This weekend, the president attended a charismatic church service in Las Vegas during which the preacher prophesied that he would win a second term. Denise Goulet, the leader of the church, supposedly had a dream in which she was informed by God that Mr. Trump is getting a “second wind” that will carry him to reelection. American flags were also waved on stage during worship and it wasn’t at all clear whether the congregants were looking to Jesus Christ or to Uncle Sam for salvation.
Whenever the Christian Church identifies itself with any nation-state or cause outside of itself, it invariably atrophies and dies. This is because the credibility of the faith is then made to stand or fall with the credibility of this other entity. If evangelical Protestantism becomes coextensive with the Republican Party or even with American patriotism in the minds of potential converts, then it will soon find itself on the path to extinction. Both the GOP and the United States have been subject to serious political, moral, and military failures in the past. They will be again in the future. If evangelicals are identified with either of these groups (or with any temporal institution), then the failures of these groups will become their own failures also. Furthermore, if this historical pattern holds, the moral mistakes and shortcomings of American policy are likely to spell death for this particular brand of Christianity at some point in the future (if they haven’t already).
In the following video, at the 32-minute mark, Peter Hitchens discusses how the Church of England’s wholehearted, nationalist embrace of the First World War completely eviscerated the credibility of Christianity in England and put the U.K. on the road to the practical atheism that prevails there today. His historical diagnosis is worth a watch. In 1914, priests and prelates instructed the young men in their congregations to march forth in a “war for Christian civilization.” The nation learned afterward that it had sacrificed the flower of its manhood to resolve a falling-out between cousins. As a result, the Church of England, having betrothed Christianity to such an unjust cause, died with all the boys she sent to the Somme. American evangelicalism will deserve the same fate if it devolves into the religious wing of a political movement.