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It’s hard to live in Canada, and not be mesmerized by what we see happening in the U.S. We are witnessing a presidential race that has ranged from buffoonery to the dangerous. Whatever we may think of what this means for the Republican Party and for our southern neighbours, I have been fascinated by the reaction of American evangelicals. Recently, Jerry Falwell Jr. invited Donald Trump to speak at Liberty University. Following the speech, Dr. Falwell committed himself to support Trump. Primaries in America’s southern states have witnessed a great many evangelicals following Falwell’s lead. This blog has nothing to do with politics.

I am, however, amazed that a man who has bragged of his sexual trysts with numerous women; who has owned casinos and strip clubs, earning untold millions from the vices of people whose lives he has destroyed; who makes fun of those with physical handicaps; whose language is filled with expletives; and who proudly announces he never confesses his sins to God, should win the following among evangelicals! I find myself shaken by this phenomena, and am profoundly saddened. What in the world does it mean to be an evangelical in the USA?

But Canadians are well served to remember that America has a very different culture than ours. Theirs is a “warrior” culture, whereas ours is a “negotiator” culture. When America broke from England, she did so by force of arms. Canada achieved the same by negotiation. When the southern confederation of states declared independence from the Union, a bitter war lasting four years and killing 600,000 ensued. When Quebec threatened to separate from the Dominion of Canada, we negotiated until we could hardly stand it any longer. I think we resolved the thing because we were exhausted by the negotiations.

Our neighbour to the south is in a war for her soul. At stake is the kind of nation she wants to be. She is engaged in a battle which is being fought in a way that expresses her unique culture. She does so in a way in which the winner takes all. But these are political matters, and this is not a political blog. And further, it is easy for Canadians to look on in condescension, while we ignore our own sins. And ours are significant. Perhaps, not to fight for righteousness is no virtue at all. Jesus spoke about the ease in which we seek to remove the speck out of our brother’s eye, while we ignore the log in our own.

But my interest in all of this centres on another matter. For I believe that what Donald Trump is actually doing is exposing the problem of what we mean when we use the term, “evangelical.” Historically, the term was used to refer to the “evangel,” or the gospel. At its core was the truth that all human beings are sinful, both by choice and in our condition in Adam. Furthermore, the wages of sin is death. God, in righteousness will not tolerate sin, and demands an eternal reckoning for our sins that will end in the lake of eternal fire. But in love, God sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for us. He bore the anger of the Father on our behalf. Our response must be to repent of our own sins, and cast ourselves unreservedly upon the mercy of God. Once we believe, we are born anew and given a new nature, in which we serve to live a life pleasing to our Saviour.

But in recent years, this definition of the essential evangelical message has slowly been eroding away. The very nature of what it means to be an evangelical is at stake.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog when I continue this discussion.

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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