An atheist, an agnostic, and an evangelical walk into a bar. … Okay, not really; didn’t happen. But if it were to happen, it might be Greg, Jeff, and me. What an unlikely trio. As the evangelical in the mix, I might contend that Providence brought the three of us together. Jeff and Greg might disagree with that assessment, but they’re sufficiently tolerant to accept me for who I am—along with my Christian worldview. Tolerance is the lubricant that diminishes the friction within a pluralistic democratic republic—and within a pluralistic blogsite. Thank you to Jeff and Greg for accepting me as a contributor on their blog, in spite of our different philosophies.
While the three of us might not share a common view of metaphysics in general or religion in particular, we are in accord on one key belief: Donald Trump and his corrupt, intolerant worldview must be stopped. Trump’s MAGA philosophy degrades and dehumanizes … I was going to say his opponents, but his debasement of others extends even to—actually, especially to—his supporters. In pitting factions of Americans against one another, Donald Trump has devalued all of us, but especially those who impetuously espouse his bigotry. As a Christian, I believe every human being—no exceptions—is made in God’s image and, therefore, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
A clear example of Trump’s—and his devout followers’—inability or unwillingness to grasp the concept of universal human dignity can be seen in the use of his executive authority to restore the rank of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. Gallagher was demoted for posing for photos with a recently killed Iraqi detainee, as if the deceased Iraqi were a big-game animal.
I’ve known my Trumpist friends long enough to know their reactions to news such as this. For most of them, their reaction to my claim directly above almost certainly would be something like this: “Well, the G__ d___ raghead was an animal. Damn murderous, pedophile Arabs all deserve to be slaughtered like animals.”
Now, mind you, many of these Trumpists are evangelical Christians who vehemently oppose abortion because they say they believe in the sanctity of human life. “Every human,” they would repeat, mantra-like, “is made in God’s image and deserves a chance at life.” They also likely would add, “Those little ones are especially innocent and vulnerable.” I agree with them on those points. I believe innocent, unborn babies deserve life.
But in the past, evangelical doctrine taught that every human—unborn, alive, or even deceased—deserves to be treated with dignity, not based on how they lived or might live their lives, but because they are made in God’s image. A key Bible phrase frequently cited by evangelicals is Romans 3:23, which says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible my Trump-loving white evangelical friends say they revere teaches that, since “the Fall,” every human being is born with a sin nature, and every human sins—yes, some more than others. So, in historic evangelical doctrine, we have this apparent paradox of creatures created close to God, but separated from Him by sin—every one of them.
The notion that some—perhaps those who sins are bigger and/or more frequent—have forfeited their right to be treated with Imago Dei dignity does not stand up to biblical scrutiny.
Or, perhaps, because they are “different” they never did deserve that dignity. Perhaps “they,” unlike “us,” were not created in God’s image. Such notions may have infected the thoughts of my Trump-supporting evangelical friends, but if those thoughts did, they did not come from the Bible, which teaches that EVERY HUMAN is created in God’s image, and that, paradoxically, EVERY HUMAN is a sinner.
Only God knows the sins that dead Iraqi detainee committed. But the same all-knowing God declares that same man to have been made in His image, and therefore deserving to be treated with dignity—even in death—by other sinful humans.
Yes, in this warped world, sometimes it is necessary for some humans to kill others, but we should never take pleasure in doing so. We should never treat the deceased disrespectfully. Evangelicals should remember the doctrine of Imago Dei (made in God’s image). The Naval Board that demoted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher understood that profound concept; the Commander-in-Chief who reversed that demotion obviously does not.
Our nation cannot survive as a pluralistic democratic republic through four more years under the dominance of a tyrant who cannot or will not accept the principle of universal human dignity.
Thanks again, Greg and Jeff, for allowing me to join you in this quest.
Thanks, grumpy1180 (or Jerry).
At one time, I was an evangelical Christian. And I am appalled by what I am seeing. Trump was elected with the support of many Christians. But to me, that support seems distinctly unchristian.
I’m glad to see that there are still some Christians who understand that.
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Neil, I’m saddened that so many self-proclaimed evangelicals simply go along with the crowd rather than thinking for themselves. It’s almost enough to turn me away too.
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Glad to see you join the team! Jeff and Greg are great guys!
I won’t get into the religious aspect, for I am not … religious, that is … but for the record, I fully agree with you on Gallagher’s crime. He dehumanized a teenager! Personally, I think he should have been given a dishonorable discharge, but … what do I know, right?
Again … welcome!
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Hi ya Jerry!
Jeff, ever the gentleman and good friend, discussed with me first about having you as a contributor here on OTFV. I couldn’t have been more pleased! A sincere ‘Welcome aboard!’ 🙂 I’ve read your essays and can see that you and I think a lot alike… with a few exceptions obviously. If you speak your mind and if we speak ours, I think we’ll end up with a VERY interesting mix!
I’m guessing Jeff has told you that I’m having a rough time finding the time to write (I basically have Mondays to bang something out, and if anything comes up to interrupt me then, it’s goes to NEXT Monday… etc.) The biggest problem that creates is that the topics I was tackling generally become less relevant as current events change and are replaced by fresher news items so rapidly. (This couldn’t be more frustrating.) I’m always amazed how other blog writers can push content out so quickly — Don’t worry, I’m not mentioning any names, Jeff and Jill 😉 — but I definitely don’t have that ability. My writing has always been slower than erosion most of the time. (sigh.)
Okay, since my fingers are already on the keyboard…. I want to get something mentioned just as often as possible to anyone who might read it… Here goes…
Please-please-please don’t be offended if I can’t read all articles which hit my screen, or if I end up not replying to all the very thoughtful comments I get on what essays I’m somehow able to finish. I’m at the saturation point on my end, and things are very nearly falling through the cracks. I’m sorry to say that the blog Jeff and I started seems to suffer the most neglect. OTFV was a great idea, but the timing of starting it proved horrible on my end.
Because my available time is so limited, I’m taking a new approach in hopes I can get some essays out more quickly. Basically when I sit at the computer, I need to be WRITING rather than reading. The downside to that is that I sometimes miss reading the content all of you are pushing out… it sort of leaves me in the dark sometimes, but I look at it this way: THE MISSION WE ALL HAVE IS TO UNSEAT TRUMP IN 2020, and it’s more important than anything that I contribute to that end by actually being a blog WRITER instead of a blog READER… So I’m forced to sacrifice reading for writing, at least for now. I hope you all understand, and I also hope that will change in the very near future as I try to get back into the loop!
Greg / Ohio Realist
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Thanks for welcoming me, Greg. If you or Jeff find anything I write out of line, please tell me so. This is your site and I want to respect that.
Hi Jerry! Nice to have your “voice” added to the chorus. 🙂
I do have a question related to your discourse, however. You wrote Trump’s MAGA philosophy degrades and dehumanizes … his supporters. And then you added, Donald Trump has devalued all of us, but especially those who impetuously espouse his bigotry.
Then you proclaimed, As a Christian, I believe every human being—no exceptions—is made in God’s image and, therefore, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
I can’t help but ask … how does one treat a person like Trump with “respect and dignity” when he does the things you mentioned (and more … so much more!).
This is not in any way a slam against your beliefs, but there does seem to be a bit of incongruity in your statements.
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Good question, Nan. I guess my answer is that I can disagree with someone like Trump without degrading him–as he does to others. For example, while I disagree with Trump and think his words and deeds are often deplorable, I would never refer to him in derogatory terms. And–as unlikely as it ever would be–if I were in a situation in which I could help him, I would do so. If he were in a burning building and I could enter and save him, I would, not because I like him or agree with him, but because he is a fellow human. Again, looking at if from my Christian perspective, Jesus told His followers to love not just their friends and neighbors but also their enemies. Bottom line: I will not sink to Trump’s level.
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