Fear’s Double Standard

A prominent theme in John Fea’s book, Believe Me, is that fear drives evangelical politics. The word “white” should go before evangelical because Fea also contrasts white and black evangelicals’ politics. He writes:

Even the most cursory reading of the Old and New Testament reveals that, ultimately, Christians have nothing to fear. Scripture reminds us that we already have a strong protector in times of need. . . . In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father Good pleasure to give you the kingdoms.”

But of course, evangelicals did not believe this when the voted for Donald Trump:

While many of Trump’s evangelical opponents said that they could not tell their children or grandchildren that they voted for such a moral monster, other evangelicals were saying exactly the same thing about voting for Hillary Clinton. On Election Day, long-held fears or threats whose specter had been stoked for decades simply could not be overcome.

Recently, Mike Horton echoed Fea when he wrote under the title, “What Are Evangelicals Afraid of Losing?”:

In a Monday meeting with evangelical leaders at the White House, President Trump reportedly warned of violence against conservative Christians if the GOP loses in November. Evangelicals, he said, were “one election away from losing everything.”

As evangelicals, we would do well to correct the president on this point. If an election can cause us to lose everything, what is it exactly that we have in the first place?

What I don’t understand is why the evangelical voters for Trump, why their fears are a sign of infidelity. We have heard a lot about how evangelicals fear the Trump administration’s immigrant policy, the Southern Baptist Convention’s pastors’ treatment of women and sexual abuse, and the racial bias of police and related shootings.

Someone could argue that these fears about the plight of immigrants, women, and African-Americans are legitimate fears while the socio-economic concerns that motivated evangelicals to vote for Trump were illegitimate.

That may be, but that would also undermine the point that Christians should not be afraid, unless it is that white Christians don’t need to fear but Christian people of color do. Either way, a Christian no matter what his or her race or ethnicity is supposed to trust a sovereign God. If Psalm 23 is true, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” then it is true for all people who trust God.

11 thoughts on “Fear’s Double Standard

  1. John Fea on fear? He sounds like Bob Woodward. Evangelicals voting for Trump aren’t afraid. Why can’t these self-righteous New Testament Christians get the fact many people are simply fed up. With, among other things, being lectured to by academics who always lament the state of the Evangelical mind. Sorry we aren’t all as sufficiently “inaftaid” as he and NT Wright are as the worry about America Red Staters.


  2. But doesn’t fear to some degree motivate everyone’s vote? One doesn’t have to be terrified, but doesn’t everyone vote in part because they “fear” that the alternatives will be worse?


  3. Michael Horton has written in CT that evangelicals ought to be “deeply disturbed” that Trump is taking heresy mainstream. I can’t help but wonder if Trump has foisted Word of Faith theology on WSC. I may visit the campus just to see if Dr. Clark is giving out words of wisdom or Dr. Godfrey is healing anybody. This is “deeply disturbing.”


  4. Michael Horton again in CT: In a Monday meeting with evangelical leaders at the White House, President Trump reportedly warned of violence against conservative Christians if the GOP loses in November. Evangelicals, he said, were “one election away from losing everything.”

    Does anybody know the source of this quote? It was a closed door meeting.


  5. NBC claims to have tape recorded Trumps remarks. Washington Post said they think NBC tape recorded Trump. NYTimes and other news outlets never included Horton’s statement. Further, the actual remarks made by Trump are available in the entirety for viewing, as is the transcript. Neither say what Horton said.

    Was Horton just having a bad day or does he routinely rely on dubious sources?


  6. Correction: Official White House video and transcript of White House Dinner with evangelicals was contained only President Trump’s welcoming remarks. The New York Times claims to have a “leaked” recording of subsequent statements made by the president, as does NBC. The two accounts differ.

    There is plenty of material available to draw upon in order to attack the President without the need for allegorizing a list of political accomplishments into a straw man. The political accomplisments under this president can indeed be lost in a single election. I hope there were no “evangelical leaders” present who thought that Republican victory in November secured their blessings in Christ.


  7. The smart money says that were Fea to discuss the opposition, the quality he calls ‘fear’ would be referred to as ‘concern’ and the quality he calls ‘anger’ would be called ‘passion’.


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