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Trump Ascendancy a New Opportunity for Evangelicals

05-06-2016
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Donald Trump, primaries, Presidential election
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Watch CBN's Interview with Dr. Bruce Ashford of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary about evangelicals and Donald Trump.

Donald Trump's presumptive nomination as the Republican candidate for president gives evangelicals a unique opportunity to regain their cultural witness, a Southern Baptist educator says.

Dr. Bruce Ashford is provost and dean of faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Evangelicals who don't support Donald Trump "should not despair," Ashford wrote in a recent editorial for Fox News.

"Although we have lost the nomination contest, at the same time we surely have won an opportunity to regain our evangelical witness," he said.

Ashford believes evangelicals who support Trump are making a mistake:

"Evangelicals had already slipped up by supporting the rise of a primary candidate whose campaign is characterized by overheated ethno-nationalistic aggression, who wants to curb free speech, who did not immediately and decisively distance himself from David Duke's support for his candidacy, who seems only questionably committed to the pro-life and religious liberty causes, who regularly demeans those who oppose him, and whose rallies have been punctuated by violence and civil unrest," he said.

"In spite of these things, a certain sector of the evangelical world—let's call them Trumpangelicals—support his candidacy," he said.

Ashford says evangelicals who don't support Trump can seize the opportunity to redefine their brand and regain their witness in three ways:

  • Criticize both the Democratic and Republican nominees and show that biblical wisdom transcends political parties.
  • Speak to a broader range of policy issues, including immigration, refugees, and poverty.
  • Help heal the "unhealthy and even toxic nature of American politics and public life. "Evangelicals can show the world what it looks like to speak and act with conviction while at the same time doing so civilly," he said.

Finally, Ashford writes that evangelicals must distinguish themselves from being merely a special interest of the Republican Party and put their faith first.

"I am a registered Republican. I've voted Republican in every election. But first and foremost, I am a Christian," he wrote.

"My allegiance to Christ and the gospel transcends my allegiance to the Republican Party; if and when the GOP's platform or politicians are at odds with my Christian convictions, I will leverage my Christianity to criticize the party," he added.

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