For those Christians who have been criticizing David Platt from the left, I would ask several questions:
- What would you do in this situation?
- Even if you believe Trump is evil, how would you balance that with his human dignity? Yes, he was there for a political opportunity, and it was disgusting, but I don’t know many members of the clergy who would turn someone away who was asking for prayer.
- Christians are called to pray for their leaders. Several folks have noted that prayers for government leaders are embedded in the Book of Common Prayer. So what happens when the president actually shows up and asks for prayer? Does the call to pray for leaders cease to apply when the leader is actually in your presence?
- As most readers know, I am no fan of the president. If Platt allowed Trump to speak I would have a serious problem with it. If Platt used the prayer to demonize Trump’s enemies or extol Trump as King Cyrus, I would be the first one to scream. But this is not what happened.
- Some people are complaining about the optics. Of course the optics could go both ways. And if you are a historian and you don’t like the image of Platt with his hand on Trump’s solider, then interpret the image for your readers. Provide context. Source the document (who is Platt?). This is what we do.
Stetzer gets it right. Here is a taste of his piece at Christianity Today:
I was frustrated at the arm-chair quarterbacking I saw online, with some saying that he should prophetically have rebuked the president, others saying he should have denied the request, and still others wishing that he’d been more affirming of the president.
I know that every person tweeting criticism of @PlattDavid would have handled it so much better if @POTUSshowed up to your place with little notice, but maybe just consider that he is not as smart, godly, or prophetic as you are and try to extend grace to your lesser brother.
Simply put, David Platt made a fast decision when the president came by. To condemn him for that is simply not appropriate. He basically had two choices—either honor the request or not.
Platt could have chosen to decline the visit. This would have inevitably led to attacks from Trump supporters, a public outcry over a pastor refusing to pray for the president, and questioning of his personal position on the president.
Instead, he chose the second option and, in his eyes, sought to model what he saw in Scripture about praying for those in authority.
Yes, he could have prayed behind the scenes. Yes, he could have refused to have the president on stage. To some, he should have thought of all of those options in the few minutes he had while the president of the United States was asking for something else.
But let’s give David Platt the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned it. He did what he thought was right in that moment.
There are no parameters when it comes to who we will pray for, and we are specifically commanded to pray for our leaders. Jesus commanded us all to pray for even our enemies. We can debate if that prayer should have been on the stage, but perhaps we can agree that we pray when asked to pray.
Read the entire piece here.