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Five Ways to View Impeachment: Timeless Truth from an ‘Old Mission’ in Southern California


The House Rules Committee voted yesterday to approve six hours of debate today on the House floor regarding two articles of impeachment. Unsurprisingly, the vote was along party lines.

Given its Democratic Party majority, it is likely that the House will impeach President Trump today or tomorrow. Given its Republican Party majority, it is likely that the Senate will then acquit the president. 

According to a new poll, 85 percent of Democrats say the president should be impeached and removed, while 86 percent of Republicans say he should not. Independents are split 47 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. 

In other words, it seems that the two-party politics mirrored in the impeachment debate reflect the two-party divisions of our nation. 

But I’m not sure things are that simple. 

Five ways to view impeachment

At least five positions are at work regarding the impeachment process. We can examine them on a spectrum from the president’s strongest critics to his strongest supporters. 

Some critics have been trying to impeach President Trump for years. A House member called for his impeachment in September 2017 after the president criticized NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem. The same House member then introduced impeachment articles in December 2017 after the controversy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Those who take this position have long believed that the president is unfit for office and seek his removal. 

A second view focuses specifically on President Trump’s conduct with regard to Ukraine and his refusal to provide requested documents to House committees, claiming that these actions constitute grounds for impeachment. Nearly the entire Democratic Party membership in the House has taken this position, though some Democrats are expected to vote against impeachment. 

A third view is that the president’s conduct has been irresponsible but not necessarily impeachable. Those in this camp believe that rather than seeking to overturn the 2016 election, Congress should let voters decide the president’s future in the 2020 election. 

A fourth view is that the president has done nothing deserving of impeachment. For example, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz claims that Mr. Trump has not committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, the four charges for which a president can be impeached. 

A fifth view is that President Trump is being attacked by those who reject his conservative positions on abortion, religious liberty, and other cultural issues. Many of his supporters point to a report this month detailing major failures and lapses in the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. It is plausible that the president’s supporters will be energized by what they perceive to be unfair attacks on the president and that his chances of being reelected are improving as a result. 

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”

To summarize: Americans are more divided on the impeachment debate than meets the eye. The same is true on nearly every cultural issue we face today. 

Consider abortion. A recent poll found that 77 percent of Americans are in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade in place. However, the same poll also showed that 65 percent of Americans believe a woman should be required to wait twenty-four hours between meeting with a health care professional and the abortion procedure; 64 percent believe doctors who perform abortions should have admitting privileges; and 52 percent believe a woman should be required to view an ultrasound image at least twenty-four hours before an abortion procedure. 

In other words, the “pro-choice” position is less unified and more conflicted than its activists would like us to believe. 

It is clear that our confused and divided culture lacks a moral compass. We have returned to the days of the judges when “there was no king in Israel,” with the result that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). 

But the darker the room, the more powerful the light. 

Touring a California mission

My wife and I are in Southern California this week. Yesterday, we visited Old Mission Santa Inés, a Franciscan mission established in 1804. Its purpose, like that of other Spanish missions begun along the California coast, was to lead the indigenous people to faith in Christ, teach them trades, and protect them from being exploited by the military. 

Its first two priests are buried beneath the altar of the church, but the seeds they planted continue to grow and bear fruit. The church survived a major earthquake in 1812, revolts against the Spanish military, and oppression by the Mexican authorities. It stands today as a spiritual center in a very secular culture. 

Touring its grounds, I was reminded of Jesus’ promise that if the church will attack the “gates of hell,” they will not withstand our assault (Matthew 16:18). 

If we will not let the political divisions of our day divide our fellowship or dilute our witness, our unity and community will answer Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one.” And we will bring glory to our Father (John 17:21). 

If we will pray for the president as well as his critics (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-2) while working to lead people to the King of kings (Revelation 19:16), we will prepare our culture for the return of our Lord. And we will invest our lives in a kingdom that will never end (1 John 2:17). 

An Indian proverb

The urgency of our kingdom calling cannot wait. Author James Clear quotes an Indian proverb: “Every time you wake up and ask yourself, ‘What good things am I going to do today?’ remember that, when the sun goes down at sunset, it will take a part of your life with it.” 

What good things are you going to do today?

Publication date: December 18, 2019

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Spencer Platt/Staff

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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