Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Who Is Our King?: American Christians and Donald Trump

I know this is likely to anger some people, and I am not exactly striking while the iron is hot, so I will try to keep it brief. But I just want to ask a couple of questions. Back on August 21, Donald Trump tweeted a quote from radio host Wayne Allyn Root. Root, speaking of Trump, had said, “The Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

Root was being hyperbolic and I really don’t think Trump believes this of himself. The point was that Israelis are fond of Trump and that American Jews should also be as a result (which is problematic in its own right). But still, is it really appropriate for the American President to welcome comments that cast him in a messianic role? And why has there not been an uproar among Christians as a result of this, or at least demands for an explanation and apology?

The lack of responses was what finally got me to the point of having to say something about it. Plenty of left-leaning critics had a lot to opine, but only in regard to how egotistical it was. Certainly it is that, but where are the voices among evangelical leadership to point out its blasphemy and idolatry? I could only find articles from minister and blogger Dave Miller and evangelist Jay Lowder. They both make good points and they certainly have a wider reach than I do, but they are not exactly national figures. Nor was there any real and lasting noise among Christians on social media.

Why is that? Can you imagine what would have happened if Barack Obama thanked someone for calling him God? The uproar would have been staggering (and deserved), and the label of “Antichrist” would have been thrown around freely (with much less justification). But now, because it is Donald Trump, we have silence.

I can only come up with a couple of answers. One is a sort of resignation akin to Sunk-Cost Fallacy. Evangelicals have invested so much into Trump’s success that they cannot admit his failures. Another is fear of the greater evil. Trump might be a fool, but he has gotten some good things done and the leftists want to actively destroy the United States, so we put up with the foolishness. But certainly the most vocal segment, though hopefully a minority one, actually has a devotion for Trump that dangerously borders on worship.

This is not good for the Church. Our responsibility is not supposed to be to seek desired outcomes for the country in which we live. It is supposed to be to glorify Christ. Those are not always mutually exclusive, but when you have a leader who puts himself in Christ’s place, then it can lead people to question our loyalty. Remember, he chose to type this out and share it. It was not even a retweet. What excuse can there be for that? To ignore it, even to defend it, opens us up to criticism we shouldn’t want. It is not good for people to accuse us of being more attached to a political figure than to the Lord. It is worse if we supply them with evidence to back up the accusation.

Donald Trump will be President for, at most, five more years. We are going to need to engage the culture for Christ long after that. It will be much more difficult to reach people if we appear to be nothing more than a tool of the Republican Party and of this President. People will remember, and they are already holding it against us. The damage to our gospel witness will be immense. We have to be able to call these things out if we want to have any type of credibility. It can be difficult to admit that. Leftist policies can certainly be frightening. But if truth is always sacrificed to practicality for the sake of the “greater good,” then we can end up betraying the greatest good.

At some point, you have to take a stand even against your own side. This feels like it should be one of those moments and I am just very concerned by the silence. What are your thoughts on this? If I am blowing it out of proportion, can you explain how? Or if I am not, then why are we doing nothing about it? Because I really cannot see a good reason either way.

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