Gerrymandering occurs when the party in power in a given state draws the congressional districts so as to get their party the most representatives. The picture above depicts an actual congressional district in one state. One must admire the imagination required to create such a convoluted arrangement.
Evangelicals employ much the same practice in their approach to Scripture. They embrace passages that speak of God’s love and grace, we will call them Graceocrats, but avoid those passages that reveal His holiness, righteousness, and judgment. To implement this approach to Scripture, the Graceocrats redistrict the Bible, excluding territories dealing with holiness and judgment, while demarcating as their home district passages on grace and love.
The previous two articles on this topic dealt with the avoidance by contemporary evangelicals of the Old Testament and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), though as noted earlier they include the Christmas and Easter sections of the Synoptic Gospels in their territory. They tend to see the writings of John and Paul as their home district, but the rest of the New Testament requires aggressive gerrymandering.
As they head through the Book of Acts, they soon encounter the story of Ananias and Sapphira being smitten dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. That territory definitely gets excluded from the Graceocrat district. In progressing through Acts, the Graceocrat boundary drawers must circumvent numerous other passages such as Acts 13:10-11, where we find Paul saying to Elymas:
“You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.”
The Graceocrats find the territory of the General Epistles even more treacherous as they enter into the jurisdiction of Hebrews. The boundary of their district must definitely exclude Hebrews 3:7-12.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
Few sermons these days query whether congregants possess “an evil, unbelieving heart.”
But Hebrews becomes increasingly more dangerous, with pronouncements such as:
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
Or this one:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17)
That passage definitely must be excluded from the Graceocrat district.
If possible, James gets even worse. Consider this:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:21-24)
That territory the Graceocrats not only exclude from the district but surround with a guard rail lest one of their people wander into it accidentally.
You get the idea. By the time the Graceocrats are done with Acts and the General Epistles they have created a gerrymandering map of Scripture that looks much like the one above.
This arrangement creates problems for contemporary evangelicals because the map is intentionally selective, resulting in the omission of specific, major Scriptural themes, leaving Graceocrats with a skewed understanding of the Lord, our relationship with Him, and the Christian life.
The good news is that they get to live in the very comfortable grace and love district where performance doesn’t matter, and where they have been freed to live as they please without guilt.
The problem is that residents of this district tend to be spiritually weak, failing to develop the disciplines of the Christian life needed for fighting the culture war. Therefore, they feel good about themselves and are confident that God is pleased with them also, while the church shrinks and the Left dominates and destroys America.
Next time we will see that evangelical gerrymandering goes even beyond this.