It’s a good thing Pastor Tim Keller wasn’t around that day in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus verbally destroyed the Pharisees, six times calling them “hypocrites,” plus “blind fools,” “blind guides,” “blind Pharisee,” and “whitewashed tombs,” then closing them out forever with this warning: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
That’s exactly the sort of hot-headed, fear-inducing, Hell-fire-and-damnation rhetoric that repels, hurts feelings, and pushes good people away. So who can blame the Pharisees for refusing to forgive Jesus after He called them all those terrible names!
If you are confused at this point, let me explain: Instead of Jesus and the Pharisees, substitute politically active evangelicals who boosted Republican candidates in the 1980s and 1990s.
That would be President Ronald Reagan, who served two historically significant terms (restoring American optimism and defeating Soviet totalitarianism, among much else) in the White House, as well as far less successful candidates like Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan. (Full Disclosure: I am one of those evangelicals who worked for Reagan in the 1980 campaign, and then as a Reagan political appointee into his second term).
The same crowd continued into the 21st century, dominating the Republican Party (except when George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney beat them in 2000, 2008, and 2012), then forgave Donald Trump his many profound personal sins and provided the base of support that put him in the White House.
Here’s what Keller had to say about all that in a recent podcast, as reported by The Christian Post:
Famed pastor and author Tim Keller said the American Church’s championing of the Republican Party over the last several decades has given Christian nationalism “a place where it could incubate.”
“Christian nationalism works on fear and resentment,” Keller, founder and former pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City, said in an interview with the Church Leaders Podcast on Wednesday. “Friedrich Nietzsche said there is no truth. So you can’t appeal to truth. What you appeal to is fear and resentment, and that’s how you get power and that’s how you win.”
Keller said that, while he agrees with the Christian Right on policies like abortion and same-sex marriage, [he] asserted that the way many Christians handled hot-button issues in the ’80s and ’90s simply fueled fear, resentment, and anger in their communities.
“You know how they raised their money: For 20 years, they sent out letters talking about how, ‘You’ve got to send us money because the gay people are going to try to come and take your children away, because they’re evil and because the Democrats and the Left are going to destroy your religious liberty,'”he said.
“They just said awful things and vilified people,” he continued. “It’s one of the reasons why so many gay activists now just don’t want to forgive evangelicals because when they had a little more power in the ’80s and ’90s, that’s how they raised their money. That’s how they got people out.”
So there you have it, in one fell swoop, Keller dismisses and discredits conservative evangelicals who since the Reagan era have said so many awful things about the opposition and fueled their political actions with “fear, resentment, and anger.”
And Keller is saying the same thing progressives in the mainstream media, on the campuses, and in the non-profit world are claiming as they seek to cement in the public mind a guilt-by-association narrative that Soviet dis-information experts would instantly recognize.
The narrative is that politically active evangelicals since Reagan are all “Christian Nationalists” who are determined to establish Christianity as the official American state religion, just as it allegedly was in the Founders’ generation.
When they do, they will force everybody to go to church twice on Sunday, stomp out the satanic Sexual Revolution, push pregnant women into back-alley abortions, erect Ten Commandment monuments on every street corner, and make second-class citizens out of anybody who dares to disagree with them.
Doesn’t Keller realize he’s carrying the progressives’ propaganda water for them? Probably not, I suspect, though he does concede on the podcast that conservative evangelicals’ fears of being deprived of their freedom “might” come true in a decade:
Keller said he’s not denying that things are, in fact, “getting bad for evangelicals,” warning that it’s “very possible” that 10 years from now, those who hold to evangelical convictions about sex and gender might not be able to work for a major university, the government, or for a big corporation.
Somebody should tell Keller that Cancel Culture isn’t about to wait 10 years to make it impossible for evangelicals (and anybody else who refuses to conform) to get and keep a job in a school, the government (to which they must pay taxes), or a Fortune 500 corporation.
Cancel Culture is doing it now and has been for a decade. (Keller should have a chat with Brendan Eich, the Mozilla co-founder who was forced out of his job in 2014 when it was revealed that he contributed to a pro-traditional marriage referendum in California).
What Keller and other “woke” evangelicals like Matt Chandler and Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear don’t realize is that the day is coming when Cancel Culture will have no more pity on them than it did seven years ago with Eich.
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative journalist who covers Congress for The Epoch Times, and is founder and editor of HillFaith, an apologetics ministry sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with congressional aides on Capitol Hill.