HONOLULU, December 13, 2017 – Democrat Doug Jones may have pulled off a shocker by defeating Republican Roy Moore in deep red Alabama, but Republicans have bigger problems to worry about now. Social conservatism, and more to the point, evangelical conservatism, has lost all credibility and is effectively dead as we know it. As someone who was born at the end of Generation X and just shy of the dawn of the Millennials, I can’t help but lament in remembering a better time.
President and Mrs. Reagan: Champions of Evangelical thought
Conservatives once rallied around culture and thought leaders like Nancy Reagan, who emphasized the value of something called “the whole person concept”.
Virtues like integrity, self-control, and good decision-making skills were something to learn. Whenever temptation faced us, the First Lady warned America needed us clear-eyed and clear-minded, and we should “Just Say No.”
President Reagan quit cigarettes with jelly beans, never used profanity in public, and went before Christian homeschoolers to tell them to keep praying for America, stay off drugs, and to reserve sex for the sanctity of the marriage bed.
Today, such doctrine might seem preachy to most, but evangelicals of ages past could sound credible when they demanded these things of others. Evangelicals made no excuses and offered no exemptions for their beliefs, whether it was denouncing 2 Live Crew for raunchy lyrics or pressuring Gary Hart to drop out of his race for being a womanizer.
The Rise of the Antichrist
As a teenager sitting in the pews of a church in the 1990s we would listen to sermons about Jesus Christ and the end times; wondering how it would be possible that the events of the Book of Revelation could ever happen.
Those pews were full of born-again Republican voters, many of whom were military, LE, civil service, small business owners, captains of capitalism and other core demographics of the conservative movement. Hal Lindsey guest spoke at the church numerous times. In his sermons, he would say that the United States of America did not seem to appear in the Bible’s end times prophecies. This was odd considering that (at the time) our country was an undefeated superpower.
Even more disturbing was the question of how Americans, in general, would come to worship and serve the Antichrist, when so many people had such strong moral values. It was determined this could only happen in the absence of Christians on Earth, due to an event termed “the Rapture of the Church.”
Christians in Cinema
In the early 2000s, Christian cinema reinforced this theory by going so far as to portray the United States of America as a moral island in the middle of the Antichrist’s reign of terror during the Great Tribulation.
“Left Behind II,” released just shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, portrays an all-American resistance movement, The Tribulation Force, consisting of a born-again journalist Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron), airline pilot Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson), ChloeSteele (Janaya Stephens), and Pastor Barnes (Clarence Gilyard Jr.).
The Force are able to immediately identify just from watching cable news alone the charismatic Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie) as the prophesied Antichrist. (If only Christians were that discerning watching cable news today, but more on that, later.)
In “The Omega Code 2,” the dashing President of the European Union (Michael York) uses his seat of power to dissolve the United Nations and create a one world government. Stone pressures the President of the United States Richard Benson (R. Lee Ermey) to join his global community.
Stone’s younger brother, David Alexander (Michael Biehn), is now Vice President of the United States. The Vice President , along with the president’s military aide, Marine Colonel Rick Howard (Gil Colon) accompany the President to Italy to meet with Stone Alexander. Colonel Howard warns the president to be careful near President Alexander due to CIA reports indicating that over 200 people have died who all share the fact that they opposed the World Union President.
Benson orders the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet to take up position off of the coast of Italy in the event of an emergency.
Alexander Stone, identified as the Antichrist has Russian support. When Stone marches into the plains of Megiddo to capture Jerusalem, in a born-again “Independence Day”-esque style, the U.S. President sends thousands of M1 Abrams tanks, F-15s, and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to fight Satan in a giant furball that rivals even the space battles of “Return of the Jedi.”
The most loveable part of the film is the conclusion, where Jesus Himself arrives with a cosmic nuclear blast that vaporizes Russian MiG-29s and Ka-50 attack helicopters, just in time to save the U.S. Army and all of Israel. (Not making this up.)
Is this tribulation thanks to God, or thanks to you?
As hysterically funny as this may be, this defunct evangelical pop culture is revealing in that it contrasts sharply with today’s prevailing “conservative” view of the world. That today’s evangelicals would be able at all to identify the Antichrist simply from watching cable news is laughable; if anything, the coming Antichrist will likely be a recurring guest on Fox’s Sean Hannity.
Think about it for a moment: The Antichrist will mandate everyone have an ID on them at all times to use government or private services (Revelation 13:16-17); he will fight Islamic terrorism and have no trouble explicitly saying Islam is the enemy (Daniel 11:36); he will knock senseless Arab/African states that traditionally oppose the West (Daniel 11:38-44); and most importantly, the Antichrist will not be a member of the “Deep State” or the “Establishment” (Daniel 11:23).
If that doesn’t sound like the kind of stand-up guy that Fox News promotes these days as a conservative savior, I don’t know what is. In light of this, how could evangelical voters not fall for the Antichrist?
Russia invading Israel? Omigosh. The haters just don’t understand that we need Russia to help us stabilize the Middle East. Mark of the Beast? Don’t you know, there’s too many illegal immigrants taking away our tax dollars, too many gangs like MS-13 involved in trafficking, and too many North Koreans hacking the Federal Reserve that we need to have a secure identification system.
This Antichrist sounds like the kind of Republican that “true American patriots” have been waiting for since Ronald Reagan.
What would Evangelicals do?
I can already picture evangelicals (and even some pastors) being speaking out about the Antichrist. Reporters will ask,
“How can you, a professing Christian, support this guy? Don’t you know that he’s an avowed atheist, and that throughout his political career, he’s basically done everything in his power to subvert Christians just like you? Some say he’s even anti-Semitic, how can you reconcile his actions and his past statements with your faith?”
To which evangelicals will reply,
“I don’t believe that for one moment, and I don’t believe you at all. You and all your liberal friends, are ‘swamp news.’ This man is the best political leader the world has ever seen. He’s promised great reforms and he’s the only one who speaks his mind and gets things done. He’s doing so much for Israel, even building a new temple for them. He’s negotiated a 7-year peace treaty, that nasty woman Hillary Clinton wanted World War III. What have you done?”
Now before a couple of my fellow (so-called) evangelical voters take offense, this hyperbolic line of reasoning would be absurd except for the fact that Jesus Himself warns “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Recent events have shown us that deceiving the elect is not only possible, but in 2017, it happens constantly.
Ancient Israel chooses a King
Ancient Israel wasn’t content with having an invisible God watching over them, so they demanded a strongman, a planner, a go-getter, a king – so they could be like the other nations of the world that they jealously envied. The Prophet Samuel warned Israel of all the things a king would do, but Israel didn’t care, they believed that ends justified means. Having a king with a few vices here and there was a fair bargain.
In the end though, Israel’s desire for a king led to it being ruled over by foreign kings and foreign oppressors.
Evangelicals need to take a step back in time to when they believed in leadership by example and citizenship by virtue. You know, the days when we used to say things like,
“If a man can’t be trusted to be faithful to his wife, how is he supposed to be faithful to the Constitution? He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much!”
Jesus Christ and political idolatry
Personally, I thought I’d seen enough degeneracy in my time working for a state legislature, and then I saw a panelist remark that if Jesus “came down from the cross” to warn him about our president, he’d have to check with the president over Jesus’ Word.
Well, that just about does it for me.
If your politics is more important than your God, you’ve officially fulfilled Patrick Henry’s prophecy that “when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.” (Also, Pro Tip: Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore, just so you know, he died and rose from the grave, that’s a key hallmark of Christian faith. But Hebrews 6:4-6 makes it clear that Christians forsaking Christ effectively puts Jesus “back” on the crossover and over and over again, to their shame.)
Political idolatry is killing America, both among Democrats, and especially among Republicans. We were supposed to read “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and take that as a caveat to prevent fascism, not an instruction manual to implement it. We were supposed to listen to Yuri Bezmenov’s warnings about demoralization, not play an active hand in demoralizing America.
President Reagan cautioned that the bayonets of the West point out while the bayonets of the East point inwards against their own people. Why are we now turning America into a militarized police state and exalting ex-KGB officers like Vladimir Putin?
Tell me, as a GenXer, was all of that whole-person concept doctrine for nothing?
Have the Evangelical lost their religious freedoms?
We’re less free today than we ever were before. Think about the condition our country is in. Violence is daily robbing us of our neighbors and loved ones. The promises of repealing this and enacting that and some messianic injection of prosperity “on Day One” still hasn’t materialized despite having new leaders in office.
Where’s the great future? The only thing we’ve accomplished is stroking the ego of narcissists and supporting charlatans who don’t even believe the things they promised us so fervently. We traded the ultimate on the altar of the immediate.
Fellow Christians, that’s not a David spirit, that’s a Saul spirit.
The preachy suggestion that God purportedly demands that I go to the polls and vote for change is tiresome. If “righteous change” is supporting unrepentant adulterers, pedophiles, and flaming hypocrites just so I can get my political agenda passed, I think I ought to flip to that page in the Scripture that warns it profits me nothing to win the world but lose my own soul (Mark 8:36).
If you’re a Christian believer, then for you, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Period. That means we vote when we must, if we must … but we don’t ever say “Jesus Christ is Lord … and so-and-so for Senate and so-and-so for President.” Oh, hell no. Such meaningless things don’t even belong in the same holy confession of faith, and to do so is nothing short of blasphemy.
The Bible characterizes the Antichrist as a “contemptuous and contemptible person, to whom royal majesty and honor of the kingdom have not been given. But he shall come in without warning and in time of security and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries, intrigues, and cunning hypocritical conduct” (Daniel 11:21 Amplified).
Christians ought to take that verse to heart. While the Antichrist has not yet been revealed and the prophesied end times have yet to come, we have absolutely no business helping politicians rise to power by flatteries, intrigue, and cunning hypocritical conduct.
Evangelicals supposedly worship God, but some of them also seem to worship the military as well. If you’re going to do that, why not take a page from the code spoken among military officers – “I will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those among us who do.”
Republicans, and evangelicals, in particular, have been tolerating far too much cheating and stealing, and they enable far too many who do these days.