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Trump Derangement Syndrome, Evangelicals, and Christianity Today

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Few events in recent American political history have inspired as much commentary and analysis so disconnected from reality as the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Sadly, one of the worst examples comes to us from Christianity Today, once the flagship of evangelical publications.

Consider the “We Worship with the Magi, Not MAGA,” which appeared in the January 7 edition under the byline of Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest. She is an InterVarsity alum from the Christian fellowship’s graduate and faculties ministries at Vanderbilt and the University of Texas at Austin.

Warren’s piece appeared as an installment of CT’s Speaking Out oped feature, so it should not be assumed to reflect the editorial views of the present editors. But it would undoubtedly inspire sheer delight among leftists peddling a mythical “Christian Nationalism” to discredit all evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.

For those unfamiliar with the notion of Christian Nationalism, it is of a piece with the suffocating collectivist woke logic that gave rise to Critical Race Theory and the Big Lie of Intersectionality.

Here’s Warren’s assessment of the cause of the Capitol riot:

But what a strange Epiphany we had in the United States. Instead of Magi worshiping a newborn king, MAGA hats descended on our nation’s capital. Instead of the baptism of Christ announcing his true identity, men and women held signs proclaiming “JESUS SAVES” as they demanded to overturn an election. Instead of a miraculous display of love at a wedding feast, we saw a display of political violence.

January 6 was “a display” indeed but, even with five tragic deaths, it was far less destructive than the summer riots in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Kenosha, and dozens of other cities that claimed at least 26 fatalities and burned hundreds of millions of dollars of commercial and private property to the ground.

But that’s “whataboutism,” so it must be ignored.

Warren continues:

The violence wrought by Trump supporters storming the Capitol is anti-epiphany. It is dark and based in untruth. The symbols of faith—Jesus’ name, cross, and message—have been co-opted to serve the cultish end of Trumpism.

Note the implication that all of the hundreds of thousands of Trump cultists  ‘proclaiming JESUS SAVES’ while participating in the demonstration and march that preceded the riot joined in the violence when in fact only a tiny fraction did so.

More from Warren:

While what happened at the Capitol yesterday is tragic, it is not surprising. For more than four years, Trump has shown that he is more than willing to say any lie, ignore any standard of decency, and bring any amount of violence and division to shore up his own power. Through manipulative disinformation, he incited an insurrection. Like Herod, he is happy to use religious leaders as pawns.

A more evocative expression of Trump Derangement Syndrome might only be found in the Left’s fever swamp precincts around The Nation and Daily Kos.

And finally, this from Warren:

“But sadly, in this anti-epiphany, the wise men are not so wise. They willingly comply. So for me, the worst part of yesterday’s insurrection is how it represents an utter failure in the American church. This anti-epiphany reveals the horrid outgrowths of Christian nationalism, faulty spiritual formation, false teaching, political idolatry, and overriding ignorance.

“Though it saddens me deeply, it must be clearly admitted: Yesterday’s atrocity was in large part brought to us by the white, evangelical church in America. An emaciated and malformed evangelical political theology got us where we are now.” (Emphasis added)

You knew this was coming: It’s all the fault of “the white, evangelical church in America.” It’s all so clear: Trump = White Evangelical = Christian Nationalism = American Racism = Atrocity at the Capitol.

The applause of the Harvard crowd for Warren must surely be loud and sustained. So, too, no doubt from then-CT editor Mark Galli, who in a December 2019 proclamation declared Trump “must be removed from office.”

But I suspect not so much with CT’s founder, evangelist Billy Graham, and Carl F. H. Henry, the magazine’s esteemed first and long-time editor.

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