Recently, over at Mind Renewers, Jon Gleason, for whom I have great respect and have had the occasion to email privately, posted an article entitle, Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and Making America Great, and I have embedded a link to the article if you wish to visit, I encourage you to do so. In response I wish to offer a rebuttal. I will not cover everything in Jon's blog post since it would make my post too lengthy and it will be long enough as it is.
I post my rebuttal acknowledging Jon’s overall intent as one I share, a nation which uphold righteousness. Therefore, I offer my riposte with unquestionable respect for Jon’s ministry and work.
In my last post, I discussed how Donald Trump had twisted the Scripture for false political purposes, and stated that Christians should not be drawn into this way of thinking. One comment noted that many evangelical Christians in America support “Trump’s ideals to make America great again.”1. While I agree that boasting about marital infidelities is unbecoming I suggest they are few and far in-between and are used more so as weapons of hyperbole rather than his ongoing view of life. However, even if we accept this in its worst light, I might be inclined to state that he is a far more honest man about his indiscretions than many of our past and present politicians who have our admiration.
Evangelical Support for Trump
That comment was undoubtedly true. In the recent Indiana primary, NBC reported that, according to exit polling, 50% of those identifying as “born-again” or “evangelical” Christians voted for Donald Trump. In Pennsylvania, it was 55%, Wisconsin 34%, North Carolina 40%.
Were they voting for the person or the ideas? It is hard to see how anyone who believes in the Bible could vote for a person who boasts about his marital infidelities, encourages violence against protesters, threatens to kill the wives and children of terrorists, says he would expect soldiers under his authority to break the law, says he has nothing of which to repent, etc.
Secondly and ultimately, while it is against a value of personal morality God has given to us, I believe that it does not dismantle his abilities to lead a nation no more than they impeded his abilities to build a business empire.
And finally, he is now pledged to fidelity with his wife and there is no reasonable evidence that he has done otherwise during his marriage to her. This must also be taken into consideration.
2. As to protestors, I ask why would violence against violent protestors be such a bad thing, by default? The promotion of self-defense is what I see underlies Trumps “punch back” comments which is, in fact, a Biblical principle and sometimes self-defense is violent though we wish it did not have to be. Now, were he suggesting this as a response to suffering for Christ he would be in error but he is quite on target, clumsy and intemperate in his style, though he be.
3. As to killing the wives and children of terrorists, I am pretty sure you have never willingly celebrated V-Day as many God fearing Christians did and do because you ought to know in defeating Nazi Germany, the US and England engaged in what is known as terror bombing or as they preferred to call it to clothe its nature, carpet bombing.
What was that?
It was the bombing of non military targets and specifically civilian targets which knowingly and deliberately included women and children. You ought to read about some of the nasty things contained in those bombs. And this was not a small effort but an extensive tactic in the overall strategy to defeat Nazi Germany. Why? For both practical and reasons of morale. And this is to say nothing of the necessities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Those seeking to murder us as a way of life and society must be dealt with as a society. This is a cold, hard reality of life and it includes the indispensable and deliberate action of “collateral damage”. And it appears God is aware of this in his command to kill women and children of Israel’s enemies, at times.
Back to ScriptureI agree that “Scriptural ways of thinking” are needed. However, in the case of the kingdom on the left or the divine institution of government, it has not been prescribed “Christian” protocols which is what you appear to be suggesting. Yes, it must consider and apply divine principles but not Christian protocols and there is a difference.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The old ways of thinking need to be replaced with Scriptural ways of thinking. What we do and say needs to be driven by Scripture, in ALL areas of our lives. This applies to political communications as well — and even if we never talk to anyone about politics, if we vote, we are sending a message.
Government is prescribed the obligation, as we see in Romans, of ministering with the sword toward those who do evil, the church is not. And it appears to me, right now, that Donald Trump, even with with his personal shortcomings, nationally speaking and governmentally speaking desires to justly apply the sword to those who do evil and I will cite some examples later.
Does the support of evangelical / born-again believers for Donald Trump’s political message fit with a renewed mind, anchored on an evaluation of that message based on Scripture?Based on what I just said, my suggestion is that the answer can fairly be yes. He is pro-nationalism, that is, he supports the government of our nation and its sovereignty; he is not a globalists which attacks these divine boundaries.
Romans states that “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God”.
May I further suggest that Trump's support of our constitution and his clear desire to protect Christian expression and all other freedoms we have enjoyed, may indeed be argued to fit a renewed mind? Our constitution has been violated, over and over again by the current government and will be by a potential Clinton White House. Donald Trump has been emphatic that he wants to abide by the legislative process and pass law through the established process. That sounds like a man who does not resist authority but supports it.
A Great NationWhile it may be populist, simply dismissing it as being only that, is a great disservice to what it represents. It represents the preservation of freedom and the punishment to wrong doers. That is a divine value Trump is supporting. You may not like his style and there may be legitimate objections to his form but his content, here, is being ignored as the righteous cause it is. Here he is, supporting a righteous, Biblical cause, of justice and is minimized because of style?
Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!” He proposes to do this by building a wall along the Mexican border (and making Mexico pay for it). He wants to reform taxes, healthcare, trade with China, the Veterans’ Administration, and he says he will protect the right of citizens to have guns.
Much of this is fairly standard populist fare, though in some ways more extreme than usual, and certainly expressed with more flamboyance and a lot more belligerence than others have done. But NONE of it will make America great, if we believe the Bible.
Proverbs 14:34I suggest Trump wants righteousness in our government which is why he has promised to have an Attorney General appointed who will deal with many of the failures of our current administration. As well, he will protect the right of Christian expression and stop the eroding of freedoms. Those are all righteous things.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
For America to become great again, America must return to righteousness and reject sin.
Psalm 9:17While Donald Trump may not be regenerate – I say "may" meaning I cannot be such a judge since I cannot read his heart – he certainly recognizes Biblical principles of freedom regarding a nation both domestically and internationally. I do not believe he can fairly be accused for forgetting God since he is promoting, at least in part, Biblical principles of nationalism and the expressed desire to keep Christian expression free and unpunished and not persecuted by the government, just to name a couple of the many righteous things he is pursuing in his bid to be our nation's leader.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For America to become great again, America must remember God and stop rejecting Him, His Word, and His standards.
The following is addressed to individuals and not nations, but the principles apply:Here, I believe great liberty is taken in removing a verse from its context to make a point in a separate context. This context is specifically for Christians who are living carnal lives, not the context of a nation.
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
For America to become great again, America must stop being proud, and become humble. The nation must submit to God, seek purity, and grieve over sin rather than exulting in it.
The best a nation can do is function as a client of God. It cannot institute, nor should it, Christian protocols. It can and should only establish a strong moral code, a strong code of nationalism and a fair system of jurisprudence which protect maximum freedom and privacy. That might involve limiting many things and permitting other things. Now, in that way it is turning to God to function as his national client which appears to be what Mr. Trump desires in large part.
And within such protections the church flourishes. Unfortunately, in its flourishing it often fails the test of abundance as we have failed. As goes the church, so goes the nation.
Daniel 4:25Based on what I have already written, I will be the first, then, if this be true, to accuse Donald Trump of encouraging righteousness in the nation.
…till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
We do not make ourselves great, as individuals or a nation. It is GOD AND GOD ALONE who lifts up a nation, who “lifts you up,” who gives earthly authority “to whomsoever He will.” He does so on His terms, not on ours.
The very idea that ANYONE besides God could “make America (or any other nation) great” is Biblically refuted, proud, and headed for the same fate as Nebuchadnezzar’s boasting in Daniel 4. Donald Trump’s very slogan should send chills down the spine of any Bible-believing Christian at its sheer arrogance, claiming to do what only God can do.
ANY person who is born again, who believes the Bible, knows these verses are entirely true. And anyone who has been paying any attention at all can see the problem.
No one ever accused Donald Trump of righteousness, or of encouraging righteousness in the nation (Proverbs 14:34, above). No one can accuse him of encouraging the nation to remember and follow God (Psalm 9:17). And if you think this is a humble man who encourages humility in the nation (James 4, Daniel 4), see a doctor very, very quickly — you have problems.
Donald Trump will never make America great, and those who believe the Bible should be the first to know that. A politician MAY possibly be able to build his nation’s power, but without the nation becoming great on God’s terms, that increasing power simply becomes a tool for destruction and suffering.
I say so because he supports the constitution which is the expression of our government, he is not anti-establishment but pro-establishment, one who supports law enforcement, nationalism and personal freedom and not tyranny. He has been clear he wishes to work with Congress to pass legislation. He has promised to nominate constitutional judges, men and women who support established government, which is a righteous desire. He wishes to protect our borders from illegals entering, another righteous desire.
God has established this nation, a nation of laws, and Trump seeks to uphold them. As well, he desires to re-strengthen our military and return them to being able to respond to any threat to our nation, a capacity we have lost under Obama, yet another righteous and Biblical desire Trump seeks in order to protect a nation’s people.
So What Went Wrong?
How did so many American Christians get drawn into this kind of thinking? How could they think that the greatness of a nation is found in giving political support to a man who is encouraging people in attitudes and behaviour which are the exact opposite of what God says is needed? Are American Christians more foolish and unable to read their Bibles than other Christians? Obviously not. This is a failure to apply Scripture, but such failures invade the lives of believers everywhere. I’m persuaded these are some of the causes:
1. Corrupted churches. Churches have turned a blind eye to sin, allowing wickedness to go unreproved. As a result, many churches have many members who actually aren’t saved at all. Those people may SAY that they are evangelical or born again, but they aren’t going to approach their votes Biblically because they don’t have minds that are being renewed.
2. Neglectful churches. Many churches simply do not teach people to think about the Word of God and how it applies to their lives. They have not taught church members to consider whether their way of thinking needs to change.
3. Lazy churches and Christians. Many churches have failed to challenge their members to even read the Word of God. The churches are full of people who are too lazy to have renewed minds.
4. Emotion-driven churches. Far too many churches use primarily emotional appeals to draw people to their beliefs. Even if the beliefs are generally sound, this is not God’s way. He wants His people to be followers of the clear teaching of the Word, not following the emotional skills of a pastor, or the emotional impact of the church’s music. When churches train people to be emotion-driven in their responses, they can hardly be surprised when people respond to emotion-driven political appeals, rather than examining those political appeals carefully in light of Scripture.
5. Power-hungry pastors. Too many pastors do NOT want people to scrutinise their teachings in light of Scripture. They are authoritarian — and so they teach their people to respect and follow authoritarian leaders with insufficient scrutiny of authoritarian pronouncements. When an authoritarian political leader arises, the people have been trained….
6. Man-centred churches. Many pastors who are not authoritarian are yet leading a church that is their church, rather than God’s. Through their talents and personal charisma, they have built a following, but have failed to lead their people away from being man-followers into followers of Christ. In so doing, they have left their people vulnerable to the deceptions and tricks of other kinds of leaders….What you describe here, as it pertains to God's people, the church, I cannot rebut, I agree wholeheartedly that these are major problems with God’s people. However, I do not believe they are what has or is causing believers to have confidence in Trump.
There are, no doubt, many other factors in how so many Christians could fall into this kind of thinking. But the things I’ve listed here were certainly factors that can also lead to many other kinds of errors. And these failures, and the problems that come from them, are certainly not limited to American churches.
Government is not a spiritual institution, it is not the right kingdom, it is a civil institution, divine in origin though it be. Governments are free to form many ways and adopt many structures and values without violating the Scriptures. Monarchies are certainly forms of government in which the people have placed confidence in a righteous King of Queen and rightly so. The suggestion that placing one’s confidence in a leader is to by-pass God is to forget that many understand that it is God who delivers such leaders and it is through them, he brings prosperity to a nation.
Great “Again”?By now you likely understand the basis of my objection to the view that Donald Trump is necessarily a counterfeit and cannot make American great again. The head of a state is not required to cite Scripture for his or her reasons. They may be ignorant of the origins of the principles they seek to apply in their leadership but if they are right, they are right.
In this particular case, American Christians may have been more vulnerable than others, because America once was indeed great. America was never a Christian nation, for the only Christian nation mentioned in Scripture is the spiritual nation of believers (I Peter 2:9). And America was never remotely close to perfect.
But America was once a nation that explicitly acknowledged God in almost every aspect of its civil structure. The Declaration of Independence unequivocally stated that rights are God-given, and that He is the “Supreme Judge of the world.” Many of the founders may not have been Bible-believing Christians, but they accepted the Bible’s teaching on morality and unrighteousness as a good and proper basis for civil laws. They were fully aware of man’s sinfulness. The American system, as originally designed, was perhaps unique in the extent of its safeguarding against the sinfulness of both the elected and the electorate.
Now, it is a nation actively seeking to banish God. The laws are far from righteousness. The nation has the blood of millions of innocent babies on its hands. It is even actively working to undermine the liberty of many who want to live their lives by His Word. Many of the checks and balances have been systematically dismantled. The things that made America great are gone or going fast.
But it is easy to see how the appeal to “Make America Great Again” could grab the attention of a nation which was indeed great at one point in time. Christians KNOW the nation has gone off course from what it was and should be, and SOMEONE is saying so! Since the appeal is not consistent with Scripture, however, Christians should recognise it for what is really being offered — a counterfeit “greatness” which is more to do with world power than with anything BELIEVERS should accept as “greatness.”
Therefore, if such a leader abides in Biblical principles (in part of whole), wittingly or unwittingly, they become a client of God’s respective of their use of those principles. I am not saying, in fact, Donald Trump will lead this nation to be a client of God but if he supports values which reflect the Biblical principles of government, he certainly cannot be a counterfeit and he certainly is indicating righteous intents, at least in significant ways. Therefore, I suggest that in large part, Donald Trump, on the fundamental issues, reflects a righteous – not perfect – approach in his desire for justice and national protection domestically and internationally.
My final comments are about Donald Trump. Personally, he is likely many things people claim and is not many things people claim about him. I do know he has managed to rear children who appear to be exceptional in their seriousness about life as adults. That reflects something about the man in private, when no one is looking, which cannot be ignored.
He has built a business empire with successes and failures but ultimately, mostly with successes. He could not and cannot do that as a “clown, buffoon or non serious person” of which many accuse him. He is taken quite seriously by significant business and governmental leaders around the world. That speaks volumes, at least it should.
The man you’ve seen winning a primary has been what he has needed to be starting from the position he was in June of 2015. He knew he could not win the GOP nomination as an insider because he was not an insider. He had to attack from the outside and bring his campaign directly to the people, and he did just that. It was a deliberate and calculated strategy and it worked. He won.
Some people are still astonished at Trump overcoming the odds. I am not. Not that I am special or am patting myself on the back, that isn't the point. What I am emphasizing is Trump's ability to understand what he sees. He is the ultimate realist which is why he wins so often.
To me this ought to excite, not depress, Americans and particularly Christians. He has demonstrated the gifts of a visionary and a leader, one who knows how to plot a course of success and victory for a nation, as he has for his endeavors.
Donald Trump knows that a leader is going to have to get his or her hands dirty in dealing with so many dirty things, in the kingdom on the left. It is filled with dishonest people, some calling themselves Christians. Ted Cruz, as good a man he may be, displayed a willingness to play games with facts and distort the truth, at times, during this campaign.
If Donald Trump is ignorant about the church, the kingdom on the right, and how it works, he is quite aware of kingdom on the left and how it works. I might suggest that the very ignorance Trump may be guilty of is the ignorance many of God’s people display in their naïve and gullible approach toward the kingdom on the left and its realities.
This does not justify Donald Trump’s negligence toward the church but neither does it justify our ignorance of the kingdom on the left and how it operates. It is not a business for the faint of heart and thank goodness. All the hand wringing in the world isn’t going to stop the acid washing of our constitution and this nation’s conscience nor protect us in this world of many unrighteous nations. Trump will be an imperfect leader but a leader he will be and for many good principles.
Will they be sufficient in number? Time will tell. But there is no one else electable at this point who wishes to do what he desires and has stated which includes more than a handful of righteous acts on behalf of this nation. The only other realistic alternative is Hillary Clinton.
I cannot imagine any Christian’s conscience being at peace in their non participation or voting for an unelectable third party in some kind of protest they imagine is suppose to have an impact. It will only result in aiding Hillary Clinton who has expressed a zero-sum interest in any righteous acts for this nation and simply a continuation of the current administration with a bit of a tweaking and not to mention the leftist radicalization of SCOTUS. If your conscience can rest with such results, so be it, but may God grant your children safety in the world to come because if you think it is bad now...just wait my friend. May God grant wisdom.