Each pastor is aware of the distinction between the grace of the Gospel — salvation via religion in Christ and repentance for our sins — and what Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to as “cheap grace,” which he outlined as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.”
Imparting a correct understanding of grace is a necessary a part of discipleship. And most discipleship takes place exterior the 4 partitions of the sanctuary. What we are saying publicly in response to main information occasions falls beneath this umbrella. When elected officers come in search of low-cost grace, taking part in alongside isn’t simply politically problematic — it’s theologically harmful.
Earlier than a white supremacist stormed an El Paso Walmart and shot 46 individuals, 22 of whom at the moment are lifeless, he posted an announcement on-line that parroted word-for-word a lot of President Trump’s racist rhetoric about an “invasion” of Latino immigrants. The terrorist later said explicitly that his mission was to kill as many “Mexicans” as doable.
President Trump, who has stoked concern and loathing of Latinos for the reason that opening remarks of his presidential marketing campaign, needed to reply. Studying from a teleprompter at a press convention two days after this act of racist terrorism, he mentioned partly, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”
What was lacking from the speech was repentance — to God or to the individuals he has wronged. He took no accountability for his prolonged historical past of utilizing racist language, not to mention for uplifting racist violence. In reality, his re-election marketing campaign continues to face by use of the “invasion” language. Defiantly defending use of language that impressed a lethal act of home terrorism exhibits that the president not solely sees nothing unsuitable with what he did, however is morally unfit for continued service. Something wanting stepping down at this level can be a grasp for reasonable grace.
Inside hours of his remarks, The New York Instances, Washington Submit, and Los Angeles Instances all ran headlines saying Trump’s condemnation of racism. Cable information talkers described him as putting a brand new tone. The road served its function.
Our tendency could be to search for a motive to provide this president credit score for one thing, to see a silver lining, to not be vital all the time. I get it. I’ve spent most of my life in politically “purple” church buildings the place coming throughout as partisan not solely dangers dividing the congregation, however might additionally put the pastor’s future in jeopardy. Between that onerous actuality and our accountability to eschew partisan bias, the inclination to provide a modicum of credit score for statements just like the president’s line on racism is comprehensible on one degree.
And I discuss each day with individuals who work on the intersection of religion and politics. I heard some people recommend that criticizing Trump’s phrases after El Paso and Dayton would make his critics look unreasonable and political.
However succumbing to this concern about appearances would clearly cheapen grace, which damages discipleship.
We hope you are taking a second for real introspection, deep soul looking out, and penance. We hope you’ll genuinely change. We hope you’ll have the grace and humility to ask for our neighborhood’s forgiveness. We hope that following this horror we’ll by no means once more hear the racist, xenophobic, and hateful language that has marked your presidency. We hope you’ll minimize your ties to white supremicists [sic] like Kris Kobach, Steve Bannon, and Stephen Miller. We hope you’ll champion legal guidelines and insurance policies that ban assault weapons and excessive yield magazines, enact common background checks, and demand crimson flag legal guidelines that take weapons from those that are a hurt to themselves or others. We hope you’ll cease insurance policies that criminalize, demonize, and dehumanize migrants. We hope you’ll uplift our Southern Border because the “New Ellis Island” of our age — a gateway to an inclusive, welcoming America that’s nonetheless the land of alternative for all. Solely then, after you could have demonstrated this transformation, real and significant, in your phrases, your acts, and your coronary heart, can we welcome you in El Paso once more. Within the meantime, we should insist you aren’t welcome right here.
These individuals, talking with ethical readability born of trauma, lay out a imaginative and prescient of genuine repentance. I see of their calls for an echo of the decision for repentance and supply of grace that God extends to us all.
I consider President Trump should go a step additional nonetheless. His cursory condemnation of racism final week wasn’t accompanied by a cessation of his racist marketing campaign rhetoric — even persevering with to push the identical narrative that motivated the El Paso home terrorist. And for years now, he has used the world’s largest megaphone to shout language that incites violence. What has adopted is a wave of white supremacist assaults in contrast to something we’ve seen for the reason that Civil Rights motion.
Actual repentance and actual therapeutic begins with relinquishing the ability he has abused to lethal impact, simply as a navy officer who presided over conflict crimes would hand over his command earlier than searching for a pardon. To ensure that grace to not be low-cost, it’s time for President Trump to resign.