Lamenting Trump

Today someone I trust and respect told me that my writing at this blog has become more angry since the 2016 presidential election cycle.  It was unclear whether the person who said this meant it as a criticism or a compliment.  I took it as a friendly warning.

I mostly write as a historian at The Way of Improvement Leads Home , but sometimes I write as a Christian. And when I write as a Christian I do not always write as a good Christian. Maybe some day someone will write a history of the way Donald Trump’s election influenced the faith and spirituality of evangelicals who did not vote for him.

As someone who has spent a lot of time writing negative things about Donald Trump, I needed to hear Mark Galli’s recent editorial at Christianity TodayThanks.

Here is a taste:

Trump is a man whom God loves. He is a sinner for whom Christ died. Despite his evident moral failings, Trump nonetheless has been created in the image of God. He may be a political and moral enemy for many of our readers, but that is all the more reason we are called to love him and pray for him (Matt. 5:44).

To love such a man surely includes challenging the policies and moral tenor of his administration. But this prophetic work too easily slips into “rejoicing in evil” (1 Cor. 13:6). We note this especially among late-night comedians (and their viewers) who delight in mocking Trump’s every misstep to the reward of soaring television ratings. Humor is a divine gift designed, in part, to relieve unbearable tension—which today is at a breaking point politically. So these comedians play an important role in a democracy. Still, a fine line runs between righteous satire and rejoicing in the foolishness of others, and when it is crossed, it does not bode well for Christian witness or for the health of the republic.

What might better characterize our reaction is less satire and more lament. Blessed are those who mourn their sins (Matt. 5:4), and because they see themselves in solidarity with all sinners, who also mourn the sins of others.

And, more shocking still (given the current climate), instead of being quick to speak truth to power, we might also, from time to time, speak mercy to the immoral. And if there is anyone who needs mercy, it is Trump.

Some believe that Trump is a baby Christian who is making his way in the faith. While we would never presume to judge another’s heart, we are deeply troubled by what is observable about Trump’s spiritual health. Aside from his ethical breaches and questionable character, his attitude toward the sacred has been confused and cavalier. He says he “reveres” Jesus not for his death and resurrection on our behalf, but mainly for his “bravery and courage.” In Iowa, he spoke of the Lord’s Supper, saying, “I drink my little wine … and have my little cracker.” He is reputed to have said he has no need of forgiveness, but he qualified that in an interview with Cal Thomas: “I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness.” He fundamentally sees himself not as a sinner in need of mercy but as an “honorable man.”

Again, it is for God alone to judge the state of the heart. But the gospel of Jesus Christ casts the behavior of Trump in a transcendent light, and that light looks to us like darkness (Luke 11:35).

Not all evangelicals will agree with our assessment. But can we agree on this? To continue to attack or defend his policies depending on our assessment of the common good. And to do so as men and women who know themselves and Trump as sinners in the hands of a righteous God, who will brook no evil—and who will never fail to welcome the penitent.

Read the entire piece here.


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