David French is one of the more aptly named individuals ever to roam the earth. Like the French, he immediately surrenders, in French's case anything vaguely resembling defending conservative principles and practices, whenever a butterfly sneeze's worth of opposition floats in his general direction lest he be thought unseemly by The Washington In-Crowd. French is firmly in the elitist portion of NeverTrump Inc., a small but noisy cotillion of perpetually offended flea circus denizens forever drifting from grift to grift crying OMB (Orange Man Bad) and criticizing his supporters with such repetitive monotony that were they creating music, it would make a Mariah Carey Christmas album sound like John Coltrane.
French's latest philippic is imaginatively titled Deconstructing White Evangelical Politics. Since this is only the 374th or so time French has gone off on a “You can't be a Christian and support Donald Trump” jag, apparently he has assumed the role of the apostle Paul writing to the church in Philippi (“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you”). There is the minor detail of the apostle Paul, unlike French, having something to say. But who can be concerned about such mundane matters when MAGA lurks about?
French starts things off by posing this question.
One of the most important questions in American politics and culture is this: Is white Evangelical politics primarily a product of consistent theological conviction or primarily a product of culture, tradition, and history?
Herein lies a conundrum. We live in a society where our technology/social media overlord wannabes daily pound us with the mantra that the old ways, i.e., Christianity and its social tenets, are to be discarded in favor of embracing the “new” way of thinking. There is nothing new about preaching everyone deserves acclaim for who they perceive themselves to be, but that's beside the point. How then can evangelicals, on any level, be it politics or spirituality, be of any importance? And if they are of no importance, how can the question be of any importance?
Next up, the slam.
What if white Evangelicals are disproportionately flocking to outlier political positions because of a combination of factors that have little to do with theology at all? Instead, what if they're shaped by far more mundane (though still quite powerful) cultural forces that ultimately have little to do with faith and then misinterpreting the cultural as theological?
Hmm. Let's see here.
While there are inevitable minor theological quibbles among evangelicals, the fundamentals of evangelical theological teachings are in one accord. All people are sinners in need of a Savior in order to spend eternity with a sinless God. Christ came to earth and sacrificed His own life on the cross as atonement for sin. Christ physically rose from the dead, thus destroying the illusion of physical death being the ultimate end of life. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and accepting Him as Lord and Savior. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. These are some of the highlights.
Now, let's look at Biblical social interaction elements. If you believe the Bible is the Word of God, logic dictates you do your best to live according to its teachings. What does the Bible say? Take care of one another. Defend the defenseless. Directly assist the poor and needy. Tell others about Jesus. Treat each other as you want to be treated. Be responsible and practice personal responsibility. Don't blame others for your shortcomings or failures. Remember, we are all created in God's image, we are all equally guilty of sin, and we are all wholly dependent on God's grace. So be genuinely humble.
It does noticeably sound like conservative principles and practices, what say?
Not to French.
The answer is quite simple–the theological convictions of Christian conservatism were put to a profound stress test, and the convictions failed. Partisanship prevailed. Populism prevailed. In some ways, the South prevailed.
Oh, you evil Southerners with your Bibles and manners and all that. How dare you?!
French continues with the standard “How could Christians support Trump when he's such a MEANYPANTS?!” diatribe. Oh, I don't know. The same way how back in the day, the ruler of a country had an affair with one of his most loyal general's wife. He got her pregnant. He tried to cover it up by calling the general back from the battlefield while “suggesting” maybe he take some R&R (hint hint nudge nudge wink wink) with the Mrs. When he refused, the ruler sent his general back to the battlefield with orders that, unbeknownst to the general, guaranteed his death in battle. After the inevitable happened, the ruler immediately married the, uh, grieving widow and hoped everyone would believe the upcoming baby was born prematurely. Stack that against anything Trump has ever done or said. Oh yeah, the ruler was King David, and God called him a man after His own heart. Apparently, God is in that sin-forgiving business regardless of whether any given Washington effete elite approves. No, I am not comparing Trump and King David. I am stating God will work through whomever He chooses and who chooses to do the work. He's very God-ish that way.
Next, French rails against white evangelicals refusing to surrender to COVID hysteria and rejecting taking the assorted vaccines, which, as everyone knows, are 100% safe and effective except when they're not. Actually, given the various vaccines' alarming shortcomings, isn't it ironic on a level that Alanis Morissette would approve how the supposedly anti-science Bible-believers have a better grip on the science involved than the scientists we're supposed to trust?
French goes on (and on and on and on) with the usual laundry list of charges against evangelicals that reads more like a BLM manifesto than anything of a conservative bent. He does make it quite plain, without saying it directly, that in his mind, he is the only true arbiter of Christianity and politics, this doubtless coming as a surprise to other Christians who might think differently. But, in The Gospel According to David French, who are we to question David French?
One wonders how French would have reacted had he met the real Jesus during His time on the earth. The One Who, long before Twitter, said mean things. The One Who had no problem flipping over tables and using a whip to send people running. The One Who alone was given the authority to judge humanity individually and collectively. The One to Whom sinners and prostitutes flocked because He gave them the love “polite” society denied. It's no stretch to envision French going full Pharisee on Jesus. As to how Jesus would respond … while French's condescending elitist fluff and nonsense is fair territory for criticism, aside from that? Not for me to say.
Other than to bring up Jude 1:9.