Robert Gagnon, who has proven himself one of the preeminent champions of Biblical sexual ethics within academia today, recently challenged editor of the leftist Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter. The two figures really exemplify the divide in evangelicalism over this issue of encroaching Marxism.
Before we post the words of Gagnon, it should be stated that Gagnon – in certain ways – is less theologically conservative (on paper) than many, at least when it comes to the doctrine of inerrancy which, for Gagnon, is nuanced. It should be noted that Gagnon, although not a torch-bearer for fundamentalist conservatism, is still infinitely more conservative than the editor of The Gospel Coalition and the Communications Specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Joe Carter. When people we otherwise might call ‘moderates’ are conservative in comparison to The Gospel Coalition…Maranatha.
Gagnon writes on his Facebook page:
A FB friend just pointed out this 3-year-old piece to me (of which I was previously unaware) by another FB friend Joe Carter of TGC, ERLC, and the Acton Institute. I like Joe and have appreciated a number of his articles. What I link to here, an article on the Acton Institute blog, would not be one of those articles, by a long stretch. It is so extreme that it actually shocks me (not easy to do at this stage of my 60-year-old life).
Ironically, Joe recently charged any Evangelical who uses the expression “cultural Marxism” as a critique of perceived leftward drift in some Evangelical circles with feeding into racism because, allegedly, the expression originated in a racist context (of course, there is nothing racist intrinsic to the term itself, nor is it used in a racist manner by those Carter is critiquing). Yet Joe is perfectly happy to refer to Evangelical voters of Trump, however reluctant, as willing participants in the most virulent form of “folk Marxism” ever to hit American politics.
This is so absurd and slanderous that one hardly knows where to begin. Perhaps just pointing to the absurdity, linking to his article, and offering a sample is sufficient. So here is a sample of some of his off-the-rails rhetoric attacking and slandering Evangelical voters for Trump:
Like all brands of Marxism — including that of Bernie Sanders — Trumpism is a perfidious and dangerous political virus that can infect and destroy a body politic…. Trumpism is real, unique, and not a belief system that is going to fade away on its own. We must therefore act quickly to quell what could be one of the most dangerous form [sic] of Marxism every [sic] to pose an internal and existential threat to America.
The entire article is filled with stereotypes of “Trump supporters” (a refrain throughout the article, not just the title) as a monolithic group falling into the abyss in one area after another. Nuance is not Joe’s specialty in this article.
It takes some degree of delusion nowadays for any Evangelical not to recognize the real and present danger to our freedoms coming from an oppressive Democratic Party and to view the threat coming from Trump’s administration (not the Democrats) as “the most dangerous form of Marxism every to pose an internal and existential threat to America.” It takes even more delusion given that Joe recently finished writing a fine article about the draconian so-called “Equality Act” which is being pushed almost entirely by Democrats.
Apart from some recantation on Joe’s part (which I suspect is unlikely), one simply can’t take a person who makes such remarks seriously. On the other hand, since the piece was written three years ago at a time when Trump had not demonstrated remarkable fidelity to a number of his conservative campaign promises and before Democrats reached a new zenith in extremism, maybe Joe might be willing to reassess his inflammatory remarks.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Joe has made slanderous attacks on faithful and sincere Evangelicals who disagree with his politics. In his TGC editorial “The Nonpartisan Solution to Our Roy Moore Problem” from late 2017, he called “a prime example of hypocrisy” and “the opposite of integrity” Evangelicals who voted for Roy Moore as an effective vote against pro-abortion, pro-transgender, pro-“gay marriage,” anti-religious-liberty Doug Jones, and thus by extension any Evangelical who voted or votes for Trump over the extreme left Democratic alternative.
It ought to be absolutely unacceptable to slander all people who voted for Moore or Trump, even those who did so as the only alternative to a much worse result for the nation. Not only does TGC and the Acton Institute not find it unacceptable, they have published such slander and promote it.
By the way, the harshest NeverTrumpers will accuse me of being harsh simply for pointing out the harsh and slanderous attacks on Evangelical Trump voters. This too is par for the course [End Quote].
For Gagnon, who uses his Facebook page as a blog of sorts, this type of well-reasoned intellectualism is par for the course.
However, it was the response of Joe Carter that surprised some. He would go on to publicly call for the impeachment of President Trump, which we will write about in a forthcoming post.
[Editor’s Note: Contributed by JD Hall]