Constitution. If the Bill of Rights are successfully eviscerated by the Left, there will be no more religious liberty. We, Baptists, will be forced to return to our Anabaptist roots as an outlawed and under ground church.

  20. John Lowe says:

    Mr. Yancy, Your blogs, articles and books reassure me that there is indeed an intellectually satisfying, thoughtful, voice among Christians in the public square. I appreciate your broad reaching research, your careful turn of phrase and razor sharp points of logic. I share your deep concerns and turn to you who is better informed, with clearly formed ideas and the wisdom to choose your words so very carefully. I know Christians can turn on their own like a pack of wild dogs. You manage to stay away from the pack and for that I am so deeply grateful. Please be encouraged, there are some out here for whom you are a ray of hope and source of encouragement. Many, many thanks for all you do.

  21. Stephanie says:

    Mr. Yancey,
    I appreciate your viewpoint, especially while in the process of reading your book on prayer. “In prayer we stand before God to plead our condition as well as the conditions around us. In the process, the act of prayer emboldens me to join the work of transforming the world into a place where the Father’s will is indeed done as it is in heaven. We are Christ’s body on earth, after all; he has no hands but ours. And yet to act as Christ’s body we need an unbroken connection to the Head. We pray in order to see the world with God’s eyes, and then to join the stream of power as it breaks loose.”
    I see such an opportunity for the church in these times that we are living in to be the hands and body here on earth and pray that His Word guides, directs, and instructs as is has for generations before us!

  22. Donald Johnson says:

    I ask you to investigate further you claim about Trump mocking a disabled person. Get both sides of the story. When I did that, I concluded that he did not. If you do this and conclude the same, I hope you retract your statement.

  23. Sarah Latimer says:

    Thanks for this, Philip. I have been ranting about this for a year now, minus the Christian charity. You do it far better.

    I have been told that, when one takes church attendance and not simply self-ID as an evangelical into account, the numbers for white evangelicals go down by half:

    I myself have ceased to call myself an Evangelical, as the word has become hateful to me. My faith remains unscathed. But the faith of so many has been damaged, lost, or deferred by the current synchretism of far-right politics and Christianity. People can look at me as the grouchy crank who they think has gone down the path to destruction, but they can’t so easily write you off. Thank you for having the guts.


    Sarah Latimer

  24. Katie says:

    Thank you for writing so openly and courageously, even when you know it will leave you vulnerable to more hurtful and vicious attacks. We are indeed “beggars of grace.”

  25. Kevin Noe says:

    Philip, I believe God has used your writing to definitely shape my life. And for that, I am forever grateful. In particular, Soul Survivor helped me at a critical time when I seriously questioned the church. Thank you.

    In reading this most recent article, I couldn’t help but wonder. Would you have expressed your sentiments and challenge to the church if 81% of Christians had voted for HRC?

  26. Virginia Crawford says:

    The problem in a nutshell is that “evangelicals” in this country vote economy over everything. It’s all about the almighty dollar. This country was built on Judea Christian principles and God blessed us. The further we get away from these principles, the further away we get from God’s blessings. We need repentance.

  27. Jean jacques says:

    Dear Mr Yancey
    As an avid reader of your writing and a follow Christian, I appreciate your thoughts who help us to better understand and put in perspective the mindset of Christians in America. For most of us outside of USA the elections results were less confusing and sad than the perception given of the state of Christianity in your country. May god continue to bless you.

  28. William Love says:

    You cover a lot of ground here, Philip. As Christians, we are to be in the world and not of the world. Yet we have the responsibility to address issues that impact our humanity, for that is all we have until we leave this temporary home. How we address them is the much larger challenge, which certainly reveals our human flaws. Just a note regarding the vote: Had the New York City and Los Angeles County votes for Clinton not been included, she would have lost the popular vote by about half a million votes. I do believe that the loss of over 1,000 seats nation-wide by the Dems during the terms of Obama does tell a profound story. Your two-color map doesn’t quite show the real story. Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard that Mr. Trump has experienced a conversion that leaves his colorful past behind? It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of the electorate, the low-information voter, thrives on MSM sound bites. Much of what you reference only skims the very surface, the very superficial information that fails to explain and reveal more hard core facts that live deep inside so many of these issues. But enough rambling for now. We can only hope and pray that this nation returns to its Christian roots, for we have been given one more chance, and there will be no more. “…for the Bible tells me so…” Peace.

  29. Curt Hopkins says:

    Philip, thanks so much for your blog post. As an American evangelical who has lived abroad for 20+ years, I have struggled to understand how so many friends and family back home got to the point where they supported such an anti-conservative, anti-Christian man as Trump. I’m trying to understand and be open to their point of view and not condemn them as many people in England (where I live) do. I found your post very encouraging and consider it to be a manifesto for a followers of Jesus. I will pray about how I should change my mission in life accordingly.

    A question for you, many years ago I came to the conclusion that my faith in Christ was more important than my allegiance to my country (benefiting from being able to see my country from a foreign perspective). But now I feel that abroad and especially in the English speaking world, that the term “evangelical” is totally tarnished and politicised. What should us gospel driven believers in Jesus now call ourselves?

  30. Rob R says:

    Philip, just out of curiosity, will you be watching and/or reviewing Martin Scorsese’s new film adaptation of Shusako Endo’s book “Silence”? I read the book after reading your chapter on Endo in “Soul Survivor.”

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I saw the movie in a special showing this week. It’s extremely powerful, and I hope to write a blog about it next month. –Philip

  31. Stewart Geller says:

    What perplexes me most about most American evangelicals is our naive expectation that non-believers will adhere to our moral world-view. This is of course impossible without the prerequisite of salvation. To think that morality can be forced or enforced through civil law is contrary to all the Bible teaches. Yet, evangelicals take to politics, forgetting that our Kingdom is not of this world. This high-profile and often unloving approach has made us generally despised. Still, I take comfort that in the midst of a mean-spirited hurricane, the plan of salvation goes forward. God’s elect, known always, will be saved. For us the only commission is the Great Commission.

  32. Keith Giles says:

    Philip: I respect you so much. Our hope must remain on Jesus and His Gospel. There is no other hope for our nation, or any other nation.

    The greatest threat to Christianity in America may very well be “American Christianity”.

    There’s a new book coming out in a few days, on Inauguration Day as it turns out (Jan.20) that tackles the problem of American Christianity and entanglement with politics.

    It’s called “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb” and it features a Foreword by Greg Boyd, author of “The Myth of a Christian Nation”.

    You can learn more about it at:

  33. Roy Stafford says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this incredible blog that is the most important thing I have ever read on the crisis in this country. Please help, I want to share this, but was unable to print the second page because of an overlaying list from the first page.
    Roy Stafford

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Hmm, I don’t know. The blog also appears on the website, in their Evangelical channel. You might try there. –Philip

      • Aster Dibaba says:

        Mr.Yancy, I am not even in the States these days. I have been around people who get their news from the Evangelical corners. There is this fake news that says that Obama and Clinton were taking us to the world of anti-Christ domain. I know God have used all kinds of people as His instruments to punish and to bless. If people think Trump is used by God to make America great I pray for all my believer friends. There wasn’t anything that came out of this man’s mouth that he even acknowledges the sovereignty of God. As far as I am concerned more damage have been done to the country and the people that sent missionaries around the world to reach me for Christ. Due to lack of internet I haven’t been able to read your blog posts or even what other American’s said regarding the role of Evangelicals. I am sad and sad that we are not doing better than those people that shoot and destroy innocent people around the world. More is given to us as Americans. God has shed His grace on us. There are more people that love and care about other people in America than in other place in the world. Where were all these people that I knew and read about all my life. Why weren’t there Isaiahs, Jerimiahs, Ezekiels, … that stood in the gap? Its going to take us a period of repentance like the old kings of Israel tear our clothes and put dust in our heads and sit in the ash and ask for God’s mercy. For we have turned away from God. After all of the experiences of seeing the Pillar of Fire, the Pillar of Cloud, the partition of the Red Sea, Mannas, Water out of the rocks, for over 200 years much longer than the 40 years our men of faith traveled in the desert. We should know better. We have seen God up close may not be in the clouds, but in each other. God is still on the throne and He rules the world. Its just the big light has shown us where our hidden values have been. I still have hope that we will come out of this and we will sing and praise of our God for He has brought us through from where we have been. Mr. Yancey, You don’t have to say what we like to hear put out what God puts on your heart. God has used your books and my own wilderness journey. Even last night I reread your Rumors of Another World and it sounds a fresh that yes we are in 2 worlds. One of these days the kingdom of this world shall be the kingdom of our God. And we will say it was worth believing in what the Word of God says. “Behold I will make everything new.” From Syria, Iraq, all the corners of the world where people are looking forward to that day. I am one of those. God Bless you and Bless your effort to put out articles that makes us think. I consider me your sister.


  34. Glenn Snieder says:

    “At times, Christians must enter the political fray, especially in a democracy that guarantees our right to do so. Some of the issues facing our nation are moral issues that require our activism. In a post-truth era, we still believe Truth matters. Yet, as Martin Luther King Jr. used to say, the Christian wields different weapons in political conflict, the weapons of grace.”

    While platitudes about love and peace are good, necessary, and fuzzy feeling it doesn’t solve the question about what specifically we pray about for those in authority. Praying for governmental coercion to enforce a particular groups definition of tolerance against another group seems oxymoronic. Whatever activism is necessary it isn’t what both sides of the political spectrum has engaged in; praying to the god of government to be redeemer against a particular groups intolerance.

  35. Ross says:

    I’m surprised you’ve written this article. I thought that you strongly held the principles that are alluded to in the second half of this letter. Your last piece about Trump merely a reflux that made you sound more partisan than you actually were.

    But this piece is a classic- you call it bridging the gap and you have spent the entire piece trying to delegitimatise the lawfully elected POTUS. Now he is responsible for the lack of civility in elections (been going on for generations) and the bad name evangelicals have developed (you’ve written about this over the past twenty years).

    It isn’t your political views that I’m writing about. They are yours not mine. But I am writing about what they seem to be leading you to do. You’ve written a misleading article in many different ways. And I’m actually surprised by that. You’ve tried throughout the article to pick at the barely formed scab that was the American Election. And to what cause? Unfortunately a political one. It’s part of a larger movement by Democrats to cast Trump in a even more unflattering light.

    You are doing what evangelicals are doing for Trump… well you are doing it against. I find that really disheartening. Not because of the politics, but because your writing has helped me. In particular the emphasis that Christians should not be involved in the politics of power but spreading the gospel of grace. Even inside political institutions. Not that I’m within them, but it encouraged me to stay connected with people heading that way, when it would have been easier to avoid politics altogether.

    Philip, it really doesn’t matter what I think. You can ignore this, delete it, whatever. But you need to put this article in the right place… a mistake (and we all have those) or a radical turn in direction abandoning cherished principles. Otherwise slowly we will see that your blog becomes less about Christianity and more about politics. And that would be a real loss.

    • Rhonda Mckeown says:

      In response to Ross-
      I read your entire response with an open mind, feel, agree with this piece entirely and was genuinely interested in what you would say. I’m once again so confused by one line in particular.
      “It’s part of a larger movement by Democrats to cast Trump in a even more unflattering light.”
      Mr. Trump is proud of being unflattering. Have we caused him to make these unflattering choices, and caused him to be so proud of it? Still confused.

  36. Donna Brayton says:

    As usual – a great article! You always have a way to stretch my thinking! Blessings!!

  37. I enjoyed this article very much, especially the comments showing that both conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, care about good things. Mr. Yancey is one of my favorite authors.

    I’m not the smartest thinker in the world, but I have just entered my 60s, and I keep getting the same impression over and over in life. Life seems like a swinging pendulum. Or like paddling a canoe — when you over steer in one direction, you have to make corrections to straighten back out. It seems like movements start with good intentions and motives. After awhile, the axis tilts, the law of unintended consequences comes into play, the fact that we live in an imperfect world shows up, and things become mixed or even bad. Finally, a responding movement kicks in and swings us back towards the other direction..

    I grew up in an evangelical Christian family. Some of my extended family believed it was sin for a Christian to be involved in politics, because politics was a dirty business, and it was no place for a Christian who wanted to honour God. They also believed it was wrong for Christians to vote, as they might vote for the person who didn’t win, showing they had voted out of God’s will.

    People like Francis Schaeffer came along and debunked all that, for which I am thankful. Schaeffer was used by God in many people’s lives and encouraged us to step out of our churches and become involved in our culture for Christ. Then we had the Moral Majority and others, also encouraging us to engage.

    It seems that the tide is once again turning, as we see the mixed results from this direction. It sounds like a lot of people are heading back towards less involvement. I wonder if in 50 or 70 years, after this new direction plays out, if Christian thinkers or young people will rise up and accuse the preceeding Christians of being milktoast because they had backed off from involvement with the system.

    Just random thoughts and observations, nothing super profound. Thank you for the article, Mr. Yancey. It’s been a rough road with this election, especially when you have vocal family members on both sides.

  38. David Such says:

    Fantastic essay! I really enjoyed the route you took me on and especially appreciated its destination… love. You eloquently put into words many things I have been thinking about ever since this crazy campaign and election started heading south.

  39. Kay says:

    Your writing gives me hope which I had begun to lose. I have Christian friends on both sides of the election and atheist friends. This is our chance to make a difference in our world. So far, we’ve blown it. Non-Christians are watching us. Let’s do it right.

  40. Mark Hurst says:

    Good Lord I needed to hear that. I served for 27 years in the Navy. I started out in the Cold War – freezing off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, playing some small part in the end of it.

    My son just earned his commission and I wonder what’s in store for him. The events of the post election – this new relationship with Putin – has had me sick to my stomach and angry in a very un-Christian way.

    But whatever comes will come. As a Citizen I won’t take my eye off the ball. And I will still stand for the things I believe in. But I believe in none of them more than the person of Jesus Christ. And I will do everything in my power not to let him down – yet again – as I do.

    Thank you so much for capturing what so many of us have been thinking and struggling with over this past year.

  41. Doug Woltersdorf says:

    I understand your dislike of Donald Trump . You listed a whole bunch of faults of the man but my concern with your article is ( I might be wrong) that your underneath bias is that you supported Hillary. For the life of me I just cannot wrap my self around the concept of seeing her in the White House with what we know about her extreme corruption and extreme personal nasty behavior conducted behind the scenes toward the people assigned to help and protect her.
    We had only two realistic choices to vote for . Voting to me is a very solemn responsibility for we who live in this nation. So my job as a voter was to the best I could look through all the warts of each person to arrive at what I determined would be the best choice for our country . To be honest I did not find one redeeming quality in Mrs. Clinton. With all the negative items that you listed I did find a number of positive things that give me hope that we could possibly have the right person in the right place at the right time for our Nation.

  42. Eduarda says:

    I have to say that, as a Brazilian Christian (which I believe should be the same as being an American Christian), I WAS SHOCKED with the elections last year. Never, in my saddest nightmares, I would have imagined to see so many Americans supporting such a devil like Donald Trump. And Americans who claimed to follow the word of God!
    How could so many people be that blind about something SO CLEARLY OBVIOUS!
    I have to admit that I was confused.
    Things got even worse when Christian American friends I thought were the most devoted servants, started to post messages of support to Trump! This couldn’t be happening.
    The people of the United Stated, to whom I had always looked up to as examples of Christians to be followed, had dissapointed me so badly. It was like God had unveiled to the world what Christianity truly meant in America.
    I really don’t know what to think: Can everybody be so blind? Or is this truly a massive manifestation of cruelty against the laws of God, against the purity and the beauty of the family and, especially, against our brothers and sisters of other nations?
    Anyway, I realised that being a Brazilian Christian was a blessing I had to be greatly thankful to. Brazilians are constantly submitted to pain and suffering, to necessity and despair. And it’s exacly the “suffering that produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5).
    And I praised the Lord for that.

    • Venita says:

      Eduardo, I shared your feelings of such sadness at the state of my beloved country. For many days after the election I felt as if I should be wearing sackcloth and ashes. Mr. Yancey’s article is so excellent, I am praying that I can become more focused and involved in insisting on upholding the rights and protections of others in our nation. I am also praying that I can show love to the world, which often seems so hard to do!

    • Doug Woltersdorf says:

      To be honest the Christians i know ,including me, consider Mrs. Clinton to be the “devil”.

    • Vanessa says:

      Thank you Eduarda. Your comment brought me to tears. I am a heartbroken American Christian. Heartbroken because I believe we have broken God’s heart. And so I cry, Lord have mercy on us and teach us to Love like You.

    • You are confused because you don’t listen to what the Trump supporters are saying. Why ? Why are they supporting him? It really isn’t that difficult or confusing. For a lot of people, it was more of a vote against Hillary than for Donald. And there is more, much more. How easy is it for you to judge without even listening. That is what I call shocking and sad. And Mr. Yancey has in his past writing of presidents and political persons been much more grace-giving then he is to Mr. Trump. I have read many of his books and they have made me think that the left, liberal politicians are not the devil himself, but now I see Mr. Yancey not extending the grace he has shared for the left thinking as much for the Republicans now. I do find that a bit confusing and disturbing.

    • Rainbow says:

      Wow, you totally nailed it.
      Basically America is the rich man trying to pass through the narrow gate. So sad. Too much priviledge, comfort and wealth clouding their hearts.

  43. An observation on one of the big losers:

    Civility has been lost for some time. The growing dominance of ideological discourse in both parties left no room for it. There is no cause to be civil if your opponents are either evil or stupid.

    The recent election cycle merely the most recent expression of incivility and it may have succeeded in cutting away the cocoon of ideology. It is finally unmasked it for what it is — the bullying exercise of raw power.

    Christians who have substituted primary allegiance to either political movement for their allegiance to the risen Christ will be unable to resist the temptation this represents.

    • Sir, you make a very offensive claim that I entirely agree with. Civility is not to be used toward stupid or evil opponents. Jesus said the same exact thing in His statement not to cast pearls before swine. And do not answer a fool according to his folly lest he bite your frickin’ head off. Trump is a genius of escalation and hyperbole. He understands cafeteria communication extremely well and knows how to tear down his opponents’ arguments and then to swiftly save their honor afterwards with gracious blessings. The fruits are in his family. I hope he continues to act wisely to ignore the Russian scandal allegations being made by his opponents’ regime who have the power and authority to forge whatever evidence they so seek to as if they were a Honolulu birth certificate. Just saying to observe the time and opportunity that exists for false accusations to grow and establish themselves. I pray that justice will prevail and that the integrity of the constitutional election process will not be compromised for the first time in our nation under God’s history.

      • Steve Mittelstaedt says:

        Are you suggesting I am advocating incivility? I make no such claim. It has been a byproduct of of ideological thinking. No room is left to allow for the intelligence or good will of an opponent BECAUSE they are by definition evil or stupid.

        Expanding Jesus’ statement to this context seems something of a stretch.

        Ideological thinking encodes an arrogance about the rightness of one’s own position. I view the opponent’s as swine because I am unable to allow the possibility that what I am casting might not, in fact, be pearls.

  44. Thank You! This is excellent and has re-centered my heart in reminding me of who I really am. I am called to love as I have been loved and my activism must be grounded in love.

  45. Mona Griffin says:

    What about those who did not like either choice and voted for what they believed to be the least bad.

    • Esther Calvin says:

      What a sad commentary on the state of politics in the USA. So many of us Christians did not really have a choice. Both sides were evil in their own way. Kill babies or abuse morals? There were many things against each side. It was interesting to me in that Christian leaders were saying, no vote was still a vote. How do you counter that? Well, I guess a lot of us did what I did. Hold your nose and vote for the least evil or what you personally believed to be the least evil. I just couldn’t abide the mass murder of unborn babies and harvesting their “parts”. God said he “knew us in the womb”. Does not that constitute “murder” when killing the unborn? What a choice we had. One of the two was going to be the next leader of our once great country. We all need to do the one thing we can do, PRAY!

  46. Linda says:

    I like your take on things. Although I do not believe in sin, or the need to an over arching grace from the divine I do believe we must have grace for each other especially in the tough times. I became a christian after reading Shaffer’s Escape from Reason. I became a non-christian because to the way Evangelicals devoted so much of their time to condemning others who were not of their “tribe” . I have developed my own spiritual reality since then but have always had an appreciation for your writings.

  47. Rozanne Sanford says:

    Thank you, thank you for your wise words pastor! My heart is heavy and eyes full tears! This election has torn at the hearts of many of the believers I know, confused by what what too many other “Christians” we know did and how they talk! Trying to still our hearts and minds before the Lord to have some understanding what Jesus would have us do and possibly say. I have never believed that either party was solely representing the way of Christ! To tell and legally compel Americans to live a moral life without surrendering ourselves to the cleansing blood of Jesus seems to me to be denying the death and resurrection of Jesus! Blasphemy if you will. That may seem overly simplistic but that is what it boils down to if you claim Christ. It is wonderful to have moral freinds, neighbors and family, but that is not what saves us. I am a sinner saved by grace and commanded to Love God and my neighbor as myself. I can only do this with a broken and contrite heart and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is His loving kindness that leads us to repentance. God help us. And God bless you Pastor.

  48. Dennis says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve long appreciated your writing. Your mention of Schaeffer puts things into perspective; interesting to read that he wondered about what he had helped to create. I know that Randall Balmer has written and said much to challenge evangelicalism and I think more Christians should consider his words as well. I am an African American pastor who is a bit nervous (but not hopeless) about the Trump administration’s impact on our society. I am hoping that Christians will behave more Christ-like in the days ahead.

  49. Walter D. Edwards says:

    Thank you and Amen.

  50. I find it rather difficult to read this article with acceptance and blindness to the graft and corruption and untruths toward the establish and the beginnings of the destruction of our democratic republic and enhance the a minority as we watch the absolute ly vicious attack on GODLINESS in this selected by God thru the colonization by Puritan minded peoples find and allow for the satanic oligarchy of the ruling families to prevail over those who blindly trusted in the combined effort of enslavement of any and all of those made in the image of God.

  51. Roger says:

    Thank you for this article. Once again, you both encouraged and challenged me.
    I’ve been reading your work since the 1970s, when I was a teen reading Campus Life Magazine. I’ve taught classes using some of your books.
    I love the way our Maker’s Grace is both demonstrated and taught in everything you write.

  52. Roberta says:

    Thank you for this . . . thoughtful and wise perspective on the mess we are in

  53. “and those of us who follow Jesus have some repair work to do in helping to heal our nation.”?

    I find this rather presumptuous to accept that only this group of Americans can be the only ‘repair’ people to provide the solutions.
    Perhaps you will clarify?

    • Philip Yancey says:

      I was addressing Christians primarily in this blog, and we do have some repair work to do; that says nothing about other groups who may also contribute to the healing. –Philip

      • Lidia Vivar says:

        For years I’ve been a rigid Christians. I read your book ” What’s so amazing about grace ” , still reading ” Vanishing Grace ” which is digging in my heart so deeply .
        Thank you Phillip ,!! May God continue using you for His Glory and touching many lives and thousands of ” legalistics, religious and rigid Christians ”
        I would like if you translate this article in Spanish to share with Hispanic Community on my Facebook page. That will be very appreciated.

  54. Fiona O'Carroll says:

    Yet again, the writer who had a pivotal impact on my life through his book ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace’ writes to the heart of the matter and with such brilliance. A fantastic article and one I was hoping he would write after his book Vanishing Grace already ‘prophetically’ touched on these very matters and how the true meaning of the evangelical, i.e. the believer in The Good News, should respond in comparison to the perversion of its meaning which is how we’ve witnessed it’s meaning to be especially in 2016.

  55. Jeff Worden says:

    Thank you for your perspective, I stumbled across your work through a subscription to a daily Plough reading. I admire you greatly. I am reminded, after reading this morning’s post, that we are not to judge others. My relationship with Christ is very personal. I have committed some grave errors in my life and am sure would be looked down upon by “they”, “them” Praise God that I am forgiven through Christ!

  56. Eric Hawkins says:

    I have read and enjoyed almost all of your books. Your approach touched a nerve years ago with me. Tho I accepted Christ as my savior and was able to recognize I desperately needed him, I was a skeptic. I do not remember my family attending church! Yet I was always drawn… it took years for me to realize how VERY lucky I was that God had chosen me and that I only thought I had chosen him.
    Your books have helped me see things during my ‘walk’, they still do. I struggle being articulate…. your writings help me sort out my thoughts. They also have helped me realize that being a skeptic isn’t all that bad. When faith gets you through the skepticism, belief becomes stronger and healthier. THANK YOU!

  57. Wayne Briggs says:

    I am not a US citizen yet as a Canadian was very interested in this election and spent much time in praying for all involved. I was most disappointed with the language and worldview of my fellow Christians . This Article says it way better than I. Thanks 🙏 I pray for you often as I know you have a big influence on many of us who call ourselves Christ Followers, may in this world we truly follow Him!

  58. Tracy M. says:

    Thank you for this. What is not mentioned here, and is perhaps a sign of our seeing politics as a win or lose proposition, completed at the ballot box, is that Christians are now in January, not November. Whether we voted for Trump or not, new developments are apparent every day in which we can choose to remain silent, or speak. I expected Christians to speak en masse when Steve Bannon was assigned a position in the White House. Surely they know that the alt-right has been hateful, and may be dangerous.

    And whatever Jeff Sessions says about abortion, he has also opposed the Voting Rights Act, the very legislation Martin Luther King poured his life into passing. We won’t be able to claim his legacy as a symbol of faith-infused justice-making if we are silent as it is watered down or overturned.

    I get the feeling many Christians decided that their involvement in the world was over and done once they completed their ballot. I’d beg them to reconsider. They still have a responsibility to pay attention.

  59. Mary Freeme says:

    Wow!! Thank you Philip…..

  60. Tracy Danz says:

    Thanks Philip. So well thought through – as always!

    While disheartened by the election, it is the conservative church that is an even larger disappointment. The words of Jesus provide such a stark contrast to the actions and ideals of the evangelical church in America. Can Falwell honestly talk about turning the other cheek when he is toting a gun at a student convocation? If “God intervened” in our election was he absent when Obama was elected?

    Truth be told, I have not been an evangelical for some time now & eschew that label. No adjective needed to be a follower of Christ. While I have not left the church it has become hard to want to invite others or to point them in the church’s direction. I suppose for me it is like politics – local governing bodies are fine but anything on a national level is too distorted even to recognize.

    I don’t think my kids will ever find a home in the church. But I believe they will find a relationship with Jesus and a way to serve him despite the church. Funny to admit that.

    Blessings to you for your passion and gifts that must make God smile when you use them so well!

    • J Michael says:

      I’m afraid I have to say I will more than likely be joining you. A combination of factors are at play.

      One is that I am an engineer in an academic setting and meet and am friends with a number of scientists and physicists. Most are agnostic and I value both the friendship and the chance to represent the gospel well to them. The “evangelical” church is so deeply sullied and dirtied by this event that I cannot continue to call myself one and more than likely will refrain from being a formal part of the institution. The vote for a man with values and morals in fairly direct contradiction to both Paul’s fruits of the spirit and Aristotle’s golden mean virtues (Nichomachean Ethics). It’s too much of a conflict to risk my own morals and witness.

      This is ironic as Ed Stetzer’s four questions from Lifeway surveys would likely still peg me as an evangelical even as I protest denial.

      My severe concerns are where the president has the most power: international affairs. I find Trump comparable in morals and conduct to several figures: Silvio Berlusconi (in terms of sexual habit, blustering bullying, and unreliability), Mahmoud Ahmedinejad (in terms of ungoverned anger and predilection to believe conspiracy theories), and historically Kaiser Wilhelm II (in terms of low stature, emotionally thin skinned nature, and willingness to eject greater, more forthright figures (Bismark)). I am also deeply opposed to the resurgence of nationalism and find it a dangerous, explosive emotion to exploit. Surely we learned better from two world wars. Perhaps not. Perhaps we should end the UN, the EU, and revert to pre WWII institutions and have world war again. This time with ICBMs. And with persistent support given the percentage who voted for him, evangelicals will continue to be complicit in the damage done to the world and complicit in a significant loss of witness around the world in the appeal to will-to-power politics they engage in. I’ll have none of it and I’ll deny the institution, pending repentance of this increasing capture and enslavement by one political party.

      I have tried to be understanding of the troubling conflict between two evil people, especially where weariness of globalization and trade are great and abortion is a moral threat. But I would have expected a swift shift to opposition to Trump’s moral failings and troubling actions. So far I have not detected this. To the contrary in fact. So far I only see people rolling over to exercise blind support even to the point of, bizarrely, making excuses under some “newbie Christian” nonsense (this is incredibly gullible). I would have hoped that sober discernment would have had people far more wary. Instead I see rationalization and justification making excuses for evil. In this failure to a) recognize the difference between fault and responsibility and b) exercise the latter, I can’t stick with this crowd.

  61. Hi Philip , great article. Blessings Alan and Xana. Alan

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