From about 2011-2014, I wasn't closely paying attention to the political world. At that point in life, I was transitioning from super-political neo-con to super-a-political semi-peacenik. With the events of this past year or so, I find myself reluctantly talking about politics again. Bleh.
I recently came across this interesting article the other day, and thought that I should respond to it. It was addressing me, along with all of the other #NeverTrumpers who, true to our name, will never vote for Trump.
I recognize that I'm writing a piece that will primarily be perceived as political, when I own a blog called Barely Protestant rather than "Barely Republican". However, I'm choosing to respond specifically to this article for a reason; it comes from a Christian, but more importantly, from an Evangelical. This will help highlight the theological problems I see in a lot of Evangelical circles today.
Her article starts off by assuming that I, the reader (if I'm in that 90%, that is), am going to assume that she is an ignorant, biblically illiterate redneck when she is in fact not; also, my reason for reading her article is to mock her. Not the best way to start an article, probably, but I'm no expert at this stuff either.
She then continues by stating that she, apparently, "fits" the description of a #NeverTrumper. I'm not sure about that; I don't know of any definition of a #NeverTrumper besides "I will never vote for Trump". Along with that are claims that she actually WANTS to be a #NeverTrumper because it "sounds so principled, so brave" (emphasis hers)--why do I get the feeling that I'm being talked down to like a little child?
No matter; anyway, she then determines that she HAS to vote for Trump, because...well, let's take a look:
We find that Luke 9:49-50 is the passage she starts off with in her defense of the necessity of voting for Trump. This is the passage in which the Disciples complain about some man they don't know who is casting out demons. Jesus responds by saying to leave that man alone, because if he isn't against you he is with you. Mrs. LastChanceAmerica parallels this with Trump today.
Okay, there are a few problems with this parallel...
This is a story that is, specifically, about a man doing a spiritual act (casting out demons) in the Name of Jesus, but is not one of the Disciples. What...does that have in common with Donald Trump? Donald Trump is not running to do Kingdom work for the Church. Donald Trump is running for a secular office. Ironically, Mrs. LCA makes the argument that this is...not applicable to ecclesiastical offices? More likely, she's saying that this story is about a spiritual action, but can also be applied to a secular situation.
Eh...maybe? I mean, if this secular situation even remotely resembled that. In the story, the unnamed man is successfully casting out demons in the Name of Jesus. We have NO indication that he is some heretic; the one "problem" the Disciples have is that...he's not one of the Twelve. Literally. That's the problem for them. This is also immediately after they had fought among themselves over who was the greatest (vs. 46-48). Maybe these passages, along with quite a few in the rest of the Gospels, are indicating that pride was a major problem for the Disciples?
And if Jesus' words were something to the extent of "compromise your principles as much as you can as long as one, undefined principle is semi-kept" (she never does actually specify exactly what her argument using Luke 9:49-50 is), then why did Jesus turn people away not ten verses later? Jesus doesn't compromise at all in verses 57-62:
"Hey, Jesus, I want to follow You; just let me bury my father, first."
"Sure thing! After all, the dead can't bury the dead, ya know!"
Oh wait; that--that's not what Jesus said. No; in fact, Jesus told the guy to, well, let the dead bury the dead...was this guy against Jesus or something? Because he certainly seems to be for Him.
And here is the problem with modern reading of Scripture: it's treated as the world's largest collection of fortune cookie, er, fortunes that one can just pick randomly from and apply to anything that might vaguely be related to it. In other words, context (both literary and historical) don't really matter in modern day Evangelicalism; it just needs to sound vaguely like it might work.
Also, the article uses arguments that seem to assume that Trump is, even politically, on our side. No, Trump is, politically, not on our side; well, at least not on my side. He does not hold my political values. I am not for the targeting of innocents in war.
We should stop right there for one moment, because people don't seem to get the fact that Trump is for the targeting (that means intentionally aiming at--like, with intention) and killing (that means ending a life--as in, what we pro-lifers are against doing) of INNOCENT PEOPLE.
I mean, that alone should be enough to say, "Nope! No thanks! Next option!"
We are all pro-life here, right? I mean, plenty of pro-lifers are for killing people who are guilty of certain crimes; that's an obvious area of disagreement among Christians ourselves. However, NONE of us should be for the idea of KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE.
But I'll go on: Trump has been pro-choice his whole life...until he magically saw the light just in time to run for president.
Does this video sound like someone who is pro-life out of conviction, or pro-life out of political maneuvering?
Trump is STILL in favor of the government financially supporting Planned Parenthood.
Trump has been on every possible part of the spectrum of illegal immigration.
Trump is very much for eminent domain being used to give land to private companies, even to this day.
Here, this is a great video showing Trump in his own words:
I mean, at best I don't know what this guy will do once he's in office. I genuinely believe he is a liberal to this day, no different from Hillary Clinton. I see no difference between the two.
So no: far from seeing Trump casting out demons, I see Trump claiming that he one time cast a genie out of a bottle and it granted him three wishes: unbelievable, and irrelevant even if it were true.
She moves on from that sort-of argument into, well, basically shaming us for...mocking the Christian leaders on his faith advisory committee? I...don't recall mocking, well, most of them (more on that in a second).
Well, if we are going to insert personal experience of such mocking and cruelty from #NeverTrumpers...may we please talk about the reputation of actual Trump supporters, as well? Please don't pretend, Mrs. MakeAmericaGreatAgain, that Trump supporters are some sort of nice, courteous, thoughtful group of voters who absolutely NEVER have violent tendencies; I mean, if you're going to be "appalled", then you should at least indicate your appallment of Trump supporters, as well. Or do you simply expect it from them?
As for those on the advisory committee thing...hm. Well, I appreciate Dr. Dobson for his ministry, despite quite a few disagreements with him on more than a few issues. Kirk Cameron? I'm sorry, but I've never respected him as a Christian leader; I certainly don't consider him one (a leader, that is). And no, I've never paid a dime to see him, ever. I'm sure his intentions are good, but I think his brand of Christianity hurts the Faith and the Kingdom FAR more than any help it may possibly have.
Those are the only two names she mentioned on this committee. I looked up the list according to Christianity Today; while I don't know most of the names on it, I am familiar with a few.
I know Paula White, the Prosperity (false) gospel preacherette who was "innapropriate" with Benny Hinn after her divorce with her husband...while being investigated by the US Senate for fraud.
I know the Copelands, another power-couple of Prosperity preaching involved in scandals and stealing from the poor to give to themselves.
So I see why at least those three are on Trump's faith advisory committee.
Jerry Falwell, jr.? I'm sorry, but...no. Not him; not his father. Not at all.
To be honest, I'm sure the committee does have a significant number of good and godly people; after all, it does contain people who actually don't and won't vote for Trump. His advisory board isn't really indicative of much, if he's not going to actually take it to heart (aside from the financial advice of Paula and the Copelands, I'm sure; Trump might even hit on Paula, and that's not a joke, given his love of sleeping around).
She goes on to say that, "This is the point in which many of you will be tempted to stop reading." Well, she at least got that right; but I read on, anyway.
She argues that a vote for anyone other than Trump...is a vote for Hillary Clinton.
No, not only that; she claims that people who argue that a vote for someone other than Trump or Hillary is a vote for someone other than Trump or Hillary are "pad(ding) your argument with mathematical or philosophical meanderings".
This is where it gets upsetting to me.
So, let me get this straight...Bob here decides he will vote for Gary Johnson, because he can't vote for either Trump or Hillary. Bob believes a vote for Gary Johnson is, well, a vote for Gary Johnson. Not too much math and philosophy in that, is there? I mean, I COULD break it down into a mathematical formula:
A Vote for Gary Johnson=A Vote for Gary Johnson
Here, let's try that formula on another candidate.
A Vote for Jill Stein=A Vote for Jill Stein
By George, it works! That's some heavy mathematical and philosophical meandering, there, for sure, but gee golly! that equation works!
She claims she's not trying to insult our intelligence, but this argument can only be such. She is literally arguing that the people who DO believe that a vote for their candidate is a vote for their candidate are "pad(ding) your argument with mathematical or philosophical meanderings". On the other hand, the people who are arguing that a vote for the person you vote for is ACTUALLY a vote for someone you DIDN'T vote for...is the "common sense" (and apparently NON-mathematical/philosophical) conclusion.
I'm sorry, but I am definitely going to take that as an insult to my intelligence.
Oh, and by the way, if Trump loses, does that mean that everyone who voted for him in the primaries actually voted for Hillary, since he was the only candidate who consistently showed that he would lose against her?
It's hard to take this article seriously after that argument, but she asked at the beginning that I read through it all with an open heart. So here I go; next point:
She talks about a vote for no one still being a vote for Hillary...which has already been addressed. She then goes on to state that our other possible objection would be that "a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil", and calls that statement a "fallacious foundation".
She is, apparently, being serious, here. Apparently, her thought is that no matter what I do I will be voting for evil. I mean, according to her totally NOT "mathematical and philosophical meanderings" (sarcasm, there), I guess so? But once again...choosing to vote for someone who is not Trump or Clinton is choosing to vote for someone who is not Trump or Clinton.
Let me apply this alleged logic to a Biblical story: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So, they had to either sing the bunny song--sorry, too much VeggieTales--worship the statue or burn in the furnace. They cast their ballots against worshipping the statue, so that MUST mean they voted for the furnace, meaning they were attempting SUICIDE! Right? Right?
Or, they stuck to their principles; didn't give in. Ya know, what we Christians are CALLED to do.
"Well, I could PRETEND to deny Christ so as to not be beheaded; that'll mean I get to continue preaching the Gospel and reaching more people!" #ThingsSaintPaulNeverSaid
"Well, I could sleep with Potipher's Wife, and then slowly bring her to a saving knowledge of God!" #ThingsJosephNeverSaid
I'm sorry, but this is compromising of my morals, because I long ago determined that I would not vote for someone of morally corrupt character. I cannot vote for Trump or Clinton.
I'm growing more frustrated with each passing sentence of this article.
And here is where I find another problem within Evangelicalism; her arguments are all hinging on the idea that Christianity will be destroyed if Hillary in elected. Well, she certainly seems to imply that with words like, "We can be CERTAIN, however, that Hillary will do her best to destroy what little sense of decency we have left".
No, ma'am; the Church's existence does not hinge upon who is elected the next president of the United States.
Let me put this in perspective for you: you know the Roman Empire, right? That thing that ruled the entire Mediterranean World? That powerful force of human construction, that for centuries tried to stamp out Christianity?
Yeah, that Empire? Doesn't exist anymore.
You know that cult following the teachings of some crazed Jewish Rabbi, Who's followers swore to their torturous deaths that He physically rose from the dead? That one that was mostly started among those Jewish rabble-rousers and poor people?
Yeah...it's the largest religion in the world today, almost doubling the size of the second largest.
Something tells me little old Hillary isn't going to magically beat God and stamp out the Faith.
But that's the problem: because many modern Evangelicals don't have a theology of the Church--or at least a good theology of the Church--they need an institution that will set up the Kingdom; hence, the Government. The Government is now the Church. Need to rid the nation of abortion? Laws will magically fix that! Need to condemn homosexual acts? Laws will do that! Need to promote the family? Laws! Laws! Laws!
Now, I'm not against laws, themselves; they can certainly be useful. However, if my hope is to end abortion, my Faith should not be placed in laws. If my hope is to end homosexual acts, my Faith should not be placed upon laws. It is the job of the Church to promote the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, NOT Caesar's job.
That's why, I submit, so many Evangelicals are willing to compromise in this election: so many reject the existence of the Church as THE Institution upon which the Kingdom of God stands, opting instead for the US to be that institution. It is nothing less than idolatry.
In bold, she claims that we will have lost our right to act as a martyr if we don't vote for Trump when Hillary Clinton supposedly takes away our free speech rights.
Ma'am, I do not think you know what a martyr is. I mean, no. If a man in the Early Church was baptized publicly, at his own request, and was then arrested and killed for being a Christian, the fact that he chose to be publicly baptized does not mean that he loses his martyr status.
And you're hinging on a pretty significant "if", there; the first amendment does exist, and does protect our free speech. But even if Justices decide that speech isn't covered under the first amendment, despite the fact that it explicitly is covered, there are systems in place to take care of that. We can, for instance, impeach Justices.
But regardless of that, no; you do not lose your martyrdom status if you refuse to compromise your principles, which then causes you to suffer for the Faith.
This sentence is one of the most concerning ones in her whole article: "Whether we like it or not, America is drowning and the Trump boat, though less than desirable, is the only viable option for rescue we have to keep us afloat for the time being."
Okay, whoa whoa whoa, stop. Just. Stop.
If this were merely some article about why someone should vote for Trump, that would be one thing. This is a pastor's wife who claims to be speaking as a Christian, to other Christians, as to what the BIBLICAL case is for voting for Trump. In this one sentence, she reveals some very scary ideas in her theology:
Apparently, we Christians must rely upon the Donald in order to "keep us afloat". Keep us...as Christians? That's certainly what she seems to be arguing, given the rest of her article. So...the Church, again, is not that Boat? Christ is not that Boat? Donald Trump is that boat? Donald Trump.
This woman's hope is not in Christ, is not in the Institution established by Christ. This woman's hope, this woman's faith, is in the US, and in Donald Trump.
The worship of America in place of the worship of God.
Is that harsh? Of course it is, but I sincerely can't see any other option here. This is literal faith in our country over Faith in God. And her quickly devolving article continues to demonstrate that.
She then delves into this argument that, honestly, really confuses me. She complains that we lose our "right to complain" about abortion, religious freedoms being taken away, and guns being confiscated, if we don't vote for Trump.
Aside from the very obvious fear-mongering...no, just no. Her rationale is that, apparently, our only power is to vote for who is president. That's our one and only power. I don't exactly remember "voting for Donald Trump" as being one of the Gifts of the Spirit.
This IS still a "Christian talking to Christians" article, right?
She then adds that her "conscience is clear", and states that her intent was not to bully. I don't consider it bullying nearly so much as I consider it fear-mongering and placing Trump and the US as gods.
In short, this article really exposes the problem that there are Evangelicals--and a significant number of them, at that--who have placed the United States Government within their ecclesiology, and in so doing have kicked out the Church. When you do that, you make the Government your place of worship, and its leaders your pastors...and eventually gods.