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Exclusive interview

Philip Yancey: US evangelicals should learn from Europe’s history of religion and power

“I am staggered that so many evangelical Christians would somehow paint a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs, as someone that we could stand behind”.

AUTHOR Joel Forster MADRID 23 SEPTEMBER 2016 12:27 h GMT+1
philip yancey, trump, politics Philip Yancey during his interview with Evangelical Focus. / Jordi Pallejà

Much has been said in the last months about the way evangelical Christians in the United States are approaching the 2016 Presidential election in November.

Several influential pastors have expressed their point of view, while statistics have shown a growing support for the Republican candidate among white evangelicals.

But, what policies should be a priority for Christians? What is the best candidate: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

Evangelical Focus asked well-known author and speaker Philip Yancey about this issues, and this was his answer. See video.


Question. How would you describe the way evangelical Christians in the USA se the 2016 Presidential election?

Answer. I will show my own bias. I am staggered that so many conservative or evangelical Christians would see a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs… That they would somehow paint him as a hero, as someone that we could stand behind.

I will just say it out loud. I can understand why maybe you choose these policies that you support, but to choose a person who stands against everything that Christianity believes as the hero, the representative, one that we get behind enthusiastically is not something that I understand at all.

And frankly, I think the church in the United States, the more it embeds with politics… Europeans understand where that goes. When the church and the state are seen like this [joins hands], and then the state proves what it is - a flawed and sometimes corrupt system -  then the church is judged by this, and rejected.

There are countries in Europe where the church is set back for decades and decades, because they have been stained by how they sold their soul for power, I would say.

As the United States grows more and more secular, I tell the people there: ‘We are becoming more like the fertile soil in which the early church did best’. Like the Roman Empire, this was a pagan and hostile society in which Christians stood out by being different.

When you are in a place like the United States or Europe in its recent past, where the majority will claim to be Christians, but then they look like everyone else, then the people do not understand what the gospel is. But when Christians look radically different from the world around them, then the people can see the difference.


Read the full interview Evangelical Focus did with Philip Yancey in Madrid (Spain) in September 2016. 




    If you want to comment, or


18:14 h
Bro Garo I could not disagree more with You or Philip Yancy. It's because of my faith in Christ that motivates me politically. Every time I hear a church leader attack Trump they say nothing about Hillary. When Hillary lies people have died. Hillary has taken money from countries where being a Christian is against the law and many have been killed for their faith. The problem is many Christians are looking for someone perfect to run that is perfect.

Bro Garo
03:31 h
Evangelical Christians generally now have much more passion for their politics than for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. This is perhaps the most telling signs of the times. Many false political prophets have arisen, many are deceived, the love of most has grown cold and many are falling away. God help us.

Bro Garo
03:27 h
Philip Yancey is right on the money. American evangelical leadership made a horrible mistake by getting in bed with the GOP several decades back. Their credibility was dramatically challenged in 2012 when Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was the standard bearer. Now, they are reaping the whirl wind as Donald Trump has arisen and they must throw their support to a man who is the antithesis of what it means to be a Christian.

Mrs. Kate
05:00 h
I am baffled by Mr. Yancey's criticism of evangelicals. In Matthew 9 Jesus says, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” In Luke 7 He also says that he was criticized for being a friend of "tax collectors and sinners." I suspect that if evangelicals turned their backs on Mr. Trump they'd be accused of being judgmental and hypocritical.

Mr. Bill
04:56 h
Christians who want to vote for a presidential candidate in November based on strong moral character have a difficult dilemma. Yet we must remember that these are the candidates the people of the U.S. have chosen. I submit that encouraging Christians to refrain from voting is a mistake. God has used unbelievers throughout history. There are two key issues for our country's future: a Supreme Court appointment and saving the child in the womb. Please hold your nose and VOTE.

03:30 h
Mr. Yancey's criticism of candidate Trump does not necessarily mean he supports Clinton. The lesser of two evils is still evil. We have other options.

00:08 h
People know Trump's background, maybe not exhaustively, but he has shown interest in God for years and professes belief in God and the duty of love. He expresses loyalty to evangelicals. He wants to preserve religious freedom. He is pro-life now. But I think Christians may vote for him because they see the country having gone in such a wrong direction under President Obama that Trump, with some good ideas, seems better than Hillary. Third-party votes seem no good now.

15:14 h
Mr. Trump's character, present.and past actions do not represent the caring, compassion, humbleness and strength I understand are necessary qualities for being a leader. I do not know what he believes. Secretary Clinton does represent the character with past and present actions that fulfill my understanding as qualities in a leader. I have read verifiable evidence that she has consistently supported the poor and families, has fought for peace and justice for all and is a Methodist.

Samuel D. Minton
02:17 h
Does the author truly believe that the Dem candidate, who fully supports abortion, and has told her pro-abortion audience that "cultural biases and religious beliefs" concerning abortion must be changed, is the better of the two candidates. Everything that he prescribes of Trump is equally applicable of Clinton. Her career has proven it.
Replying to Samuel D. Minton

04:52 h
If you go back and watch the clip in its entirety, the issues preceding the "cultural biases and religious beliefs" section does not reference abortion but domestic violence and maternal mortality. Cultures that legitimize domestic violence because of patriarchy based on cultural biases and religious beliefs should be changed, no? Regarding abortion, the best evidence is that criminalizing abortion has little effect on abortion rates, but parental leave has a significant effect.

Bette Moore
17:38 h
I distanced myself from Evangelical Christianity many years ago when I saw my church take up political causes. That all boiled over the surface on January 24 of this year when I heard the term "Evangelical Voting Block" being thrown around on CNN. The essay I wrote that night was published yesterday and since then I have discovered that I am not alone. Thank you!

Pr Chris
06:44 h
I think the reasons are that they hate Hillary and thus anyone who runs against her has their favor. She and Bill have had more than $100m spent against her over the last 3-4 decades, and they have highlighted every possible flaw and misstep. Unlike most other politicians, they have not been granted the same "second chances" and Hillary has become a sort of demon on the political right. I have been impressed at her work over the decades for kids and families. She will be a very good Pres.

Bill Sweet
06:08 h
Donald Trump has an unusual mixture of good and bad qualities. These qualities have served him well. They have gotten him to where he is.

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EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.