I’m a single-issue voter on multiple issues, and so are you.

Election 2016 has presented evangelical voters with a real conundrum. There is no clearly pro-life candidate in this race. We know where the presumptive Democratic nominee stands. And even though the presumptive GOP nominee professes to be pro-life, we have good reasons to doubt that claim. He praises Planned Parenthood, supports the “health” exception, and names his pro-abortion rights sister as the kind of judge that would make a good Supreme Court appointment.

Still, many evangelicals who met with Trump this week in New York are making a “single-issue” calculation, and it goes like this. We know what kind of justices we would get with a Clinton presidency. There’s a chance that we might get some good ones with Trump. Ergo, despite his questionable character and pro-life credentials, single-issue pro-life voters should support him.

But that argument is not persuasive if you understand what single-issue voting really is. Single-issue voting is not the idea that being right on any single issue qualifies a candidate for office. Single-issue voting is the idea that being wrong on a single issue may disqualify a candidate from office. In this latter sense, every voter is potentially a single-issue voter. Unless you have no moral or political principles at all, then you must be a single-issue voter in this sense. The question is simply what single issue rises to that level of importance to you.

For example, no one would say that a candidate is qualified for office simply because he opposes legal slavery. But of course everyone would say that a candidate would be disqualified if he supported legal slavery. No matter how attractive that candidate might otherwise be, if he wanted to resurrect chattel slavery in the United States he would be disqualified on that single issue alone. That is single-issue voting. 

Pro-life voters have traditionally been single-issue voters in that sense. It’s not that being pro-life qualifies anyone for office. It’s that being wrong on the issue ought to disqualify a candidate. Evangelical Trump supporters are arguing that this single-issue certainly disqualifies the Democratic nominee but that there may be a chance it has not disqualified the GOP nominee. At first blush, it’s a compelling argument. What’s wrong with it?

This whole calculus is based on the premise that single-issue voting can only be about one single issue. This is simply a category mistake. I am a single-issue voter on the abortion issue. But I’m also a single-issue voter on wife-beating, slavery, war-crimes, and a host of other issues. Any candidate who supports wife-beating, slavery, war-crimes is barking up the wrong tree if they think they will have my support. They will never have it. Ever. Why? Because I’m a single-issue voter, and I’m willing to bet that every person reading these words is as well. Again, the question is simply what issues are that important to you.

So how does this reasoning appy to the choices before us in 2016? There is no question that the Democratic nominee is disqualified on the basis of the single issue of abortion. The GOP nominee may be as well. But even if we were to grant for the sake of argument that he were not disqualified on the basis of his abortion views, he is disqualified on a number of other single issues. His pledge to direct our miliatry to commmit war crimes, his fomenting of mob-violence at political rallies, his appeal to racism, and a host of other character flaws are all single issues, any one of which by themselves would be disqualifying.

That is why the most common argument in favor of Trump–at least the one I’m hearing from evangelicals–isn’t compelling to me. And it shouldn’t be to them either.

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Albert Mohler discusses Trump and character in public leadership

Albert Mohler says that if he were to endorse Trump, he would have to apologize to President Clinton for everything he said about character and public leadership during the 1990’s. This is a good word. Mohler is not going to endorse any candidate, but it is clear where he stands on the Trump candidacy. Download here or listen below.

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Donald Trump announces new religious advisory board

RNS reports that Donald Trump has named a new religious advisory board. The full list of board members is as follows:

• Michele Bachmann — Former Congresswoman

• A.R. Bernard — Senior Pastor and CEO, Christian Cultural Center

• Mark Burns — Pastor, Harvest Praise and Worship Center

• Tim Clinton — President, American Association of Christian Counselors

• Kenneth and Gloria Copeland — Founders, Kenneth Copeland Ministries

• James Dobson — Author, Psychologist and Host, “My Family Talk”

• Jerry Falwell Jr. — President, Liberty University

• Ronnie Floyd — Senior Pastor, Cross Church

• Jentezen Franklin — Senior Pastor, Free Chapel

• Jack Graham — Senior Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church

• Harry Jackson — Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church

• Robert Jeffress — Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Dallas

• David Jeremiah — Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church

• Richard Land — President, Southern Evangelical Seminary

• James MacDonald — Founder and Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel

• Johnnie Moore — Author, President of The KAIROS Company

• Robert Morris — Senior Pastor, Gateway Church

• Tom Mullins — Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship

• Ralph Reed — Founder, Faith and Freedom Coalition

• James Robison — Founder, Life OUTREACH International

• Tony Suarez — Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

• Jay Strack — President, Student Leadership University

• Paula White — Senior Pastor, New Destiny Christian Center

• Tom Winters — Attorney, Winters and King, Inc.

• Sealy Yates — Attorney, Yates and Yates

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Are Christians “complicit” in Orlando?

I just read Jen Hatmaker’s viral Facebook post in which she says Christians are “complicit” in the hate that led to the Orlando shooting. Among other things, she writes:

Anti-LGBTQ sentiment has paved a long runway to hate crimes. When the gay community is denied civil liberties and respect and dignity, when we make gay jokes, when we say ‘that’s so gay’, when we turn our noses up or down, when we qualify every solitary statement of love with a caveat of disapproval, when we consistently disavow everything about the LGBTQ community, we create a culture ripe for hate. We are complicit.

We cannot with any integrity honor in death those we failed to honor in life.

Can you see why the Christian outpouring of compassion toward Orlando feels so disingenuous?

She goes on, and I’ll let you read it for yourself. Continue Reading →

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Southern Baptists address Orlando massacre

All of us are still reeling from the news of what happened in Orlando on Sunday. When I went into church Sunday morning, I had read that 20 people were killed in a mass shooting in Orlando. After I left church, I read that the number had risen to 50. I could hardly imagine the scale of such a horror. It was even harder to contemplate what the victims suffered. Who can bear even to think of it?

As I mentioned on Sunday, every person in that night club was an image-bearer of Almighty God and had lives of inestimable worth and value before God. Their murders are an unmitigated evil. As Christians, our calling is to weep with those who weep in the wake of such tragedy (Rom. 12:15).

My denomination’s annual meeting is being held in St. Louis this week. Nearly every session has included prayer and rembrances for the victims and survivors of Orlando. Earlier today, the messengers also approved a resolution concerning the massacre. Here is the text: Continue Reading →

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The Confederate Battle flag and Southern Baptists

I got a lump in my throat today watching what unfolded on the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention. The messengers considered a resolution against the Confederate Battle flag. People spoke for and against. But it was Dr. James Merritt’s speech that proved to be the seminal moment. Among other things, he told Southern Baptists, “I rise to say that all the Confederate Flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race.” Amen.

Dr. Merritt’s speech and the subsequent vote are not going to be forgotten by those who witnessed what happened. Russell Moore has put this into historical perspective over at his website. I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here’s a piece of it. Continue Reading →

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Fred Sanders on the obedience of the Son

Russell Moore recently said that Fred Sanders is a gift to the church. I couldn’t agree more. Sanders wrote a review last year of a collection of essays on the Trinity edited by Bruce Ware and John Starke. He closes his review with a brilliant summary of the obedience of the eternal Son. He writes:

What’s eternal, and essential to the divine being, is Sonship, which means eternal generation and the filial generatedness that it entails. Is the obedience of the Son’s will to the Father’s commanding authority also eternal? That seems to me to be a fairly small question, and also one that needs an answer so nuanced it’s practically a change of subject.

There is, in the relations of origin of the triune God, an irreversible taxis to which the obedience of the incarnate Christ corresponds in human form. It’s an eternal procession that reaches its strangely logical final conclusion in the sending of the Son. As for his submission to the Father, I don’t know what they call it in the happy land of the Trinity, but when it lives among us it is rightly named obedience.

This is another way of saying (I think) what Swain and Allen said in the article I wrote about yesterday. It also happens to be the perspective reflected in some of the essays in the book. I think there is much more common ground here than some of the recent controversy would indicate. I hope parties to this debate will see that (Psalm 133:1).

I mentioned this yesterday, but I think it worth saying again that Sanders has an important volume forthcoming from Zondervan on the Trinity: The Triune God. The release date is December 6, but it is available for pre-order now.

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The Obedience of the Eternal Son

Over the weekend, a friend sent me a copy of the 2013 article “The Obedience of the Eternal Son” by Scott Swain and Michael Allen. I want to commend this essay to anyone who has been following the recent debate about intratrinitarian relations. I also want to warn you that this is not light reading, and I may lose all but the specialists in what follows. Having said that, this article is worth your time to ponder and understand for the current discussion.

I’m not going to summarize the whole article, but I will give you its thesis and highlight a handful of other passages. Here’s the thesis: Continue Reading →

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A brief response to Trueman and Goligher

Recently, Carl Trueman and Liam Goligher have published a series of very serious accusations against those who affirm an eternal relation of authority and submission among the Trinitarian persons. Goligher in particular says that the view is heresy and idolatry. He identifies Wayne Grudem by name as guilty of this supposed error, but of course the accusation implicates Bruce Ware and a host of others who hold to this view as well (including yours truly).

Today, both Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware have issued very helpful responses to these “false” and “intemperate accusations” of heterodoxy. I recommend that you read both of them. They prove that the accusations leveled by Trueman and Goligher are unwarranted and misleading. They also show that Trueman and Goligher have misrepresented the view held by Grudem and Ware.

I have very little to add to what Grudem and Ware have written. Their essays are very well done. Nevertheless, I thought a handful of additional remarks might be in order: Continue Reading →

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