Dear Unbeliever, Donald Trump does not appeal to all evangelicals

It’s risky to wade into evangelical political waters—especially when those waters are teeming with fellow Christians who have a different opinion than your own. But I’ve come to the conclusion that you, Mr. or Mrs. Unbeliever, are worth the risk.
Donald J. Trump has caught the imagination of many on the political right. And, as you probably already know, my fellow evangelicals are known for voting republican more often than not. So naturally, Mr. Trump is experiencing some real momentum among values voters lately. But I want you to know, there are many of us evangelicals who will never support Mr. Trump.
We evangelicals are also known for using the Bible as the source of all godly wisdom and knowledge. Going to that source, I can find many reasons not to support Mr. Trump. There are multiple verses in Proverbs that seem to speak right to the situation. “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” – Proverbs 29:20. Also, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” – Proverbs 29:11.
Then we go to the words of Jesus in Luke 6:45. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bears what is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bears what is evil. For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying that His people should be salt and light. He wasn’t saying we should pour salt into open wounds while blinding people with a spotlight. What He is clearly talking about in that passage (Matthew 5:13-16) is the flavorful attractiveness that salt brings to the dish. And the light was a reference to shining a positive light in a dark place. There’s no way for me to bring attractiveness to the kingdom of salt and light while also supporting Donald Trump. His recklessness of speech is the antithesis of salt and light.
In Colossians 4:5-6, the Apostle Paul (whose writings comprise one-third of the entire New Testament) wrote, “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, wisely using the opportunity. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.” Quite honestly, I cannot hold to that scripure passage while simultaneously supporting a man whose rhetoric has insulted and inflamed many of you.
I can’t vote for Donald Trump because I care about what the Bible says and because I care about what you think of the Gospel that I represent. We evangelicals have not always represented the sacred words of Scripture with the love and care that those words require. For that, I am sorry.
Obviously, Mr. Trump has touched a chord with many people. Maybe you are considering voting for him. And that’s your choice. But just in case you are part of the majority who finds many of his words and deeds reprehensible, I want you to know you that are not alone in that sentiment. There are still plenty of us evangelicals who find his rhetoric inconsistent with the Gospel we proclaim. I’m sorry if the growing evangelical support for Mr. Trump’s campaign has left a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not supposed to be that way.

Five Disadvantages of Ministering in the Most Bible-Minded City in America

In case you missed it, Chattanooga, Tennessee has again been named the “Most Bible-Minded City in America” by Barna and the American Bible Society. Chattanooga owned the title three straight years from 2012-2014 before slipping to No. 2 behind Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2015.

You may be thinking this makes life easy for ministers in across the city. Maybe you believe it’s easy to evangelize in this modern-day Constantinople.

Well, you’d be wrong. Ministry is never easy. In fact, I believe evangelizing the lost in our fine city is more difficult in some ways than many pre- or post-Christian cities–or as Barna puts it the “Least Bible-Minded Cities in America.” Here are five reasons I’ve come to that conclusion.

1. Everybody has religion

Okay, so we don’t have a large Atheist community as some cities in post-Christian regions do, but we do have a largely religiously inoculated base we are trying to reach. Many have just enough religion to deem themselves good enough. They may not cuss, chew, or hang with those who do, but in many cases they don’t actively follow Jesus either. There’s no relationship, just religion. They don’t go to church at all. Many blame it on a distaste for organized religion, but they don’t realize all they have is disorganized religion. It’s a dangerous place to be spiritually.

2. Churchianity is still big

Statistics show cultural Christianity is dying quickly across our nation. Those who would identify as “Christian” in the past because of family background and cultural environment, are declaring themselves “nones.” While that may be true nationally, it’s not as true in Chattanooga. Belonging to a church body still offers societal advantages in the scenic city. Whether or not they’ve actually trusted Jesus for salvation is secondary to appearances. Churchianity never saved anyone.

3. False doctrine is pervasive

This is true anywhere. But in Chattanooga, it’s at epidemic proportions. As a part of a ministerial team in the inner-city of Chattanooga, I can personally attest to the fact that some of the biggest alcoholics & drug dealers/addicts in the city are, in fact, “saved.” It’s not my intention to make light of the situation, but evangelizing some of these folks is like beating your head against a wall. They were “once-saved, always saved” as children but haven’t repented or actively followed Jesus in many, many years. And no matter how messy their lives may be, it’s extremely difficult to help them realize that the problem is their ongoing sinful lifestyles.

4. Legalist attitudes have turned many sinners off to the Gospel

Look, all it takes to be saved is turning from sin to Jesus. That’s it. Following Him is the supernatural progression that should take place afterward. But many churches have decided that behavior modification equals or is greater than the Gospel. Placing behavioral change before the Gospel is legalism. Many sinners believe they’ll never be good enough because of this approach. While it’s true that none of us are or ever will be good enough to deserve God’s grace, we must continually reach out as imperfect people pointing other imperfect people to a perfect Saviour.

5. Church-hurt is a major issue

Church-hurt is one of the worst kinds of hurt. It really stings when a minister or fellow-Christian purposely hurts you. Many have sworn off the entire church because of one bad experience. While it’s true that not all church-hurt is intentional, the worst kind usually is. I’ve heard stories of manipulation, lies, and just downright meanness on the part of some ministers and lay-people. From folks being called out from behind a pulpit to secret meetings and cliques, it’s unfortunate that some have chosen to conduct themselves in such a way that brings hurt to people’s lives. And many times it’s much harder to reach someone with deep church-hurt.

I love Chattanooga, Tennessee. I love to minister in our fine city. But we need just as much prayer as the least Bible-minded city in America. Our city is anything but totally redeemed. There are hurting people, sinful lifestyles, and religious walls throughout Chattanooga. Don’t let the “Most Bible-minded city in America” title fool you. We still need Jesus.