There have been many times when I have been tempted to “call a spade a spade” and have been talked down from the temptation to speak prematurely on disputable issues by wise counselors. There have been times in which I didn’t heed their warnings and ended up regretting my refusal to wait. Since I lacked patience and in error, I was forced to go back, and admit that my initial assessment was wrong and that I had spoken too hastily.
Unfortunately, I think that Christianity Today has prematurely adjudicated the most prominent and controversial political controversy of late. Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today has gone on record on the Trump impeachment and has admonished all Christians to join him in his determinations.
His December 19th article, “Trump Should Be Removed From Office,” reflects a current, politically liberal stance on a matter that has not yet been fully adjudicated.
Before I enumerate some of the problems with Mr. Galli’s analysis, let me admit fully that Pres. Trump has said some pretty harsh, rude and abrasive things during his campaign and now during his presidency. He is also guilty of some of the most laughable superlatives ever recorded. Most distressing is that Trump doesn’t have a genuine testimony of faith. No one who denies a need for God’s forgiveness can be a genuine Christian. Moreover, Trump doesn’t appear to know that he isn’t a Christian, he is a false believer who doesn’t know he is a false believer. In the final analysis, it appears that a non-Christian president appears to be completely comfortable speaking and acting in non-Christian ways and Trump has done a poorer job than most in hiding some of his depravities. However, a brief survey of U.S. presidents will reveal that he is not alone in being non-Christian and depraved.
Were the certainty of Trump’s depravity the thrust of Galli’s article then very little disagreement could be found among evangelicals, but that wasn’t the thrust of Galli’s article. Rather, Mr. Galli claims that it is time for all Christians, for the sake of the reputation of the gospel, to support the impeachment of a president without due process and on ambiguous, partial terms.
This is where Mr. Galli has it wrong, and the most visible irony of Mr. Galli’s article is his admission that the impeachment process has been both prejudicial and inequitable.
“Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.” (Galli, 2018).
From a moral standpoint, the investigation is unjust, Galli admits as much.
A just and moral process would follow biblical guidelines that would include a reasonable opportunity for the accused to make his or her case, or in Galli’s words, “a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story.”
This is a practical expression of Proverbs 18 which states:
“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Pro 18:17 ESV)
Nicodemus makes reference to this truth when answering the Pharisees about their accusations of Jesus.
Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
(John 7:44-51 ESV)
Nicodemus was right. The Pharisees’ desire to condemn Jesus without a fair hearing was unjust.
To say that Trump is no Jesus would be an incredible understatement, Yet, Trump’s “hearing” has not concluded and we have therefore not fully learned, in Nicodemus’ terms, what he has done. The Constitution gives the Senate the full authority to try the President on the articles of impeachment approved by the House of Representatives and the House impeachment process was anything but impartial with the Democrats structurally hobbling the president’s ability to mount his own defense.
Furthermore, this process was anything but impartial as the Bible demands.
Galli admits that “the Democrats have had it out for him from day one…”
If Galli’s admission is genuine, then he must realize that the impeachment process, to date, has violated the biblical call to make an impartial judgment.
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”
(Leviticus 19:15 ESV)
The admonition to judge impartially runs throughout the scriptures.
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1 Timothy 5:19-21 ESV)
Yet Galli admits that prejudging is exactly what pervaded the House impeachment process.
Would Mr. Galli be satisfied to receive the same level of partiality that the House of Representatives granted Trump if his own job was on the line? Would he be content to have his position at Christianity Today adjudicated with the same inability to defend himself that the House has afforded Trump?
If Mr. Galli’s answer is “no” (and I am confident that it is given what he grants at the start of his article) then the question arises, “why is Mr. Galli placing his confidence in the result of an unfinished process that he admits hasn’t been impartial and is clearly prejudicial?” How can Mr. Galli so confidently assert that “the impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see,” to the extent that Christ’s Bride is now obliged to bind her conscience in support of an admittedly partisan outcome?
To be sure, the President has moral deficiencies, but the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the right to impeach a president on the basis of vague “moral deficiencies” of which every president since (and including) Washington has possessed. The Constitution grants the right of Congress to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The President has not yet enjoyed his fair day in court. He has not yet been fully given the chance to mount his own defense against the vague accusations that have been levied against him.
What has, and should, bind the conscience of the church are passages like the following.
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
(Proverbs 18:13 ESV)
In light of this truth, I respectfully ask why Christianity Today’s Editor in Chief is charging all Christians in America to join him in a universal pronouncement of guilt before due process has been satisfied? If in a fair, impartial, unprejudicial Senate trial the President is found guilty, then we, as Christ’s church, should consider justice served and pray for him as he steps down and we should likewise pray for Mr. Pence as he takes office. If in the same process, the President is acquitted, then we should likewise consider justice served, and pray for him. He surely needs it.
If we, Christ’s church, become so committed to a political agenda that we are no longer willing to follow Christ’s principles of a fair and just hearing, then we are no longer heeding Christ’s command to judge justly (john 7:24).
In contrast to Mr. Galli, I ask us to consider the following:
Consider Who we serve and what He has said in His inerrant Word, in Proverbs 18, John 4 and Leviticus 19. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if the impeachment accusations prove to be in error when a full defense is given in the Senate. Consider Mr. Galli’s incongruity of condemning Trump’s alleged abuse of power while admitting the Democrats own abuse of power in the House of Representatives, yet brushing that reality aside as a charitable acknowledgment to evangelical Trump supporters. Consider the possibility that the best time to cast judgment is when the trial is over, rather than before it has begun.