The Rank Apostasy Of The Religious Right

The hatred of Barack Obama and the contempt for those Jesus called “the least of these,” as well as an abject and sewer-borne hypocrisy, was manifested in South Carolina over the weekend as Republican, evangelical voters gave their overwhelming support to a man whose promiscuous public and private immorality is nothing short of stunning.

That the Bible-proclaiming arbiters of morality and family values who have inundated the GOP over the last thirty years, and especially since the election of this nation’s first Black President, have embraced Newt Gingrich as their leader is an example of the apostasy Scripture warns would happen in the last days. That evangelical pastors would attempt to explain away Gingrich’s serial adultery by comparing him to God’s restoration of King David is an example of whorish pandering and naked stupidity far beyond that spoken of in the Bible.

There is no sin Newt Gingrich has ever committed that was not defeated and forgiven by Jesus Christ on the cross; redemption for Gingrich is no further away than that of my own. But Gingrich’s behavior evinces no signs of repentance, no signs of humility, and no signs of conversion. On the contrary, he demonstrates only a pallid, vague apology for his extensive catalog of wrongs committed and sins indulged — while displaying anger at those who would dare to question him on specific offenses he’s committed, and committed while publicly condemning others who do the same.

In this, he shows that he despises the kindness of God.

This is a man who uses his children from the first sick wife he dumped to deny accounts given by the second sick wife he cheated on and dumped in order to defend his character and marriage to his third wife, with whom he cheated on his second. This is a man taken to court by the mother of those children when he failed to pay child support; this is someone who was excoriated by Congress and his own party for ethical violations that shocked even the most insidious Washington insider. Further, this is a megalomaniacal narcissist with a messiah complex whose grandiose view of himself is utterly at odds with the truly Spirit-converted life. Any pastor truly called by God would assure a repentant Gingrich of his forgiveness by faith in Christ — and any pastor filled by the Spirit would counsel steps toward his restoration and reconciliation with those he’s wounded.

That probably would not include having the adulterous Callista singing in her Catholic church’s choir, nor would it encourage Newt to use his children and his manufactured outrage to shield him from legitimate questions about his conduct. Or does the Religious Right exempt Gingrich from pastoral counsel and judicious steps toward Christian growth and restoration? Have they judged that his being hateful enough, pompous enough, and divisive enough is . . . good enough for them?

Gingrich’s seduction of South Carolina’s evangelical voters and his elevation to front-runner status as Florida’s primary draws near is nothing more than a shameless and lemming-like rush on the part of the GOP off the cliffs of decency and discernment. The Church of Jesus Christ ought to consider the Religious Right and Gingrich himself to be the focus of evangelism and prayer, not standardbearers and brethren empowered to wallow in and spread a message of power, privilege, greed, and division entirely at odds with even a cursory look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If those in the Religious Right extend an enthusiastic hand of political favor to a man so corrupt and so devoid of evidence of true salvation, if it accepts at face value that all evidence notwithstanding, Gingrich has, in his words, “gone to God for forgiveness” and concludes that the words need not match the actions if the agenda — an ugly, un-Christian, pandering and bigoted agenda — is good, they will prove to be the leaders of perhaps the greatest apostasy this country has ever seen.

They will confirm to a watching world that the Gospel is for sale, that the American Church is ready and willing to bed powers and principalities, and that those Christians who work for justice in their worship of the Savior are, truly, a despised, silly, sentimental and irrelevant remnant.

But let God be true and every human a liar — for it’s the faithful remnant and not those in the grip of lust and power who wait for their Lord with awe and expectation, knowing that, indeed, the Way is narrow and few will find it. I pray for the sin-stained GOP, because I take seriously Jesus’ warning that some who say “Lord, Lord” will find that they were, in fact, entirely unacquainted with Him or with his message. May God have mercy on them, but may God also silence their voice and dismantle their power with the strong, cleansing wind of the Holy Spirit.

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