I can’t find chapter and verse to support my queasiness on this one. But my flesh crawls a little bit when the evangelical big guns – in this case Keller, Andy Stanely, etc. – finally reach enough of the big time that they must show up at the White House for the obligatory episode of civil religion.
Haven’t we been here many times before? So many times before? What good comes from this? What is gained? Why can’t these men of the cloth stay away? Just stay away.
What is clear is that those preachers, some of whom have larger influence, who take on the policies of the administration are not invited. To be invited one must be perceived of in some way as friendly to the White House, if not in policy, then in manner or style. I am not sure this is a compliment to Keller and company. In fact, it is not. Let the President come visit their churches.
I remember the days when Gordon MacDonald and Tony Campolo did the camp outs at the White House during the Clinton catastrophes. Clinton needed the evangelical camp’s religious constituency to support him in the great moment of his moral failure. Rather than sneak in the back door of the White House under cover, it would have seemed right for these men to send a Elijah-like message like that sent to Naaman to Clinton – “it is not me that you need to see; go wash in the river Jordan seven times.”
Yet every new generation of evangelical leaders has to flirt with the civil authorities. Go ahead. It’s not a sin. It’s not a moral issue. It’s just that you still don’t get it.