Cheap Grace, Cheap Politics
Bad theology always leads to bad application in life. One of the worst theological mistakes is something called “cheap grace,” and this year we have seen the cheap grace theology rear its ugly head in the promotion of “cheap politics.”
What is meant by cheap grace? The apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, in chapter 5, lays out the wonderful news that God’s grace has abounded even in the midst of sin. Where sin increased, he informs us, grace has increased all the more.
But lest he be misunderstood, in what we now call chapter 6, he went on to warn against what he knew would be one obvious misunderstanding:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? . . .
Our old self was crucified with Him . . . so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Many Christians then use chapter 7 of the same book to bolster the idea that Christians continue to sin all the time. I don’t agree with that interpretation. I believe Paul is speaking about his past life and the state of all men before becoming Christians.
Why do I believe that? At the end of that chapter, he declares, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Read chapter 8 and you will see that he goes on to talk about the victorious Christian life.
Even if you disagree with my interpretation, are you really going to promote the idea that Christians can constantly sin and that a transformation of life is not necessary? That is bad theology indeed.
I believe God calls us to holiness. I believe we are to have compassion on those caught in sin, but must at the same time hold up the moral standard and call people to faith in Christ to achieve that standard.
I don’t believe we should put people in positions of authority whose lives are walking testaments to supreme egotism and selfishness.
When I hear Christians say about political candidates, “Well, no one is perfect and Jesus isn’t running for president this year,” my spirit sinks when I contemplate the low moral bar we are so willing to accept.
Because I maintain that there are levels of imperfection in candidates and that some have crossed the line to the extent that we should never support them, I’ve been called a Pharisee, full of pride, and a Hillary supporter. Never mind that I hold Hillary to the same standard as Trump, and they both fail the test.
Whenever I’m accused of being a Clinton advocate, I simply remind people of the book I published back in 2001 that dealt with Bill Clinton’s impeachment. In that book, Mission: Impeachable, I gave the Republican congressmen who argued for his removal from office a platform to make their case. I have long been aware of the moral turpitude surrounding both Clintons. I have been writing and speaking about their multiple lies and corruption for years.
So please spare me the insult that I somehow want this woman in the White House.
I’ve also been ridiculed as someone who uses conscience as an excuse. Well, excuse me, but I will not willingly violate what I believe God is speaking to my conscience. It’s not an excuse; it’s a conviction.
This goes further. Throughout this campaign, people like me have had to constantly endure the disdain of those who lecture us that we have to choose the “lesser of two evils.”
Well, excuse me again. I have never, throughout my lifetime voting experience, ever chosen the lesser of two evils. I have never deliberately, knowingly voted for evil.
The first presidential election I voted in was in 1972, having reached the ripe age of 21. Some might say I voted for evil because I cast my ballot for Richard Nixon. Keep in mind, though, that this was prior to all the Watergate revelations.
In all succeeding elections, not only at the presidential level, but at the state and local levels as well, I have sought to vote for the better candidate without a thought that the person I was voting for was a “lesser of two evils.”
In 2008, I cast my vote for John McCain. He was not my first choice, and I considered him a less desirable nominee than some of the other Republican candidates, but I never thought he was evil.
The same can be said for my 2012 vote for Mitt Romney. I had qualms about some of his policy positions in the past, but I didn’t perceive him as an evil person. His character stood the test for me.
This year has been entirely different. Both Hillary and Trump are on the other side of that moral dividing line, in my opinion. Trump is no less a liar than Hillary, and his character should have been a disqualification from the start.
What’s interesting is that most evangelicals agreed with my assessment for many months. Then something changed.
My blog is not widely known. I’m not a big name in the nation (for which I am actually grateful). The highest number of “likes” I had ever received for a blog prior to this year was 811 back during the controversy over Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality.
Then, this year, right after the South Carolina Republican primary, which Trump won apparently with evangelical support, I wrote about how that was incongruous with Christian faith. That particular blog post blew all others out of the water, amassing more than 4,500 “likes.” If you want to go back to that one to see what I said, click on February 22, 2016, on the calendar to the right of this page.
I was encouraged after writing that post because it seemed as if evangelicals were united in decrying the type of candidate we had in Trump.
Then Trump won the nomination and I’ve been assailed ever since for staying the course with my views on his unsuitability for public office, especially an office as significant as the presidency.
A survey of evangelicals now shows that 72% have no issue with an immoral politician holding this high office. That number used to be 30%.
Oh, for the good old days of Bill Clinton when evangelicals actually cared about character. I see hypocrisy all around. What was decried and condemned in a former president on the Democrat side of politics is now excused in a candidate with a similar character only because he has an “R” by his name and he is running against another Clinton.
Some Christians are proclaiming that Trump is God’s anointed. One even told anti-Trumper Erick Erickson that his wife has cancer because he has spoken against Trump, and she would be healed if only he would change his mind.
We’re told Trump is the new Cyrus who will be God’s chosen vessel. I like Erickson’s response to that when he quoted Scripture himself, noting that Paul warned,
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
Get rid of that itch, please. Even if you believe you have no other option but to vote for Donald Trump, don’t be his cheerleader, and don’t twist Scripture to try to rationalize that he’s God’s anointed.
If you are going to vote for him, please do it with eyes wide open to who he really is, and could you do it with some measure of reluctance? That would be at least one step closer to the Biblical standard we are all called to uphold.
Those who are true Christians at heart (not just the cultural kind) need to reject cheap grace and the cheap politics that comes along with it.
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