Saturday, June 02, 2018

Are Trump-era Evangelicals closer to ancient Judaism than to Christianity?

It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to worship both Christ and Trump. But if you demote Christ and elevate Trump, both can have similar Prophet status. Prophets of a Chosen people can disagree and refine one another; they don’t have to be omniscient.

Culturally and theologically, the Trumpian Evangelical seems closer to ancient Judaism than to historic Christianity — but with an added emphasis on the ancient theology that wealth is a sign of divine approval and thus of virtue.

I wrote these in 2004 …

Georgia Takes on ’Evolution’ - The Decline and Fall of American Education

… If the evangelicals continued their steady victories, there will eventually be a public evangelical educational system and a private secular/other system. The private secular system would attract the educated elite, and they in turn would attract parents seeking social networks. The evangelical school system of 2010 could become a stigmatized backwater of ever growing ignorance (ok, so it might produce an incompetent President or two ...). 

The evangelical right can indeed win this war, but they may not like what they get. Perhaps they should reconsider ...

and (from an email to Nicholas Kristof back when we did things like that)…

Nicholas Kristof (NYT): The God Gulf - comment - The Yahwites and the Jesites

… I think you’ve skirted, however, a second great schism, between the "Yahwites" and the "Jesites". Both call themselves Christian, but they are as different as the Old and New Testaments -- and equally irreconcilable.

The Yahwites worship Yahweh, and draw their theology from the Old Testament -- a quintessentially Republican document. The Jesites follow a blend of the teachings of Paul and Christ, a doctrine that is more comfortably Democrat or even secular humanist. Mainstream Prostestant and Catholic churches, now in decline, lean towards Jesism; the evangelicals tend to Yahwism.

The Yahwites are in ascendance. In their doctrine God rewards virtue with wealth, and punishes his enemies with brutal power -- sowing salt upon the fields of the dead. The Jesites, always a minority, are in retreat. In particular the teachings of Jesus are so peculiar and demanding as to be almost unattainable for most humans. Jesites are always falling short of their ideal. Frustrating and not so marketable as Yahwism.

There is only a small theological gap between the Yahwites and the Wahaabi, so it is ironic that fundamentalist Islam should see Bush as their virulent enemy. Not the first irony in history.

American Evangelicism has been in free fall for years. One positive feature of Trumpism is that Evangelicals don’t talk about “family values” any longer. The laughter is deafening.

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