The election of Donald Trump was surprising, but, once people began to explain why they voted the way the did, it became understandable. What hasn’t been understandable, however, is the subsequent devotion to him by white evangelicals. His past and continuing lifestyle is so at odds with the things white evangelicals have publicly professed to value. This devotion seems different from the type of hero status given to President Reagan or the support given to any incumbent Republican president considered the most likely to advance the Christian Republican religious and political agenda. The devotion being expressed goes beyond these, seemingly to elevate Trump to the status of God’s chosen and thus an almost Messianic position.
My guest today, Dr. Dan Stiver, believes this devotion to Trump by white evangelicals is, in part, rooted in their approach to understanding and interpreting the Bible. Dan helps us understand this white evangelical hermeneutic and then offers us an alternative and a way forward drawing from the insights of Christian philosopher Paul Ricoeur.
Dr. Stiver came to Logsdon Seminary of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, in 1998 from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he taught Christian philosophy for 14 years. His books include The Philosophy of Religious Language: Sign, Symbol, and Story (1996) Theology after Ricoeur: New Directions in Hermeneutical Theology (2001), Life Together in the Way of Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christian Theology (2009), and Ricoeur and Theology (2012). He has served as pastor in Missouri and Indiana and as chair of the board for the non-profit organization Just People.
The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at theportersgate.com.