A How-To Guide for Conservative Christian Public Servants from Trump Cabinet Bible Study Teacher

Capitol Ministries' Ralph Drollinger, image from CBN story on Trump Cabinet Bible studies

Ralph Drollinger, who runs a ministry dedicated to converting and “discipling” public officials from around the country and the world to his conservative Christian worldview, has compiled 52 of his weekly written Bible studies into “Oaks in Office,” a four-volume hardcover collection that is designed to be used by Christian public officials and by Capitol Ministries representatives to reach and teach Christians in public office.

Drollinger convenes weekly in-person Bible studies for members of the U.S. House and Senate and members of President Trump’s cabinet, and supplements those with written Bible study texts that are distributed in print and available online. Capitol Ministries is pursuing ambitious expansion plans in capital cities around the world, as well as in the U.S. at both the state and local levels. “Oaks in Office,” which Capitol Ministries describes as “52 biblical essays on crucial policy issues as viewed through the Bible,” might be viewed simultaneously as curriculum, public relations tool, and fundraiser. The set, which is beautifully produced, will set you back $99 if you order from the group’s website.

Mike Huckabee contributed a short foreword explaining that the reader doesn’t have to be a public official to benefit from the collection’s wisdom: “Jump headfirst into this great series and get a blessing intended for rulers, but applicable to all.”

In his introduction, Drollinger says his days teaching state legislators in California convinced him of the importance of his work and his written Bible studies. He began to form “earnest convictions” that if public officials did not have a proper understanding of the Bible, they could not be expected to make the right decisions. “This is especially true as our culture slips away from its Judeo-Christian heritage and culture and into postmodern secularism,” he writes. And to make matters worse, “fewer and fewer churches serve a high-protein diet of the Word of God to their congregants, resulting in even the best Christian Public Servants being woefully untaught in the precepts of God’s word.” Drollinger and “Oaks in Office” to the rescue.

Describing the sequence of essays included in the books, Drollinger writes, “I have created sections that build on one another. The progression of the material suggests that the spiritual maturity and character formation of the Public Servant leads to the development of godly positions on issues while serving in office.”

The important of building “Biblical character” cannot be overstated, he writes. “It is critically important to the direction of the nation that every elected or appointed official does not do what is ‘right in his own eyes’ (Judges 21:25), but rather that they bring every vote ‘captive to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).”

The wide-ranging collection includes chapters on spiritual topics like love, repentance, forgiveness and salvation. It warns of the dangers to public officials posed by pride, anger, sexual sin, and the irresponsible use of alcohol. It deals with everything from parenting (spanking is required) to just-war theory. And, of course, it includes chapters making the case that the Bible requires support for a set of right-wing policy positions.

The opening section includes chapters devoted to explaining the biblical basis for Drollinger’s focus on elected officials, the need for Christians to study the Bible, and the importance of public servants following its guidance. The second section emphasizes scriptural authority and the importance of sound doctrine; Drollinger considers and rejects forms of biblical interpretation that deviate from his own.

Drollinger begins a section on “Godliness in Public Service” by making the case for the divine inspiration of scripture, particularly the 27 books of the New Testament. This is important, he says:

Your position on inspiration will either solidify or discount the Bible as authoritative in the formation of your principles and values, and for a Public Servant, your policy decisions. If you subscribe to inspiration, then it follows that the Word will become authoritative in your life. If you reject inspiration, you are concluding that you (or some liberal pastor) are the final authority.

In a chapter contrasting spiritual infancy and spiritual maturity–he argues that “infants” rebel against the teaching of scripture—he warns, as he has done before, against public officials participating in “syncretistic” prayer breakfasts:

For instance, as a teacher of God’s Word I must say that those believers who sponsor the National Prayer Breakfast should be canceling it instead. Why would mature believers sponsor an event historically characterized by religious syncretism (that is, combining different forms of belief) that hurts rather than helps the propagation of singular saving faith in Christ alone? Syncretism invokes God’s wrath on our nation, not His blessing.

Drollinger includes a chapter explaining his understanding of the separation of church and state. He says that the Bible supports institutional separation but not influential separation. This distinction explains how, at Capitol Ministries’ recent fundraising dinner, Drollinger could say that the group is not trying to “Christianize” America, but in “Oaks in Office” he writes:

This is where we see the critical and preeminent duty of the Church in an institutionally separated society: to evangelize and disciple—to Christianize—the leaders of the State and its citizenry. … The Church can best influence the State by building and sending righteous Public Servants to serve in government.

“Oaks in Office” includes Drollinger’s criticism of the Religious Right for focusing on political action and legislative lobbying rather than on evangelizing and discipling political leaders. “You need to get this through your head my friends: evangelism is where righteousness in born!” writes Drollinger. “We need to convert Public Servants who are lost without Christ, today!”

“Maturing Public Servants in Christ is the most effective way for the Church to change the direction of a nation,” he writes. Drollinger says that Capitol Ministries’ leader in New York “won thirteen legislators to Christ in his first eighteen months!”

Drollinger argues that the purpose of government, according to the Bible, is “the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” He says, “nowhere in Scripture does God assign the specific responsibility to government to provide entitlements for its citizenry.” And more explicitly, he says that nowhere in the New Testament “is the state charged by God with the responsibility of meeting the needs of the poor.”

“America’s bankrupting entitlement policies stem from the bad theology of Theological Liberalism,” Drollinger says. He calls the Social Gospel, a longstanding progressive strain of American Christianity, “a perversion of Scripture and is in no way justifiable on a Biblical basis.”

Drollinger also takes on “the religion of radical environmentalism” which he says is “anti-humankind.” Fortunately, in his mind, he says Christians with large families have out-reproduced radical environmentalists by producing millions more children over the past two decades.

Drollinger, who has said that it was “exciting” to see former Attorney General Jeff Sessions use his Bible study lessons to promote his approach to immigration policy, writes in “Oaks in Office” that God “frowns on illegal immigrants” and that our borders should be “impenetrable.” He argues that public schools should “completely exclude illegal immigrants.”

In a chapter on the theological importance of marriage, Drollinger argues that a wife’s respect for, and submission to, her husband’s authority is a reflection of Christ’s submission to God the Father. “When America in any way denigrates God’s ordained institution of husband-wife marriage, our nation loses one of His primary means of heralding His nature to our country!”

He includes a handy chart on the complementary roles he says the Bible assigns to men and women:

Some Primary Functions of Women

  • Homemaking Responsibilities
  • Home Management Responsibilities
  • Mothering Responsibilities
  • Teaching Younger Women
  • Displaying Hospitality
  • Differentiating in Dress

Some Primary Functions of Men

  • Providing for the Household
  • Leading in the Church
  • Leading in the Home
  • Sacrificing for his Wife
  • Sanctifying his Wife
  • Fathering Children into Adults

In a chapter promoting “clarity regarding same-sex marriage,” Drollinger writes, “Homosexuality and same-sex ceremonies are illegitimate in God’s eyes. … For the individual to engage in it or the society to endorse it is to practice sin.” In Drollinger’s eyes, an even bigger threat than “the bullying of the LGBT lobby” comes from “Scripture-twisting clerics” who fail to hold the line against homosexuality.

Drollinger argues that opposing capital punishment is “unbiblical” and he tells lawmakers that “it is incumbent on you to stand for the death penalty.” He says that “sympathy and mercy are the roles of individuals and of the Institution of the Church” while the State has been given the responsibility to take the life of a murderer. “May God grant you His insight and convictions regarding the necessity of capital punishment in a fallen world,” he tells public officials.

Drollinger denounces racism but warns against looking to government action for a solution. “Certainly laws pertaining to discrimination have their place and are necessary, but they will never eradicate the problem from society, so don’t think the answer is in more legislation. It is not. The wise Public Servant will therefore always work toward religious freedom and incentivizing the Church to best facilitate evangelism and change hearts.”

“Oaks in Office” closes with sections on the role of the public servant as evangelist to his colleagues and on sustaining one’s effectiveness in office. Among the recommendations: Choose a good pastor and Bible teacher and good counselors. He also encourages people to engage in “prayer warfare” in their election campaigns and offers advice on praying effectively. “Elections are first and foremost a spiritual battle requiring mature spiritual weaponry,” he writes.

Drollinger tells public officials that if they always take their positions from the Bible, they will always be right and will never have to apologize for them.

Should you argue from the Bible in a secular Capital? Paul’s Acts 17 sermon provides a justification for using Scripture as the final authority for arguing truth, and evangelizing and defending the faith. In every capital of the world people already know that Christ is God, that the Bible is true, and that they need to repent of their self-appointed authority and autonomy and fall on their knees in submission to God’s authority. They know this through the witnesses of their conscience and the creation of God. Therefore it is the believer’s job not so much to convince and persuade, but to lovingly coach the unconverted to quit suppressing that which they already know to be true. May the Spirit aid us in our evangelism.

The opening pages of “Oaks in Office” are devoted to endorsements. The first is from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue–though he is identified only as former governor of Georgia, in keeping with advice from his agency’s ethics office. The next endorsements are from Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development who is identified only as an M.D., and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, identified as the former governor of Texas.

Other endorsees include U.S. Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga.; William Cassidy, R-La.; Steve Daines, R-Mont., and James Lankford, R-Okla.; U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.; Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.; Bill Johnson, R-Ohio; Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.; Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick; Dallas pastor and Trump cheerleader Robert Jeffress; and Christian Broadcasting Network CEO Gordon Robertson.

Also included among the endorsements is Paige Patterson, who is listed as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Patterson was fired from the seminary last year over his handling of rape allegations during his tenure there, and at a previous job at another seminary. A statement from the seminary’s board chairman cited an email from Patterson to the head of campus security saying he wanted to meet alone with the student who reported the rape so that he could “break her down.” Christianity Today reported that his firing “came after weeks of controversy—and calls for Patterson’s dismissal—over his past counsel and statements regarding women, abuse, and divorce.”