Monday, May 16, 2016

Rebuttal to: Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and Making America Great

(*My time restraints in producing my rebuttal were substantial so I am not satisfied with the depth and thoroughness I would have preferred in putting this together. Therefore, I beg the pardon of my readers for those types of shortcomings to which I concede. Nevertheless, I believe it will be a worthwhile contribution at its level.)

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.”

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.
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.

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 Scripture

Romans 12:2

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.
I 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.

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 Nation

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.
While 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?
Proverbs 14:34

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.
I 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.
Psalm 9:17

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.
While 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 following is addressed to individuals and not nations, but the principles apply:

James 4:6-10

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.
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.

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 4:25

…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.
Based 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

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….

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.
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. 

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”?

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.”
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.

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.

Conclusion


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.

Why?

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.

20 comments:

Jon Gleason said...

Hello, Alex. Thank you for the kind comments and for linking to my article. As I said, I welcome contrary views which are well-thought out and Biblically based.

I wish to make one thing clear. I have NO objection to a believer supporting a candidate who they believe will govern according to sound Biblical principles of government. My objection is to the theme of "make America great again."

Your theology of government and church seems fine, but your application here appears inconsistent. No earthly government will bring in righteousness. Government should restrain/punish evil, but righteousness comes through the Word of God by the Spirit of God. These are very different things. You know this, yet you seem to have conflated Trump's apparent desire to restrain evil (at least in some ways) with "encouraging righteousness."

Donald Trump may indeed govern largely in accord with Biblical principles. Hillary Clinton certainly would not, so if your assessment is correct, he would be a better President. I am unpersuaded by parts of your assessment, but none of us knows the future. Anyway, my desire is not to oppose his candidacy, but that Christians see it clearly.

Minor point: you queried my use of James 4, but I said the principle applies to nations and cited Daniel 4. I'll add Sodom, Assyria, Babylon, and Asa, brought low because of pride. Nineveh when humble was spared for a time, as were Ahab and Josiah. Humility in a nation or ruler brings God's mercy, pride brings judgment. No politician can make humility happen, but Donald Trump is proud and encouraging pride. Prideful nationalism is not Biblical nationalism.

The "Big Idea" of "Making America Great Again" is not Biblically sound, for no political movement or ruler can accomplish that. He could encourage the God-awareness, righteousness, and humility that are needed for greatness, but does not. Christians need to disregard rhetoric and focus sharply on what government should be doing, and how, and evaluate political questions by those Scriptural principles. They need to evaluate character, because new issues will arise. That is how Christians should approach any election.

Most of your response here has been along those proper lines. You are not voting for Trump because of "Make America Great," but because you think he will govern more in line with Biblical principles. I may not see all those evaluations as you do, but I don’t wish to debate them. I will, however, share with you my greatest concern about Mr Trump – the Rafael Cruz incident.

Mr Cruz challenged believers to put the Word first. His statement was imperfect. It is entirely fair to challenge his conclusion that his son is the only choice. Nevertheless, he challenged believers to honour the Word in their voting.

Trump’s attack was two-pronged, and wicked. First he said Mr Cruz shouldn’t be “allowed” to say it, yet cited his own endorsements. Pastors can endorse Trump from the pulpit, but Mr Cruz shouldn’t be allowed to speak in a political interview? The use of the word “allowed” is chilling. Who should not be “allowing” it? He said it at least three times.

But second, he maliciously lied about Mr Cruz and a political assassination. I am repulsed by the accusation, but disturbed by its timing. It wasn’t in response to so many other political statements, but to the one that referred to the Word of God.

I’ve seen this before, many times. A Christian raises his head above the parapet to talk about the Lord, and there are calls to forbid such speech, and vicious character assassination. That’s Satan’s work, not the words of a man of truth and justices. It gives me no confidence that Christians will be able to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

No, I do not trust this man. I hope you are correct in your evaluation, and he will govern broadly in line with Biblical principles, for I think he will be the next President. But I see many troubling signs.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Thank you for the visit and reply, Jon. My apologies for missing the details with James.

May it be the U.S. alerts further decline.

AG

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Avert

Jon Gleason said...

"May it be the U.S. averts further decline."

Amen.

Daniel G. said...

Jon,

If I may, I'd like to address a few of the points you made in your response:



"No politician can make humility happen, but Donald Trump is proud and encouraging pride. Prideful nationalism is not Biblical nationalism."

You say that no politician can make humility happen, but then you imply that Trump could encourage pride. I'm not a hundred percent sure what you mean in the first sentence, but if no politician can make humility happen then by default they couldn't make pride happen, whatever your definition of making pride happen is here. It sort of depends on what you mean by Trump being proud and encouraging pride. Being proud and encouraging pride does not always necessarily constitute a vice. It all depends on context. For example, during a job interview, I will always sell myself by pumping up my past accomplishments and relate them to how well I will perform in the position I'm interviewing for. I would talk in that interview (as far as showing pride in my work and talking myself up) in a way that I never would in any other aspect of life (where I would consider it sinful pride). However, attempting to obtain a position I desire requires me to do such in order to secure an offer from the employer. That's essentially how I look at what Trump is doing. He is essentially interviewing for a job with the American people. That means he must show confidence, boldness, and even a bombastic attitude in expressing his previous accomplishments as well as in giving his assurances that he will get certain things done. And getting things done is what he has done his entire life. While I would agree that prideful nationalism is not biblical nationalism, I'm not sure what that has to do with Trump or how an evangelical approaches his candidacy. I think being overly zealous for national pride can overtake biblical pride, but that goes to each individual believer and doesn't preclude them from supporting Trump on the basis that he has great national pride.

"Trump’s attack was two-pronged, and wicked."

I think you're reading too much into Trump's response. I do believe Trump to be too reactive at certain points and this is certainly one of them. With that said, when he is being merely reactive, clarity is not his goal. His goal is simply to push back on what he perceives as personal attacks against him. It's really nothing more than that, whether you agree he's being attacked or not. I wouldn't categorize it as "wicked". Was it a bit much? Sure it was. He also used extremely poor wording (as he often does), but I think you may be reading too much into it based on the fact that you are already greatly concerned about Trump. For someone like myself, I've been supportive of his candidacy and what it represents, so when I hear something like that I see it as being typical reactionary Trump and not necessarily as something that needs to be broken down in great detail. Trump felt backed into a corner and he was merely trying to back Cruz into another corner. Like I said, that was typical political posturing and I'm not going to fret over it as some great red flag.

(continued)

Daniel G. said...

(continued)

"But second, he maliciously lied about Mr Cruz and a political assassination."

Here again, I think you're reading too much into something Trump has said (and said in a very offhand manner). Believe me, I wish that Trump hadn't mentioned this and I don't agree one iota with him saying it. With that said, I think if you're already positioned against Trump then it's nothing more than confirmation of preconceived biases. Trump is being interviewed constantly and seems to never stop talking for 20 hours out of the 24 hour news cycle. He reads a lot and is eidetic when it comes to details of everything he hears and reads. When he was talking about Cruz's father, he was not speaking from some great research that he had look into the issue or anything like that. It was more offhand in that he was recalling things that he could throw out there in the midst of what would be the final stages of the Republican primary. It sticks out like a sore thumb because it was so ridiculous (and I agree that it was). Despite the fact that he is interviewed relentlessly and peppered with thousands of questions and prodded for all sorts of responses, this is something that he rarely (if ever) does unless taken off topic regarding policy and asked to assess certain people or things. He made a huge mistake, but I don't think it's that large in the grand scheme of things. Like I said, it's mostly fodder for those that didn't like him in the first place. A bar to beat him over the head with, so to speak. He didn't become successful by analyzing minute details about political candidates and he has had to do that for the first time in this campaign cycle. I'm not saying it doesn't show a flaw in his approach, it certain does. If he were a true believer, I would certainly say it required public repentance before the church and God. But I don't believe him to be a true believer, never have. I think he has an open mind and a good heart, but an unregenerate one for sure. But when you consider that it's a flaw Barack Obama doesn't possess, I don't think you can use it as a litmus test for the presidency when it comes to Trump. It's something to be concerned about with regards to his personal character, but not something that overrides how well he has conducted himself professionally throughout his career. It should certainly be a consideration for evangelicals, but not in the all-encompassing fashion that it seems you are suggesting.

In the end, it seems like you are too willing to trust established insiders (who may be controlled by the DC cabal's funding) if they say the right things but unwilling to trust a man who has challenged that corrupt landscape because he doesn't always say the right things. I don't see making the mistakes he has made in the things he has said as "troubling signs", but merely a reflection of the problem with civil discourse that we've had for some time now. The troubling signs to me were the self-proclaimed "conservative Christian" elected officials who were

Daniel G. said...

(Continued)

doing the bidding of the donor/cocktail party class of special interests but getting away with it by "saying all the right things" and giving lip service to social issues. Not that social issues aren't important. They absolutely are. But the only real way for a president to affect is by appointing originalists to the federal bench. Trump has reiterated time and time again that he wants a justice in the line of Scalia, which then makes the only difference between him and a Cruz is the influence of the ruling elite insiders, at least when you consider the overarching influence of the presidency.

TheronG said...

A few half-coherent thoughts that occurred to me while reading this:

"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" - independently of the question of whether carpet bombing was justified or not, I hope we don't have to approve everything that the Allies did in rejoicing that the evil of Hitler was defeated. I've been to Omaha Beach, and I'm grateful for what the American soldiers did there - that doesn't mean I think that the American leadership never made an immoral decision. When I watch a Victory Day parade and remember the sacrifices the Soviet people made, that doesn't mean that I support Stalin's murder of millions of Russians and Ukrainians.

While the causes Donald Trump supports may be righteous to some extent, it doesn't necessarily follow that he is supporting them for righteous reasons, or in a righteous way. Now this isn't necessarily an argument against a candidate, but some of these ideas, when misused, become very dangerous. Much of what you've written about Trump with regard to nationalism could have been written about Hitler in 1930. In fact, Trump's campaign in many ways does parallel Hitler's political campaigns - campaigning based on people's frustrations, promises of restoring lost greatness, blaming Other People for all their problems. Now, I'm certainly not saying that Trump is Hitler. I don't see another Holocaust in his future. But there is some cause for concern here, I think.

"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." - I think there is a difference between being honest about sin, which can be respected to some extent, and openly taking pride in sin. I don't actually know what Donald Trump has said about this, but from what I've heard it falls into the latter category. But maybe I'm wrong about that.

As you say, we cannot read Donald Trump's heart and know that he is not regenerate, and I don't think we should try. We can, however, examine his actions and determine whether they are consistent with a regenerate heart, and Donald Trump fails on this.

I do think that we have to be honest about the fact that Donald Trump is not a good man. But is he too evil to support when the opposition is Hillary Clinton? There is hope, at least, that he will appoint a good conservative Justice to the Supreme Court, and for that reason alone I am at this point intending to vote for Trump.

Rajesh said...

Alex,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Rather than attempt to engage you exhaustively in all the particulars of your comments, for which I do not have sufficient time for it to be ultimately profitable for the time that it would require of both of us, I would like to offer these two summary points in response to your comments to the original article:

You believe that DT intends to conduct his affairs as President along lines that reflect concern for righteous causes. I hope you prove to be right, but I believe that what we have seen taking place is more akin to an Absalom-type of campaign of winning of the hearts of people over to oneself by the posturing of a purported concern to address the failures of the “establishment” authorities to execute righteousness and judgment for the people (see my post http://apeopleforhisname.org/2014/09/how-scripture-exposes-some-common-tactics-of-corrupt-politicians/). Only time will tell what will prove to be the case, but I believe that there are many valid indicators for holding such an opinion of the current situation.

Wishing to be guided by Scripture as much as possible, I believe that 2 Samuel 23:2-3 coupled with many other passages, such as John the Baptist’s dealings with Herod (Matt. 14:3-4) and Paul’s confronting Felix (Acts 24:24-27), completely precludes my supporting the candidate in question. Many other believers who also want to be as Scriptural as possible believe otherwise, arguing that they are voting for a president and not a pastor, but I reject that notion as unbiblical, especially in light of the passages that I have cited. Ultimately, God is the Judge, and we will all give an account of ourselves to Him for the choices that we make and the bases for our making those choices.

May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory!

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Rajesh

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the more central moral issue.

I do not object, at all, and in fact support your view regarding the moral responsibility of leaders. I do believe the case od Donald Trump and his past martital/sexual infidelity has been overstated and over-represented.

I do not qualify it that way to diminish his culpability but he has, in fact, been faithful to his now wife of many years and has not reasonably been accused of infidelity.

Therefore, I am not confident the various media who are certainly not supporting Donald Trump provide for us a complete and fair picture of the man in particular his and fidelity to his wife.

Again, I do not say all of that to attempt to justify his past sins nor to attempt to balance his hyperbole and sometimes flamboyant personality but surely flamboyance and hyperbole are not the greatest sins.

So let me be clear, I believe moral uprightness is something for which all leaders will account to God and in no way dispute that and in every way as a Christian and as a citizen one which I look for and desire and do not believe that simply because a man or woman is involved in political office and not a pastoral office they are absolved of a moral standard. That would be an over-simplification of my view.

What disturbs me more so however, involves the absence by the Christians and in particular the kind like Russell Moore who are crusading in a campaign against what they consider to be moral and personal shortcomings of Donald Trump while the shortcomings of Mrs. Clinton, morally, ethically and criminally overflow in comparison to Mr. Trump and they seem dead silent.

It is a matter of public record by those involved just in the case of Benghazi that we could have rescued our American people at the consulate but we let them be slaughtered. She should be in prison for murder or negligent homicide of some sort Donald Trump hasn't come close to such moral failings. And this is to say nothing of her decades-long Trail of public corruption. Where oh where art thou mr. Righteous Russell Moore you hypocrite?

Therefore, if I have to choose between two people with moral failings it is clear and emphatic Which choice needs to be made but this is not to absolve my choice of their responsibilities for an upright and moral life.

Regards

AG

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

TheronG

Thank you so much for your involved response. Let me say first of all that I do agree that when we celebrate our victories in World War II it is not with the more difficult and unpleasant realities of war that were necessary for victory but they were still necessary, which was my point. When someone complains that Donald Trump tells people to punch back, that's a very valid thing even if it involves violence. I would say a punch in the nose is rather mild in response to the kind of violence perpetrated against the Trump supporters. I think it is an equal response as our unpleasant carpet bombing was to the so-called atrocities of Adolf Hitler or the Nazi party.

I do agree that Trump supporters don't always support him for the right reasons. And while there may be some similarities to the conditions in the late 1920's - early to mid 30's in Germany and in the United States and with some affections of Trump supporters, I have studied pre-World War 2 conditions which gave rise to Adolf Hitler (who by the way was not incarnate evil so-called for many years as Germany's leader) and believe once a person gets passed some very basic observations it becomes clear that they are not very akin to one another.

But as we look back we also see the identical basic conditions existing when FDR was elected even on the heels of our World War 1 victories. We were facing a similar depression and difficulty in many ways and resisting immigration and so forth.

I believe the parallelsare too few to have any real legitimate alarm bells go off it is not the man that gets elected or the woman that gets elected it is what they do when they are once in office. Donald Trump has a very predictable history and it certainly does not involve xenophobia or the slaughter of people unlike him it is merely a healthy nationalism.

You might be surprised. but even history sympathizes with the initial national grievances of Adolf Hitler and the German people because they were pushing out the Bolshevik communist while suffering severe economic depression as a result of the reparations forced upon them after World War 1. As well, Austria welcomed reincorporation into greater Germany when zGermany entered. But I'm not here to argue those merits other than to say I believe when one puts a magnifier to the situations, the comparisons weaken greatly.

You are right that we do not see the fruit of a seasoned Christian from Donald Trump, (but let me say I have met plenty of Christians who have been in the church for decades who do not have much more spiritual and Theological expression than Donald Trump) and instead, generally theological confusion, though he does understand one premise which is the blessing of God and the centrality of Christianity to the identity of the United States which is good even though he does not demonstrate in himself a spiritual health.

And in the end when we compare him to Mrs. Clinton and her decades of corruption and criminal behavior I agree with you that the choice becomes clear without we implying a condoning of every facet of Donald Trump's personal and public moral life.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Regards

AG

Anonymous said...

Your post raised a wry smile at times, because if you come over to this side of the Pond, amongst Conservative British you will here 'let's put the great back into Britain' and a similar looking back at a past era when the country was indeed great. Either the Victorian era and Empire, or else standing alone in 1940.

In some ways it is understandable, but my problem with it is when there is failure to look to the future, coupled with a view of the past that is inaccurate. Victorian Britain produced the economic conditions that Dickens wrote about in his novel, and produced Marx and his theories in reaction.

I also wonder, having read up on the subject, whether some moral introspection on the bombing campaign in WW2 would do the former allies good - although it is now a long time ago. I think we lost some of the moral high ground here. Even my father who lived through it all has had second thoughts having come to visit us where we now live, in Germany!

But I'mn afraid I don't envy American voters with the likely choice of candidates in the forthcoming election! I can certainly understand the reaction against bought and paid for politicians who just spout the party line.

Ken

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Thanks, Ken, for your thoughts. I also pity, what I perceive, is Germany's ailment of self-loathing among their political and elitist class.

We, Americans, do face a number of dilemmas not encountered, precisely as they exist, now, in this election, for some time. However, seeing that we, the citizens, are each our own monarch, I suspect we will ultimately choose to abdicate or retain our non socialist powers this election.

There is no eternal nation but God's. May it be, however, imperfect, he will continue to use us for the sake of freedom around the world and at home, as some kind of model, in many ways, for the countries in darkness with which they may compare and understand they, indeed, live in darkness.

Let freedom ring.

Regards,

AG

P.S. While there may be some help in revisiting unpleasant war tactics, I believe that it is easy to be hampered by ugly necessities when we over-prescribe limits in wartime, especially in the light and realization we were responding to, not initiating the aggression.

TheronG said...

Thanks for the response, Alex. I agree with quite a lot of what you've said here. Like I said before, I don't say that Donald Trump is Hitler. But then, and you seem to agree, I don't really believe that Hitler in 1930 was what he became, though the seeds were sowed already. I don't see the same warning signs in Trump. But then many people didn't in 1930. Then again, the decision of what Germany became wasn't entirely Hitler's, and the decision of what America will become isn't entirely Trump's. This would concern me less if I didn't believe that America has been sleepwalking toward a dictatorship for a while. But then I think that it is perhaps just as likely to come about if Hillary Clinton is elected.

You commented on the silence by Christians regarding Hillary Clinton while campaigning against Donald Trump. Isn't this for the most part because most of these campaigners are appealing to conservative Christians who they assume know what she is? They don't feel the need to comment on her because they assume their audience won't be voting for her anyway, so the question for them is if Donald Trump is too evil to vote for.

Rajesh said...

Alex,

To clarify, when I made my remarks about those who argue along the lines of voting for a president vs. a pastor, etc., I did not have you in mind. I am not aware of whether you have made such statements in the past or not; I was speaking of other people that I have heard use that reasoning. My comments were not intended to be an oversimplification of your view because prior to this rebuttal of yours, I did not have any knowledge of what your political views have been.

Concerning not speaking out against the leading Democrat candidate, my comments have been directed toward people who are already probably very knowledgeable about that subject and would not vote for her. The same is probably true for many others who have been making similar comments, as Theron also suggested above.

Thanks.

Rajesh

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Rajesh

I took your comments just as you have explained them here. And so that you understand some of my comments were broadened Beyond just responding to you and to those under which it may fall which may not have included you I just used it as a springboard for larger commentary.

Regards

AG

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

TheronG

To the issue of conservative Christians or Evangelical Christians silent or not so noisy about their criticisms of Hillary. The way the most vocal critics are about Donald Trump it seems to me that they consider Donald Trump's shortcomings quite obvious yet they are very occupied and focused on criticizing him in spite of his alleged shortcomings being obvious. Thus I point out their silence on Hillary while I agree it seems they would be obvious 2NE1 I'd like some reassurance that these critics are willing to enumerate and pontificate on her shortcomings.

Regards

AG

Jon Gleason said...

@Daniel G
Sorry for taking so long to get back. A few responses:
1. "You say that no politician can make humility happen, but then you imply that Trump could encourage pride."
I do more than imply that Trump encourages pride. He is almost non-stop boastful, modeling pride on a huge scale, encouraging people to be proud about America but not encouraging appreciation for the right things -- a strong moral base, a Constitution built on Biblical principles, a commitment to religious freedom, etc.

I see no inconsistency in what I said. I do not expect any other politician to >make< America be humble -- but they can encourage. Trump encourages the opposite, while claiming he'll make America great. Greatness and pride are incompatible.

2. "I think you're reading too much into Trump's response."
Trump's response leaves two likely interpretations that I can see. Either 1) he is a dangerous loose cannon who goes off half-cocked under pressure, with no moral compass restraining him from outrageous accusations, and should never be in a position of significant responsibility, or 2) he is a shrewd, calculating individual who knows exactly what he is doing. There's a third, even more scary possibility -- that he is significantly under demonic influence and that this response arose out of that.

Given his business success, I'm inclined to believe the second is most likely. If I am correct, he may be an effective President, but he is potentially a very great danger to religious liberty (and freedom of speech, for that matter). If either the first or third are correct, this will be a disaster of great magnitude.

3. "Trump is being interviewed constantly and seems to never stop talking for 20 hours out of the 24 hour news cycle."
Proverbs 10:19 tells us that such a man is not wise, FWIW.

4. "In the end, it seems like you are too willing to trust established insiders (who may be controlled by the DC cabal's funding) if they say the right things but unwilling to trust a man who has challenged that corrupt landscape because he doesn't always say the right things."
This somewhat mars the rest of your comment. I said nothing about trusting established insiders. I said nothing about how people should vote. I did say Trump's rhetoric of making America great again is not based on a Scriptural understanding of greatness, and if evangelicals are to vote for him they should have their eyes open to the Biblical bankruptcy of that rhetoric.

5. "Trump has reiterated time and time again that he wants a justice in the line of Scalia, which then makes the only difference between him and a Cruz is the influence of the ruling elite insiders, at least when you consider the overarching influence of the presidency."
I'm not a Cruz supporter, but I see no evidence that Cruz is significantly under the influence of the ruling elite insiders, and much evidence that they hate him and wanted to destroy him. And that is because he has opposed them in his four short years in Washington, called them out for what they were, and refused to apologise for doing so.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion, and thank you, Alex, for hosting it.

Anonymous said...

I think the Germans, in the wake of WW2 guilt, have tried to reinvent themselves as 'Europeans' in the sense of a federal EU general mix up. It's something the British aren't very good at, hence the forthcoming EU referendum. The current acceptance by Germany of large numbers of refugees strikes me as less to do with atoning for Hitler or trying to show modern Germany is different, as an attempt to head off the demographic deficit which on current trends shows an increasingly ageing population with all the problems that entails in financing health and pensions.

More on the central points of your post, I remember a British 'discernment' pastor Alan Morrison, whose site unfortunately appears to have long since disappeared, thinking the Clintons were little more than common criminals, and wrote quite convincingly about this. This was less to do with being a conspiracy theorist as that their carryings on were almost in the public domain, a kind of open secret. I'm afraid there is something about her that gives me the impression she wants power for the sake of power, and I do occasionally wonder if she is actually seeking her third term of office (let the reader understand)!

KB