Well, recently Brazillians democratically voted to oust their former ultra-conservative leader, President Jair Bolsonaro (whom evangelicals compared to Trump), replacing him with a much more liberal new president, Lula da Silva. Now, I really don’t get into South American politics, per se, and am only concerned with it to the extent that I, like many, prefer to see more democratic governments across the globe. That said, there are a host of others whom one might think would prefer the same thing, but they don’t. To put it another way, one might expect most Christians, especially American Evangelicals, to prefer democratic governments over authoritarian régimes. But, sadly, if their supposed “leaders” are any indication, they generally don’t. The reason for this is that a relatively new errant theology has been developed which allows these types of Christians to see dictators as good so long as they supposedly support “Christian values”. In short, Christian dictators (even if they really aren’t, but still support evangelical causes) are perfectly OK with these people. This errant theology, then, refers to any nation that has such a leader as a sheep nation, while all the rest are referred to as goat nations. So, if you follow this theology, then the natural conclusion here is that Brazil has suddenly become a goat nation, bound to be judged harshly by Christ when he returns! And, frankly, the US is in the same boat, in their view, after electing President Biden, whom some repeatedly refer to as evil and bound toward deliberately destroying this nation.

But where could such an errant theological construct come from? It comes from Matthew 25: 31-46. In this passage it is explained that upon Christ’s return he will separate people, some on one hand and some on the other. Those on his right hand are referred to as sheep, and those on his left hand are referred to as goats. Tracking so far? If you replied, “not really”, good for you! Why? Because this is exactly why I refer to their theological construct as errant. See, the passage states, in part, 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (NASB). Notice that the passage, in verse 32, clearly states that he will separate the “people” into two groups, not the nations. But, those who hold to this theology take the reference to nations earlier in verse 32 as meaning entities with national boundaries like we have today. But any real biblical scholar will tell you that the word translated as “nations” here does NOT mean that. It means all of those people and tribes who are outside of Israel. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with national boundaries, modern or otherwise.

The Greek word used here is (ἔθνη) “ethne”, from which we get the words ethnic, ethnicity, etc. It could also be translated as “race” or “races”. The τὰ ἔθνη were the Gentiles so often referred to. Any foreigner – any non-Hebrew of non-Jew was a foreigner and, therefore, τὰ ἔθνη. Frankly, I have always felt that the word would better be translated as “foreigner” or “foreigners” in all passages. But that’s just me.

Regardless, the passage is clearly speaking of people, not nationalistic borders with people in them. And, therefore, they are not being separated according to national borders, but according to their works. Because the passage further states, 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'”, etc. No one is being judged because of what their national leader may or may not have done. This is an individual judgment.

Just like Matthew 24, evangelicals, especially the televangelists, have developed and perpetrated this errant theology so much that most who are a part of the evangelical movement have come to accept this without actually READING it. Evangelical leaders and televangelists have totally misconstrued both chapters for purely political reasons to keep their “sheep” on the ultra-conservative side, to their own detriment and to the detriment of everyone else.


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